The Gilmer Free PressThe WVDOE’s attacks on The Free Press in their press release prompt far more questions to be asked than it does to clear up the arson mystery at the old Normantown grade school.

A response to the following questions by the WVDOE would be appreciated for clarification purposes.

Instead of naming persons the acronym WVDOE is used instead of referencing specific individuals.

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Because of the serious nature of the Normantown CSI issue as originally reported by the GFP, who at the WVDOE approved public release of the WVDOE’s responseto the original GFP CSI article? If none of the officials approved the release in advance was it not an example of inept management for the material to be published without prior official approval to give the distinct impression of inadequate WVDOE oversight during intervention?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  When the Normantown CSI incident was first known about was the crime scene adequately and immediately secured to prevent unauthorized access as is always done with superior law enforcement investigative work?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  When the crime incident was noticed the first time did the discoverer enter the building to get a personal look at what was there, and was that person interviewed by qualified law enforcement professionals to result in an official statement being available for public review?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Who took pictures of the interior of the building to obtain immediate proof of what had occurred, and where are the pictures now? Were any of the individuals associated with the WV Fire Marshal’s office, the NES, the prosecuting attorney, local or State law enforcement or any other official entity?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  In the WVDOE’s reply to the GFP CSI article, paper towels were mentioned as the only visible evidence that could be interpreted as preparation work for arson. How can it be explained that at the last school board meeting, as seen and overheard by witnesses, the WVDOE representative showed pictures of the arson preparation described as exceptionally sophisticated, extensive, and indicative of work of a professional arsonist? Will the WVDOE project those same pictures on a screen at the Normantown town hall meeting on September 10, 2015, and will legally valid verification from all five Gilmer county school board members be submitted to prove that the same pictures were shown to them?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Although there is no present proof that the arson preparation qualified as terrorism under U. S. federal government criteria, was the U. S. Tobacco and Fire Arms agency called to investigate as a precaution?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Would the WVDOE explain why at the last board meeting its representative spoke about the elaborate professionally done preparation which had occurred for a devastating fire, and why it is claimed now that only a few incidental paper towels were observed at the crime scene? The WVDOE representative spoke of placement of a candle wick which is far more complicated and effective as an arson tool compared to a few scattered paper towels. WVDE in its press release mentions only paper towels. How did paper towels get tied into knots and made into a rope that goes upstairs and crisscrossed the ceiling? WVDE’s Superintendent even put his arms in a circle to show how big the candle base was with the “rope” going up the stairs coming out of it as a wick. furthermore, what investigation?  How can there be no threat to a building used every day by students? The observable fact is the Kindergarten and Pre-K classrooms are physically attached to that building.

The Gilmer Free Press    •  There is reference to a volunteer member of the local fire department entering the building on August 13, 2015 to inspect the crime scene. Was this an official act with witnesses in compliance with prescribed investigative procedures to protect the integrity of the original crime scene? Was the individual certified to be professionally qualified to perform investigative work? Who was the individual and did he/she file an official report to include pictures for citizens to review? During that conversation WVDE’s Superintendent made reference to some fire fighters liking to watch fires burn.  The school board member from Normantown specifically said “NO Normantown volunteer would EVER do such a thing”.

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Regarding the WVDOE’s pictures of the crime scene shown at the school board meeting, because they pertained to official school system business are they available as part of the official public record for citizens to review?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Early on was the crime scene thoroughly checked for hair, fiber, DNA and other evidence by qualified experts in compliance with standard procedures for professionally done crime scene investigation work?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  Would all five members of our elected school board sign a notarized affidavit that they were not shown pictures of the complicated candle wick preparation work discussed by the WVDOE’s representative and they were not ordered to keep the arson planning incident quiet?

The Gilmer Free Press    •  With all the confusion would the WVDOE explain why citizens are unreasonable to question if there was crime scene tampering to elevate the original arson preparation incident to a higher level of criminality?

The Gilmer Free PressThe purpose of this article is to attempt to get the truth to help ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s children, and to keep citizens informed.

The building has no fire suppression system and no sprinklers. Fire drills used to be the order of the day.  If we pull one of the alarms in the buildings used is there guarantee an alarm would go off? The alarms from the cafeteria building were hooked in for the trailers.  If one pull one of those, does it work?

Since the school system has been under State intervention for the past five years has Board of Education been permitted to walk through a single school and check the condition of any building?

This article has nothing to do to intentionally belittle the reputation of any individual through inference or any other deliberate intent.

Instead, the WVDOE is being held accountable for answers for Gilmer County’s people.