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May 15, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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May 15, 2012
 

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i + I I pirit of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE N ews Wednesday, May 16, 2012.1 Job Corps welcomes new director BRYAN CLARK Spirit Staff HARPERS FERRY -The new director of the Harpers Fer- ry Job Corps Center said he is working hard to improve the prospects of students graduat- ing and entering the job mar- ket. Ralph DiBattista, who took the helm in March, has worked at Job Corps centers around the nation since the early 1980s, even serving as a deputy direc- tor of the program for a time. He first came to Harpers Ferry in 2009, and when the position of director came open he snapped up the job. The center is one of a system 125 such training sites throughout the nation that were created in the mid-'60s. The center currently serves over 200 students. "(Students are) eligible be- cause they are financially dis- advantaged. They come in and earn their high school diploma or GED," said DiBattista, add- ing that the school was work- ing to strengthen its vocational training programs to help grad- uates find gainful employment after leaving the center. Gwendolyn Ford, who has worked at the center since 2001, gave DiBattista a glowing en- dorsement. "The biggest change has been Mr. DiBattista," she said. "He knows how to make things work positively. I can't say enough great things about him." Hamid Rasouly, who graduat- ed from the center in April and enlisted with the US Army, said the training center opened up a world of new possibilities for him. Rasouly said he was stuck working minimum wage jobs in Philadelphia for years, unable to find better work because he lacked a high school diploma. When he heard about the oppor- tunities offered at the center, he jumped at the chance. "It's had a tremendous impact off me. I got my education here, my GED. in October." he said. "It really gives you a good per- spective on life. You learn not to take things for granted. I;m re- ally fortunate and blessed to be a part of this." DiBattista said he has been working to build the presence of U.S. Army recruiters at the cen- ter. Free ASVAB tests - a prereq- uisite for joining the military - are administered on campus., and each month some graduates opt for service in one of the branches of the military, DiBattista said. "It is a nice future for them, but they are also able to serve the country," DiBattista said. "What we really want to strengthen is our relationship with the U.S. military. When our students complete here they either go on to employment, advanced train- ing, college or the military." In addition to having the op- tion of joining the armed servic- es, students can also receive ex- tensive vocational training and certification. "We want to make sure that our students earn industry-rec- ognized credentials in their fields so that when they go to start their careers within industry they have their credentials already in hand," DiBattista said. "It really shows the relevance of the cur- riculum here to employers." With graduates entering the worst job market in many de- cades, the center also places par- ticular emphasis on helping stu- dents build links to future em- ployers and preparing them for the job-seeking process. "It is a tough, competitive job market out there right now, but that makes this a good time for training. You'll build up the training and skills that you need and set up prospects before you leave the program, " he said. "What we want to do is make sure that they have options lined up before they leave so that they are not standing in long job lines after they leave." BRYAN CLARK Ralph DiBattista, the newly-hired director of the Harpers Ferry Job Corps Center, congratulates Hamid Rasouly, a re- cent graduate, on his enlistmen{ with the U.S. Army. To that end. the center works with students to build resumts. portfolios, and job references. DiBattista said the center has been successful at placing its graduates in relevant jobs after they finish their studies. He said their placement rate is around 70 percent, with some students moving on to the Pentagon, Federal Reserve banks and other federal agencies. "The opportunities for stu- dents who apply themselves are unlimited," DiBattista said. Sunset FROM PAGE A1 ing at historically low levels. "The primary hardship is the ability to sell homes with the Great Recession still showing its effects on our industry," said Wiley, who is also the vice president of devel- opment for The Wormald Compa- nies which are currently develop- ing the Beallair and Beallair West subdivisions. "Those of us that are doing land development in Jef- ferson County are trying to keep those projects alive and economi- cally viable." Wiley said many of the devel- opers who own dormant subdivi- sions are burdened with ongoing mortgage payments and other car- rying costs. While proposals like bond tolling - which allows de- velopers to withdraw their perfor- mance bonds if they post a nomi- nal $10,000 surety - offer devel- opers some relief, allowing ap- proved construction plans to sun- set would impose new burdens that threaten proposed subdivi- sions, he said. "We're talking probably tens of thotlsands of dollars. In some cases, for larger developments, it could be over $100,000," Wi- ley said. "In general, you're talk- ing about surveying, planning and engineering consulting fees to up- date the plans and process them." The developments whose per- mits expire would also have to comply with newer regulations, Wiley said. "There are always the little sub- tleties in not only the county's subdivision regulations but in the agencies that also have to review this as part of the process, for ex- ample the Department of High- ways, the Department of Environ- mental Protection. the Public Ser- vice District. and the Public Ser- vice Commission," he said. Commission President Patsy Noland supports the extension. "I think, in light of the econom- ic times that we've experienced, that it is not going to httrt anything to extend them for three years," Noland said. "Ithink that we need to be considerate of the invest- ment that these developers have already made in the properties that they w,ant to develop. They play a huge role in the local community and in the economy. When people with hammers and hard hats go to work. the economy is always bet- ter." The proposal has met opposi- tion from Commissioners Frances Morgan and Lyn Widmyer, who worry making such concesmons to developers might have a negative impact on the county. "These are paper subdivisions. They are subdivisions that have been approved at the preliminary level from years back," Widmyer said. "We need to look at our exist- ing neighborhoods and communi- ties and strengthen them. not sim- ply ignore them and go leap-frog- ging out into new subdivisions." "I don't think this is the time to E ON FFERS MORE than a pharma00 . . EVERYTHING you'llneed! 304.725.6533 approve more subdivisions" Wid- myer added. "I think the future of this county is economic devel- opment, not residential develop- ment." Morgan worries that extending the sunset provision will expose county taxpayers to more risk. "The .way I look at it, the reg- ulations and the ordinances are a bargain that is smack between the interests of the public and the in- terests of the private developer," she said. "When you change the terms of that bargain in favor of the developer, you are in essence adding more risk for the public," Morgan said. "We have the Pub- tic Service District and the water providers that are out there hang- ing because there are all these sub- divisions that have been approved in the past. I mean, there are thou- sands of dwelling units that are in the pipeline." Wiley argues that citizens face greater harm if a development goes into default. "It really doesn't result in any- thing that is detrimental to the county or even the citizens in the development," he said. "As a mat- ter of fact, I think it helps them in the long term because there are projects that may essentially go into default if a developer can't af- ford to continue under the higher costs. That could create an unfin- ished development. None of us want that." Morgan argues that postponing the sunset date on approved but unconstructed subdivisions could also interfere with the county's compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Initiative. "The county is developing a new stormwater ordinance that will be Chesapeake Bay compli- ant... It is going to be more strin- gent - I think it is going to require retention of the first inch of rain- fall," Morgan said. "I think the de- velopment we are having today ought to be under (the new storm- water regulations.) We ought to convert to it as quickly as possi- ble. We shouldn't be dragging our feet." Carol Goolsby, the executive director of the Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Develop- ment Council. Region 9, also took the position in an an email sent to several area lawmakers when they were considering SB 540 that extending the sunset provisions might interfere with compliance. "It would be difficult to imple- ment and enforce higher regula- tory standards, a strategy identi- fied in the Developed Lands sec- tion of the Watershed Implemen- tation Plan, in the face of addi- tional state-ordered extensions," Goolsby wrote. "This may jeop- ardize our regions current strate- gy to 'hold the line' on new devel- opment, and could be required to perform stormwater retrofits in the future." Panel: Chemical industry needs risk g0000idance CHARLESTON (AP).- The chemical industry needs guidance in choosing alterna- tive processing methods to re- duce or eliminate hazards, a national panel said in a report released Friday. U.S. OccupatiOnal Safety and Health Administration reg- ulations require chemical com- panies to follow certain proce- dures to ensure manufacturing processes are safe. But the re- port by the National Research Council said the .industry lacks common practice protocols and understanding to identify safer processes. It recommends that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board or other entity develop a plan to help chemical plant managers choose alternative processes to reduce or eliminate hazards. One method, known as an "inherently safer process" as- sessment, aims to minimize or eliminate a hazard. But the as- sessment does not always pro- vide clear guidance. The report said switching to a non-fiam- mane solvent in a process would remove a fire hazard. But if the solvent is toxic, a new'hazard is created. Use of inherently safer pro- cess strategies would reduce the number of vulnerable areas around a company's facilities, which would decrease the scope of emergency preparedness pro, grams. But it potentially could narrow the focus too much and overlook certain outcomes, the report said. Congress ordered the study following a 2008 explosion at BayerCropscience's plant in In- stitute that killed two workers. The explosion occurred near a storage tank containing methyl isocyanate, a highly toxic chemi- cal also known as MIC. The tank was not damaged and the chemi- cal wasn't released. Bayer took measures to reduce risks associated with MIC man-' ufacturing and storage at the In- Stitute plant. But the company did not incorporate all possible methods to control hazards, the report said. BCT Bankf Charles Town Bank Anywhere = ar FREE!* Fi t++i li+:t Ii  i +i I i'! I +r L Consumer Attorneys Who Care +m Initiate account transfers and pay bills ++ View account balances and transaction history View account alerts www+mybct.com Charles Town 304-725-8431 Member Mobile b,00n.king Kearneysville Harpers Ferry Martinsburg Hedgesville 304-876-2563 304-535-6336 304-262-0089 304-754-0000 tl *There is no fee from BCT, Connectivity uage rates may apply. Contact your wireless service provider for more details. I I