Across the State | |

The leaders of a regional planning commission and an internet service provider each hope to work with the Brooke County Commission to connect more residents, businesses and organizations to cyberspace.

On Tuesday, the commissioners heard from Mike Paprocki, executive director of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission; and Bob Loveridge, general manager of the Blue Devil Cable, which also provides internet service to area residents.

Loveridge noted in recent months that Blue Devil has increased internet speeds for its existing customers and hopes to secure federal funds for broadband expansion that are too costly for the company to pursue on its own.

Paprocki said he and Loveridge have met to discuss how Jefferson County Cable, Blue Devil’s Toronto-based sister company, may extend broadband to additional customers in Ohio.

Paprocki said because other internet providers also will be interested in partnering with the commission, the panel should consider developing an application process.

Commission President A.J. Thomas said the state has received about $160 million in federal funds for the expansion of broadband, but its use and the use of other funds awarded to the state and counties hasn’t been made clear.

All Ohio County Schools students in grades 7 and 8 soon will participate in school “jobs” such as band, yearbook, broadcasting or engineering, beginning as soon as next year.

Ohio County Schools has announced it will expand to all middle schools the successful workplace simulation program started at the Warwood School, where the school’s student industry is called “Viking Enterprises.”

Students during the last period of the day will work in class at jobs for which they have applied for and been “hired.”

Plans for the expansion — including names for the program at each school — are still being discussed, according to JoJo Shay, innovation coordinator for Ohio County Schools.

Wheeling Middle School officials are calling their student-run company “Wildcat Workforce,” she said.

Plans at present are for students to be trained in how the workplace simulation program will work over the next semester, and for the school “companies” to open during the second semester, Shay explained.

She said the principals at Bridge Street, Triadelphia and Wheeling middle schools gathered this spring to discuss the concept of expanding the Warwood School program to their buildings, she said.

— The Intelligencer/ Wheeling News-Register

Energy-related construction projects dropped Ohio County Schools’ overall spending on utility bills by $665,348 in 2020, board of education members learned Monday night.

Jon Gasser, partner with CMTA Energy Solutions of Prospect, Kentucky, addressed the board and detailed the success of its projects after their first full year of installation.

Ohio County Schools is presently engaged in a $76 million plan to improve school facilities, most of which was financed by a $42.2 million bond levy approved by voters in 2018.

While the West Virginia School Building Authority contributed another $29 million to the project, an energy savings construction plan crafted by CMTA was expected to result in at least $6.5 million in utility cost savings over the next 15 years. This “guaranteed savings contract” was figured into the budget of the county-wide construction project.

Work at 11 school buildings took place, as well as at the central office and the school district’s operation center.

New heating and ventilation systems and lighting were installed, and dated boilers and air handlers were replaced, Gasser said.

— The Intelligencer/ Wheeling News-Register

The city of Wheeling has been working to remove stormwater from its sanitary sewer systems in recent years. The growing list of duties associated specifically to stormwater management is expected to prompt city leaders to explore creating a new division to handle it.

Operation of a new stormwater management division will also have to be funded in one way or another, officials said.

Last week, Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia and Stormwater Coordinator Joe Smith addressed members of the Public Works Committee of City Council about implementing the proposed downspout daylighting pilot program in certain areas of the city. The program is designed to help property owners remove downspouts from sanitary sewer systems, which causes storm water to overburden the lines during heavy rains.

This results in stormwater and raw sewage backing up into and flooding basements in certain areas of the city.

The basement flooding occurs even in areas where the city has already performed sewer separations — eliminating combined stormwater and sanitary sewer by installing separate lines. These sewer separations are part of the city’s ongoing long-term Water Pollution Control plan to upgrade its aging systems and to satisfy West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.

— The Intelligencer/ Wheeling News-Register

Parents in Ohio County Schools with smartphones soon won’t have to guess when to meet the bus to pick up their children.

The school district is now offering the Edulog Parent Portal Lite app, which provides parents with information on the GPS location of their child’s school bus and sends them a push notification when the bus is nearing the child’s bus stop or other locations that the parent defines — such as the school or neighborhood entrance. The app is provided by Education Logistics Inc. of Missoula, Montana, which also offers a bus routing and planning service purchased by Ohio County Schools.

The combined package cost the school district $31,780, according to school officials.

David Crumm, manager of operations for Ohio County Schools, said the school district is doing a test run of the new app during summer school sessions this month, and at least 30 parents so far have registered with the app.

“It’s still a work in progress, and we’re fine tuning it as we go along,” he said.

Registration codes will be provided to students before the start of the new year, and parents will need to log in with these after downloading the app. The codes denote what school the child attends and what bus they ride, and will be sent home with students at the start of the school year, according to Crumm.

— The Intelligencer/ Wheeling News-Register

A year ago, people were told to stay home from work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many seem to like it so well that they’ve never returned to work.

This can leave businesses reopening — but without all the workers they need.

“Pretty much everybody that I’ve talked to is having a problem, and that’s clear across the board. It’s not just one specific sector, like it’s not just fast food. It’s everybody,” said Robbie Baylor, executive director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority.

That includes manufacturers who typically offer higher-paying jobs with good benefits, Baylor said. A couple weeks ago, she attended a meeting with economic development people from several counties in West Virginia, “and it’s the same in every county,” she said.

Jameson Johnson, general manager at Screech Owl Brewing’s Spent Grain Cafe in northern Preston County, said it’s definitely true here at home.

“We’re blessed with a really strong crew, but it has taken us about three-and-a-half months to get this crew — and we’re still struggling to maintain it,” Johnson said. “It is something that is real.”

If an employee says he or she plans to go elsewhere, Johnson does not stand in the worker’s way. But he also reminds them of all the benefits of working close to home at a family-owned business that promotes family values in its service.

— Preston County News and Journal

Representatives of the Kingwood Blueprint Community and Trail Towns…

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