< P.O. Box 70, Woodsfield, OH  43793  <


Below are links to portions of this week's news articles. For the full story, pick up a  paper at your local newsstand or send $1 with your name/address to P.O. Box 70, Woodsfield, OH  43793.



Nov. 26, 2008






Several concerned residents converged upon school board members following the board’s Nov. 20 meeting. Board members seated are Ron Winkler and Scott Dierkes, president. About 200 residents attended the meeting to find out why Woodsfield High School was closed. The closing has forced activities held at the school to be shuffled to various areas in the county. From left, speaking to Dierkes, is Rusty Bondy, Richele Brown, Karen Harper and Nicole Jorris (in white shirt).

Residents Seek Answers About Woodsfield High School Closing

by Arlean Selvy
        Suggestions about what could be done to allow the former Woodsfield High School to reopen appeared to fall on deaf ears as board members voted last week to uphold the decision of Supt. Larry Elliott to close the facility.
        The facility was closed following a Nov. 17 review of district schools by a representative of the state fire marshal’s office.
        It was after a two-hour meeting with residents and an executive session that the board voted to authorize the superintendent to hire an architect to bring the building up to code. The vote was 5-0.
        Elliott told the group of about 200 that the school is not up to fire code and is unsafe. He explained the liability became that of the school district because “now we know” about the violations. He noted also that since administration was given the violations in writing, there is no insurance coverage if someone gets hurt.
        Elliott said the school is closed for the short term, noting the space is needed for various activities until new facilities are constructed.
        He said the No.1 concern is safety of the children. Noting the facility provides a place for activities, he indicated alternate sites have  been located for activities which were held at the former high school.
        Elliott said the No. 2 priority is the building. He said it was his intent to ask the board to hire an architect so that repairs are done right.
        Residents were armed with questions about the closure as well as suggestions on action which might be taken to reopen it. The reaction of several was anger; most were confused about  what had happened to cause the closure. One resident told officials they had defeated their own levy, while another told officials they have caused people to distrust administration.
        Sherri Singleton addressed the board as a representative of Monroe Central wrestling parents. “It is inconsequential whether the neglect to maintain facilities was a result of an inability to do so or an unwillingness to do so, the outcome was the same - children were hurt by the closing of facilities,” she said.
        She told officials it’s time for a multi-purpose building. She also asked for a breakdown of expenses for fixing WHS and also asked if there is a budget to pay for the repairs.
        Singleton also asked, as did others, if they could volunteer their time to help fix the building.
        She asked why the five district schools which are over capacity were not closed.
        That question was asked by several individuals who noted that Beallsville’s school had 16 violations as opposed to 12 similar violations at the former Woodsfield High.
        Woodsfield resident Karen Harper indicated that in a telephone conversation the fire marshal told her his office was asked to review the school but that they did not close it. News articles, she said, implied that the fire marshal’s office ordered the closure.
        “I hope it wasn’t the board,” said Harper. “Our students have been deprived so many times.” She said closing the school has caused a hardship and inconvenience. “Why was Woodsfield High singled out and closed in one day?” she asked.
        “We were told it was a unsafe building,” answered Elliott.
        Resident and attorney Jason Yoss told the board they have to understand the concerns of the people. “Twelve violations versus 16 or 17 ... it’s confusing and illogical to close  Woodsfield and not Beallsville,” he said. High singled out and closed in one day?” she asked.
        “We were told it was a unsafe building,” answered Elliott.
        Resident and attorney Jason Yoss told the board they have to understand the concerns of the people. Twelve violations versus 16 or 17 ... it’s confusing and illogical to close  Woodsfield and not Beallsville.
        It was the consensus of those attending the meeting that their children were in less danger at WHS than they were in a school bus being transported over a slick county road. As for being a fire hazard, one parent said the school is no more of a fire hazard than the Monroe Central trailers. “If you’re talkin’ safety ... those trailers will go up faster than the school building,” said one audience member.
        In a call to the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Beacon was informed that Nov. 17 is the first time WHS has been inspected. According to Shane Cartmill, public information officer, the office did not know of the facility and had no identification number for it. He indicated an inspection of Monroe Central was being conducted and he was asked by Darren Cook, director of support services, to review the former high school. The review was to be made so the school district could use the building for events, education and classes. According to Cartmill, once the review began, numerous fire code violations were found. Based on the findings and codes the district chose to close the building.
        Cartmill said that if the school had not made the decision to close the facility, the fire marshal’s office would have monitored the building. If the fire marshall found it was being used, he would then do “a complete fire and life safety inspection and issue notices of violations.”
        Once an inspection is completed, the district would have a certain amount of time to become compliant with regulations.
        According to Cartmill, the inspector, Jeff Baucher, did not know the building was in use. As he toured the facility, he felt it was being used and this was confirmed. He then went to talk to the superintendent.
        “Our main purpose is to make sure people are safe,” said Cartmill.
        Violations at WHS included:
        • Repair exit lighting and add exit lights to all stairwells, hallways and places of assembly;
        • Remove all hasps from doors to any occupiable space. Repair or replace door knobs as needed;
        • Post occupancy load in gym;
        • Have manual fire alarm system tested;
        • Test all standing pipe hose;
        • Remove tape from electric panels and install breaker schedule. Place breaker lock on any that feed emergency lighting or alarm system;
        • Curtains at stage must be flame resistant;
        • Egress lighting for restrooms
        • Arched door: remove board that slides through handles and replace with panic hardware;
        • Remove all storage from all mechanical rooms;
        • Storage in hallways, stairwells and landings to be removed.


<All Decked Out for the Holiday

        The committee is hard at work making the third annual Woodsfield Christmas Festival bigger and better than in previous years. The new addition in front of the courthouse brings a family from the past, designed by Deb Bowen, to town. Shown, from left, seated: Margie Yoss, Father; standing: Ruth Workman, Mother, Deb Bowen and Little Girl. Absent was Sally Seidler.      Photo by Martha Ackerman

        Maybe you’ve noticed the new residents of Monroe County. They warm the bench in front of the Monroe County Courthouse awaiting the Christmas festivities which will be held in Woodsfield Dec. 6.
        The Victorian characters were handmade by Debbie Bowen of Bowen Construction. “Debbie has spent many hours and days working on these beautiful figures and we really appreciate all her hard work,” said Ruth Workman, a member of the Woodsfield Christmas Festival Committee. “Debbie got this idea after seeing the wonderful Victorian people they have in Cambridge during the holidays.
        “Also a big thanks to the Switzerland of Ohio Ministerial Association (SOMA) for donating clothing to dress the characters,” added Workman.
        There is a full day of events scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6 beginning at 8 a.m. with Breakfast with Santa. Festivities continue throughout the day with vendors in the courthouse, store specials and refreshments, Santa’s Workshop, live radio broadcast, pictures with Santa, silent auction, barrel train rides and face painting, carriage rides, live Nativity, holiday pampering, Christmas caroling and concert and the parade. See the Dec. 4 Christmas in Monroe ad for a complete schedule.


<Health Plan Insurance Renewed, Increases at MCCC Discussed

by Arlean Selvy
        Renewal of The Health Plan insurance effective Jan. 1, 2009; EMS expenses; approval of payment for a 501(c)3 application for the CIC and rate increases at the Monroe County Care Center were all topics of discussion at the Nov. 18 meeting of Monroe County Commissioners.   The county is looking at a 21 percent increase in premiums for employees who opt to take The Health Plan’s HMO with $500/$1000 deductible and a $15/$30/$50 drug plan.
        A 23 percent increase is effective for employees who are on the Health Plan’s PPO benefit option.
        An employee switching from the HMO to the PPO in January, will see only a three percent increase from 2008 premiums.
        “The E-Squad is costing the taxpayer $114,000 from the levy, $99,000 for Workers’ Compensation, plus an additional $50,000, or more, over what they might bring in …” These figures were noted by County Commissioner Bill Thompson. He concluded it is costing taxpayers about $265,000 for EMS services. “And then,” he added, “their insurance gets billed.” According to Thompson, it costs Noble County only $159,000. He said services are bid out and the company pays its own Workers’ Comp and employees.
        Jeanette Harter, who works with the general fund budget, told commissioners the squads have $4,749.73 available to additionally appropriate. About $40,000 is expected to be received from insurances. Harter noted about $85,000 is needed.
        With the county face to face with dire money woes, Harter continues to monitor funds closely. EMS has found itself in a crunch in large part by the cost of Workers’ Compensation premiums. Emergency services now faces another year of extremely high premiums.
        Dean Gramlich, president, Community Improvement Committee, approached officials about the need for $750 to file with IRS in order to obtain a 501(c)3 application. Officials approved a motion to take the $750 from the CIC’s park fund.
        Obtaining a 501(c)3 status will bring the CIC to non-profit status. “I think we’re one of only a few CICs that are in a situation to be taxed,” said Thompson.
        Bob Reed and Ron White, representing Share LLC, the Columbus firm which manages Monroe County Care Center, discussed rate increases with officials. They recommended a $6 per day increase for current residents and a $9 per day increase for new residents after Jan. 1.
        Pyles noted concern about the increase, indicating new monies should go into the facility as opposed to salaries. According to Reed, the increase is set in the budget to reach a break-even point. He said costs have increased more each year than income and that gap is getting larger. Reed noted, too, that the number of residents has decreased.
        The current daily rate is $121. Reed said the projected cost for routine service in 2009 is $155 a day. Over the past 18 years, rates have increased by $53 per day.
        No action was taken as officials said they want to look more closely at the suggested increase.
        Reed announced that the Appalachian Regional Commis-sion has accepted their preliminary application and requested that a final application be submitted.
        Funding from ARC is being sought to help pay for assisted living quarters at Monroe County Care Center.
        Commissioners signed a letter to State Rep. Jennifer Garrison requesting support of the Wireless 911 fund bill known as House Bill 550. The bill is currently assigned to the House Finance and Appropriation Com-mittee.
        The Wireless 911 fund, a product of HB 361 enacted in 2005, has a sunset clause of December 2008.      
        HB 550 provides for an extension of the sunset through 2012, applies the 32 cent surcharge to calls, increases funds for the smallest counties from $25,000 to $90,000 annually and funds much needed public education.
        Monroe County has a fully implemented wireless 911. The wireless funding is needed to maintain the system, pay for service calls, and pay AT&T fees associated with wireless 911. Currently Monroe County is only able to employ one full-time dispatcher. The wireless funds would help cover the cost of the salary of another dispatcher so that two dispatchers could be on duty part of the time.
        In other matters:
        Allyson Cox, commission secretary, told officials that nobody wants to take over the Veteran’s Committee brick project which honors veterans. Commission President John Pyles indicated he will speak to other veterans’ organizations about the project.
        Bricks engraved with the names of veterans form a sidewalk to the prosecuting attorney’s office (formerly the board of elections office) at the courthouse and plans were to extend the brick memorials on the south side of the courthouse.
        Commissioner Francis ‘Sonny’ Block read a letter from Safe Auto into the record. According to the letter, a decision has been made not to pursue an expansion of the claims operation in Monroe County . According to the letter, written by Vic Johnson, senior vice-president of claims, projected growth over the next few years is much less than in past years. Johnson noted also that the company will not move into any new states at this time. “Therefore the need for adding new employees has greatly decreased and the need for additional facilities is not necessary.”


<Cable Ad Confuses Customers

        “It's misleading - it makes it look like [Suddenlink] is back in business [here in Woodsfield]," said Jeff Woodell, Woodsfield village administrator.
        Woodell had a barrage of telephone calls last week after residents received an offer, via mail, from Suddenlink to sign up for television cable. Calls and questions were also answered at the Beacon office.
        "Suddenlink is not coming in to compete," said Woodell. "It's an error by their marketing department." He indicated the address labels of
those who received the advertisement were apparently not pulled out of Suddenlink’s mailing system.
        After several months of negotiating with Suddenlink, Woodell was able to complete a deal enabling the village of Woodsfield to take ownership of the television cable system in July. The deal includes a non-compete clause which disallows Suddenlink to set up a cable system in competition with the village. Woodell noted, too, that it would cost $5 million to $6 million for another cable system to be installed in Woodsfield.
        "We're finally settled in and things are rollin' along good," said Woodell, "It's just a fly in the ointment.”
        With the advent of cold weather, Woodell said the Woodsfield Municipal Cable System has now picked up over 120 new customers. The system has also added several channels at no additional cost to customers.
        The Suddenlink advertisement offers cable at $40 per month for 12 months. What it does not say is that the $40 is for basic channels.
        Woodsfield Municipal Cable offers basic TV cable for under $30

< Obituaries

        Melvin L. Brown, 60, of Ithaca, New York, died Oct. 25, 2008 at Cuyuga Medical Center. The son of the late Clyde and Stella Brown, he was born Feb. 28, 1948 in Woodsfield.

        Dale E. Hendershot, 59, of Barnesville, died Nov. 23, 2008 at Emerald Pointe Nursing and Rehab Center. He was born Nov. 11, 1949 in Beallsville, a son of Ferne Truax Hendershot of Beallsville and the late Robert (Bob) Hendershot.

        Darlene R. Knowlton Shreves, 45, Woodsfield, died Nov. 18, 2008, at Woodsfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was born Dec. 2, 1962 in Sistersville, W.Va., a daughter of the late Everett Knowlton and Mary Schwaben Knowlton. Condolences can be expressed online at www.bauerturner.com


<Our Readers Write:

Dear Editor,
        Out of 88 Ohio counties, Monroe is one of the only four limited to one publicly funded library. In comparing Monroe with other counties who have approximately the same population, some interesting facts can be found. For example, Morgan County has a smaller population, fewer square miles, and receives less library funding than Monroe County, yet it operates two public libraries. When one divides the revenue by the number of libraries they operate, other district libraries in counties similar to Monroe are providing quality library service in multiple buildings for less money than Monroe County uses to operate their Woodsfield library.
        At the October meeting of the Monroe County District Library, these facts were presented to their board along with a request to begin negotiations with Dally Library as a branch.
        In good faith, Dally entered negotiations and presented a model used by forward-thinking counties in the state. These county boards provide library services to any community that will provide a building. In this way, they can service more people throughout the area. At this first session, we agreed with the Monroe County Library representatives to meet again on Dec. 1 for our second negotiations. How can we now believe that they negotiated with us in food faith when at their November meeting, weeks before our agreed-upon second negotiations session, their board abruptly refused Dally as a  branch?
        At that meeting, a citizen opposing branch status suggested that people along the riverfront can go to West Virginia libraries. Perhaps this sums up this issue more than any other statement. As a taxpayer of Ohio and Monroe County who happens to live in the riverfront area, shouldn't I have equal access to services provided by the monies designated to Monroe County by the state of Ohio?
        The treasurer of Monroe County District Library stated they receive $640,000. By their staff’s estimation, Dally could be operated for as little as $47,000, less than eight percent of funds provided by the state. It’s not as though Dally is asking for a handout: we (like perhaps other areas of Monroe County) would like more equal access to library services that could be provided through this money designated for Monroe County.
        According to a statement in the Intelligencer, the denial was a financial matter. Yet later in the same board meeting, they voted to give thousands of dollars in bonuses to their employees. They also said they will have a carryover into the new year of at least $80,000. In the time that Dally has been in existence, the MCDL has spent hundreds of thousands of Monroe County’s allocation from the state renovating their Woodsfield building, purchasing property, and erecting gazeboes. Is this what the state intended when it disburses this money for library services? While it is commendable to care for library property, shouldn’t it be weighed against the needs of the county? If the library needs of the majority of our county are not being adequately met, then it is time for citizens and officials to look carefully for ways to rectify this situation.
Sincerely, Karen Romick

<Around the Burnside

              You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect and always have.
        You might be a redneck if: You’ve never burned an American flag, nor intend to.
        Pappy used to say, “Every good thing has to come to an end.” The problem is, if it ends before you want, it’s a big disappointment.
        The River football team, for example. They were sailing along toward the state finals but it fell a bit short. A disappointment but the trip will be long remembered. Many schools would give everything to make the same trip.
        I am not acquainted with any of the members of the River football team. However, a picture in the Times Leader was an example of what I think of the River team.
        The picture was of several players shortly after they had received the runner-up trophy. You could read the disappointment on their faces. Yet, they were applauding the Malvern team as they received the winners trophy. Now, if this isn’t class I don’t know what is. “Respect the game” at its best.
        I’m sure the River football team, cheerleaders and coaches did an excellent job representing River High School, Switzerland of Ohio Schools and Monroe County this year.
        Those of us who are not directly involved with a football team sometimes forget the teachers, students, booster club, parents and fans who are also a part of the team. They deserve a pat on the back.
        I don’t know what else to say except I’m proud of the job you accomplished this year.
        Where else but in America? Several days ago I ate lunch at a nearby restaurant. I got to thinking it was almost like taking a world trip.
        I sat there eating with a fork from Thailand and a spoon from the Philippines. I’m not sure where the knife was from as it didn’t say. What’s worse than that, I was wearing a cap made in Vietnam. Where else but in America?
        How about these snow flurries? I kind of like this type of snow. Here today, gone tomorrow. Kind of early. I remember when I could hardly wait for snow; now I’d like to wait all winter before it snows.
        Now, way back 58 years ago I remember when we had a real snow, not one of the fly by night kind. I had to put chains on my car and travel all the way to Logan County a week after the snow. If I recall correctly we missed 15 days or more of school that year. This was before we had to make up missed days.
        This time of year it’s kind of tough to think of something to write about. I got to thumbing through some of the stuff I’ve written some 16 years ago and thought it might be interesting to share again with all of the things going on today.
        When I was growing up I didn’t realize I was growing up in poverty.
        Here is a list of things I didn’t have. No running water, no inside plumbing, no heat upstairs and one room downstairs, no bathtub, outside john, a pot under the bed, nothing but a coal fired cook stove, couldn't shower every day, no refrigerator, had to wear clothes more than one day, one pair of gym shoes for three years of basketball, didn’t get to play little league anything, never touched a basketball till a freshman in high school, never ate a box lunch at school, had to wear gum boots, didn’t even have a TV set, no calculators, no boom box, one radio in the house, had to carry water in the house, carry coal in the house and ashes out. The list could go on and on and on with things  such as cell phones, computers, IPods, turning urine into water, etc. You could probably fill pages with the list. I might also add, we went to church nearly every Sunday.
        How did we ever make it? We sold milk at eight cents a quart, four cents a pint to a few people, raised a garden, butchered a few hogs and Jersey bulls, kept a few chickens and ate plenty of beans. I could still enjoy a dish of some kind of beans every day. Now, we were really under the poverty level and didn’t know it. I’m not sure there was a poverty level back then, ’cause I think most everyone was in the same boat.
        I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make, but I think there comes a time when people have to do something for themselves.
        I also mentioned getting ready for R.O.E., Resident Outdoor Education, a program of three days at camp for sixth graders to study the out of doors. An excellent program dropped because of funds and no one was willing to work to provide the funds.
        I ended with: Did you know it takes two politicians to install a light bulb? One to insert it. One to screw it up.
        I sometimes ended with a riddle; do you remember this? What do you raise in the garden that you, One: throw away the outside, two: cook the inside, three: eat the outside and four: throw away the inside?
        I know you knew the answer right away. It’s sweet corn; think about it.
        Why is it people are so funny - they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road and back of the church? There’s still plenty of empty back seats; try one this Sunday.
        Bible readings: (Mon.) John 16:25-33; (Tues.) Thessalonians 2:13-16; (Wed.) Romans 8:18-25; (Thurs.) Acts 14:21-23; (Fri.) I Peter 4:12-19; (Sat.) Psalm 44:17-26; (Sun.) II Corinthians 11:16-18, 21-30, 12:9,10.