Commission Sees Merits In VHS Officer
At the Wetzel County Commission meeting held Feb. 15, Principal Ben McPherson, Guidance Counselor Dr. John Tomaszewski, and teachers Kristi Earley and Janet Moore of Valley High School and Wetzel County Sheriff James Hoskins met with the commission to discuss financial plans for the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) program currently implemented at VHS.
McPherson and Earley cited student safety as the number one goal and purpose of the PRO at the high school. However, those present all expressed how PRO Deputy Donald Bordenkircher continues to go above and beyond his duties to provide security and trust to the students at VHS. Additionally, Deputy Bordenkircher provides the community with local law enforcement, as there is presently no other such enforcement regularly close by.
In addition to safety, McPherson cited that the number of discipline referrals at the school have dropped significantly with the PRO’s presence. Also, Dr. Tomaszewski noted that the thing he admired most about the PRO program is that it is a proactive initiative instead of a reactive one. The PRO is able to mediate conflict between students before a problem gets out of hand, and many students trust and take what he says with great credibility. “Hearing consequences from the officer sends a stronger message to the kids,” Dr. Tomaszewski said.
Sheriff Hoskins added that he could see how worthwhile the program is and what an excellent job Deputy Bordenkircher does as Valley High School’s PRO. “We can see the effect it has on local schools,” Hoskins said.
Those in attendance expressed their thanks to the commission for their financial support in the past and shared the news that the school is applying for at least two grants to help supplement the costs of the PRO program. “We don’t want to burden the cost solely on one group,” McPherson said.
At the close of their appointment the county commission moved to sign all appropriate documentation to help keep the PRO program in place at VHS.
Also present at Tuesday’s meeting was Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught to present the county commission with grant materials pertaining to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant application.
Haught noted that the Wetzel County Prosecutors office has been able to provide victim services for 10 years to 681 individuals.
The grant requires a signature by Commission President Don Mason as well as a resolution to send with the application. The commission unanimously agreed to give Mason permission to sign the application, resolution, and any other documents pertaining to the forwarding of the VOCA grant.
Also during his appointment, Haught touched upon a huge aspect of the increasing drug problems in the county, stating, “Physicians are over-prescribing prescription medication.” He mentioned he was writing two out-of-county physicians Tuesday afternoon advising them that their patient has overdosed on pills provided by them. “In order to stop the abuse of prescription medicines, we have to have the cooperation of physicians,” Haught stressed.
The commission whole-heartedly agreed with Haught and stated they would continue to do what was necessary at any cost to help take control of the county’s devastating drug problems.
Also meeting with the commission to address financial funding were Cathy Eastham of the Hundred Public Library board, Weldon Williams of the Pine Grove Public Library board, Joanna Casto of the Paden City Public Library, Janet Conn of the New Martinsville Public Library, and Susan Reilly of the Moundsville-Marshall Public Library. They extended their sincere thanks and appreciation of the commission’s past financial support.
Conn explained that the libraries have been trying to expand services and programs to the public, but with increasing services comes increased costs. However, with the commission’s financial help, all of the county’s libraries have been able to sustain present programs and establish new ones, all with great reception from the public. Conn noted that this year the New Martinsville Public Library showed a circulation increase of 10 percent from last year and a similar increase was expected for 2011-2012.
Eastham also addressed the commission to express her thanks for their past help. She explained that the Hundred library has been without its librarian for several months due to a medical situation, but with the commission’s donated funds the library was able to remain open with the hiring of a substitute librarian. “Without that money we couldn’t have kept our doors open,” Eastham said.
The commission was pleased to hear how well the programs were doing within the libraries and asked the funding request letters for the fiscal year 2011-2012 be submitted no later than March 1 to be considered for this year’s budget.
Lastly, Lisa Sidenstricker addressed the county commission to request approval of the county’s 4-H and FFA Livestock Clubs’ proposal to expand the show arena and barn on the 4-H grounds.
Sidenstricker outlined plans to add 48 feet between the barn and show arena areas, as well as add more seating and a wash pad. The project is estimated to cost around $5,500 and will be funded solely by the clubs. If approved, the organizations hope to complete the project in the summer before the county fair, Town & Country Days.
The county commission approved the proposal and gave the organizations the green light to start construction.