So, I’m not from Marion County.
Heck, I’m not even from West Virginia.
I just happened to be college-aged when my father was stationed at West Virginia University’s ROTC department in his last assignment before retiring from the U.S. Army. And they just happened to buy a house in Fairmont a block away from Fairmont State. So I attended college here. And by chance I started a career here. And then I started a family here. And at some point during those years I started to fall in love with Marion County and West Virginia. And then I consciously chose to stay here and raise my family here.
But when it comes to “sides,” I missed the years where I was supposed to form alliances with a particular part of the county or a side of town because of sports and old rivalries.
Sure, I married an East Sider and bought a house on the East Side (at his insistence), and my kids attend East Side schools. I will root for the Hornets this football season because my kid is wearing a uniform. But I always root for the hometown team, meaning I wish the best for the Cubs and the Husky Pups, too. And that will go on when its Bees and Polar Bears and Huskies, too. So the word “consolidation” doesn’t evoke an emotional response from me. I wasn’t here in the 1970s when it happened in the North Marion area.
So, when the issue of combining East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior high schools comes up, as it usually does every few years or so, I’ve always looked at it from an outside point of view. Is it about money? Economy of scale? Is it about wanting to hold onto “community” schools when so many communities have lost theirs? Is it about Bears versus Bees?
I have to say, a recent explanation given by Gary Price, Marion’s superintendent of schools, was probably the most compelling I’ve heard against consolidation.
“We just hope that Marion County’s business outlook and the education outlook are both in the upturn for the future,” he said. “As more jobs are provided, more people will be able to stay here.”
Price added that community members have suggested at different times over the years that the county should consider consolidating the high schools, particularly East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior. But the decision has been made to keep each school open because of the potential for additional growth in Marion County.
“If we consolidated those schools at this point, wherever we put them, the building would be filled to the brim, and then you’re basically saying we’re not going to have any more growth,” he said. “But by giving yourself some cushion in both buildings, we could absorb several hundred students at the high school level and still have adequate facilities, and that’s certainly what we hope is going to happen.”
Hey, we’re all for growth. And it seemed like a very reasonable argument. But we wanted to hear from our readers on the issue, so we took it the poll. Our poll question can be found each week at www.timeswv.com.
Last week we asked, “Marion’s Superintendent Gary Price said that to consider consolidation of EFHS and FSHS would mean no room for attendance growth in area. What do your think?”
And here’s what the readers had to say:
• With attendance rates steady, now is not the time to debate it — 6.25 percent.
• Keep an open mind. Anti-consolidation has more to do with old-time rivalries than facts — 15.13 percent.
• Go for it. It saves money and will create a AAA powerhouse for Marion County — 23.36 percent.
• Completely against it. Communities suffer when you consolidate — 55.26 percent.
This community isn’t ready for that kind of decision either.
This week, let’s talk about the possibility of the U.S. becoming involved in the Syrian issue through a military strike. Is this something that you could support?
Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.
So, I’m not from Marion County.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
- More Opinion Headlines
- COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay