Board Of Education Votes In Favor Of Elementary School Closures
by ALLISON PUGH
Barbour County will have two fewer elementary schools beginning with
the 2017-2018 school year, as the Board of Education voted unanimously
on Monday, July 18, 2016, to close both Mount Vernon Elementary and
Volga-Century Elementary and consolidate both schools with Philippi
Two public hearings, one for each closing
school, were held by the Board of Education at Philippi Barbour High
School on Monday. Both hearings started with a short presentation by
Superintendent Jeffrey Woofter outlining the reasoning behind his
recommendation to close. Woofter began by expressing his support for
small schools like Mt. Vernon and Volga-Century which are centers of
their communities, and by stating that he and the central office staff
searched every possible avenue to keep the schools open before coming to
the board members with the closure recommendations.
“I would never
recommend to close a school unless I was absolutely certain that it was
in the best of our children and our community,” stated Superintendent
One of his concerns was that students in these elementary
schools are being taught in split-grade classrooms, which not only puts
more strain on teachers but also hinders effective instruction and
proficiency of students in both grade levels being taught.
them in a position in which it was almost impossible for them to
succeed,” Woofter said. “We asked the teachers to do the impossible—take
two years worth of content standards and get students to be proficient
in one year… in one classroom.”
Woofter also addressed maintenance
needs at both schools, largely the replacement of HV/AC systems, the
cost of which would total over $400,000 per school. A $1,100,000 grant
project was recently approved by the SBA for a new HV/AC system at PES
(which will be in place when the three schools consolidate in fall
2017). However, because both MVES and VCES have utilization rates well
below 60 percent, 28 and 18 percent respectively, funding for
maintenance and repairs is not easily found for the schools from the
School Building Authority.
At the morning hearing for
Volga-Century, no members of the public chose to address the board
members and central office staff. As such, the board members used the
time to ask questions of Superintendent Woofter and central office
staff, particularly Annette Hughart, finance director, and Glenn Sweet,
director of facilities, attendance, and administrative services.
Concerns expressed regarded costs of needed maintenance, classroom size,
utilization rates, transportation time to and from PES to outlying
areas, budget forecasts both to remain open and close, and the overall
well-being and instruction of students.
Several Mt. Vernon parents
and faculty members spoke at the hearing Monday afternoon, however,
including Mt. Vernon principal, Ashley Workman, who has been at the
school since January. In addition, an emailed letter from Matthew 25 CEO
Tim Mettey, in which he offered the county a $110,000 grant to provide
two additional teachers at MVES in order to split grades individually
once more if the county would vote to keep Mt. Vernon open, but the
proposed grant was not openly discussed by the board members at the
Directly following the hearings, the board members
entered into a fairly brief executive session and returned to make the
two 5:0 votes to approve Superintendent Woofter’s recommendations for
closure. Financial difficulties, low utilization rates, enrollment
decline, and maintenance needs largely appeared to contribute to the
overall recommendation, and later decision, to close.
votes, the board members each made statements regarding their decisions
to close, largely citing extensive financial difficulties and looming
budget deficits faced by the county school system. Board member Joanne
McConnell was visibly upset over the effects the closures are likely to
have on the county’s outlying communities, but defended her vote in
favor of closure.
“My heart is with you, the small schools. My
children attended Volga-Century Elementary School, and I loved what that
school was and how that school prepared them for middle school, high
school, and beyond,” said McConnell. “But the truth is, right now the
attendance is so low in these schools that Mt. Vernon Elementary School
represents only 2.4 percent of our entire enrollment across the
county—but we are responsible for 100 percent of the students in this
county. Volga-Century represents 1.6 percent of the entire enrollment. I
look at those numbers and I realize we are shortchanging our county by
keeping these schools open, and that’s why I voted the way I did. I am
so sorry this happened. My heart is breaking for you.”
many expected the vote’s outcome, the disappointment was tangible
throughout the crowd of parents, community members, teachers, and
faculty in attendance on Monday.
“I was hoping that with the offer
of funding [from Matthew 25] for our school that [the board] would at
least give us another year or so to prove that we can bring up our
utilization, but I don’t think that’s really what they wanted,” said
Deneise Bray, parent volunteer and PTO secretary at MVES.
Bray’s disappointment and frustration were echoed by others.
“It’s a sad day for Barbour County,” another parent commented. “There
is no feeder school for Philippi, and I personally know as a parent with
a child in preschool that the preschool is overcrowded. That’s not
acceptable. Now, what happens when the numbers change? No one can
predict five years out. There was no entertaining of the funding
[offered by Matthew 25], and there was no discussion on it. I think the
voting people in this county need to know that [the board] was offered
$110,000 and it wasn’t discussed.”
What will come of the decision
will be seen in the years to come as, beginning with the 2017-2018
school year, both Mount Vernon Elementary and Volga-Century Elementary
schools are consolidated into Philippi Elementary School.
Woodlands Development Group Hopes To Bring New Life Into Historic Philippi Buildings
by Allison Pugh
Downtown Philippi is getting an exciting facelift as the Woodlands
Development Group breathes new life into the former pool room and Elmer
Dean’s barber shop buildings on Main Street.
Woodlands Development Group largely focuses on downtown revitalization
and on building new single-family living spaces in Randolph County, but
is venturing into more commercial and housing properties in surrounding
areas. One such project in Barbour County was in Belington, where
Woodlands assisted the Belington Revitalization Committee in purchasing
the corner lot property by the stoplight in Belington.
has entered Barbour County because the group wants to service areas that
haven’t had much outside focus and which can benefit from the
organization’s assistance. Downtown revitalization, according to the
group, is good for the overall health of communities. The group is
trying to focus on properties that have been neglected by new or
expanding businesses, so that it may help the community’s appearance,
growth, and economy while not interfering with the private market. As
Philippi has a lot of historic buildings, particularly those with unused
or vacant upper level space, it was a major draw to the organization’s
The two Main Street projects in Philippi in particular
posed a new and exciting challenge for the group—historic property
revitalization. As both of the buildings are historic properties, the
work done by the group must meet certain guidelines and restrictions,
such as keeping the historic integrity of each building while doing
repair work. This means that the buildings must maintain their original
vibe and adhere to period-appropriate materials and framework. While
this applies to both the exterior and interior, the group has more
flexibility with the commercial and rental spaces inside the buildings.
In both buildings, Woodlands has worked to preserve the distinct
features of the buildings, such as tin ceilings, masonry, and framework,
while also updating or replacing outdated or hazardous materials where
it can. This is work is painstaking and takes a great deal of care
regarding regulations and restrictions, which Woodlands is learning to
navigate as renovations continue.
The lower levels of both
buildings are being revamped into unique commercial spaces that will be
available for lease when finished, while the upper levels will be
renovated into apartment housing. The finished projects will revamp two
buildings in Philippi’s historic downtown, blending the past together
with the city’s future.
In addition to its revitalization work,
Woodlands is also venturing into financial lending to help interested
folks who may not qualify for traditional loans but wish to start up
businesses. The group currently has a loan officer in Philippi on
Fridays at the Barbour County Development Authority to assist people
looking to start businesses in Barbour County.
properties will be available in the near future for lease and can be
accommodated or modified to suit the needs of individual businesses.
Anyone interested in leasing either of the commercial properties should
contact the Barbour County Development Authority at (304) 457-1225 or
stop by the office located at 33 S. Main St, Philippi, WV 26416.
Dr. Mark Farnsworth And Patrick Jones Are Members Of The Month
Dr. Mark Farnsworth, left, and Patrick Jones are the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce Members of the Month in July. Dr. Farnsworth is the Staff Physician for Barbour County Family Medicine. Jones is the Vice President of Manufacturing at Delta Cooling Towers, Inc.
Dr. Mark Farnsworth graduated from Exeter High School in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Houghton College in Houghton, New York. He attended the Temple University School of Dentistry and earned his Doctorate in Medicine at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He was a Board Certified Family Physician in the Family Medicine Residency Program at the United Hospital Center in Bridgeport and has continuing medical education with the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Farnsworth has been an Emergency Room Physician, Hospitalist and Long Term Care Physician at Broaddus Hospital, a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, a Staff Physician at the Cross Roads Medical Center in Glennallen, Arkansas, and Director of the Emergency Room at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was a Clinical Emergency Medicine Instructor in the Physician Assistant Program at Alderson-Broaddus College. He is a member of the Christian Medical Association, Barbour County 4-H Leaders, the Team Physician for the Philip Barbour High School Football Team, and a member of the Barbour County Medical Ethics Committee.
Dr. Farnsworth has served Barbour County Family Medicine since it opened in 1992, where medical services are directed toward the complete care and well-being of the family, and where the staff believes in meeting the total needs of the family. “Patients at Barbour County Family Medicine are not kept in the dark about examination results,” Dr. Farnsworth says, “but are notified by a member of our courteous and professional staff. We know the most up-to-date treatments and technologies to care for you and your family through all stages of your lives,” he says. His special interests include nutrition, exercise, diabetes care, and a healthy life-style.
Patrick Jones is a Philippi native and graduate of Philip Barbour High School. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Alderson-Broaddus College in 1987, then served for eleven years as Manager of Manufacturing Services at Rex Hide Industries in Grafton. After several years as General Manager of Rex-Hide Industries in Tyler, Texas, he returned to Philippi in 2001 as Vice President for Manufacturing at Delta Cooling Towers.
Jones was President of the Barbour County Board of Education for four years, and has coached Philippi Little League, Philippi Youth Basketball, and Barbour County Youth Soccer. He coordinates an annual food drive with Heart & Hand House and several activities marking seasonal celebrations at Mansfield Place.
“Since the mid 1970’s, Delta Cooling Towers has manufactured a complete line of corrosion-proof plastic cooling towers,” said Jones. “In 2001 the manufacturing facility was relocated to the Philippi Industrial Park where it currently has 30 employees, while its corporate office is in New Jersey. Other products manufactured by Delta Cooling Towers include Environmental, Closed-Circuit Cooling Systems and Packaged Cooling Units. Our products are known for having a low-maintenance, seamless design that is environmentally friend, and have an industry-leading 20-year warranty. We ship world-wide,” he said.
Philip Barbour's Back To School Kick-Off
Philip Barbour students may pick up their schedules and assigned locker number and combination on August 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Following this, students who are part of the New Tech program are asked to attend the orientation from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Parents are also strongly encouraged to attend. At 6:00 p.m., a light dinner will be provided to all freshman students and their parents.
After dinner, the annual Freshman Frolic will take place. Everyone will proceed to the auditorium where an overview of school activities, classes, and expectations will be presented. From 7:30-9:00 p.m., students and parents will split into their respective groups.
The students will participate in team-building activities to meet their fellow classmates and school student leaders. The parents will learn about online resources behavior point system, policy and handbook overview, and incentives for the upcoming year.
If you have any questions about these events, please call the high school at 457-1360.
Matthew 25 Ministries Spruces Up MVES, Holds Summer Camp
by ALLISON PUGH
Last week, Matthew 25 Ministries visited Mount Vernon Elementary School once again to hold a summer camp for students and to provide the school with maintenance and housekeeping repair work. The group worked throughout the week to offer over 30 kids a superhero-themed summer camp that helps children form valuable life skills, such as preparing healthy meals, while having fun and learning.
Matthew 25 has been working with Mt. Vernon for over 12 years and has been assisting schools throughout the county for the past four years. The organization works to provide maintenance and needed upkeep of the school that the county does not have the funds to provide, but it also does more than that. Matthew 25 provides needed assistance to the children and families of the Mt. Vernon community so that educational needs may be fulfilled without unnecessary worry or burden placed upon the students it serves.
Each year, Matthew 25 provides school materials, household items, winter coats, basic necessities, backpacks, and more to the students at MVES. For instance, summer camp last week, each child was provided a new pair of shoes. Furthermore, Matthew 25 provides tools and materials to help the many parent and community volunteers at Mt. Vernon make the school best it can be. The organization has been an invaluable resource to the school and community.
Matthew 25 Ministries CEO, Tim Mettey says the organization wants to see Mt. Vernon become a beacon for other schools to mimic. Mettey believes the resources in the community are under utilized and hopes to see more attention and time dedicated to help the school’s exceptional students thrive.
Mt. Vernon Elementary School principal, Ashley Workman has seen the wonders of the family and community oriented family at the school since she came on board in January. She says the students at Mt. Vernon are exceptional leaders and dedicated students.
“We don’t have to stop learning for behavioral or other problems, which gives us more time to focus on learning,” says Workman. Strong classroom environments and an eager willingness to help each other greatly contribute to the success of Mt. Vernon’s community of teachers, students, parents, and volunteers.
With the great community mindset in place at Mt. Vernon, Workman has been able to focus on improving student performance. She says the faculty has looked at what they can do on an individual level to help each student learn and perform to their best ability, pushing students to strive to be the best they can be to prepare them for middle and, eventually, high school.
Matthew 25 Ministries is an international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization helping more than 20 million people in need each year. For more information, visit m25m.org.
Barbour County Magistrate Court Cases Heard Before Magistrate Kathi S. McBee
On July 12, 2016, the following cases were presented by Samantha J. Elkins, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney:
Brian Dale Sipe has been charged with carrying a deadly weapon without a license. Sipe failed to appear for his court hearing. The Court issued a CAPIAS bench warrant for his arrest. Attorney Timothy H. Prentice represented Sipe. The investigating officer was Deputy R.W. Fox, formerly with the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department.
Robert Ernest Horner, Jr. has been charged with battery on an officer. This matter was continued per Horner. Attorney Timothy H. Prentice represented Horner. The investigating officer was Sergeant J.L. Hymes of the Belington Police Department.
Kyle Nicholas Amodio pled guilty to driving under the influence first offense. Amodio was fined $250.00. Attorney Timothy H. Prentice represented Amodio. The investigating officer was Senior Patrolman D.A. Cale of the Philippi Police Department.
Anick Lynn Kennedy pled guilty to domestic battery second offense. Kennedy was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for time served. Kennedy must complete a BIPS class. Attorney Timothy H. Prentice represented Kennedy. The investigating officers were Sergeant B.S. Gillis of the Philippi Police Department and Corporal J.C. Casey of the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department.