McDowell County

Best Furniture
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Demolition will start soon on two buildings to clear the way for new apartments for teachers in a blighted southern West Virginia community.

A news release says the Best Furniture and Katzen buildings in downtown Welch will be torn down starting Thursday.

Brian Turner / Wikimedia Commons

A former assistant prosecutor in McDowell County has been sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison for a federal tax crime committed while working in private practice.

Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Ray Grubb of Beaver was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Beckley for failing to pay employment taxes.

The West Virginia Board of Education has approved alternative teacher certification programs in eight counties, including a McDowell County program that will bring Teach For America's services to the state.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the decision was made at the board's meeting on Wednesday.

Glynis Board

Bernie Sanders made stops throughout West Virginia Thursday. He started the day with a round table discussion in McDowell County, at a food bank.

Sanders chose Five Loaves And Two Fishes Food Bank for his campaign stop - a food pantry in the poorest county of West Virginia, one of the poorest counties in the country. The senator began his visit by saying that he wasn’t here to rally, but to talk about poverty.


School spending
NPR

A report released Monday by NPR tracks the amount of money spent on each student across the country by county. But representatives of the West Virginia Department of Education say the data reported doesn’t add up in West Virginia.

NPR and the national publication Education Week attribute their spending numbers to the U.S. Census Bureau. Their map says in West Virginia, McDowell County spent the most at $14,000 per student in 2013. Jefferson County, according to the map, spent the least per pupil at around $8,000.

But Amy Willard, Executive Director of School Finance for the West Virginia Department of Education, says the numbers don’t match state spending records.

A man running for sheriff in McDowell County has been charged with using a Social Security debit card and a state benefits debit card belonging to another person.

A report from the McDowell County Sheriff's Department said 61-year-old Quinton L. Dawson of Jolo was arrested Friday and charged with fraudulent use of access device, obtaining money under false pretenses and felony conspiracy.

Best Furniture
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Asbestos abatement and environmental clean up began Tuesday at the vacant Best Furniture Store in downtown Welch in McDowell County Tuesday, some 19 months after a project to demolish and build new housing on the site was announced.

On this West Virginia Morning, we revisit the story of the Handle With Care program and a plan for McDowell County to improve literacy and education to their residents.

McDowell County Board of Education

McDowell County school administrators say 30 jobs are being eliminated next school year due to declining student enrollment and a decrease in state funding.

Media outlets report the cuts including 15 professional positions and 15 service jobs were announced Monday.

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

An assistant prosecutor in McDowell County has pleaded guilty to a federal tax crime committed while working in private practice.

Acting U.S. Attorney Carol Casto says 38-year-old Jason Ray Grubb of Beaver entered the plea in federal court in Beckley on Wednesday to failing to pay employment taxes.

In light of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, this week on Inside Appalachia we remember the West Virginia water crisis from 2014. We’ll also hear from people in the coalfields who don’t have access to clean water, day in and day out. And we’ll honor the traditional “Appalachian” way of coming together to lean on each other.

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

 According to the West Virginia Supreme Court, the McDowell County Adult Drug Court will hold its opening ceremony at noon Friday. The event will be held in McDowell County Circuit Judge Booker T. Stephens' courtroom.

Stephens will speak, along with state Supreme Court Justice Brent D. Benjamin and Mike B. Lacy, director of West Virginia Probation Services.

Malcolm Wilson/ Humans of Central Appalachia / Humans of Central Appalachia

What happens when strangers with cameras go to Appalachia? It’s a complicated topic that many Appalachians have strong feelings about. This week, we revisit our most popular episode from 2015. Since this first aired, Vice Magazine has published another article by photographer Stacy Kranitz. It's the latest in Kranitz's photo essay series called, "There Aint No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down", which takes its title from the song by Brother Claude Ely.

Doddridge County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

West Virginia's natural gas counties are the winners and coalfield counties are the losers in the state's latest assessment of the value of properties owned by public utilities.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail  says a report presented to the Board of Public Works on Tuesday shows utility property values increased by 36 percent in Doddridge County in the past year. Ritchie and Tyler counties each saw a 16 percent increase, while property values in Taylor County rose by 9 percent.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A McDowell County official says a coal company owned by Jim Justice has paid off a $1.1 million tax debt owed by a former owner.

Sheriff Martin B. West says the county received the final $166,000 payment on Wednesday.

Elk
CommonsHelper2 Bot / Wikimedia Commons

The Division of Natural Resources has obtained 4,300 acres in McDowell County for an elk restoration program.

Natural Resources director Robert Fala tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the state is leasing the land near the Tug Fork Wildlife Management Area, roughly between Welch and Roderfield.

Clean drinking water is expected to flow in early 2016 to several hundred additional families in McDowell County.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports contractors are working on a $12 million project that could serve 500 families and more than 350 existing customers.

Malcolm Wilson/ Humans of Central Appalachia / Humans of Central Appalachia

What happens when strangers with cameras go to Appalachia? It’s a complicated topic that many Appalachians have strong feelings about.

McDowell County Board of Education

A project that mentors high school students in McDowell County is seeing success.

Eighteen students from Mount View High in Welch and River View High in Bradshaw were chosen a year ago to participate.

Nearly all of them took their first plane trip last summer to Washington, D.C., where they visited college campuses, job sites and met members of Congress. Each student was assigned a mentor to regularly discuss school, life issues and choices.

Delegate Clif Moore
West Virginia Legislature

A McDowell County lawmaker has been fined $100 after pleading no contest to a drunken driving charge.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that Delegate Clif Moore entered his plea on Tuesday to non-aggravated driving under the influence. He was fined and sentenced to time served.

http://photographyisnotacrime.com

Jesse and Marisha Camp were driving through McDowell County when they were confronted by angry residents who believed they were taking photos of their children.

Cecelia Mason / Shepherd University

A former high school that was the Rocket Boys' alma mater is going to be torn down.

McDowell County Schools Superintendent Nelson Spencer tells The Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the former Big Creek High School is expected to be demolished this summer. However, the gymnasium will remain.

A report says McDowell County is again the unhealthiest county in West Virginia.

The report released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers ranks the southern coalfield county last among all 55 counties for the sixth straight year.

Jamie Mathis is raising both of her grandsons
PBS Newshour

In the rural West Virginia county of McDowell County, almost half of all children live apart from their parents. Families have splintered in the face of economic and social troubles, leaving many grandparents to take on the role of parenting. Special correspondent John Tulenko of Learning Matters visits to see how public schools are supporting these caretakers to improve kids’ lives.

McDowell County Mt View Middle School
PBS Newshour / PBS

Boredom can mean trouble and bad health for children in rural America. In communities where resources are few, schools face the extra challenge of keeping students active, safe and healthy. Special correspondent John Tulenko of Learning Matters reports from McDowell County, West Virginia, on efforts there to improve life for students and to address the teacher shortage.

McDowell native Sabrina Shrader is featured in the new West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary, The First 1,000 Days: Investing In WV Children When It Counts. We first heard from Shrader when she shared her story in 2013 of how a program called Upward Bound provided resources that helped her to graduate from college after a difficult and abusive childhood. She was working as an Upward Bound Coordinator at Concord University. Things have changed since then.

Production still by Raelyn White.

Concord University is hosting a special screening of a documentary that explores the long-term educational challenges for children in low-income homes.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting's The First 1,000 Days: Investing In WV Children When It Counts will be shown on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Athens campus. 

The hour-long documentary explores how poverty affects early childhood development and the challenges families face when the adults either have low-paying jobs or are unemployed.

Daniel Walker

This week, we’ve been talking about water in the coalfields. We met folks that deal with frequent water outages and boil water advisories because of crumbling water systems, and heard stories of folks living with no water source at all. We also learned that proper sewage disposal is still a challenge.

 

Progress has been made. Just this past year, the Elkhorn Water Project began. It's expected to bring clean water to folks living in several coal camp communities along Route 52 in McDowell County. A project in Wyoming County is expected to bring a permanent solution to water issues in Bud and Alpoca.

Jessica Lilly

While the chemical spill in Charleston left 300-thousand people without access to clean water, folks in the coalfields deal with water issues every day.  We heard from folks in McDowell communities living off dated water systems that frequently go without water. Some communities have been on boil water advisories for years.

Daniel Walker

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure create challenges, just as it has for decades.

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