Boos & Applause

Applause to the more than 50 residents who took part in the first meeting of the Community Watch for First Ward Wednesday night at Jennings Randolph Elementary School. Elkins Police Chief Glenn Galloway and four officers led the meeting, emphasizing that residents need to call 911 if they witness a crime or suspicious behavior. “If you see it, report it,” Senior Patrolman C.G. Boatwright told the crowd. “We’ll respond as fast as we can get there.” During a training session, Galloway demonstrated for the crowd how important it is to give accurate, detailed descriptions of people and/or vehicles when making a 911 call.

Applause to the Randolph County Housing Authority, which will receive a $1,095,117 grant to help at-risk youth finish high school or other equivalency programs through YouthBuild North Central. The U.S. Department of Labor grant was announced Tuesday by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We are thrilled to be awarded this YouthBuild grant, which will enable us to work with another 70-80 young people to build their leadership abilities and job skills, and at the same time, build affordable housing,” said Karen Jacobson, executive director, Randolph County Housing Authority. “The award would not be possible without the commitment of many, many community partners here, who care about the next generation and want to contribute to their success.” The grant funds will also be used to help build housing for homeless youth and their families.

Applause to Randolph County Schools for gearing up to recognize and commend the system’s vocational agriculture program later this month. RCS Superintendent Gabe Devono signed a proclamation declaring the week of Feb. 16-Feb. 23 “National FFA Week” for Randolph County Schools. Ryan Belcher, president for the Tygarts Valley Middle-High School FFA, said agricultural education encourages citizenship, volunteerism, patriotism and cooperation.

Applause to ArtsBank, a non-profit organization which has provided art to local schools for more than a quarter of a century. Art teachers in Randolph County Schools were eliminated in 1988, and ArtsBank was formed to fill the void in 1992. ArtsBank employs teaching artists, which is to say that the instructors are actual professional artists in their own respective area of art. ArtsBank facilitates art in every school in Randolph County, excluding Harman School, which has an art teacher. The program provides a new art theme every school year, according to information provided this week to the Elkins Rotary Club.

Boo to French Creek Freddie’s prediction of six more weeks of winter weather after seeing his shadow last week at the West Virginia Wildlife Center. Freddie’s prognostication, which conflicted with Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, who did not see his shadow, was a bummer for those of us eager for spring. Then again, Freddie was roused from hibernation on Groundhog Day, so maybe he was just grumpy and wanted to go back to sleep. Here’s hoping his vision was blurry and warm weather is on its way.