Committee fights for school
Community is a word the citizens of Paden City have gotten to know very well over the past few months, with rumors of the possible closure of their beloved high school looming.
Though the dark cloud overhead threatens to change their way of life, they stand together in the fight to save the “cornerstone of their community”.
Cork Bowen and Mike Turner are among the Paden City High School supporters, also known as the Cornerstone Project Committee. The duo rallied at the most recent assembly of the Paden City Council to gain more support in the effort.
“As you know, about a month ago council had a resolution to support the Cornerstone committee’s activities in order to preserve the school system we have here in Paden City,” Bowen said. “Mike (Turner) and I are here tonight to bring you up to date on what has happened.”
Since council adopted the resolution of support, the Cornerstone Committee has addressed the Wetzel County Commission. Additionally, committee members have attended all Wetzel County Board of Education meetings. The group has gone as far as to initiate a media campaign to inform potential parents and students of the benefits of attending Paden City Schools.
“There has been a lot of energy in this project. A lot of people are very interested in it and motivated. When it comes down to saving the school, it’s really about saving your town and a way of life,” Bowen explained. “We saw what happened to Sistersville.”
Bowen may have been skeptical at first, even though the initial meeting the Cornerstone group held pulled in a large number of people who were enthusiastic about saving the school. “At first I thought we were just being stubborn and maybe there was a better way to do this, but after we started peeling away the onion, we found that the kids in Paden City are doing a little better than the kids in our neighboring schools. This is not something that is hearsay, there is a lot of evidence to prove it,” Bowen said.
“So I started getting on board and I thought maybe it is because we have very low student to teacher ratios so there is a lot more attention paid to the students here in Paden City,” Bowen commented.
According to Bowen, attendance rates at Paden City Schools are high with 95 percent of students attending every day over the past nine years. “I don’t think you can say that in a lot of other places,” Bowen remarked. “With this in mind, we are here to say there is no way we are willing to give up our high school. It means a lot to our town.”
In addition to the support of the County Commission
and the Paden City Council, an overwhelming majority of the Paden City Churches and civic organizations, along with a number of Paden City alumni have written letters of support of the school to the Board of Education. The Cornerstone project has also received strong financial support of the enrollment campaign from alumni and other individuals who want to save the school.
Future projects for the initiative will include placing election size placards in the yards adjacent to W.Va. Route 2 to solidify public support of Paden City Schools and demonstrate to county officials and all who travel though Paden City that the town is united in the effort to save the public education system. They will also be placing a large banner at the high school that reads, “Your future begins here”.
The group hopes to rally a large turnout for the upcoming public hearing where the 10-year plan will be formally presented to the Wetzel County Board of Education by McKinley & Associates. The meeting will be held in Paden City, though a date has not been set.
“We want them (the board) to know we want our schools to stay here and it’s not because we are stingy and don’t want to take our kids somewhere else. It’s because we offer the best education right here in Paden City,” Bowen concluded.
Turner echoed Bowen’s sentiments, adding, “I had the opportunity to sit in on the last meeting for the 10-year plan for Wetzel County and in that plan one of the objectives listed was the closing of Paden City High School and absorb the students into New Martinsville. After attending that meeting I was discouraged and I though ‘this isn’t good’. But you know, we got together and started talking and right now we have an opportunity to be positive in a time when the whole country is negative. We have the opportunity in Paden City to fill up places while other people are losing. There are people moving around all the time and people want to go to a place where their kids are recognized.”
He then moved on to the brochure developed by the Cornerstone Committee to market Paden City Schools. “We’ve broken the pamphlet into three areas: academic excellence, extra-curricular activities, and community support. And we have taken these and put them in places where new people coming in can see them. We have copies of this in all of the real estate offices and in certain businesses. We are bringing a copy today for the city, because you have the first opportunity with new customers coming in. You know who they are before other people do because they need their water turned on,” Turner remarked. “What we are recommending is that you give these to new customers. We can’t direct people to send their kids to Paden City and we can’t tell them they have to, but I think some people who have moved into town from Middlebourne and Sistersville don’t know anything about our schools, so they keep their kids where they are going instead of moving them.”
In answer to Turner’s request, the council moved to make the brochure available to all new city customers.
Also addressing the council was Renay Dawson of AAA Animal Control. Dawson and her husband have been working with the Sistersville and Middlebourne communities to rid them of feral cats and other rodent-like animals. “We come in and charge the city an amount to cover certain areas such as allies, parks, and gardens maintained by the city. Additionally, any citizen who wants to apply for services will be charged $50 for three days of trapping.”
Dawson relayed that this charge covers any number of animals caught during the three day time period. “These are all nuisance animals, not pets. These are the wild ones that do not have collars,” she said.
Due to Paden City’s unique geography, animals such as cats that are trapped on the Wetzel County side of town will be taken to the Wetzel County Animal Shelter; animals caught on the Tyler County side will be referred back to the Division of Natural Resources.
“Will the Wetzel County Animal Shelter accept the animals?” Mayor Bill Fox asked.
Dawson answered, “As long as they are within Wetzel County, they have to take them.”
Fox clarified, “If you catch ‘X’ number of cats in Wetzel County and you transport them to the compound in Wetzel County, they will accept them?”
“They have to by law,” remarked Dawson.
“What if they are full?” Fox retorted.
“Then I will have to revert back to DNR,” Dawson concluded.
AAA Animal Control posts flyers throughout the areas they cover prior to the commencement of trapping to give residents time to get their outside pets collared. “We started in Sistersville on Saturday but I don’t have an exact number of animals removed. We have had some problems with people letting cats out of the traps, which is disappointing. And we have had a couple people shout at us and call us names. My main concern, if you decide to let us come in and help get rid of the nuisance animals, is that we let everyone know that we are not here to take their pets. Make sure your pets are collared. If we are dealing with an animals who are tearing out trash and making messes under people’s houses, we are not dealing with pets. Those are the ones we want to get rid of.”
Council decided to discuss the matter and make a decision at another time.
Though the discussion regarding the dye situation at Carter and Mayes was short, the debate between the council members, the waste waste operator, and the mayor was heated. On one side of the table the consensus was to move on with testing, on the other side was the fear that introducing any amount of dye into the system would cause long term issues for the city. No agreement was made at this time.