(02/23/2002)
The Calhoun County Board of Education approved a new two-year contract for Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Ron Blankenship, raising his salary to $81,000. The Board voted unanimously for the pay increase, with some members stating the salary was "in line with other counties" of equal size or student population.

Board member Burl Simers told The Parkersburg News the raise and renewal of Blankenship's contract was based on his knowledge and skill, as opposed to bringing a new person on board. He cited his leadership in obtaining grant money for the county.

Loretta Holbert, a candidate for Board of Education, said "A board member told me it was in line with other counties, the same as Wirt, and here we are among the poorest counties." She said "That is apparently not true."

A survey of five of six counties surrounding Calhoun, showed the average salary was $66,600, or $14,400 less than Blankenship's salary.

Surveying six neighboring counties, school administrators quickly responded to the salary information request, except Ritchie County.

Ritchie County schools declined to provide an answer to the FOIA request regarding the salary of Dr. Richard Butler, stating a written request must be filed. When advised such information should be readily available to taxpayers, the board's financial officer still declined.

Clay County administrator Larry Gillespie was reluctant to give the information, stating Superintendent Jerry Linkinoggor was at a two-day meeting.

Gillespie asked, "Who are you?" The Hur Herald declined as the FOIA does not require identification for such information. Linkinoggor ordered an "investigation" of a Freedom of Information reporter for the Associated Press. The AP reporter was asking the same question a few weeks ago, with Linkinoggor declining to provide the information.

Yesterday, after some distress, Gillespie provided the salary information, stating "Have a nice day."

The following is a list of current salaries of County School Superintendents adjoining Calhoun:

Braxton: Carolyn Long - $66,000

Ritchie: Dr. Richard Butler - Declined information

Roane: Stephen Goffreda - $68,000

Gilmer: Thomas Minney - $69,000 ($1,500 raise, each year for next three years)

Clay: Jerry Linkenoggor - $65,000

Wirt: Ed Toma - $65,000 (was $63,000)


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