Taste One of Many Marvelous Munchies at Marla’s Bakery

By Matthew Timbrook, Contributing Writer

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If you happen to be walking down Main Street here in Keyser, you might find yourself following the delicious aroma of fresh-baked cookies into the charming robin-egg blue building with white trim; there you will find one of the town’s sweetest local businesses: Marla’s Main Street Bakery.

Marla Payne first opened her business on September 23, 2008, after her husband was injured at work. Knowing it was up to her to support her family in their time of need, she made the decision to open a bakery.

Although she had never owned a business before, Payne had knowledge of how to proceed from previously managing very large bakeries. Although she recalls having had a talent at making treats for friends and family from as early as the age of 9, culinary school was never an option while she was growing up. Owning and operating her own bakery was an unexpected turn of events, but it seems to have been a pleasant surprise.

Payne provides custom cakes, donuts, cookies and more to customers of all ages in the local area and beyond and is always seeing new faces walking through her doors.

“I like to think of all my customers as my friends and some of them even as family,” said Payne. “I know people by the foods they like. I may not always know their name – which is sad – but eventually I do.”

It’s refreshing to see a local business such as Payne’s operate in my home town; she provides a great service to our community, but it’s up to us to ensure that services such as hers can afford to stay open.

“If the local community would come in to every small business – and this isn’t hard to do – and spend fifty dollars a month, small businesses would thrive. They would,” said Payne.

So if you’re downtown and your stomach is growling, consider stopping by Marla’s Main Street Bakery for a pastry or two; just prepare to be treated less like a customer and more like family.


Potomac State College Students Give Back to Their Community


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“I knew that giving an afternoon of my time to this unique park would be the smallest token I could give back to this piece of history,” said Potomac State College student Maddy Buss. Buss volunteered to clean up trash at the Flight 93 National Park in Somerset County, Pennslyvania. While Buss volunteered she had the chance to speak with families of victims who were aboard Flight 93. “I don’t remember everything she said to me about her relative, but I remember exactly how she made me feel: heavy-hearted but incredibly enlightened.” Buss’s experience had a great emotional impact on her that, she says, will always last with her.

PSC gives students opportunities to get involved in giving back to their community.

WVUe coordinator/professor Andrea Schafer has made it a goal to help students develop life skills as well as career skills. In the WVUe curriculum, students are given an Outreach Engagement Assignment in which they are asked to find a way to give back or engage the community. “Life skills are just as important as career skills,” said Schafer. It gives the students an opportunity to “step out of their comfort zone.”

Schafer sees a lasting impact this assignment leaves on some students

“They see a personal impact or career impact,” said Schafer. Tori Kane participated in giving meals to veterans. After speaking with them, Kane decided she wanted to go into the military.

“I think it’s important to show that we aren’t selfish and only take care of what we benefit from,” said PSC student Cassidy Aldridge, when talking about giving back to her community. Aldridge works at her local YMCA as a front desk staff, child care staff and as a managing assistant. Aldridge found herself staying past her shift, helping the maintenance staff clean. “I noticed how hard the maintenance staff’s job was, so I decided to help out.” Aldridge was offered a higher-level position as a party handler in result of her extra volunteer work. Aldridge expressed that volunteering made her helpful and led to more opportunities at her job.

Not only does this assignment help students to develop communication and interpersonal skills, it also reflects two more of Orlikoff’s core values. Schafer says that accountability and appreciation are also very important here. By volunteering students are showing accountability “by showing up and going through with what they said they would do,” said Schafer. “Appreciation is realized when a student discovers they have a role and a voice on their campus and in their community,” expressed Schafer. WVUe isn’t the only way students are getting involved, however.

PSC Clubs host events that give students opportunities to fundraise or participate in the community.

This year The Intro to Event Logistics class hosted a toy drive Nov. 15th and 16th. During this event, gifts were collected and distributed through the local schools to students/families in need. “I think it is important for students to get involved in the community because it makes a difference in the lives of others,” said event coordinator Amy Weaver. “The realization that you have impacted someone’s life is a huge reward.”

During the month of October, PSC students and Morgantown campus students joined together to complete projects in various Mineral County areas. These projects included painting at the Mineral County Family Resources site as well as cutting grass, power washing sidewalks and cleaning the parking lots at the Mineral County Health Department. Students also worked on similar projects in the city of Piedmont.

PSC clubs are also active in the community. Catamounts Against Cancer has hosted Relay for Life events in the past. Catamounts Against Cancer raised over $1,000 dollars at a mini Relay for Life in October of 2016. This money was then donated to American Cancer Society and the Mineral County Relay for Life. The Student Government also participated in donating their time to paint a house in the community and placed American flags on the quad in honor of veterans for Veteran’s Day.

  “Our campus is an integral part of this community, and by giving back we are showing the community around us that we care,” said Weaver.

New English Professor Mia Martini Plants Roots in Keyser

Mia Martini poses with a novel by David Wong. Photo by Nicholas Gardner

by Levi Linn

Mia Martini, a new English professor at Potomac State College, has finally found where she wants to settle down.

Before coming to Keyser, Martini was raised in a small town of no more than five hundred between Pittsburgh and Eyre. She eventually moved to Philadelphia to get a taste of the big city but ended up feeling out of place.

Martini craved to return to the mountains while attending various colleges around the country.

She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, the University of Illinois in Chicago and Purdue University in Indiana. While studying at these schools, Martini achieved a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a master’s degree in English and a doctorate in Post Civil War American Literature.

Martini said she had the same difficulties in her college experience that most students struggle with. In fact, she attributes a big strain on most students to be something called “Imposter Syndrome.”

“It’s where you look around the room and think, ‘Everyone else is so much smarter than me. I don’t belong in this room’, and it’s insidious,” explained Martini. “The biggest thing is being able to look at both what you do well and what you struggle with. You’ll get those moments where you feel like you don’t belong, but you do.”

Martini said that now that she’s arrived at PSC, Keyser and the college have been very welcoming. This is her first year teaching here, and she already feels like part of the community. She is developing great professional relationships with other faculty members.

Martini said other professors have been extremely helpful to her, and they don’t act like she’s imposing on them.

“I enjoy being in an environment that fosters collaboration and not competition,” Martini said.

An important part of her work environment also includes being in the mountains. “I wouldn’t even apply for a job anywhere that didn’t have mountains,” she said. “The Keyser street signs are accurate in calling this the friendliest town in the country. Everyone has been very kind and it’s like an actual community.”

She hopes to bring that kindness into the classroom. “A lot of students are nervous about the stakes of college,” Martini said. She wants to have a place in her classroom where students can still pursue their own interests and give various things a try.

“It’s about making the students feel like a part of the class. There are goals and objectives to meet, but we can do that with topics interesting to the students and their passions.” Martini said she truly enjoys reading interesting topics with unique perspectives.

Along with reading and writing, Martini is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy. She enjoys George R. R. Martin’s writing in “A Song of Ice & Fire.” She’s currently waiting for the last book in the series to be released before she begins watching the television adaptation, “Game of Thrones.”

In the future, Martini hopes to still be teaching at PSC. She said she has been focused on getting a job like the one she has now, and she wants to put down roots in a community where she feels at home.  It’s looking like Keyser is going to be home. “I hope I’ve found my community. Nothing has told me otherwise.”

Professor Steve Oberlechner’s Big Midterm Test: Becoming A Dad

Professor Oberlechner and his daughter Elizabeth. Photo courtesy of Oberlechner.

While most students were taking their midterms this year, professor Steve Oberlechner was preparing for the “test of his life”: becoming a father.

His wife and fellow professor, Cassandra Pritts, gave birth to their daughter on Sept. 27, 2017. On that day, Oberlechner added “proud dad” to his list of accomplishments, which includes hiking over 2,000 miles and being a published author.

Oberlechner is using his English background to pick up on ways his newborn daughter communicates. “Instead of just crying, we can hear cooing noises,” he said. “She can make some very funny faces!”

The test of fatherhood is one that Oberlechner finds exciting and terrifying. He and his wife are adjusting and learning as they go.

“No regrets, just less sleep!” he said with a chuckle. “It helps to have Cassie going through it with me. We’ll be supporting each other while we learn to support a child.”

Juggling the responsibilities of grading midterm papers and a newborn in the hospital made Oberlechner’s time dedicated to hiking the Appalachian Trail alone seem like a walk in the park.

The trail runs from Georgia to Maine, through 12 different states with hazards that include severe weather, black bears, venomous snakes, limited water and tick-borne diseases.

Oberlechner on the Appalachian Trail. Photo courtesy of Oberlechner.

“I really love it, despite the difficulty,” Oberlechner said.  He plans to keep working his way south, finishing up the last 400 miles of the trail.

The beauty of the world and the adventure in seeing it appeals to him.

“Part of what I enjoy about it is just being in nature and being alone to reflect and take in a gorgeous view.”

Oberlechner often finds inspiration on the trail, too. “There’s little to distract me,” he said.

Inspiration is the first part in Oberlechner’s long process of writing. He’s had nonfiction pieces appear in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner and most recently, The Cimarron Review.

His fiction work has appeared online at The Cortland Review and Connotation Press.

In his published writing, Oberlechner has written about his family and growing up in rural Pennsylvania.

He plans to write about his time spent hiking, and he is working on a collection of essays linked by people and places.

Getting his work published is something that has taken much time and attention. Oberlechner’s goal is to one day be published by the Alaska Quarterly Review, a biannual literary journal published by University of Alaska Anchorage.

“I like the idea of my work laying around in some coffee shop in Anchorage or Juneau for somebody to pick up and enjoy or suffer,” Oberlechner said.

Recently, Oberlechner received a personal note from The Alaska Quarterly Review encouraging him to send more pieces, though his submission was not published. This has driven Oberlechner to continue to perfect his work.

“I don’t send out a piece unless it’s ready, and that means it can take a long time,” Oberlechner said.

He tries to stress that message to his students. “If [being published] is something that excites you, [it] can absolutely happen, but you’ve got to submit your very best work. It requires good care and attention.”

That level of care and attention is something he will teach his new students in English 100, 101, 102, and 214 next semester.

In English 214, Creative Non-Fiction, Oberlechner places value in peer feedback and collaboration. Students ‘submit’ pieces to the class, and the works are discussed as a group with other students offering praise and suggestions in a friendly atmosphere.

Unlike composition classes, the focus is on creativity, allowing students to get concrete feedback on their concepts and ideas without a heavy focus on grammar.

“Writing is a way to represent yourself,” Oberlechner said. “I hope [students] can see the broad application of effective communication, no matter the career goal.”

Humans of Potomac State


Natalie 2.jpg“One day my friends randomly invited me to compete in the Hampshire County Fair Pageant. I won the title of Miss Hampshire County Fair. Once you win that title it is kind of mandatory that you become a contestant for the Miss West Virginia Pageant. Although I did not win, I got to make a lot of great connections, and I had the chance to make a difference in the state. I would say my personal favorite part of competing was getting to visit the West Virginia public schools. I currently study political science and hope to work with legislatures in the future. I created a non-profit to benefit veterans, and I really want to explore that aspect of it all.”

Interview by Cody Brazil, Editor

Humans of Potomac State

Tattoo lady.jpg

“When I got my first tattoo, my mother and I decided to get it together. It took me a while to figure it out, but I found the one that I liked. I showed my mom the tattoo and she told me that her grandma, my great-grandmother, would always sign ‘I love you’ through the glass door, and we would sign it back. So, it was always our little thing.”

Interview by Rebecca Helsley, Contributing Writer

West Virginia University’s 4-Year Nursing Degree Coming to Potomac State College


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One patient is bleeding out, another needs his breathing and heartbeat monitored, another needs his pulse checked quickly. It would  be easy to be intimidated, but you’re surrounded by medical equipment and armed with the knowledge to treat these patients.

You’re not in an emergency room, but in one of the newly renovated simulation labs coming to Potomac State with the new four-year nursing program.

Classes will be enriched with advanced labs and exciting equipment.

“We will have one large skills lab and two smaller high-tech simulation rooms,” the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Chairperson April  Shapiro said.

“Some of the mannequins will blink, breathe, have a beating heart, have pulses you can feel, have bowel sounds…they are amazing!”

Patient care units and equipment in both the skills and simulation labs will look like students are in real hospital rooms.

Hands-on Learning

Shapiro believes students will have fun with the hands-on learning that captures the environment in which they will one day be working.

Students accepted in the program will enjoy small class sizes while still receiving the same education provided at West Virginia University’s Morgantown campus.

“We will be following the same curriculum, following the same student handbook, and expecting the same standards as the Morgantown campus does,” Shapiro said.

The program will be challenging but rewarding. Shapiro added that students in the program who work hard and are determined will be more than prepared to take their nurse licensure exam, provide high-quality care, or even continue their education at a graduate level.

In 2016, graduates of WVU’s BS/BA Nursing program had a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX, the standardized test for entry-level nursing practice.

High Demand

Those who earn their degree will likely have the hard work pay off in the career field. “Nursing is in such high demand right now.  Our community – our country – faces a critical nursing shortage and employers are in dire need of BSN-educated nurses to meet the complex needs of today’s patients, especially the chronic problems our aging baby boomers are facing,” Shapiro said.

Having the degree program at PSC is a win-win for students and employers.

Hampshire County Committee on Aging Executive Director Julie Linger said, “[Students] being able to complete their degree close to home will hopefully allow more dreams to become reality.”

The HCCoA places nurses in homes of the elderly with individualized plans of care. Linger added, “Businesses will benefit from having a larger pool from which to select qualified workers.”

The program is likely to be very competitive. Enrollment Services reported 149 pre-nursing students registered this fall. However, only 24 seats are available in the Fall 2018 program. Applications will be accepted Dec. 1 – Jan. 15.

Those with questions about the program should contact Shapiro at the Student Health Center on campus or at ashapiro@hsc.wvu.edu. Program information and admission requirements will continue to be updated on the Academics section of the PSC website.