Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hacker Valley Leads County Schools in Performance

According to recent test results released by the West Virginia Department of Education, students at the Hacker Valley Elementary School lead all county schools in proficiency in math, science, and reading.

For the 2015-16 school year, a minimum of 60% to a high of 71% of Hacker Valley students met the proficiency standards in the various subjects. In contrast, students at the Webster Springs Elementary School scored a low of 17% to a high of 31% proficiency and students at the Glade Elementary School scored a low of 25% to a high of 36% proficiency.  The Webster County High School range in proficiency in the three subjects from 14% in math, 28% in science, and 42% in reading.

If nothing else, these results confirm that the smaller class sizes enjoyed by the Hacker Valley school leads to better test results by the students.

Full results can be accessed at this link: Test Results (click the "State Assessment Results" tab on upper right and then put in Webster County and its schools for results)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Heading to the Summers County Football Game?

For those Highlander fans planning to travel to Hinton to attend Webster's football game against Summers County this Friday evening, you owe it to yourselves to budget in an extra hour or more to visit one of West Virginia's top natural sites.

Sandstone Falls is located about eleven miles from the Summers County High School.  Click the link below for a view of Sandstone Falls and the New River:  Video of Sandstone Falls

The school and the football field is located on Route 20 (on the right between the road and the New River) about two miles before reaching downtown Hinton.  The easiest way to travel to Hinton is to take Route 19 South from Summersville to Interstate 64 (use the North Beckley exit off of 19 South to avoid toll road). Route 19 South will lead you to Interstate 64 East toward Lewisburg.  On 64 East, take the Sandstone/Hinton exit (update: this exit is closed so take exit 143 and follow detour route) and travel South on Route 20 toward Hinton.  Once in Hinton, continue through the downtown to the long bridge over the New River and immediately at the end of the bridge turn right (going down river) and travel about nine miles to the Sandstone Falls parking lot.  The road along the New River to the Falls provides many picturesque sites along the way (this road turns into a narrow lane and one half, so exercise caution).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Case at WV Supreme Court May Decide Webster County's Future

Webster County's financial future may be dependent on a case from Monroe County, West Virginia that will be argued at the West Virginia Supreme Court on October 11.

Webster County is effectively bankrupt.  It has an approximate $3 million annual budget and owes over $1.5 million to the Regional Jail Authority.  Coal severance revenues which once accounted for 20 percent of tax collections (i.e., about $600,000.00 per year) is now non-existent as there are no operating coal mines in the County.

Short of drastic budget cutbacks and employee layoffs, the County has no realistic way to pay the jail bill, let alone its day to day operating expenses.  County officials are seriously considering the filing of a bankruptcy unless they can enter into a reasonable repayment plan with the Jail Authority.

One possible bright spot in Webster County's financial future is now on hold and may be decided by the West Virginia Supreme Court based on a lawsuit brought by two landowners in Monroe County.

That Monroe County case involves the Mountain Valley Pipeline ("MVP"), which is slated to dissect Webster County from north to south.  MVP has promised the County as much as $1.6 million in tax revenue during its first year of operation (originally slated to begin in 2018).  This type of annual tax revenue would obviously solve the County's budget crisis for the next several decades.

However, the pipeline project encountered a major obstacle in Monroe County.

The Monroe County landowners sued MVP to stop them from surveying for the pipeline on their property.  The landowners argued to a Circuit Judge that MVP had no right to trespass on their property because the pipeline project is not for a public purpose.  Since the project is for the private profit of MVP, the landowners argued that MVP has no right of eminent domain to force the landowners to consent to both the survey as well as the eventual construction of the pipeline crossing their property.

A Monroe County Circuit Judge sided with the landowners.

The Circuit Judge correctly ruled under West Virginia law that MVP could not survey the pipeline on the landowner's property without their consent unless the pipeline project was for a public use.  Based on the testimony of MVP's own experts, the Judge found that not a single West Virginia resident will ever have access to the gas from the pipeline.  The Judge ruled that the pipeline project is for the sole private profit of MVP and they could not therefore force consent from the landowners.

MVP has now appealed that decision and it will be argued before West Virginia's high court on October 11.

If the high court upholds the Circuit Judge's injunction, MVP will have to find a new route around those Monroe County landowners.  Such a ruling would also mean that any other landowners along the pipeline's proposed route could refuse MVP from surveying and/or constructing the pipeline on their property.

If the Circuit Judge's decision is upheld and MVP encounters too many hostile landowners along the proposed route, the whole project could be scrapped and all the potential tax revenue will be gone.  As a result, this decision could have major financial implications for Webster County's future.

Read the Monroe Circuit Judge's Decision here:  Injunction Issued Against Pipeline
Read the argument of the MVP here:  Full Argument of Pipeline
Read the argument of the landowners here:  Full Argument of Landowners

Click here for the MVP website regarding claimed economic benefits for Webster County:  MVP Website

Friday, September 23, 2016

Highlanders Fall at Notre Dame

The Webster County Highlander football team lost 21 to 12 at Notre Dame this evening, falling to an even 2 win, 2 loss record.  They head to Hinton to play Summers County next Friday evening.

Baseball Player with Webster Connection Suspended

Mariners' catcher Steve Clevenger
The major league baseball team Seattle Mariners suspended catcher Steve Clevenger today for the rest of the season for tweets he posted to his Twitter account critical of protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Clevenger, who has relatives living in Webster County, posted the following tweets:

Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha shit cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the anthem!

BLM (Black Lives Matter) is pathetic again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone should be locked behind bars like animals!

Clevenger has since issued the following apology:

I grew up on the streets of Baltimore, a city I love to this very day," Clevenger said in a statement first released to Fox Sports. "I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race but by the content of their character. Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgemental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.

I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive. With everything going on in the world I really just want what is best for everyone regardless of who they are. I like many Americans are frustrated by a lot of things in the world and I would like to be a part of the dialogue moving forward to make this a better world for everyone. I once again apologize to anyone who was offended today and I just ask you not judge me off of a social media posting. Thank you and God bless everyone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Abandoned Dog Update

In reference to the story below about the abandoned dog posted yesterday, the Braxton County animal control officer was able to pick up the dog late last night and the dog is now at the Braxton Animal Shelter in Sutton. According to shelter staff, the dog has very sore feet, lending credence to the animal control officer's opinion that it was a bear dog that was run to near death and broke down because of it.

WCHS Ranked 21 Out of 43 Teams

Heading into an away game against Notre Dame this Friday, the Webster County Highlander football team is ranked 21 out of 43 Class A schools in the most recent West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commision ratings.  

The Highlanders sport a 2 win, 1 loss record, while the Irish of Notre Dame at Clarksburg have a 1 win, 3 loss record.  The top 16 teams in each class will qualify for the playoffs.