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National expert shares insight on school culture with W.Va. principals

DANIELS, W.Va. — More than 100 school principals from across the state gathered at the Glade Springs Resort and Conference Center Monday for the beginning of a two-day discussion of the role and impact of group culture and group tendencies among educators and administrators.

Dr. Stephen Gruenert, co-author of the book “School Culture Rewired: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It,” presented members of the West Virginia School Leadership Network for Experienced Principals with the findings of his research into what he described as a self-contained culture that tends to develop within school environments, including traditions and expectations that can influence day-to-day functions in ways that may undermine educational goals.

“I’m just fascinated by why people do the things they do and what kind of factors influence their behaviors, especially professionals, because this is something that we would find in athletic teams, churches, fire departments, hospitals,” Gruener told MetroNews. “You always have your groups of people who come together and create their own unwritten rules of how we do things around here. And, if a leader is aware of that, it makes it a little bit easier to negotiate.”

Gruenert said the development of an unhealthy culture among teachers often is an incremental, subtle process that develops over several years or decades.

“One of the examples I tend to use is the idea that teachers are supposed to turn in lesson plans, all the time, and you’ll have some teachers who say, ‘Well, I just don’t have time to do that,’ or some teachers might say, ‘My lesson plans change all the time.’ And so, you’re always going to have a few negative people who push back on any kind of idea, whether it’s good or bad,” he explained

“The negative people will recruit each other. They’ll look for other people who don’t want to do lesson plans, either. And in doing so, they can create a small group and begin to leverage other teachers, as this group begins to expand. Eventually, their loyalty to each other will outweigh their loyalty to the school. So, once they come together as a group and they have bonded tightly, they might use the excuse, ‘I don’t have time,’ for whatever the principle asks them to do. And because they have this social unit, there’s some strength in that.”

According to Gruenert, charter schools are not always the laboratories of innovation proponents of such institutions often make them out to be, in terms of addressing cultural factors that may be undermining a particular school’s mission or its educational outcomes.

“30, 40 years ago, we called them lab schools. We called them schools where people were allowed to innovate and experiment, and we could see what works and what didn’t work, but since they’ve become for-profit, for the most sake, you might have some people out there who don’t really get learning to the degree to which they need to understand it. It becomes more of a business. But, a charter school done right can really provide us with a lot of good research,” he said.

Gruenert, a former middle school and high school principal, chairs the Educational Leadership Department at Indiana State University and was a founding member of the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Educational Governance and Supervision from the University of Missouri in 1998.

Among the topics to be discussed during the conference are the West Virginia Standards for Effective Schools, data-driven decision making, strategies to best impact student learning, and tips for hiring, training, and retaining teachers who will actively work to improve a school’s culture.

The forum is being hosted by the West Virginia Department of Education’s School Leadership Network.

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GW, Huntington, Riverside seek key wins in Week 9 (Class AAA previews)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato discuss the best matchups we will be following in Week 9 of Class AAA football.

  • Cabell Midland (8-0) at Huntington (4-3)
  • Greenbrier East (5-2) at Parkersburg South (8-0)
  • George Washington (4-3) at Riverside (4-3)

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Winfield Boat Ramp and Dock closed for four weeks

WINFIELD, W.Va. — The Winfield Boat Ramp and Dock upstream of the Route 34 bridge will be closed for the next four weeks.

The Putnam County location closed on October 18 to replace the concrete launch ramp. Boaters and pedestrians will not be able to use the ramp and courtesy dock during construction.

According to the Division of Natural Resources, the replacement will be done under the contractor’s warranty at no additional cost to the state.

“We understand this is an inconvenience for people who use the facility,” said Zack Brown, assistant chief of the Wildlife Resources Section said in a release. “However, the DNR wants to ensure the facility is properly constructed so that it will serve the public for many years to come.”

The release said that during the repairs, boaters and pedestrians may use the city of Winfield’s launch ramp east of the site for fishing, kayaking and paddle boating.

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Bethlehem man identified as victim of three-vehicle Wheeling crash

WHEELING, W.Va. — A Bethlehem man has been identified as one of the victims of a fatal three-vehicle crash in Wheeling on Saturday.

Wheeling Police said Monday that David R. Burke, 72, was killed when the SUV he was driving collided with two tractor trailers on Interstate 470 eastbound near mile marker 3.

The department’s Crash Reconstruction Team is continuing their investigation into the accident that left the interstate shutdown for nearly five hours after the collision occurred at 3:15 p.m.

Another person was killed in the accident, believed to be a driver of one of the big rigs, but the victim’s name has not been released. A Wheeling Police officer was taken to Wheeling Hospital for minor injuries, where they were treated and released.

One of the two tractor trailers caught fire and burned for several hours. A conclusion on what caused the first tractor trailer to crash is still under investigation.

Investigation Continues Into Fatal Crash on I-470
October 21, 2019

— Wheeling, WV Police (@WheelingPolice) October 21, 2019

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Kanawha pastor named to House of Delegates seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The newest member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates is pastor of a large Kanawha Valley church.

Gov. Jim Justice named appointed T. Kevan Bartlett of Sissonville to the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 39th District.

Kevin Bartlett

Bartlett, senior pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church, fills the vacancy created by the recent death of Delegate Sharon Lewis ​Malcolm, a Republican.

Justice selected among three candidates passed along by the Kanawha GOP Executive Committee. Besides Bartlett, the other candidates were Ryan Lemmon and Vaughn Sizemore.

Lawmakers who are named to fill  open seats often experience an edge in name recognition over challengers in subsequent elections.

Lemmon had already filed to run for the seat in the coming election. Another announced candidate, Dana Ferrell, ran for the seat as an independent two years ago but is running as a Republican this time.

Malcolm, 72, had represented House District 39, which spans the Sissonville, Mink Shoals and Cross Lanes areas, since early 2018.

Malcolm was first named to fill the unexpired term of longtime Delegate Ron Walters after he resigned.

Malcolm then won won the 2018 General Election with 2,436 votes. Democrat David Holmes, who is registered to run again, got 2,022 and Ferrell got 1,315.

Bartlett became senior pastor at Maranatha in 2008.  The prior 24 years he served as associate pastor alongside his father, Bill Bartlett.

His wife, Linda, directs the women’s ministries and the nursery. They have two sons and eight grandchildren.

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Beckley Police searching for bank robber who fled on bike

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Raleigh County authorities are searching for the person who robbed a bank in downtown Beckley Monday.

The incident happened at the City National Bank on South Kanawha Street near the intersection with Main Street at approximately 10:15 a.m.

Investigators described the suspect as an adult male wearing a blue jacket, black hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He reportedly was wearing a Halloween-style mask with the face of a cartoon monkey.

The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money and left the scene riding a silver and white mountain bike, which later was recovered by police on East Prince Street near the YMCA building.

The Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office is assisting the Beckley Police Department in the investigation.

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West Virginia will spend much of its bye week back at square one

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Saturday off couldn’t have come at a better time for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) have dropped three straight and have more problems than known solutions that will need to be fixed before the team travels to unbeaten No. 14 Baylor (7-0, 4-0) on Halloween night.

“I’m treating this as a reset button,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We have got get some things figured out on our end and make sure we’ve got our best personnel on the field at all times. We have to try different things with different personnel, different schematics, different presentation run-game wise.”

That issue is most noticeable in West Virginia’s running game, which is in the bottom 10 nationally in yards per carry, yards per game and runs over 10 yards. Some of the schools in the same company are to be expected — Washington State and Purdue are both fully dedicated Air Raid offenses that treat the running game as a diversion. The Mountaineers aren’t structured like those offenses.

“We’ve got to be able to run the football,” Brown said. “This team isn’t built to throw it 50-plus times. We’ve got to get ahead of the chains.”

With the team primarily using single-back sets, could increasing playing time for H-back Logan Thimons as an extra blocker be a potential solution?

“He played 12-15 snaps [against Oklahoma] and was probably productive on about half of those,” Brown said. “The problem is we’re not snapping the ball as much as we’d like. We’re going to evaluate all things. We’re doing a bunch of self-scout as we speak.”

The problems aren’t all contained to the offensive side of the ball. With so much focus spent on West Virginia’s offensive woes, the fact that the Mountaineers have allowed 132 points in their past three games gets a bit lost in the shuffle.

Against conference opponents, West Virginia has allowed 14 touchdowns on 17 red zone trips (82.4 percent). By percentage, only TCU is faring worse in the Big 12. Measured by total red zone touchdowns allowed, only Kansas is faring worse.

“We’ve got to get our red zone defense improved,” Brown said. “We’ve got to get some answers there. For the first part of this week for sure we’re going to focus on ourselves.”

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the Bears are playing well enough that they’ve already skipped over self-improvement. Baylor coach Matt Rhule said his team turned its full focus to West Virginia on Monday morning.

“We’re full-bore ahead on West Virginia,” Rhule said.

The Mountaineers should expect an unpleasant welcome when they get to Waco, as well.

“The good thing about playing West Virginia, they beat us so badly last year that it’s a vivid memory for a lot of our guys,” Rhule said.

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Three Guys Before The Game – Oklahoma Review (Episode 149)

The Mountaineer football team enters its second bye week of the season in need of physical and mental rest. WVU is nearing the end of four consecutive games against ranked teams in the month of October.

On this episode, Brad Howe, Hoppy Kercheval and Tony Caridi look back at Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma. What, if anything positive, can be taken from the game? Will the Mountaineers be ready for Halloween night at undefeated Baylor?

The “Guys” also answer listener questions and secretly talk about the super-secret scrimmage involving the Mountaineer basketball team and Penn State. Don’t tell anyone.

A preview of the upcoming weekend and more hoop talk comes your way on Thursday’s episode.

Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google.


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Global tech giant Infor opens downtown Charleston location

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The doors are now open for a Charleston branch of a global leader in business cloud software.

Infor, which specializes software by industry, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its capital city location on Monday morning inside Laidley Tower.


Pam Murphy

“We are just getting started but we are soon going to be at 100 employees here actually,” Pam Murphy, Infor COO said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline.’

“We continue to expand and grow this new office as we land more business and more deals. We are super excited.”

Murphy said the company is still hiring for its Charleston location, which is one of 200 locations worldwide.

It’s a great day in WV! Infor is officially open in Charleston, and plans to bring more than 100 high-tech #jobs to the Mountain State. Innovative companies like Infor strengthen & diversify our economy, & I’m proud to have helped bring Infor to #WV. MORE:

— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 21, 2019

The company sells end to end industry specific solutions for the companies and industries that they serve. This includes manufacturing, distribution, public sector and healthcare.

Murphy said her company is different from the competitors because of the flexibility.

“Solutions that we provide for the public sector are very different from the systems that we produce for our manufacturing customers. That makes us different because of the other competitors in our field offer the same software and it needs to be tailored to fir their specific needs and specific requirements.”

She said two of the biggest reasons why Infor chose Charleston was a highly skilled and capable workforce along with the cost of living.

Mike Hall, chief of staff for Gov. Jim Justice, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Amy Goodwin, City of Charleston Mayor, Kevin Samuelson, Infor CEO, Ed Gaunch, West Virginia Commerce Secretary, and Murphy were all on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Honored to be a part of @Infor’s ribbon cutting in Charleston this morning. Infor is already up to 45 employees here & is primed to grow their presence. I lobbied Infor hard to come to Charleston. This investment is going to help rebrand the business community in WV.

— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) October 21, 2019

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Musselman standout Blake Hartman enjoying his best season yet
Musselman’s Blake Hartman makes a tackle during last week’s win over Wheeling Park.


INWOOD, W.Va. — It’s not a coincidence that Musselman’s football team has won 26 of its last 32 games dating back to the start of the 2017 season.

After all, that’s when Blake Hartman began his career with the Applemen — a career that will undoubtedly go down as one of the best in program history.

“He’s just outstanding,” Musselman head coach Brian Thomas said.

Hartman was a household name before this season for what he had accomplished as a freshman and sophomore.

In 2017, Hartman rushed for 1,136 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the Applemen to an 8-2 regular season. Although Musselman lost its first-round playoff game to Cabell Midland, Hartman earned Class AAA second-team all-state honors — a rarity for a freshman.

All Hartman did in 2018 was build off his stellar debut season. As a sophomore, Hartman carried 196 times for 1,368 yards and 20 TDs, helping to lead the Applemen to a nine-win regular season. Musselman won a pair of playoff games, before suffering its second loss of the season to Martinsburg in a state semifinal.

Still, Hartman worked his way up to first-team all-state status, helping to raise the bar even higher ahead of the 2019 campaign.

Through the first eight games of his junior season, Hartman appears well on his way to earning first-team all-state honors again. He’s also in the mix for the Curt Warner Award as the state’s top tailback and the Kennedy Award — presented annually to the state’s most outstanding player.

Hartman already has a career-high 1,493 rushing yards and 21 TDs this season. He’s also caught 20 passes for 386 yards and four scores, giving him 14 receiving touchdowns throughout high school. On defense, Hartman has registered 62 tackles to go with six sacks, one interception and the fourth defensive scorer of his career.

“I don’t know how many kids play running back, play quarterback in some of the Wildcat stuff and you can line him up at slot receiver,” Thomas said. “We didn’t do it (last Friday against Wheeling Park), but sometimes we line him out wide to isolate him and see if they’re going to double him or not. He got triple teamed (the week before against Hedgesville). I’ve never seen that. 

“He plays middle linebacker, he plays safety, he returns kicks and he’s on our kickoff team. He’s in everything we do. How many kids do that?”

At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Hartman has a solid makeup to help him thrive on both sides of the ball. He can withstand hits and deliver plenty himself, but it was another aspect that caught the attention of Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty following Musselman’s 26-24 victory over the Patriots in Week 8.

Hartman played a key role in the outcome, rushing for 206 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries and finding teammate Kagen Teets on a 12-yard pass for the Applemen’s first TD of the contest.

“I’m blown away at his patience. He doesn’t just fly to the hole,” Daugherty said. “He kind of lets things happen. He’s very patient. He can accelerate and go from slow to fast to slow again. He does some really good things. 

“You watch him on film and sometimes you think, ‘how did he get there?’ To be here live and see it, he’s very, very patient and lets things happen. He’s a great ball player.”

Hartman says patience is a valuable part of his running style.

“I’ve always kind of ran like that; that’s been my way of running,” Hartman said. “I don’t run full speed every time. I try to see the field the best I can and I feel like that opens up a lot of big plays for me.”

Following a 35-0 loss to Tuscarora (Va.) a month ago, the No. 5 Applemen (7-1) have responded with four straight wins.

Still, Hartman believes the team has plenty of room for improvement as it prepares for its last two regular season games against Washington and Martinsburg.

“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” he said. “You can always get better. With Washington coming up next week, we have to keep getting better in practice.

“We know who we play down the road and what we’re expecting in the playoffs and we can’t let ourselves get worse.”

While Hartman is the focal point of the opposition’s game plan on a weekly basis, he has come to relish the role. Regardless of where he’s being utilized, Hartman draws a lot of attention from other defenses, which opens up opportunities for teammates.

In addition to Teets’ TD reception, Jacob Miller reached the end zone from 9 yards out for a key score with just inside of 10 minutes remaining in the win over Park. Miler’s TD followed a 25-yard reception from Hartman on a shovel pass.

“I just tell all my teammates to be ready, because you never know,” Hartman said. “They’re going to pound it to me a lot, but your shot is going to come. Plays like Jacob Miller’s touchdown and Kagen Teets’ touchdown, those are what help us win whenever they’re keying on me. They just always need to be ready for the opportunity to come.”

Hartman is perhaps even more talented in the classroom than on the gridiron. He has drawn interest from several Ivy League schools, including Princeton, Harvard and Columbia, in addition to taking a recent visit to Virginia Military Institute.

Before his recruitment picks up, however, Hartman is focused on helping Musselman close the regular season in strong fashion and make a playoff run as the program closes in on its fifth straight appearance in the postseason.

“We’re trying to take little steps at a time,” Hartman said. “The more big games we play sets us up better for the playoffs and that’s kind of our big goal for this year. We toughened up our schedule this year for that goal.”

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