GOVERNOR TOMBLIN ENCOURAGES STATEWIDE NOMINATIONS FOR 2015 VOLUNTEER AWARDS
CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin encouraged all West Virginians to nominate outstanding individuals, families and organizations for the 2015 Governor’s Service Awards.
“Each year, volunteers across the Mountain State work hard to make service in and around their communities a top priority,“ Governor Tomblin said. “The annual Governor’s Service Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognize those who dedicate countless hours of their time to help those in need and build a brighter future for West Virginia. I encourage everyone to nominate a West Virginian or a group of West Virginians who have gone above and beyond to bring about positive change in their communities and our state.“
The Governor’s Service Awards are coordinated by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service, and recognize outstanding individuals, families and organizations for extraordinary service and commitment to their communities.
This year’s award winners will be recognized during the annual state volunteerism conference, Faces of Leadership, in October.
Nomination forms are available at www.volunteerwv.org, or by calling 304.345.0111. Nominations should be submitted online or postmarked by June 09, 2015.
JUDGES TO HEAR REMOVAL PETITION AGAINST PARKERSBURG MAYOR
CHARLESTON, WV — The state Supreme Court has appointed a three-judge panel to hear a petition to remove Parkersburg mayor Robert Newell from office.
The court on Friday appointed circuit judges Omar Aboulhosn of Mercer County, Lawrance Miller Jr. of Preston County and Joanna Tabit of Kanawha County to hear the petition filed earlier this week. The petition was filed by Wood County Republican Party chairman Rob Cornelius on behalf of a group of residents.
Among the allegations against Newell in the petition are misconduct and neglect of duty. It seeks Newell’s immediate removal.
The high court set a hearing for June 04 and 05 at the Wood County courthouse in Parkersburg.
Newell didn’t immediately return a telephone message left at his office Friday.
WV REGULATORS REQUIRE MORE DISCLOSURE AT COAL PREP PLANTS
CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginia environmental regulators are requiring coal preparation plants to disclose more about their chemicals.
The Department of Environmental Protection ordered coal prep plants to disclose potential pollutants that could be dumped into a waterway. The order affects the 90 or so prep plants statewide.
DEP spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says the order aims to better protect the state’s streams.
She said any additional costs to prep plants shouldn’t be significant compared to liability costs of polluting the state’s waterways.
Companies have to submit information within 60 days and make permit modifications with the updates within 90 days.
Before Tuesday’s order, most coal company water quality testing focused on specific state limits, such as for iron, manganese and pH. Gillenwater said many coal-cleaning products aren’t in that category.
TWO WV TEACHERS NOT FANS OF NEW ONLINE STANDARDIZED TESTING
CHARLESTON, WV – Standardized testing is beginning for students in West Virginia. This year, the online Smarter Balanced Assessment, based on Common Core standards, is being used in subjects of math and English language arts for grades 3-11.
Early on, Sarita Beckett, a 6th grade teacher at Independence Middle School in Raleigh County, said the reviews for the fully computerized testing are not good. Her students have been practicing with Smarter Balanced up to this point.
“My students have said, in every class period, ‘Ms. Beckett, could we please just do this on pencil and paper? It would be so much easier,‘” Beckett said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Melanie Donofe’s students at Weirton Elementary School in Hancock County have voiced similar complaints during practice rounds, according to the 4th grade teacher.
“When I came in for the training, my mind was just blown apart by what they have to do – how they have to go in and highlight and strike through and move things,” Donofe said of what’s required of test takers.
“And 4th graders just aren’t that proficient at this point in time. Some of them may be, but most of them are not.”
Beckett said the system log-in process is cumbersome and there are all kinds of technical aspects that can and do go wrong.
“We are not trained technicians. There are not nearly the number of IT (information technology) people in the schools that we need in order to even deal with the issues. It’s a ‘put in a work order and wait’ for someone to come and help you,” Beckett explained.
Donofe said such computer problems are not unusual.
“I’m quite concerned with it, especially when the student is well into the test, logged in and working on it, and, all of the sudden, the computer shuts off on them,” she said Friday.
Earlier this month, members of the state Board of Education received a detailed report on Smarter Balanced testing from Dr. Michael Martirano, state superintendent, and other officials with the state Department of Education.
Board members were told there were enough computers with adequate technical support in West Virginia’s schools for the Smarter Balanced testing. The testing program is available across all devices, including tablets.
This is the first year the Smarter Balanced testing is being utilized in West Virginia’s schools.
Beginning next year, the results will be calculated into school and teacher evaluations. Schools will be graded, A-F, based on the testing outcomes.
Beckett is not a fan of such testing. “This is the most disturbing thing that I see going on in education today. I don’t know what we’re doing with our kids,” Beckett said. She favors testing at the beginnings and ends of school years to measure progress.
“If we were allowed to teach them as we see fit and as we the experts know they should be taught and tested, the education system would be so much a better place,” she said.
OFFICIAL: JOB PROJECTION FOR NEW WV FACTORY INCREASES
CHARLESTON, WV - A West Virginia official says Procter & Gamble’s planned factory in Berkeley County will be bigger than originally envisioned.
The maker of Tide detergent and Charmin bathroom tissue announced in February that the $500 million plant in the Tabler Station Business Park near Martinsburg would employ 700 workers when it opens in 2017.
According to media outlets, Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette told the state Economic Development Authority’s board on Thursday that the company now plans to employ about 1,100 people at the nearly 460-acre site. Plans call for a building of 4.3 million square feet, more than four times the original projection.
Burdette said the amount of the investment and number of jobs may increase even more.
Teachers beginning to complain about problems with Common Core testing is just starting.
When students must depend on help in figuring out how to take tests that gives chances for influencing test results, and it detracts from students doing well because too much time will be spent on trying to figure out mechanics of test taking.
Wait and see more news of this type will keep pouring in. Thanks again Charleston.
PRESTON COUNTY, WV – A man wanted after a deadly shooting Thursday night turned himself in to state police.
John Wayne Strawser, of Terra Alta, was wanted for the murder of a woman at a home in Tunnelton, troopers said.
The woman was shot around 11 PM Thursday night, according to information from Preston County emergency officials.
The vehicle Strawser was last seen in was found burned in eastern Preston County overnight.
Troopers, with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, had been covering a search area that included Preston County, north central West Virginia and western Maryland.
WOMAN KILLED IN WYOMING COUNTY CRASH
PINEVILLE, WV — A woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash Thursday evening in Wyoming County.
Pamela Schomaker, 42, lost control of the vehicle on state Route 10 between Pineville and Oceana about 6:30 PM.
Schomaker died at the scene, according to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department. A passenger in the vehicle was not injured.
ACCIDENT CLOSES I-64
INSTITUTE, WV — A tractor trailer accident in Kanawha County shut down one of the busiest stretches of interstate in the state for more than two hours Friday morning. The fast lane reopened around 6:30 AM
The rig overturned just before 4 AM in the west bound lanes of I-64 at the Institute exit. The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital. His condition is unknown.
Traffic was detoured westbound at the MacCorkle Avenue exit in South Charleston.
The truck was hauling canned pineapples.
TWO FLOWN TO RUBY AFTER ROUTE 119 HEAD-ON COLLISION
TATLOR COUNTY, WV - Two people were flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital after two vehicles collided head on Thursday morning in Taylor County.
Sheriff Terring Skinner said that just after 6 AM, a Jeep collided with a car US Hwy 119.
Three people - a 28-year-old woman, a 21-year-old man, and an 18-year-old man - were involved.
No word on names or conditions. The Taylor County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.
The Grafton Fire Department, Flemington and Taylor County EMS also responded to the scene.
TRACTOR TRAILER OVERTURNS ON I-77 SOUTH
CHARLESTON, WV—A flatbed truck lost its load on Interstate 77 and then overturned.
The crash was reported just before 2 PM in the southbound lanes of Interstate 77 near the MacCorkle Avenue exit.
Dispatchers say the truck was hauling steel.
Emergency crews at the scene say when the driver was near the Yeager Bridge, the roll of steel shifted and then fell off the truck. The steel landed on the southbound entrance ramp and then rolled over the hill.
The semi then overturned.
The driver was not hurt.
Traffic was down to one lane in the area while crews cleared the road.
PRESTON COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER OF LONGTIME GIRLFRIEND
KINGWOOD, WV — A Terra Alta man was in jail without bond on a first-degree murder charge Friday following a shooting and chase by police in Preston County.
John Wayne Strawser, Jr., 37, is accused of fatally shooting Amy Lou Buckingham, 43, in the driveway of her North Street home in Tunnelton.
West Virginia State Police were called to the residence at 10:38 PM Thursday after neighbors reported they heard Strawser and Buckingham arguing followed by a gunshot.
Troopers said the two had been involved in a romantic relationship that may have been ending.
Preston County Sheriff’s deputies spotted Strawser traveling in a Subaru station wagon and performed a felony traffic stop.
According to 1st Sgt. Geoffrey Petsko, WV State Police, Strawser made a motion as police approached his driver’s side door which led to officers firing a round at the vehicle.
Strawser allegedly sped away, followed by deputies, where he took his vehicle through a gate into a field.
Police maneuvered vehicles to stop Strawser. His vehicle became stuck and caught fire.
Strawser then ran from the scene.
As police were executing a warrant at Strawser’s Terra Alta home, he showed up and was arrested without incident.
Strawser was arraigned early Friday morning and was taken to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
His preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday, April 24 at 11:00 AM in magistrate’s court.
STABBING IN FAYETTE COUNTY
OAK HILL, WV – Authorities in Fayette County are investigating a reported stabbing.
According to Fayette County 911, officers from the Oak Hill Police Department responded to the scene at Rosedale Mobile Home Park at approximately 10 PM Thursday night.
One individual was apparently injured in the incident, but there is no update on their condition currently.
More information regarding a suspect and details of the crime is expected to be released as the investigation continues.
THREE MEN ARRESTED IN AN ALLEGED ROBBERY IN MORGANTOWN ARE AB STUDENTS
PHILIPPI, WV — Alderson Broaddus University officials confirmed three men arrested in a Morgantown robbery investigation are students at the school.
Morgantown police arrested Marquez Alexander Wing, 20, of Mount Airy, Md., Malik Levon Cobb, 19, of Martinsburg, and Daniel Joseph Eppard, 19, of Winchester, Va., during a traffic stop near Grafton Road and Scott Avenue.
Ashley Mittelmeier, the university’s director of marketing and communications, issued a statement:
“Through their chief of police, we have learned that an incident involving three of our students occurred in Morgantown on Wednesday evening. This event led to charges; and the university has acted swiftly with zero tolerance.
“Alderson Broaddus University takes the safety of its students and campus community with the highest priority. We do not and will not condone any behavior on or off our campus that could put someone’s well-being at risk.”
Mittelmeier declined comment on specific disciplinary action against the three suspects.
The three men allegedly assaulted and robbed a man inside his University Avenue apartment around 10 PM on Wednesday. The victim told police the men were in his apartment when they physically assaulted him before stealing his wallet, laptop and drug paraphernalia.
The victim suffered minor injuries during the assault and declined treatment.
Morgantown police chief Ed Preston said the victim and suspects knew each other.
“A lot of the victims are victims of their lifestyle, meaning they were engaged in activities that makes them vulnerable to being victimized by some other predatory individuals,” Preston said. “Case in point, typically it revolves around the sale or use of drugs.”
Wing, Cobb and Eppard all were charged with a single count of robbery.
CHICAGO, IL—A highly contagious strain of the dog flu is sweeping across the Midwest, already killing six dogs and sickening hundreds of others in four states.
At least 1,300 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana were infected in the past few weeks, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University said.
The virus, identified as H3N2, causes symptoms that include a high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy, but may also not produce any symptoms at all, said researchers at the New York State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University. It can also cause infections and respiratory illness in cats.
Researchers previously attributed the dog flu epidemic to the H3N8 strain of virus, which had been identified in the United States in 2004. The H3N2 is the same strain common in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations since 2006 and is new in the United States. The disease is not thought to spread to humans.
“It is not known if the current vaccine will provide any protection from this new virus, but it does protect against H3N8, which is also in circulation in some areas,“ Cornell University researchers said. “Other preventive advice remains the same: In areas where the viruses are active, avoid places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks and grooming salons.“
Andrew Streiber, a veterinarian at the El Segundo Animal Hospital in California, told KTLA is transmitted through sneezes, coughs or nose contact. The virus can also live on surfaces and be carried on clothing and shoes, he said.
FRANCE JUST PASSED A BILL TO LEGALIZE EDWARD SNOWDEN-STYLE WHISTLEBLOWING
If American whistleblower Edward Snowden were French, he would have had a good chance of remaining a free man — despite having leaked thousands of classified intelligence documents to international media.
Whereas both Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly emphasized that Snowden and other similar whistleblowers should face punishment, French members of parliament took the opposite stance Thursday. The French passed an amendment that legalizes the leak of information by intelligence employees if they want to expose an abuse of power by their own authorities.
“The Snowden case has demonstrated the need to create conditions so that agents can denounce abuses by the intelligence services,“ Jean-Jacques Urvoas, the amendment’s author, was quoted as saying by French radio station France Inter.
According to Urvoas, the amendment is supposed to provide “legal protection to an agent of the intelligence services who would denounce illegal intelligence gathering or abusive supervision.“
To prevent the uncontrolled leaking of sensitive information, the French bill will create a new authority to examine leaked documents. Instead of having to persecute the whistleblower, officials would be empowered to investigate abuses of power of the French state. If intelligence officers follow this procedure, they may not “be punished or subjected to discrimination,“ according to the amendment. If whistleblowers avoid the new authority and send their information directly to the media, they would still commit an illegal act.
The French government, as well as the conservative UMP party, tried to prevent the bill from passing. One conservative member of parliament called the amendment “a risk to the stability of the intelligence services.“ Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that respect for hierarchies was crucial to the functioning of intelligence services. By allowing future whistleblowers to legally avoid adhering to this hierarchy, France’s national security could be seriously threatened, according to French newspaper Ouest France.
France has recently taken efforts to step up its surveillance amid an increasing fear of terror attacks on French soil. The plots that targeted the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in January have alarmed the country’s politicians. A recently passed intelligence bill has been criticized for allowing the French government to collect data from millions of ordinary citizens — an accusation that has also been leveled against the NSA in the United States.
It’s a sign that, despite terrorism concerns, a majority of French politicians remain skeptical of U.S. spying habits exposed by Snowden. The ex-NSA contractor had revealed surveillance programs that some claim violate privacy rights.
Capito Meets with Wood County Leaders Who Visited North Dakota Natural Gas Hot Spot
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) met with Wood County community leaders who recently traveled to Minot, North Dakota to learn about preparing for a surge in population and economic activity caused by the natural gas boom. Senator Capito issued the following statement about today’s meeting:
“The natural gas boom is turning small communities around the country into hotbeds of economic growth and activity. I am excited that Wood County and the Mid-Ohio Valley may soon experience similar growth following the expected construction of the ethane cracker plant.
“The delegation that traveled to Minot, North Dakota gained valuable insights about how to plan for a substantial boost in activity. Step one is investing in infrastructure to accommodate both population growth and downstream manufacturing opportunities. We must begin preparing now in order to seize the opportunities presented by our vast natural gas resources.”
Minot experienced significant population growth in recent years due to fracking and the natural gas industry. West Virginia officials are preparing for similar growth following the anticipated construction of an ethane cracker plant in Wood County and the expected increase of shale-driven manufacturing jobs in the U.S. over the next several decades.
BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS OPPOSE FUNDING CUT TO COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, along with 59 other Senators, urged support for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program, which could have its funding cut by nearly 70% in September. In a letter to U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the bipartisan group requested continued funding from the appropriators, explaining that the potential mandatory cuts at the end of this fiscal year could result in site closures and prevent millions of people in high-need communities from accessing cost-effective, primary care services.
In 2014, 243 Health Center sites provided critical access to quality and affordable primary care services to 383,485 West Virginians, 25.5% of whom were uninsured.
The letter reads in part: “We are concerned about the scheduled expiration of the Health Center Fund at the end of this fiscal year, which would put Health Centers around the country at risk of a reduction or interruption of services, and we encourage you to work with us to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the health center program. Without access to primary care, many people, including the chronically ill, delay seeking health care until they are seriously ill and require inpatient hospitalization or care at an emergency room at a much higher cost to the entire health-care system.“
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,
We would like to thank the Subcommittee for your continued support and recognition of Health Centers as a long-standing bipartisan solution to the primary care access shortage facing our country. During the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Appropriations process, we respectfully request that the Subcommittee continue to recognize Health Centers as providers of high quality, cost-effective primary care and that you work to ensure their continued sustainability and viability in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies legislation.
This year marks fifty years since the first Health Centers opened their doors. Since the inception of the program, Health Centers have worked to provide primary care and a variety of support and medical services, such as dental and behavioral care, to America’s most vulnerable patients and communities. Today, nearly 1,300 health center organizations serve more than 9,000 urban and rural communities nationwide. Health Centers are the health-care home for more than 23 million patients, including nearly seven million children and more than 268,000 veterans. These centers employ more than 156,000 Americans, and generate an economic impact and overall cost savings of over $24 billion.
America’s Health Centers have continually proven to be a worthwhile investment by meeting the nation’s growing demands for quality and affordable health care.
We are concerned about the scheduled expiration of the Health Center Fund at the end of this fiscal year, which would put Health Centers around the country at risk of a reduction or interruption of services, and we encourage you to work with us to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the health center program. Without access to primary care, many people, including the chronically ill, delay seeking health care until they are seriously ill and require inpatient hospitalization or care at an emergency room at a much higher cost to the entire health-care system.
As Congress works to improve access to care and reduce health-care expenditures, we urge the Subcommittee to support Health Centers, allowing them to continue to provide cost-effective primary care. Thank you for your continued support of the vital role Health Centers play in preserving and expanding access to care in the communities they serve.
Annual GSC Literary Magazine Reading Slated for Friday, April 17, 2015 - Today
GLENVILLE, WV – Students, faculty, and staff in the Glenville State College Department of Language and Literature are celebrating the recent completion of the 2015 Trillium with the 12th Annual Trillium Reading to be held on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM in the Mollohan Campus Community Center Multipurpose Room (315A).
The reading, which will give the writers, poets, and artists a chance to bring their works to life in a spoken-word format, also will include an open microphone session to allow members of the audience to present poems, songs, or other literary works. The event is free and open to the public.
Cover of the 2015 Trillium featuring photography by
GSC graduate Ashley Smallwood
The Trillium, Glenville State College’s student literary magazine since 1979, contains poetry, fiction, photographs, and drawings from GSC students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Free copies of the 2015 Trillium will be available at the reading, in the Department of Language and Literature located in the Heflin Administration Building, and other various locations around campus.
For more information about the Trillium reading, contact faculty advisor Dr. Jonathan Minton at
WV Center On Budget and Policy: State Should Make Tax System More Fair
CHARLESTON, WV - As West Virginia lawmakers consider reforming the state’s tax code, the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy is arguing that it needs to be made fairer to low- and middle-income families.
Over time, said Ted Boettner, executive director of the center, the state’s tax system gradually has come to favor the wealthy.
“West Virginia has an upside-down tax system,“ he said. “If you look at who pays taxes here in our state, (it) turns out that the middle-class and low-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in state and local taxes than the wealthiest households in the state.“
Republican legislative leaders have said they might consider getting rid of the state’s income tax. Boettner said that could well make the tax system even less fair by putting more reliance on the sales tax, which lands hardest on the poor.
Boettner said one problem is that, with inflation, tax brackets designed to apply to the rich now apply to workers in the middle class. He said the highest state income-tax rates hit a plateau and now reach fairly low into the income spectrum.
“So, more and more middle-income people are falling into that high rate,“ he said. “The higher-income people aren’t paying their fair share, even though they’re the ones that have benefited from all of the growth over this period.“
Twenty-five states now have a state version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, a policy that economists say has been very effective in helping the working poor. Boettner said he thinks West Virginia also should have a state EITC, in part because it would help children in low-income families get a better start and be more productive, long-term.
“One thing we could do on the bottom end is to have a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit,“ he said. “At the higher end, we can have higher rates on those at the very top, those that have benefited the most from economic growth over the last 30 years.“
A legislative special committee on tax reform is discussing the issues now.
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
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Matteo Renzi and the U.S. president will be comparing notes on a range of issues, including Libya, the migrant issues stemming from the chaos there, Islamic State militants and Ukraine. UNITED STATES-ITALY
FIVE YEARS AFTER SPILL, GULF IS SCARRED
Scientists say there are lingering problems that affect the marine ecosystem half a decade after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
WHY SONY’S HACKING PROBLEMS AREN’T OVER
WikiLeaks has put hundreds of thousands of documents from last year’s cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment into a searchable online archive.
ITALY’S MIGRATION CRISIS TAKES DEADLY TWIST
Police report that Muslim migrants threw 12 Christians overboard during a recent crossing from Libya.
WHO IS MULLING A CUBAN DETOUR
Pope Francis is considering adding a stop in Cuba to his U.S. trip in September, but no decision has been made. VATICAN-CUBA
WHERE STAKES ARE HIGHEST IN FIGHT AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE GROUP
Losing Ramadi in western Iraq to the extremists would be troubling - but an even more vital battleground is Beiji, home to a major oil refinery, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey says.
FINDING DIFFERENT METHODS TO HELP CHILDREN WITH AMBIGUOUS GENITALIA
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SECRECY SHROUDS OIL SPILL IN GULF OF MEXICO
An AP investigation finds that the barely known, decade-old leak is far worse than has been reported.
PUTIN WARNS WEST TO RESPECT RUSSIA’S GLOBAL INTERESTS
During a marathon TV call-in, he defends his move to deliver a long-range air defense missile system to Iran.
JUDGE ORDERS `SUGE’ KNIGHT TO STAND TRIAL ON MURDER CHARGE
The co-founder of Death Row Records is charged with intentionally killing a man and seriously injuring another by striking them with his truck.
THIS IS (NOT) YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING
AP’s Scott Mayerowitz finds that after the intentional crashing of Germanwings Flight 9525 by the co-pilot, one way for airlines to improve safety is to remove the pilots - a radical idea that is decades away. PLANES WITHOUT PILOTS
HOW FIDO MAKES FRIENDS
Just by gazing at their owners, dogs can trigger a response in their masters’ brains that helps them bond, a study says.
WHAT GOOGLE’S CHANGES MEAN FOR YOU
The search engine giant is changing its algorithms so that mobile-friendly sites show up first on smartphones. GOOGLE-SEARCH SHAKE-UP
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AGREE TO FAST TRACK TRADE PACT
The bipartisan deal allows Obama to move forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving the U.S., Japan, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and seven other Pacific rim nations.
G-20 CONFRONTING ECONOMIC WEAKNESS
Finance officials from the world’s major economies are searching for the right mix of policies to bolster a still-weak global recovery while confronting a big drop in oil prices. GLOBAL FINANCE
WHY POOCHES ARE SNIFFLING IN THE HEARTLAND
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GYROCOPTER STUNT RAISES SECURITY CONCERNS
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IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL STANDS BY MEHMET OZ
Columbia University won’t remove the TV celebrity doctor from his faculty position as a group of top doctors has demanded, citing his “lack of integrity” for promoting “quack treatments.“ MEHMET OZ-COLUMBIA
BASKETBALL GALAXY MISSING BIGGEST STARS
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WV LAWMAKERS SET UP SITE WITH INFO ABOUT TAX REFORM PUSH
CHARLESTON, WV — The Republican-led Legislature has set up a website about their push to change parts of the state tax code.
On Wednesday, lawmakers announced the site featuring public information that will be used in reform efforts.
Currently, the site features several previous state tax studies.
The Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform met for the first time during interim meetings Monday.
Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead have called for more study and tweaks to state taxes.
Lawmakers haven’t discussed many specifics yet.
The next meetings will be May 04 and May 18.
Lawmakers are also urging the public to contact them with suggestions.
MANCHIN INVITES STUDENTS, PARENTS AND EDUCATORS TO “ACADEMY DAYS”
Charleston, WV – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and his staff will host “Academy Day” events in Morgantown, Hedgesville and Huntington to promote the U.S. Service Academies. In addition to Senator Manchin’s staff members, there will be representatives from the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on hand to answer questions and assist with the application process. Representatives from the West Virginia National Guard and local ROTC programs will also be available to address scholarship opportunities. Senator Manchin will deliver remarks at the Morgantown event.
“It is an honor to nominate our hardworking and dedicated West Virginia students to the U.S. Service Academies every year,” Senator Manchin said. “A nomination to one of our elite service academies will assist these young men and women in becoming our next generation of military leaders. These ‘Academy Day’ events will be a special opportunity for my staff to join representatives from the academies to provide students and their parents with valuable information that will aid in their decision to seek an appointment.”
The event is open to all high school students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors, and members of the community. A nomination from a member of Congress is required for an appointment to the academies.
Senator Manchin’s “Academy Days” schedule is below:
Saturday, April 18, 2015
9 AM – Noon
Morgantown High School
109 Wilson Avenue
Morgantown, WV 26501
Note: Formal presentations by service academy representatives and remarks from Senator Manchin will begin at approximately 10 AM
Sunday, May 03, 2015
2 PM – 5 PM
Cabell County Public Library
455 9th Street
Huntington, WV 25701
Saturday, May 09, 2015
Noon – 3 PM
Hedgesville High School
109 Ridge Road, North
Hedgesville, WV 25427
MANCHIN AND CAPITO ANNOUNCE NEARLY $11 MILLION FOR HEAD START PROGRAMS IN SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced a total of $10,868,104 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for Head Start Programs across Southern West Virginia.
The Coalfield Community Action Partnership, which serves children and families in McDowell and Mingo Counties, will receive a total of $4,217,518. Southwestern Community Action Council, which serves children and families in Cabell, Lincoln, Mason, and Wayne Counties will receive $6,650,586.
“In West Virginia, our commitments are based on our values, and that includes strengthening our families and promoting early education for all children,” Senator Manchin said. “Our kids deserve the best chances at success, and it is important to invest in educational opportunities like Head Start that will lead our next generation to a brighter future. With grants like these, our kids in West Virginia will receive the best care, education and services they need to compete in the global marketplace.”
“In West Virginia, we understand that a solid education and good health lay the foundation for the success of our next generation,” said Senator Capito. “This Head Start funding will give children in our state access to education, health and other services that are essential to their future achievements.”
Head Start is a national child-development and readiness program for low-income children ranging from birth to five years of age that helps prepare them for school from a young age. It offers eligible children and their families access to critical health, nutrition, education, and social services.
SPRING VALLEY STUDENTS SEEK ‘OPT-OUT’ ON TEST
WAYNE, WV — A group of students at Spring Valley High School are in educational limbo as district and state officials determine the validity of forms and notes from parents requesting permission for their children to opt out of standardized testing.
Nearly 200 students brought testing opt-out forms this week to Spring Valley High School, which were signed by parents and stated their children would not participate in the Smarter Balanced assessment, which is being administered at the school this week.
The students who opted out have been allowed to sit in a designated area while testing takes place, and district and state officials worked to determine whether or not those students will be forced to make up the tests before the school year ends.
The influx of opt-out requests forced Wayne County Superintendent Sandra Pertee and Director of Assessment John Waugaman to call an assembly where they explained that there were no laws stating students can opt out of the testing.
Parents against the testing stated it violates student privacy by asking questions that have nothing to do with education, is based on what they called flawed Common Core standards, and has no weight in gauging a student’s performance.
Some said they believed not being allowed to keep their students from taking the test is a violation of their personal civil liberties.
Pertee said a lot of the criticism the school administration has taken the past several days is unwarranted.
“I respect everyone’s opinion,“ she said. “I never have implied disrespect of those opinions. As superintendent, I am following code. I am to not impede student assessment as outlined by the state Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education. It is a state issue.“
Pertee said one of her main concerns is the unforeseen consequences if Spring Valley High School — or any other school in Wayne County — does not have enough students take the test.
Federal guidelines state that schools must have at least a 93 percent participation rate this year and 95 percent participation by next year to avoid receiving a poor “designation” that is based on test scores.
Schools that score poorly receive priority school status. That means that school is under more scrutiny for improvement and subject to state oversight until test scores improve.
Pertee said that Spring Valley is a “transition school,“ which is the second tier from the top, or being a “school of excellence.“
With an average student population of between 1,000 and 1,100 students, it would only take about 70 students opting out of the test to downgrade the school’s designation.
“I just do not want to see schools receive consequences for others who legally believe they are upholding their constitutional beliefs,“ Pertee said. “I support that completely, but they have to realize the whole school will be affected. It is not fair to the students who are taking the tests. I do not want to see them be forced into consequences.“
In a statement, Liza Cordeiro, executive director of communications for the state Department of Education, confirmed there is no provision for opting out in state laws.
The WVDE has every expectation that every student take part in public assessment, Cordeiro said. ~~ MICHAEL HUPP ~~
MAILINGS SEEK OWNERS OF WV UNCLAIMED PROPERTY
CHARLESTON, WV — State Treasurer John Perdue’s office is using newspaper inserts and direct mailings this month in an attempt to locate people with unclaimed property.
The office is placing the inserts in newspapers for two weeks starting Thursday. None of the names in the inserts have been advertised before.
Examples of unclaimed property include forgotten utility deposits, a final paycheck from an employer or safety deposit box contents.
Residents who see their name in the bulletin can call 800.642.8687 or go to www.wvtreasury.com to find out how to claim the property.
MCKINLEY RAISES $154K IN CAMPAIGN CASH, GOV QUESTION LOOMS
CHARLESTON, WV - While considering a bid for governor, Republican Congressman David McKinley added almost $154,000 to his federal campaign account to start the year.
On Wednesday, McKinley and West Virginia’s freshman Republican congressmen posted six-figure hauls from January through March.
McKinley raised the least, but ended with the most in his account.
Evan Jenkins raised more than $201,000, while Alex Mooney yielded $185,000.
McKinley’s federal account has almost $523,000. But he can’t transfer all that money to a state campaign account for a possible gubernatorial bid.
He has other options to get the money into the governor’s race, including giving it to political party committees or a third-party group like a super PAC.
Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, also considering running for governor, has the same options with his $1.4 million account.
WV COUNCIL OKs 4 NEW COMMUNITY COLLEGE TECHNICAL PROGRAMS
CHARLESTON, WV - Three community and technical colleges have received state approval to develop new technical programs.
The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education announced the new programs on Thursday.
Chancellor James L. Skidmore says in a news release that the programs will provide training in energy, advanced manufacturing and health care.
BridgeValley Community and Technical College will develop two associate degree programs, instrumentation technology and EMI/mechatronics technology.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College will develop a renewable energy systems certificate program.
The council also approved development of a health informatics associate degree program at Mountwest Community and Technical College.
COURT SKEPTICAL OF CHALLENGE TO OBAMA’S CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two out of three judges on a federal appeals court panel are expressing doubts about a legal challenge to the Obama administration’s far-reaching plan to address climate change.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments Thursday in two cases challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut heat-trapping pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Judges Thomas Griffith and Brett Kavanaugh seemed to agree with lawyers defending the EPA that the lawsuits are premature because the agency has not yet made the rule final.
The lawsuits from a coalition of 15 states and a coal mining company are part of a growing political attack from opponents who say the rule will kill jobs, cripple demand for coal and drive up electricity prices.
Bridgeport, WV – Zachary O. Crites, operating room scrub tech, recently received the designation of United Hospital Center Associate of the Quarter for January, February and March. Crites began his career at UHC in 2011.
“Zach is a valuable resource to the surgeons with whom he scrubs and to other members of the OR staff,“ said Adam Hansen, MD, thoracic surgeon at UHC Thoracic Surgery. “He is an experienced assistant in surgery and always thinks a few steps ahead.“
Crites has won the admiration and respect of many, having been nominated by two physicians and a colleague.
“Zach cares about the patients,” Lucas Wiegand, MD, said, “He shows up early and stays late to make sure that everything is in place.“
Lora Corathers, a colleague, said that Crites was instrumental in helping her to improve her technique to better assist with robotic surgery. “He always goes the extra mile to help and stays until the work is done.“ Corathers said. “He even comes to work on his days off to assist.“
Crites is certified as a surgical technologist and belongs to the Association of Surgical Technologist. He is a graduate of the Monongalia Technical Center and East Fairmont High School.
“Zach always steps up to fulfill any request and to assist,“ said Loria A. Helmick, director of the operating room. “He has demonstrated great skill and he is a resource to many.“
Crites resides in Fairmont with his wife Rachael and daughter Avery.
ELKINS, WV – Keyara Peters, 21, of Rivesville, West Virginia, and Ryan Brooks, 28, of Morgantown, West Virginia, were convicted in federal court today for oxycodone trafficking, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
An investigation by the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Mon Valley Drug and Violent Crime Task Force revealed that Peters and Brooks participated in a drug distribution operation designed to transport heroin and prescription painkillers across state lines from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Morgantown, West Virginia for redistribution and sale.
The defendants each pled guilty today to one count of “Aiding and Abetting the Distribution of Oxycodone.” They each face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.00. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zelda Wesley prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull presided.
KANAWHA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO KILLING DAUGHTER, WOUNDING SON
CHARLESTON, WV - A Kanawha County man faces up to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of killing his daughter and wounding his son.
Media outlets report that 70-year-old Roy Roger Pittman pleaded guilty on Thursday to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. A malicious wounding charge was charged as part of the plea deal.
Pittman is scheduled to be sentenced June 08 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Police say Pittman fatally shot 15-year-old Brittany Pittman and wounded 18-year-old Matthew Pittman with a shotgun on May 24, 2013, at the family’s home. He shot himself in the face when confronted by deputies.
MOM ACCUSED OF PUTTING FECAL MATTER IN SON’S IV MISSES HEARING, WARRANT ISSUED
CINCINNATI, OH - A West Virginia woman accused of deliberately making her 9-year-old son sick by contaminating his IV at a Cincinnati hospital is being sought on an arrest warrant after she missed a court hearing.
A Hamilton County court official says 35-year-old Candida Fluty, of Kermit, West Virginia, was scheduled for a hearing Thursday in Cincinnati. She is charged with felonious assault and child endangering.
The judge says he will withdraw the warrant if Fluty attends a hearing now set for Friday. A court official says the defense attorney indicated Fluty apparently was attending another court hearing in West Virginia on Thursday.
A message was left for Fluty’s attorney.
Authorities say fecal matter put in the boy’s IV while he was in a Cincinnati hospital caused his fever to spike.
PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS OVERHAUL OF HOW MEDICARE PAYS DOCTORS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama has signed legislation permanently changing how Medicare pays doctors, a rare bipartisan achievement by Democrats and Republicans.
The bill overhauls a 1997 law that aimed to slow Medicare’s growth by limiting reimbursements to doctors. Instead, doctors threatened to leave the Medicare program, and that forced Congress repeatedly to block those reductions.
Obama signed the legislation Thursday in a Rose Garden ceremony. The Senate passed the bill two days ago; the House approved it in March.
The bill blocked a 21% cut in Medicare payments that was due to take effect this month. It also revamps how physicians will be paid in the future.
The new law provides financial incentives for physicians to bill Medicare patients for their overall care, not individual office visits.
JAPAN WANTS VISITORS TO EXPERIENCE ITS WORLD-CLASS TOILET CULTURE — AND BUY SOME TOILETS
Japan is trying an unconventional way to impress visitors to their country with both their technology and their gracious hospitality — a toilet “gallery” where it’s just fine to touch, and sample, the exhibits.
Toto, Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer, plans to soon open a high-tech bathroom “gallery” in the departures section of Tokyo’s Narita international airport.
“Gallery Toto” will feature four stalls each for men and women, so departing visitors can try out the company’s famous Washlet models, complete with all the features that come in an upscale Japanese toilet — bidet, seat-warmer, sterilizing and deodorizing functions, and electronic flushing.
The gallery, with its futuristic illuminated walls, features murals of Mount Fuji and other iconic landscapes of Japan.
Toto says the display will provide an opportunity for travelers to experience “Japanese toilet culture” and technologies, hoping that it will also help boost international sales.
And Japanese toilet culture is something to behold.
Almost every train and subway station in Japan, and many of its parks, boasts a spotless public restroom. It’s not uncommon to find a public restroom where the toilets feature all these impressive technologies, plus additional conveniences like a special seat for your baby while you do your business (which doubles perfectly as a bag-holder) and a flip-down board that you can stand on while you get changed so you don’t dirty your socks on the bathroom floor.
Nor is it unusual to find little toilets and wash basins for children, or hooks to hang your umbrella on while you wash your hands. Accessible stalls with plenty of handrails are standard in this rapidly aging society.
And that’s just in public places. Many Japanese homes have similarly fancy toilets, which allow users to adjust the temperature of the seat and the water pressure and temperature from the bidet.
What must Japanese think when they travel abroad?
While the Toto gallery will be available for viewing and use from next Friday, potential customers won’t be able to buy products on the spot. Instead, Toto officials hope foreign visitors, flushed from the experience, will buy its toilets after they get home.
In Japan, customers can buy only the seat component for $1,100 (although the company’s top-of-the-line Neorest goes for $3,500). In the United States, the full Washlet, Toto’s signature product, retails for $3,000.
There’s one person who might not be impressed with Toto’s attempts to showcase its products to foreigners: Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The Global Times, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist party, earlier this year lashed out against Chinese tourists who were returning from Japan with the high-tech toilet seats after reports that Chinese tourists spent $1 billion in Japan during a holiday season, a good chunk of it on toilet seats.
“Such news makes a mockery of China’s boycott of Japanese goods over the past two years,“ the newspaper said. “Some Chinese people feel ashamed about this and have criticized their compatriots’ obsession with foreign goods,” the paper said in an editorial entitled “Popularity of Japanese toilet seats overstated.”
“That Chinese tourists swamp Japanese stores at a time when the country is facing a sluggish domestic demand is certainly not something to be proud of,” it said.