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Grant County’s ongoing work to push back against the drug epidemic is continuing to receive state attention with a representative from National Public Radio (NPR) attending and recording the recent meeting of PITAR.
PITAR is a community coalition of public and private citizens, organizations, groups and churches striving to reduce drug use in the area and ensure resources are available to those in recovery.
During the meeting, which was held on Oct. 24, Raj Masih of the Potomac Highlands Guild (PHG) presented information concerning a state opioid response initiative called “A Community Call to Action.” The initiative is expanding and increasing access to medical assisted treatment and recovery options, such as Vivitrol, and focusing on at-risk populations, such as veterans, pregnant women, those with mental disorders, blue-collar workers and LGBTQ community members. Beyond medical assistance, the initiative will bring an increase in Fentanyl test kits available, medication disposal options, doctor education programs on the prescription of opioids and lifesaving overdose treatment kits, including Naloxone.
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A group of teachers, administrators, business owners and elected officials gathered at Petersburg High School last Tuesday to discuss the goal to expand career readiness and after graduation preparedness in the county.
The initiative is being spearheaded by business owner and president of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, Kirk Wilson.
During the meeting, Wilson stressed the need for students to not only be willing but also prepared to participate in the work force after completing their education.
“We cannot find skilled labor in our valley,” Wilson said. “It is difficult to find skilled labor in our state and a lot of that is because students are not pursuing these in-demand careers.”
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During last week’s regularly scheduled Grant County Commission meeting, prosecuting attorney John Ours responded to questions concerning Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed with the county.
Ours’ responses were to Grant County citizen Jill Long, who appeared before the commission to ask why some FOIA requests were approved and some were denied.
According to Long, she requested an itemized invoice from the attorney previously utilized by the commission, Bill Ihlenfeld. She was granted the itemized invoice but then in August returned and requested additional invoices. She claims that around the same time period, citizen Jane Kite Keeling also requested itemized invoices from the commission concerning their attorney.
These additional itemized invoice requests were denied but the overall amounts were provided, with the explanation that the itemized invoices are protected under attorney-client privilege.
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After much debate, public input and discussion, Grant County will soon begin random drug testing for students participating in West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) sanctioned activities, such as sports teams and band. The official rider attached to Policy 3165: Student Athlete Drug and Alcohol Testing will be moving forward following last week’s meeting of the Grant County Board of Education. “This is something that can potentially have an important impact on our students,” said Superintendent Doug Lambert. “We keep talking about the drug problems we have in our society. It’s in Grant County, Pendleton County, Hardy County, all you hear is that we have this drug problem. If we as a school system do not take a stand, then who are we as far as letting our kids down. I know we can’t eradicate it, it was here when we were kids. But I think this is the right path.”
The initial policy that enacted the testing was approved in June; however, the board entertained several months of discussion before moving forward with the policy rider, which lays out the actual function of the policy. Following the recent meeting, athletic testing is slated to begin in the winter sports season.
During the meeting, multiple parents, students and administrators spoke up with their opinions on drug testing.
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The Grant County Commission responded to two citizens last week about ongoing questions concerning the appointment of the Grant County Clerk, attorney usage, voting in the county and commission transparency.
Commissioners Doug Swick and Jeff Berg were in attendance at the meeting, which was held on Jan. 22.
The first citizen to appear before the commission was Jane Kite Keeling, who came to express multiple concerns.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a recording of a portion of the Grant County Commission meeting that was held on Dec. 22.
I generally record most of the public meetings I attend when a member of the community is set to speak or when an explanation of financials is on the agenda.
Generally, I do not record more mundane sections of these meetings as I am able to keep up with solely handwritten notes and often do not include quotes from general county/city/board business.
However, accuracy is very important to me, especially when it is a citizen there to speak - and this is often when I want to include as many quotes as possible to allow them to convey their message in their own words.
That being said, all the recordings are generally for my own use and had I known the complexity of this meeting, I absolutely would have recorded the meeting in its entirety, as opposed to starting at the first speaker.
Given the passionate tone this meeting took and the large amount of discussion and explanations that were presented during it, I feel it is best to make the recording available to our readers so they can review it themselves.
Listening to the meeting, as opposed to reading the words off the page (or screen) gives a much more accurate view of the tone of the meeting.
Prior to the first speaker on the recording (Alicia Reel, who is reporting the county finances through the county clerk’s office) the commission approved previous minutes, heard a simple budget request re Sandia Glasscock from the Health Department and spoke with JoAnn Harman about hiring an assistant librarian.
Approximate Time Stamps:
Alicia Reel speaks on the county budget until the 2:17:00 mark.
Jane Kite Keeling addresses the commission from 2:18:00 until 8:43:00
The commission (and later the County Clerk) responds to Keeling starting at 8:43:00
Jill Long addresses the commission at 17:42
The commission responds to Long at 20:00:00
Debbie Anderson speaks to the commission concern water clean-up at 29:30:00
The recording ends as Anderson finishes