……The little girl in the picture is not a happy camper.  Her first ever week away from home was rough. She has her little Brownie camper outfit on and she holds in front of her the misshapen basket she made in the requisite basket weaving class.     It is Friday and there is a program  and a campfire before the little Brownies head for home.  The evening is the culmination of the camaraderie and skills gained by a week in camps.   Only, this little camper has only one thing on her mind.  Her Dad.   He stands behind her his hands on her shoulder.  My hero has arrived and I say “to heck with the campfire,  Take me home NOW!”  And, he did.  No questions asked.  No attempt to get me to stay so I didn’t look like a big baby or bid goodbye to my new friends so I wouldn’t be called a brat.   Nope, he put me in that Lincoln and he took me home.

 ……We all remember our dads on Father’s Day this Sunday.  For a lot of us, it is a bittersweet day as we are left only with memories of the man who was our first love.     I write often of my dad, John D. Herron, and the profound impact he had on me.  I write about the life lessons he taught me and how he guided me in my political career.  He gave me a lot for sure, but  I know for certain what the best gift he ever gave me was.      Long before Fred Rogers told his young viewers “I like you just the way you are” Dad accepted his girl just the way she was.     He knew that I didn’t really care for baby dolls; making friends didn’t come easy to me; and I was all thumbs when it came to twirling a baton.     I couldn’t ride a bike, but at age seven I started writing my own mystery novels and made them into little books.   I didn’t want to be a spectator, I wanted to be a doer.  Some looked to their mother as a role model.  I looked to him.

 ……  Boring was the worst thing in the world to me, so despite my mother’s protest he allowed me to accompany him on his Coroner’s calls.   My ear would be plastered against his office door when a hearing was being conducted.  He shared the most interesting unsolved murder case he had letting me pour through the file and looking at medical examiner reports.   When other teens were trying out their first pair of high heels, I was watching my first autopsy.  Dad took me as I was and he never judged.

 ……. But, then at 18  the tables were turned and he asked the same of me….not to judge him.   In the sixties, his decision to divorce my Mom caused a lot of tension between Dad and his two daughters.   We had some tough moments and some awkward times, but he persevered.  He continued to show up.  Not just for special events and holidays, but for every day.  His lunch hour was a quick visit to see me and he grandkids. His Sunday was taking my kids to see his sister and the cows at Green Valley Dairy.    While it may have been easier to stay away when feelings were raw, he kept showing up.   He showed his love through the constant attention he showed his daughters and grandchildren.    He demonstrated that love doesn’t wane when the going gets tough.   Love is stubborn and it doesn’t give up. The memories that come back to me are not the special times, but the everyday moments when Dad made sure we knew his love for us was a stable, enduring love. 

…..Gov. Justice has named a Blue Commission on Training targeted to the Community and Technical Colleges.   The Commission is made up of business and education.   I feel like West Virginia has been there and done that several times.    But, maybe this time those who matter will do more than just meet and talk.   One of the problems we saw in Wheeling recently is the attempt to poach students from local colleges by Bluefield State.  There are also mixed messages as to whether there is a need for certain training programs.   Bluefield claimed to have met with businesses and determined a need existed in the engineering track while the Higher Education Policy Committee said the growth in that field was flat.

……..For many years I’ve been troubled by the duplication which often exists in training programs offered by the community college system and adult vocational education programs.   I’ve also felt that we need to consider proximity to neighboring colleges and schools with training programs prior to implementing identical programs in West Virginia.

…….Take commercial driver’s license programs commonly known as truck driver school or CDL training.   Rockefeller Career Center has offered it since 2011 and advertises cheapest tuition ($4,750.00 for a seven-week course) in the tri-state area.  West Virginia Northern Community College just announced CDL training at its Wheeling and Weirton Campus for $4,699.00.   David Barnhardt, director of communications and student recruitment at WVNCC, said research was done into the need for the program locally.   Across the Ohio River and not ten miles away, Eastern Gateway Community College’s Steubenville Campus has a big truck in their parking lot announcing truck driving training there and up the river in East Liverpool, New Castle School of Trades offers a similar program.  

…..I’ve asked Barnhardt for some information on the research Northern did on the need for the program.    I just hope that prior to the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College Association approving WVNCC’s program,  they assessed the programs already being offered in the area. they not talking with the State Board of Education to see if they are duplicating programs?  What is the demand for the programs? These are the questions the Blue Ribbon Commissions needs to be asking.  West Virginia is much to small a state with too little resources to be duplicating any program!