There is such a thing as a free lunch, BOE decides; 31 position drops passes 3-2, Toni Armstrong to retire...
Updated 5/22 11:00 am
School Food services director Cindy Hay announced the Free breakfast and lunch for all county students beginning next school year.LOUISA, Ky. -- After mulling the possibility for two years the Lawrence Co. Board of Education voted unanimously to join the free breakfast and lunch program already being used in several surrounding counties. The three year program was announced by Cindy Hay, the Lawrence Co. Food Service official.
Before this year Lawrence County did not qualify for the program which saves the average family with students in school about $579 per year, because there was not enough students signed up for free and reduced lunches. Ms. Hay got busy this year and made sure all eligible students were signed up.
Armstrong acknowledged that the program will eliminate the collection of unpaid bills every year. He said the system still has $31,000 outstanding after collecting $15,000. That money, if not collected will have to paid out of the general fund.
31 positions eliminated, BOE refuses Preston's plea to save two...
Because of nearly $600,000 in state and federal budget cuts 31 positions have been eliminated in the Lawrence County School system, most of them one year contract teachers.
District 2 Board member Heath Preston asked for the abstraction of two of the 31 eliminated positions, a librarian for Blaine and an intervention teacher at LES, but the board again voted 'no' on the proposal. But all board members agreed to restore the positions first if there is enough carry-over money from this year, (abouDr. David Desario and some of his math students showed a video they made as part of the Rocket Science they participated in this year. Desario was not rehired for next year on recommendation of principal JR Cook and Supt. Mike Armstrong.t $89,000 is needed to restore the two positions).
Besides the before mentioned two administrative level central office positions that were eliminated, Early Education director Toni Armstrong said after the meeting that she will retire before next school year after 34 years in education. Mrs. Armstrong is the wife of the superintendent and has run an award winning Early Childhood Education department for the past few years. Her position is one of the 31 eliminated by the BOE this year.
The actions coupled with a slim 1% raise for all employees was met with high praise from both KEA representative Scott Osborne and Classified workers rep, Tim Southern, who both thanked the board members for how they handled the position elimination and the raise.
See complete list of employee reductions and position eliminations HERE
You can also get financial information on the school system's new website.
The regular May meeting drew a large crowd in the LCHS Library.With the 1% raise, a person making $50,000 a year would get about $50 a month and a classified worker making $16,000 would get about $13 a month. A person the the central office making $90,000 a year will get an extra $75 a month.
The board unanimously agreed on a $22.5 million budget for the 2013 school year, $2 million more than last year because of the construction costs for new roofs and energy saving repairs on several schools using bond funds, Finance Officer Edris Humphrey rold the BOE.
School attorney advises banning Gideon Bibles
Attorney David Runyon told board members that his boss, Michael Schmidt has recommended that the board stop allowing the Gideons organization from passing out free bibles. "The ACLU has already advised 172 school districts in writing that the organization is planning action to eliminate the Gideon program from the schools," Runyon said.
Summer school changes and school calendar
The BOE approved a school calendar for next year that has school beginning August 1. Some commenters said the start date is much too early. Armstrong said the new schedulet was prepared by teachers in the school system but no parents were included in the process, after a question from the audience.
Armstrong also explained to a questioner that Summer School will be different this year with an emphasis on math. He said bussing will be provided to LCHS where all summer classes will be held. Parents are asked to provide transportation to their child's regular school to catch the bus to the high school.
"We have a really good program and since our data tells us that math is a major area of concern, we decided to make this sort of a "math academy" that will include students based on their assessments. It will be for 7th and 8th graders (this year), and last through the month of June, he said.
Mowing and trimming bids rejected
Armstrong advised the board to reject all three bids received on mowing and trimming school properties. Armstrong said last month at he believed the system could save considerable money by "privatizing the service. But , he said Monday, that the bids were all more than the system can do it for already.
The discussion did not require a vote Monday night but Runyon said it is coming soon.
Superintendent’s Personnel Action/Update
Resignation Toni V. Armstrong - District Administrator: Director of Early Learning Re: Request to the Lawrence County Board of Education for Abolishment and Creation regarding Positions;
Request the following positions be abolished effective July 1, 2013: • District Administrator: Director of Early Learning • District Classified Support Staff Position: Account Clerk II/Clerical Assistant II/ Data Entry Assistant
See public comments video and Much More Coming soon!!!
Man arrested for stealing from church plate during AA meeting;
Lawrence County Sheriff's arrest report
May 21, 2013
The Lawrence County Sheriffs Office reported several arrests during the past week.
Among those arrested is a Fort Gay, W.Va. man who is accused of stealing from a collection plate at the The Point of Hope Church during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
ThomasDeputies received a call May 18 with witnesses stating that Billy A. Thomas, 45, had taken money from the church collection plate during the AA meeting and was stopped leaving the area on foot with $256 in his pocket. Deputies reported that Thomas smelled of alcohol, had glassy eyes and was unsteady on his feet once they apprehended him.
Thomas told deputies he was told by West Virginia Magistrate Randy Wiles from Wayne, W.Va to attend these meetings.
Thomas was arrested and charged with alcohol intoxicaction and theft by unlawful taking.
Sam Muncy, Jr.Another arrest was made in a separate incident when deputies responded to a call that Sam Muncy Jr., 43, of Louisa was arguing with family members and had been drinking.
When deputies arrived, they found Muncy to be manifestly under the influence and was advised by deputies to leave the premises on Mattie Road and not return that day. However, Muncy did return and did not stop when deputies turned on audio and visual signals trying to stop him.
Both Muncy and another person he had with him fled from the vehicle on foot. Muncy was caught and arrested May 20 and charged with alcohol intoxication and second degree fleeing and evading.
MullettChristopher Mullett, 35, of Louisa, was arrested May 19 after deputies received a call on Third Street reporting that Mullett was seen removing metal from a building. When Mullett was questioned by deputies he told them someone named Anthony removed the metal objects from the building and he (Mullett) was just putting the objects back. Deputies found no other tracks in the area, however Mullett had metal in his pockets. He was arrested and charged with third degree burglary.
GrimAmanda Grim, 31, of Louisa, was arrested May 16 after she was stopped by deputies for active warrants. Once deputies pulled her car Grim got out of the car leaving a syringe in plain view on the floor board. When deputies questioned her about the syringe she told them it had been there a while. After Grim told them they could look in her vehicle they found ibuprofen 600 mg which requires a prescription.
She was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal possession of a legend drug.
Grim was also served three bench warrants on charges of failure to appear.
BoggsAlso arrested last week was James Boggs II, 29, of Louisa. Boggs was arrested May 19 and served a bench warrant on a charge of trafficking in a controlled substance second degree first offense.
William Newsome, 37, of Louisa was arrested May 15 and served an indictment on charges of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and also a persistent felony offender charge.
Jimmy Ray Moore, 33, of Louisa was arrested May 15 and served an arrest warrant on charges of cultivating marijuana five plants or more and manufacturing methamphetamine. His bond is $25,000.
Arthur Runyon, 52, of Louisa was arrested May 15 and served a child support warrant for arrearages in the amount of $32,146.
Tommy Presley, 36, of Louisa was arrested May 15 and served with a bench warrant.
(Information from Lawrence County Sheriff Garrett Roberts' office)
LOUISA, Ky. -- Closing the Big Sandy Power plant here would be devastating for the county. That's what speaker after speaker said Tuesday night during a Kentucky Public Service Commission Public Meeting at the Lawrence County Community Center.
Lawrence Countian Gary Allen asked some provoking questions but did not get answers.But the main question seems to be would you rather pay more for your electricity in order to keep the Big Sandy plant burning coal, or would you rather have cheaper electricity that meets environmental code?
County attorney Mike Hogan was the driving force behind the effort to gather public comment against the closure of the local Big Sandy Power plant and purchasing power from a W.Va. company instead, which was the purpose of the Tuesday meeting which drew 167 mostly pro-coal visitors, not counting the state officials who were there.
Hogan said he did not know what effect the public's participation in the meeting will have. "I think we can get enough pressure on the PSC to stop this," Hogan said.
The meeting had two sessions, the first for questions and answers (See Lazer video on Lazer main page) and a session that was for statements only.
County Attorney Mike Hogan asked some pointed questions. (See Lazer New Videos section on main page)Public officials who spoke at the official session included State Representative Rocky Adkins, who told the two PSC officials who attended the meeting that coal is the lifeblood of the area and the closure of the Big Sandy Plant would cost Lawrence County $908,000 in franchise property tax dollars if the plant is shut down.
School Supt. Mike Armstrong, whose family moved to Louisa to work at the plant in the early 1960's, said the loss of all school tax revenue would mean $468,000 less to operate the already financially fragile school system. Judge/Executive John Osborne said he expects the PSC to "act in favor of the people and the closure would surely hurt everything around here."
Adkins said legal action will likely be taken if the PSC approves Ky. Power's application to purchase it's coal from a Moundsville, W.Va. plant called the Simpson Plant that is already owned by Ky. Power's parent company, AEP. The Simpson Plant sells its power mostly to customers in Ohio which is a open market state. That means there are no franchise areas and customers can purchase their electricity from any company they decide to.
In Kentucky, which is a regulated state, customers have little choice in choosing where their utility comes from because in most cases there is only one. In Kentucky coal companies can charge customers whatever the market allows without much, if any regulation. Those costs are then passed on to the customer.
Former magistrate Gary Nelson had insightful questions for the PSC. TRMC CEO Greg Kiser is shown in the background (See Video)AEP has estimated that rates will raise by 31% if the scrubbers are added and Big Sandy left open and only 8% if they are allowed to sell from their W.Va. plant.
Adkins and others questioned those figures. He also asked what amount per month the number is based on and Robinson said the average customer in the 140,000 population area is $94 per month to which the crowd scoffed loudly. None of the attendees said their bills were that low.
Both plants are of similar age and capacity but the one in Moundsville had scrubbers in 2007, and the Big Sandy plant needs nearly $1 billion in scrubbers to continue operating the local plant because of recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency to lower pollution producing old power plants.
Ky. Power has already announced the retirement of a second plant on its property on Ky. 23 north of Louisa at the end of 2014. The PSC nor any other entity has the power to keep a company from closure, a PSC official who emceed the meeting said.
"This action allows AEP to turn its back on its 140,000 customers in our area and shift the financial benefits to Ohio where the headquarters is located," Hogan said.
Kentucky Power spokesperson Ronn Robinson attended the meeting but said he did not know the answers to many questions and was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company on those issues.
There was no representative from local or outside environmental groups at the meeting.
The full membership of the PSC will vote on the application later this month in Frankfort, so this will be the last chance local customers will have to speak out about their concerns.
Two more meetings are scheduled in the customer area at Whitesburg and Pikeville before the vote.
See several recent former Lazer stories on the subject or go to the PSC site and watch the speakers in action.
See Lazer video of the Q&A session on main page
See PSC video of formal questions and statements HERE
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