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 State Farm® is celebrating its 100th anniversary by building State Farm Neighborhood Assist® bigger. That means more submissions, more grants and spreading good to more communities.

 This year, the program will award 100 $25,000 grants (vs. 40 grants in previous years) to nonprofit organizations to help fund neighborhood improvement projects. Here’s how the program works:

 Submission Phase: Starts Feb. 16 and ends when 4,000 submissions are reached. Individuals can submit a cause at www.neighborhoodassist.com starting Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.

 You can prepare now by going to the website and downloading the submission guide. We will accept the first 4,000 submissions. The State Farm Review Committee will then narrow the field to the top 200 finalists.

By Kimmi Boggs

Family Crisis Center,

Petersburg

 January marks the 18th National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM), an annual call to action to recognize and respond to this traumatic and dangerous crime.

 It is critical to raise the issue of stalking as a form of interpersonal violence as well as a crime that frequently predicts and co-occurs with physical and sexual assault.

 Stalking impacts more than 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in the United States and yet—despite its prevalence and impacts—many victims, families, service providers, criminal justice professionals, and members of the general public underestimate its danger and urgency.

 Survivors often suffer anxiety, social dysfunction, and severe depression as a result of their victimization, and many lose time from work and/or relocate.

 And it’s not only psychological: 1 in 5 stalkers use weapons to threaten or harm victims, and stalking increases the risk of intimate partner homicide by three times.

 Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear or emotional distress. Stalkers often follow, monitor, and wait for their victims, as well as leave them unwanted gifts, spread rumors about them, and repeatedly call, text, and message them.

 The majority of stalking victims experience both in-person and technology- facilitated stalking. And the most common types of technology-facilitated abuse—harassment, limiting access to technology, and surveillance— increased during the pandemic.

 One of the difficulties of recognizing and responding to stalking is that each individual act may not be a problem or a crime on its own, but each act becomes criminal when part of that pattern of behavior that comprises stalking.

 And stalking is a crime in federal jurisdictions, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, tribal lands, and the military justice system.

 NSAM’s theme of “Know It. Name It. Stop It.” is a call to action for everyone in Grant County and across the country. The vast majority of victims tell friends or family about their situation first, and how we respond influences whether they seek further help or not.

 We all have a role to play in identifying stalking, intervening when necessary, and supporting victims and survivors.

 Family Crisis Center has resources available to promote awareness and public education about stalking during the annual observance. For more information, please contact Kimmi Boggs at 304-257- 4606.

 For more information about National Stalking Awareness Month, please visit https://stalkingawareness.org and www.ovw.usdoj.gov.

 Family Crisis Center Inc believes everyone has the right to live free from the fear of violence and abuse.

By John Raby

Associated Press

 West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice last Wednesday proposed a $4.65 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes a previously announced pay raise for teachers and other state workers.

 The governor’s State of the State address, scheduled for Wednesday night, was called off after he was diagnosed with Covid-19 the day before. Instead, the remarks were read to lawmakers by the House of Delegates clerk Wednesday evening.

 Justice said he still wants to address a joint session of the Legislature after he recovers.

 The governor’s office said in a statement that, according to state archivists, it’s the first time in modern history that a governor delivered a State of the State speech by written message.

 The governor’s budget proposal calls for a 1.4% increase, or $65.5 million, in spending. Justice said the budget is essentially flat for the fourth straight year. After his speech was read, the House referred the governor’s budget to its finance committee before adjourning.

 West Virginia started the new year strong fiscally, thanks in part to federal stimulus payments. Justice said revenue collections to date for fiscal 2022 are $475 million above estimates.

 The average 5% pay raises for state employees, announced by Justice last month, is expected to cost $114 million. Justice also proposed a $41 million infusion for inmate medical care.

 The governor’s proposal didn’t include anything like last year when his top priority was a state income tax cut for most earners. That suggestion failed to make it through the Legislature.

 The West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) is accepting applications from current high school sophomores to attend the 2022 session to be held June 26 – July 16 at Marshall University.

 The GSA is a threeweek residential program providing individual and in-depth group instruction in the arts for current high school sophomores living in and attending school in West Virginia.

 Artistic areas addressed are acting, creative writing, dance, instrumental music, studio art and vocal music. Skilled artists and teachers will work with students who demonstrate interest in those areas.

 In addition, the GSA attempts to broaden the students’ understanding of the arts through interdisciplinary courses focusing on common elements in the arts disciplines.

 “The GSA has a strong tradition in our state of helping students expand their horizons and develop their talents,” State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said.

 “The impact this program has on our children cannot be overstated because it immerses them in a community of fellow artists where they share and grow with like-minded people. In addition, they are guided by teaching professionals who provide content knowledge and real-world expertise in their fields of interest that enrich the experience even more.”

 GSA is provided by the State of West Virginia at no cost to the students or their families. Applications and directions for preparing for auditions can be found at govschools.wv.gov/gsa.

 Specific questions may be addressed to Sherry Keffer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 The deadline to apply is Friday, Jan. 28, with audition videos or portfolios due Feb. 4.

 Last week, the Petersburg City Council approved the purchase of two new police cruisers to be used by the Petersburg City Police Department.

 The cruisers, which will cost approximately $33,000, were discussed and approved at the Jan. 5 meeting of the council. The council also discussed their plan to meet with the Moorefield Police Department to look at new body camera equipment and technology that could potentially be used by city officers.

 Also approved was the appointment of Steve Reickhart as the city judge. According to the approval, Reickhart will receive $200 per court appearance and $50 per “non-hearing” months while serving the position. Reickhart’s appointment to the position comes after the resignation of former city judge Greg Campbell, who is now serving as the city’s chief of police.

 Other topics discussed during the meeting were:

 • The renewal of an agreement with ABC Consulting via an engagement letter that will run through 2022.

 • Updates to the council on routine inspections to be performed at the Petersburg Water Treatment Plant and the Petersburg City Pool.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Petersburg City Council is Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Gary Michael Building in Petersburg.

 

 Three Grant and Hardy county residents are facing fentanyl and firearms charges after a grand jury in Wheeling indicted them late last year.

 The Grant County residents charged in the indictment are Joshua Allen Hinkle, 35, of Cabins and Bryan Edward Summerton, 34, of Petersburg.

 Hinkle was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute at least 40 grams of fentanyl and one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Summerton was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute at least 40 grams of fentanyl and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

 Also facing charges is Cassie Leigh Kesner, 26, of Moorefield. Kesner is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute at least 40 grams of Fentanyl, one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.”

 The three are accused of working together to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl in April 2020 in Grant County and elsewhere. Kesner and Summerton are accused of having firearms during at least one drug trafficking crime.

 It was a question of curriculum during the recent Grant County Board of Education meeting when a local parent voiced her concerns with two of the books on her child’s advanced placement syllabus.

 During the meeting, parent Leigh Saville read excerpts from Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel “Beloved,” which includes sexually explicit content, including depictions of rape. Saville said that the book was on her child’s advance placement (AP) literature syllabus as one of the books to be potentially discussed during the course but had not yet been read by the class. Saville said she felt the book was inappropriate to be read by high school age students and took specific issue with the teacher for including it on the syllabus.

 She also took issue with the book “The Kite Runner,” written by Khaled Hosseini in 2003. Saville said this book also dealt with themes of rape that she felt was inappropriate. Saville said she has spoken before the board in past and feels they have not taken the necessary action to rectify her concerns.

 Saville requested the board consider creating a group of parents and staff to look over curriculum and content before it is taught to students.

 Superintendent Mitch Webster said prior to the meeting, board member Kelly Roby reached out to him about her concerns with the books being taught in AP classes. Webster said he asked Avery Anderson, the Grant County director of administrative services to look into the issue.

 Anderson told the board that while the book was still listed on the syllabus, it had not been taught in the class for several years.

 Webster explained that the books approved for AP class are different than curriculum from other high school courses. This is because AP courses, while they are taught in high school, are meant to be taught at a college-level, offering credits that are accepted at most colleges and universities. This means, AP material is separate from high school-level material.

 Webster said “The Kite Runner” and “Beloved” were both AP approved when they were added to the syllabus. “Beloved” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, but is often considered inappropriate for younger readers.

 Roby spoke in support of Saville, saying she believed both books should be removed from the curriculum.

 She also questioned if teaching materials were still being purchased for “Beloved” if the teacher said it was no longer being taught. Webster said he was unsure and that he would investigate.

 Board member Carla Kaposy, who also has a child in the AP class, said she agreed that “Beloved” was inappropriate for students but said she did not feel the same about “The Kite Runner.”

 The Grant County Commission approved a letter to be sent to Governor Jim Justice in support of his decision to dedicate Covid funding to first responders in the state and urging him to consider increased rate coverage from Medicaid and Medicare for ambulance runs.

 During their Jan. 11 meeting, the commission read and approved a letter outlining some of the issues faced by rural ambulance services and the struggles they can face in the county.

 “The Covid pandemic is taking a toll on all areas of the health care workforce,” said Commissioner Scotty Miley during the presentation of the letter. “All health care providers are struggling with the demands from this pandemic... Our emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a necessary component of the wellbeing of our citizens.”

 Miley explained that one of the issues faced by the Grant County Ambulance Authority is the competitive pay caused by its proximity to both Maryland and Virginia.

 “Grant County is a bordering county for Maryland and very close to Virginia so that can make it difficult in offering competitive pay to our employees which hinders our ability to retain staff,” Miley said. “Due to these issues, we are increasingly relying on our experienced staff to fill in the gaps as needed.”

 This issue is compounded by an increase in the requirements and hours needed to receive an EMT license, which has resulted in less people being interested in completing those courses.

 “Operating an ambulance service requires a lot of funds as well as strategy to keep operations running and make our residents feel secure,” Miley said. “Paying employees, maintenance on ambulances, updating medical equipment and continuous training are some of the expenses we have. With Grant County being a rural area in the state, we typically have to transport patients a longer distance which usually requires the trip to have Advance Life Supports (ALS) staff. Medicaid and Medicare insurance will only pay for loaded mileage.”

 Miley said the ambulance also struggles with only being able to provide one way transports. This is caused by routinely transporting patients to larger hospitals out of the area. However, a rate increase by the state could greatly improve the financial sustainability of rural ambulance services.

 Last week, the West Virgina Division of Natural Resources unveiled their updated 2022 West Virginia Fishing Regulations Summary, which is now available online on their website (wvdnr.gov). Printed copies will be available at license agents and WVDNR district offices in early January.

 Anglers are encouraged to review the new regulations to familiarize themselves with changes to the regulations. If you need clarification or have other questions, contact your local DNR district office. The numbers are located on the inside cover of the regulations and online here.

 A new program and changes to a previous angling program will also take effect this year. The Master Angler Program is a new opportunity for anglers to complete “slams” for specific fish species and also earn a lifetime award as a West Virginia Master Angler by completing all six slams. The rules and application can be found at WVdnr.gov/fishing/fishing-regulations under “Fishing Forms.”

 The long-standing Trophy Citation Program is undergoing some changes beginning in 2022. The printed citations were completely redesigned and will feature new fish artwork from renowned artist, Joseph Tomelleri.

 The West Virginia Drug Tip Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report suspicious drug activity.

 If you have information call 833-905-DRUG (3784) or email go.wv.gov/ drugtips.

 The information you provide will be reviewed by analysts at the West Virginia Fusion Center’s Narcotics Intelligence Unit and shared with the West Virginia State Police, county sheriff departments and municipal police departments.

 When you call or email, provide as much information as possible:

 Where - location of event (county, city, road area, or rural area where suspicious activity is taking place)

 When - date and time of suspicious activity

 Who/What - names of people and drugs involved

 Details - are children at the location? Description of vehicle(s) including license number. Do you see a weapon?

 Your safety is important so do not try to confront someone engaged in criminal activity. Call 911 if you believe the behavior you are reporting poses a threat of imminent harm.

 West Virginia Public Service Training is offering an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) Jan. 22-23, at the Upper Tract Training Center (old Upper Tract school) on the Franklin Pike.

 The two-day course will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day under the instruction of Mike Alt.

 Anyone wishing to take the course must have a valid driver’s licence. Preregistration is required online at www.wvpst.org. Select Martinsburg and click on the class in the calendar. A minimum of 15 students must be signed up for the class to be taught.

 Cost of the class is $35 and there is also a $10 book rental fee (which is required). For more information contact the WVPST at 304-267-3595, ext. 116.

Editor - Camille Howard;
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