Board approves school officers

WELLSBURG — Three law enforcement officers will serve in Brooke County schools through the support of the county’s school board.

The board of education, on Monday, approved agreements with the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and Follansbee Police enabling Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Robertson and Follansbee Officer Megan Himmelrick to serve as prevention resource officers at Brooke High School and Brooke Intermediate North, formerly known as Jefferson Primary School.

Robertson has been a sheriff’s deputy for five years, having served previously in the Follansbee Police Department. Himmelrick came to the department last fall after serving the Weirton Police Department.

Prevention resource officers serve as liaisons between law enforcement agencies and schools, particularly students, and are trained in responding to various crises.

Earlier this month the board approved an agreement allowing Wellsburg Police Capt. Paul Pownall to serve as a PRO at the new Brooke Middle School. Through an agreement with the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department, Pownall will continue to serve in the capacity he had at the former Wellsburg Middle School but within the sheriff’s department’s jurisdiction.

The agreements call for the board to provide $40,000 each for the services of Pownall and Robertson and $30,000 for Himmelrick.

Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute said the lesser amount for Himmelrick is because she is employed part-time by Follansbee and won’t be working a full day at the school.

The Brooke County Sheriff’s Department was among the first in the state to introduce resource officers to schools. In recent years, the board has agreed to fund the officers as state grants became less available.

Shute said she would like to see more of the school district’s five-year operating levy used to place officers in the county’s remaining three schools. She said that would be possible now that a bulk of the levy funds are no longer funding teacher and service personnel not covered by the state.

The levy, which also funds materials for students and other expenses, is up for renewal next spring.

In other business:

• The board heard from parent Jason Walnoha, who said his son must walk a mile and a half to his bus stop because the county’s school buses won’t travel closer to his Greens Run Road home. He added his daughter will have to drive to the high school because of the distance and he’s not able to take her and asked if the $50 parking fee for students could be waived for her.

Ron Staffileno, transportation director, said the road is among several removed from school bus routes because they aren’t safe. He said a slip along the road and the lack of guardrails leaves him concerned a bus could go over the hill.

Walnoha said a bus could approach the area from the top of the hill and turn around at his or another property.

Staffileno agreed to look into that, while Shute said she will discuss waiving the student parking fee with the high school’s administration.

Board member Brian Ferguson suggested affected parents urge state officials to repair the roads that have been deemed unsafe.

• Parent Kenny Orovic complained of a missing rail to steps outside Brooke Primary North, formerly Hooverson Heights Primary School, and about water entering the building, damaging ceiling tiles and walls and creating a musty smell.

Rob Robinson, facilities director, said a contractor has been hired to repair the rail, and while the steps lead to a boiler room not entered by pupils, agreed to look into a fence for the area.

Shute said the building took in water during a recent heavy rain, damaging furniture, carpet and items for the school’s closet stored in the basement, but repairs have been made.

Robinson said a sump pump and other drainage measures have been employed in the basement.

Following the meeting, Shute was asked about the status of Tim Turner, a music teacher at Brooke Middle School who has been charged with sexual abuse of a juvenile whom he met while working as a band director at Wellsburg Middle School.

Turner’s case is pending in Brooke County Magistrate Court.

Shute said Turner has been placed on paid leave while an investigation is done and she and others will cooperate with the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department in its own investigation.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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