News for October 24, 1999

Blacks in Taylor Co. remember segregation

by Paul Leakan
Staff Writer
ROSEMONT -- There was a time when the one-room Lincoln school was filled with the voices of young children -- children who perhaps had yet to realize they were cramped together in the small building and not allowed to attend other schools because the color of their skin.
Certainly, the times have changed. But the lessons behind school segregation remain -- at least symbolically -- inside the aging schoolhouse.
On Saturday, a handful of former students who attended what was known at the time as a "colored" school came back to Rosemont to celebrate recent efforts to restore the school.
Thunder on the Tygart, a non-profit organization based in Webster, raised enough money to put a new roof and porch on the school.
"We do not want the injustice to happen again," said Tom Dadisman, president of the group. "If we can restore it, generations to come will come this school and say, 'Never again.'"
For some of the former students who made the trip back to Rosemont, seeing the school again brought back plenty of memories -- both good and bad.
"At that time, and due to our age, we never paid too much attention to our segregation," said former student Robert Davis of Youngstown, Ohio. "We never questioned it."
Melvin E. Owens of Akron, Ohio, said he didn't realize what racism was at the time.
"I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be."
But like many of the former students, Owens looks back fondly on his days at school, especially his teacher, the late Naomi Boston.
"Even to this day, her memory goes on in my heart," he said. "She didn't just teach us with books, she taught us how to love."
It could be said that the students learned the four Rs -- reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic and respect.
"I think it taught me how to be a stronger person," said Mary Jane Wood Thomas, a former student from Steubenville, Ohio. "We had respect. Nowadays, it seems like children don't have respect for each other."
Of course, some of the respect was reinforced from time to time by the wide end of the teacher's wooden paddle.
Many of the students haven't forgotten that paddle, which still has the words "Grip firmly in case of frustration" painted on it.
Clarksburg Mayor David Kates, a guest speaker at the dedication ceremonies, touted the efforts of those who worked hard to teach the children.
"When I look across this room, I see people who went on to do great things because they had a teacher who said, 'You will do it," he said.
Some students would go on to earn college degrees, become ministers, nurses or community leaders. Owens' late brother, Paul, would become Akron's first black fireman.
The school was built in 1920 to create a place to educate the children of black residents who worked in the coal mines and lumber mills.
It will take total of around $10,000 to complete the restoration of the weathered building, Dadisman said.
But former students believe all the efforts are easily worth it.
"This symbolizes the struggles, the togetherness and the importance of being able to work together to overcome hardships," said Davis.
A symbol of that togetherness now flies high above the school.
Former students raised a flag on the school's flag pole for the first time since 1954 -- the year the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that deliberate racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

Lottery is ticket for schools, seniors, tourism

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
West Virginia lottery sales are a massive source of revenue for state government and one might wonder where the profits go.
It is a big pie to divide. Last fiscal year, profits from lottery sales were a little less than $120 million, said John Musgrave, director of the state Lottery Commission.
In the first 10 years of its existence, from January 1986 to January 1996, the lottery generated $500 million in profits.
"We raise the funds and it's up to the governor and the Legislature to earmark the profits," Musgrave said.
Through the lottery's history, profits have been spent on education, senior citizens programs and parks and tourism.
Documents provided by the Lottery Commission show that revenues have been consistently directed to those areas since 1989, though the percentage spent on different categories has fluctuated at times. Retailers receive a 6.25 percent commission on lottery sales.
In fiscal year 1989-1990 profits were divided as follows: 51 percent for education, 39 percent for tourism and 10 percent for senior citizens health programs. The following year, funding for primary and secondary education was reduced to 25 percent of profits, while 11 percent was allocated to colleges and universities. Percentages directed to tourism and senior citizen health were increased to 40 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
A significant change was enacted in 1994, when 36 percent was directed to the School Building Authority and another 20 percent to education in general. Projected allocations for fiscal year 2000 are 30.06 percent for higher education and the arts, 13.78 percent for SBA, 16.05 percent for education and 21.17 percent for the Bureau of Senior Services. The rest went to bonds for capital projects, tourism and natural resources. Projected revenues for 2000 are $1.3 billion.
Since 1989, profits have been used to help place basic skills computers in every elementary school in West Virginia, said Libby White, director of marketing for the Lottery Commission. With the "Success Initiative" computer program for secondary schools, profits have been used to provide nearly 28,000 computer stations for schools at the cost of nearly $100 million.
"The Legislature has stuck to those priorities and they are to be commended for it," Musgrave said.

Fiery crash still a painful memory

by Paul Leakan
Staff Writer
Few residents who lived through last year's massive tanker accident on U.S. Route 50 care that Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the wreck. It was a milestone that received little attention.
There are other concerns -- fears of problems that may or may not arise tomorrow, the next day, 20 years from now.
For some residents, the memories of the ordeal are painful enough.
Bristol resident Hope Graham can easily remember seeing the massive plumes of smoke billowing toward the sky.
"It's so hard to talk about," she said. "It's been such a terrible time."
Graham has plenty of reason to remember Oct. 23, 1998, the day when a tanker overturned near the Raccoon Run Road exit of U.S. Route 50, then struck a logging truck.
Both drivers died in the wreck, and the tanker burned for four hours after spraying butyl acrylate across the highway and into neighboring yards.
Emergency response teams from all over assembled at the scene of the accident, scrambling to find out what the chemical was and how it could affect the area.
Like many residents living near the wreck, Graham was forced to evacuate her home that day. She wouldn't return until months later.
After months of cleanup, Graham said she feels safe now. She believes her hardship was minor compared to many residents who continue to worry about the potential health risks from the release of the chemical.
Larry and Nancy Siders still haven't returned to their home.
The heat from the explosion melted the siding of their home some 75 feet from the highway.
Neither will speak to the media about the situation, following the advice of their attorney.
Marion Siders, Larry Siders' mother, said the two are still trying to work out a deal with the tanker truck's insurance company.
In the meantime, the Siders have been making house payments on a house that they're not living in and paying rent and renter's insurance on a house in Salem.
"Larry says that he doesn't want to live right along the four-lane again," Marion Siders said.
The Siders aren't the only ones in the area who are worried.
"Our main concern is with the water," said Dave Crutchfield, who lives off of Raccoon Run Road. "It tests good now, but that doesn't mean it won't show up two, three, 10 years down the road."
A group of residents who are worried about their well water, sent a petition to the governor calling for city water service to be extended to the area. The group has yet to receive a response to the petition.
But their efforts may be unnecessary.
Division of Environmental Protection Inspector Joyce Moore said Friday that the chemical has not been detected in the area's drinking water.
"There was nothing ever detected," she said.
Aside from that, inspectors from the DEP tested the entire area near the exit of Church Access Road and Raccoon Run Road several months ago. Workers removed an 8-foot by 5-foot section of the pavement on the shoulder of the road.
Despite those efforts, some residents are still hauling water in because they don't believe the water is safe to drink, said David Cochran, who lives one mile up from the scene of the accident.
"We don't know how far it (the chemical) got down," Cochran said. "You're living in fear of drinking the water."
Moore said that residents should contact the DEP about any questions or concerns they have about their water.
"If they had questions, we would be happy to answer them for them," she said.
Even so, Cochran still believes the only way to put the resident's fears to rest is to have city water brought into the area.
"That would erase most of their fears if they get the water in here," he said.

Truancy program designed to keep students in class

by Shawn Gainer
Staff Writer
A truancy diversion program that has recently expanded to North Central West Virginia aims to help school systems devote more resources to keeping students in class.
The program is funded by grants from the state Department of Health and Human Resources and is administered by Burlington United Methodist Family Services. It is used in Marion, Monongalia, Taylor, Doddridge and Harrison counties, said Bridgette Campbell, a Taylor County truancy diversion worker.
A grant providing two truancy workers in Harrison County was approved by the board of education at an Oct. 18 meeting. Campbell said the advantage of the program is that counties can take on the truancy workers at no cost as non-salaried employees.
"The big problem has been that schools care and want to do something about truancy but they're swamped," Campbell said. "In Monongalia County they had one worker for 11,000 students. Harrison was pretty close to that, with only one attendance director to cover all the high schools. The counties have been really taxed."
Under state law, a student is considered truant if he or she has 10 unexcused absences or five consecutive unexcused absences. If the student is 16 or younger, parents can be assessed a fine of $50-$100 or a jail sentence not to exceed 20 days. Students between the ages of 16-18 can be held legally responsible themselves, she said.
"Right now we have a mom serving 13 days in Taylor County jail on weekends. Her child had been missing 80 days a year for three or four years. Her excuse was that she was afraid to leave her house to check on her child because she thought the humane society would come and get her dog," she said.
However, Campbell added that measures such as incarceration or removing a child from home are rarely used because most parents are cooperative once they are informed of the law. The most common tactics are to simply meet and communicate with parents and students and try to intervene as soon as possible.
"Our ability to visit homes helps a lot because truancy is usually a symptom of other problems," she said. "A lot of teachers want to help but they don't have the option of a home visit. Visits can be very helpful because we can refer people to social service agencies. Most people don't realize the help that's available for them."

DHHR moves, to host open house at new site

by Gail Marsh
Staff writer
Lynne Woodford, an economic services supervisor, has worked for the Upshur County office of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources for more than 30 years.
The office serves more than 2,500 Upshur clients each year, offering state assistance with food stamps, short-term emergency assistance, home heating bills, children's health insurance, day care and medical care.
It's not always been an easy job because of the lack of adequate facilities, she said.
"In the past, we've had to work in cramped facilities that we quickly outgrew. This new building will make a substantial difference in the way we'll be able to offer our services," she said.
Woodford and more than 20 other employees have been busy recently moving into the new DHHR headquarters on Brushy Fork Road, just off U.S. Route 33. The 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art structure was built specifically for the DHHR.
The public is invited to an open house on Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the new office. State and local officials will be on hand, and staff members will be available to conduct tours. Refreshments will also be provided, Woodford said.
"This is something we're really proud of. We hope people will come out to see our new location and to learn more about what we do," she said.
Woodford said the DHHR was originally located in a motel in Buckhannon, with two or three workers often sharing the same office space.
"This made the job a little challenging, and it was difficult to guard a client's confidentiality," she said.
The DHHR next moved to the former Moore Business Forms building along U.S. Route 20 South. The office remained there for about nine months while the new building was under construction, Woodford said.
"Now we have plenty of space, a conference room and the ability to interview our clients in a more private setting. The new facility is wonderful," Woodford said.
For more information about the open house or the services of the DHHR, people can call between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 473-4230.

Bus drivers offer tours, safety tips

by Paul Leakan
Staff Writer
Jay Galbraith knows what it's like to have dozens of young children hooting and hollering while squirming back and forth in their seats almost every morning.
Galbraith, a school bus driver in Harrison County for the last 15 years, believes it's important for area residents -- particularly parents -- to see exactly what his job is like.
On Saturday, he and other school bus drivers from Harrison County schools had their chance.
Teaming up with local McDonald's restaurants, county bus drivers gave tours of their buses, handed out brochures full of safety tips and took the time out to meet the parents of the children they drive around all week.
"We're not ogres," Galbraith said. "Our main concern is the safety on the bus."
The Harrison County Board of Education provides transportation for about 10,600 students who ride the bus each day.
Several bus drivers believe that few people know how hard their job can be.
"People don't realize the responsibility we have," said bus driver Mike McCullough.
"If the parents would get on the bus and see what we do -- driving the bus, keeping your eyes on the road, disciplining the kids -- they'd realize what a hard job it is."
John Lough, a bus driver for the last three years, agreed.
"It's a lot of responsibility," he said. "You're dealing with 80 different personalities."
Some drivers have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. Each morning, drivers do a pre-run inspection of their bus, making sure that everything is working well.
Many bus drivers believe the students should also take special precautions to be safe before and after driving the bus.
Among the driver's tips, students riding the bus should:
-- Wait for their bus in safe place far from the road.
-- Follow the instructions of their school bus driver or bus patrol.
-- Remain in their seat while the bus in is motion.
-- Keep their head and arms inside the bus at all times.
-- Keep the aisle clear at all times.
-- Be alert to traffic when leaving the bus.
David Riffle, a school bus driver for the last 19 years, said they want to make sure that all students are safely driven from their school to their home every day.
After all, the job can also be a labor of love.
"I enjoy my job immensely," Riffle said. I'm old enough to retire, but I don't want to.
"A lot of people have hobbies. This is it for me."

Local and area news in brief

Chestnut off ramp to be closed

The Chestnut Street off ramp, (US 50 eastbound) will be closed for concrete repair from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Alternate routes that may be used are Sycamore Street or 3rd Street.

Annual leaf pickup to begin Monday

The City of Clarksburg wants to remind residents that it will begin its annual four-week fall leaf pickup on Monday.
City residents should set out their bagged leaves at the curb in front of their residences.
The schedule for the leaf pickup coincides with the city's regular recycling pick-up.
The pickup program will end on Friday, Nov. 19. However, workers will not pick up leaves on Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day. The pickup for Nov. 11 will resume on Nov. 12.
Anyone with further questions about the city's leaf pickup program can call the Public Works Center at 624-1611 or 624-1612.

Man accidentally shoots brother

ELKINS (AP) -- A 77-year-old Florida man is dead after accidentally being shot by his brother.
State Police say Kenneth Corley of Fort Charlotte, Fla., died Thursday after being hit in the chest with a bullet from a .22-caliber pistol.
Corley's brother, Holmer Corley, 67, of Akron, Ohio, was putting the target pistol away when the weapon discharged.
The brothers were camping near Valley Head, Randolph County.

W.Va. still waits for delayed vaccine doses

CHARLESTON (AP) -- Following three delays in September and October, state health officials are playing a waiting game for flu vaccines.
This week, only 10,000 of the 50,000 doses ordered arrived.
Those doses were not delivered to county health departments because the Bureau for Public Health doesn't have a way to equitably distribute the vaccines.
The best time to administer flu shots is typically between September and November, said Sam Crosby Jr., director of immunization services at the state agency.
"The window of opportunity hasn't closed," he said. "We still have time. But we need to get that vaccine soon."

State eagles set nesting record

CHARLESTON (AP) -- Bald eagle populations in West Virginia are at an all time high.
West Virginia started the century with no known nesting eagles and will end the century with seven active eagle nests and 11 eaglets.
The first documented bald eagle nest was found in 1981 along the South Branch of the Potomac River.
Bald eagles now can be found along Lost River in Hardy County, Jennings Randolph Lake in Mineral County, the Cacapon River in Hampshire County, and the Ohio River in the Northern Panhandle, says the Division of Natural Resources' Nongame Wildlife Program said.
Nationwide, the bald eagle's population has increased to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird of prey from the endangered species list.
A pair of peregrine falcons also have nested in West Virginia and reared one young falcon for the first time in seven years. The falcon nest was spotted on North Fork Mountain in Grant County, not far from a rocky nest on the face of a cliff where a pair of peregrines produced offspring in 1991.
Use of the insecticide DDT has been blamed for declining birds of prey populations. When ingested, the chemical reduces egg shell thickness to the point that eggs do not hatch.

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