Precision Services offers opportunity for many
A staff of 67 dedicated workers, including these employees make Precision Services a major employer in Braxton County.
By Shirley Shuman
A non-profit business located in Gassaway offers what executive director Jack Holcomb calls “job training along with independence training” to several individuals, and these individuals have jobs with the company once the training is complete. Precision Services, which currently trains and employs 67 individuals, actually generates, Holcomb said, “around 95 percent” of its revenue through the work of its employees.
The workers, about 80 percent of whom have some type of disability, receive minimum wage pay to begin. Here the director commented, “The Division of Rehabilitation Services wants integration among our work force, and they approve of the 80-20 division.” These individuals, whose ages range widely—one worker has been with the business for 31 years, the director noted—are involved in four different types of work.
One of those is microfilming, which Holcomb said actually began in 1984. Before that, the non-profit now known as Precision Services, “basically did a lot of craft work” under at least one different name. Once the employees had learned the microfilming process, the business received state contracting, and, since 1986, all state agencies must use Precision Services for their microfilming needs unless, Holcomb said, “they do it in-house.” The business also has some contracts with private firms.
While microfilm definitely allowed a much more compact method of storing important documents, it seems destined to be replaced by document imaging. “In the early 1990s,” Holcomb said, “a lot of agencies began using document imaging. We trained individuals in the process by 1999, and we now have state contracts for this process, too.” A tour through the main building of the company showed workers busy with the various steps in document imaging.
Rachel Barrows, the assistant executive director of the company, explained that the company “guarantees 99.9 percent accuracy” in document imaging; therefore the employees work hard to fulfill that guarantee. The process includes several steps, each of which is taken quite seriously.
First, Barrows explained, comes the “prepping.” Here workers remove staples, rubber bands, and anything else which might obstruct the imaging process. Then come “flagging and cleaning,” in which a worker removes any marks on the document which might interfere with clarity.
After each document has gone through these two processes, workers scan the documents. “We scan eight or nine boxes of documents a day,” Barrows said. Because pages sometimes stick together when they have been scanned, next comes visual quality control, where a worker compares each actual page to what has been scanned to verify that not one page has been missed.
Indexing follows the scanning process. Holcomb explained, “After scanning a file, the worker goes back in and creates a name for it so the owner can access it quickly.” Next comes burning the documents on to DVDs. Not all of the digital imaging that Precision Services workers do, however, follows the path beginning with paper documents. For documents which have previously been stored on microfilm, there are machines, Holcomb explained, to convert microfilm to images. “There are 2800 images on a roll of microfilm, but it takes only 10 to 15 minutes to scan it for digital imaging,” he said, adding that the trend is definitely toward the latter method of storing documents.
Some individuals work at shredding in the same building which houses the document imaging is shredding. One day last week, two individuals were busy shredding documents. Holcomb noted that, after the company has preserved documents on microfilm or through imaging, those paper documents are stored for six months. “After that time, we contact the sources to determine whether they want the original documents shredded. If they do, we take care of that, and what we shred goes to a recycling agency.”
A fourth type of work done by Precision Services employees involves janitorial duties. At this time, the business has contracts with some state agencies for janitorial services. The biggest of these is the Burnsville Rest Area. “Our workers maintain the building and the grounds of that rest area 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Holcomb reported. He noted that right now they have janitorial service contracts not only in Braxton County but also in Lewis and Gilmer.
The non-profit now known as Precision Services, which has a current budget of $1.4 million began in 1980 as Braxton VOICE. Stationed in Sutton, the business dealt with the disabled, often high-school age. At one time, it was referred to as a “sheltered workshop.” However, Holcomb explained that the term no longer fits. Providing a valuable service, the non-profit grew rapidly until, in 2006, it had outgrown its original home. “We liked the location, but we simply outgrew it. We had to have a lot of workers; therefore, we needed much more room,” Holcomb said. The result was the move to Gassaway.
Precision Services, governed by a Board of Directors made up of eight individuals, has as its main goal, Barrows noted, “always to employ people with disabilities.” She added, “If they come here, we’ll train them to work here.” She told the story of one student who came from the high school “terrified of computers.” That individual “is now probably the best worker we have and has been here 12 or 13 years.”
Barrows also mentioned that she has helped individuals who want to try working in the community. Some make it; others return. Barrows commented, “I actually did that [job placement] until we began document imaging.” Now she trains and supervises workers in that area.
Holcomb has been with the company for 25 years. He began “in marketing and sales of microfilm.” He said, “Many agencies have switched to document imaging,” so one of his duties now lies in that area
Both Holcomb and Barrows stressed that their employees’ disabilities are wide-ranging. “Some have mental disabilities; others have physical disabilities,” Barrows said. She added, “We’ve had workers with emotional problems, including panic attacks. Drug and alcohol addiction comes in there, too.” Here she stated firmly, “However, for work and training here, an individual must have had six months of sobriety.”
The executive director and his assistant both firmly believe in the value of what they do. Focused on helping individuals with disabilities to gain independence and pride, the two have obviously had significant success. A tour through the facility showed an employee—supervisor relationship seemingly developed through mutual respect. Every single worker greeted Holcomb and Barrows with a smile. They definitely recognize Precision Services as a good place to be.
Commissioners differ over budget revisions
Commissioners had different ideas of how to make mandatory budget revisions at a special meeting last Friday, July 25. The bulk of the hour and a half session was devoted to debating different ideas on how to balance the budget for county expenses as State Code Requires.
Commission President Gary Ellyson had a different idea of how to balance the revised budget than did his colleagues, Terry Frame and Ron Facemire. Ellyson voiced concerns over what he felt was insufficient funding to meet the county’s obligations to the Regional Jail Authority. He also objected to taking money from the Hotel Motel Tax for the West Virginia University Extension Services. Ellyson read a letter from the State Auditor’s office contouring with his opinion that the use of Hotel Motel funds did not comply with state code.
Ellyson said that cuts originally proposed would nearly make up the short falls and he felt restoring those deletions was not in the best interest of the County. In making a motion to approve the revision, Terry Frame stated that she felt the changes would best benefit the taxpayers. The revisions were adopted on a two to one split vote with Ellyson voting against the changes.
Ellyson also voted against hiring a full-time employee to fill a vacancy in the County Clerk’s office. He stated that not filing that position was part of the original budget cuts he supported to balance the budget and he would not vote in favor of the additional employee. Terry Frame made a motion to hire Leah Herndon as a full-time employee in the County Clerk’s office at a salary of $18,000 per year plus full county benefits.
Editor’s Note: Due to the complexity and differences in opinion, the Citizens’ News will present an article next week detailing just how the budget changed and who it will impact.
In other business, Mike Baker, EMS/9-1-1 Director addressed the Commission and requested that they reconsider his request to purchase a tractor and attachments from Nettles Equipment at a cost of $18,800. He stated that the purchase would come from 9-1-1 funds which did not impact the budget short fall facing the general county budget. That request was approved.
Terry Frame made a motion to renew a contract with Software Systems for only one year opposed the three year agreement orginally outlined. That action was unanimously approved.
It was also Frame who made a motion to issue an order admitting the will of Herbert Ratliff to Probate.
Being no additional items on the special agenda call, the meeting adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will be on Friday, August 1 beginning at 9:00 a.m.
claims Frametown man
This motorcycle accident claimed the life of a Frametown man early Wednesday evening.
A motorcycle accident on the Wilsie/Stumptown Road in the Big Run Hill area has claimed the life of a 19 year old Frametown man. The incident was reported at approximately 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 23.
According to a witness, the lone rider of a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja, lost control of his motorcycle, veered from the roadway and struck the guardrail. The impact ejected the rider who was thrown approximately 20 feet into a tree. Dillon Tyler Sears was taken to Braxton County Memorial Hospital by Braxton EMS where he was pronounced dead from his extensive injuries.
Deputy Luke Johnson of the Braxton County Sheriff’s Department stated that an eye witness following the motorcycle saw the accident and reported it. The investigation is continuing.
Burnsville fugitive apprehended
Sgt. M.R. Yost of the Sutton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police received a tip that a fugitive wanted in the state of Florida was in the Burns-ville area. On Thursday, July 25 Troopers J.D. Jordan and J. M. Maynor along with Braxton County Sheriff’s Deputy T.V. Flint traveled to the Pine Ridge Apartments in Burnsville to attempt to locate Andrew Tyler Dennison. The search of the local housing complex was unsuccessful.
The search of the Burnsville area continued. Approximately 30 minutes after arriving in the northern Braxton location, officers found the subject alongside the road near the 79’er Restaurant parking lot. He was taken into custody without incident.
Dennison,20, is wanted for burglary of a structure, grand theft and possession of burglary tools. He is currently lodged in the Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition to the state of Florida.
Landmark Studio set to celebrate 25 years
By Shirley Shuman
Developing from a beginning group of a few individuals to a noted venue for theater and other cultural aspects, the Landmark Studio has reached its twenty-fifth year of existence. A year-long celebration filled with performances and activities has already begun and will continue through June 2015.
Although some say Nunsense kicked off the anniversary celebration, actress/director/jill-of-all-trades Merlene Campbell insists, “The celebration begins with six performances of Godspell the first two weekends of September. Jamie [Jarvis} is directing it, and they had their first rehearsal, a read-through, last Saturday.” Jarvis is a Board member and active participant in Landmark activities.
Also set for September, the Greenbrier Valley Theatre will be give one performance of Stand by Your Man. That date is Sept. 20. Highlighting October is the traditional Taste of the Landmark, a food and wine-tasting festival which also features a showcase of talent. Not only will attendees have the privilege of enjoying good food and wine, but they will also view several highlights of shows as well as hear operatic music by Brandon Moll.
Dorothy in Wonderland begins Nov 6 for five performances. A production of the Landmark Youth Theatre Ensemble, the show combines story lines from the two shows—-The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, as Dorothy finds herself in Alice’s world.
Campbell will direct Forever Plaid, a musical, in December. This show deals with the story of four high-school buddies who died in a bus accident on their way to watch the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. The play begins with the four returning to earth to try one last time for musical stardom. Songs such as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Lady of Spain,” and “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” appear in the musical.
Another highlight of December comes on either Dec. 19 or 20. In a Landmark production, a community chorus along with individual performers will present music of the holiday season.
The early part of 2015 features a short lull, but the first event, which begins March 12, will be worth the weight. From March 12 through March 15, Braxton County High band director Allen Heath will produce the ever-popular musical, Grease. Jarvis plans to do the choreography for the show, a fundraiser for the high school band.
A huge part of the Landmark celebration will actually occur in New York City. The Studio has planned a four day-three night trip, Thursday through Sunday, to the Big Apple, and invitations are open. Anyone interested in making the trip, which includes seeing two Broadway shows with the possibility of making it to others, should contact the Landmark Studio online at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 304-364-3166 to make reservations or simply to obtain more information. Cost for the trip is $750, which must be prepaid. Trip planners suggest beginning in August and paying $94 each month.
Those making the trip will stay at the Roosevelt Hotel, double occupancy. Everyone is responsible for the cost of his or her own food, any tours, and any additional shows. Depending upon the interest, the planners may schedule group tours, but individuals are welcome to take tours on their own.
April 18 marks the day for the annual Melvin Wine Memorial Concert, a Landmark production. Featuring the type of music which Wine played and for which he was celebrated for many years, this event raises funds for a scholarship based on “Old Time Country Music.”
Chris Allen will direct the comedy Red Velvet Cake Wars in April. In this show, set for the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, three Southern cousins decide to schedule a family reunion. The result is uproarious hilarity.
Closing out the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, the Landmark will present a total of eight performances of The Addams Family. Featuring the ghoulish Addams Family characters that Charles Addams created in his cartoons, this musical will run the last weekend of May and the first weekend of June.
The Landmark Studio of the Arts definitely possesses a reputation for an excellence which appeared in the years before it actually became the Landmark Studio. Campbell mentioned that the group “went to national competition way back when it was called the West Virginia Hillbilly Players.” Not only did they qualify for national competition but one of the players—Jeff Hudkins—won Best Actor.
Eight months of celebrating the Landmark Studio’s twenty-fifth anniversary will provide something for everyone, including of the area. In order not to miss anything, people should mark their calendars beginning with Godspell in September. Then they need to fill it in with the numerous celebratory events that will follow because they won’t want to miss any of them.
Litter Control Grant
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman recently announced the recipients of the DEP’s REAP (Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan) Litter Control Matching Grants. There were 23 individual applicants approved for amounts totaling $54,518. The grants were awarded to state solid waste authorities, county commissions and municipalities. Funding for the litter control program is generated through Legislative Rule §22-15A-4; “For unlawful disposal of litter, the circuit clerk shall deposit 50 percent of all civil penalties into the Litter Control Fund.”
Locally, the Town of Burnsville will receive $3,000 which will be used for dumpster and disposal fees for the annual cleanup event.