< 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.



Dec. 25, 2008

<The Spirit of Christmas is Alive and Well in Monroe County

~ WES Junior High Students Make Christmas a Little Brighter ~

Woodsfield Elementary Junior High students are making Christmas a little brighter for needy children of Monroe County. Janet Schuerman asked her students to each bring in one item for gift boxes. The teacher estimated that there would be 120 items. When they began wrapping the packages, there were 653 items, which included toys, books, hygiene products, clothing and school supplies! The boxes, labeled with the child’s age, were given to Monroe County Job and Family Services Secret Santa program. Shown with their gaily wrapped packages, from left, are, front: Valarie Rife, Morgan Thompson, Hunter Thomas; center: Alyssa Brown, Lacey Plotner, Josie Mahoney, Renea Briggs, Cheyenne Nelson, Sasha Alleman, Brittany Piatt, Justin Casto, Johnny Hupp; back: Emily Williamson, Adam Archer, Austin Straw, Cordell Gauding, Tyler Kinney, Mike Jones and Taylor McGarry.                  

Photos by Martha Ackerman

~ Pamida Donates to SOMA ~
        Jon Price, manager of the Pamida store in Woodsfield, presented Rev. Frank Lehosky, president of the Switzerland of Ohio Ministerial Association, with a check for $750. The money will be used for the Manna program, sponsored by SOMA. According to Lehosky, the Manna program is helping six to eight new families each week. Most of the food is purchased through the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. The food bank is closed the first Wednesday of each month when the food is delivered, but is open succeeding Wednesdays. Woodsfield Riesbeck’s Food Market also provides a large amount of food to the program. The Manna food bank is located at  St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Woodsfield, where Rev. Lehosky is the pastor. According to Rev. Lehosky, the food bank will be closed on Christmas Eve, but will be open on New Year’s Eve.

~ Festival Committee Donates to Needy Children ~
        Needy children of Monroe County will find a little more under their tree this year thanks to the generosity of county organizations and schools.        Members of the Woodsfield Festival Committee raised $557 through a Deck the Halls contest and silent auction held during the festival. The check presentation was held recently. Shown, from left, are: festival committee member Sally Seidler, Monroe County Job and Family Services’ Secret Santa coordinators Laura Cline and Karen Potts, committee members Ruth Workman and Margie Yoss.         

~ American Legion Donates to Warm the Children ~
        Warm the Children, a program which provides new, warm clothing to the needy children of the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District, is serving over 500 children. According to coordinator Pandora Neuhart, volunteer shoppers have already shopped for over 350 children. “There is still a need for donations,” she said. Ed Frank, shown, right, vice commander of the Woodsfield American Legion Post 87, presented a check for $200 to Neuhart for the Warm the Children program, which is sponsored by the Monroe County Beacon and Woodsfield Kiwanis.               


<Director Terminated: Officials Affirm no Wrongdoing
Deb Haney Submits Open Letter to Monroe County Commissioners

by Arlean Selvy
        Deborah Haney, who served as director of Monroe County Job and Family Services for nearly two years, met with Monroe County Commissioners last week to inform them she would not sign the Separation Agreement and General Release handed to her on Nov. 25. In addition, she asked officials to publicly affirm that she has done nothing wrong.
        In light of the abruptness and finality of actions taken by commissioners, Haney said she found that “... many people have wondered what happened and  you assured me there was nothing that I’d done wrong; it’s just that we had a different vision for the agency,” she said. “I understand that even privately you have made comments that ‘Debbie didn’t do anything illegal or immoral. Now I’m asking you to publicly affirm that so that I can move forward with my employment ...” she added.
        “Debbie, I think that’s why we offered that agreement to you …” said Commissioner Bill Thompson. Noting her years of service with the departments of Job and Family Services, Thompson went on to say they were not accusing her of anything illegal or immoral. “I don’t think any of us here are trying to drag you through the mud …”
        Haney explained that on two occasions at a family gathering, family members said co-workers had asked them what she had done - had she done something illegal. “Because of that I wanted to hear a public explanation that that’s not what happened. I can understand ‘we had a different vision’ but I don’t want to leave here, leave  Monroe County with my integrity left behind – I won’t have that,” said Haney.
        “And I understand that completely …” said Commission President John Pyles.
        With regard to Haney’s decision not to sign the separation agreement, she said her attorney told her it would not be in her best interest. She indicated her attorney suggested perhaps negotiation for of an additional four weeks of pay and health benefits so that she could continue her search for employment.
        Following the approximate hour and a half meeting, which included two  executive sessions, officials voted to withdraw the administrative leave, which was part of the separation agreement Haney had been asked to sign.
        On the heels of that action, a motion to terminate Haney from her position was passed. Both motions were made by Pyles and approved by Commissioners Thompson and Sonny ‘Francis’ Block.
        Commissioners held a short executive session prior to the meeting with Haney. That session was to contact their attorney regarding Haney’s request for an open meeting as opposed to being behind closed doors. “I have nothing to hide,” Haney told them.
        In the second secret session, called at 1:50 p.m. for disciplinary action, Haney and her daughter, Amanda Haney-Cech remained in the meeting until 2:20 p.m. at which time they were excused. Regular session resumed again at 2:43 p.m.
        Haney submitted an open letter to commissioners listing many improvements at Monroe County JFS since her employment. In the three page letter she also comments on the Nov. 25 meeting, in which she was asked for her irrevocable resignation, and speaks briefly to her staff.
        The open letter to Pyles, Block and Thompson, reads:
        “On Jan. 5, 2007 in a completely unexpected meeting, a frantic Sonny Block came to my  place of employment and spoke with my employer about the possibility of my assisting Monroe County Job and Family Services until a permanent replacement could be  hired for the vacancy  of the director's position. An agreement was quickly made to ‘loan’ me to Monroe County, which found me working every other day in the two neighboring counties (while on vacation time from my current employer).
        The agency I entered at that  point in time was filled with turmoil, strife, and, due to the loss of several senior staff members to early retirement or resignation, a strong need for guidance and direction. Community members had publicly and frequently commented on their concerns with the agency's actions or lack of actions. Funding for Economic Development was a major topic of concern at every turn. The agency’s image had suffered greatly through a period of about three or four years. Yet, armed with this knowledge and in spite of queries about  my own sanity, I applied for and accepted the position as Director of Monroe County Department of Job and Family Services, beginning full-time on March 5, 2007.
        Why? With all the problems facing this agency, and throughout the county, why would I choose to take on this challenging job? Many of you know my rock-solid answer to that question - it was a Plan that was not within my control. I had 25+ years of experience and knowledge in the Job and Family Services field, and I know that those years could be beneficial in building Monroe County’s Department. I had years of reading and digesting the Ohio Revised Code, of analyzing budgets, and, through years of networking, I had a pocket full of phone numbers for a myriad of experts on any subject I would encounter. I needed to come home to Monroe County.
        Over the next 20 months, many new initiatives were undertaken, many community meetings were held, many new staff members were hired, many new partnerships were formed, and progress was made in all areas of the agency. I ask that the community take the opportunity to view http://jfs.ohio.gov/county/cntypro/pdf07/Monroe.pdf in order to truly see and understand the positive outcomes in all areas of this multiple agency.
        In the Child Support arena, you will find that current child support collections for the period of FFY’07 increased from that of FFY’06 (from 76.1% to 77.6%). Remarkable, this was accomplished during a period of time when brand new staff were learning and administering their duties. In the Public Assistance division, there are comparisons of CY’06 to CY’07 in the Food Stamp and Ohio Works First (OWF - cash assistance) caseload activities. What is not captured on this website is the fact that the State measures how well the staff performs their jobs in food stamp eligibility , by randomly selecting and reviewing cases. During the current performance year, Monroe County had thus far only one case reviewed with an error, leaving them well below the recommended threshold set by the State. And, in review of the number of OWF (cash) cases, CY06 reveals an average of 68 adults receiving cash assistance each month, CY’07 averaged 46 adults monthly,
 and as of November, 2008, there were only 12 adults in receipt of OWF cash, who were identified as able-bodied, and their cash was time-limited. Those reductions can be attributed to some getting employment, some getting approved for disability benefits through Social Security, some relocating, and some withdrawing from the cash assistance. Again, these results were achieved by staff members who were learning how to do things in a different, effective, manner. Finally, in the Public Assistance group, Child Care is also an activity. This involves certification of child care facilities, as well as authorization for families to receive subsidized child care. While the number of children in care was reduced, what is not reflected is the fact that each child care facility was inspected by the department during the last year. Any safety issues were addressed and corrected, or, in a few cases, the licenses were revoked. The pages on the website that identify
 the activities of the Public Children’s Service Agency (Social Services) portion of MCDJFS, indicate that in calendar year ’06 there were 104 reports and investigations of alleged child abuse and neglect. the following year CY’07), this had increased to 120 reports and investigations. Additionally, that same department is responsible for investigating reports of possible abuse or neglect of Monroe County’s aged population through Adult Protective Services. In CY’06 there were no reported investigations, while in CY’07, there were 11 such claims investigated. As with all the other departments, The Social Services division had faced staffing challenges, with the most senior caseworker just celebrating her second anniversary with the agency.  The newest portion of the agency, One-Stop and Workforce Investment Agency services, also has statistical information of the website, but from a time prior to its being placed with MCDJFS. Those numbers
 should be available in the future for review. What won’t show on any statistical report, however, is the collaboration that has been created with several employers in the county, specifically in the area of hiring assistance. Everything from creating and placing ads in the newspapers for openings, to accepting, screening, and forwarding applications is done on behalf of the employer. Employee services are also provided in researching job opportunities and training needs. Again, in review of the website, there is statistical information showing the gain in Monroe County’s labor force from 5100 to 5600 from CY’06 to CYC’07. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell from 11.3 % to 8.2%. As of October 2008, Monroe County ranked 11th in Ohio in the unemployment rate. While this is understandably due, in part, to the resumption of Ormet’s work activities, the work being done by MCDJFS cannot be overlooked as vital to getting and keeping Monroe
 County’s citizens employed.
        Last, and certainly not least, on page three of nine of the website report, there is a clear indication of the many changes that have been made in the utilization of the TANF funding. During CY’07, there was nearly a $95,000 decrease in funding spent from CY’06 (in part, due to reductions in funding). Even with the decreased total, funding for ‘Training, Employment and Career Advancement’ increased from $39,752 to $85,741: for ‘Child Welfare and Family Support’ there was an increase from $0 to $12,587: ‘Youth Education and Support’ was increased from $76,707 to $115,641. These categories represent opportunities made available such as: Youth Employment Program, Learning is For Everyone (LIFE) Program, gas cards for employed food stamp customers, wage subsidies, employment needs, summer reading program; summer youth program; summer career camp; build-your-own-computer lab and their new initiatives. Notably, the decrease in ‘Community and
 Economic Development’ expenditures from $226,747 to $34,832 allowed those dollars to be shared throughout other programs. This was possible due to the decision to add those duties to the MCDJFS staff Workforce / Economic Developer, rather than contracting annually for those services.
        On Nov. 25, 2008, in another unexpected meeting (i.e. Executive Session with the Board), I was presented with a document entitled ‘Separation Agreement and General Release’, prepared by your attorneys, asking for my ‘irrevocable resignation’ as Director of Monroe County Department of Job and Family Services, effective Dec. 31, 2008. The document also indicated that I should be placed on paid Administrative Leave effective immediately, until the Dec. 31, 2008 date. When I asked for any rationale for this decision, I was given the explanation that ‘the agency was not going in the direction that we’d like for it to go’, I had ‘failed to effectively manage the agency’ and that this was to be considered a ‘separation of services’ and not a ‘termination’. I was sent back to my office to pack and when I had an inquiry made (by phone) as to whether or not I could say goodbye to my supervisory staff (at minimum), I was told that I could
 not. With the abruptness and finality of these actions, not only the MCDJFS staff, but the public in general, (including my family and friends), were left wondering exactly what happened. While I understand that comments have been privately made by members of the board that there was no wrongdoing on my part (either illegal or immoral), I am asking that the Board reaffirm this publicly to clear any doubt. According to what I was told, we just did not share the same vision for the agency.
        As recommended by the Commissioners, and identified in the Separation Agreement, I have consulted with counsel and will not be signing the agreement as it is written. If it is still the intention of the Board of Commissioners to separate me from service effective 12/31/08, my journey with MCDJFS will be completed at their request. Since I did not have a chance to speak with my staff, I’ll take this opportunity to wish them all ‘Good Luck’ in all their future endeavors and wish them all success and happiness in their personal and professional lives. And, as I said to three of my staff members who were with me at the end of my day on Nov. 25, I only wonder what the next Plan is for me? I’ll be ready for that next chapter of my journey when it comes!

< Obituaries

        Eleanor E. Christman, 97, Summerfield, died Dec. 16, 2008, at home. She was born Nov. 6, 1911, at Calais to Egger and Mary Miller Stephen.      Condolences may be sent to www.campbellplumlymilburnfuneralhome.com.

        Elizabeth “Libby” Potts Clipner, 40, Marietta St., Sardis, died Dec. 15, 2008 at home. She was born March 8, 1968 in Wooster.
Sympathy expressions at grisellfuneralhomes.com.

Wyatt Allen Bloom, 9, of Woodsfield, died Dec. 13, 2008 at Children’s Hospital, Colum-bus. He was born in Glen Dale, W. Va. Sept. 22, 1999, a son of James and Jennifer Bloom of Woodsfield.
        Condolences may be expressed online at: www.bauerturner.com
        Memorial contributions may be made to: The Wyatt Bloom Memorial Fund, in care of the Citizens National Bank, 143 S. Main St., Woodsfield, OH 43793.

        Eleanor Weber, 81, of Woodsfield died Dec. 21, 2008. Calling hours are 2-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Bauer-Turner Funeral Home, Woodsfield, with service at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24.

        Robert ‘Bob” Louis Metzger, 91, Cambridge, and former resident of Dublin and Columbus Grove, died Dec. 16, 2008, at Genesis-Good Samaritan Medi-cal Center, Zanesville. He was born Oct. 18, 1917 in Greenville, a son of the late Charles “Harry” Metzger and Mary “Mayme” Mulholland Achey Metzger.
        Condolences may be sent to www.thorn-blackfuneral-homes.com.

<Our Readers Write:

Dear Editor,
        Well, the day of reckoning has come. The U.A.W. has told everyone to take a hike down the path of destruction.
        I, Hilbert Ault, have been sounding the alarm for many years. Few have been hearing the bells tolling. Our Democratic officials and our future president has been calling for stronger unions instead of recognizing the harm that the already out of control unions have brought about the failure of our economy in the factories and industries all over America.
        Loss of jobs, plant closings, relocating overseas, and outsourcing is now the order of the day. Yet, the unions have rejected any sensible solutions that are required to reverse this trend. While Rome burns, they are dancing and laughing in the streets.
        Any sensible person knew that the status quo could not be maintained in the cost of doing business within this once great country.
        What a stupid bunch of Americans we have been. “Want” crazy bunch!
        Then our elected officials went about giving away the store to all these store robbers.
        Our elected officials had a job that they refused to do right. They caved in to the greedy unions, and went to bed with them in hope of getting elected. It worked!
        To the shame of all Americans, we allowed the scheme to work.
        History has returned to haunt us.
        Well, over 50 percent of our population allowed it to happen.
        It may not be all lost yet. Congress could still reverse itself and start doing what is best for our nation.
        My prayer is that Obama sees the writing on the wall, and leads this nation to greatness again.
        However, he needs to make a clear cut break away from the unions and all his past promises of a total socialist government.
        The free market can solve this mess we find ourselves in. Bad businesses should fail instead of get government bailouts.
        Incentives should be given to good businesses.
        Let the free market rule the day. Get government out of the way and let the tough problems be solved by those that have the experience instead of some Washington bureaucrats and elected officials.
        You can not expect the good times to roll and yet allow the idiots to push the ball along.
        In conclusion, those that know me and are familiar with my thoughts on the evil of union leaders, both in the private sector, and more pronounced in the public sector.
        I have not remained silent on these matters.
        Made some enemies in high places, paid a few prices, yet I remain firm in my love for this country.
        It is now up to its citizens to stand up and decry the union power that is so greedy and corrupt.
        Yes, I could be called a union buster.
Hilbert Ault

Dear Editor,
        I serve as a member of Clarington Village Council and want to offer my compliments to the citizens of Clarington who decorated for Christmas and the Christmas Light Contest. I don’t normally drive around town after dark, but last night we drove all over the village looking at the beautiful lights.  I know it took a lot of hard work and I want to say how much the efforts  of each participant is appreciated. We have some beautiful light displays in our town and it makes me proud that so many people worked so hard. I want to say to those whose names were not on the short winner’s list - you were not losers. Every display was beautiful!
Judy Wiggins

Dear Editor,
        For those people over 10 years ago who thought that consolidating our schools, need to look at the picture now. Was it and is it such a great idea? We have wasted money on a school that was to be closed over 10 years ago and now it’s been completely shut down and no one is allowed in it. Our kids are suffering. Our high school students do not have a facility to use for themselves such as basketball, volleyball, band, and wrestling. Now that we have done this we have caused other students in other schools to be put out of their own practicing and events in their own schools. There are kids having to travel to Graysville/Bethel such as the Skyvue Elementary students, the Woodsfield Elementary is traveling to Cameron, our high school band practices are at the Woodsfield Elementary portables, the high school and pee-wee wrestling teams are practicing at the fairgrounds in the Henry Coulson building. All of the basketball games, volleyball games, wrestling tournaments are being held at Skyvue Elementary School forcing our kids at Skyvue Elementary to have to give up their practices and seasonal events for other students that do not even go to Skyvue Elementary. There have been times that the buses and drivers have not been there for our students that the sport is affiliated with. Our school and the parents have had to step in or the event was cancelled.
        If this was and is a great idea, why does it feel like we as parents, teachers and school board members and our community could be doing something more to help? Like vote no for fixing things that really do not need fixing and yes to a school that could benefit for now and years in the future, or just go back to the way things were because the way things are now are not benefiting our children.
Tracey R. Lucas

<Around the Burnside

The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.
        Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
        To all my loyal readers: Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry Christmas! It’s that time of year again and I’m sure you remember, “The Reason for the Season.” I have so many things to be thankful for over the years. I also try to give you know who the credit for helping me along over the rough spots. Without Him, who knows what might have happened? A chance is all God wants.
        There are those who are not having a lot to be merry about this year with the economy in such a downturn these days. With unemployment running so high, it’s going to be tough.
        Who recalls when folks got along without something if it cost too much? Isn’t this part of the thing that helped cause our trouble? Remember: Although no one can go back and make a new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new start.
        On to more pleasant things. The basketball season is rolling along. As normal the weather has stuck its nose in to cause a bit of trouble. Normally it starts showing up around football season but this year it held off until late in the season.
        It seems as though the Beallsville and Monroe Central girls teams are taking off where the volleyball season ended. Winning!
        A reader called and suggested I might enjoy attending the Beallsville girls game on the 15th. True, but with the weather and my developing dislike for driving at night, I had to pass. I don’t make it to nearly as many games nowadays.
        I’m sorry I didn’t make it as Alyssa Headley went over the 1000 point mark in her year on the team and she will be adding to her total every game. We’re proud of you. A picture in the paper would be nice.
        Those of you who know anything about basketball, know this is quite an accomplishment. By comparison, I doubt if our team in high school scored 1000 points all season. I scored eight points one game and was high point man. OK, we didn’t win many games. If we beat Madison both games we had a successful season.
        The great thing about this is how the girls game has progressed over the years. Girls didn’t have teams and play other schools as they do now when I was in high school.
        The only time they played basketball was during gym class. We sometimes would sneak a peak every once in a while. We thought it was something to watch them wearing their pantaloons or bloomers, or whatever you call them. Come to think of it, some of the uniforms worn by boys teams today, if they had a draw string on the leg, you would have the bloomers again. One team, I won’t mention, looked as though they had an accident and hadn’t made it in time because of the saggy seat.
        Christmas time is a time, among other things, to enjoy eating. I’m trying to get a good start. Yesterday I ate at the new KFC that just opened up and today I ate at the Alpine Room in Swiss Hills. Nothing like getting practiced up. I think maybe I talked Esther into having baked steak for Christmas instead of ham.
        Speaking of ham reminds me. Are there any wild boars in Monroe County? I’m not sure if there are any now, but I understand one was harvested during deer season. A right good size one, some 350 pounds I think. I hope none get out on the road as they say a hog is one of the worst thing to hit with a car. It’s kind of like hitting a log.
        One thing I do enjoy eating around holiday time is what I call vegetable pizza. You know, you get all the raw vegetables that are said to be good for you, chop them up fine, low fat cream cheese, Miracle Whip, ranch dressing powder. Mix this together and spread it over a thin crust. I use crescent rolls in a can, baked flat. Cut into small pieces and dig in. I never thought I’d be including a recipe in my writing, so there. Oh, I almost forgot,\; include shredded cheese in and on it.
        They had this at the Alpine Room feed and I stopped at Riesbeck’s on the way home and got what I would need to make one for Christmas dinner or whenever we eat. It makes good snacks, too.
        Sometimes it’s a bit tough to think of something interesting or even boring to write about. Those of us who have hearing aids stuck in our ears might understand the following.
        A man started thinking his wife was hard of hearing but didn’t know how to prove it. So he went to his doctor and asked, ‘How can I tell if my wife is hard of hearing?” The doctor explained, “When your wife is doing something, get about 50 feet from her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t answer move closer. If she doesn’t answer, keep moving closer until she does.”
        When the old boy went home, his wife was preparing supper. He stationed himself in another room approximately 50 feet away. “What are we having for supper?” he asked. No answer. He then moved approximately 10 feet closer. “What are we having for supper?” he asked again. No answer. He kept moving 10 feet closer and asking the same question, “What are we having for supper,” with no response.
        Finally he got within five feet of his wife and asked, “What are we having for supper?” His wife turned to him and asked, “Why do you keep asking me what we’re having for supper? I’ve already told you five times we are having chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.”
        Remember: When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
        Churches are having special services. Why not attend one?
        Bible readings:  (Mon.) Luke 7:24-29; From John (Tues.) 1:6-9; (Wed.) 1:19-28; (Thurs.) 1:29-34; (Fri.) 5:30-35; (Sat.) 3:22-30; (Sun.) Luke 3:7-18.