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The Hampshire County Veterans Foundation held their annual Veterans Appreciation Freedom Ride, which stopped in Petersburg last Sunday morning to take a break at Tri-Courty Honda.

The ride began in Romney and bikers made stops in Petersburg and Wardensville, ending at Capon Bridge.

The event is a fundraiser for the program which helps veterans in Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral and Morgan counties.

The group received permission from the governor's office to have this year's ride.

To most people, art is something that brings joy and adds color to life, but to Petersburg’s Kelson Thorne, art is how he finds his place in the community. Thorne’s work at the city pool, at Third Base Bar and Grille and even on Petersburg High School’s freshly rebuilt field house, has captivated the community, each going from a blank canvas to a towering piece of artwork in just a few weeks.

“I started drawing as a kid,” Thorne said. “I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. I first really found art from the Imagination Station with Mark Kistler on PBS.”

It would be several years later, when he was 21, that he would discover his love of painting.

As a child, Thorne started drawing people in his life and celebrities he would see on television. After he graduated from PHS in 2014, Thorne attended West Virginia University and planned to major in biology.

However, he soon realized he did not enjoy the subject and, once again, found his place in art. A few years later he graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in fine art with an emphasis in painting.

It was along this journey that he stumbled across the opportunity to try his hand at creating a mural.

“One day I got tagged in a Facebook post of this person looking to pay an artist to do a mural,” Thorne said. “I had never done anything like that before but, hey, I thought I could do it and that’s half the struggle. So I did. I think that sometimes that is the best way to start something, not to dip your toe in, but to just jump in with everything you have and swim.”

After taking the job, Thorne fell in love with creating larger than life art and using canvases far larger then what would fit on his home easel.

“There is something different about painting a surface that is that big,” Thorne said. “I know some artists can get skittish about working with a canvas that is so big and so in the public eye, but I love it.”

Overall, he has done eight murals, five in Petersburg, two in Morgan- town and one in Keyser. Each mural takes approximately two weeks to complete, with some taking as little as one.

But Thorne has hopes of tying his passion for art into his work with children.

He is a Partnership for Success (PFS) coordinator with the Potomac Highlands Guild, working to offer fun and educational programs to the community’s youth. In that position, he works to educate the community on substance abuse prevention and share resources for those seeking help in recovery.

Through his position with the Guild, Thorne strives to tie prevention messages into the community murals.

“It’s not always a direct ‘don’t do drugs’ statement, but incorporating positive messages and ideas into the art and also providing resources to those who may be seeking help,” Thorne said. “It’s about enforcing the positives of healthy lifestyle and encouraging healthy habits.”

Thorne said the role of finding a passion in art was an important part of his youth and he feels it helped him say no to potentially bad choices.

“Art really helped keep me busy, even to this day it keeps me busy,” Thorne said. “That is so important to me. For me to be able to use what has helped me make good decisions, if I can use that to help others see that there are resources out there for people strug- gling with mental health issues or substance abuse, then I am so glad to do that.”

Through his position at the Guild, Thorne is partnered with Help and Hope West Virginia, which helps provide resources to families and individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, Thorne’s goal is to bring a art-based youth coalition together where he can work with kids in teaching art skills and inspire a new interest that they may not have realized they had before.

“Growing up I never took an art class in high school, other then maybe one fine art credit I had to have to graduate,” Thorne said. “It was something I did in my free time. And I think, for me at least, that was a good thing. It was never really something that felt like work or something I had to do for school. I think if you have passion outside of having to do something, that is where your greatest success will come. This can be something you just do for fun. And if you are good enough or have a strong enough passion for it, then you can pursue it as a career.”

Thorne hopes that his work will help inspire young artists to follow their dreams.

“I hope that maybe seeing my art can inspire someone,” Thorne said. “I want to help show kids in school now that there are more paths that sometimes get overlooked. That there is value in art and if that is something they enjoy, then don’t overlook it as something to maybe pursue.”

Thorne said that creating murals has helped him feel more grounded in his hometown.

“I feel like this is something I can offer my community, something can give back a little and help make the town a little more beautiful,” Thorne said. “In a lot of ways, art gives me a place to fit in. It really makes me feel like I have worth in the community and I can give back to my home. It’s a really amazing feeling to drive across the bridge and have someone say, ‘Oh, that’s new,’ and I get to say I did that. It’s a good feeling.”

Q. What technology is required for my student to enroll in Grant County’s Virtual School?

A. Access to high speed internet for streaming video and downloading content.

Email – for correspondence with the student and/ or home support person.

Telephone – for contact from the school district.

Q. What type of device does my student need?

A. If the student does not have a computer or laptop that can stream video or download content, the school system will provide them a device to use for this virtual option. Cell phones are not adequate devices for virtual school.

Q. The re-entry guidance says we will have remote learning and a virtual option. What is the difference?

Remote Learning will be done through Grant County Schools and be provided by the students’ assigned classroom teacher(s) through virtual means. Remote learning will be done during school closures, when students cannot be in the classroom due to weather or other types of mandated closures and during Scenario B as a part of the blended learning model.

Virtual School is done through an online provider. It is being made available to parents who are not comfortable sending their students back to school when we return. It will not be an option if we do not return back to school in the fall. If that is the case, we will be using the Remote Learning option explained above.

Q. Will the Virtual School option be taught by our local teachers?

A. No. It will be provided by an online provider. There will be a local teacher assigned to follow up with your students and to enter their grades into our grading system. They will not be overseeing their work load or providing lessons to your students.

Q. Is there a set time of day that my student will need to be online?

A. Yes. There will be certain times of the day when your student will need to be online meeting with their teacher and possibly listening or interacting to virtual lessons. Then there will be times where they are working on their own based on the timeline you have set to see them through to completion.

Q. How much time is required per day for my student to spend in virtual learning?

A. The virtual school option is a self-paced program. The time needed for completing assignments will differ from one student to the next. Some students will work faster than others and some will require more assistance from a home support person than others. How much time that takes is all dependent on the student.

Q. Once my student begins virtual school, how soon can they transition back to the classroom if they don’t like the virtual option?

A. Once enrolled in Virtual School, students must remain in that option until the end of a semester before they can return to the classroom setting – even if school returns to normal with students going back to the classroom.

Q. Is there a Pre-K option?

A. There is not a Pre-K option through Virtual School. Mandatory attendance is not required for Pre-K and our online provider has no Pre-K plat- form. If your student is Pre-K, then your choices will be to either send them to school or provide some other form of home instruction. They can be enrolled later in the year if space allows.

Q. Does my child remain a student of Grant County Schools?

A. Students will remain a Grant County School student. This means they can play sports, will remain in our WVEIS system for grading and credit earning purposes, will continue to receive special education or 504 services if applicable, and will receive a Grant County Schools diploma if they graduate through our virtual program. If at any time the child wants to transfer back into the regular classroom, the transition is easy. This also keeps the families eligible for any additional EBT Meal Card funds that would become available. Individuals do need to have internet access in order to sign up; however, we can provide a device for them to use if needed.

Q. Can I enroll in Grant County’s Virtual School option if I am not currently enrolled with Grant County Schools?

A. Yes, but you will have to go through the entire enrollment process by providing the necessary documentation to enter school (certified birth certificate from Department of Vital Statistics, current immunization records, Social Security card, copy of well-child check, completed dental form, proof of W.Va. residency, academic records) along with proof of prior grade year completion.

Q. How long will Grant County be offering a Virtual School Option?

A. Currently, Grant County Schools plans to offer the Virtual School option during the pandemic, to protect vulnerable students who have health concerns or fear returning to the classroom. After the pandemic is over, Grant County Schools is anticipating that their students will return to the classroom.

If students are enrolled in the virtual option, they may finish out the entire grade year in virtual school before returning to the classroom. The decision to provide Virtual School will be made annually before the start of school and based on the current pandemic guidelines.

Three individuals who reportedly went missing last Thursday were found safely this weekend thanks to the efforts of multiple local emergency response agencies.

The search was led by the West Virginia State Police and included assistance from Petersburg Volunteer Fire Company 400, Pendleton County Tac Team, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Moorefield Co. 46, Fountain Co. 39, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, Pendleton County 911, Grant County 911, the Hardy County Sheriff’s Department and Grant County Ambulance Service. The search was held at Big Bend and in Smoke Hole, with assitance from a helicopter and a DNR officer and Co. 400 member kayaking down the river for a water search. The Hardy County Sheriff’s Department responded with a drone to assist in the search.

Approximately four hours into the search Grant County County Chief Deputy Wratchford was able to locate the individuals in the North Fork Highway area in Cabins.

All subjects were in good health and were taken to the firehouse for food and drinks and to meet up with a family friend.

The WVDE is providing three surveys online to gather input about school re-entry efforts, the impact of the school closure, and to gauge the needs of students, families and the education community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to understand students’, parents’, and staff members' perceptions of there school and school district’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and to guide the West Virginia Department of Education’s future planning, they are inviting you to participate. Your responses will help the WVDE understand your needs so we can best serve you.

This study is for planning purposes only: all information you provide will be maintained on a confidential basis by Hanover Research and will only be used and reported in an aggregate form, so please be candid in your responses.

School Re-entry Planning Survey

The School Re-entry Planning Survey is an over-arching survey conducted in partnership with Hanover Research. It will provide insight into the impact of the extended school closure with questions surrounding online/remote and in-person instruction, and the socio-emotional, physical and academic effects of the pandemic on students and other important topics.

Re-entry Community Survey

The Re-entry Community Survey gathers input from community stakeholders and addresses re-opening scenarios, communications, community engagement and other important topics.

Adult Education Community Needs Survey

The Adult Education Community Needs Survey is for the adult learner who is interested in building upon existing or acquiring additional skills.

Go online to wvde.us to choose a re-entry survey to complete. Questions about the survey may be submitted by email to surveys. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Photo by Technography Studio

Joshua West earned his Eagle Scout award in August of 2019 completing a “Buddy Bench” project at Petersburg Elementary School.

Delays in paperwork, the weather, and now the virus have made the celebration of his accomplishment next to impossible. These facts take nothing away from the challenges overcome to achieve his goal.

West started this journey as a Cub Scout in Roanoke Va., at age 5. After moving to Mechanicsville, Va., he continued with Cub Scouts as a Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Weblo I and Weblo II scout. He earned beltloops, attended camps, and earned the Arrow of Light award. He bridged to Boy Scouts and continued to attend camps, became a member of the Order of the Arrow honor society, and earned his ranks toward Eagle.

The ranks in Scouting were more difficult and helped West develop leadership skills. He started as a member of Troop 63 where he become a member of the Order of the Arrow. He moved to Troop 60 and was the liaison to the Order of the Arrow, assistant troop leader, and troop leader. West worked one summer at scout camp as a lifeguard and trained the troop in water safety for summer camp.

After earning his Eagle award, he continues to work with the troop and had planned to attend camp as an adult leader this summer.

Working on his project West raised funds to build the benches, organized help to build and install them and completed the paperwork to submit by his 18th birthday.

He collected donations from local stores for the benches, met with the PTO and secured a donation, organized and ran a car wash, and worked hard to install the benches. His dedication, time management, and leadership skills were developed and challenged in this process.

At Petersburg High School he played varsity soccer for four years, basketball and track, and was a member of the choral program. Other activities included church youth group, 4-H and Sunday school.

West plans to attend a carpentry apprentice program in the fall in Cumberland, Md. He is currently working at Builders Center in Petersburg.

He is the son of Randy and Elizabeth West and the grandson of Carrie and the late John Barbarito and Ronald and Roseanne West.

Editor - Camille Howard;
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