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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
March 7, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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March 7, 2018

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SPIRIT of JEFFERSON and Ea RMER'S ADVOCATE ADVOCATE PAGE A9 Wednesday, March 7, 2018 NANCY GREGORY mmm The public school teachers of West Virginia are among the five lowest-paid teachers in the country. Our teachers were offered a 1 per- cent pay raise while at the same time the over- all costs of their health insurance through the Public Employees Insurance Agency would go up, causing them to have less money in the end. Backed by their union, the teachers re- quested a long-overdue 5 percent raise with no change in PEIA. Gov. Jim Justice finally agreed to these terms as did all but one lawmaker in the House of Delegates. When it came to the state Sen- ators, however, legislators chose to skip out early on Feb. 28. The next day, the Senate de- clined to follow the House's lead in passing the new bill and instead sent it to be stalled in the finance committee. Mitch Carmichael, president of the state Senate, said that he didn't know how the state can fund the teacher pay raise. Let's look at some of the West Virginia money and how other states fund their education. A severance tax is imposed on the privilege of extracting gas, oil and other natural re- sources within the state. Some states use this severance tax to pay public employees such as teachers. The severance tax in WV is 5 per- cent and the national average is 8 percent. Alaska, which has the highest-paid teachers, is 35 percent. This makes sense - state re- sources used for the people of the state. Alas- What has happened in West Virginia? Our elected officials essentially have deals with the oil and gas companies to keep the severance tax low, keep safety standards at a minimum and have minimal, if any, requirement for reparation for environmental damage- all this in exchange for money to help them get re-elected. ka also has a fuel fund that pays dividends to dined our elected officials before lawmakers its state residents. How much financially bet- voted on laws governing West Virginia's gas ter off we would be in West Virginia if the and oil - including state Sen. Patricia Ruck- people of West Virginia had been receiving er and Charles Trump and Delegates Riley dividends from coal, gas and oil? Moore and Jill Upson from the Eastern Pan- What has happened in West Virginia? Our handle. Illegal? No! Unethical? It certainly elected officials essentially have deals with the shows how politics in West Virginia works. oil and gas companies to keep the severance Many call it legalized corruption. tax low, keep safety standards at a minimum Paying teachers a living wage is really a and have minimal, if any, requirement for rep- matter of priorities and values. This brings us aration for environmental damage - all this in closer to the heart of the issue which is how exchange for money to help them get re-elect- much, or little, public education is valued. ed. This practice harms the people of West V"lr- Some legislators like Sen. Rucker support ginia in many ways with salaries for teachers giving tax breaks for private education. Do and state troopers being only one example, people who can afford private schools really Natural gas companies have wined and need tax breaks? Many West Virginia teachers have to work two jobs to get by. Many pur- chase supplies from their own money to sup- plement what is afforded to them in the state budget. It has been too long since public education has been a priority in this state. Maybe our leg- islators don't send their kids to public school, but most of us do. Who are our elected officials representing? It appears that the answer is gas and oil, and their own personal interests. Meanwhile, working poor and middle-class people are too busy surviving to pay much attention to what is really going on behind our elected officials' closed doors or in res- taurants. It takes time and effort to find out which companies are contributing to whose campaigns and to what extent our representa- fives are, or are not, really representing us. Teaching is a noble profession and teaching our children is one of the most important jobs one can have. I want to thank our teachers of West Virgin- ia for remaining in this state to teach our chil- dren when they could be making more money with better benefits in neighboring states. I want to thank our teachers for uniting and standing up for what they deserve. I want to thank our teachers for their commitment to our precious children and their well-deserved education. - Nancy Gregory writes from her home in Charles Town RON RISSLER 'Stonewall' J deserves his pl A recent column in the Spirit of Jefferson by Christine Snyder de- manded the removal of a statue hon- oring Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jack- son on the grounds of our state Cap- itol for the same reason that it has supported the removal of a plaque adhered to the courthouse wall hon- oring men from Jefferson County that served in the Confederacy. You have concluded that the stat- ue and plaque represent men that went "to war in hopes of keeping millions of African-Americans and their future descendants in chains." One question - Do you have any primary sources, letters, diaries, etc. that support your claim that Thom- as J. Jackson or any men that served in the Confederacy from Jefferson County went to war for the reason you allege? I am a direct descendant of six men that served in the Stonewall Brigade and one that served in the 12th Virginia Cavalry. I have found no evidence that they fought to pro- tect the institution of slavery. It is my opinion, supported by historical facts, as to why these men as well as countless others from the Shenandoah Valley, went to war. In January 1861, Virginia Gov. John Letcher called for a special session of the Virginia General As- sembly to determine the state's po- sition on secession from the Union. On Feb. 4, 1861, Jefferson County voted overwhelmingly to send two delegates, Logan Osburn and Alfred M. Barbour, to Richmond in support of remaining in the Union. On April 4, 1861, an ordinance of secession was rejected, 85 to 45. On April 12th, Confederate forc- es opened fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C On April 15, Presi- dent Abraham Lin- coln issued a call for 75,000 volun- teers to put down, by military force, the insurrection in South Carolina. The administration demanded that Vir- ginia provide 2,340 men to this cause. In response, on April 17, the Vir-Thomas "Stonewall" ginia Convention adopted a Secession Ordinance by a vote of 88 to 55. Barbour refused to vote on the ordinance while Osburn voted a second time in opposition to secession. Jefferson County historian, author and educator Millard K. Bushong ex- plained his thoughts regarding Lin- coln's call to arms: The Union senti- ment in Jefferson County gave way to loyalty to Virginia, first and fore- most. States' fights was too deep- ly bred in the hearts of the people to stand up before their second love, the Union. They loved the Union, but they could not fight against their own people. The thought of federal troops crossing Virginia to coerce a sister state was also more than they could comprehend." Lincoln's proclamation calling for 2,340 men from Virginia to become part of a federal armed invasion force of 75,000 men into the South resulted in over 155,000 Virgin- ians serving in the Confederate ser- vice including ap- proximately 1,600 men from Jefferson County. There is also pri- mary sourced ev- idence as to why Thomas J. "Stone- Jackson wall" Jackson, an American hero in the War with Mexico, fought for the Confederacy rather than the Union. Just days prior to Virginia's seces- sion from the Union, Jackson wrote: "As a Christian man, my first alle- giance is to my State, the State of Virginia; and every other State has a primal claim to the fealty of her citizens, and they may justly control their allegiance. If Virginia adheres to the United States, I adhere. Her determination must control mine." Your continued assertion that Stonewall Jackson and the men that wore the gray from Jefferson County went off to war to preserve slavery at the is as unfounded as those that argue President Lincoln called up 75,000 volunteers to crush the institution. The facts are clear. President Lin- coln went to war, as did the vast ma- jority of the men that wore the blue, to save the Union. Thomas J. Jack- son and the vast majority of men from the Shenandoah Valley went to war out of loyalty to Virginia. You state in the paper's Jan. 10 edition that a statute of Jackson's sister should be erected because she hated slavery to the point of cutting off all relations with her brother. There is no primary source evidence that Laura Jackson Arnold was an abolitionist. There is, however, sound historical evidence that Laura Arnold, a strict Unionist, turned her back on her brother in the spring of 1861 solely because he determined to remain loyal to Virginia. You further state in the same ar- ticle that a statue of educator Book- er T. Washington would be a bet- ter choice than the statue of Stone- wall Jackson on Charleston's capi- tol grounds. A monument to Book- er T. Washington was erected on the grounds of the capitol in 1979. An interesting side note - every Southern'state that was' a member of the Confederacy has a public school named in honor of BoOker T. Wash- ington. You further state that a statue of abolitionist John Brown, found guilty and executed in Jefferson County for treason against the Com- monwealth of Virginia, murder and inciting a slave insurrection, has been "vindicated by history for his insistence that African-Americans were not property, but people." Although you may consider Brown a hero, I personally believe that the true heroes in Harpers Ferry on Oct. 18,1859, were the 12 U.S. Marines that stormed the fire engine house with unloaded muskets so no hostages held by Brown would be harmed. Private Luke Quinn was killed during the attack. You have called for the removal of the statue of Thomas J. "Stone- wall" Jackson from the state Capi- tol grounds and his name stricken from a school in Charleston because you believe any admiration shown this West Virginian to be racially of- fensive. Do you share the same concern regarding the federal courthouse in Charleston named after/Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginian who rose to the title of exalted cyclops within a chapter of the Klu Klux Klan of which he founded? I have found no evidence that you have called for the removal of the life-size statue of Robert C. Byrd in the Capitol rotunda or his name re- moved from West Virginia universi- ties, colleges and high schools. - Ron Rissler writes from Charles Town Finally, a solution to chronic Lyme woes? Chronic Lyme disease is a her friend to find a solution, niers. The lawsuit asserts the scourge that is spreading from She delivered more than aIDSA denied the existence of the Northeast to the South- thousand petition signatures chronic Lyme disease and pro- west. It has passed the East- to state Sen. Charles Trump, scribed- effectively banned- ern Panhandle, which has two- who presented this petition to all alternative means for com- thirds of the state's reported the state senate and who filed bating chronic Lyme disease. tick bites. This problem has Senate Bill 242 to force in- The consequence of this ap- been made and maintained surance companies to pay the proximate two decade conflict more acutely by the Infectious costs of chronic Lyme care. of interest is the production of Disease Society of America's This bill also became House populations of patients who authoring of the Lyme disease Bill 4328. Although the Sen- chronically suffer for the re- practice guideline that claims ate approved this bill 29-1, this mainder of their lives. that chronic Lyme disease bill languishes in the House Chronic Lyme disease pa- does not exist. Insurance and Banking Com- tients are the sickest of the Some insurance companies mittee without action for the sick. Their quality of life is have taken advantage of this past month and may remainlower than cancer victims. claim to deny all claims re- there unless Chairman Steve They die slowly and painfully lated to chronic Lyme disease Westfall produces some posi- as their physicians are extort- care. tive committee action, ed to not treat them. This past summer, my wife, The underlying reason for Linda, was inspired by the this bill is to correct improp- nine-year debilitating saga of er action .by insurance de- ERIC PRITcHARD Berkeley Springs No woman 'wants' an abortion Vote against this nasty bill. No womandeal with accidental pregnancies, so why pun- "wants" an abortion. These decisions are not ish them? easy and carry much angst and guilt to the As lawmakers, put your religious beliefs woman making them. It is generally due to a aside. You are not in church, you are not God. birth control that failed or rape or incest. Vote no on SJR12 and show West Virginians Let's keep politicians out of the uteruses of they matter more than your particular religious West Virginia women. There are trained medi- affiliation. cal staff specifically paid to deal with these is- sues. SARA THOMSEN The targeted population is the least able to Charles Town ',' l ! IF P-d551t -CO, l a'noq U