Boos and applause

– Applause to the 21 individuals who became U.S. Citizens Monday during the natualization ceremony at the U.S. District Court in Elkins. Chief Judge John Preston Bailey presided over the ceremony, saying it was one of his favorite duties. We congratulate the new citizens and wish them the best of luck in their futures.

– Applause to the many volunteers and officials who have worked so hard to present the Barbour County Fair this week. Despite the challenges presented by rainy weather (more on that below), the multitude of fair events came off without a hitch and were enjoyed by hundreds of residents.

– Applause to the New York City officials who shut down a subway line for more than an hour Thursday in order to rescue two kittens from the tracks. The story shows that, first of all, New Yorkers have hearts – who knew? -and that, secondly, Americans feel great love and protectiveness for animals. It was the kind of response we might expect to see in a small town, but to see it happen in the Big Apple was heartwarming.

– Boo to Mother Nature for surprising us with the torrential downpours Tuesday night and Wednesday that caused flash flooding throughout our region. Luckily there were no serious injuries and property damage was minimal, but the flooding demonstrated once again – as if we needed any more reminders – that we shouldn’t take the weather for granted.

Boos and applause

– Applause to all the dedicated education professionals in our area who worked so hard to get local schools ready for the return of students this week. No work is more important than educating our children. We salute you!

– Applause to the free concert offered Wednesday in downtown Elkins. The performance by Bear Hill Bluegrass was provided by the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. A large crowd attended the show, and Mother Nature smiled on them by holding off rain clouds until the band had finished.

– Applause to all who helped support the Elkins/Randolph County YMCA?Drive for Fitness last weekend. The event raised $10,000 for the local institution, and will help provide funding for classes, basketball programs and general operating expenses.

– Boo to the Barbour County Board of Education for ignoring state rules about how governmental meetings should be run. During Tuesday’s special call meeting of the BOE, members voted on every item on the agenda, and then decided to go into executive session. The trouble is, there was no executive session listed on the agenda, and there were no remaining items for discussion listed either. C. Joan Parker, the executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission, has said elected officials cannot go into executive session for issues that are not printed on a meeting’s agenda.

The Barbour BOE may feel like they’re being unfairly – and regularly – singled out for criticism on this editorial page. However, they invite such criticism by their actions: Barbour Board of Education meetings frequently last from five to six hours, and more than half of each meeting is usually consumed by lengthy executive sessions. This seems excessive, to say the least. If the Barbour BOE is going to spend so much time meeting behind closed doors, at least they could follow the state’s rules on how and why an agency can go into executive session.

Boos and applause

– Applause to Sen. Joe Manchin for holding his town hall meeting in Elkins Friday. Manchin is an authentic player in national politics – many at Friday’s meeting encouraged him to run for president, though he says he will not – and his taking the time to speak in our community is refreshing. Here’s hoping he continues the practice in the future, perhaps even making a town hall meeting in our region an annual event.

– Applause to the news that the new armory and readiness center in Buckhannon is expected to be completed ahead of schedule. The $13 million project is now expected to be finished prior to its November 2014 target date. Col. Dave Shafer with the West Virginia Army National Guard said the construction work is about six to eight weeks ahead of schedule.

-Applause to the Randolph County Board of Education for voting to keep the Harman School’s vocational agricultural program alive for the coming school year. We also applaud Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, for her passionate presentation asking the board to save the school’s vo-ag teaching position. Campbell’s comments may have been what persuaded board members to make the decision, as she provided information about how Tucker County successfuly handled a similar situation.

-Boo to the judges on the SyFy Channel’s “Face Off” program, who elminated Elkins native Steve Tolin during the reality show’s first episode this week. Many viewers felt Tolin’s special effects makeup work was superior to the other contestants, but the judges sent him home nonetheless. Tolin should know he and his work have many fans in his hometown and the surrounding communities.

Boos and applause

– Applause to the Randolph County Humane Society for the massive amount of work and fundraising it performs to help stray animals in the area. The?RCHS pancake breakfast today at Applebee’s is just one example of the group’s dedication to assisting homeless, abandoned and owner-relinquished animals who have nowhere else to go. If you’re hungry, head over to today’s pancake breakfast benefit, which is slated for 8 to 10 a.m. and costs just $5.

– Applause to the Randolph County Athletic Hall of Fame for their work recognizing the local athletes and teams that made an impact in their sport. Congratulations to all those being inducted during today’s ceremony. Today’s ceremony will be at noon at the Gandy Dancer Theatre in Elkins.

– Applause to West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares for his efforts to visit every school system in the state. Phares recently visited the boards of education in Tucker and Randolph counties. He plans to visit Barbour County on Monday. Phares’ visibility is indicative of his willingness to take input from students, teachers, parents and community members from all across the?Mountain State.

– Boo to the two members of the city of Belington’s Zoning Board of Appeals committee who did not attend the committee’s meeting Thursday night. The issue of the construction of a new cellphone tower may not seem like a big deal, but for those effected it is potentially life-changing.

– Applause to the organizers of of the Augusta Heritage Festival. The event this weekend provides good music, dance and a plethora of crafts.

Boos and applause

– Applause to the many volunteers who helped with the Upshur County Relay For Life event last weekend. A total of 29 teams helped raise money for cancer research and pay tribute to both the survivors and victims of the disease.

– Applause to Elkins City Council for moving forward with the demolition of the former city garage buildings on 11th Street. City officials say they are looking to make better use of the property, and bringing down the old structures will definitely help beautify the area. At Thursday’s meeting, City Council voted to obtain an estimate for asbestos abatement of the buildings.

– Applause to the Randolph County Commission for allocating $50,000 to the county Emergency Squad to help pay for a new ambulance. The Squad had budgeted money for the vehicle’s purchase, but has had to use those funds to repair four ambulance engines that have broken down since May 30, EMS?Director Kurt Gainer said. “These vehicles have 200,000 to 250,000 miles, with everything going wrong from injectors seizing to crankshafts breaking off,” Gainer said. Kudos to the commissioners for understanding the necessity of keeping a working fleet of ambulances on hand.

– Boo to the shocking prevalence of child sexual abuse in our culture. West Virginia State Police Cpl. A.S. Loudin told the Buckhannon Rotary Club this week that, according to statistics, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Loudin, who works with the State Police Crimes Against Children Unit, said children can be victimized by sexual abusers of all ages. He described the many dangers the Internet can present to children, and stressed how important it is that suspicions be reported to the proper authorities: the State Police, at 637-0200, or the Child Protective Services division of the Department of Health and Human Resourcs, at 304-637-5560.