West Virginia Week in Review - March 1, 2019



Each week, Gov. Jim Justice's Communications Office will release a recap of the prior week's events and press releases from across all state agencies within the executive branch.

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Gov. Justice signs bill expanding computer science education at W.Va. schools
On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice held a ceremonial bill signing event in front of a class of students at Cranberry-Prosperity Elementary School in Beckley. The new law makes West Virginia the first state in the nation to require that students have access to computer science education before graduating high school. The bill, which passed unanimously in the Legislature, requires the State Board of Education to adopt a policy detailing the appropriate level of computer science instruction for students at each educational level. [View Press Release]


Thursday's ceremonial signing coincided with the state’s celebration of Digital Learning Day — a national event highlighting instructional technology and innovative teachers. Gov. Justice presented a proclamation at the ceremony, proclaiming Thursday as Digital Learning Day in West Virginia


In celebration of Digital Learning Day, students statewide participated in a creative and diverse range of activities that highlight various technology tools, applications and teaching approaches used throughout West Virginia classrooms and around the country.

Gov. Justice directs Division of Highways to repair roads in Preston County
On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice directed the Division of Highways to form a rapid response team to immediately address road conditions in Preston County. A team of DOH officials including Secretary of Transportation and Commissioner of Highways Tom Smith were on the ground multiple days throughout this week and are actively working to put a plan of action in place. The West Virginia National Guard has also offered their support to the Division of Highways.​ [View Press Release]


West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind performs school song at the Capitol
On Wednesday, a group of students from the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind visited the Capitol and performed a school song inside the Governor's Reception Room. [View Full Video]


Gov. Justice signs proclamations for Civil Air Patrol Day and West Virginia State University Day
Gov. Justice declared February 25, 2019 as Civil Air Patrol Day in West Virginia, honoring the more than 600 West Virginians who serve the state as volunteers in the Civil Air Patrol, which trains and prepares these citizens to be able to immediately respond to search and rescue missions and disaster relief efforts. Chief of Staff Mike Hall read the proclamation Monday at a ceremony in the Governor's Reception Room. [View Photo Album]


The Governor issued another proclamation last Friday, declaring February 22, 2019 as West Virginia State University Day. Deputy Chief of Staff Ann Urling read the proclamation at a ceremony in the Governor's Reception Room in front of about two dozen representatives from WVSU, including University President Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins. [View Photo Album]



Teachers honored for earning top national certification
On Thursday, the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education recognized 83 educators as part of their 2018 National Board Certification Recognition Celebration. The honorees represent 51 new National Board Certified Teachers and 32 educators who successfully renewed their certification. National Board Certification is among the highest standard credentials for educators in the United States. The process can take up to three years to complete. [View Press Release]


The process also requires the successful completion of four components: content knowledge, differentiation in instruction, teaching practice and learning environment, and effective/reflective practice. 


Inaugural West Virginia Trailblazer Award presented to first African American Commander of West Virginia Air National Guard
On Saturday, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) presented their inaugural Trailblazer Award to Brig. Gen. Christopher “Mookie” Walker, the first African American Commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard. [View WVNG Press Release]


The Trailblazer Award is a new honor established in 2019 by Jill Upson, Executive Director of HHOMA. It is meant to honor those West Virginians within minority communities that exhibit a life of excellence. Each year, the HHOMA Advisory Board will select a recipient to receive the award during a ceremonial event held at the end of Black History Month. 

Black History Month Lecture Series concludes with Black History in the Military presentation
Additionally on Saturday, Dr. Charles T. Ledbetter made the final presentation of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs Black History Month Lecture Series, entitled Black History in the Military. Ledbetter spoke in the Archives Library at the Culture Center about African American participation in the United States military going back to the Revolutionary War. [View Full Video]


Celebration of Diversity Awards handed out at annual ceremony
One more piece of Saturday's Black History Month celebration was the 7th Annual Celebration of Diversity Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission at the Culture Center. Students from grades K-12 were recognized for their creations for the 35th Annual Poster Contest and the 35th Annual Project on Racism Contest, both of which are meant to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. [View Recap Video]



Drug Demand Reduction Support program links students with role models from the National Guard
West Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are continuing an effort to build important relationships with school children across the state through the Drug Demand Prevention Support program. As part of the program Guard Members visit schools and students, modeling behavior that they hope will instill leadership, civic duty, self-esteem, and positive choices while highlighting drug awareness through mentorship and activities like book readings, after-school mentoring and flag folding demonstrations. 
[View WVNG Video]


West Virginia Air Guard holds first official state visit to Qatar air base
The West Virginia Air National Guard (WVANG) and Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) recently held the first official State Partnership Program engagement between the two partner nations’ air forces at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The visit took place from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14, 2019. During the five-day tour, three members of the WVANG were provided insight into the operations of Qatar’s air force and met with key QEAF leaders for discussion on interoperability of forces and future engagement opportunities. [View Press Release]


Honor guard helps lay recovered World War II veteran to rest
The West Virginia National Guard Honor Guard helped lay to rest World War II Veteran and West Virginia native Sgt. John Kalausich on Saturday at Tyler Mountain Memorial Gardens in Cross Lanes, W.Va. The service took place almost 75 years after his plane was shot down over Germany on March 21, 1945. Sgt. Kalausich's remains were only recently found and were brought back to West Virginia last Thursday night. 


Gov. Justice ordered all United States and West Virginia flags to be lowered to half-staff Saturday, in honor of Sgt. Kalausich's funeral service and his sacrifice.


Watch Center and Cabell County agencies thwart school threat
Last Thursday, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's 24/7 Watch Center received an urgent tip on their Safe Schools Helpline, which outlined a perceived threat via social media against Huntington High School. As a part of the normal operating procedures, staff initiated protocols and procedures to notify the appropriate agencies of the incident, leading to the identification of a suspect and, eventually, an arrest was made. [View Press Release]


The West Virginia Safe Schools Helpline is free, confidential and available 24/7 by calling toll-free 1-866-723-3982 (1-866-SAFE-WVA). It is a statewide number that can be used by anyone to report information regarding anything that could harm students, staff or property including threats of violence, weapons, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, theft of property damage at any of West Virginia’s schools.


Division of Forestry issues reminder that fire season is set to begin
The West Virginia Division of Forestry issued a reminder this week that spring fire season begins Friday, March 1, and continues through Friday, May 31. During fire season, outdoor burning is limited to the hours between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. [View Press Release]


The restriction limits outdoor burning to evening hours when cooler temperatures, increased humidity and calmer winds reduce the risk of a fire escaping. The state’s forests are most vulnerable to fire in fall and in spring, when trees have no leaves to protect the ground cover from drying out.

New director named at West Virginia Small Business Development Center
On Monday, Debra Martin was named state director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC). The WV SBDC is a network of business coaches located throughout the state to assist small businesses at all stages of development, from startup to growth. [View Press Release]


Martin joined the WV SBDC as deputy director in 2013 and was most recently serving as interim director. She has more than 20 years of experience in economic development.


Secretary Tom Smith spends two days touring, evaluating Preston County road conditions
WVDOT Secretary Tom Smith was in Preston County for two days this week, working with the Division of Highways team to tour and evaluate road conditions. On Wednesday, Sec. Smith traveled the roads across the county in a school bus with Preston County Commissioner Samantha Stone. At the direction of Gov. Justice, the DOT is developing a plan of action to repair deteriorating secondary roads in the county. [View Press Release]



DEP Day held at West Virginia Capitol Complex
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection held its WVDEP Day at the Legislature Thursday morning in the Capitol’s Upper Rotunda. Students across the state attended the event, which featured 11 divisions and offices within the WVDEP setting up booths to explain their functions and the work they have done to help protect West Virginia's resources. [View Press Release]



Congressional Youth Art competition winners announced
Three young artists received first-place awards Tuesday for their submissions in the annual Congressional Art Competition. First-place awards were presented to Abby Fridley from Philip Barbour High School (Left), Lan Skaff from Capital High School (Center), and Jordan Atwell from Pikeview High School (Right). They received a $100 gift certificate from Dick Blick Art Materials and their work will represent West Virginia in a yearlong Congressional Art Competition exhibition at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. [View Press Release]


Five additional second-place winners received awards and $50 gift certificates from Dick Blick Art Materials.



Contact Information

Butch Antolini, 304-890-2945, Butch.Antolini@wv.gov


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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