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West Virginia has seen positive gains in education for its children as more high school seniors graduate on time and students make slight advances in math and reading proficiency, according to the 2018 Kids Count® Data Book recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The improvements reveal the benefits of investing in programs and resources that work to provide children with the supports they need to progress and thrive. However, with a potential undercount of about a quarter of West Virginia’s youngest children in the upcoming 2020 census, the same resources that have been able to help children make some progress in West Virginia may be in jeopardy of losing federal funding.

Adventure class
Introduction to backpacking classes are available at North Bend State Park.

North Bend State Park helps guests learn new outdoors skills through its Quest program and will offer introductory courses in backpacking, backcountry camping and geocaching on July 21.

The courses, which last anywhere from two hours to overnight, are led by North Bend State Park rangers. Registration is required and available until July 20. To register, call the park at 304-643-2931 or sign up at the front desk.

“Sometimes you need a little help learning a new outdoor skill,” said North Bend Superintendent Steve Jones. “That help is available here at North Bend State Park through our Quest program.”

The Backpacking with Backcountry Camping course starts at 10 a.m. This overnight experience is in a remote section of the park and includes an introduction on packs, gear and packing for an backcountry trip. Participants also will be able to practice carrying different loaded packs for size and comfort. Back- packers will learn about safety and preparation related to the weather and environment and prepare and eat a typical backpacking dinner and breakfast. Equipment is provided.

The Introduction to GPS and Geocaching course starts at 2 p.m. Participants will learn the basics of using a handheld GPS unit built for trail use and will have opportunities to use them through the “hide-and- seek” game of geocaching. Equipment is provided.

The introduction to backpacking course starts at 4 p.m. This two-hour course focuses on packs, gear and packing for an outing. Participants will get to try different loaded packs for size and comfort. Participants will hike, enjoy nature along the trails and discuss safety and preparation. This isn’t an overnight adventure, but an opportunity to decide if backpacking is something of interest for future adventures. Equipment is provided.

North Bend State Park is located minutes off US Route 50 near Cairo and Harrisville. The park features a lodge, cabins, campground, lake and fishing, kayak and canoe rentals, a full-service restaurant, hiking trails and meeting space. For additional information about facilities and activities, visit www.northbendsp.com.

Eric Eyre, Charleston Gazette-Mail WVPA Shared

In the federal government’s alliance with drug companies to conceal the number of prescription opioids supplied to pharmacies across the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department are hiding their reasons for wanting to keep the pain-pill information under wraps.

The DEA and DOJ have asked a judge to reject The Washington Post’s request to unveil sections of a legal brief filed by the federal agencies to support their bid to shield the pill data from being made public.

By John Raby Associated Press

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Mennis Ketchum announced Wednesday that he plans to resign and retire two years before his term ends.

In a brief, handwritten letter to Gov. Jim Justice, Ketchum said he would step down effective July 27.

The letter was contained in a statement released by the Supreme Court. The statement gave no reason for the 75-year-old Ketchum’s retirement and said he would have no further comment.

The retirement comes at a time of turmoil for the court.

In response to the announcement of FFA participation reaching an all-time high in West Virginia, Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt released the following statement:

“Jason Hughes and our agriculture teachers have done a tremendous job recruiting and training our future farmers. It is evident West Virginia contains the home-grown talent needed to expand our agricultural industries. In addition to inspiring the next generation of producers, FFA programs teach invaluable life skills to our students. Those involved in FFA learn everything from leadership to public speaking. No matter their career path, these students benefit from being a member of a West Virginia FFA chapter.”

As FFA programs continue to see growth, Commissioner Leonhardt plans advocate for additional funds needed to fully repair and upgrade the Cedar Lakes Conference Center.

“The annual FFA convention showcases the importance of the Cedar Lakes to our state. As FFA membership has increased, the program has outgrown the facilities. To ensure the conference center continues to serve future generations as official home of the West Virginia FFA, we hope to work with the governor and our Legislature to find additional funds. We will save the state money by making necessary upgrades now.”

Leonhardt’s goal is to have the center become self-sufficient and remove the need for additional general revenue appropriations. Leonhardt believes Cedar Lakes can play a vital role in growing West Virginia’s agriculture industries.

“Eating from a safe, affordable and abundant food supply is important to the state’s econ- omy and the personal health of our citizens. The Cedar Lakes facilities will be critical to our mission of increasing access to fresh, healthy foods.”

There are currently 68 high schools and 10 middle schools with FFA chapters. Total membership is at 5,360 students.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) announced it has received a $68,518 Farm-to-School grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The WVDA was one of 73 projects awarded funds by the USDA. The purpose of the grant is to provide support to local farmers by facilitating additional farm-to-school programs throughout the United States.

“West Virginia was fortunate enough to receive part of this grant. Through these monies, we aim to provide better nutritional options in our schools by sourcing from local West Virginia farms,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “By doing so, we hope to help expand new market opportunities for our farmers.”

The WVDA plans to use the grant monies to develop a Farm-to-School Strategic Plan for the state. The overall mission is to aide local farmers by creating new and cementing existing partnerships, as well as enhancing the quality of food served in schools. Funds from the grant will be used to develop state-wide resources, support existing and new operations and host trainings.

“We are excited to expand the farm-to-school initiative in West Virginia. These types of programs are great for promoting economic growth by connecting supply and demand. We hope to increase the availability of local foods to schools statewide,” said WVDA Development Coordinator Cindy Bailey.

For more information about the WVDA farm-to-school visit: https://agriculture.wv.gov/divisions/executive/Pages/Farm-to- School.aspx or contact Cindy Bailey at 304-558-2210 or cbail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A Maysville man passed away last week following a vehicle accident in Hardy County.

According to a report by the Hardy County Sheriff’s Department, the accident occurred at 7:17 a.m. when officers responded to a call reporting an accident at the intersection of Route 55 and Dover-Fort Run Road.

The initial report received by the sheriff’s department told officers the accident involved a pick-up truck and a motorcycle, with the cyclist being seriously injured.

The driver of the motorcycle was identified as Brad Phares of Maysville.

When the response crews arrived, emergency personnel pronounced Phares deceased.

“The investigation is continuing,” the department explained in a press release. “The Hardy County Sheriff’s Office extends our prayers to those who lost a loved one today.”

Units from Moorefield Fire Company, Moorefield Police Department, and Hardy County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident.

 

Pandora Barr and Carla Kaposy joined the Grant County Board of Education for their first official meeting since being elected earlier this year.

Barr and Kaposy took the places of Scotty Miley and Hugh Harris.

The board members are now: Barr, Kaposy, Jared Amtower, Kelly Roby and Janie Berg.

Over the next few years, Grant County citizens may be seeing some updated equipment at the voting booths.

During their most recent Grant County Commission meeting, the commissioners met with interim-Grant County Clerk, Seymour Fisher. 

Fisher came before the commission to discuss the option of purchasing new voting machines for the county.

The Grant County Commission has decided to opt-into the nationwide PILT class action lawsuit filed against the federal government. 

The lawsuit addresses funding from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which provides individual counties with funding for land owned by the federal government. This funding is meant to cover money the counties lose from the land not being owned by citizens or companies and taxed. 

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