The Wetzel County Commission voted Tuesday to continue matching funds, up to $15,000, that the Wetzel County Board of Education gives towards the Valley High School Prevention Resource Officer. Several representatives were present to show their support to the cause, including Kristi Earley, who spoke on behalf of Valley High School; VHS Principal Jackie Shepard; current PRO officer Donald Bordenkircher; Wetzel County Sheriff John Brookover; and Wetzel County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Koontz.
County Clerk Carol Haught explained the financial procedures involved: "In the past, what has happened, is they have applied for 'x' amount of dollars. The difference between the grant funds received and what his salary and benefits were . . . the difference in what was remaining, (the county) splits the difference with the Board of Education."
Earley explained that last year the cost for the county and the BOE was approximately $12,000 to $13,000. Earley stated that the estimated cost for this year has been upped to $15,000, just in case there is an increase.
VHS PRO Officer Donald Bordenkircher
It was also noted that because of a requirement of an increase in matching funds, the Board of Education agrees to pays for Bordenkircher's fuel, while the commission provided him with his new cruiser.
"We still have a need for a program," Shepard noted. "Every other school has immediate access to cops. Pine Grove has nothing-no city cop and no state police nearby. The faculty, staff, and students feel secure in our building. We feel truly safe with (Bordenkircher) at our school. He has been going over an emergency plan, tweaking it. We have been having some drills and we are constantly trying to prepare in case, God forbid, an emergency would happen."
Shepard also handed out copies of Valley's discipline records over the past few years, to show a decrease in disciplines with the presence of a PRO. "His presence there . . . it's a help to the kids. Kids go to him if they need help with something outside of school." She explained that some kids have had issues with drinking and driving and have gone to Bordenkircher for help.
"I'm highly pleased with Bordy's work out there," Sheriff John Brookover noted. "I think he does a wonderful job out there. It's needed out there."
"We've heard a lot of positive comments out there about the PRO," Commission President Don Mason agreed. "We've heard comments from citizens."
Earley stated that Officer Bordenkircher had spearheaded the Sportsmen's Club at Valley. "Through the summer, we were able to do 3D Archery Shoots at Pine Grove's Sportsmen's Club. We have a lot of students that enjoy those things but maybe don't have a male role model."
Earley stated that a couple of future trips have been planned and, previously, Valley students took a trip to Cabela's. "The students were shown how they fill fish tanks and they were fed bison burgers . . . Some of our students had never been to Wheeling before. It was a big day for a lot of them." She also noted that Valley has recently applied for adopt-a-highway program. "We are going to have a clean-up day. We are stressing to students that they need to give back to the community and take good care of the county and state."
It also appears as if Valley might acquire another team in the future: "Bordy is interested in starting an air rifle team," Earley noted. "We are looking into legalities . . . Bill Talkington is on board with it."
As for the PRO officer, Shepard noted, "It is pulling in our at-risk kids. It's targeting them and pulling them in. Otherwise, they might drop out. They feel a real connection to the school."
"It's helping that Bordy's been there five years now," Deputy Koontz stated. "He's been there with the kids throughout high school."
It was also mentioned that Bordenkircher is looking into starting a SAAD club - Students Against Drunk Driving. "We've had so many of our students that have . . . we know from parents talking . . . we have underage drinking going on, over weekends or over the summers," the principal stated.
Earley noted, "Bordy wants to work on that. He's organizing a SAAD chapter. He's sent away for an informational kit. He had the DUI Simulator and it's coming again March 28, scheduled before prom and graduation."