By Stephen Smoot
With 17 and a half days left on the official school calendar, the Pendleton County Board of Education convened for their initial meeting of the month. In the opening prayer, school board president J. D. Wilkins stated, “Thank You for Your protection.”
The board asked Becky McConnell to provide an annual update on the library. She reported on children’s programs held in 2022 as well as plans for 2023. This year’s theme is “pollinators” and a variety of educational programs throughout the year will revolve around that theme.
She then reported that the library had focused on upgrades and repairs in the past year, but with mixed results due to problems outside of the library’s control. The library received state funding assistance through the good offices of Senators Bill Hamilton and Robert Karnes to replace the original front counter. The current counter predates digitalization and cannot handle the added cords needed.
Additionally, the county library received a donation of computer units from Hardy County, but the building requires some wiring work to accommodate them as well. Finally, a shelving unit ordered over a year ago has still not been installed because the library never received the proper materials from the company.
McConnell reported that the circulation levels had finally reached pre COVID numbers and thanked the board for its help. She noted that in 2010, the board donated $4,000 to the library, but in 2022 that number had risen to $10,000.
Alluding to McConnell’s impending requirement, Charles Hedrick, Pendleton County superintendent, said, “You have done a wonderful job over the years.” Sonny O’Neil, board member, added, “They have big shoes to fill.”
Next, the board recognized lists of students, mostly athletes, who assisted during last month’s wildfires. Nine students, Brady Bowers, Jay Bowers, Grant Arbaugh, Xavier Ellis, Adam Ruddle, Terry Harvey, Tanner Rodgers, Brandon Cook, and Ryland Copley, helped to fight the fires.
Other students helped families fearing losing their homes to pack their belongings. These included Brayden Beachler, Baylee Beachler, Clayton Kisamore, Cashton Kisamore, Dillon Smith, Landon Colaw, Barrett Cook, Ryleigh Cook, Alex Ruddle, and Jameigh Miller.
Hedrick noted, “We see quite a lot of positive things from our students in community service.”
Travis Heavner then updated the board on the progress with the alternative education building. Huttonsville inmates have worked to construct new mobile buildings to replace the current alternative education classrooms. While they will construct four sections to create a single 24×60 space, the secured facility in which inmates work only holds two sections at a time. “They had a lot of trouble getting the materials together,” Heavner added.
“It’s coming together, but there are a lot of pieces that have to come together,” he explained. One of the logistical issues remains finding the best way to transport the units.
The buildings come as part of a grant program to teach inmates skills they can use when they leave prison. Heavner noted, “We will have very little in a really nice building when it gets done.”
Teresa Heavner inquired as to whether the current building could be salvaged for use. Travis Heavner replied that “it will be demolished. It is in rough shape.”
The board then discussed some details related to the painting of the upper sections of the gym walls. “We’re going to move forward on that over the summer,” Travis Heavner said, adding that “the focus is to get that green out of there.”
Finally, he reported that five contractors attended the pre bid meeting on construction of the fieldhouse at Pendleton County Middle/High School. “We’re hoping to get quite a few bids on that,” Heavner noted.
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