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Poquoson Company Pleads Guilty in Wood Chipper Fatality

Associated Press

POQUOSON (AP) — A landscaping company has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor safety violation stemming from a wood chipper accident that killed a 14-year-old worker.

The Daily Press reports that Old Tree Dominion and Lawn Care owner Robert Lee Strickland Jr. entered the plea Thursday on behalf of his company.

Assistant York-Poquoson Commonwealth’s Attorney Patricia A. Dart says a felony child endangerment charge against Strickland was dropped.

Strickland was the guardian of the victim, Frank Anthony Gornick, who was killed in November 2010. Authorities say the teen was using a shovel to drop debris into a wood chipper’s hopper when he was pulled into the machine.

Dart says the company was fined $35,000 with all but $1,000 suspended for five years.

Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)… Read the rest

For migrant students, a cycle of dwindling opportunities

To read this article at the Washington Post, please click here.

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 6, 2010; 8:48 PM

In her purple school binder, 13-year-old Ellifina Jean counted down the last days of the apple harvest, crossing off one box every afternoon, bringing her closer to a big smiley face and the words, scrawled in all caps: “DADDY’S LAST DAY OF WORK!”

Ellifina and her family were preparing to leave Virginia’s Winchester area apple orchards for Florida’s orange groves before heading north again, toward New Jersey, in search of blueberries. For Ellifina, each season brings a new school and a new list of courses that bears little resemblance to the last.

Such relentless mobility challenges the schools charged with educating the nation’s 475,000 migrant students. Many never start school, and in Virginia one-third fail to graduate on time. Migrant students trail others in performance on the state’s reading and math tests. That poses a major challenge for schools because federal law has set a goal for all students to pass those tests by 2014.

The stakes are even higher for the students themselves. “If these kids don’t settle in one place by high school, graduation is basically an impossibility,” said Katy Pitcock, who worked for Winchester’s migrant education program for 25 years, until 2004.

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Poquoson Company Fined, Cited in Wood Chipper Death

by Sula Kim

WVEC.com

POQUOSON — A Poquoson tree trimming company has been fined $185,000 in the November 2009 death of a 14-year-old worker.

Frank Gornick was working for his uncle’s company Old Dominion Tree and Lawn Care Specialists and was on a three-person team doing debris removal following the Nor’easter.

Police said he was using a shovel to drop debris into the wood chipper’s hopper when it got caught in the machine’s blades, dragging him in and killing him instantly.

The Va. Department of Labor and Industry issued its findings Thursday, saying the machine shouldn’t have been used.

“The wooden paddle was missing, the feet control was missing, the lower door hadn’t been installed. There were six things missing,” said Jennifer Wester, Cooperative Programs director.

She says the report concluded a metal shovel was used to put items in the chipper, even though the manufacturer forbids it.

According to Wester, workers weren’t wearing hard hats or eye protection.

The company has 15 days to contest the findings or take action as outlined by the state.… Read the rest