Grant awarded to continue PRO officer


BUCKHANNON- On Thursday, it was announced that the Upshur County Commission was awarded a grant that will go towards funding the continuance of the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. The awarded grant is worth $15,000 and is funded by the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the Division of Justice and Community Services.

This year marks the ninth year of funding for a PRO at B-UMS as part of a collaboration between the Upshur County Commission, Upshur County Board of Education and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Jodie Akers, director of student services for the Upshur County Board of Education, the PRO enhances the fostering of a safe environment. This will also help with continuing to provide students and staff with an outlet for their concerns and source of information to prevent acts that disrupt the educational process.

“We’re just completely elated with the news that we’ve received this again for the ninth year,” Akers said. “The prevention programs that CJ (Officer Day) is able to do within our middle school is just remarkable. It is preventative and that is our main focus.”

“The presence of the PRO at B-UMS continues to be an invaluable addition to our efforts to afford a safe, positive learning experience for our students.”

Renee Warner, Principal at B-UMS, also commented on the value of having a PRO in the school.

“It has been such a blessing to have Officer Day with us,” Warner stated. “He is able to go into health classrooms and talk to the students about drug and alcohol prevention.”

“Probably the most important piece has been the reporting,” Warner added. “The students come to him and give him information about social media issues. Sometimes they just go in and talk to him about things that are going on at home. That is probably the most valuable piece of this program that we have in place.”

According to faculty, Officer Day has even gone above his duties as the PRO at B-UMS. He also began an after-school running club two years ago and it continues throughout the school year.

“He created a running club that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school,” Warner said. “So, he meets a different group of kids in that aspect by sharing his love of running and developing that skill.”

Officer Day said there are usually between 5 to 10 kids each day the club meets, and sometimes they will even have as many as 20.

“It definitely depends on the weather,” Warner added. “The running club has been in place for two years and we’re just grateful to have him as part of our team.”

“But all of those pieces, the preventative, the relationships and even the sharing of his love for running, have all been so beneficial for us. “

Dr. Sara Stankus, superintendent of Upshur County Schools, also thanked the County Commission for their continued support. She said it’s with their collaborative work that they are able to have PRO officers in Upshur County.

“I just want to add that we are so appreciative of this grant and your support,” Dr. Stankus said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s really true in this case.”

“Not only do the kids see an officer in uniform every day at their school, but they can engage with that officer. Quite often, the students will tell Officer Day things they won’t tell their teacher. They have that relationship and that is just so critical in the work that we are doing in our schools.”

Dr. Stankus also commented on the recent passing of the School Levy that passed last week. According to her, the levy passed with the largest margin in the history of the county.

“I just want to say thank you again to the commission for your support in the program, and also the passage of our school levy,” Stankus said. “We are just so thankful to this community and really proud of this community for putting children first. We appreciate all you did to make that possible.”

The commission unanimously approved to sign the contract, conditions and resolution for the PRO grant following a motion made by Commissioner Terry Cutright, and seconded by Commissioner Kristy Tenney. 

During the regular meeting, Commissioners also:

--accepted a bid proposal for the soil remediation project at the Upshur County Youth Camp Brownfields Cleanup Project. EnviroCheck, a company from Bluefield, Virginia, was awarded the project after a proposal total of $84,295. According to Assistant County Administrator, Tabatha Perry, EnviroCheck’s bid was the lowest of the six bid proposals received, and came in under what was originally budgeted.

--tabled a request from Samantha Atchison, Vice President of the Animal Outreach Project, for spay/neuter funds to supplement project initiatives. A decision will be made after a discussion with the Lewis County Commission.

--approved to make a financial contribution in the amount of $5,000 to the Corridor H Authority during fiscal year 2019 from the general county fund.

--was provided a comprehensive overview of the OpenGov platform and county checkbook demonstration.

--tabled the consideration of Rick Harlow, President of the Upshur County Firefighters Association, to serve on the Upshur County Fire Board pending further discussion. If approved, Harlow’s term will commence on July 1, 2019 and expire on June 30, 2022.

--approved and signed the Federal Financial Report Standard Form 425 per the U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Cooperative Agreement.

The next regular meeting of the Upshur County Commission will be held Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. in the Upshur County Courthouse Annex.

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