(304) 257-1844

The Seneca Rocks Discovery Center appeared before the Grant County Board of Education last week to extend an invitation to the county’s fourth grade students to participate in an experience aimed at strengthening their connection with the outdoors.

Jeremiah Hislip, the center’s director, explained that they had been working on the program with Pendleton County and were now inviting Grant County students to participate as well.

“We have been working to plan something that we believe will be a meaningful, worthwhile experience for fourth graders,” Hislip said. “...This would be a hands-on experience where they could visit the center and focus on outdoor recreation and heritage.”

Hislip said the program would open the center up to the students, offering them educational outdoor activities. He explained the trip, which could be open to all fourth graders in the county, could be done as either a day trip or an overnight experience.

“For an example scenario, the students would come on a Tuesday evening, take a short hike with the rangers to stretch their legs, come inside for a meal, watch a movie in the auditorium, then have a lesson with our astronomy or star program, learning about constellations,” Hislip said. “The next morning they would have breakfast and that’s when the real adventure would start. We would have educational stations, for example at the historic Sites Homestead, have an educator in period dress give them a tour of the homestead. They could work hands-on in the garden, getting to touch dirt and connect a little more with their food and where it comes from. We also have a program where we take the kids river snorkeling, where they get into the river and look at aquatic insects and learn about water ecology.”

Candidates can file now

The candidate filing period is currently open for those interested in running for a position on the Petersburg City Council.

The council comprises five council members, a recorder and the city mayor and handles everything from city tax usage, ordinances, the city police department and any other matter sthat involve the running of the municipality.

The election is scheduled to be held on June 6, with absentee ballots set to be mailed in April and early voting to begin in May. Candidates who wish to appear on the ballot must register by Jan. 28.

Currently there are two council member seats up for election (now held by incumbents Robert Spanswick and Alvin Rumer) and the recorder position (currently held by incumbent Sarah Moomau). Those elected (or re-elected) in the June election will officially begin their terms on July 1.

Those interested in running must be a resident of Petersburg and can register their candidacy at the Petersburg City Office. For more information on the registration process and requirements, contact 304-257-4944.

Other important dates in the city election include:

Candidate filing period (Jan. 9-23)

Deadline to submit notice of intent to Class IV Early Voting by Mail Program (Jan. 27)

Notice of precinct change (Feb. 6)

Deadline for candidates to with-draw (Mar. 14)

Organizational meeting for upcoming year

The Grant County Commission started 2023 with not only a new member but also an updated list of roles and board representations for the commissioners.

The Jan. 10 assembly marked newly elected commissioner Kevin Hagerty’s first regularly scheduled meeting in the role. The meeting also saw commissioner Tyson Riggleman officially take the helm as commission president.

During the meeting, the commission signed a letter of support for the Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities (BRECC) grant program.

The grant is being sought as a joint effort with Pendleton County and, if awarded, could lead to a study that would determine if the areas could become ideal locations for the state to promote as remote work communities.

“This could help with a future project, maybe for broadband or help seek support for an outside study to determine what kind of remote work, or work from home, or similar businesses could come to the area,” Riggleman said. “The goal is that the two counties could work together on something like this.”

The letter highlights the positives of living in and visiting the area, pointing to both recreational opportunities and other positives of living in the area.

“We shared in the letter the type of attractions both counties have, and, as the name implies we let them know how much we rely on our power plant,” Riggleman said. “If that were to go, we tell them how big of an impact that would be on our area. So being able to attract new business into our area would be a big win for us. And that includes setting up a system that enables remote work, which some companies are looking for now, and cultivate small businesses.”

The following cases were heard in the Grant County Magistrates Courtbetween the dates of Nov. 5 to Dec. 5:

Earl William Lloyd, 36, was charged with failure to register or provide notice of registration changes. Lloyd’s bond was set at $50,000 and the case was transferred to the Grant County Circuit Court.

Joshua Anthony Delveccieo, 19, was fined and assessed $471 after pleading no contest to charges of unlawfully disposing of litter.

Haylie Rock-Kay Bussard, 21, was fined and assessed $181 after pleading guilty to charges of operating a vehicle without a certified inspection or failure to produce certificate.

Ronnie Worth Arbogast, 37, was fined and assessed $362 after pleading guilty to two counts of expiration of registration and certificates of title.

Roy Thompson Agnew, 60, was fined and assessed $181 after pleading no contest to operating a vehicle without a certified registration.

Michael Edward Shoner, 56, was fined and assessed $181 after pleading no contest to charges of operating a vehicle without a certifi ed inspection or failure to produce certificate.

Caleb A. Evans, 20, was fined and assessed $181 after pleading no contest to charges of operating a vehicle without a certified inspection or failure to produce certificate.

Editor’s note: Greg’s story was planned to be published in this week’s Press, but he passed away over the weekend. Because his story deserves to be told, we are printing in here with the family’s permission, in memory of him.

By Ravenna O. Redman

Director of Social Services

The employees of Grant Rehabilitation and Care Services have selected Gregory Bland as GRCC’s resident of the week.

Greg has been a resident of our facility since June 25, 2020. He was born on July 16, 1959, in Petersburg, to Billy Rush Bland and Hilda Elizabeth (Mauzy) Bland Henry.

Greg has an adopted sister and brother: Evelyn Ours and Joseph Bland; three brothers, Bobby, Billy Jr., and Jeff Bland; and one half sister, Beverly Goldizen.

Greg was in the middle of the children. His father did construction in D.C. and Virginia. His mother was a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, the relationship did not last. Greg, with his two brothers, were sent to live with their maternal grandparents, Carl and Elizabeth Mauzy, who raised them.

Both of his parents remarried. However, his mother passed away in a vehicle accident when Greg was 10 years old.

Greg attended elementary school at Dorcas Elementary and Moorefield Elementary, eventually graduating from Petersburg, High School. He would go to Antietam Bible College in Hagerstown, Md., completing his fouryear degree in pastoral studies.

While at Hagerstown, Greg stayed with a Mennonite couple as he pursued his degree.

Greg met his future wife, Carol, while he was in school, and they went to the same church. Carol stated, “I never imagined at first being with Greg, but suddenly it was there. We just loved each other.” Greg and Carol were married on Aug. 27, 1983. Carol said, “Greg would joke, saying I married him for pity’s sake, but then would say, no, she married me for love.” Carol admitted, “I married him for love.”

Greg began ministering to the community. His first church was at White Pine/ Kelly’s Chapel in Purgitsville. He went on to serve in various churches in the tri-county area: Knobley Church of the Brethren, Maysville Bible Brethren, Harpers Chapel Church of the Brethren, and Brake Church of the Brethren which is now the Brake Covenant Brethren Church. Greg also served as an interim pastor at First Baptist Church of Petersburg.

More than 4,500 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project. Volunteers are preparing to collect shoebox gifts during National Collection Week, Nov. 14 - 21.

Living Hope Baptist Church is once again the local dropoff site and will begin taking shoeboxes on Monday, Nov. 14

Their hours for Nov. 14 - 17 are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Nov. 18, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Nov. 19, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 20, 1 - 5 p.m. and Nov. 21, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other dropoff points in the area are Duffey Memorial United Methodsit Church in Moorefi eld, Valley Baptist Church in Mathias, Faith Mission Church in Wardensville, Living Faith Church in Franklin and Clinton Hedrick Community Building in Riverton.

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide since 1993. This year, OCC hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.

Individuals, families, and groups still have time to transform empty shoeboxes into fun gifts. The project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. Find a step-by-step guide on the How to Pack a Shoebox at www.samaritanspurse.org

“Now more than ever, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey visited Petersburg last week to update the area on multiple large lawsuits his office was overseeing and to ask for community input on local concerns. Community members gathered at the Landes Arts Center to meet with Morrisey last Monday, with representatives ranging from Grant Memorial Hospital, Grant County Bank, the Potomac Valley Transit Authority, local business owners and elected officials.

The most heavily discussed topic during Morrisey’s visit surrounded the distribution of settlement funds the state will be receiving as a result of lawsuits his office filed against multiple pharmaceutical companies for their role in exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

“Many of you may know that there is still a lot of national litigation, from nearly every state in the nation, against the opioid companies for the role they played in the opioid epidemic,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia has been out front leading in that area.”

Morrisey said West Virginia is set to get the largest settlement in the nation from these companies. Overall, the state will be receiving over half a billion dollars in settlements.

“We want to make sure this money is used to fix the problem,” Morrisey said. “We didn’t believe a settlement based on population was appropriate and thought it should be based on the intensity of the impact it has had on these areas.”

Medical research echoes Morrisey’s claims that West Virginia has been disproportionally impacted in the opioid epidemic. According to research published in the National Library of Medicine (by researchers Rachel Merino, Nicholas Bowden, Sruthi Katamneni, Alberto Coustasse) “the rate of overdose related to the use of licit and illicit opioids has drastically increased over the last decade in the United States. The epicenter has been West Virginia with the highest rates of overdoses accounting for 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people among the 33,091 deaths in 2015.”

This study was published in 2019.

“The number of people injecting drugs has increased from 36% in 2005 to 54% in 2015,” the research claimed. “The total US cost of prescription opioid abuse in 2011 has been estimated at $25 billion, and criminal justice system costs to $5.1 billion. The reasons for this opioid epidemic incidence in West Virginia have been a combination of sociocultural factors, a depressed economy, lack of education, and a high rate of prescribing and dispensing of prescription opioids.”

Morrisey said the goal to distribute the funds would focus on a comprehensive plan that targets the resources to the regions of the state that need the most help in battling back against the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid money is going to be big,” Morrisey said. “It is an opportunity to put systems in place. For example, you may need an extra deputy sheriff, you may need some extra help in funding mental health services. You may need to coordinate with other counties in the region to help make sure there are beds in rehabilitation facilities. There are a lot things I think can be done with these resources but it needs to be spent wisely.”

Morrisey explained that some of the funds won in the suit will be distributed directly to the counties and cities but the bulk of the funds will be placed with a new foundation that will vote on the money usage.

“3% of all the money that comes in will be held back by the state for litigation purposes,” Morrisey explained. “This is my way of trying to protect taxpayers in case someone tries to sue with offsetting claims, so we keep a little aside and if it doesn’t get used then it goes back to the counties and to the foundation. 24.5% will be sent directly to the cities and counties in the lawsuit directly and 72.5% will go into the West Virginia First Foundation. That is set up to ensure representatives from every region across West Virginia, six different regions, are represented.”

Each of the six regions will elect a voting representative to sit on the foundation (a registered 501C-4), along with five additional representatives chosen by the governor. Grant County will be represented as part of the Eastern Region, sharing its votes with Pendleton, Hampshire, Hardy, Morgan, Jefferson, Berkeley and Mineral counties.

“I recognize that Berkeley and Jefferson counties are not right next door to you here in Grant,” Morrisey said. “I know to some it will be a big difference. But what you want to do is work together on your county and regional needs up front, because that is what is going to get fueled into that statewide effort and really give you a voice.”

Morrisey said he hopes that the foundation will ensure the funds in the foundation will be a longterm, sustainable solution.

“The goal is to have money to holistically go after the problem from a supply side, educational and prevention side, from an accountability side and a law enforcement side,” Morrisey said. “And that is what the foundation is doing.”

Morrisey said that once the litigation closes, a statewide needs assessment will take place to determine funding priorities.

“I think this is going to be a really big deal for the eastern part of the state,” Morrisey said. “I know when I have come to Grant County in the past, I have talked to many of you and to people about the transportation problems, of sometimes driving to get to health care facilities, including mental health services. This is a rural area and we recognize that, so we need to make sure that the money is spent taking that into account and that Grant County and other regions of the state don’t get left behind.”

Morrisey said money will begin being distributed to the state from the settlements later this year or early next year.

Other topics discussed during the event included:

• An update on a lawsuit fi led by the office concerning the Waters United States rule. Morrisey referred the rule as “federal overreach,” saying it attempted to restrict small waterways on private property, making it diffi cult and expensive for property owners to build on their own land. Morrisey said the effort was going well, and that progress had been made under former President Donald Trump but had stalled by President Joe Biden.

• Concerns he had about the Environmental Social Governance Policy, which he said would put an undue burden on businesses and companies concerning their environmental policies.

• A brief update on multiple lawsuits and investigations, including election law cases, abortion legislation, charter school rights and suits defending the state’s energy sector.

State Treasurer Riley Moore announced the introduction of legislation he proposed to lawmakers prohibiting the use of credit and debit card transactions to surveil lawful gun and ammunition purchases in West Virginia.

House Bill 2004, The Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act, would prohibit financial institutions from using credit card merchant category codes assigned to firearm and ammunition retailers to discriminate against West Virginians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms or enable government agencies to track lawful gun and ammunition purchases.

“Woke activists in Congress and their allies on Wall Street continue to find new ways to undermine our freedoms and way of life,” Moore said.

“The Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act will protect West Virginians from efforts to create a de facto national gun registry using credit and debit card records.”

Last September, a panel of the International Organization for Standardization – a nongovernmental organization that develops a wide range of industrial and commercial standards – approved a petition by New York-based Amalgamated Bank for the creation of a new “merchant category code” (MCC) that singles out gun and ammunition retailers. Merchant category codes are used by credit card companies to identify the type of business in which a merchant is engaged.

 By Steven Allen Adams

Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Despite taking a hit last fall with residents for supporting the $737 billion Inflation Reduction Act, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin brought tech entrepreneur and IRA supporter Bill Gates to West Virginia to promote the new law’s benefi ts for clean energy projects.

Manchin, D-W.Va., and Microsoft founder Gates held a fireside chat last Monday afternoon at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences. Manchin and Gates spent the day in Charleston meeting with Gov. Jim Justice and traveling around the region.

“I will say this about Bill Gates: The world is a better place because of the investments he has made,” Manchin said.

The fi reside chat event was moderated by Marshall University President and former Intuit CEO Brad Smith and sponsored by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, AFL-CIO Charleston Area Alliance and Huntington Chamber of Commerce.

The main topic of the fireside chat was West Virginia’s emerging role in the future of energy and the benefits of the IRA, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022. The $737 billion IRA was negotiated between Manchin and Democratic leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives after he refused to support the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package at the end of 2021.

The IRA included $437 billion in spending on new investments in clean energy, climate change mitigation, an extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies, and funding for western drought resiliency. It also includes $300 billion for reduction of the national deficit.

To fund these provisions, the bill includes $737 billion in new revenues, including a 15% corporate minimum tax on book revenue $1 billion or greater reported by corporations on financial statements to investors, a 1% fee on stock buybacks by corporations, prescription drug pricing reform, and funding to hire 86,000 additional IRS employees.

 Mountain State Spotlight

January 11th

By Allen Siegler, Ian

Karbal, P.R. Lockhart,

Dan Lawton, Ellie Heffernan

and Alexa Beyer

Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday evening touted West Virginia’s progress — announcements of thousands of new jobs, budget surpluses and a booming tourism industry — while proposing major tax cuts and listing a host of other policy challenges he hopes lawmakers will sort out.

“These are just isolated things,” Justice said near the end of his hour and twenty minute State of the State address. “There’s so much to do.”

While Justice touched on a broad range of issues he wants state lawmakers to address this year, many of the state’s biggest and most chronic issues went unmentioned, and few fully-fleshed out solutions were offered.

Many of the biggest proposals he did offer were not new ideas. Instead they were recycled policies that last year’s Republican-majority Legislature was unable to accomplish in the 60-day 2022 session, or funding increases for existing Justice-backed programs.

These include reorganizing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, putting more money into tourism and economic development, and Justice’s marquee proposal: a 50% income tax cut. For years, Justice has chased a substantial income tax cut, in spite of warnings that West Virginia’s record-breaking revenue surpluses that he uses to justify the proposal may not be all they appear.

Here are some issues that weren’t brought up in Justice’s seventh State of the State address, and some of the most important issues that were.

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