Four first place winners for Pocahontas County at State Social Studies Fair

Some talented Pocahontas County students were turning heads at the state-level Social Studies Fair recently. Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel told board members how the students placed at the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting.

“I’m pleased to announce that we had 17 entrants at the West Virginia State Social Studies Fair,” Bechtel says. “Garret Ryder and Scout Tankersley, Emily Henderson, Alexis Price and Hunter Tankersley, they were entrants. We had four Honorable Mention winners, Rayna Smith, William Feury, Mary Pauley and Cage Burdette.”

Bechtel said Pocahontas County finished with four third place winners; Cassidy Hardesty and Chloe Hardesty, Jacob Jones, and Hunter Wilfong.

“And we had four first place winners for the state,” Bechtel says. “Rachel Burns and Sarah Warder, Hannah Buly and Noah Barkley.”

Board President Emery Grimes said he enjoyed attending this year’s State Social Studies Fair.

“I had a great time and every time they announced Pocahontas County as a winner, you get a thrill,” Grimes says. “You are tickled absolutely to death. I was proud of our kids. It was amazing.”
Board vice president Janet McNeel expressed her concern about the lack of qualified substitute teachers in the county.

Board member Dr. Hanna Sizemore said the issue really started a couple of years ago, when potential applicants were having trouble navigating the hiring process.

“For the two years that I’ve been on here, we’ve had a parade of people come in here and say they can’t get on the sub list,” she says. “There’s been a lot of turnover upstairs, but sometime before that, this problem initiated of not getting some highly qualified individuals on to that list. And here, down the road, now we’re seeing the other end of it.”

Board members said anyone with a four year degree that’s interested in a substitute teaching position is urged to contact Kristin Kinnison at the board of education office in Marlinton. In other business, McNeel made a motion for disciplinary action against a school employee. State police found sufficient probable cause to bring charges against a former teacher, who is facing three counts of sexual assault by a guardian.

“I make a motion to accept the superintendent, the council’s, and the prosecutor’s recommendation to suspend professional employee Sammantha Bartley at this time,” McNeel says. “Retroactive to April the 4, 2014, without pay, indefinite, as permitted by West Virginia law.”

Board members voted unanimously to suspend Bartley.

“Motion carried,” says Grimes. “Professional employee has been suspended without pay.”

The board voted to sell seven aging school buses from its fleet to a company in Kentucky for a total of just over $21,000. School board employee Ruth Bland said these companies love West Virginia buses.

“These are old ones,” explains Bland. “They are back from the 1990s. Some of them have over 265,000 miles on them.”

Bechtel acknowledged board treasurer Sherry Radcliff’s hard work recently in preparing the next year’s school budget.

“I want to compliment Mrs. Radcliff with her presentation on the budget, that we had last Tuesday,” says Bechtel. “It represented comprehensive effort on her part to really scrutinize every dollar. So Mrs. Radcliff, thank you.”

The Pocahontas County School Board of Education is scheduled to meet next on Monday, May 5, at 7 p.m. at the Board Office in Marlinton.

Story By

Angelo Jiordano

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