Pine Grove FFA Students Earn State Titles
At the March 16 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Pine Grove FFA was recognized for their notable achievements at the 72nd West Virginia FFA Ham, Bacon, and Egg Show and Sale. Interim Superintendent Jay Yeager and the board recognized the following members for the respective awarded items: Megan Martin, Grand Champion Ham; Justin Bassett, Grand Champion Bacon; Rebeckah Barnette, Reserve Champion Ham; and Lathe Ueltschy, Third Place Eggs.
The Wetzel County Board of Education also approved the 2015-2016 levy estimates and general current expense funds at their March 16 meeting. These estimates can be seen in the Legal Section of this edition of the Wetzel Chronicle.
“I know we have all the excess tax money, but there is a condition, is there not, that allows us to keep a larger sum of that, if the state can’t make us give so much back of their funding,” Board Member Carolyn Gatian asked.
“Basically, I’ll tell you that we have twice as many students as Tyler County,” Treasurer Jeff Lancaster noted, adding, “but, we will receive less money in state aid than Tyler County. The reason why is because our assessed values are higher. We receive more in local taxes, so the regular state aid formula reduces the amount they are going to send us by the amount of extra taxes we are receiving. If we had no excess levy, this oil and gas boom we are receiving would not help us, but since we have the excess levy, since the voters pass that levy and we are very appreciative.”
“Without the excess levy, it’d very much cripple our county,” Lancaster stated.
In another matter, the board approved an agreement between themselves and the Wetzel County Commission to continue support of the West Virginia Justice Assistance Grant for the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) to be located at Valley High School. Gatian inquired as to if this is the last year for the agreement/contract. Lancaster noted that it was the last year for the grant.
Interim Superintendent Jay Yeager noted that he met with the New Martinsville Police Department, county commission, and city officials, including NMPD Chief Tim Cecil about the Prevention Resource Officer programs in other Wetzel County Schools. “We’ve already started the Hundred program and Paden City program, and we are waiting for the county prosecutor to complete the legal agreement. It is 80 percent and 20 percent. The county is responsible for 20 percent and the board 80 percent . . . I met with the police chief, and they have enough officers that they can provide a PRO for Magnolia. I kind of went out on a limb and told them I would think we would want to probably look at the same kind of share that the county commission is paying for – the board 80 percent and the city 20 percent.”
Gatian asked that since there is no grant program for three of the schools, thus no guidelines, “would we still have an establishment of criteria, things we want the PRO officer to do.” Gatian noted that under the grant program, the officer is supposed to be at the school if he felt a student was in trouble or in need, as well as there to counsel, along with complete paperwork. Furthermore, she questioned that since there was no grant program, would the board be paying for the most expensive officer in the group.
Yeager noted he was told by the city of New Martinsville that if the officer is of a senior officer ranking, the board would pay the salary of a junior officer. “It’s the same thing with the county,” he noted. “We would not be paying a captain’s rate.”
“Mr. Lancaster and I made that very clear,” he noted, adding that the agreement made would be the same sort of agreement that is being used for Paden City and Hundred.
“I know it is successful here at Valley,” Gatian stated of the PRO program at Valley High School. “Mr. Bordenkircher is very well liked.”
Yeager agreed, noting that the board wants the officer to be involved.
In another matter, the board discussed a request from the Hundred Volunteer Fire Department for funding. “That’s up to the board,” Yeager noted. “Whatever you think we could do, or whatever we are able to legally do . . .”
It was noted that, previously, the board was not able to legally donate to the City of New Martinsville’s Parks and Recreation.
“The answer is pretty simple,” Treasurer Lancaster noted. “You can’t donate to the community unless you are getting a service in return.” Lancaster noted that he did not believe fire protection was considered as a service.
“I think we need to be consistent,” Board Vice President Bob Patterson noted.
“We can offer the use of the facilities for fundraising,” Gatian noted, suggesting the department could use a building for EMT classes.
Lancaster agreed that this was legally okay.
In another matter, the board mentioned a letter that Hundred High School Principal Daniel Gottron received from John E. Artimez Jr.
Artimez stated that he wanted to make sure Gottron, the Board of Education, and the “folks in your community were made aware of some things I observed in a recent basketball game involving the Hundred High boys’ varsity team.”
Artimez noted he has been officiating basketball in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference for over 20 years and has worked multiple West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission State Tournaments, and five state championship games. He noted that on Feb. 28 he was assigned to officiate the sectional tournament game between Hundred and Bishop Donahue. Artimez noted that Donahue is one of the top-ranked teams in the state. He added that when the game started, Donahue bolted out to a double-digit lead and “never looked back, eventually winning by 40+ points.”
Artimez stated that Hundred High School players handled themselves “with class and true sportsmanship, from beginning to end.”
“Most of the time, players on the losing end of a game that isn’t close will begin to show their frustrations as the game nears an end. They pout, they complain about the officiating, and the fouls they commit get a bit more forceful. To make things worse, the coaching staff will typically become more vocal with their complaints about the officiating. Nothing even close to that happened on Saturday. Your players were the epitome of sportsmanship. When a Donahue player hit the floor, one of your boys was there, offering a hand to help him up. When a foul was called on a Hundred player, the call was accepted without complaint. When a whistle was blown and the ball was bouncing away, one of your boys was quick to retrieve and hand the ball to the nearest official, always addressing us as ‘sir.’ Most importantly, your boys never stopped competing for a second . . .”
Artimez noted, “These kids are being taught lessons that will serve them well as the move through life. We all know that life isn’t always fair. When your players leave school and move to adulthood, they will understand that in all situations, whether winning or losing, the most important thing is to never stop giving your best effort. They have learned to never, ever quit.”
“I can’t tell you how impressed I was with what I saw from your team and your coaches. It’s something I will never forget. Your team may not have the best win-loss record in the OVAC, but in terms of class and sportsmanship, you are true champions in every sense of the word. I was proud to be on the floor with the Hornets. You should all be very proud of what you have taught your young men.”