Elkview School Bus Garage Experiencing a 35 Percentage Drivers-Run Shortage

By: Mark Burdette | Posted: Sept. 7, 2018

The Clendenin Leader recently reached out to Briana Warner, Communications Director with Kanawha County Schools to learn more about the bus shortage that is currently affecting the Elk River area.

According to Warner the Elkview bus garage is the largest terminal in Kanawha County and is currently operating with a 35% shortage of drivers/runs being taken every day.

We offered Warner the opportunity to offer a statement to help the Elk River Community understand what exactly is going on and what they can do to help.

Here is the current list of open runs (meaning no permanent full-time assigned driver) or ones that cannot be run due to no drivers:

709 / 702 / 1103 /1109 / 1121 / 1114 / 1118 / 1204 / 1205 / 1211 / 1212 / 1213 / 1214 / 1215 / 1218 / 1219/ 1221 = total of 17 runs. “To break it down farther if you estimate 50 students per run x 3 runs per morning and 3 runs per afternoon = around 5,000 seats that cannot be offered to our students”, said Warner.

Currently, KCS has multiclass employees (mechanics, technicians, other transportation staff) running 1204, 1211, 1212, 1213, 1214.

The Kanawha County Board of Education and the Executive Director of Transportation are working on streamlining the training process so that they can maintain training and safety standards, but also move interested applicants through the process more quickly.

Anyone interested in becoming a bus driver can apply here:

https://www.applitrack.com/kanawha/onlineapp/default.aspx?Category=Bus+Operator

A training class begins on Monday, Sept. 10 and they are working on further training classes now.

We have received several comments from concerned parents about the later start time in Kanawha County and asked Warner to comment on that issue as well.

Warner stated, “All of this is happening separately from the bell schedule change. If we ran last year’s schedule, we would be in a worse situation with more problems. This year’s schedule was designed for efficiency, but due to the shortage, we are not able to run as it is designed.”

Warner provided us the following link with additional details regarding the bus driver shortage and encourages everyone to take time to review.

https://kcs.kana.k12.wv.us/Article/4750/kcs-bus-driver-shortage-information

The Elk River Community can help by sharing this important information and encourage anyone looking for a job to apply.

The Clendenin Leader will continue to follow-up on this story so please stay tuned.

Elk River Native Dean Jeffries Appointed to House of Delegates in District 40 by Governor Justice

By: Mark Burdette | Posted: Sept. 5, 2018

CLENDENIN, WV – Earlier today Gov. Jim Justice announced that he has appointed Warren “Dean” Jeffries (R) to the House of Delegates seat in District 40. Jeffries fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Delegate Tim Armstead who himself was recently appointed to the WV Supreme Court.

The Clendenin Leader reached out to Jeffries for immediate comment on his recent appointment to the House of Delegates. Jeffries said, “I am humbled and honored by the governor‘s decision to appoint me to the seat vacated by former Speaker of the House, Tim Armstead. I love the Elk River Area and our great state. West Virginia is making a comeback. I will work as hard as I can to bring jobs to West Virginia so that those who love the state as much as I do can continue to call it home.”

According to Jeffries, his immediate priorities are to address the road issues plaguing Blue Creek area and Little Sandy Road along with school-related issues including the shortage of school bus drivers and the later start time that is specifically affecting Herbert Hoover High School. Jeffries went on to add that his number one priority is to bring jobs back to West Virginia and the Elk River. Jeffries said, “My heart is with Clendenin. Anything I can do for Clendenin I will. We’ve got to revitalize that town. My heart is there, I will tell you that.”

Mayor Shana Clendenin welcomed Jeffries’ appointment by saying, “Dean has been actively involved in the happenings of Clendenin and the Elk River for a long time. His appointment is a sensational victory for all of us in District 40.”

Jeffries’ appointment will conclude at the end of Armstead’s current term at the end of this year. Jeffries will be running against Melissa Riggs Huffman (D) for the 2-year term in District 40 coming up this November.

Jeffries, an insurance agent, resides in Elkview with his wife Stacey and four children, Tyler, Alexis, Brynn and Landon.

Clendenin Community Hears YMCA Desire to Invest in Elk River Area

The old historic Clendenin Elementary School as of August 27, 2018 | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

By: Mark Burdette

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – News started to spread last week on social media and throughout the Town of Clendenin and the surrounding Elk River community, that Josh Humphreys, Branch Director of the YMCA of Kanawha Valley was going to speak at Monday evening’s Clendenin Town Council Meeting. Just shy of a packed house, over 25 people from the community turned out, not counting town council members, town police and local media. Normally, these meetings aren’t as well attended, but on Monday, August 27, 2018, people came out to hear what Humphreys had to say.

Josh Humphries Presenting Proposed YMCA in Clendenin | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

Josh Humphreys, Branch Director with the YMCA of Kanawha Valley | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

According to Humphreys, following the 2016 flood, he began working and advocating for the YMCA of Kanawha Valley to expand into, and serve, the Elk River Community. Recently he received the green light from YMCA CEO, Monty Warner to do just that. Several locations on Elk River have been scouted according to Humphreys, but all roads lead back to one building in particular, the old Clendenin Elementary School building. Humphreys toured the building extensively to determine the extent of damage, and stated, “Its not that bad.” He sees it as the most attractive and viable option in the Elk River Community.

Since the 2016 Flood there have been concerns from the local community about what exactly will happen to the historic Clendenin Elementary School building. Many from the community have expressed at previous Town Council meetings and Clendenin Planning Commission meetings, and on social media, the desire to explore how the building can be re-purposed to benefit the local community and perhaps the local economy as well. However, it is widely known among citizens in the community that a non-profit organization based in Clendenin called “25045 – A New Clendenin”, has been adamant to destroy the building and convert the site into a “greenspace” and walking area.

Rewind to sometime in 2017. FEMA representatives started holding meetings with “25045 – A New Clendenin”, that were not widely publicized, in which they jointly formulated a proposal to use FEMA dollars to demolish the old Clendenin Elementary School building rendering the site a “greenspace”. “25045 – A New Clendenin” has expressed publicly that if the building is signed over to the town, then it could become a burden to the town at some point and therefore they think it should be demolished and the property signed over to them.

The building is currently owned by the Kanawha County Board of Education and it is important to note here that there is no legal requirement to tear down the building. In fact, the building is somewhat protected due to its historical status. The KCBOE can choose to use FEMA funds for demolition now, and create a “greenspace”, however should the building remain in place, under different ownership, those funds would not be available for demolition later.

On August 3, 2017 the Town of Clendenin posted on their Facebook Page the “Notice of public meeting regarding the Section 106  review under the National Historic Preservation Act and the development of a Memorandum of Agreement for the demolition of Clendenin Elementary School, 503 Maywood Avenue East, Clendenin, WV seeking public comment to be held at the Clendenin Community Center, 101 First Street, Clendenin, WV 25045, August 17, 2017, 6:30 – 9:00 PM”.

The public meeting was held as scheduled, attendance was good, and FEMA representatives gave a presentation on their proposed use of the site in coordination with “25045 – A New Clendenin”. FEMA agreed to demolish the building, build a walking track around the area to include historical markers, insert a flagpole in the center of the grassy area, upgrade the ballfield, and pay for a painted mural on the Little League building. The Kanawha County Board of Education would transfer ownership to “25045 – A New Clendenin”.

The vast majority of citizens in attendance, and those who chose to speak at that meeting, where respectfully NOT in favor of this particular proposal. Comments of opposition varied from some pointing out that the town already had enough “greenspace”, to others that did not see the need for a walking track due to the fact that Clendenin was already a “walking town” with the topography being quite level all the way through town. It was also noted that there is a track just 2 miles downriver at the old Herbert Hoover High School complex. The underlying sentiment of the majority in attendance was that although they did not want to see the building remain empty or see it fall into disrepair, they would rather see the building re-purposed and/or see a better use of the resource than what was being proposed by FEMA and “25045 – A New Clendenin”. They also indicated that they would like to see something go in at that location that would draw people into town and felt that a “greenspace” and walking path would not accomplish that.

Despite those sentiments expressed at the public meeting by the majority of attendees, “25045 – A New Clendenin” continued to pursue the proposed plan anyway. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was drafted and executed by the following federal, state, and county agency representatives, as well as “25045 – A New Clendenin”, however, no signature lines were provided or required, for the Clendenin Town Council Members nor the Mayor of the Town of Clendenin. Many in Clendenin were left wondering why FEMA and the organization “25045 – A New Clendenin” even held a public meeting to begin with, if in the end, the majority opinion of the citizens did not matter, and their elected town officials were completely cut out of the process as well. Signatures included on the executed MOA include the following:

  • Emily E. Breslin, Public Assistance Branch Chief with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Stephanie Everfiled, Acting Regional Environmental Officer withthe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, State Historic Preservation Officer with the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer
  • Jimmy Gianato, Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Frank L. Blackwell, Executive Director of the School Building Authority of West Virginia
  • Dr. Ron Duerring, Superintendent of the Kanawha County Board of Education
  • Kay M. Summers, Vice President with 25045 – A New Clendenin, Inc.

 



Clendenin Elementary MOA FINAL Executed (Text)

Fast forward to now. As of this date, the building still stands, and according to Humphreys, the historic Clendenin Elementary School building would be a perfect location for a new YMCA facility and would easily accommodate many of their popular programs that serve a wide-range of children, teens, adults and seniors.

Early in Humphreys presentation, he shared the following video that showed the services available and the positive impact the Y can have in a community.

Humphreys alluded to a lot of moving parts and community support required to pull off bringing a YMCA to the town of Clendenin. One possible scenario would be for the School Building Authority to donate the building to the town of Clendenin and access federal dollars to fix and renovate the building. According to Humphreys, the YMCA operates on three things: 1) a shoe-string budget, 2) donations, and 3) volunteers. He made it very clear that the YMCA does not have the money to come in and do this all on their own. They need the entire Elk River community to come together and help make this happen.

Councilman Dave Knight, a member of “25045 – A New Clendenin”, was the most vocal during Humphreys’s presentation stating, “We all would love to see a Y come here. You may want to consider other options because you are asking us, as Town Council, stewards of our tax dollars, to stick our necks out and in case it doesn’t work out, we will be left with it to have to demolish it.” Humphreys responded, “That is part of the reason I am here to tell the community it can’t work without the community getting involved and without everybody coming out, signing up and volunteering.” Knight added, “Well if you’re gonna buy this and do it, that would be great. As far as asking us to do it, I don’t see it myself.” To which a citizen replied, “What’s gonna happen to it? [Are] we just going to stand there and look at it for 100 years?” Knight emphatically responded, “It’s going to be torn down. There’s going to be a track put around it. There’s going to be “greenspace”. There’s going to be a splash park”. At this point the citizens began to rumble in disagreement. Humphreys jumped in to further explain that although there are a few locations that could work and house the YMCA, the old Clendenin Elementary School property would allow the YMCA to service the most amount of people in the community, from the very young to our seniors. Humphreys stated, “The more space we’ve got the more things we can do. That’s what it all boils down to.”

Clendenin Town Council Meeting on Monday, August 28, 2018 | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

Clendenin Town Council Meeting on Monday, August 28, 2018 | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

Humphreys went on to explain, “The CEO and the board members of the Y are on board and want to do something to serve the Elk River community.” He continued by expressing concerns of the YMCA board members, stating “They hear about the things that go on up here about the petulant infighting and ridiculous attitudes that some people have up here and it worries them a little bit that the community isn’t going to come together and get behind it.” Humphreys then detailed a vision for the Y, which eventually could serve the entire flood-affected area. The Coonskin pool could be converted to a year-round facility and a location could be set up in Clay. They would customize programs to fit the needs of the community, whether it be exercise classes, daycare, tutoring services, or many other program options. Humphreys further stated that Clendenin could be the central hub for the Y to service the Elk River communities.

Hollie Schoolcraft, President of the Clendenin Homecoming Festival, asked Humphreys, “Is there a way or a place where we can go to keep abreast on what is going on and what we need to do?” Humphreys encouraged everyone to contact Mayor Shana Clendenin, town councilCommissioner Kent CarperCommissioner Ben Salango, and Commissioner Henry Shores with the Kanawha County Commission along with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (choose ‘Send an email to comment on legislation’ from the drop-down), Senator Joe Manchin’s office and Congressman Alex Mooney. Susie Azevedo, District Representative with Congressman Alex Mooney’s office was in attendance and expressed her support for the YMCA to come to Clendenin and offered to help in any way they could.

In order to serve our community better, we have resources available to our readers on our website to make it easy for you to contact your town, local, state and federal officials (click the corresponding link).

Town resident and community volunteer, Midge Forwood made a great observation that a lot of the town’s patrons are not from Clendenin, but from the surrounding areas in Clay and Roane counties. Humphreys echoed that sentiment that those areas needed served as well and the Y is about serving the entire community.

Schoolcraft added, “There comes a time when you have to take a leap of faith. We can sit around as a community and whine for the next 20 years like I’ve heard for the last 50 years ‘there’s nothing to do, there’s nothing for our kids, we don’t have anything for the seniors, Clendenin is dead’, well…Pick up a shovel!”

Humphreys exclaimed, “What’s going to do the community the best, is what I want to strive for, is strive for the best.”

Susan Jack, community volunteer and co-owner of The Clendenin Leader agreed, “That’s right! We need to strive for the best and quit settling for second best, and we need to go big or go home! We’ve got tremendous potential in this town. We have to start thinking more of ourselves, and we have got to get out and recruit interest with people in Clay and Roane County and get them on board with us. Trust me, there is going to be a lot of people in Clay and Roane counties that will be just as excited about this as the people of Clendenin. Personally, I would love to see that school building saved. I know that’s a risk, but what isn’t in life? I would love to see the school building saved as opposed to more “greenspace”. We have a lot of “greenspace”, rail trails, and we have a walking town. I think it would be a great use of that resource if we can make that work.”

Clendenin Town Council Meeting on Monday, August 28, 2018 | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

Clendenin Town Council Meeting on Monday, August 28, 2018 | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette

Anita Edmonds made the most profound quote of the evening saying, “When you think about it, every one of us took a risk when we put our houses back together. We didn’t have to do that. I think we all deserve this and I think it’s a good thing.”

Councilman John Shelton encouraged everyone to get involved and come out to the Town Council meetings and show your support if you want to a YMCA in your local community.

I asked Mayor Shana Clendenin what she believes is the next steps in pursuing this opportunity with the YMCA, and she said, “I believe the next steps are to band together and come up with a plan to secure funding for the project. I wholeheartedly believe in the capabilities of the YMCA and the immense opportunity their presence in Clendenin would have on not just the children, but for our adults and seniors as well. I have been working and talking with several key players for this project for a while now. Community support and togetherness is key in making this dream come true for Clendenin’s future.”

Many residents expressed a desire to see the Clendenin Elementary School building saved, and as expressed so eloquently by Midge Forwood, “It is part of our history”.

Ruth Trembula delivers letter written by Karen McClure to Town Council

Clendenin resident Ruth Trembula also read a letter from Karen McClure, who wasn’t able to attend, to express her support for the YMCA to come to Clendenin and occupy the old Clendenin Elementary School building | Photo Credit: Mark Burdette



Karen McClure Letter to Clendenin Town Council Meeting August 27, 2018 (Text)

Local supporters of the YMCA coming to Clendenin have started a Facebook Group called Elk River Community FOR YMCA in Clendenin, WV. They have also created the following social media graphic to allow supporters to change out their Facebook profile picture to help spread the word and encourage others to support the cause. Just right click on the graphic below and save it to your computer or mobile device to upload it to your Facebook page and update your profile picture.

FULL AUDIO of YMCA Presentation by Josh Humphries

FULL AUDIO of Interview with Josh Humphries

Nation’s Oldest Community Reunion Kicks Off This Weekend in Pinch, WV

By: Angela Brown | Posted: August 8, 2018

PINCH, W.Va. – For the 117th year in a row, the annual Pinch Reunion will be held from Friday, August 10th through Sunday, August 12th, 2018 in Pinch. WV.

Considered the oldest community reunion in the United States, the event was founded by Judge William Wertz, and originally included civic debates, music, and various community events.

This year’s Pinch Reunion weekend will be filled with a variety of activities for all ages; 5K run/Walk; pie, cookie, cake and cupcake baking contest; car show, vendor and craft fair, games for kids, and a parade. In keeping with tradition, live music will take place Friday and Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Wigwam. Sunday’s festivities include a community church service followed by live Gospel music and free hot dog lunch at 1:30 p.m.

Schedule of events include: Friday: 6:30 p.m. at the Pinch Reunion Grounds Wigwam: Free music including local legend “The Earl of Elkview” George Dougherty, followed by bluegrass music by Band Wagon at 7 p.m. Saturday: 8 a.m., 5K Run/Walk beginning at Pinch Elementary School, with registration beginning at 7 a.m.; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Car Show at New Beginnings Church; 10 a.m., The Coopers Creek CEOS Pie and Cookie Baking Contest submission drop-off at Heritage Baptist Church (for information call 304-541-9026); 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Vendor/Craft Fair at the VFW building; 4 p.m., Parade beginning at Pinch Elementary School with lineup beginning at 3pm; 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Family Fun Night at Mt. Tabor Church; 7:00 p.m. Awards presentations at the wigwam, 7:15 p.m. – 9 p.m. free concert with opening act Jake and Jocelyn Hayhurst, followed by a country music concert by Clay County native Joanna Young at the Wigwam. Sunday 11 a.m., Community Church Service at Heritage Baptist Church; 1:30 p.m., Reunion closing ceremonies will begin followed by a free hot dog lunch and gospel sing from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the wigwam. For more information, visit www.pinchreunion.webs.com or look up Pinch Reunion WV on Facebook.

For more information about this year’s Pinch Reunion contact Angela Brown at (304) 553-2114.

Christmas in July Give-A-Way by Elk River Get-A-Way

Sponsored By: Elk River Getaway

Elk River Getaway is having a Christmas in July Give-A-Way.

Enter to win 1 of 12 FREE half day rentals. The drawing will be held July 25th.

To enter, visit the following participating locations below, write your name and phone number on the back of your receipt and drop in the event box onsite.

Winning Passes Valid: Aug. – Sept. 2018

For more information call (304) 993-0006 or visit www.elkgetaway.com

Good luck from The Clendenin Leader and Elk River Getaway!

WV State Board of Education Votes To Close Bridge Elementary, Merge With New Clendenin Elementary School

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – The West Virginia State Board of Education voted to close Bridge Elementary at their monthly meeting on July 11, 2018. This vote allows Bridge to be merged into the new Clendenin Elementary School.

According to Jeff Jenkins, reporter with WCHS News Network, stated in his latest article, “The vote was approval of a change in the Kanawha County school system’s facilities plan.”

Clendenin Elementary was destroyed in the June 2016 flood and has been a tremendous loss to the Clendenin community. Since then, students have been attending school in portables that were constructed to accommodate them at the current Bridge Elementary location in Elkview. The two schools will become one once the new building is constructed. It’s expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

Clendenin and Falling Rock Area Without Power

By: Mark Burdette | Posted: July 11, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – According to Metro 911 American Electric Power is advising 882 without power. Estimated restoral time is 6:00 p.m. today.

According to Appalachian Power’s outage map the outage started at 11:37 a.m. with an estimated restoration time of 4:00 p.m. As of 3:30 p.m. there are currently 595 outages remaining. Keep checking back for updates.

This outage comes on the heels of multiple outages customers have experienced in the Mink Shoals, Big Chimney, Elkview, Pinch and Clendenin over the past few days.

Herbert Hoover’s Missy Smith Named 2018 MaxPreps National Softball Coach of the Year

Coach Missy Smith and family members. (left to right: mother Regina Anderson, brother Andy Anderson, niece Emma Anderson and father Nip Anderson). Photo Courtesy of Beth Strawn.

By: Mark Burdette | July 1, 2018 at 7:27 p.m.

Herbert Hoover High School Coach Missy Smith. Photo Courtesy of Beth Strawn.

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – Herbert Hoover softball coach Missy Smith and her Lady Huskies officially hit the national stage with their victory over Hurricane earlier this season according to MaxPreps softball sports writer, Tom Mauldin. Mauldin reached out to The Clendenin Leader on Friday after multiple failed attempts to contact Coach Smith to share the exciting news that MaxPreps was officially naming Smith the 2018 National Softball Coach of the Year. After successfully connecting Mauldin and Smith to do an interview we could hardly contain ourselves to share in this honor that was bestowed on Coach Smith and to hear her reaction firsthand.

I waited until the next day to give Coach Smith some time to let the news sink in after her interview with Mauldin. Admittedly, I was a little nervous prepping for the interview because after hearing the news myself I knew just how big this was going to be for Coach Smith, her team and the entire Elk River community. This is a very big deal! Mauldin said it best, “There are more than 20,000 public high schools in the U.S. and thousands of private schools. Coach of the Year honor doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

(left to right) Taylor Carpenter, Megan Seafler, Coach Missy Smith and Rebekah Woody. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

Coach Smith and the Lady Huskies’ community impact

Needless to say my first question to Coach Smith was to capture the impact this award had on her personally in being recognized as National Softball Coach of the Year. Smith said, “It’s nice and I always appreciate it, but I like it better when the girls get recognized. A good coach is one thing but you don’t win these awards or get recognized unless you have great players and great people behind you. It’s really not just my award, it is everybody’s.”

Since the 2016 flood that devastated the Town of Clendenin, Elkview and the surrounding area, the Lady Huskies have brought home back-to-back state championships. Their third title in five years. This team has been a beacon of light and hope for a community that has endured so much over the past two years. The one thing I noticed in talking with Delani Buckner and Coach Smith is their poise in handling their success, while keeping the bigger picture in perspective knowing they are not only playing for themselves, they are playing for the entire community.

Smith added, “I think it allows us to understand that we (community) are bigger than just us. We are a small school in West Virginia but we have great players and great support in our area. You don’t have to be from a huge school in another state to be recognized for the great things that you do. I feel like we are a rallying point for everyone. I said the same thing when we won in 2014 and again in 2017 and 2018, the state championship belongs to the whole community, not just the girls on the field. It’s for anyone that has ever worn the Hoover uniform, for anyone that has been to a Hoover game, or help coach, or drug a field, or threw a batting practice. It belongs to everyone, no matter how small, that has helped the Hoover program.”

Volunteers Helping Clean-up and Repair Michael Chandler Field after 2016 Flood. Photo courtesy of Kellie Baker.

The announcement of her award comes just two years after the 2016 floods that completely destroyed Herbert Hoover High School. The entire athletic complex was flooded. The clean-up and repairs took several months to get the sports facilities ready for the upcoming school year. As reported by Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Derek Redd in his June 22, 2017 article ‘Herbert Hoover showed resiliency, found success in face of tragic floods“, you can gain a sense of how the odds were stacked against the entire community. Elkview Middle School became the new Herbert Hoover High School in the afternoons, while the middle school students went during the morning. It took over a year

Herbert Hoover High School with Elkview Middle School in the background.

Herbert Hoover High School with Elkview Middle School in the background. Photo by Mark Burdette.

before portables were built in the parking lot of the middle school, which is now the temporary home of Herbert Hoover High School. Amidst the chaos which had become a constant for them, and against all odds – sharing space with the middle school because they lost their school and some lost so much more – I asked Coach Smith how her team found a way to stay focused and achieve this level of success, while the world surrounding them was completely destroyed. Smith said, “They are resilient. Whatever you create for your new normal you adapt to. Hoover softball has been Hoover softball since Mike Chandler started the program and the expectations have been the same. It may be a different venue or a different time but the expectations were the same and they knew they could count on their sponsor, their coach, their teammates to help them through whatever they need to get through.”

Hoover stuns Hurricane

Herbert Hoover Softball Coach Missy Smith Congratulating Her Players. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

The Clendenin Leader is new to the community and even though we know or know of the people we interview it still takes time to build rapport and to get up to speed with all the backstory. The Lady Huskies have kept the local media on their toes with their amazing undefeated run this past season. It was important to me with this opportunity to interview Coach Smith and reflect back to the turning point in the season when Hoover stunned Hurricane on a Thursday night in May. Smith added, “The longer that game went on and we were able to stay ahead and keep Hurricane off the base path and play good defense, you could see our confidence building. We had a good record going into that game and everybody knew that we were good, but that was really a confidence boost for us that we could finish it out and be undefeated.” Smith went on to explain that some believed their winning streak was due to a weaker strength of schedule, but the win over Hurricane gave the team the additional confidence they needed.

The Huskies shutout the Redskins, the defending Class AAA state champion five out of the last six years, who only managed just three hits against undefeated pitcher, Delani Buckner. Buckner struck out nine and walked one to lead her team to a 3-0 victory. According to Mauldin, beating Hurricane was when Hoover started to show up on his radar at the national level. After the shutout win Buckner said, “It was wild. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Hurricane knew us very, very well and we knew we had to come in focused. It felt pretty good

Herbert Hoover High School Pitcher Delani Buckner. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

but we knew that we weren’t giving up just yet.” Meaning there was more work for them to do to defend their Class AA crown. They ended up doing just that, repeating as Class AA champions for the second year in a row by defeating Chapmanville at the state tournament, and finished No. 5 in the nation in MaxPreps final poll.

Coach Smith on Delani Buckner

As reported earlier by Mauldin with MaxPreps and the follow-up story I did on MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Delani Buckner, Coach Smith had these words to say about her star pitcher, “I’m happy for Delani being recognized but I don’t want to lose sight of all the girls because I’m proud of each and every one of them, the coaching staff, the community and the administration. One of things about Delani is that she doesn’t realize how good she is and she is always very supportive of her teammates. We can’t do it without her and she knows we can’t do it without them. One of the things I appreciate about our whole team is that they recognize that they need each other.”

A glimpse into the 2019 season

It was no secret to those who followed high school softball in West Virginia that Coach Smith was doing something very special at Hoover. The Lady Huskies were dominating the competition in every game. I asked Coach Smith what she attributed to their dominance on the softball field over their opponents this past year. Smith said, “A lot of it is the hard work these girls put into the off-season playing travel ball and working in the batting cages all winter. When we started in March we were already in mid-season form and kept going from there. This is a very tight knit group of young ladies. They genuinely care about each other and want each other to succeed and do well. When it goes beyond team you start to play selfless because you are playing for your sister and the other team members. Makes it easy to coach a team like that.”

Teams have to be worried knowing the formula that Coach Smith described above is going to be a tall order come next season. Hoover graduated four seniors, Buckner will be a junior and there are four freshman coming up from

MaxPreps 2018 National Softball Coach of the Year. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

Elkview Middle School who have a lot of promise. According to Smith, the biggest challenge going into next season will be managing that confidence, cocky kind of line. Smith added, “I want them to play with great confidence but I don’t want them to get overblown egos and start to be cocky. That is when you let a game slip through your fingers that you could win and I don’t want to be in that spot. Going into next season everybody has to get better. Nobody can be where we were at the end of last year and expect to pick back up and be successful next year. The Saturday after the state tournament we had one girl in a summer tournament and most of the girls competed the following Saturday playing and working hard in the off-season so we are ready to go come next Spring.” “From the second the last pitch was thrown at the state tournament, along with a couple of hours celebrating our victory, I’m already thinking what we need to do for next season.”

A dynasty and legacy being built right before our eyes

Smith played volleyball, basketball and softball (CF, SS) during her high school career for the Lady Huskies from 1993-1996. She graduated from Hoover in 1996. For those of you who don’t know she is a 7th grade science teacher at Elkview Middle School, as well as head volleyball coach for the George Washington High School Patriots based in Charleston, WV since 2005. Smith mentioned the tremendous support from the administration, especially Hoover’s principal Mike Kelly. She said, “Michael Kelly has done a tremendous job restoring pride and expectation to Hoover. Ever since Kelly took over we have seen great successes in the classroom and on the athletic field. As a former student-athlete at Hoover it’s been really nice to see.”

Smith is only the second head coach in Hoover softball history. Mike Chandler started the program in 1987 and coached 19 seasons, won over 400 games, made 3 state tournament appearances with one 3rd place and two runner-up finishes. Smith was an assistant coach under Chandler for two and a half seasons before taking over the reigns in 2006. Smith has amassed a 281-94 (.749 winning percentage) record along with 3 Class AA state championships (2014, 2017-2018) at Hoover. Smith reflected saying, “Chandler literally built our field from the ground up with his bare hands. He definitely laid the foundation. I couldn’t be as successful as I am without what he had done first.” Today where the Lady Huskies play their home games is aptly named, Mike Chandler Field.

When I personally congratulated Smith on her award and the success she and her team has had since winning their first state championship in 2014. She said, “It’s been a pretty good run.” Coach Smith, I concur and the many lives you have touched over the years would agree as well.

 

Herbert Hoover Huskies Region 2 Champs. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

Be sure to checkout other national and local media coverage of this amazing honor for Herbert Hoover High School softball coach Missy Smith.

 

 

Delani Buckner Named To Sophomore All-American Team by MaxPreps

Delani Buckner winding up to deliver a pitch. Photo Courtsey of Beth Strawn.

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – Tom Mauldin with MaxPreps unveiled Thursday their 2018 national high school underclass softball All-Americans. It comes as no surprise to see our very own Delani Buckner on the list.

“Buckner (P) led the Huskies to a 33-0 record and the Class AA state championship when she compiled a 21-0 record with a 0.39 ERA. She struck out 239 batters and issued 28 walks in 125 innings. Add to that, she had a .351 batting average and 19 RBIs” according to MaxPreps.

I had an opportunity to speak with Delani to reflect back on the amazing year she and her teammates had in winning back-to-back state championships, their third in five years. When asked what it meant to be personally recognized on a national level she said, “It was a pretty out-of-this-world feeling.” Buckner went on to add, “I don’t think I would be recognized at this level if it weren’t for my team and my coaches and us being so well received.”

Delani Buckner pitching. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

The impact these young athletes currently have on our community through their hard work and success is nothing short of spectacular. Buckner added, “We are very close knit and if someone gets an award or the team gets an award it’s like the community getting an award as well.” There is no doubt Delani and her teammates are very aware how much they mean to our community and how proud we are of them and their accomplishments on and off the field.

The Lady Huskies totally dominated this season and Buckner attributes her and her team’s performance this past year to confidence. Buckner said, “We never doubted ourselves, we were there for each other and picked each other up if we were having a bad day. Our coaches believed in us no matter what day it was or who we were playing.”

According to softball writer Tom Mauldin with MaxPreps, Hoover started to receive national attention after their victory over Hurricane earlier this year. After beating Hurricane, Buckner stated, “It was wild. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Hurricane knew us very, very well and we knew we had to come in focused. It felt pretty good but we knew that we weren’t giving up just yet.”

Despite being a young team there is a noticeable confidence about this team going into next year that will be on everyone’s radar. Buckner said, “We know we are going to have a huge target on our back. A lot of teams are going to be focused on getting a hit off us and wanting to beat us. Coming off a perfect season we know it will be tough to keep it going.”

As we were reflecting back on the success that she and her team had this year Delani wanted to share a few comments directed towards the Elk River community. “I want to tell the community thank you for all their endless support and staying up to 1:00 a.m. to watch us play Chapmanville in the state tournament. It truly means a lot to us and I just wanted to thank you for everything.”

Herbert Hoover Softball Community. Photo courtesy of Beth Strawn.

The future is definitely bright for Delani, but maybe not so bright for the batters that will have to face her over the next two years. We will be looking forward to next season with great anticipation and wish the Lady Huskies continued success.

To see the complete list of juniors, sophomores and freshman stars across the nation including the 2018 MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year read the full article by Tom Mauldin on MaxPreps.

Mayor Clendenin sheds light on letter to Governor Jim Justice

CLENDENIN, W.Va. – Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Town of Clendenin’s mayor, Shana Clendenin to go deeper into the letter she hand delivered to Governor Jim Justice on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. In addition, she copied and hand delivered the letter to the following state officials to inform them of the difficulties the Town of Clendenin had experienced when reaching out asking for assistance from the State of West Virginia.

Below is the two page letter by Mayor Shana Clendenin which provides a detailed account and timeline of her attempt to request help from employees with the West Virginia State Office of Emergency Management including Director Jimmy Gianato, House Speaker Tim Armstead, and members of the Justice Administration over the past year.

I invite you to listen to my interview with Mayor Shana Clendenin where she provides a detailed firsthand background of the challenges she and her administration has been faced with since taking office in July of 2017 as a result of the 2016 Flood. Also, the mayor gives us an update on the 1st Annual Clendenin Homecoming Festival that kicks off on Friday.