FEMA funding will support law enforcement terrorism prevention activities
and enhance state emergency preparedness system

The Gilmer Free Press

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today announced a total of $7,665,187 in funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for emergency preparedness and homeland security programs. This funding will be used to support law enforcement terrorism prevention activities and enhance West Virginia’s emergency preparedness system. A total of $101,856 of the funding will go to the Ohio County Commission to support maritime transportation infrastructure security activities.

“West Virginians must be prepared for any disaster or act of terrorism that may strike, and it is imperative that we have procedures in place to respond to these emergencies and threats effectively,” Senator Manchin said. “This critical funding from FEMA will provide the necessary support we need to enhance our emergency preparedness and terrorism prevention plans and protect West Virginians in the face of any crisis.”

“As we face evolving national security threats at home and abroad, these FEMA grants are critical to protecting our homeland. This funding will boost West Virginia’s law enforcement terrorism prevention activities, strengthen our emergency preparedness system and support transportation and facility security plans. Now, more than ever, we need the resources to prepare for unexpected threats and keep West Virginia families and communities safe,” said Senator Capito.

The individual grant amounts and program descriptions are below:

    •  $3,734,500 – State Homeland Security Program (SHSP): This program supports state homeland security strategies to address identified planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events.

    •  $3,828,831 – Emergency Management Performance Grant Program (EMPG): This program provides states with direction, coordination, guidance, and assistance, to ensure a comprehensive emergency preparedness system exists for all hazards.

    •  $101,856 (Ohio County Commission) – Port Security Grant Program (PSGS): This program supports maritime transportation infrastructure security activities in order to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks.

Education and Military Leaders Partner to Sign Common Ground Compact

The Gilmer Free Press

MORGANTOWN, WV - The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), State Board of Education (SBOE) and local military representatives joined together today to resign a Compact as part of the Common Ground: Education and Military Partnership.

Representatives from the Marines, Army, West Virginia National Guard, Air Force, Navy, West Virginia Wing Civil Air Patrol, West Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc., WVDE and SBOE took part in the celebration today which was held at the Waterfront Hotel in Morgantown during the Student Success Summit.

The Common Ground Partnership, established in 2011, focuses on promoting mentoring, training and scholarship opportunities to all students and creating networks of people, organizations and other resources to help support military children.

“Creating partnerships is an integral part of the state’s vision for education called ONE VOICE, ONE FOCUS: ALL STUDENTS ACHIEVING,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. “The Common Ground Partnership will help inspire, engage and motivate our students to stay in school, earn a high school degree and move into the next phase of life.”

The Common Ground Partnership consists of the Office of Governor Tomblin; the WVDE; SBOE; West Virginia National Guard; United States Army Recruiting Battalion Richmond; United States Army Recruiting Battalion Columbus; Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh; United States Marine Corps Recruiting Stations in West Virginia; West Virginia Civil Air Patrol, Military Entrance Processing Command Beckley, 12th Battalion, Eastern Sector; the West Virginia Veteran’s Council; Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention (ASPEN) Project, and the West Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc.

The Common Ground Compact creates a shared role among partners to support the success of West Virginia students and to ensure our youngest citizens are career and college ready. The partners establish protocols for military/school collaborations and ensure easy access to available resources such as a speaker’s bureau, career and college planning resources, family support resources, student leadership opportunities, tutoring and mentoring services.

Find out more by visiting H E R E.


Crisis grant funding to support infrastructure repairs following flood damage
The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the awarding of $50,000 in crisis grant funding to Webster County Memorial Hospital to assist with infrastructure repairs following severe flooding earlier this month.

“This emergency funding through the Rural Health Systems Program gives us the opportunity to ensure our rural communities continue to have access to the healthcare services they need without interrupting the continuum of care the patients in this community deserve,“ Gov. Tomblin said. “I appreciate ongoing efforts of Senator Boso, Senator Karnes and Delegate Lynch on behalf of their constituents, and the quick work of the Health Care Authority in approving this funding to restore critical healthcare services as soon as possible.“

The Rural Health Systems Program (RHSP), as passed by the Legislature in 1996, supports rural health care services and health care facilities by ensuring the delivery of care is streamlined and continuous. The RHSP supports collaborative grant programs to continue or enhance essential health services and crisis grant programs to prevent the loss of essential health services. Applications for RHSP grants are administered by the West Virginia Health Care Authority.
Since its inception, the RHSP has awarded grants totaling more than $6 million. For more information about the RHSP program, visit and click the RHSP Grants tab.

CHIPNotes - Kids First HealthCheck Forms!

The Gilmer Free Press

To help assure every child has a healthy start and is ready to learn when pre-school or kindergarten begins, WVCHIP supports the Kids First initiative.

Kids First is about every child entering pre-school or kindergarten having the opportunity for a comprehensive wellness exam, and starting this year, also a preventive dental exam!

Read the letter H E R E , to Parents and Caretakers of preschool and kindergarten children to find out more, and also go to the following links for the form you need depending on the age of the student:

Three Year Old Student

Four Year Old Student

Five Year Old Student

Private Secure Clouds Help Schools Weather Data Concerns

The Gilmer Free Press

With student data privacy commanding so much attention these days, some K-12 districts are building private clouds to distribute curriculum and IT resources to students and staff over their own networks.

A private cloud is an environment in which software or data are stored on a central server and delivered to users online—but instead of being hosted by a third-party provider and delivered to users over the public internet, these resources are hosted by the school district itself, under the control of the district’s IT department.

Because a private cloud setup is implemented safely behind a district’s own firewalls, it gives the district more control over its own data. The tradeoff is that the district becomes responsible for managing IT resources, instead of passing that responsibility on to a third-party cloud provider.

For a small but growing number of K-12 districts, this extra hassle is worth it to ensure the security and reliability of sensitive information.

Cloud control

The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Texas is developing a private cloud as part of a major network refresh, funded by more than $200 million in bond money.

“We wanted to give students 24-7 access to all of their services, and we wanted these to be secured,” said Frankie Jackson, chief technology officer for the district.

Cypress-Fairbanks is the third largest school district in Texas, with about 113,000 students. Everything in the district is centralized, including the delivery of IT services—and moving to a private cloud “will lend some advantages to us,” Jackson said.

To create a private cloud, school districts will need a robust data center. Cypress-Fairbanks has upgraded its main data center to a Tier 3 facility and is moving its mission-critical systems to a Tier 4 facility on its own separate grid. Fiber connections run from all six of the district’s hub sites to both data centers and the internet backbone.

“We are working with Microsoft to design federated Active Directory [service], so that students can log on from home and use their same network credentials they would use to authenticate as if they were at school,” Jackson said.

A project like this requires a significant investment and is not for every district, she noted.

“You need a strong, committed staff” with the expertise needed to manage a data center, she said, and “you have to have a cheerleader” who can advocate for the necessary support.

Cheaper storage

The Raytown Quality Schools in Missouri have nearly a decade of experience with managing a private cloud. The district operates a fully virtualized server environment using VMWare and is upgrading its storage capacity to more than 500 terabytes this summer.

“We look at each individual system to see if it’s best for us to host it or have the provider host it,” said Melissa Tebbenkamp, director of instructional technology for the district. “But when it comes to data that needs to be stored—my security video, my file storage—I’m going to host it internally in a private cloud instead of paying someone to host it, because I can buy storage cheaper, I can manage and secure it and know that I have control over what’s happening with it.”

Tebbenkamp said it makes financial sense for Raytown to host the majority of its data in a private cloud, because the district has made the up-front investment to make this possible. “For us, it’s significantly cheaper just because we have that volume of scale internally,” she said.

One exception is email: Raytown stopped hosting its own Microsoft Exchange system last year and adopted Gmail, hosted by Google in the public cloud. “Exchange is a beast to manage,” Tebbenkamp explained, adding that it made more sense for the district to use Google’s free program than to spend time and money on email storage, backup, and retention.

When K-12 leaders are considering whether to trust a public cloud provider, they should do their homework, Tebbenkamp said: How much room does a given cloud provider allow for negotiating within contracts to ensure data security? What processes are in place to protect data?

“For me, if I have an employee terminated, I take certain steps to make sure they no longer have access to data,” she noted. “What do they do on their side?”

If you’re going to create a private cloud, “your data center switching is critical,” she said. “Do you have the switching to keep up with the speeds you’re going to need internally?”

You also have to evaluate what kind of data you’re working with and then find the right storage solution for your needs. And, “you’ve got to have the staff on site to be able to manage your storage and servers.”

Bob Moore, a former school district CIO who runs an ed-tech advisory firm called RJM Strategies, has a different take on private clouds in K-12 education.

It’s not the physical location of the data that is important, Moore argues—it’s the access to this information. He questions whether it’s worth the cost and effort for most districts to create their own private clouds.

“If you want to use Google Apps for Education, Microsoft 365, or any one of the [hundreds] of online services and mobile apps, you are going to give up physical control of the systems,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you have to give up control of your data.”

Moore recommends that school IT leaders focus on identity management to create a “virtual” private cloud. “Let Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others manage the technology,” he said.

Dennis Pierce

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:


The surprise discovery of the debris on a remote island in the Indian Ocean stirs hopes and emotion among families of the missing.


The ascension of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor could widen a split between fighters who want to negotiate with the government and those who want to continue the insurgency.


The GOP presidential candidate calls for deporting all of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.


The stabbings - allegedly by an ultra-Orthodox Jew recently released after serving time for a similar attack several years ago - are vividly chronicled by an AP photographer.


GDP grew at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the government says.


Congress is heading out for a five-week summer recess - but the work lawmakers are leaving behind ensures a painful fall.


They accuse the U.S. of turning a blind eye to Turkish attacks on them.


The social network says it will begin testing a solar-powered drone, the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet service to remote parts of the world.


The “Daily Show” host says the president during a White House visit encouraged him not to make young Americans cynical about their government.


Less supportive is a website that paid for a plane to buzz the field towing a banner saying: “Cheaters Look Up.“

G-BizBuzz™: Paving Work at Pizza Hot

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West Virginia News

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8 states probe slain man’s possible serial killer ties

CHARLESTON, WV - Authorities say police in at least eight states are investigating unsolved cases that may be linked to an Oregon man who was recently killed by an escort in West Virginia.

Police say the prostitute was attacked by 45-year-old Neal Falls on July 18 and she grabbed his gun and fatally shot him as he choked her. Police found axes, knives, handcuffs and a shovel in Falls’ car.

Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper says authorities in Nevada, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Texas, Oregon and California are comparing similar cases, some involving dead or missing prostitutes.

Cooper says authorities in at least 20 states had stopped Falls and checked his license plate or Social Security number, but he has no history of major crimes.

Martinsburg considers expansion of nondiscrimination law

MARTINSBURG, WV - Martinsburg City Council members are considering adding sexual orientation to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Media outlets report that the council voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize the city attorney to draft an ordinance granting job and other protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Fairness West Virginia had requested the added protections.

Wednesday’s meeting drew an overflow crowd to the J. Oakley Seibert Council Chambers in City Hall, which has a public seating capacity of about 80 people. More than 40 people addressed the council before the vote. Twenty-one speakers supported the proposal, 21 opposed it and one was neutral.


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement in honor of the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

“Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson established Medicare and Medicaid, two vital programs that have since become essential to our families and communities. I have always believed we must do everything we can to help those in need and protect our beloved seniors. For five decades, Medicare and Medicaid have secured the well-being of millions Americans and West Virginians as they age or become disabled by providing financial stability and reliable healthcare. Our seniors helped build this great nation, and we have an obligation to them that we must never break, even in tough economic times. These important programs are critical to West Virginia, and I will continue to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure that programs like Medicare and Medicaid are protected well into the future.”

WVU student team selected for solar home building contest

MORGANTOWN, WV - A team of students from West Virginia University has been selected to participate in a national solar home building contest.

WVU students will combine their efforts with students from a college in Rome, Italy, as part of the Solar Decathlon in October in Irvine, California.

Seventeen teams were selected to participate in the competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Teams have been developing their houses for two years.

The houses will be judged on their energy production and efficiency, along with design, consumer appeal and affordability. The total costs of the houses cannot exceed $250,000, which include $100,000 grants from the Energy Department.

Bridgeport seeks federal drug unit for northern WV

BRIDGEPORT, WV - Bridgeport’s City Council is seeking a federal narcotics investigation unit for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The council unanimously approved a resolution this week asking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to assign a tactical diversion squad to the region.

Councilman and former DEA agent Lowell J. Maxey says the unit would focus on prescription drugs. That would give the Greater Harrison County Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force more time to investigate other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine

Mayor Bob Greer says he plans to talk to other northern West Virginia mayors about adopting similar resolutions during a West Virginia Municipal League conference next week.

Sheetz Responds to Pepperoni Roll Controversy: “We Hear You Loud and Clear”

HUNTINGTON, WV—Sheetz says they will keep locally-made pepperoni rolls in their West Virginia stores.

“This is a product that absolutely we acknowledge really was created in the great state of West Virginia,“ said Ryan Sheetz, Director of Brand Development.

This comes after Sheetz notified a local bakery in Harrison County that they would no longer sell their pepperoni rolls.

Owners of Rogers and Mazza’s Bakery in Clarksburg say they were notified by email Friday.

“It definitely blind-sided us,“ said Michael Mazza who works at the family-owned business. “They literally gave us 11 total days notice to be out of their stores.“

The email, according to Mazza, says the bakery has until August 3 to pull their pepperoni rolls from the stores. Mazza said the bakery provides pepperoni rolls to more than 100 Sheetz stores in four different states.

Sheetz told WSAZ that the reason for cutting ties with the bakery was because of plans to expand pepperoni roll distribution. The company was looking for a way to distribute pepperoni rolls across 500+ stores, Sheetz said.

Sheetz said the company began looking for someone, “Who could provide pepperoni rolls to 500+ stores in the most consistent way at the highest quality standards.“

That meant, looking both at their current pepperoni roll suppliers and other companies they don’t currently work with.

“Frankly, as a family business, we like to control our own destiny,“ Sheetz said. “So if that means that we can control the distribution of a product ourselves, we have the feeling and the confidence that we’ll be in a better place in most cases.“

The possibility of an out-of-state supplier of pepperoni rolls caused West Virginians, and even customers outside the state, to take to social media - demanding that the pepperoni rolls stay locally-made.

“It was invented here, it’s home-grown, and we want it to stay here,“ Mazza said.

Pepperoni rolls are said to have originated in Fairmont, West Virginia. They were an easy snack for coal miners to take to work.

The response from customers caused Sheetz and his family to reconsider. Sheetz said the company is a family-owned business that is consumer-driven.

“It sparked a ton of customer feedback that was really, really loud and really, really passionate,“ said Sheetz. “I couldn’t be happier that we heard what we did.“

Sheetz said the company is still looking to narrow it down to one pepperoni supplier among all stores. However, he said the company will choose a supplier based in West Virginia to supply all West Virginia stores.

The company is now in the process of evaluating and meeting with its current pepperoni roll suppliers: Rogers and Mazza’s Bakery, Home Industry Bakery and Abruzzino’s Bakery.

Sheetz said they are also opening it up to other suppliers they don’t currently work with in order to find the best pepperoni roll producer and distributor for the Mountain State stores.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Snakes Again Prove Deadly in Church

Kentucky —A man has died from a snake bite suffered during a church service, says a Kentucky sheriff’s office. The Bell County Sheriff’s Department said yesterday that 60-year-old John David Brock of Stoney Fork was handling the snake during a Sunday service at a Pentecostal church in Jenson.

Authorities say Brock was bitten on his left arm and refused medical treatment. The sheriff’s office says Brock went to his brother’s home, where he later died; the local coroner pronounced Brock dead. It’s not without precedent in Kentucky, where last year a pastor died after being bitten; his son was bitten just months later, but survived after refusing treatment. Snake handling at religious services is most common in Southern Appalachian states, taking its basis from a passage in the Gospel of Mark.

two injection wells shut down after Oklahoma quakes

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—Oil and gas operators shut down two wastewater injection wells in northern Oklahoma on Tuesday and reduced operations at a third after several earthquakes centered in the town of Crescent rattled the state.

Stephens Production and Devon Energy each voluntarily closed one well, and Stephens reduced operations at another well by 50%, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner said.

“In this case, we didn’t have to issue a directive. We simply called them up and said what we were looking at,“ Skinner said. “In terms of fast cooperation from the industry, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but broadly speaking we’ve had very fine cooperation.“

Crescent is a town of about 1,400 people that’s about 35 miles north of Oklahoma City. Earthquakes in the area recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey include a magnitude 4.5 quake at 1:12 PM Monday that is the strongest reported in the state so far this year. In all, more than 15 temblors of magnitude 2.0 or stronger were reported Monday by the Oklahoma Geological Survey. An additional nine quakes ranging from 2.2 to 4.1 were recorded through early Tuesday evening.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the area, although people reported feeling the 4.5 quake as far as 650 miles away in Indiana and Minnesota, according to the USGS.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in the state, recently announced plans to place more than 200 disposal wells under scrutiny as it investigates whether injecting wastewater deep underground is triggering earthquakes. An Oklahoma Geological Survey report in April said it was “very likely” the practice prompted most of the state’s recent earthquakes.

The quakes are occurring along a fault line that extends for about 50 miles across Logan County, which is north of the Oklahoma City area, Austin Holland, seismologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said.

“It’s a good-size fault,“ Holland said. “And we are certainly looking at a greater potential for a larger earthquake.

“The likelihood of a significant earthquake has increased based on what we understand about earthquake scaling relationships and our increased rate of seismicity.“

The largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma history was a 5.6 earthquake centered near the town of Prague in November 2011.

U.S dentist under fire after killing protected lion

ST. PAUL, MN — A Minnesota dentist who has become the target of worldwide outrage for hunting and killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe advised patients Wednesday to seek care elsewhere and said he rarely discussed his big-game hunting because it can be a “divisive and emotionally charged topic.“

Walter James Palmer remained secluded in the face of protests at his suburban Minneapolis clinic and intense condemnation online. He has not appeared in public since being identified Tuesday as a party to the lion’s death.

Palmer, whose practice offers general and cosmetic dentistry, is an active big-game hunter, with many kills to his name, some of them registered with hunting clubs.

The North Dakota native “enjoys all outdoor activities,“ according to the biography page on his now-dark clinic website. “Anything allowing him to stay active and observe and photograph wildlife is where you will find Dr. Palmer when he not in the office.“

In Zimbabwe, a hunting guide and a farm owner appeared in court on allegations they helped Palmer kill the lion named Cecil. And the head of Zimbabwe’s safari association said the big cat with the black mane was lured into the kill zone and denied “a chance of a fair chase.“

The Zimbabwean men were accused of aiding Palmer, who reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill a lion. Zimbabwe police have said they are looking for Palmer, whose exact whereabouts were unknown.

Palmer, 55, referenced the situation in a note to his patients. “I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting,“ he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the local Fox television affiliate, KMSP.

The married father of two was the subject of a 2009 New York Times article about big-game hunting in which he said he learned to shoot at age 5. The article said Palmer had a reputation for being capable of “skewering a playing card from 100 yards” with a compound bow and having “a purist’s reputation for his disinclination to carry firearms as backup.“

During the nighttime hunt, the Zimbabwean men tied a dead animal to their car to draw the lion out of a national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.

The American is believed to have shot the lion with a crossbow. The wounded cat was then tracked for 40 hours before Palmer fatally shot him with a gun, Rodrigues said.

A professional hunter named Theo Bronkhorst was accused of failing to “prevent an unlawful hunt.“ Court documents said Bronkhorst was supervising while Palmer shot the animal.

Bronkhorst was released on $1,000 bail after appearing in court in Hwange, about 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the capital Harare, according to his defense lawyer, Givemore Muvhiringi.

If convicted, Bronkhorst faces up to 15 years in prison.

A second man, farm owner Honest Trymore Ndlovu, also appeared in court but was not charged and was released from custody, his lawyer Tonderai Makuku said.

The court documents made no mention of Palmer as a suspect.

Using bait to lure the lion is deemed unethical by the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, of which Bronkhorst is a member. The association has since revoked his license.

“Ethics are certainly against baiting. Animals are supposed to be given a chance of a fair chase,“ Emmanuel Fundira, the association’s president, said. “In fact, it was not a hunt at all. The animal was baited, and that is not how we do it. It is not allowed.“

It was not entirely clear whether baiting is allowed by Zimbabwe law. Fundira said the practice was both unethical and illegal. The conservation group Lion Aid says it is unethical but not expressly forbidden.

Palmer attended dental school at the University of Minnesota and built his practice in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. He said in a statement that he did not know the lion was protected and relied on his guides to ensure a legal hunt.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,“ Palmer said in statement issued through a public relations firm.

Cecil was being studied by an Oxford University research program.

Social media were filled with condemnation of the killing just outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. On Twitter, the hashtag cecilthelion was in wide use.

A couple of hundred protesters gathered Wednesday outside Palmer’s office with signs, including one that said, “Let the hunter be hunted!“ Signs also were taped on Palmer’s office door. Sarah Madison brought her two children, including her 3-year-old son dressed in a lion costume. She said says the hunt, even if legal, was “immoral” and “disgraceful.“

Organizations that foster and defend big-game hunting distanced themselves from Palmer, including those where he was a member.

Palmer appeared in past versions of Safari Club International records dated as recently as July 05, but his name had been dropped from the standings as of Tuesday evening. Corresponding pages featuring photos of Palmer with an African lion, a southern white rhinoceros and an African elephant remained accessible on the club’s website.

Chip Burkhalter, the club’s director of government relations, initially told a reporter he would respond to calls following a meeting, but then he could not be reached.

Glenn Hisey, director of records for the Minnesota-based Pope and Young Club, where Palmer registered some of his killings by bow, told The Associated Press that the group was concerned about the news from Africa.

“If he violated controlling game laws there, he might have violated controlling game laws other places,“ Hisey said Tuesday, adding that Palmer’s listings with the club could be examined as more facts emerge.

By Wednesday, Hisey was declining to comment.

According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Cecil is believed to have been killed July 01 and his carcass discovered days later.

Famous Baby Giraffe Breaks Neck in Tragic Accident

DALLAS, TX— It’s a bad week for animal lovers: First Cecil, then Nabire, now Kipenzi. The baby giraffe died in a “heartbreaking” accident at the Dallas Zoo last night. The zoo details what happened on Facebook: “As the giraffe herd was shifting inside for the night, Kipenzi began scampering around, as she loved to do. She made a sharp turn, and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. She broke three vertebra in her neck, and passed away immediately.“ The zoo notes that Kipenzi, whose name means “loved one” in Swahili, touched more than just those who visited the zoo. Her April birth was witnessed live by 1.4 million viewers via an Animal Planet special, and that fame was parlayed into awareness about giraffe conservation, with more than $35,000 raised for the cause.

The zoo doesn’t hold back on the sad details or mince words: It noted that mother Katie visited Kipenzi before she was removed. “She stood guard for a few moments before we called her in,“ senior zoo director Harrison Edell tells the Dallas Morning News. “To be honest, it hurts terribly. We’re crushed, and everyone here is mourning,“ says zoo president and CEO Gregg Hudson. Edell had this explainer for CNN: “Running is a typical behavior for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones like Kipenzi. We’ve been very cautious with where we’ve allowed Kipenzi to roam, as we were with her siblings. It’s heartbreaking that this happened where it did despite our precautions.“ The zoo asks that those looking to donate in Kipenzi’s memory support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Ohio man must spend two days in jail for petting zoo cougars

CLEVELAND, OH —An Ohio man who posted a video of himself petting cougars at a Columbus zoo appealed no contest to a trespassing charge on Wednesday and has to spend two days in jail and pay more than $200 in fines, court documents said.

Joshua Newell, 35, jumped an outer fence to gain access to another fenced-in enclosure and called the cougars to him in order to pet them, the documents said.

Newell then posted a nearly two-minute video of the encounter on YouTube where he enticed the animals by calling “Here, kitty, kitty” and “That’s a good kitty.“

Newell was charged last week with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to four days in jail, with two days suspended.

A representative for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was not immediately available for comment.

This is the second time this year that a zoo patron in the state was charged with trespassing. In June, Michelle Schwab was sentenced to a year of probation for a similar charge after dropping her two-year-old son into a cheetah exhibit at the Cleveland zoo in April.


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100 years ago, the U.S. invaded and occupied this country. Can you name it?

A century ago, American troops invaded and occupied a foreign nation. They would stay there for almost two decades, install a client government, impose new laws and fight insurgents in bloody battles on difficult terrain. Thousands of residents perished during what turned out to be 19 years of de facto U.S. rule.

The country was Haiti, the Caribbean nation that’s often seen by outsiders as a metaphor for poverty and disaster. Yet rarely are Americans confronted with their own hand in its misfortunes.

On Tuesday, a group of protesters marched to the U.S. Embassy in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in commemoration of the grim legacy of the U.S. occupation, which began in July 1915 after President Woodrow Wilson used political chaos and violence in the country as grounds to intervene. Some in Washington feared the threat of competing French and German interests in the Caribbean.

The liberal, democratic values Wilson so famously championed in Europe were not so visible in Haiti, a largely black republic that since its independence from France a century earlier had been regarded with fear and contempt by America’s white ruling classes. “Think of it! N———s speaking French,“ quipped William Jennings Bryan, Wilson’s secretary of state, in a chilling echo of the Jim Crow-era bigotry of the time.

Though framed as an attempt to bring stability to an unstable, benighted land, the United States “also wanted to make sure that the Haitian government was compatible to American economic interests and friendly to foreign investment,“ writes Laurent Dubois, a Duke University academic and author of “Haiti: The Aftershocks of History.“

“In Haiti, the reality of American actions sharply contradicted the gloss of [American leaders’] liberal protestations,“ wrote the historian Hans Schmidt, whose 1971 book on the U.S. occupation is still a widely cited text. “Racist preconceptions, reinforced by the current debasement of Haiti’s political institutions, placed the Haitians far below levels Americans considered necessary for democracy, self-government, and constitutionalism.“

It was also a moment where Washington did little to disguise its sense of imperial entitlement in the neighborhood. A number of fledgling governments in the Caribbean and Central America all suffered U.S. invasions and the imposition of policies favorable to American strategic interests and big business. Banana republics didn’t just spring up on their own.

Here’s a summation of events in Haiti from the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Historian:

The United States gained complete control over Haitian finances, and the right to intervene in Haiti whenever the U.S. Government deemed necessary. The U.S. Government also forced the election of a new pro-American President, Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave, by the Haitian legislature in August 1915. The selection of a President that did not represent the choice of the Haitian populace increased unrest in Haiti.

Following the successful manipulation of the 1915 elections, the Wilson administration attempted to strong-arm the Haitian legislature into adopting a new constitution in 1917. This constitution allowed foreign land ownership, which had been outlawed since the Haitian Revolution as a way to prevent foreign control of the country. Extremely reluctant to change the long-standing law, the legislature rejected the new constitution. Law-makers began drafting a new anti-American constitution, but the United States forced President Dartiguenave dissolve the legislature, which did not meet again until 1929.

Particularly in 1919 and 1920, rebel uprisings sought to dislodge U.S. influence on the island. The revolts were in part spurred by the heavy-handed practices of the American occupation, which included segregation and enforced chain gangs to build roads and other construction projects. There was brutal suppression, according to eyewitness accounts.

“Military camps have been built throughout the island. The property of natives has been taken for military use. Haitians carrying a gun were for a time shot at sight. Many Haitians not carrying guns were also shot at sight,“ wrote Herbert Seligman in the Nation magazine in 1920. “Machine guns have been turned into crowds of unarmed natives, and United States marines have, by accounts which several of them gave me in casual conversation, not troubled to investigate how many were killed or wounded.“

Dubois cites one notorious image taken by a U.S. marine of the slain Haitian rebel Charlemagne Peralte, strung up naked in a loin cloth. The photo was disseminated across the island as a warning against insurgency, but instead — with its haunting evocation of the crucifixion — became “an icon of resistance.“

The Haitian-American author Edwidge Dandicat writes further on the memory of the violence:

One of the stories my grandfather’s oldest son, my uncle Joseph, used to tell was of watching a group of young Marines kicking around a man’s decapitated head in an effort to frighten the rebels in their area. There are more stories still. Of the Marines’ boots sounding like Galipot, a fabled three-legged horse, which all children were supposed to fear. Of the black face that the Marines wore to blend in and hide from view. Of the time U.S. Marines assassinated one of the occupation’s most famous fighters, Charlemagne Péralte, and pinned his body to a door, where it was left to rot in the sun for days.

To be sure, the U.S. occupation wasn’t all bloodshed and brutality. Haiti’s infrastructure was considerably improved, its education system revamped, and Port-au-Prince was turned into a teeming metropolitan center. But the lengthy 19-year-period of domination is hardly remembered with fondness.

“The American occupation was a failure,“ said Herold Toussaint, a professor at the State University of Haiti, in an interview with the Miami Herald. “There was stability of [the domestic currency] and they diminished corruption in the public administration. But the objective they had, friendly relations between Haiti and the U.S., didn’t happen.“

As the journalist Jonathan Katz details in his book on Haiti’s long, miserable experience with foreign aid and intervention, the Americans left behind a new template for inequity and misrule.

“After the United States left in 1934, their successors continued bolstering [Port-au-Prince’s] control over rural politics, expropriating peasant land for factories that produced commodities for the United States and stifling dissent using the army the Americans created,“ Katz writes.

In 1933, Smedley Butler, a former general in the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke with uncommon venom about the role his troops played in Haiti and beyond:

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism ... I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street.

“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket,“ concluded Butler. “Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints.“

Glenville State Announces Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs

GLENVILLE, WV - Glenville State College President Dr. Peter Barr is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Milan Vavrek as Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Dr. Vavrek joined the Glenville State College faculty in fall 2006 and was promoted to full professor status with tenure in 2010. He has served as chair of the Land Resources Department since July 2011 and continues an active research agenda.

A native of northern Ohio who has resided in West Virginia for nearly twenty years, Vavrek earned his baccalaureate degree at Kent State University. He then went on to earn his masters and doctorate degrees in biology from West Virginia University. Before coming to Glenville State, he was the Scott Weathersby Professor in Biological Sciences at Louisiana Tech University.

The Gilmer Free Press

In addition to ensuring that GSC continues to offer high quality academic programs to its students while continuing to explore new programs, Vavrek says he hopes to strengthen faculty and student scholarship, whether that includes performance, artistic works, or scientific research. “We have extremely talented faculty and students at GSC, and we can offer the state and our disciplines so much more.” Moreover, he said, “I would like to encourage a stronger sense of community among our faculty and staff. We sometimes become so involved in our individual departments and lives that we lose sight of the overall campus.”

“I’m pleased and excited to have Dr. Vavrek in this new role. Having worked with him for the last nine years I know he will be an outstanding leader for Academic Affairs at Glenville State College,” said GSC President Dr. Peter Barr.

Vavrek assumed his duties on July 01, 2015 after the retirement of former GSC Provost Dr. John Peek.

Student Success Summit to Focus on Collaboration Among Educators and Community

More than 500 individuals expected to attend the event in Morgantown
The Gilmer Free Press

MORGANTOWN, WV – More than 500 education administrators, teachers, students, military leaders and community group members will join forces this week to find ways to help students prepare for lifelong success.

Education representatives ranging from pre-school teachers to college presidents to the students they serve will convene during the fifth annual Student Success Summit (Summit) to be held Wednesday, July 29 and Thursday, July 30 at the Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center in Morgantown. Organizers say the two-day event encourages participants to work together to create a more seamless, life-long education system.

“This annual conference provides a unique opportunity to address the full education spectrum in West Virginia. From early learning through higher education and beyond, our work must be smartly linked and positively innovative,” said Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission. “Our full focus is on the success of West Virginia students at every stage in their educational careers.”

The Summit will feature more than 60 sessions on topics ranging from using technology in the classroom to college access and completion to collaboration with employers. This year’s conference theme is “Reach Higher,” a tribute to the call to action put forth by First Lady Michelle Obama to increase the number of students pursuing education and training beyond high school. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee and State Board of Education Immediate Past President Gayle Manchin will serve as keynote speakers during the event.

“I am delighted to see our education community come together for a fifth year to share ideas and encourage professional development among teachers, administrators and community members who are all focused on one goal: ensuring a world-class education for all students in West Virginia,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We know a growing number of jobs in West Virginia are going to require education beyond high school, so a focus on pursuing postsecondary education is critical.”

Four high schools — Berkeley Springs, Hedgesville, John Marshall and Oak Glenn — will send teams of students to participate in a focused Youth Summit track of the conference. Students will learn leadership skills and strategies to build and strengthen a college-going culture in their communities. They will present what they have learned during the morning plenary session on July 30.

The Summit is sponsored by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Department of Education, with support from the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, and the State’s military service units. Registration is free and open to the public. To register or learn more, visit


Consumers should never give an unsolicited caller remote access to their computer

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today issued an alert to West Virginia consumers about a new wave of phone calls from scammers claiming to work for Microsoft.

Our Office’s Consumer Protection Division has received multiple reports of consumers receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Windows wanting to gain access to the consumer’s computer in order to “make repairs.”

The caller tells the consumer that their computer has an urgent problem or virus that must be fixed immediately. The caller says “Microsoft” can connect to the computer remotely and repair it for the customer. Once the scammer is connected to the computer, they either steal the consumer’s financial information through a fraudulent “pay” website or install malicious software that combs the computer for personal information, such as usernames, passwords, bank and credit card numbers, tax documents and more. In other cases, the scammer locks the computer and refuses to unlock it unless the consumer pays a specific amount for the “repairs.”

“Consumers should be extremely cautious of these types of cold calls,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Although these scammers are pretty savvy when using technical jargon, it’s highly unlikely that an unsolicited caller would know anything about your computer.”

Microsoft has issued warnings on its website about this scam, saying neither the company nor any of its partners make unsolicited calls to computer users.

Since initial warnings circulated, some consumers have been able to recognize the scam when they are called. However, newer reports have said that when the consumer refuses the service or questions the validity of the call, the caller becomes hostile, makes obscene threats and even threatens to show up at the person’s house and harm them or their family.

“These scammers use despicable, high-pressure tactics to try and frighten consumers into giving up access to their private data,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “If an unsolicited caller ever harasses or threatens you or your family, you should hang up and report the call immediately to local law enforcement and our Office’s Consumer Protection Division.”

Attorney General Morrisey offers consumers the following tips should they receive an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft:

    •  Try to get as much information about the caller as you possibly can. Note their name, phone number, time they called and what was said.

    •  Never give remote access to your computer to any unsolicited caller for any reason.

    •  If you have caller ID and receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer the phone. While not always, it is more likely for scammers to stop trying a number that never picks up.

    •  If you are using a cellphone that has the capability, put the number on your blocked contact list.

    •  If you do answer one of these calls and have concerns about your computer’s security features, call the manufacturer or take it to a reputable retailer or repair shop to be examined for viruses, malicious software, or corrupted files.

    •  Report the call immediately to local law enforcement and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

If you have received one of these unsolicited telephone calls from Microsoft, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800.368.8808. If you are concerned you already may be a victim of identity theft, call local law enforcement as well as the Federal Trade Commission at 877.438.4338 or go online to

Medicaid at 50: New Research Shows Long-Term Benefits for West Virginia Kids

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – Medicaid is 50 years old this week, and the impact it’s had on the lives of children is being praised, both by advocates and academics.

Renate Pore, director of health care policy for West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, says 60% of the pregnancy care and births in the state are covered by Medicaid. The program covers about half of West Virginia children. Pore says the effects are “huge,“ in part because problems before or at birth can last a lifetime.

“For pregnant women and for children, it has just been an enormous program for West Virginia,“ she says. “Not only the services themselves, but the fact that they don’t have to worry.“

Pore says it would be hard to even imagine the state’s healthcare system without the program, although critics have tried to limit Medicaid or reduce its funding as a cost-cutting measure.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, is part of a coalition that researched how kids helped by Medicaid do later in life. She says it makes a profound difference in several ways.

“Some studies are now finding that children who received Medicaid actually pay more taxes as adults and use fewer government subsidies,“ she says. “The government is getting a great return on investment by providing kids with Medicaid.“

States receive federal funding under Medicaid and decide how to best use it, within certain guidelines. The healthcare program was created primarily for poor families and those with disabilities. West Virginia took advantage of an option under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to cover working poor families making incomes of up to one-and-one-third times the federal poverty rate.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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