www.wvgazette.com http://www.wvgazette.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: January 27, 2015 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT01/301279973 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT01/301279973 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:57 -0500 Anderson, Jacqueline 11 a.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Armentrout, Sharon 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mt. Hope.

Backus, Pearl Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Donnally, James 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home, Cedar Grove.

Hall, Timothy 1 p.m., Calvary Freewill Baptist Church, Dingess.

Hood, Norma 11 a.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Horne, Kyle 11 a.m., 14 Whitman Freewill Baptist Church, Whitman.

Matheny, Betty 1 p.m., Arbovale Cemetery Annex, Arbovale.

McColgan, Robert 11 a.m., Evans Funeral Home, Chapmanville.

Page, Linda 2:30 p.m., Graceland Memorial Park Chapel, South Charleston.

Pleasants, William 11 a.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Robinette, Laura 11 a.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Shaver, Karl 11 a.m., St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Charleston.

Sponaugle, Betty Lou 11 a.m., Richard M. Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Taylor, Bernard 11 a.m., McCulla Funeral Home, Morgantown.

Taylor, Timothy 2 p.m., Matics Funeral Home, Clendenin.

Tredway, Delores 2 p.m., First Baptist Church, Ceredo.

Weatherholt, Dorothy 1 p.m., VanReenen Funeral Home, Marlinton.

West, Delmas 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Wilson, Hilda 1 p.m., Olive Branch Baptist Church, Nettie.

Belinda Kay Adkins http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279990 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279990 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:38 -0500 Belinda Kay Adkins, 50, of Seth, died Jan. 25, 2015. Funeral will be 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet, with visitation beginning two hours prior.

Shirley "Slim" Adkins http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279983 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279983 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:48 -0500 Shirley French Adkins, 77, of Fayetteville, died Jan. 24. 2015. Service will be noon Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Dodd-Payne-Hess Funeral Home, Fayetteville, with visitation beginning one hour prior.

Virginia M. Burdette http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279982 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279982 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:48 -0500 Virginia Maxine Burdette, 94, of Dunbar, died Jan. 25, 2015. Service will be 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at High Lawn Funeral Home Chapel, Oak Hill, www.highlawnfuneralhomechapel.com.

John Timothy Dean http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279980 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279980 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:51 -0500 John Timothy Dean, 50, of Kodak, Tenn., formerly of Gassaway, died Jan. 25, 2015. Service will be 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Richard M. Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway, with visitation beginning two hours prior.

Freda L. Dennison http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279996 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279996 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:28 -0500 Freda L. Dennison, 85, formerly of Falls Mill, passed away Jan. 23, 2015. Graveside servce will be held at Falls Mill Cemetery on Jan. 28. Services by Stockert-Paletti Funeral Home.

Andrew J. Fry V http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279981 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279981 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:49 -0500 Andrew Johnson Fry V, 62, of Dunedin, Fla., formerly of Wayne County, W.Va., passed away Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 at Brookside Hospice in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Funeral service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at Morris Funeral Home Chapel, Wayne, W.Va., with Pastor Don Irby officiating. Burial will follow at Community Memorial Gardens, Wayne.

He was born Jan. 8, 1953 in Huntington, a son of Andrew Johnson Fry IV and Elenor Blankenship Fry of East Lynn, W.Va. Andy joined A.T. Massey Coal as a sales representative in 1976 and soon rose through the ranks to become its vice president of metallurgical coal sales, a position he held until 1991. In 1991 he left A.T. Massey to form AMCI Coal Sales, serving as its president until 2001. In 2002 he held the same position with American Metallurgical Coal Sales (AMCS), the successor company formed to replace AMCI Coal Sales. He left AMCS once it was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources and formed Winding Gulf Coal Sales, which later became Superior Coal Sales, serving as president from 2002 to 2013. In 2014 Andy formed Maxim Coal Services, LLC which specialized in buying and selling distressed coal properties.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his sister, Rosemary Fry (Henry Smith) of East Lynn, W.Va.; a nephew, Christopher Blankenship (Jessie); a great-nephew, Elliott Blankenship; and numerous other family and friends.

Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Morris Funeral Home, Wayne.

Jack D. Hatcher http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279976 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279976 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:54 -0500 Jack Dempsey Hatcher, 78, of Coal City, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015.

He was of the Baptist faith. He was a retired coal miner and was a member of the UMWA.

He was born in Dunns and was the eleventh child of the late Luther Martin Hatcher and Amanda Emeline Meador Hatcher. He was also preceded in death by his granddaughter, Amanda Dawn Graham.

He and former wife, Sylvia Hatcher, had six children, Mary and David Cole of Coolridge, Dimpsey and Sandy Hatcher of Mount Hope, Cynthia and Scott Phillips of Tornado, Terry and Loretta "Dee" Hatcher of Beckley, Sharon Treadway of Beckley and Belinda and Bill Ellison of Coal City. He will be missed by his 16 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren, whom he loved.

Service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Handley Funeral Home, 439 Phipps Ave., Danville, WV 25053, with the Rev. Charlie Bolen officiating. Burial will follow in Memory Gardens, Madison.

Viewing for family will be held at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Friends may call from 1 to 2 p.m.

You may express your condolences to the family at www.handleyfh.com.

Jacob C. Hughes http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279978 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279978 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:53 -0500 Jacob Christopher Hughes, 20, of Charleston, passed away at home on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.

Jacob was known for his brilliant skateboarding. You would always see him skateboarding in the community. He was a kind and genuine person with a big heart and was known in the community for his gentle and caring soul.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Tristan Louis Theofilos.

He is survived by his mother, Jamey Hughes (Sasha Javorsky) of Stuart, Fla.; grandmother, Tracey Hughes of Charleston; aunts, Laura Cunningham of Stuart, Fla., and Erin Cunningham of Charleston; as well as a host of others.

His family will hold a celebration of life from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston.

You may send condolences to the family at www.barlowbonsall.com.

Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home has been entrusted to handle the arrangements.

Charles Kermit Jones http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279989 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/OBIT/301279989 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 00:02:40 -0500 Charles Kermit Jones, a resident of Sissonville, was born in Sissonville on Aug. 30, 1932 and went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Jan. 24, 2015 at the age of 82.

He was the son of the late Byron and Mabel (Jordan) Jones of Sissonville. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 53 years, Macel Jones. Also preceding him in death was his sister, Betty Jones, who had lived in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory his brothers, Stafford (Smithton, Mo.), James and his wife, Barbara (Winfield) and Cody and his wife, Connie (Sissonville); his brother-inlaw, Rex Jones (Sissonville); his children: son and daughter-in-law, Keith and Pam Jones (Sissonville); daughter, Linda Madden (Sissonville); and daughter and son-in-law, Lois and Joe Geiger (Huntington); and his grandchildren, Allison Madden, Matthew Geiger, Ashley Madden Thaxton (Trevor) and Rachel Geiger. Also left to cherish his memory are many close cousins and special nephews, nieces and friends, including his church families at Crossroads Community Church in Sissonville and Marlaing Gospel Tabernacle in St. Albans, and also including an especially devoted friend, Nita Thomas.

He was known to most as "Kermit" and to some as either "Charles" or "Charlie." In later years, he became affectionately known to many in the Sissonville community as "Pawpaw." Kermit grew up in Sissonville and graduated from Sissonville High School in 1952. He was a veteran who was pleased and honored to have served his country in the United States Army in Korea. He was retired from Mountaineer Gas Company, where he had worked as a meter reader and leakage inspection specialist. After his "retirement," Kermit formed the Independent Natural Gas Service Company, providing line location and leakage survey services to gas companies in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. As a recognized expert in his field, he was hired by the public service commission and by gas companies to teach seminars and to share his knowledge with others. During his lifetime, Kermit made many treasured friendships. Kermit was a dedicated and loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. He was a Christian who served as an elder and trustee at his church. As his many extended family members and friends know, Kermit was a kind, thoughtful and caring man who enjoyed sharing time, stories and laughter with his family and friends. Most importantly, he loved and was loved. In remembering him, while we are saddened by the loss of his presence with us, we cherish our many memories and we celebrate his homecoming with the Lord.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, at Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville. Visitation hours at the funeral home will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, and friends may also call one hour before the service on Wednesday.

Online condolences and tributes can be shared at www.longfisherfuneralhome.com.

State health official says vaccinations are important http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129294 DM01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129294 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:04:56 -0500 By Andrea Lannom West Virginia health officials say a measles outbreak resulting from exposure at Disneyland brings up the importance of vaccines.

Between 1995 and 2014, only two cases have been reported in West Virginia with the last case reported in 2009, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can spread through the air and infected surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause conditions including encephalitis, which can lead to deafness or mental retardation, pneumonia and death.

"Measles is a very serious disease across the world," Gupta said. "Globally, easily tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of children contract this. More importantly, there are complications with this disease ranging from pneumonias to central nervous system problems. Kids die from this. I've treated and unfortunately seen deaths as a result of measles. It's not only a rash. It's complex and serious and often fatal across the world."

Recently, more than 80 people, many of whom were not vaccinated, were infected with measles linked to an initial exposure from Disneyland in California, according to national media reports.

Officials said the outbreak began when an infected person visited the resort between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.

After the most recent outbreak in California, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and the American Academy of Family Physicians urged people to get children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella.

The CDC, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children to get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years old.

Gupta said these two doses of the vaccine are more than 98 percent effective in preventing measles.

He said two doses are required for school entry. However, current laws allow children to be exempted if there are justified medical reasons. Gupta said in these cases, it would be more of a benefit for the child to be exempted than immunized.

Gupta said if an adult only got one of the vaccines when he or she was younger, then that person wouldn't necessarily need to get the second dose. However, it might be more important for health care workers to get the second dose in that scenario.

Gupta said measles was eradicated in the country in 2000, primarily through the efforts of vaccines. Since then, he said the country has seen the importation of the disease.

"As we know, diseases are only a plane flight away," he said. "Often what we've seen is the importation of these diseases and they're re-introduced to the community. As we've seen in Disney in California, San Diego in 2008 and more recently in the neighboring state of Ohio."

In the Ohio outbreak last year, there were a total of 382 measles cases resulting in nine hospitalizations, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. The earliest onset of symptoms began in March and latest onset began in July. Cases ranged from six months to 53 years-old.

Gupta said what health officials saw is that most of the people who contracted measles were people who were previously not vaccinated.

"When we have this introduction of a disease that is no longer in the community, then other people are at risk of acquiring that disease as well. Often, it's the children. What research shows us is that on average, children exempt from immunizations are 35 times more likely to contract diseases like measles than vaccinated persons - not just children, overall persons."

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at Andrea.Lannom@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.

Library fundraiser seeks help for basket auction http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129295 DM01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129295 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:03:33 -0500 Committee seeking help from public to gather donated items for auction



A group of Kanawha County Library benefactors are looking for help from the public in securing items for the Friends of the Library Foundation's annual basket auction.

The event, called "A Tisket, A Tasket, A Literary Basket Auction," is now in its ninth year and has been a major fundraiser for Kanawha County libraries. Terry Wooten, library marketing director, said more than 100 baskets were auctioned off last year for $52,000. She said those funds helped pay for summer reading groups and events for children, author presentations and three early learning computer stations.

While she isn't sure those numbers can be duplicated this year, Wooten said the foundation expects enough materials to make 80 baskets.

Each basket has a theme based on an item that can be checked out at the library and is either targeted at adults or children. Baskets for adults have a minimum value of $100 and children's baskets are $50.

While the auction isn't until April, a committee of library patrons are already putting baskets together. By Friday, the group had planned several baskets around items like Disney World tickets or a golfing trip at Stonewall Resort.

Committee members have enough items to get started, but will depend on donations to get enough baskets ready by April.

Karen Lukens, chairwoman of the foundation's auction committee, said members of the public can donate individual items or sponsor an entire basket.

The money the foundation raises at the auction will be used to help fund programs library branches otherwise would not be able to pay for out of general funds. One thing Lukens is hoping to fund is the installation of additional early literacy computer stations at each library.

Lukens said the extra help the foundation is able to provide to the library through auction proceeds goes a long way in keeping programs up and running.

After years of financial struggles that caused program cancellations and other cutbacks, the library successfully passed a levy in November that will fully restore the system's funding. Library officials turned to voters for aid when the state Supreme Court ruled in February 2013 that the county school board, which had funded the library for decades, no longer had to do so.

With its financial future looking more secure, the library has restored programs and issued modest raises, but Lukens said the foundation's support is still needed.

"Just because the levy passed doesn't mean what we do isn't important," she said. "We help pay for the book festival and other special events."

Wooten said the auction is expected to be attended by about 300 people.

Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the door, but guests can choose to pay $50 or $100 to provide additional support. Advance tickets can be purchased by contacting Lois Payne at 304-343-4646, ext. 1283, or lois.payne@kanawhalibrary.org.

The event is sponsored by the Columbia Pipeline Group, the Martha Gaines and Russell Wehrle Memorial Foundation, Kanawha Valley Advertising, Karen and John Luken, Cookie and Marty Glasser, Steve and Katy White, Lisa and Larry Pack and Robert and Nancy Douglas.

The auction will be at 6 p.m. April 11 in the Columbia Pipeline Group auditorium in Charleston.

Wooten said basket donations can be made by contacting her at 304-343-4646, ext. 1287, or terry.wooten@kanawhalibrary.org. She said they also can be dropped off at the drive-through window at the main library in Charleston.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

State treasurer opposes SMART529 tax plan http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM05/150129296 DM05 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM05/150129296 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:59:20 -0500 By Jared Hunt State Treasurer John Perdue opposes President Barack Obama's proposal to tax earnings from a college-savings program promoted by the Treasurer's office - a proposal that now appears dead on arrival.

Perdue on Tuesday said he was joining with the National Association of State Treasurers and its affiliate, the College Savings Plan Network, to oppose the plan, which was included in Obama's State of the Union speech last week.

The president announced the plan as part of an effort to overhaul education-related tax breaks and target more money toward middle-class families. It calls for taxing earnings and capital gains from 529 college savings accounts. Money from the accounts can currently be withdrawn tax-free for educational expenses.

The White House argued that 70 percent of 529 accounts were held by families earning more than $200,000. It said taxing the gains from the accounts could generate up to $1 billion over 10 years, which could be used to pay for an expansion of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to $2,500 in annual tax credits for qualified education expenses.

Perdue's office oversees West Virginia's SMART529 College Savings Plan. Perdue's spokeswoman Gina Joynes said that as of Dec. 31, there were 28,388 accounts held by West Virginia residents, with a total value of nearly $399.4 million.

In a news release, Perdue said the president's plan would unfairly penalize middle-class families across the state.

"I am extremely disappointed that President Obama would target working-class families who are trying to save for higher education," Perdue said. "Instead of stifling savings, we should encourage parents to save responsibly for future educational expenses."

If the plans are taxed, Perdue argued that more families will turn to student loans to finance a child's education.

"With tuition costs rising and student loan debt currently around $1.3 trillion, saving for higher education has never been more important," Perdue said.

College Savings Plan Network research has indicated children with a college savings account are six to seven times more likely to attend a four-year college, compared to children without an account.

The treasurers group is among a growing chorus of opposition to the plan.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday asked the president to keep the proposal out of the budget he submits to Congress next week.

"529 plans help middle-class families save for college, but now the president wants to tax those plans," Boehner said. "It's another example of his outdated, top-down approach - when our focus ought to be on providing opportunity for all Americans."

And so, for the sake of middle-class families, the president ought to withdraw this tax increase from his budget when he submits it soon."

It appears the White House is listening to the concerns about its proposal.

The New York Times reported late Tuesday the president will drop the tax plan in order to get other proposals through Congress.

"Given it has become such a distraction, we're not going to ask Congress to pass the 529 provision so that they can instead focus on delivering a larger package of education tax relief that has bipartisan support, as well as the President's broader package of tax relief for child care and working families," a White House official told the newspaper.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

(No heading) http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129297 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129297 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:34:17 -0500

ACA 'kill-bill' advances http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129298 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129298 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:12:11 -0500 By Eric Eyre In their first swipe at the federal Affordable Care Act, West Virginia Republican lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would take away Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's power over any future changes in how West Virginians receive subsidized health insurance under the act.

The House Health and Human Resources Committee voted 14-9 for the bill (HB2216) that would give the Legislature control of any changes to the state's health care exchange that provides insurance to 19,800 West Virginians under the ACA.

Democrats and Republicans on the committee sparred for nearly two hours over the bill's implications and timing.

"This is nothing more than legislative power grab," said Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio.

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule whether states like West Virginia can continue to offer subsidized health insurance through exchanges that partner with the federal government - or exchanges totally run by the feds.

"We're being very proactive," said Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkeley. "Hopefully, we're sending the message it's our duty, our role, to make these decisions and not be usurped."

Democrats said the timing of the GOP-backed bill couldn't be worse.

The Supreme Court's decision could leave West Virginia with only three months to set up a new state-run health exchange. And if the bill passes, a special legislative session would be required to authorize a state-controlled exchange.

Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, told lawmakers Tuesday that it wouldn't be feasible to establish a state-run exchange in just a few months.

Any delays could cost West Virginia $61 million in health insurance subsidies and leave thousands of residents without health insurance, the bill's critics say.

"This bill could have enormous financial implications to our state," said Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia.

Democrats said the bill would hamstring the governor, preventing him from moving swiftly to get a new exchange up and running.

"This is not broken," said Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha. "Why risk what we already have until we hear from the Supreme Court? We're putting the cart before the horse."

Republicans said complaints about the bill were just "hyperbole." They said the Legislature - not the governor - should have the final say on any changes to the health insurance exchange.

"We're basically trying to take a lollipop from one kid and giving it to another," said Delegate Larry Faircloth, R-Berkeley.

On Tuesday, the health committee revised the bill so that it wouldn't dismantle West Virginia's "partnership exchange" with the federal government - as critics alleged earlier this week.

"The only thing this bill does is place the responsibility of reacting to the court case on the Legislature," said Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.

Flinn Elementary closed Wednesday http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129299 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129299 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:04:43 -0500 Flinn Elementary School will be closed Wednesday because of a lack of heat and water, according to a message from Kanawha County Schools.

W.Va. Legislature dives into charter schools debate http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129300 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129300 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:57:14 -0500 By Ryan Quinn The now-Republican-controlled West Virginia Legislature is considering allowing charter schools in the state, but teachers' unions are criticizing the effort and questioning the need.

The Legislature will hold a public hearing on the matter 5 p.m. Wednesday in the House of Delegates chamber. The Senate Education Committee was supposed to discuss a specific bill to allow charters Tuesday, but committee Chairman Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, said the draft is now being substantially rewritten because its language doesn't fit with existing state law and doesn't fit recommendations made by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Regardless, the presidents of both major teachers' unions showed up at Tuesday's committee meeting to denounce the bill and tell legislators that they've seen no public outcry for charter schools, which are generally granted more freedom than regular public schools in using the public funding they are given.

Eugenie Taylor, special issues coordinator for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, told legislators Tuesday that West Virginia is one of only eight states that don't allow charter schools. She said the current system is failing too many children.

"The status quo is hard to defend," Taylor said. "Those kids need you to be bold to give them options for a different model."

Lisa Grover, senior director for state advocacy for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said charter schools are given the extra autonomy in exchange for higher levels of accountability. But the teachers' union presidents said if flexibility to improve education is why legislators want charter schools, they should look to the state's existing and expanding Innovation Zone programs.

Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said Innovation Zones allow schools to identify deficient areas and develop creative solutions, which can include waivers of current state school board policies and extra funding.

She mentioned Cabell County's Teacher Induction Program, an Innovation Zone program in which the entire county got a waiver from a policy that required one year of mentoring for each new teacher from one person who teaches in his or her subject area.

The school district used its freedom to expand the mentoring program to three years and establish a team of mentors for each teacher, instead of just one person, Campbell said. In response to the program's success, the state school board allowed more leeway in mentoring programs across West Virginia.

"Those are the kinds of things we should be celebrating in West Virginia in something like an Innovation Zone, instead of just creating a whole 'nother system of schools," Campbell said.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said the state needs to give countywide Innovation Zones, which he said were approved in last year's legislative session, time to work.

The state also has other flexibility programs, including the expanding community schools pilot project on the West Side of Charleston, an area that has some of the lowest-performing schools in the state. Taylor pointed to the West Side Tuesday as an example of failure under the status quo, though the pilot program was only approved there in the last few years.

The original drafted version of Senate Bill 14 would've enabled both the creation of new charter schools and the conversion of existing regular public schools into charters.

Charters would be exempted from certain state laws and state and county school board policies, including rules regarding hiring and firing, minimum daily instructional time, programs of study, instructional goals and school year calendars.

Campbell said these exemptions could essentially make teachers at-will employees without contracts.

The bill would've allowed the charters to set up performance-based pay, something that's currently banned in West Virginia, said state Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro. Teachers can currently receive salary raises for things like becoming nationally certified and receiving higher college degrees, but the bill would allow for raises based on increases in "student achievement" and other factors.

Republicans had supported pay increases for teacher performance before they took over the majority this session for the first time in about 80 years.

The bill didn't state exactly how that "student achievement" would be measured.

The charters would be barred from charging tuition, and meetings of their newly established governing boards - consisting mostly of teachers and parents - would be subject to the state's open meetings rules.

Teachers, local school improvement councils and education organizations, like universities, would be allowed to apply to convert existing schools into charters. But only teachers and education organizations could apply to create new charter schools.

For a regular public school to be converted into a charter, 60 percent of the teachers would have to sign a petition in support, or the local school improvement council members would have to unanimously vote in support.

For the creation of an entirely new charter school, 60 percent of teachers in the entire county district would have to sign a petition in support.

The county school board would then have to approve or deny the conversion or creation of the charter school, which could operate for three years until its charter status must be reapproved.

The county board could revoke the charter before the end of its term for certain reasons, including two consecutive years without improved test scores.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

Sexual assault reported at Capital High http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129301 DM01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM01/150129301 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:55:38 -0500 Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault said to have occurred at Capital High School in Charleston.

Charleston police are looking into the allegation that a student was sexually assaulted at Capital High, Charleston Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives, said Tuesday evening. It was reported Tuesday, he said.

Kanawha County Board of Education President Robin Rector confirmed an incident occurred but declined to discuss specifics, citing student privacy laws.

Capital Principal Clinton Giles said via telephone Tuesday evening, "no rape was reported to me," and deferred comment to police.

Little information was available Tuesday evening. The allegation is under investigation. Anyone with information can call Charleston's Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.

Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcus.c@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.

Police investigate alleged rape at Capital High http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129303 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/GZ01/150129303 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:39:11 -0500 By Erin Beck Charleston police are investigating an alleged rape at Capital High School, authorities said Tuesday.

Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives for the Charleston Police Department, said detectives were working on the case Tuesday.

Cooper said he was limited in the amount of information he could release because the alleged victim is a juvenile.

Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller confirmed that the case involves more than one juvenile. Other than that, he wouldn't provide any more information than police had already released. He said he had not been alerted of any arrests, although he "might be the last to know."

"They may be reluctant to tell you anything until they at least finish a preliminary investigation," Miller said.

BOE president Robin Rector and board members Ryan White and Jim Crawford, Sr. all said they only were aware of the basic information that the Gazette relayed.

White directed a reporter to Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring for more information. He said Duerring had been calling BOE members to alert them.

"I know just as much as you do," White said.

Duerring did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday evening.

Rector confirmed that the incident involved a student and she believes it happened Monday. She said it was her understanding that county level administration, possibly Duerring or another employee, reported the alleged assault to police.

"It's something that police are handling at this point," she said. "Because there's a student involved, there's not more I can say or would know at this point."

Crawford also said he had received a phone call from Duerring.

"When it's something like this that involves a minor child, we can't discuss it publicly," he said.

The Gazette asked about school board members' interest in learning more about the case than media reports and basic information from Giles.

"After the investigation the superintendent will give the board members a full report," Crawford said.

Capital High School Principal Clinton Giles and BOE member Becky Jordon did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday evening.

Reached before news outlets had started reporting on the alleged assault, Kanawha school board member Pete Thaw said Tuesday evening that he hadn't heard about the alleged incident.

In December of 2009, a 14-year-old ninth grader at Capital High School told a school counselor that on about Nov. 20, she was grabbed from behind, dragged about 40 feet and raped in the school's south courtyard in some tall ornamental grass.

The girl's mother said she was enrolling the girl in a new high school, and that the girl was seeing a therapist.

Reach Erin Beck at erin.beck@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5163 or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

Derek Taylor: March girls hoops madness around the corner http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM03/150129304 DM03 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150127/DM03/150129304 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:34:07 -0500 Something Sissonville girls basketball coach Rich Skeen said after the Indians' 61-39 rout over visiting Wheeling Central last Saturday indicated that, yes, the time of year has arrived when coaches, teams, writers and fans can start thinking about March.

"That's a good team," Skeen said of coach Penn Kurtz's Maroon Knights. "Don't be surprised if you see that team playing for the title on Saturday of the state tournament."

Looking at the latest West Virginia Coaches Association Poll, it would seem that Skeen isn't alone among his peers in that assessment. Central took over the No. 1 spot in Class A this week, ousting St. Joseph from a perch from which the Irish have enjoyed the view for the better part of five years.

I typically avoid discussion of the Coaches Association Poll for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the sportswriters of this state have our own poll that is compiled by the Associated Press. Secondly, many, if not most, writers agree that the media has greater opportunity to study the state as a whole and is therefore more informed on such matters than coaches, who are often bogged down in studying game film of upcoming opponents to know what is going on in every nook and cranny of the state each week.

It's the same situation as with the college football coaches poll, which has over the years been exposed as actually reflecting the sentiment of not coaches but sports information directors, because coaches are busy actually coaching and preparing to coach.

But this piece is not to disparage the Coaches Association Poll. It can actually come in handy in a look forward to the state tournaments scheduled for March 11-14 at the Charleston Civic Center. The boys tournaments begin one week later.

Because the coaches of teams that advance past sectional play determine what becomes the seeding in their respective classes once teams descend on the Civic Center, the Coaches Poll can therefore give us an early indication of how that seeding might look.

Naturally, some regions are more heavily represented in the poll than others. For instance, Buckhannon-Upshur (11-3) is the only Class AAA team from Region 2 to make the Top 10. The Buccaneers would be seeded seventh for the Class AAA tournament should the poll accurately forecast those teams who make it to Charleston.

On the other end of the spectrum, Region 1 claims what are expected to be the top two seeds in Class AAA: top-ranked and defending champion Morgantown (13-0) and second-ranked, 2014 runner-up and 2013 state champ Parkersburg South (14-2).

South Charleston (13-1) would be expected to get the third seed, followed by Huntington (12-1), and the first quizzical prediction of the set follows. According to the coaches, Greenbrier East (13-2) would be seeded fifth for the Class AAA tournament. It is curious that the Spartans are so highly ranked with only a Dec. 6 victory against B-U that can be considered a quality win, never mind that they lost convincingly to sub-.500 Class A Charleston Catholic (5-9) two weeks ago.

Catholic is not even expected to reach the Class A state tournament out of Region 4. Little more than a week ago a story appeared in the Daily Mail that addressed the Irish's strength of schedule, but it is hard to believe that - considering they showed themselves to be vastly superior to Greenbrier East - that the win would put them on par with South Charleston and Huntington if Catholic played in Class AAA.

But I digress. The rest of the Class AAA field would include Logan (10-3) at the No. 6 seed, B-U at No. 7 and unranked Martinsburg (9-5) at No. 8.

Sissonville would emerge from Region 4 to gain the No. 5 seed in Class AA, if the poll turns out to be accurate right now. Another curiosity exists here, as the Indians lost at home by 21 to Clay County (13-2), a team with one more win and the same number of losses as Sissonville (12-2), two Saturdays ago, but the coaches currently have the Panthers pegged as the No. 7 seed.

Wyoming East (14-0) is currently the favorite to grab the top seed in Class AA, which looks - as is the case in most sports - to have the most parity among its participants. North Marion (12-1) is second, Fairmont Senior (13-2) third and Keyser (13-1) fourth. Summers County (11-2) at No. 6 and Bridgeport (11-4) at No. 8 round out the prospective field six weeks from the state tournament opener.

St. Joe (8-4) would grab the No. 2 spot in Class A followed by Tucker County (11-2), Williamstown (11-3), Pocahontas County (11-4), Clay-Battelle (12-4), Meadow Bridge (12-3) and Notre Dame (8-4). Only Class AA Westside, which won the state title last season by beating Sissonville, would fail to have a chance at repeating, according to the latest poll.

Morgantown and South are likely to play three times before the postseason even begins, so it is difficult if not impossible to safely forecast which would presumably take the top seed in Class AAA. They met in the first of two scheduled regular-season games Tuesday night in Parkersburg, meet again Feb. 3 in Morgantown and then could meet again in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament Feb. 12-14. As much as Mohigans senior point guard and West Virginia signee Olivia Seggie impressed in last year's tournament, a healthy Parkersburg South - leading scorer Keya Bartlett was out with injuries in South's two losses this season and left last year's title game early with a scary head injury - would still get the nod in my assessment.

No other team in the state is equipped with the talent, consistency and tournament experience required to knock out either of the top two teams in the current poll.

As usual, Region 3's top team in Class AA looks like it might be the best in the state, although Wyoming East has little tournament experience whereas five of the other seven teams currently projected to reach the tournament were there a year ago. It would not be a surprise at all to see two teams in the bottom half of the seeding play for the title.

In Class A, I'd be hesitant to contradict Skeen. St. Joe's Mychelle Johnson is a top-notch prep player but she might not be the best in the state, which is another change for the Irish. Johnson's older sister, Mychal, has easily been the top small-school player in the last five years but is now a freshman at Notre Dame.

Instead, I would put my talents on Central (13-2) junior point guard Lindsey Baker as Class A's top player. Baker possesses a basketball IQ greater than most players in the state regardless of class, and her athleticism and confidence create just the kind of combination that tends to lead teams to titles.

Kurtz said the loss to Sissonville provided Central with an opportunity to look at its deficiencies at an opportune time to prepare for a postseason run.

"It's a good time for us to check and see what we need to do to get better," Kurtz said. "We learned a little bit today, so hopefully we'll keep getting better and get ready for Charleston."

We'll know soon. Sectional tournaments begin in less than four weeks.