A01 A01
Traffic shifts as Blue Bridge nears completion
  • Updated

Over the weekend traffic on Route 28 was routed onto the just completed lane of the new John Blue Bridge so the old bridge can be torn down and the 2nd lane on the new bridge can be completed.

The shift came a year after traffic was reduced to 1 lane on the old bridge for construction of the overlapping replacement.

The new 1-lane pattern should only last a little more than 4 months, said Division of Highways Project Engineer Ryan Arnold.

That’s because most of the work to support the roadway has already been built.

“The majority of the sub-structure is complete,” Arnold said. “A little bit of additional work remains on the pier caps because they’re too tight to the old bridge.”

With traffic shifted, Arnold said, the next big event will be bringing down the steel truss bridge that has carried traffic between Romney and Springfield since 1936.

That should occur within in the next month “or so,” Arnold said.

He said contractor Brayman Construction now has a November finish date — weather permitting — for the project, about 3 weeks behind its original Oct. 15 target.

Environmental concerns — in the form of archeologically significant relics buried nearby — pushed DOH to build the new bridge nearly on top of the old one so it could avoid the expense and delay of preserving the artifacts.

Even so, the bridge is nearing completion about 6 years after the project was 1st announced and 18 months after a contract was awarded to Brayman Construction.

The overlapping design to replace the 85-year-old bridge puts the northbound lane of the new concrete structure where the southbound lane of the steel truss bridge now runs.

“I love these old bridges, but I guess it has served its purpose,” Romney resident Dot Calvert lamented on Facebook last week.

As it has been since last June 23, traffic over the bridge is guided by temporary signals. The signal alternates for north- and south-bound traffic as well as vehicles coming onto Route 28 from Long Road and Camp Cliffside Road.

The signals are in place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Temporary barriers are in place to protect the work area.

Fair nails plans
  • Updated

Weeklong passes for sale until July 14

Fair passes for admission all 6 days of the fair are available — but only for another week, through next Wednesday, July 14.

They cost $20 and can be purchased from fair committee chair Duane “Punkin” Oates at Augusta Auto Parts.

Admission prices will vary by night — $5 on Monday, $3 on Tuesday and Wednesday, $1 on Thursday (parade night), and $6 on Friday and Saturday — for a total of $24.

Oates reported taking care of the basics, including securing a big dumpster for trash from Apple Valley Waste and porta potties from Patterson’s Creek Enterprises in Burlington, the same company that supplies the Bluegrass Festival.

While the fair makes every effort to use Hampshire County businesses, Oates learned his only Hampshire County option did not have enough porta potties available — and he did not want to risk cutting back when fairs are finding attendance is increasing, because “people just want to get out.”

Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, allowing the fair committee to plan what sounds like a return to normal.

There will be no problem having pageant contestants crowd into the trailer provided by Judy’s Mobile Homes to change clothes, and with the return of the national Miss America pageant, the fair queen can again advance to competitions beyond the local level.

Queen pageant director Brenda Pyles announced she had 7 or 8 contestants for the Monday night queen’s pageant with whom she would meet last week. Thirty more contestants should be coming to the fairgrounds to practice for the Tuesday night junior pageant tonight and on July 14, according to junior pageant director Kathy Buckner.

Access to the barns will no longer be limited, and the Friday night livestock sale will be held down at the barns with the animals present, instead of on the fair stage.

The return of the livestock sale to the barns is good news for music lovers, since it will free the stage for 2 Friday night performances by Hampshire County’s Nashville stars, Joe Hott and the Short Mountain Boys, from 7-8:15 and again from 9-9:45 p.m.

FNB Bank, Hott’s former employer, is the fair’s Friday night sponsor and has offered to cover up to $1,000 worth of free dinners for purchasers of buyers’ passes.

The rest of the entertainment is also set, with the queen’s pageant on Monday and the junior pageant on Tuesday followed by gospel singer Jamie Kimmett on Wednesday, a magician on Thursday, and then bluegrass by Joe Hott and the Short Mountain Boys on Friday. The fair will end with county music by the Mason Dixon Boys on Saturday night.

The Thursday night fair parade will be, as always, open to everyone. Smaller vehicles (cars or trucks) should line up on Sol Shanholtz Road by 6 p.m., while larger vehicles wait at the former Doodle’s (now the former Jean’s Bar and Grill).

Friday night, down at the area used for the mud bog, there will be a truck and tractor pull at 7, with a $10 fee to hook to the sled. Oates said he is not planning on anything big, but “more of a local show.”

Special events on Saturday begin at 9 a.m. with the car show, with the trophies to be presented around noon. A chainsaw contest will follow from 1-3 p.m., and then the mud bog at 3.

The biggest questions remaining concern food. Committee Vice Chairman Paul Lewis reported he does not know what prices they will be paying for meat yet, and securing an adequate supply for menu entrees served in the dining hall could be a problem. He is also worried about the cost of ground beef.

Though Lewis gave the fair committee a tentative list of daily entrees at last week’s meeting, he warned them everything was still subject to change — and he did not have prices yet.

Look for a final menu in the special fair section included in next week’s Hampshire Review.

Academy rewards
  • Updated

Summer program brings enrichment to 421 students

Since it’s the 1st year of the program, there has been a little bit of a learning curve, explained RES principal Nicole Morris.

“We’re building something we want to keep doing, building a program that didn't exist before,” Morris said. “We’re still working out the kinks.”

This summer’s program, which is coming to a close at the end of this week, replaced the Energy Express program that Hampshire schools used before, allowing coordinators to look at the new landscape for summer school this year. This year, there were 3 sites: 1 at RES, 1 at Augusta and 1 at the high school. A total of 421 students were enrolled in the program, which actually exceeded the number that originally signed up.

The Summer Learning Academy is funded with pandemic relief dollars distributed from the state, explained superintendent Jeff Pancione. The American Recovery Plan (ARP ESSER Fund) saw almost $11,000 come here, and that money was used to put together the summer school program.

“We plan to have this summer program for the next 2 to 3 years,” explained curriculum director Patty Lipps.

Pancione added, “Until the money runs out.”

The 2 major objectives of the Summer Learning Academy were enrichment and recovery. Some students participated in the program after being recommended by their teachers for a little bit of bolstering before the school year starts in the fall, but many students, especially at the elementary level, participated for the enrichment activities, Lipps said.

“The summer program is available for all students,” she said. “We try to provide engagement opportunities so kids who don’t necessarily need the recovery piece could still benefit from the program.”

The 2-pronged program was open to family, students and general community feedback very early on in the planning stages.

“We tried to get feedback immediately,” Lipps recalled, adding that a survey on the school website allowed folks to share their thoughts. One of the top pieces of feedback the coordinators heard was that parents were requesting the same hours for summer school as for the regular school year, to allow for childcare or consistent scheduling.

With the hands-on activities and the focus on creative projects, Morris said she felt that there are certain elements of the Summer Learning Academy that could be brought into the regular school year in the fall.

“There is a vision for this to be how schools are as we move forward,” Morris mused. “I’d love to see more of these things in our schools.”

With enrichment activities ranging from cooking demonstrations with HHS Pro-Start teacher Julie Landis, pig vaccinations with ag teacher Isaac Lewis and canjo (homemade stringed instruments made from a can) building and art at The River House, there was something to pique the interests of all participating students.

“We tried to do some really cool CTE and career exploration, too,” Lipps said. “And we wanted to involve the community, families and parents. 421 kids, that’s pretty good.”

Life-flight for boy in ATV crash
  • Updated

LEVELS — An ATV crash in far northern Hampshire County Saturday evening sent a 7-year-old by helicopter for treatment of his injuries.

Details are scant because the accident occurred on private property and because the patient is a minor.

The boy was in pediatric intensive care at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown Monday.

The 911 call came in around 6:45 p.m. for an accident on Okonoko Road about 6 miles north and east of the Levels fire hall.

Rescue units from Springfield Valley, Romney and the county initially responded along with the Levels and Springfield Valley fire companies.

Trooper 5, a medical helicopter stationed in Cumberland, was called in, landing in a nearby field and taking off for Ruby around 8 p.m.

HHS advisors prod board on fundraising
  • Updated

ROMNEY — They say money talks, and it was money that had the floor at a recent school board work session, as board members and Hampshire High organization advisors discussed how to best streamline the high school fundraising process and clear up questions and concerns.

Advisors from organizations like HOSA, FFA, Pro-Start and HHS athletics were present, and one of the top concerns that echoed in the boardroom Wednesday morning was communication.

“It’s a big challenge, the communication,” said Trojan Media advisor Angel Blizzard. “FFA doesn’t know what the HOSA folks are doing, and vice versa.”

HOSA advisor Kristie Long added to Blizzard’s point: “And it’s not just these organizations, either. It’s athletics and foreign languages, too. And it’s across the board.”

Fundraisers must be submitted to the school board after being OK’d by the principal, and are then put on the upcoming board meeting agenda for approval. Usually, these fundraisers are approved, but every once in a while, a proposed fundraiser won’t make it through the approval process.

Building trades teacher William Keister explained that he has proposed fundraisers to the board in the past and not heard back as to why they’ve been denied.

“Yes, we do need to say why we’re denying it,” agreed board president Debbie Champ.

One of the top reasons a fundraiser is denied by the board is that there is a conflict with Child Nutrition. Director Amy Haines explained some of the guidelines for fundraisers that involve food, including pointing out that there is a caloric and a sugar limit for fundraisers happening during school hours.

“Soda is never going to meet it, and energy drinks, stay clear of them,” she said. “I’m not anti-fundraiser whatsoever, but you cannot compete with the national school lunch program.”

For example, a common HHS fundraiser is the sale of Krispy Kreme donuts. This fundraiser wouldn’t fit the guidelines for during the school day, but before or after school, it’s fair game.

“I’m not going to be your sugar police,” she added. “But we do have guidelines and we need to follow them.”

The board cited state code, policy 4321.1, Standards for School Nutrition, as the main guideline for organizations who want to hold a food-related fundraiser.

In return for open communication from the board about the approval (or denial) process, the board asked that organizations provide the most accurate budget information as possible.

Some advisors were curious about why the board has to approve fundraisers in the first place.

“I think fundraising chews up a lot of your time,” athletic director Trey Stewart said to the board. “I guess I’m just asking for a conversation as to why our fundraisers go through the board.”

Board member Bernie Hott pointed out that the principal has to approve the fundraisers 1st, but it was FFA advisor Isaac Lewis who shed a little light on the history behind the process, noting that it was because of the amount of fundraising done in the past that brought the board into the mix.

“Around 15 years ago, there was just too much fundraising happening,” Lewis said. “At that time, I think the claws came down and the community received the pressure. (The schools) were pulling too many funds.”

Lewis also pointed out that fundraising is an important part of the organizations, but it's difficult to continue to fundraise in such a small community.

“Our top priority is to teach. Our 2nd priority is to provide a quality experience for the kids,” he continued. “The balance between the 2 is hard.”

At Monday evening’s regular school board meeting, board vice president Ed Morgan asked that the board continue to revisit the fundraising policies, hopefully making the process run a little smoother at both the school and the board level.

Fundraiser forms (application forms, use of school facility request, volunteer applications, etc.) can all be found on the Hampshire County Schools website, www.boe.hamp.k12.wv.us, under the “Departments” and “Finance” tabs. o