Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Oct. 1 letters to the editor

Regarding WVU cuts to library funding

I had to laugh when I read The Dominion Post story “Transformation moves on to Academic Units” (9-21-23) about cuts to library funding as part of the “Academic Transformation” project.

First, I laughed when Mark Gavin was quoted as saying that the libraries are “effective at providing key services” and that stakeholder responses regarding WVU Libraries were “voluminous and positive.” I guess the administration decided to fix that!

With loss of library spaces and an $800,000 cut to the personnel budget, can there be such good service and happy stakeholders? That dollar amount ironically is equal to President Gee’s salary — one Gee or maybe two Alsops. But it represents quite a few positions lost to the libraries, since librarians and staff aren’t actually paid at Stewart Hall levels. So keep up the good work, WVU Libraries. Just do it with fewer librarians and staff and smaller library spaces.

My second big laugh came when the article quotes a press release from Library Dean Diaz in which she says these cuts would not impact library materials. Perhaps not these particular cuts, but the truth is that library collections are already decimated after years of budget cuts.

I retired at the end of 2020. Over the prior five or six years, I participated in round after round of cuts to academic journal subscriptions, engaging with colleagues in difficult and often contentious debates of use, value and cost.

We did this work and made these hard decisions as dedicated professionals and with best intentions, but with academic journals, books and research databases canceled or never purchased at all, the collections today do not compare to those of the past or even to those of a modest, smallish university, let alone an R1 research institution.

I guess it goes hand in hand with the rest of the so-called transformations. This transformation just began some time ago in the WVU Libraries.

I’m not sure why I’m laughing.

Penny Pugh

It takes news cameras to get DOH to respond

In response to the letter “Complaining to the DOH a waste of breath” from two weeks ago: Mr. Correll may appreciate this.

About 6 weeks ago I submitted a letter to the editor over roads. A couple days later this happened.

WDTV was airing a story about a woman in Salt Rock, Cabell County, complaining about her road. She had called the Division of Highways for a fourth time complaining. That section of road looked like it had been hit with an earthquake, with a huge crack in the middle. Sunken pavement and upheavals, too. She was told if the DOH put pavement over it, that would just make it worse due to added weight. What a line that was!

So she called WSAZ to come out for a story. The reporter graciously came out and filmed the road, showing the terrible conditions. While the reporter was there, the woman asked them if they could drive up the road to look at a bridge. The reporter did that, too. The filming showed holes in the bridge deck all the way through. Some of the concrete handrail posts had broken away from their reinforcing steel rods.

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

About 24 hours after that piece aired on TV, the DOH was out fixing the road. The woman that complained saw them. So she thought, “I will go to the bridge to see if they are there, too.”

Nope, it was the utility company moving lines — for a new bridge. One of the workers told her the bridge weight limit was 30 tons. He said he wouldn’t take three tons across it.

The WSAZ reporter did more questioning of the DOH and found out the bridge was to be replaced in 2020.

All I can say, don’t change that channel. More news at 11.

Rick Felton

If kids fail school, it’s because state failed

The youth of West Virginia deserve better from West Virginia Department of Education, the Legislature, the governor and every local school board in this state.

In August of this year, Wallethub ranked West Virginia schools 50th in the nation.

Blaming everything on COVID lockdowns has become cliché and no longer holds water. That was two years ago — what are you doing to serve the youth of our state here and now?

The spin doctors from the Mon County Board of Education tried to explain the D- grade (62.9% proficiency in English and 61.4% in math) as being better than the rest of the state, which received F grades of 55% in English and 51% in math.

West Virginia voters should demand our state Board of Education review why the materials they are distributing and approving are not working. The Legislature needs to address that fact that if it’s going to keep school teachers at salaries that rank among the lowest in the nation, then it should expect to attract that level of faculty to serve the state’s schools. Legislators should be more concerned with the failing education system than bragging about budget surpluses, building baseball stadiums and airplane hangars. 

The county boards of education need to focus on teaching skills that develop students’ ability to proficiently comprehend written material by understanding grammar and vocabulary, as well as how to logically approach math in a manner that doesn’t require two full pages to solve a division problem. We probably need to get some serious history and civics lessons in the school day, too, since we seem doomed to repeat the errors of the past.

There’s too much pressure on teachers to teach the answers to standardized tests to inflate scores as opposed to teaching the skills to logically approach problems and solve for the answers to standardized tests.

The Monongalia County BOE can attempt to wag the dog all it wants with its press release, but government entities continuing to do what they are doing and expecting a different outcome is insanity.

Cynthia Nelson

Solar is not the utopian dream it’s portrayed as

In a utopian world, no one pays for anything and everything for everyone is provided free of charge. In the world that we live in, everything has a price and solar energy is no different.

The sunlight and wind may be free, but the equipment to produce energy from them certainly is not. So, if there is a choice whether or not to install the means to produce that energy by a private person or a company, then by definition there is a choice given to the consumer of whether or not to pay for that energy production.

There are very few businesses that produce in bulk who get paid retail value vs. wholesale value, in this case, solar energy produced by a homeowner. A homeowner who has had the benefit of having a large percentage of their energy generation capacity paid for by the United States taxpayers through tax credits. They have the additional benefit of a guaranteed market for their product, because the company they are connected to has no choice in purchasing their energy.

As a business owner, this would be a dream come true, but as a taxpayer, it is a nightmare. Solar and wind energy production may sound like that utopian world has finally come into reality, but that reality is really just smoke and mirrors.

Without taxpayer support, there is no way that either solar or wind will ever produce enough energy to pay off our, the taxpayers, initial investment in their installation. The vast majority of “alternative energy production” will end up being lawn art well before it pays for itself.

In West Virginia, we, as a state, are sitting on some of the most productive natural gas-producing ground in the world. Oddly enough, the gas producers are not asking for taxpayer support to produce their product.

There is no free ride in this world, nor should there be.

Andrew Price