Pocahontas BOE Delays OK’ing Costa Rican Field Trip –Due to Zika Virus Fears

What appeared to be a routine approval of a field trip to Costa Rica on the Pocahontas County Board of Education’s meeting agenda for Monday, February 8th, turned into a discussion of possible dangers to students and adults posed by the Zika Virus. This virus is known to be spread by mosquito bites and Costa Rica is one of the Central American areas with infected mosquitoes, along with South American countries. It is also now suspected of being able to spread from sexual and possibly even casual contact.

Let’s listen in as Board President Emery Grimes introduces the agenda item to approve this trip.

“Number 14, approval for the Spanish Club, three adults and six students to travel to Costa Rica on March 26 through April 4, 2016. All costs will be paid for by fund raising” announced Grimes. “…Mrs. Beverage made the motion, Mrs. Hefner seconded it. We’ve got a problem here because of the (Zika) virus. Whenever I seen Costa Rica it caught my eye and I thought do we really know how much danger that we’re doing?”

This started a discussion about the Zika virus, how it is acquired through mosquito bites but also how it can be brought back here if one of them catches it there since it is now believed to be able to be spread from person to person. This virus has also been known to cause birth defects when a pregnant woman has been affected. Mr. Grimes made a suggestion.

“I think what we need to do is table this until the next meeting” said Grimes. “And Mr. Beam, could you get a hold of this Spanish Teacher and have her notify these parents , let these parents know where their children are going, and what the situation is. And also the teachers and chaperones that’s going with her, cause there’s three adults.”

And table it until the next meeting they did.

Earlier the Board held an hour long closed Executive Session, meeting with the Principal and Assistant Principal of PCHS on a personnel matter.

In his Superintendent’s Report, Mr. Beam said that the bathroom stalls at the High School will shortly be replaced with cinder block walls. A contractor has been selected and they are awaiting custom doors to be made.

Beam also reported that the updated School Calendar Policy will be voted on to be placed on public comment at the next Board meeting. There will be a public hearing before the March 14th Board meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. at Hillsboro Elementary School and another held before the March 28th Board meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Green Bank School.

Beam also mentioned that there has been a proposal made in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Department to start up an evening adult welding class at the High School, to be taught by certified welders.

Various vender payments and financial reports were voted on and approved by the Board. One disturbing piece of information came out, which was that they have already spent all of the money budgeted for Professional Substitute Teachers for the remaining school year.

The approved hiring Ira “Buck” Turner to remove snow at Marlinton Elementary and Marlinton Middle Schools at a rate of $100.00 per day, however they unanimously voted to reject paying him $500.00 per day to remove snow at the High School. It was pointed out that they now have a tractor with a plow that the janitors can use to clear snow there.

They approved Laura M. Pritt and Devan E. Simmons as volunteer cheerleading coaches at Hillsboro Elementary School and Jessie Sharp as a volunteer basketball coach at Marlinton Elementary School.

They approved Don’s Auction Service to conduct an auction of excess Board of Education property on April 9th, at a cost not to exceed $1000.00.

They approved Lesa McCarty to attend a conference in Dallas Texas, to be paid for by grant funds.

They approved P. Erwin Berry IV to transport 6 students by rental van to Louisville, KY on February 10 and 11. This is paid for by vocational funds.

They approved Professional and Service Personnel actions, which can be found with this story on our website, “alleghenymountainradio.org”.


Personnel Actions

2-8-16 Board of Education Meeting

A School Wellness Coach position was created at each of the following schools; Hillsboro Elementary School; Green Bank Elementary-Middle School; Marlinton Elementary School; Marlinton Middle school; and Pocahontas County High School. These positions at each school will pay $20.00 per hour, 1 hour per month during February, March, April and May. Not to exceed 4 hours -$80.00 at each school. These positions are funded by the Innovation Zone Wellness Grant.

The position of PRINCIPAL at Hillsboro Elementary School was abolished and replaced with the position of PRINCIPAL/TEACHER of MULTI-SUBJECTS.

Shannon C. Anderson, Teacher of Early Education at Hillsboro Elementary School was granted unpaid medical leave retroactive to January 11, 2016 through February 22, 2016.

Ricky I Sharp was employed as Athletic Director at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at a $750.00 Supplement

Timothy Wade’s resignation as Custodian IV at Marlinton Middle School due to retirement was approved, effective the end of the school year.

Leah Shinaberry and Jeanette Wagner were hired as After School Tutors at PCHS. They will share and divide the position and pay which is for 2 hours per day, 2 days per week at $20.00 per hour. This is paid for by McKinney Vento Funds.

Mali Minter, a Spanish Teacher at PCHS resigned due to retirement retroactive to January 21, 2016.

Audria Thomason and Curtis D. Bennett were hired as Substitute Teachers effective February 10, 2016 for the remainder of the school year

The earlier approved resignation due to retirement of Thomas Madison, a School Bus Operator has been rescinded.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

Current Weather