Buy Local This Valentine’s Day: The Cupcakerie

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing your love for your significant other, family and friends; it’s also about showing love for your community. Purchasing local gifts are a great way to give back, and for Valentine’s Day, the Cupcakerie is the perfect local option for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Opened in September 2011, the Cupcakerie has the pleasure of being Morgantown’s only exclusively cupcake bakery. Owners Anna Carrier and Janet Williams are both West Virginia University alumnae and “townies,”and they love serving their community.

“We love the university students,” said Carrier, a WVU exercise physiology graduate. “We love meeting all the great people. That’s our favorite part.”

The Cupcakerie will be featuring a few specials this Valentine’s Day. Three cupcakes with a rose and Hershey Kisses all bundled up with a big ribbon only costs $15, while four mini cupcakes with all the additions only costs $10. Additionally, you can add the Hershey Kisses and rose to any other treat for $5.

Special Valentine’s flavors include Raspberry Kiss, Pretty in Pink, chocolate caramel and hot fudge among many others. Walk-ins are always welcome, or you may place your orders in advance or order delivery by checking out http://thecupcakerie.com.

Whether you’re shopping for a loved one or just treating yourself, the Cupcakerie is a delicious, local choice this Valentine’s Day.

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Tonight, The High Street Hot Dog Man Could Be Forced to Move

So tonight Morgantown’s City Council votes on an amendment to current ordinances that will influence where our late-night food vendors place their carts. Check page 37 of this pdf. 

You’ve probably heard about this – “the petition to keep the Hot Dog Man on High Street?

Yeah, your concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Now City Council is attempting to push this law through at the end of Finals Week, right when there aren’t any students around to voice their opinions.

Tonight, if City Council passes this amendment to 905.02, no food vendors will be permitted on the sidewalk of the 300 block of High Street between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This only affects one single vendor, currently  – Joseph Byrd, or “The Birdman.” 

Watch the video below to learn his full story.

EDIT: I just spoke to several knowledgeable sources about this ordinance. There seems to be intense confusion. More than anything people need to understand this is not a personal attack on Birdman – it’s about safety. I’m told because Birdman is retreated into the enclave in front of CoolRidge, he’s not technically on the sidewalk and is exempt from this law. The building he’s in front of is owned by George Papandreas, a local business owner.

However, like I said, there’s a lot of confusion about this. It seems like everyone involved has a different understanding of the law and it’s stipulations, which is a problem in itself. I implore you – please come to this meeting tonight and be civil!

You have one last chance to have your voice heard. Go to the Morgantown City Council Meeting tonight at 7:00pm at 389 Spruce Street. There will be a public hearing on the law, and you will have an opportunity to speak.

Tonight I will be live-tweeting the meeting.

The Daily Athenaeum’s List of Influential People is All-White and All-Male

So yesterday the Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s official school newspaper, had an article on the front page of their paper  listing the “Top 5 Most Influential Persons of 2013.”

Gee, I wonder who is #1?

Gee, I wonder who is #1?

The list includes outgoing WVU President Jim Clements, Student Body President Ryan Campione, baseball coach Randy Mazey, Athletic Director Oliver Luck, and Mountaineer Mascot John Kimble. As you might be able to tell, the list is very white and very male and very sports-oriented. Rightfully so, people had a problem with this.

It all started when someone from WVU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion called out the DA’s list on Twitter.

In case you hadn’t noticed already, @paigelav points out the issue.

But there’s so much more than that:

https://twitter.com/ddryan/status/410541126190256128

And the internet has a field day.

https://twitter.com/maryowlice/status/410448756354473984

The user on the Office’s Twitter then offers an alternative list.

Some of the choices are stellar:

Franklin D. Cleckley is a professor at the WVU College of Law who graduated with a Master of Laws from Harvard. He was the only African-American to sit on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals from 1994-1996.

Frances Silva is a senior forward on the WVU’s Women’s Soccer Team. She was the 2013 Big XII Offensive Player of the Year and led the team to victory in the Big XII Championship (the only championship WVU has won this year, so far.)

Brian Jara is a faculty member in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. It looks like he’s published some papers this year and presented them at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Cincinnati.

– Deb Beazley is a Senior Program Coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention at the Health Sciences Center. She’s been teaching sexual assault prevention classes since ’98 and coordinates High Expectations, an experiential learning program for students cited for drug or alcohol abuse.

– Elaine McMillion is an award-winning documentary storyteller who graduated from WVU’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Her most recent project, an interactive documentary called Hollow, explores the issues of rural Appalachia through the eyes of people living there.

– Narvel Weese is WVU’s Vice President for Administration and Finance. Weese oversees the University’s finances, facilities, human resources – basically everything involving WVU funds. 2013 has been a busy year for him, considering WVU’s recent expansions and growing pains.

– Ruth Kershner oversees Student Affairs for the School of Public Health and teaches in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her bio says she’s presented at local, state and national conferences on issues of health concerns and violence in the lives of women.

What’s true is this – when it comes to most visible, everybody on the DA’s list is well-known. I’m only familiar with one person on the suggested list, but the beauty of a top-5 list is the chance to recognize less-visible people who have made an impact. Although he’s an influential guy who deserves it, Clements has gotten enough limelight already.

While people are quick to point out the “WASP-y” nature of the DA’s list, think about the circumstances influencing the editors. I assume the list was put together late at night, which is validated by the clear typo in Ryan Campione’s name. Do you make quality work when you’re on a deadline? It’s also not surprising the list is sports-centric, considering the influence of the DA’s sports editors. They must have influence – why else would the paper spend thousands to send reporters to away football games when our own band can’t attend?

These circumstances don’t justify the DA’s monochromatic, single-sex list (nothing will) but they do explain it. Hopefully the feedback will give the editors pause. They’re funded by WVU student fees, an oft-fleeting source of income for school papers, and could make the DA a national-award-winning paper like it used to be. Now they just make national headlines for gaffes.

Edited, 12:16 AM 12/11 – Full disclosure – I worked at the DA for two years. I left in April.

Edited, 12:26 AM 12/11 – Sourced some data about student newspaper budgets after being challenged. Also fixed some typos and style.

What You Should Know About Gordon Gee, Part 1: The Legacy of WVU’s Interim

This is part one of a two part series on Gordon Gee. 

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

So as you probably know, WVU’s former president Jim Clements has left the University. Before a new president can be selected, WVU appointed a temporary interim president, none other than the bowtie-wearing superhero Gordon Gee. He’s making the rounds around campus Tuesday.

Gee, a former WVU president, has made a name for himself in university circles. Not only has he been the charismatic president of universities like Brown, Vanderbilt and Ohio State, but as we’ll soon discover, he’s been in the news recently – not necessarily for good things.

So what should we know about Gee?

1. While at Ohio State University, Gee was the highest paid CEO of any public university in the United States. Since returning in 2007, he’s made $8.6 million in salary and compensation. What’s worse are his expenses: he’s spent nearly $7.7 million on university-approved activities, from flying around the globe to wining and dining prospective faculty and donors. Records show Gee staying in high-end hotels, flying on private jets and throwing lavish parties, all on the public dime.

He’s spent tens of thousands on bow ties alone.  Since 2007, OSU has spent $64,000 on bow ties, bow tie cookies (the equivalent of our flying WV cookies, I’m told by reputable sources) and bow tie lapel pins to distribute. (I’m also told the majority of this budget was spent on the cookies and pins – no diamond-studded ties in there.*)

Student fees at OSU increased 13.6% over the five years when Gee was president, which makes these expenditures worse. I doubt he’ll have this kind of spending leisure at WVU.

2. Gee used to serve on the Board of Directors of Massey Energy, a coal empire with record-setting environmental violations. Gee was on the BoD for more than a decade until he finally retired under pressure from environmental groups and students at OSU. He was still on the board while president at OSU. He also served on a board committee responsible for overseeing Massey’s environmental impact and worker safety, which is where the problems start.

As reported by the eminent Ken Ward on Coal Tattoo, Gee has openly defended Massey’s environmental and safety practices. In 2009 he told a student newspaper just how he feels.

“I think if you take a look at Massey’s record, it has one of the best environmental records in the country.”

A bold statement, especially considering in 2008 Massey was forced to pay $20 million in penalties to the Environmental Protection Agency – the largest penalty in the EPA’s history for wastewater discharge violations. There’s too many problems to list, so check out the awesome blog Coal Tattoo for the full story. 

Gee’s history of selective environmental ignorance could pose a problem at WVU. Petroleum drilling is a big issue for West Virginia, and Morgantown has already faced legal battles over fracking. 

3. Gee’s great at making gaffes. Oh man, there’s a whole list.

January 2012: An appearance at a Columbus athletic club ends with a colorful metaphor. When answering a question about unifying different parts of the University:

“When we had these 18 colleges all kind of floating around, they were kind of like PT Boats. They were shooting each other,” Gee said. “It was kind of like the Polish army or something. I have no idea what it was.”

May 30, 2013. At a meeting with Athletic Councilors, Gee took a number of cheap shots at Catholics at Notre Dame, referring to Notre Dame officials as “damn Catholics.” This gaffe convinced Gee to retire from OSU.

“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week,” he said. “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”

Gee is a Mormon, for the record. Some hilarity – had he not retired, Gee would have taken sensitivity training, potentially at a Buddhist temple!

May 31, 2013 (as in one day later). Gee shares some choice words about Brett Bielema, Wisconsin’s coach, with whom he’s had a history:

“Someone was saying to me, well, you know, Bret Bielema leaving … that was a blessing for Wisconsin and they knew it,” Gee said. “Because he was under tremendous pressure. They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff.”

Lesson learned: Gee has no filter. Hopefully his staff can keep him reined in.

So with all of these problems, why would we want somebody like Gee here at WVU, filling in during one of the most important times in our history? Check in Thursday to find out.

What do you think about Gee? Let us know in the comments or tweet at me.

*EDITED, 10:07 pm. 12/9: Friend , teacher and SPJ Ethics Chair Kevin Z. Smith gives some good insight to the “bowtie budget” fiasco. Thanks Kevin!

New Beginnings for the Morgantown Problems Blog

Dear readers,

We’ve hit the end of the school semester, so we wanted to write you a letter about Morgantown Problems, both to thank you for your support and to share our plans for the future. It’s been a heck of a ride, and it’s time to reflect on the past and our future.

First of all, thank you for reading. When we started this blog as a project for our mutual journalism class, none of us expected Morgantown Problems to become this popular. We never expected the kind of participation, discussion and traffic that’s made this blog relevant to the WVU community we care so much about. From writing about homelessness in town, the roundabout, or the new Panera, we’re looking to write about what you care about.

We owe everything to your return visits and your participation in the comments, so thank you. Keep posting and talking about what you want to see covered. Let us know how we’re doing.

It’s because of you that we’ve decided to continue posting to Morgantown Problems, even after our class has ended. We want to continue serving you and the community – it’s both our passion and our duty.

As a result of our newfound independence from grading requirements, we’ll probably abandon our typical daily posting schedules. However, you can look forward to more in-depth posts, commentary on an expanded amount of local topics, and more original analysis. Without deadlines or posting requirements we can expand to greater serve you, our readers. We may even bring in new writers to our community. If you’d like to participate, email Bryan at bryanbumgardner (at) gmail.com.

As we go forward, stay tuned for more great posts in the new year.

Happy Holidays!

– Bryan, Whitney, Karlea, Emily, and Maddi

Homelessness, Hunger, and “The WVU Rack”

Though there isn’t enough adequate national data to support this claim, Barbara Duffield, policy director at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) says she believes the number of homeless students has increased over the last few years.

“The Free Application for Federal Student Aid tells the NAEHCY that there are 58,000 homeless students on campuses nationwide.” -USA Today

homeless-hungry

cheapeatsforcollegepeeps.wordpress.com

As a student myself, it is very hard for me to believe that there are homeless kids who attend WVU, or any other college for that matter. Discovering that an estimated 58,000 students are homeless across the nation is truly alarming. Since some schools aren’t required to keep track of the exact numbers of homeless students, that count would probably increase by quite a lot if they were diligently recorded.

What we don’t realize is that poverty can hide anywhere and can easily go unnoticed. Some students may be too embarrassed to speak up about being homeless or not having enough money for meals each day, while some may not know that their are resources out there to aid them in times of struggle. Depriving your body of enough food day after day can potentially lead to health issues and even hospital trips.

Inspired by other campuses like UCLA, WVU decided to bring “The WVU Rack” to students who may be homeless or hungry. Since “The Rack” (as most people call it) was first set up in the Fall of 2010, WVU has been contacted by staff members from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. out of pure curiosity about the pantry.

As seen above in the video, what once was a somewhat bare shelf in 2010 has grown to a whole new level. “The Rack”, which is tucked away in a small hallway in the Mountainlair, is available to all students to utilize. No one is ever turned away, all that is asked is to sign your first name on the clipboard attached to the rack to keep a record of how many people are using it. It is fully stocked all year long through charitable acts of the Greek community, as well as by staff and student donations.

Items typically donated include:

  • cans of soup
  • Ramen noodles
  • fruit cups
  • poptarts
  • water bottles
  • toiletries

…and so much more.

For more information visit sos.wvu.edu

If you would like to donate to The Rack, you may contact Jacqueline Dooley at the Student Organizations Services office at (304) 293-4397 or Jaqueline.Dooley@mail.wvu.edu.

Morgantown’s Comprehensive Plan: What’s in it for students?

Unknown to many residents of Morgantown, the city has a comprehensive plan that outlines the future of this great city. Although many have no idea of its existence, the plan states objectives and strategies for the next 10 years in Morgantown. Obviously, this is an important document.

The plan has to be updated (at least) every 10 years, and it just so happens that the document was finished this past June. Many of the items listed  in the plan greatly affect students, especially since they are half of the town’s population. Here’s some of the stuff you want to know:

  • There are plans to revitalize South High Street and University Avenue with mixed-use, but primarily residential buildings. As a mixed-use district, it will feature shops and restaurants on the ground floor with apartments on top, allowing students and other residents to have easy access to all of their needs. (page 44)
  • There are similar plans for Beechurst Avenue, which has already been apparent. The new (and awesome) apartment complex, Beech View Place is fully taking advantage of the mixed-use lifestyle. The ground level features a new (much needed) grocery store, CoGos, Mountaineer Hots (American-style food), a Greek gyro shop, a café, a butcher shop, a pizza place and a nail, tanning and hair salon. Again, this is a great place for students since they don’t have to drive all the way out to Kroger to go shopping. (page 45)
  • The Woodburn area will be revitalized, making it more pedestrian-friendly. This will include improved access to WVU’s campus and to downtown. The plan also states that there will be some mixed-use development, so students on and off campus can easily shop. (page 45)
  • An expansion of neighborhoods in WVU’s agricultural land, by the 705 (West Run, Suncrest Towne Centre area) is in the works. According to the plan, “Growth in this area should be accessed and supported by a new multi-modal transportation corridor connecting the University Avenue and Route 705 corridors.” (page 46)
  • The revitalization of Sunnyside has been pretty obvious. One thing the plan lists that will be great is more park and open space in the area. According to Sunnyside Up, they hope to expand the area to more than just college students, including  young professionals, university staff and families.” (page 47)
  • In general, the city hopes to increase sidewalks and street signage across Morgantown and Star City. (page 56) The city is also creating a Regional Bike Plan with a 10-year implementation plan with a connecting bike route network all across the city. (page 60)
  • The City of Morgantown’s plan outlines a plan to partner with WVU to improve traffic. This includes “developing a grade-separated pedestrian crossing at Grumbeins Island” (that area you never stop and look both ways in front of the ‘Lair), a connection from the Coliseum to the Evansdale campus (it’s about time!) and a proposed parking garage beside the Coliseum. (They also want to “lobby WVU to develop long-term storage parking for students who live on and off campus.”) (page 64)
  • According to EN 1.1 and 1.2,  the city hopes to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to strengthen air quality standards” and to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to enhance the monitoring and enforcement of air quality standards.” (page 70) They also want to promote green building through a Green Building Program that utilizes techniques according to the LEED standards.
  • According to the Housing and Neighborhoods section, they want to form a task force of students to address property issues, and they want to conduct a student cleanup twice a year. To ensure the streets of Morgantown are as safe as possible, they also will require adequate  street lighting. (page 77)
  • Additionally, many students will love that the city wants to develop a plan to incentivize the development of affordable student housing. (page 78)

Though you may only live in Morgantown for four years, this plan is looking toward the future, taking into account the inevitable growth of a college city such as this. With an emphasis on mixed-use zoning, walkability and alternate forms of energy, Morgantown is making this one of the best college towns for future generations (and Mountaineers) to come.