www.wvgazettemail.com http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2017, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: February 05, 2017 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT01/302059964 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT01/302059964 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Criswell, Charles 2 p.m., Evans Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

Cutlip, Lula 1 p.m., Wilson

Ferguson, John 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Gibbs, John III 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Haught, Eldon 2 p.m., Harrisville Baptist Church, Harrisville.

McCumbers, Valery 1:30 p.m., John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.

Means, Rose Mary Silvey 1 p.m., Cunningham

Terry, Lisa 1:30 p.m., Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Tornado.

Workman, Elmer 1 p.m., No. 7 Holden FWB Church.

Mark Alan Abbott http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059997 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059997 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Mark Alan Abbott, 55, of Saint Albans, loving husband, father and grandfather, died peacefully on January 29, 2017, at the UK Chandler Hospital.

An avid Dallas Cowboys football fan, Alan's real passion was his love for family and friends. He knew the power of laughter and the power of a smile. He will be greatly missed.

Alan was preceded in death by his beloved mother, Janet. He will be sadly missed by his wife of 30 years, Joan, their son, Justin, daughters, Kimberly (Jason) and Laura, of Saint Albans; his brothers, Gary of Long Island, NY, Rodney (Allison) of Elkview, Harold (Shawn) of Nitro and Michael (Bonnie) of Charleston; granddaughter, Jordan; grandsons, Ethan, Aiden and Linken of Saint Albans.

A private memorial service to celebrate his memory will be held on February 8, 2017, at East Nitro United Baptist Church. Call (304) 722-2647 for details.

The family asks that you spend time with your children and laugh daily with your loved ones. That is what Alan would wish.

Greta Barker http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059979 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059979 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Greta Kinder Barker, 78, of Ashford, died January 31, 2017. Graveside service will be 1 p.m., Tuesday, February 7, at Barker Cemetery, Ashford. Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet is in charge of arrangements. Details at leonardjohnsonfuneralhome.com.

Bessie A. Beard (Hudson) http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059988 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059988 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Bessie A. Beard, 86, of Mammoth, passed away Thursday, February 2, 2017, at home, after a long illness.

She was a member of Pond Gap Advent Christian Church and a homemaker.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Thelma Hudson; husband of 45 years, Joe Beard; sister, Virginia Richards and broth-in-law, Arlie Richards.

Bessie is survived by her sister, Charlotte and husband, Avon Proctor of Mammoth; brothers, Alfred Jr. and wife, Opal Hudson of Charleston and Ernest and wife, Regenia Hudson of Elkview; and special aunt, Daisy Hudson Jones of Charleston.

Although Bessie had no children of her own, she leaves behind many nieces and nephews that she considered her own. She also leaves behind a host of extended family and friends.

Funeral service will be held 11 a.m., Tuesday, February 7, at Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, 600 Old Fort St., Cedar Grove with Pastor James Balser officiating. Burial will follow at Ward Cemetery, Ward.

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, February 6, at the funeral home.

The family would like to thank Gentiva Health Care, Hospice Pallative Care and Dr. Jennifer Handley of Cedar Grove Medical Clinic.

Cooke Funeral Home, Cedar Grove is assisting the Beard family.

Betty L. Billups http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059998 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/OBIT/302059998 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Betty L. Billups, 84, of Scott Depot, passed away Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at her residence.

Born September 26, 1932, in Ethel to the late Oscar and Elizabeth Ellis Johnson. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Richard "Dick" Billups: brothers, Sam and Kenneth Johnson; and sister, Joyce Wills.

She was a retired office manager for Nationwide Insurance Company, Claims Division in Charleston and also was a former employee of George Freelanders Insurance Company with 17 years of service.

Betty is survived by her daughter, Deborah Sain of Scott Depot; step-daughter, Sharon Patti (John) of Morgantown; and step-son, Brent Billups of Buffalo; sister, Patty Mitchell of St. Albans. Also surviving are three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Private family service will be held at Betty's request. Entombment will be held in Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

There will be no visitation.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Hubbard Hospice, 1606 Kanawha Blvd., West, Charleston, WV 25387.

Visit Betty's tribute page at ChapmanFuneralHomes.com to share memories, stories and condolences with the family.

Bartlett-Chapman Funeral Home, family owned and located at 409 Sixth Ave., St. Albans is honored to serve the Billups family.

Mara Casey Tieken: DeVos would likely doom rural schools (Gazette) http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209719 GZ0405 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209719 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 15:23:52 -0500 By Mara Casey Tieken By By Mara Casey Tieken

On Wednesday, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski announced their opposition to President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. These senators are from predominantly rural states - Collins from Maine, Murkowski from Alaska - and both cited their states' rural geography as a reason for their "no" votes.

A DeVos appointment, they worried, would fundamentally undermine rural education. As a former rural teacher and a current rural researcher, I suggest other rural senators heed their warning.

DeVos is a strong proponent of school choice. She supports expanding charter schools and reducing their oversight. She is also a proponent of school vouchers, which puts public money toward private schools.

Her family foundation has given millions to support programs and candidates that favor school choice, and she has used the bully pulpit of wealth to promote choice as a mechanism of radically reforming education.

But choice only works when you have options, and many rural communities don't. With their small populations and vast geographies, most rural communities cannot sustain a variety of brick-and-mortar options, public or private.

Online schooling is not a viable alternative. Many rural communities lack reliable internet access, and research shows many online schools are academically questionable or ineffective. Also, few parents are willing to enroll their first-grader in an online school.

DeVos has been vague about how she would fund a voucher program. It's unlikely, though, a Trump administration would put more money toward public education, leading many to speculate she would appropriate federal Title I funding, which currently goes toward the education of poor children.

Thousands of poor rural schools would feel this loss acutely, with cuts to teachers, curriculum, and after-school programming. Rural schools in deeply impoverished areas, like the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, would likely not recover; Title I cuts could mean their closure.

My research suggests closure can have dire consequences for rural communities. Public schools are the center of many of these communities. Families turn out for Friday night basketball. Grandparents volunteer in the school library. Recent immigrants attend Saturday English classes in the cafeteria.

These schools employ people, and they support the town gas station, the diner and the bank. They offer school board seats and thus a measure of political power and local control. These rural schools keep rural communities on the map.

It is ironic that the very voters who swung the election to Trump - voters in key rural areas - stand to lose the most under this Trump-appointed nominee.

DeVos' favored reforms won't work for rural communities. An education system predicated on choice could create a second-tier education for rural children and shutter rural schools.

I urge you to call your senators. Remind them how much your rural schools matter. Encourage them to join Collins and Murkowsi in opposing her confirmation.

Mara Casey Tieken is assistant professor of education at Bates College in Maine and author of "Why Rural Schools Matter."

Gazette editorial: Betrayal is now American policy http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0404/170209720 GZ0404 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0404/170209720 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 15:23:38 -0500 Fallout from President Donald Trump's Muslim ban is hurting many foreigners who trusted America, but who are now cast into uncertainty.

The tale of Ziaullah Zia Anwari - who became a U.S. interpreter in Afghanistan at the mere age of 10 - is disturbing. Reporter Andrew Brown outlined this account:

Ziaullah, intelligent and gifted at languages, helped U.S. troops as they visited Afghan villages and questioned townspeople. He performed the task for more than eight years in America's longest war.

Among Americans he helped was Army officer Richard Ojeda, now a state senator from Logan County.

"The guy was fearless," Ojeda said. The West Virginian often chose Ziaullah for missions because the youth remained calm in dangerous situations.

The youth's brother Ashoqullah also served as a U.S. interpreter. Their work endangered their family, which received death threats. Their parents had to flee their home village and move to a place where their American connection wasn't known.

Ziaullah, Ashoqullah and a younger brother, Gullzada, all managed to come to America, thanks to promises by the U.S. military. Ashoqullah fled into Mongolia and was imprisoned before he was released to be a U.S. immigrant. Now the three live in Dayton, Ohio, where Gullzada attends high school and Ziaullah attends college. Ziaullah holds a permanent green card, but the other brothers have only temporary visas.

When Ojeda was sworn in at the Legislature, Ziaullah drove three hours to Charleston to attend. Ojeda introduced him, drawing applause and praise from fellow senators.

But Ziaullah is apprehensive, not knowing whether Trump's Muslim ban somehow may force the brothers to return to their deadly homeland.

Afghanistan isn't one of seven Islamic countries blacklisted by Trump, but White House aides hint that the ban may spread. The three brothers feel in limbo.

"It's quite frightening that this whole Donald Trump thing happened," Ziaullah told reporter Brown. "Where is the loyalty in this? Where is the integrity in this?"

By working eight years for U.S. forces, he said, "I not only put myself at risk - I put my family at risk too." He added American politicians "don't care if they hurt people who have put their life on the line."

Human rights groups and protesters are fighting back against Trump's cruel Muslim ban and betrayal toward America's friends such as Ziaullah and his family. It will take a long time to repair this damage.

Sources: WVU football assistant Blue Adams heading to USF http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0201/170209723 GZ0201 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0201/170209723 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 14:18:33 -0500 Mike Casazza By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - After one season on the staff, West Virginia cornerbacks coach Blue Adams is leaving to take a position at USF, sources told the Gazette-Mail on Sunday. He's the third assistant coach to leave the team this offseason and the second in three days.

Scout.com reported the transaction Saturday, but the Mountaineers were dubious and seemed confident Adams would stay based on assurances from the Miami native himself. Adams then told WVU on Sunday morning he was accepting USF's offer.

Adams was one of five assistant coaches whose contract was set to expire, but a source said WVU offered him a two-year contract last month and that he had not signed it. Adams was also connected to a vacancy at the University of Cincinnati, where he played in college.

Previously, Ron Crook, the offensive line coach since 2013, left to take the same job at Cincinnati. His spot on the staff was filled by former WVU assistant and former Cal and Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, who was named the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Head coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday that Spavital will call plays. To fill Crook's role on the staff, WVU moved Joe Wickline from fullbacks and tight ends to the offensive line.

On Friday, running backs coach JaJuan Seider left WVU to take the same job at the University of Florida. A source told the Gazette-Mail on Saturday that Arizona receivers coach Tony Dews will fill Seider's spot on the staff. Dews, a former graduate assistant and receivers coach at WVU, has never coached running backs before.

Adams, a seventh-round pick in the 2003 NFL draft, played parts of seven seasons of professional football and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Purdue in 2010. He spent the following season as the defensive backs coach at the Football Championship Subdivision's Northern Iowa and was an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins from 2012-16.

In his lone season with the Mountaineers, four cornerbacks started games and three were transfers playing for WVU for the first time. Rasul Douglas tied for the national lead in interceptions and was first-team all-Big 12 and made eight All-America teams.

Harpers Ferry mayor says city sales tax beneficial http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209724 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209724 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 13:40:01 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (AP) - The mayor of Harpers Ferry says the Eastern Panhandle community has brought in $60,000 over six months from the implementation of a city sales and use tax after being granted home rule status.

The Journal reports Harpers Ferry Mayor Gregory Vaughn says the 1 percent sales tax has been "a tremendous benefit" in the town of about 290 residents.

More than a year ago, Harpers Ferry was given a larger say in how it governs. The home rule program shifts power from the state to the local level.

The Legislature created the home rule program in 2007 as a five-year pilot in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling. More than two dozen municipalities are participating in the program. Many have implemented the 1 percent city sales tax.

Investors want to renovate Huntington buildings for retirees http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ03/170209725 GZ03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ03/170209725 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 13:27:16 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A group of investors is hoping to beef up Huntington's older population.

The Herald-Dispatch reports a group called Retire Huntington wants to renovate several downtown buildings with the help of tax credits for historic structures. The buildings could then house hundreds of retirees.

Retire Huntington was organized by developers Bob Childers, John Hankins and Alex Vence and Huntington marketing and public relations executive Jeff Barnes. They shared the concept last month with the Huntington Area Development Council.

"We have an opportunity to capitalize on what we have to offer in downtown Huntington," Childers said.

First, the partners want state lawmakers to increase West Virginia's historic tax credits from the current rate of 10 percent of projects' costs to 25 percent. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said he plans to ask the Legislature for the increase.

Hankins said that would help with the expensive task of remodeling historic buildings.

"This is vital to developers," Hankins said. "It is very expensive to remodel historic buildings, and it can cost double that of normal construction. I don't think we could continue this plan without getting some relief."

The group's founders are raising funds for a national marketing campaign and are looking to "civic donors who have supported Huntington for decades," Childers said.

Some of the 425,000 square feet of downtown vacant space belongs to Retire Huntington members. Vence recently began a term on Huntington's City Council. He said vacant buildings are the tipping point of improving Huntington's economy.

"Downtown is the heartbeat of the city," Vence said. "It has all the ingredients needed for retirees to live a comfortable lifestyle."

Childers said the expected benefits would include $50 million in new construction; job and business growth; increased medical revenue, and $2.5 million in annual taxes, municipal fees and city wages.

"We just need to attract 500 retirees over five years, which will eliminate vacant second-story buildings," he said.

West Virginia, which has been hit hard by the downturn in the coal industry, has lost 23,000 residents since 2010. With tens of thousands of baby boomers becoming eligible for retirement nationwide, the Huntington initiative will "create a great opportunity for us to attract retirees here," Barnes said. "It also creates an opportunity for us to help reverse the population declines happening in West Virginia."

Craigsville girl wins grant to fight hunger http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209726 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209726 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 11:54:36 -0500 By Daniel Tyson By By Daniel Tyson The Register-Herald

CRAIGSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - For a couple years, Quinn Raffo has waged a small battle against childhood hunger.

Now, thanks to a $2,000 grant from US Cellular, the 13-year-old Richwood Middle School student can continue her Hungry Heroes backpack program.

"It's really an important program," she said of Hungry Heroes. The Mountaineer Food Bank statistics show 37 West Virginia counties are classified as either At-Risk or Distressed, meaning those areas rank in the worst 25 percent of the nation's counties according to economic status indicators. Overall, West Virginia suffers from a food insecurity rate of more than 15 percent. Statistics pertaining to Nicholas County were not readily available over the weekend.

The idea came to Quinn after being required to fast for 24 hours for medical tests. She was allowed to eat Jell-O and Popsicles. "I thought it was really going to be awesome, but it wasn't, because I really got hungry," she said.

After the medical testing, she approached a local church about creating a backpack program to feed less fortunate youths. At first she raised money by holding a car wash for a food pantry, recruiting many of her friends. That fundraiser brought in about $1,200 for the food pantry, enough to provide food for 35 youths for six weeks.

This inspired Quinn, but she was worried the program served only two elementary schools in Nicholas County. She was determined to start a backpack program to include as many schools in Nicholas County as she could. Quinn, with the help of community leaders and her parents, wrote and received grants from local organizations and the United Way of Southern West Virginia. She met with the pastor and congregation of St. Luke's United Methodist Church asking to use their building to pack the backpacks.

St. Luke's Pastor Corbet May remembers meeting with Quinn. She came in, pulled up a chair and outlined what she wanted to do.

"She explained her vision. It's really great when you see a vision become a reality," he said in a YouTube video posted by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office.

That first year, 50 children were helped. Since then the Hungry Heroes backpack program has expanded significantly. Quinn estimated over the last couple years hundreds of students were fed by Hungry Heroes, which provides each participant a bag with enough food to cover breakfast, lunch and snack one day a week. The bags are filled with oatmeal, individual cereals, Pop Tarts and Go-gurt for breakfast. Lunch can be noodles, crackers, and mac and cheese, and snacks can include Gold Fish, fruit and Cheez-Its, she said.

Quinn understands transportation is an issue for some students, so often she meets students and families at the Craigsville Dollar General to distribute the bags.

The latest grant, she said, will help greatly. She's aware of the county's struggling economy - layoffs in the mining industry, June's flooding - and she expects an uptick in demand for the food bags when school ends.

"I expect an increase in need this summer," she said. "I would like to expand to other places, like Richwood."

The US Cellular grant will probably purchase enough food for the summer season, she said, adding she usually buys food from Walmart and in bulk.

Quinn said the response to handing out the bags is a study in psychology. "They come in and say 'thank you,' but not really much more. Sometimes we get a hug," she said.

2 officer-involved shootings in Taylor County http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209727 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209727 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 11:28:52 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press GRAFTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia State Police are investigating two separate shootings in Taylor County involving law enforcement officers.

Lt. Michael Baylous said a person was fatally shot Friday when the Taylor County Sheriff's Office was serving a warrant and found the suspect inside a home with a gun.

Baylous said in an email another shooting occurred Thursday involving Grafton Police Department and a suspect with a knife. That suspect is in stable condition.

Identities were not immediately released.

Officials plan medical helicopter base in Marshall County http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209728 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ01/170209728 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 11:24:19 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press GLEN DALE, W.Va. (AP) - A medical helicopter base is planned this year in Marshall County to serve area patients.

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reports officials made the announcement Thursday.

West Virginia University Health System president and CEO Albert Wright says a HealthNet Aeromedical Services team and helicopter will be operating in the county by July 1.

It'll serve WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital. Currently, medical helicopters travel from Morgantown to transport patients from Reynolds to Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Wright says it'll also serve patients the Wheeling area, eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania and Parkersburg's Camden Clark Medical Center.

HealthNet Aeromedical Services president and CEO Clinton Burley says the firm's in negotiations to house its helicopter at the county airport. He says it takes 18 minutes to transport a patient by helicopter from Glen Dale to Morgantown.

Jim Lees: So, what does good government look like? http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209742 GZ0405 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209742 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 By Jim Lees By By Jim Lees

So the administration of Donald J. Trump begins, and Americans across the nation appear ready to do battle in a continuation of the war between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, that consumed this nation for the past eight years.

Many Republicans both here in West Virginia and throughout the nation have consistently argued that a policy of confrontation without concession during the hated liberal Obama years was necessary to keep America from presumably devolving into a third-world nation, or at the very least becoming a Socialist society with freebies for most Americans paid for by the wealthy among us.

So the presumed savior of the right has assumed the presidency, and Republicans now control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, a majority of state governorships and legislatures, and soon the Supreme Court. In other words, Trump appears to have led the party of Lincoln in from the wilderness and placed it squarely in the Captain's chair.

The liberals and the Democrats (not necessarily one and the same) are now in the wilderness, formulating their plans to save America and preserve the integrity of this country as they perceive it should be.

Soon the plans will be clear: confrontation without compromise. The lesson worked well for the Republican Party, and politics often resembles the NFL in terms of political play-books. What works for one team is soon copied for other teams, and there is little reason to believe the Democrats will choose a different path to deal with a Republican-dominated government.

So where does this leave us? What are we to hope for in terms of good government in the next four years? I had been asking myself this question for days, and then suddenly realized it is not the right question. The better question is: What do we believe constitutes "good government?"

In other words, what is it about government and the way it operates that leads each of us to conclude whether it is good or bad?

I was struck by a recent piece in The New Yorker where a writer speculated on what would happen if two people saw a real castle for the first time, with one of them only having been exposed to castles in Monty Python movies and the other only in "Game of Thrones" episodes. How would each of them react to or perceive the castle?

An unemployed coal miner in West Virginia clearly saw a war on coal over the past eight years with increased EPA rules and regulations, while an environmentalist saw a prudent policy to save the planet. An unemployed factory worker in Ohio or Pennsylvania saw a government that helped ship jobs overseas, while young millennials saw a government supporting a transition to a new digital economy.

So I ask again: What is good government?

What are our expectations when it comes to the role of government in our lives for the next four years? Is there a common answer to this difficult question given that each of us has such different perspectives of what is good and what is needed in our lives? Is there any common ground remaining for the unemployed coal miner and the environmentalist, the millennial creating the next great app with the unemployed factory worker, the uninsured with the CEO?

I think there is, but only if each side makes an attempt to focus on common ground versus divisive issues, fundamental principles versus philosophical debates. Both political parties fundraise by focusing on our differences, but it is past the time when good and decent Americans need to demand more focus and attention on the things we should be able to agree upon.

Is there any American today who does not want our families and our neighbors to be safe? Safety is a common ground: safe from invasion, safe from terrorists, safe from madmen and safe from crime. Do we differ on how to achieve safety for the American public? Certainly. But we can begin with the common ground of achieving safety for all, and perhaps an intelligent civil discourse just might follow.

Is there any American today who does not want our children and grandchildren properly educated and prepared for life in the real world? And is there any American who does not want to live in a neighborhood with good clean drinking water, proper sewage and waste facilities, safe highways and bridges, and an infrastructure that a world super-power should have in the 21st century?

Finally there is a reason why our new governor won with a slogan of job, jobs, jobs, as did the last governor before him, as did the previous governors with iterations on this same theme (Remember "Help is on the way!"). West Virginia needs a better, more diverse economy to produce a more balanced tax base and to give our young people a reason to stay home and make a future in West Virginia.

For too long, special interests under the guise of economic development have pushed through one-sided divisive programs that benefit the few instead of the many. Let us argue and debate the many ways to grow our economy, but, please, let us focus on new ideas for real diverse job growth while the fringe and divisive issues are shelved for the debate clubs. (Ask North Carolina how the adoption of a fringe issue affected its economic growth.)

Yes, there are indeed a vast array of social issues that provide red meat for fundraising while promoting bitter disagreement and confrontation among our populace. It is now time to grow up and step up as we search for common ground in providing good government to the people. Safety in our country, our homes and our neighborhoods; a good and affordable education system; a modern infrastructure; and fresh ideas for growing the economy. These can and should be the building blocks for an actual dialogue between those on the right and those on the left, between the dogmatic Democrats and the radical Republicans.

I can only hope that those elected to new leadership positions in West Virginia and beyond can look for common ground and begin dealing with issues in which some agreement on ultimate goals, if not methods, already exists.

If we once again set out to use acquired power to shove the fringe policies and agendas that so divide us with no common ground or purpose down the throats of the powerless, we soon will reach a division in this country not seen since the Civil War. And then God help us all.

Jim Lees is a lawyer in Charleston.

Kathleen D. Stoll: Block grants and caps bad news for WV Medicaid http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209746 GZ0405 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0405/170209746 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 By Kathleen D. Stoll By By Kathleen D. Stoll

Republican leadership in Congress has promised to move quickly to change the fundamental nature of the Medicaid state-federal program partnership. What could these proposals mean for West Virginia?

In 2016, about 30 percent of West Virginians were covered by Medicaid, including children, low-income adults, people with disabilities, low-income seniors and many people in long-term care (nursing homes or in home- or community-based care).

Right now, for every $1 spent by the state on Medicaid, the federal government matches with $2.55. There are no caps or limits on the federal matching dollars if our Medicaid program costs go up. The Medicaid program - created in 1965 - has been financed this way from the start. Republican leadership hopes to undo this historical state-federal financial partnership.

Republican Medicaid proposals - block grants and per capita caps - dramatically limit the federal dollars available to West Virginia for the Medicaid program and shift enormous program costs onto state budgets. Regardless of the amount that might be allocated to West Virginia in the first year, over time the federal commitment will shrink.

First, the rate of growth allowed for the restricted federal funds would likely not keep up with medical inflation, and more state funds will be needed to keep the current program in place. Second, if a recession or economic downturn, a natural disaster (a flood, for example) or a health crisis (for example a severe flu season or our current opioid addiction crisis) increases the number of people on Medicaid or the services that enrollees seek, the federal dollars will not increase to help pay the additional cost of this expanded need. This endangers the ability of Medicaid to respond to unexpected and uncontrollable future circumstances and would force West Virginia to meet increases in demand with state-only funding.

The March 2016 House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's proposal to convert Medicaid to a block grant is similar to what we will see in Congress this year. That proposal would have cut federal funding for the Medicaid program by 49 percent in 2026 when the proposal is fully implemented. Even if the Medicaid expansion is not touched, the cuts to the traditional Medicaid program before the Affordable Care Act would be $169 billion, or 34 percent.

The West Virginia state budget has about a $500 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2018; our state cannot shoulder more of the cost of the Medicaid program if the federal government reneges on its responsibility and shifts costs to the states.

West Virginia is at risk of seeing larger percentage cuts relative to other states. For example, a funding formula built on national average spending could lock West Virginia into an allotment that cuts federal dollars by even more than 41 percent.

In 2017, West Virginia is projected to spend per Medicaid enrollee an average of $6,443. If funding levels were based on the national average spending per enrollee - $4,954 - we would start with significant reduction in federal dollars. A base cut coupled over time with growth rates that do not keep up with medical inflation or take into account growth in enrollment and/or services will literally bankrupt the West Virginia Medicaid program.

Hand-in-hand with the loss of federal dollars, the Republicans propose new rules that will allow states to charge higher premiums, eliminate covered benefits and raise out-of-pocket spending requirements in Medicaid. With a dramatic loss of federal dollars, West Virginia will be forced to make these kinds of draconian cuts. This is not new state Medicaid program "flexibility" as Republicans describe it - this is federal blackmail.

People who rely on Medicaid will no longer be able to afford coverage, and others with coverage will face financial barriers to necessary care. Any innovation and improvements in Medicaid will be impossible. Medicaid's role as a leader in improving care coordination and reducing health costs in our state will end. The hospitals and doctors who rely on Medicaid to pay for the care of lower-income people will have to provide more care without reimbursement or turn them away.

It is not hyperbole to say that the Medicaid block grants or per capita caps will lead to more uninsured West Virginians, unnecessary deaths from lack of health care and the closure of rural health hospitals and clinics across the state.

Kathleen D. Stoll is a health policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Hugh Hewitt: How to fix a damaged Senate http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0409/170209747 GZ0409 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0409/170209747 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 By Hugh Hewitt By By Hugh Hewitt

When then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the "nuclear option" to break the rules of the Senate in 2013 to allow for simple majority confirmation of presidential nominees, he created not one but two precedents.

The first is that the Senate's rules and precedents can be changed by simple majority vote, not the vote of 67 senators as had previously been the practice. The second is that nominees to executive-branch positions and the federal bench are confirmed with 51 votes. It is a mere matter of time - and Democratic obstructionism - before this rule is extended to Supreme Court nominees.

The impact of the second precedent is so far-reaching as to be as yet only dimly perceived. The guardrails are down. The change will inevitably produce more conservative judges and justices from Republicans and more liberal judges and justices from Democrats. If you don't need even one vote from the other party, then only internal party norms will govern.

This is a short-term - and for conservatives such as me, very welcome - windfall for originalism. In my new book, "The Fourth Way," I examine this topic and speculate that Justice Anthony Kennedy, eager to see his federalism jurisprudence cemented on the court, will retire this year to assure a solid federalism-oriented majority for a decade.

Other welcome consequences are relatively easy confirmations of executive nominees who in 2000 or 1992 would have been controversial. Thus, nominees such as Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency will likely be at work at their desks by George Washington's real birthday.

The long term may be less rosy. I was originally thrilled with term limits for state legislators in California. They have turned out to be a disaster. I fear the same about the death of the filibuster for nominees.

Still, there is a way back, albeit one that would be painful for Democrats.

I'm not looking to relitigate who broke the system. I think it was the failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987. Others trace things further back, to the failed nomination of Abe Fort as chief justice in 1968. It doesn't matter. The spiral into free-fire zones of character assassination and ideological extremism has been rapid and disastrous.

To repair would mean to first measure the damage and fix it. That means candor about what Reid accomplished when he used the nuclear option. He packed the second-most-important court in the country, the 11-member District of Columbia Circuit, which now has a 7-4 split between Democratic and Republican nominees. To restore the court to the situation before the nuclear option was detonated, the circuit would first have to expand by four judges, to offset the four liberals named by former President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump could be expected to appoint conservatives more wary of rubber-stamping agency regulations and assertions of governmental authority.

Second, there is the question of how long confirmations by simple majority vote should remain in place. Reid acted in 2013, allowing the rule change to ease the way for Obama nominees for three years. Thus the GOP should demand simple majority confirmations through the end of 2019.

During this period of time, the Senate could work out a revised filibuster rule that recognizes that the Senate cannot break down in a rapidly changing age but that rights in the minority party are a stabilizing, moderating influence. Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would be well served to put a group together to start thinking about how new rules could be crafted - and protected against a future explosion.

Institutional rules are essential to creating long-standing, stable institutions, which are also crucial to republics. The action by Reid and Senate Democrats toppled some key pillars and damaged the place. It may be beyond repair. But any effort would have to begin by fixing the D.C. Circuit and accepting simple majority confirmations for three years. That, Sen. Schumer, is the price of restoring the Senate.

Hugh Hewitt, a nationally syndicated radio show host, is author of "The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority" and "The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second Clinton Era." He wrote this for The Washington Post.

Letter: Lawmakers need to hear landowners' side on pipelines http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209762 GZ0406 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209762 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Lawmakers need to hear landowners' side


I am writing in response to the Dec. 6 commentary by Anne Blankenship "Gas and oil industry makes state impact."

Most people appreciate the economic impact the industry contributes to West Virginia along with the jobs provided with good salaries. According to Ms. Blankenship, the gas and oil companies operate more than 20,000 miles of pipeline across the state, yet it is critical that more pipelines are constructed. She also speaks about needing more resources to fully develop our minerals along with pro-development land policies. Ms. Blankenship goes on to state the West Virginia Gas and Oil Association will work with all stakeholders to make sure this is done in a responsible fashion.

I read that to say they want more laws that benefit the industry to the detriment of small landowners, because the industry's attitude is these mineral resources are theirs to get any way they can, at the lowest cost, and no matter what the property owner may think or how they may suffer.

The industry does not have a great reputation of working with landowners in a respectful, fair and equitable manner. I have had two very bad experiences with two different companies here. The agreements they present are drawn up by their attorneys to benefit them. For a person lacking knowledge of legal agreements, gas and oil, pipelines, etc., and being pressed to sign quickly, it's overwhelming (and usually the landowner gets the short end of the stick).

I had a company rep sit in my home and be untruthful about some things associated with the property, a lease, and pipeline they wanted. Within a few days they were calling to get a signature on the agreement they had presented, and one of them even showed up at the house unannounced.

After returning from an out-of-town trip, I learned the company had gone ahead with their plans for the pipeline. Despite having no signed agreement or even being granted permission to be on the property, they bulldozed trees to make a roadway through the property and putting the pipeline in.

This company (and I am sure they are not alone) at least operates under the philosophy that it is a right to destroy property not belonging to them, cause damage to the only road used by the property owner, and then not want to fix things properly. In addition, the company denied many things, never once apologized for what they did, didn't want to provide compensation, and only did once they were backed into a corner. I'm sure they felt it would be easier to ask forgiveness than to wait on the landowner sign their agreement.

I am sure many other landowners have had similar experiences. In my two experiences, a very quick deadline was issued by the companies to sign their agreements. The second company dictated to me what legal action they could proceed with to "take" the mineral rights legally under state law unless their agreement was signed pronto. The landowners' hands are pretty much tied, and most don't know what to do.

I have tried to present another view why we all should question whether the industry needs more laws to benefit companies, while landowners suffer the resulting consequences for years to come. The Legislature needs to hear the landowners' side and not only the industry lobbyists. There is a saying: "Treat others like you would like to be treated."

Steve Kerns


Letter: President Trump putting our freedoms at stake http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209763 GZ0406 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209763 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 President putting our freedoms at stake


Has President Donald Trump given BuzzFeed credibility? During his first press conference he mentioned his advice to close confidants to be very careful about whatever you do or say while traveling, the room might be bugged. They? Who's "they" who have tiny cameras everywhere?

That was a strange mention, unless he knows something happened to himself when in Russia. Shall we wake up to the, "True Life Story," unfolding right before our eyes? "The Russian Advocate," starring Donald Trump. We must question what happened in Russia and Putin's connection; our freedoms are at stake. The Doomsday Clock is ticking a slow methodical tic. Tic, tic, tic Trump's moronic tweets. There is nowhere to hide, no magic carpet to fly away on. Viva America.

Steve Kopa


Letter: Essay on suicide unhelpful, contributes to stigma http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209764 GZ0406 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209764 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Essay on suicide unhelpful, contributes to stigma


What an utterly unhelpful and ill-informed piece, "Essays on Faith: Suicide an inconceivable alternative" by Peggy Toney Horton (Jan. 15). We fight to erase the stigma surrounding depression and suicide so that more people will understand they are not alone and that it's OK to ask for help, but her essay is the equivalent of "suck it up and get over it" - contributing to the shame that keeps those who are suffering from seeking appropriate professional care.

As someone who has battled depression for years; as a suicide attempt survivor; as a supporter and proud participant of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and their Out of the Darkness walks; as a compassionate human being, I implore you to please educate yourself on the realities of depression and suicide instead of contributing to the dangerous social dialogue that we're working so hard to change.

Sarah J. Belcher

St. Albans

Letter: Steve Canterbury was a model court administrator http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209765 GZ0406 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0406/170209765 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Steve Canterbury was a model court administrator


I am writing to acknowledge the tremendous leadership - on both national and state levels - of Steve Canterbury, the former administrative director of West Virginia's judicial branch.

As the Immediate Past President of the U.S. Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), I am completing my leadership role in that organization and was pleased to be leaving COSCA in the extremely capable hands of Steve Canterbury, who was to begin his term as president of COSCA this summer. With his dismissal, Mr. Canterbury will be unable to serve as COSCA president.

We will miss his skilled leadership, knowledge and expertise, as well as his commitment to access to justice. That commitment was evidenced in the success of his efforts with language access in West Virginia, and nationally.

Steve implemented a program providing interpreters remotely through video-technology available in courtrooms throughout West Virginia - an initiative which positioned your state at the forefront nationally in that area. These efforts are critical to small, rural states with limited resources, in which the physical presence of the interpreter in court may not be feasible and would be extremely expensive.

My thanks go to West Virginia for providing us with the opportunity to take advantage of Mr. Canterbury's talents during his eleven and one-half year tenure as administrative director.

Patricia W. Griffin

State Court Administrator

Administrative Office of the Courts

Georgetown, Delaware