Congressman McKinley Meets with Mayor Fitzpatrick in Glenville

The Free Press WV

Last week, Congressman McKinley traveled to Glenville in Gilmer County and met with Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick to discuss local infrastructure projects, the economy, and how best to combat opioid abuse and drug addiction.

He had a good conversation with Mayor Fitzpatrick.

He looks forward to visiting Glenville again soon.


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The National Weather Service

6:51 AM EDT, Monday, July 25, 2016






A column by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
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In the days and weeks following the floods that devastated parts of our state one month ago, it is inspiring to see West Virginians banding together to support friends, family and neighbors as the long road to recovery continues.

More than 4,500 individual citizens have requested volunteer opportunity information through Volunteer West Virginia, to offer their time to neighbors and communities. And countless volunteers, charitable organizations and corporations have poured into our state from across the country, helping West Virginians rebuild their homes and lives.

Our communities are leading the way, with citizen volunteers providing leadership, guidance and support for the families impacted by these floods. Our local firefighters, police officers and National Guard members were among the first to put their own lives in danger to help others in the first hours of the flooding-in some cases, leaving their own homes to flood. From the businesses that have donated time, money or resources to recovery efforts, to the students, families, faith-based communities and unsung heroes near and far, I thank you.

Volunteer programs, like the Red Cross, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and disaster relief agencies, including Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), are working with local, state and federal officials, community organizers, students and dedicated citizens to ensure those impacted by flooding have access to the resources they need.

Truckloads of donated supplies have been flowing into our state from across the country, and VOAD has been working hand-in-hand with state and local officials to ensure supplies are reaching our communities in need. These emerging community networks are accomplishing great things, and because of the efforts of organizations like Volunteer West Virginia and VOAD, we will rebuild stronger, more connected communities.

Some of our most famous West Virginians have answered the call for help. I was pleased to join country music star Brad Paisley in thanking volunteers working in Clendenin. I also joined actress Jennifer Garner, a proud Charleston native, as she raised funds for Herbert Hoover High School students to ensure they can have the facilities, equipment and technology they need to continue thriving in both academics and extracurricular activities.

Though we have come a long way since the floodwaters receded, there is still much work to be done. Over the past few weeks, our communities have grown closer, reconnecting with neighbors and reaching out to strangers to work together toward rebuilding.

A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a crew of volunteers who visited a 92 year old veteran to help him clean up after flooding devastated his home. His American flag was torn down by the raging waters, so volunteers secured a new flag and returned to his home the next day to replace it. The veteran declined the flag, and told volunteers, “My neighbor lost his flag and may not have as much help as I do. Please take this one to him.“

This story, and many more like it, reminds us all what it means to be West Virginians.

For those interested in helping our communities rebuild, visit, the state’s official flood resource site.

WVU Extension Service Extends Deadline To Gilmer County Organizations

WVU Extension Service Extends Deadline To
Gilmer County Organizations Interested In Promoting Healthier Communities

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia University Extension Service will help organizations in Gilmer County support healthier environments in their communities with grants offered through the West Virginia Healthy Children Project. The new application deadline is September 01, 2016.

Competitive one-time mini-grants will be offered to organizations to promote healthy environments and impactful educational activities for young children (ages 2 to 5) and families in Barbour, Gilmer and Pleasants counties. Grants are funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention through the WVU Extension Service’s West Virginia Healthy Children Project.

Organizations may receive funding ranging from $500 to $4,000. Projects must be completed between November 2016 and September 2017. Only one application per organization is permitted. They will be prioritized and funded based on the availability of funds. Projects that show community collaboration, creativity and sustainability will be given priority. The total number of funded projects will depend on the requested amounts and the strengths of the proposals. Applicants should contact their local WVU Extension Service office, which can be found online at Completed applications must be emailed by the deadline, and must comply with all guidelines and procedures.

Organizations in Gilmer County that are interested in applying, partnering or looking for suggestions for local improvement should contact WVU Extension Service Gilmer County agent Lisa Montgomery at or 304.462.7061.

Did You Know?

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Hillary Clinton must overcome lingering bitterness among supporters of defeated rival Bernie Sanders and clean up a resurgent political mess of the party’s own making.


Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the successful fundraiser, party advocate and tough-talking mother and breast cancer survivor, is on the outs, after publication of emails that suggest Democratic officials favored Clinton over Sanders.


Hillary Clinton might be the first woman to top a major party presidential ticket, but the broader political landscape is a different story: in state legislatures, 16 states having fewer women serving than in 2005.


In Bavaria, already on edge after two attacks in recent days, police say a man was killed when an explosive device he was believed to be carrying went off near an open-air music festival, injuring 10 people.


Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a father of three obsessed with fitness and sex, hid that he was a committed jihadi ready to kill scores of people in a French Riviera rampage.


Excessive heat warnings will continue Monday in most of the Midwest, West and in the Philadelphia area, where 50,000 are expected for the start of this week’s Democratic National Convention.


Olympic leaders give individual global sports federations the task of deciding which athletes should be cleared to compete in next month’s Rio de Janeiro Games.


Civil rights veterans who marched against a white supremacist system 50 years ago say the U.S. still needs honest dialogue about race - even if it’s uncomfortable.


A report says global mergers and acquisitions could drop by as much as $1.6 trillion over the next five years - unless Britain quickly agrees to exit the European Union but remain in the bloc’s common trade market.


Researchers say changes in behavior or personality could also be an early clue, and proposed a checklist of symptoms to alert doctors and families.

In West Virginia….

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►   West Virginia seeking higher reimbursement rate from FEMA for public flood repair projects

No decision had been made as of Saturday morning on West Virginia’s request for a greater reimbursement rate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for infrastructure repair projects needed after the June 23 flood.

Typically in disasters, FEMA covers 75 percent of the costs of public rebuilding work through the agency’s Public Assistance Program. States and local governments are responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

On Friday, state officials, under instructions from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, submitted a formal request to FEMA for reimbursements of 90 percent for qualifying governments and non-profit organizations.

West Virginia officials are currently projecting nearly $200 million in flood damages and that number was expected to grow, according to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who said he spoke in support of the request with President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Friday.

FEMA regulations, Manchin argued, provide for an additional cost share “when a disaster is so extraordinary that the eligible costs exceed current thresholds.”

“Now that the floodwaters have receded, we must work with everyone we can to rebuild homes, businesses, schools and communities that have been devastated by the horrific flooding,” Manchin said in a statement.

“This additional funding will be a lifeline to help local communities meet the financial demands of rebuilding critical infrastructure, such as schools and first responder facilities, to make sure that our communities can recover and rebuild.”

►   1.8 million federal grant awarded to Coalfield Development Corporation of Wayne

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced Friday that a $1.8 million grant was awarded to the Coalfield Development Corporation of Wayne.

The grant through the Department’s Economic Development Administration aims to rehabilitate the corporation’s West Edge Factory and accommodate workforce training and job placement programs.

After nine years, more than 320 program participants will either be employed by Coalfield or will have graduated and moved on to other employment opportunities, according to estimates released Friday.

“The Obama administration is committed to assisting coal-impacted communities diversify and grow and to ensure workers gain the skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs,” said Pritzker. “This EDA investment will spur economic diversification in Wayne, Mingo, and Lincoln counties. Each of these counties is looking to create new opportunities in the wake of changes within the coal industry.”

Numerous public and private partners will be involved in the placement and hiring of program graduates.

►   Don Knotts statue unveiled in Morgantown

The legendary career of comedian and actor Don Knotts halted traffic in downtown Morgantown Saturday.

Three replica police cruisers, 2 Barney Fife impersonators, countless fans and dozens of people with their own “before he was Barney” stories lined High Street outside the Metropolitan Theatre for the first annual Don Knotts Days celebration.

“I actually waited on him one time at the Wilkins Motors down on University Avenue.  One day he came in.  He came to my window and I waited on him,” laughed Jean Faini who added that Knotts was just “very normal”.

“I am a very big fan of Barney Fife for a long, long, long time.  I watch him every night on TV.  It’s just exciting that Morgantown can be part of this,” shared Morgantown resident Barbara Kuhn.

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Don Knotts was and is a part of Morgantown.  He grew up in a boarding house owned and operated by his mother.  It was nearly as popular as the 5-time Emmy Award winning actor himself if you were from Morgantown.

“We would drive along University Avenue and we knew that’s where his mother still lived. So it was always like a big deal for us to see that she was still living.  Then, you’d go home and watch Andy Griffith and see him on TV,” Kuhn reminisced in sweltering 90 degree temperatures, a heat that resembled the southern climate of Mayberry, Knotts’ fictional home from 1960-1965.

Part of University Avenue is now Don Knotts Boulevard.  The renaming came shortly after Knotts was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Visitors from Miami to Michigan sweated it out for the afternoon reveal of a statue of the entertainment icon.

“Public art makes a huge difference in the community because it connects us with our past and it connects us with our future, I believe, because the young people in the community see the statues and have questions about them,” said sculptor Jamie Lester.

Knotts, a graduate of both Morgantown High School and West Virginia University, is depicted seated outside the window of the Met, just below the sign where his name was in lights Saturday.  The accessories he holds are representative of a midway point in the performer’s career.

“It’s a prop that is a symbol for the script for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken which he did around the same time.  So, it’s a nod to his film work in his left hand and nod to his TV work with the Andy Griffith Show with the prop for the Barney Fife had in his right hand,” explained the artist.

Knotts’ daughter, on hand for the ceremonies, performed on the stage inside the Met where her father had been known to do a show.

She shared an even more intimate picture of the man she said was nervous by nature and some-what of a hypochondriac, not to mention one heck of a ventriloquist.  He got the knack for it reading a manual he’d sent away for in the mail.  Knotts’ talents throwing his voice were enough to grab the attention of a neighbor who created Knotts’ first real dummy.

Bringing laughs to the crowd, Karen Knotts explained, “He thought about calling it Fred.  When his mother asked him why he chose Danny, he said, ‘I can put Danny on my fanny, I can’t do that with Fred.  Fred is dead’!”

Knotts would have turned 92 Thursday, just a few days before a community came out to show its pride for a native son.

Phil Faini, former Dean of the College of Creative Arts, was there to take in the fanfare.

“I have to say I’m proud of two things.  I’m proud of him as a former student of our college, but also of Jamie Lester who I think is the Michelangelo of Morgantown,” said the musician and educator.  “This was an outstanding day for Morgantown.  I think it will be an attraction for downtown Morgantown, the statue.  People will come by to visit.”

Don Knotts Days continues Sunday with activities at the Morgantown History Museum.

Organizers are aiming for annual festivities in honor the Monongalia County legend.

►   FEMA releases county-by-county numbers

Kanawha and Greenbrier counties are a close one-two in the amount of assistance handed out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the June 23 flood.

FEMA released a county-by-county breakdown of the assistance in the 12-county flood zone.

MORE read FEMA county-by-county breakdown HERE

In Greenbrier County, 2,229 residents have applied for assistance with FEMA granting $10.9 million for temporary housing and rebuild needs. The agency has approved $2.1 million in funding for other needs of Greenbrier County victims. In Kanawha County, 1,967 residents have applied with the agency, which has granted $11.1 million in housing assistance and $1.6 million in other needs.

In the 12-county region, a total 7,561 residents have sought assistance with FEMA approving more than $32 million.

It’s still possible some flood victims still haven’t applied with the agency, FEMA spokesman Bob Howard said.

“You have to remember that when disaster strikes a family it’s one of the worst things that ever happened to them. It’s a process they have to go through,” he said.

FEMA will close five disaster recovery centers Friday located in Nicholas, Summers, Fayette, Pocahontas and Lincoln counties. Residents in those counties can still apply at or by calling 1.800.621.FEMA.

Both FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have set an Aug. 24 deadline for residents to seek assistance.

The SBA has approved more than $13 million in low-interest loans to residents in the flood zone, most of those to homeowners, SBA spokesperson Mary Gipson said.

Several thousand residents have been given SBA loan applications but haven’t completed them. Gipson is urging that work be done.

“It’s very critical to keep that process going because for those who would not be approved for a loan they would be referred back to FEMA for other assistance,” she said.

Those with questions about SBA loans can call 1.800.659.2955.

The five disaster recovery centers set to close Friday include:

Nicholas County High School        (WILL PERMANENTLY CLOSE FRIDAY, JULY 22 AT 6:00 PM)
30 Grizzly Ln.
Summersville, WV 26651

Summers County Office            (WILL PERMANENTLY CLOSE FRIDAY, JULY 22 AT 6:00 PM)
451 1st Ave.
Hinton, WV 25951

Midland Trail High School        (WILL PERMANENTLY CLOSE FRIDAY, JULY 22 AT 6:00 PM)
26719 Midland Trail
Hico, WV  25854

McClintic Public Library           (WILL PERMANENTLY CLOSE FRIDAY, JULY 22 AT 6:00 PM)
500 8th St.
Marlinton, WV  24954

Morrisville Fire Department Substation         (WILL PERMANENTLY CLOSE FRIDAY, JULY 22 AT 6:00 PM)
2508 Straight Fork Rd.
Alkol, WV  25501

►   New Hydroelectric Power Plants Built Along the Ohio River

Hydroelectric generating capacity is on the rise with the construction of new power plants along the Ohio River in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reports that enough new hydroelectricity to power up to 320,000 homes will come online this year.

American Municipal Power President and CEO Marc Gerken says the facilities will help insulate AMP from future carbon regulations and will be a long-term benefit to its members.

AMP officials opened generating units at the Willow Island Lock and Dam in Pleasants County, West Virginia, earlier this year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said projects also are ongoing at Cannelton, Meldahl and Smithland in Kentucky. When these are complete, the hydroelectricity generating capacity along the Ohio River will grow from 313 megawatts to 554 megawatts.

►   West Virginia Republicans Call For Bill That Would Limit Bathroom Use Based On Gender

West Virginia Republicans are doubling down on the transgender bathroom issue and other so-called religious freedom bills, despite the backlash in other states that passed similar laws.

The platform passed by delegates to the West Virginia GOP’s convention this summer affirmed support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and supported individuals using the locker room or bathroom corresponding to their genetic sex.

Two West Virginia lawmakers are pushing for the governor to call a special legislative session to pass a bill that would limit the bathrooms people could use based on their gender.

And while the Religious Freedom Restoration Act failed in the Senate last session, some West Virginia Republicans are hoping it makes another appearance.

In USA….

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►   Medicare safeguard overwhelmed by pricey drugs

A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense, government numbers show.

The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015, according to the program’s number-crunching Office of the Actuary.

Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection – Harvoni and Sovaldi – accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic drug costs in 2015.

The pharmaceutical industry questions the numbers, saying they overstate costs because they don’t factor in manufacturer rebates. However, rebates are not publicly disclosed. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is calling the rise in spending “alarming.“

Medicare’s catastrophic coverage was originally designed to protect seniors with multiple chronic conditions from the cumulatively high costs of taking many different pills. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent after they have spent $4,850 of their own money. With some drugs now costing more than $1,000 per pill, that threshold can be crossed quickly.

Lawmakers who created Part D in 2003 also hoped added protection would entice insurers to participate in the program. Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost of drugs above a catastrophic threshold that combines spending by the beneficiary and the insurer. That means taxpayers, not insurers, bear the exposure for the most expensive patients.

The numbers provided to The Associated Press reflect the total paid by taxpayers, insurers and beneficiaries. They offer a glimpse into the volatile and often mysterious world of high-cost drugs:

• Catastrophic spending for Harvoni and Sovaldi – two hepatitis C pills from Gilead Sciences – more than doubled in two years, from about $3.5 billion in 2014 to nearly $7.5 billion in 2015. Harvoni topped the list of Medicare’s high-cost drugs last year; Sovaldi was first in 2014.

The FDA approved Sovaldi in Dec., 2013, and its $1,000-per-pill price quickly made headlines. A congressional investigation last year found that Gilead was focused on maximizing revenue, even as a company analysis showed that a lower price would allow more patients to be treated.

• Revlimid, a cancer drug derived from 1950s thalidomide, surpassed $1.7 billion in catastrophic costs in 2015, coming in second among high-cost drugs. Spending on the medication from biotech company Celgene increased by 50 percent in three years.

• Gleevec, a breakthrough drug introduced in 2001 to treat leukemia, was ensconced as 5th among the top ten pricey medications, with more than $1 billion spent in 2015. That was a 54-percent increase from 2013. Drugmaker Novartis has been criticized for repeatedly hiking the price of Gleevec.

• Catastrophic spending accounts for a fast-growing share of Medicare’s drug costs, which totaled nearly $137 billion in 2015. The catastrophic share was 37 percent, yet only about 9 percent of beneficiaries reached the threshold for such costs. For those patients, average spending jumped by 46 percent, from $9,666 in 2013 to $14,100 in 2015.

“If the numbers continue to increase like this each year, I worry about how much the taxpayers could afford,“ said Sen. Grassley, who plans to ask Medicare for explanations.

“It may be that some drug companies are taking advantage of government programs to maximize their market share, and we need to know whether that’s the case,“ he added.

Catastrophic coverage will soon cost as much as the entire prescription program did when it launched, said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “Congress can’t continue to stand idle.“

Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable.

Nonpartisan congressional advisers at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have called for an overhaul. The presidential candidates, as well as the Obama administration, have proposed giving Medicare legal authority to negotiate prices.

The drug industry says Medicare patients are getting valuable, innovative medicines.

Lisa Joldersma, policy vice president for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also questioned the cost numbers. “I would push back on the notion that taxpayers are bearing 80 percent of the risk here because the numbers do not reflect rebates,“ she said.

Rebates for individual drugs are not disclosed. They averaged nearly 13 percent across the entire program in 2013, according to government figures, and were estimated at about 17 percent for 2015.

Most beneficiaries haven’t seen a drastic hit yet from rising drug costs, but that may be changing. This year, average premiums went up more than 15 percent in five of the top eight drug plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Concerns about catastrophic costs undercut the image of Medicare’s prescription program as a competitive marketplace in which private insurers bargain with drugmakers to drive down prices.

“The incentive is to price it as high as they can,“ said Jim Yocum, senior vice president of Connecture, Inc., a company that tracks drug prices. Medicare is barred from negotiating prices, “so you max out your pricing and most of that risk is covered by the federal government.“

An architect of the program says no one anticipated $1,000 pills. Former Medicare administrator Tom Scully said catastrophic coverage was meant to protect patients taking many different medicines over months and years.

“The pricing is pretty wild,“ he said.

►   A look at how states compare on women in elected office

Women comprise half of the U.S. population, yet they are underrepresented at various levels of elected office. Here is a closer look at how states compare when it comes to women in elected office:



— COLORADO, 42 percent.

— VERMONT, 41 percent.

— ARIZONA, 38 percent.

— WASHINGTON, 34 percent.

— MINNESOTA, 33 percent.

— NEVADA, 33 percent.

— ILLINOIS, 32 percent.

— MARYLAND, 31 percent.

— MONTANA, 31 percent.

— OREGON, 31 percent.



— KENTUCKY, 17 percent.

— TENNESSEE, 17 percent.

— UTAH, 15 percent.

— LOUISIANA, 15 percent.

— MISSISSIPPI, 14 percent.

— ALABAMA, 14 percent.

— WEST VIRGINIA, 14 percent.

— OKLAHOMA, 14 percent.

— SOUTH CAROLINA, 14 percent.

— WYOMING, 13 percent.




















































































Sources: National Conference of State Legislatures, Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

►   Hemingway (no relation) wins look-alike contest in Key West

For the first time in its 36-year history, a Hemingway has won a competition seeking the man who most looks like literary giant Ernest Hemingway.

Dave Hemingway was named the winner of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on Saturday in Key West, Florida. The winner said he is not related to the late author.

The contest, which attracted 140 entrants, is the highlight event of the annual Hemingway Days festival that celebrates the author’s legacy. It was held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was a frequent hangout of Hemingway’s during his Key West residency in the 1930s.

Hemingway, who won the contest in his seventh attempt, wore a wool, cream-colored turtleneck sweater similar to what the late author favored.

“Even though this sweater is really hot, it was part of my strategy,“ he said. “And I think it worked really well.“

Like the author, Dave Hemingway said he likes to fish, to drink a little “and I like women. I like having a good time. I do feel like Ernest because I’m in the town he lived in so many years.“

The husband of celebrity cook Paula Deen – Michael Groover of Savannah, Georgia – finished in the top five for the second straight year. This is the sixth time he has participated in the contest.

►   ‘Like a freight train’: California wildfire guts 18 homes

Flames raced down a steep hillside “like a freight train,“ leaving smoldering remains of homes and warnings that more communities should be ready to flee the wildfire churning through tinder-dry canyons in Southern California, authorities said Sunday.

Planes and more than a dozen helicopters dropped water and retardant on the blaze sparked Friday that has destroyed 18 homes and blackened more than 34 square miles of brush on ridgelines near the city of Santa Clarita. About 300 miles up the coast, crews were battling another fire spanning more than 16 square miles outside the scenic Big Sur region.

Near Santa Clarita, residents of some 1,500 homes were evacuated, and authorities have found a burned body in a neighborhood. Shifting winds were pushing flames northeast through Angeles National Forest, where additional evacuations were ordered in the city of Acton and other residents were warned to prepare to leave, authorities said.

The fire has ripped through brush withered by days of 100-degree temperatures and years of drought.

“It started consuming houses that were non-defendable,“ Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp said, describing the flames as charging through terrain “like a freight train.“

Juliet Kinikin said Sunday there was panic as the sky became dark with smoke and flames moved closer to her home a day earlier in the Sand Canyon area of Los Angeles County.

“And then we just focused on what really mattered in the house,“ she said.

Kinikin grabbed important documents and fled with her husband, two children, two dogs and three birds. They were back at home Sunday, “breathing a big sigh of relief,“ she said.

More than 1,600 firefighters were battling the flames threatening homes and commercial buildings. The blaze, whose cause is under investigation, sent up a huge plume of smoke visible across the region.

The body of a man was discovered Saturday in a burned sedan outside a home in the fire zone. Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are investigating the death but said there was no evidence it was a crime.

The fire destroyed sets at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, which has Old West-style buildings used for movie locations. It also forced a nonprofit sanctuary for rescued exotic creatures to evacuate 340 of its more than 400 animals, including Bengal tigers and a mountain lion.

Volunteers showed up with trucks and trailers and evacuated animals from early Friday to late Saturday, when fire officials felt the blaze was no longer a threat to Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar, spokesman Jerry Brown said.

“The fire surprised everyone and seemingly came out of nowhere,“ Brown said Sunday. “But things are looking up, and officials say that although they have some hotspots near where we are, they don’t see any active fire.“

The evacuated animals were housed in three or four locations, and the sanctuary will wait at least 24 hours before bringing them back, Brown said.

North on the Central Coast, a blaze consuming brush in rugged mountains near Big Sur was threatening about 1,650 homes. It burned in inaccessible terrain 5 miles south of Garrapata State Park and forced the communities of Palo Colorado and Carmel Highlands to evacuate, California’s forestry department said.

Jerri Masten-Hansen said she and her husband watched the fire creep in toward them Saturday.

“We felt threatened this morning and decided we needed to go,“ Masten-Hansen told KSBW-TV.

In The World….

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►   Mayor Tries to Create Vegan Paradise in Meat-Loving Italy

Say this about Chiara Appendino, she’s not afraid of being unpopular. The Guardian reports the new mayor of Turin, Italy, who was elected last month, has promised to make vegetarianism and veganism a “priority” for her government. “The promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding the environment, people’s health, and the welfare of our animals,“ says Appendino’s five-year plan, released Tuesday, per the Telegraph. The plan includes teaching schoolchildren about the benefits of eating less meat. “Leading medical, nutritional, and political experts will help promote a culture of respect in our schools, teaching children how to eat well while protecting the earth and animal rights,” the Local quotes the plan as saying.

Appendino’s pro-vegetable plan is going to be a tough sell in Italy, especially in Turin, which is the capital of a region known for its meat-heavy dishes. When the World Health Organization ruled that cured meats like salami and sausage cause cancer, Italian meat producers accused the organization of “meat terrorism.“ Appendino has already been roundly mocked online for her plan, and opponents are planning a meat-lovers demonstration in protest. One Turin resident says she worries the city’s traditional meat dishes are already disappearing, as dozens of vegan and vegetarian restaurants have opened in recent years.

►   Romeo and Juliet Balcony Now Open to Same-Sex Couples

One of Italy’s most popular spots for lovers—the balcony in Verona where Romeo supposedly pitched woo at Juliet—will soon be available to all couples, the Guardian reports. The Verona city council announced this week that all municipal venues used for heterosexual wedding ceremonies must also be available for same-sex civil unions. The Casa di Giulietta is one such popular venue. It’s a renovated medieval residence that once belonged to the del Cappellos, a family said to be the inspiration for the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet. Flavio Tosi, mayor of Verona, says it’s “significant because the house of Juliet is a symbol and the city of Verona is symbolic, too.“ This year, Italy became the last major European country to legalize same-sex civil unions, though it stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage.

►   Comedian Has to Cough Up $42K for Insulting Child With Disabilities

A French-Canadian comedian found a child singer with a genetic disease who’s performed for Celine Dion and Pope Benedict to be the perfect butt of his jokes—and now the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal is making the funnyman pay some not-so-funny money to both the singer, now 19, and his mother, Vice News reports. Mike Ward has to pay $35,000 ($25,000 in moral damages, $10,000 in punitive damages) to Jeremy Gabriel—who Ward has referred to as “Petit Jeremy"—for a series of jokes about Gabriel, who suffers from Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes facial deformities and hearing issues, at shows between 2010 and 2013, per the Toronto Star. The tribunal, which found the remarks to be discriminatory, also awarded Gabriel’s mom $7,000. The jokes revolved around Gabriel’s visit with the pope in 2006, which Ward first addressed in his 2010 act.

In that set, the comedian noted he had initially been happy for Gabriel’s meeting with the pontiff, since he thought Gabriel was terminally ill, the CBC notes—“but now, five years later, and he’s still not dead! Me, I defended him, like an idiot, and he won’t die!“ is how he wrapped his piece up, adding Gabriel was “ugly,“ not dying. Gabriel says his self-esteem plunged and it led to him being bullied; he says he even tried to commit suicide. Some don’t agree with the tribunal’s decision, noting it sets a sticky precedent for free speech. “This is terrifying. A comedian forced to pay someone who got offended by his joke,“ a fellow comedian who has dwarfism tweeted. Ward, who says the bullying against Gabriel likely started before his joke, doesn’t appear to be giving up the fight. “Even Rocky lost the first one, we’re gonna appeal,“ Ward posted on Facebook early Thursday, with Vice noting he also joked around about the tribunal’s decision. A “disappointed” Gabriel tells the CBC, “it shows Mike Ward didn’t understand the reason for the complaint and the decision.“

►   Single Dinner at Singapore Restaurant Costs $2M

In the ultimate act of lavish absurdity, Singapore restaurant Ce La Vi is partnering with Russian company World of Diamonds to offer what is being billed as the “most expensive dining experience in the world.“ It’s one only two worthy diners will have the chance to experience at a date that Mashable reports has yet to be specified, though the site references an August press conference that will ostensibly precede it. The companies will select the chosen duo, and what unfolds over the course of the eight-hour affair may actually make the $2 million price tag something of a bargain. A 45-minute helicopter ride over Singapore kicks things off, at which point the pair is escorted via a Rolls Royce to a private luxury cruise, reports Forbes. They are ultimately transported to Ce La Vi, which offers 360-degree views of the city from its perch atop the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

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The diners will be surrounded with 10,000 roses and dine with diamond-studded chopsticks engraved with their names, partaking in an 18-course meal that includes the world’s most expensive caviar, not just salmon but “Air-Flown Alaska Wild Salmon,“ slow-cooked pigeon, and world-class wines that have been aged as long as 55 years. The furniture will be custom-made to their liking, and the whole shebang culminates with the cognac-infused presentation of the Jane Seymour ring at the stroke of midnight, a 2.08-carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond set in 18-karat rose-gold-plated platinum and valued at $2 million. And, oh yes, there will be fireworks.

►   After Calling for Help for 2 Hours, Woman Dies in Cell

An inmate at a privately run prison in England was found dead in her cell Tuesday night of an apparent prescription drug overdose. But before she died, the Guardian reports, Natasha Chin, 41, rang the alarm bell in her cell for some two-and-a-half hours with no response from the staff at Bronzefield prison. Chin had been released in April, but was reportedly recalled to prison earlier this month. It is believed she was taking the medication to help her recuperate following a major surgery. Sodexo, which receives more than $84,000 per year per inmate to run the prison, confirmed that the death occurred (and called it a “tragedy”). But it would not say if Chin had been designated as an “at risk” inmate. For observers in England, Chin’s death serves to highlight mounting problems within the country’s prison system.

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“Too many prisoners are dying in custody,“ academic and former inmate Alex Cavendish tells the Guardian. “A significant proportion of these deaths might have been avoided if appropriate care, including mental health support, had been in place and proper assessment procedures followed.“ According to a report released this year, prison assaults in 2015 were up 27% over the year before; incidents of self-harm were up 24%. There’s “a simple and unpalatable truth about far too many of our prisons,“ the country’s chief prison inspector tells the BBC. “They have become unacceptably violent and dangerous places.“ Earlier this year, per the Independent, Bronzefield prison came under fire for distributing tents and sleeping bags to inmates being released, rather than arranging for housing. Some say that is a symptom of a challenging housing climate.

►   This Russian City Is Called the ‘Graveyard of the Earth’

On the face of it, the living is good in Ozersk, Russia. The 100,000 people living in the city tucked in the Ural Mountains have always had plenty of food, private apartments, well-regarded schools, and good healthcare—even when the rest of the country lived in poverty. But there are a few downsides for locals, the Guardian reports: “Their water is contaminated, their mushrooms and berries are poisoned, and their children may be sick.“ Ozersk—or City 40, as it was first called—is where the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons program was born. In the 70 years since the city was secretly built around the Mayak nuclear plant, its residents have been victims of nuclear accidents; waste from the nuclear plant is dumped into local lakes and rivers.

“The rate of cancer is enormous and their kids are born with cancer,“ Samira Goetschel, who made the documentary City 40, told Vice in May. “They die with cancer. But they take it as part of life.” So why do the denizens of Ozersk remain in a city called the “graveyard of the Earth”? At first, they had no choice. Ozersk is a closed city, and for its first several years residents could neither leave nor communicate with the outside world. Now, residents may obtain an exit visa on certain days , but other Russians and any foreigners aren’t allowed in without approval. “You know, it’s double barbed-wire fences, it’s heavily guarded,“ says Goetschel, who managed to gain access. Residents today have the choice to leave and never return, per the Guardian, but “few do, because it would mean losing the privileges of being a resident of this closed city.“

►   Russian Priest Pops Round-the-World Balloon Record

A cold and exhausted 65-year-old Russian balloonist came back to Earth safely in the Australian Outback on Saturday after claiming a new world record by flying solo around the world nonstop in 11 days, an official says. Fedor Konyukhov, a Russian Orthodox priest, landed 100 miles east of the town of Northam, where he started his journey on July 12, about three hours after he flew over it on his return, flight coordinator John Wallington says. “He’s landed, he’s safe, he’s sound, he’s happy,“ Wallington tells the AP. “It’s just amazing,“ he says. “It’s fantastic—the record’s broken, everyone’s safe. It’s all good.“

American businessman Steve Fossett also started from Northam to set a record of 13 days and eight hours for his 20,500-mile journey in 2002, when he was 58. Konyukhov took a longer route and roughly 11 days and 6 hours to complete the circumnavigation. His journey of more than 21,100 miles took him through a thunderstorm in the Antarctic Circle, where temperatures outside the gondola fell to minus-50 degrees Celsius (minus-58 Fahrenheit). The gondola heating stopped working on Thursday, so Konyukhov had to thaw his drinking water with the balloon’s main hot air burner, Wallington says. Konyukhov aimed to get four hours of sleep a day in naps of 30 or 40 minutes between hours of checking and maintaining equipment and instruments.

►   Brazil police arrest man suspected of Olympics attack plans

Authorities have arrested another man suspected of belonging to a group that allegedly discussed carrying out attacks during the Olympics, Brazilian police said Saturday.

The Federal Police Department said in a brief statement posted on its website that the man turned himself in Friday night in the central-western state of Mato Grosso. No further details were provided.

Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes on Thursday announced the arrest of 10 Brazilians who police said had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and discussed on social media the possibility of staging attacks during next month’s Games.

The man arrested Friday is one of two additional suspects that Moraes said were being sought.

Authorities have said that an investigation that began in April showed the suspects were Islamic State sympathizers online but none had traveled to Syria or Iraq, the group’s stronghold, or received any training. Several were allegedly trying to secure financing from IS.

Investigators said none of the suspects was of Arab descent. They ranged in age from 20-40, except for one minor.

The top military aide for Brazil’s interim government said last week that concerns over terrorism had “reached a higher level” this month after a truck attack that killed scores of people in Nice, France.

Officials did not raise the country’s terror alert level Thursday following the raids in Brazil.

Security has emerged as the top concern during the Olympics, including the possibility of violence spilling over from Rio’s hundreds of slums. Authorities have said 85,000 police officers and soldiers will be patrolling during the Games.

In West Virginia….

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►   Government Jobs Drop Two Percent Since Tomblin Hiring Freeze

State government jobs have dropped by more than 2 percent since Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin imposed a hiring freeze in 2013.

The number full-time positions has dropped by 917 since West Virginia’s freeze went into effect.

Tomblin spokeswoman Jessica Tice says the goal is to limit the growth in state employment while maintaining essential services of the state. She says that not all vacant jobs are left unfilled, but that a careful review is made to decide whether replacements are needed.

The biggest drop has occurred in the Department of Health, where the equivalent of about 208 full time jobs have been eliminated. Next is the Higher Education Policy Commission, with 204 fewer employees.

►   WVU is Suing Contractors Over Leaking Roof at Rec Center

West Virginia University is suing over a leaky roof.

The state’s flagship public university has filed the lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court over problems with the construction of student recreation center.

According to the filing, WVU entered into contracts to build the recreation center in 1998. Those agreements called for a metal roofing system with a 30-year warranty against leaks. But once leaks and other damage were discovered in 2015, the university says the contractors refused to honor the warranty.

The university is asking for unspecified damages and for the roof to be repaired or replaced.

The newspaper was unable to reach the contractors for comment.

►   A look 1 month later at deadly flooding in West Virginia

Some facts and figures on flooding in West Virginia, where 23 people died last month:

EMERGENCY DECLARATION: Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has extended a state of emergency for 12 counties for another month, ensuring that all available state resources are provided.

FEDERAL AID: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $46 million in disaster assistance grants to homeowners and renters. Nearly 7,600 households and businesses have registered with FEMA. In addition, the Small Business Administration has approved more than $13 million in low-interest disaster loans to businesses, homeowners and renters.

ROADS AND BRIDGES: The floods damaged 594 roads in at least 17 counties, and it will cost an estimated $53 million to fix them.

SCHOOLS: About two dozen public schools were damaged in the flooding. Some communities are scrambling to clean up buildings or find new places to put students when school starts in a few weeks. Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring announced Wednesday that Herbert Hoover High School was destroyed and a new school will be built. In Nicholas County, officials announced that Richwood High School and two middle schools were too damaged to reopen.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Volunteer West Virginia Executive Director Heather Foster said more than 1,000 homeowners still need cleanup assistance, primarily in Kanawha, Clay, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties. Foster also said supplies are needed for volunteers, including work boots, heavy duty gloves, respirator masks, shovels, rakes and bug spray. Anyone needing cleanup assistance or wanting to volunteer can visit

STILL MISSING: A month later, Mykala Phillips’ parents still have no word on the whereabouts of their 14-year-old daughter, who was swept away by floodwaters from her home in White Sulphur Springs and is presumed dead.

►   For West Virginia flood victims, the cleanup has just begun

A month has passed since flooding devastated West Virginia, and for some residents, the cleanup has been slow.

In the Greenbrier County community of Rainelle, Kassie Tolley was forced out of her neighborhood where floodwaters rose 8 feet in some places. She has been staying with her parents in a home crammed with 17 people.

The June 23 floods killed 23 people. While volunteers have offered cleanup support to residents statewide, Tolley says she asked for help in Rainelle but worked on it mostly alone for three weeks.

She was losing hope until she went to a church a week ago seeking help with a broken shovel. There she ran into a volunteer group that immediately went to her home to remove ruined items. The group returned again this week.

►   Homeland Security employee caught with gun, knife arrested

Authorities have arrested a Department of Homeland Security employee on charges related to entering his agency’s Washington headquarters with a gun, a knife, an infrared camera, pepper spray and handcuffs.

A seven-count indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg charges federal government employee Jonathan Leigh Wienke with illegally building a silencer on an unregistered pistol and having materials to build more silencers.

He was arrested Friday in the Pennsylvania. Ashley Lough with the U.S. attorney’s office in northern West Virginia said the arrest was related to a search warrant on Wienke’s Martinsburg house.

Previous court documents allege Wienke carried weapons in his backpack into his office building the morning of June 09. The documents say the government has probable cause to believe Wienke may have been “planning to commit violence against senior DHS officials in the building.“

This month, the department’s chief security officer told a House homeland security subcommittee that there is “no indication” Wienke was planning workplace violence.

►   Ritchie County Nursing Home Evacuated Due to Flooding

According to the Ritchie County Office of Emergency Management, six to eight inches of water forced 56 patients out of the Pine View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Harrisville Thursday morning.

Ten patients, who required ambulances for transport, were taken to Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg. The other 46 patients were transported by a school bus to the Lion’s Club until they could be taken to a nursing home in Moundsville. According to the OEM director Jim White, Ritchie County Schools provided the school bus, which was vital in transporting the patients.

Harrison County EMS, the Ritchie County Ambulance Authority, the Doddridge County Ambulance Authority, Calhoun County EMS and Camden Clark Ambulance Services also assisted in transporting patients, according to White.

White said there was not a room in the facility that didn’t have water in it.

It will take some time to repair the damages and clean up after the flood, White said, and patients will be moved back after the cleanup is complete.

In USA….

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►   Top 6 U.S. Cities for Young Entrepreneurs

Some cities are better than others when it comes to offering opportunities to young entrepreneurs. has ranked the best ones based on population growth, educational level, taxes, and how many of these workers are already bringing home a nice paycheck. The Lone Star State gets more than one star for dominating the top six, listed below:

  1. Austin/Round Rock, Texas
  2. Raleigh, NC
  3. Midland, Texas
  4. Houston/the Woodlands/Sugar Land, Texas
  5. Crestview/Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Fla. (tie)
  6. Odessa, Texas (tie)

See the entire list HERE .

►   4-Month-Old Baby Killed by Benadryl at Daycare

The death of a 4-month-old Connecticut boy in March has been ruled a homicide after “toxic levels” of Benadryl were found in his system, Fox 61 reports. According to the Fairfield Citizen, Carol Cardillo, who runs a home daycare, gave Adam Seagull a bottle, then put him down for a nap March 22. She called 911 three hours later when she couldn’t wake the baby. It was revealed following Adam’s death that Cardillo had been running the daycare without a license for 11 years. Adam had no apparent signs of trauma and hadn’t been sick when he died, leading investigators to originally believe he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, People reports.

But a toxicology report found elevated levels of Benadryl in Adam’s system. The FDA warns against giving the medication to children under 2 years old as there is a high risk of overdose. Fairfield police chief Gary MacNamara calls Adam’s death a “parent’s worst nightmare.“ No charges have been filed, but MacNamara says that will change. “The consumption of the medication wasn’t accidental,“ MacNamara tells People. “I am not saying there was intent to kill the baby, but as a result of that Benadryl, this child died.” Police are trying to figure out who gave Adam Benadryl and why. Cardillo’s daycare has been shut down.

►   It’s Totally Legal to Take Pics Up Women’s Skirts in GA

It’s completely legal for people in Georgia to take photos and videos up women’s skirts without their knowledge, according to a 6-3 Court of Appeals ruling this week. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the ruling stems from an incident in which a grocery store clerk was caught taking multiple cellphone videos up a female shopper’s skirt. The Court of Appeals threw out his conviction, finding his behavior was “reprehensible” but not technically illegal thanks to the current wording of Georgia’s privacy laws. It urged the legislature to fix the law, but the legislature doesn’t meet again until 2017. “So we’re going to have six months or so where these creeps can run around doing this stuff,“ Senator Vincent Fort tells WCGL.

There have been similar cases in dozens of states, Mic reports. Many privacy laws, as in Georgia, make it illegal to photograph women in private areas, such as bathroom stalls and dressing rooms, but totally fine to do it in public, regardless of how invasive the photo is. In 2014, a judge in Washington DC ruled women have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in public. A lawyer in California tells Mic the problem is that “the law can never keep up with changing technology.” Fort says he’ll move to correct Georgia’s law and stop upskirt perverts as soon as the legislature reconvenes.

►   Mormon Millionaire Planning Massive Utopia in Vermont

“Lots of things he did were stupid, but in my view, he was a sage or a seer and didn’t even understand what came to him.” So says wealthy Mormon David Hall about Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church. Bloomberg has a fascinating deep dive into Hall’s plans to build a high-tech and environmentally sound utopia in Vermont, all based on a vision Smith had in 1833. Hall believes he can use Smith’s Plat of the City of Zion to revert Vermont to two-thirds wilderness and one-third occupied farmland while increasing the state’s population to 20 million. Vermont is currently home to only 626,000 people.

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Hall’s foundation, NewVistas, aims to create “global environmental balance by building a network of environmentally and socially sustainable villages, communities, and megalopolises.” To that end, he’s spent nearly $5 million purchasing 1,200 acres of Vermont farmland, where he one day hopes to house 20,000 people through high-tech space-saving solutions like transportation pods and furniture-rearranging robots. He says he has 150 engineers working on the project and plans for 1,000 NewVistas communities around the world. But after his plan was discovered by a part-time librarian, Hall’s new neighbors in Vermont have started to organize against him. “We’re really not that interested in what religious figures 200 years ago thought about urban development,” a local professor says. Read the full story HERE .

►   NYC Sees 1st Baby Born With Zika-Related Microcephaly

New York City’s first baby with a Zika-related birth defect was born earlier this month, officials announced Friday. The New York Daily News reports the unidentified baby was born with microcephaly and subsequently tested positive for Zika. Its mother had recently traveled to an area were the virus is being spread by mosquitoes. New York City’s deputy mayor of health and human services says the city has been preparing for this eventuality for months due to New York’s many immigrants and international travelers. “We are working diligently to help both this mom and this baby,“ she says. The CDC says a dozen babies with Zika-related birth defects have been born in the US so far, according to NBC New York.

►   Boy, 12, Dies After Hiking in 100+ Degrees

A 12-year-old boy has died after he was out hiking in north Phoenix amid triple-digit temperatures, the AP reports. Phoenix police say the boy was hiking with an adult male Friday afternoon in the Sonoran Desert Preserve when he became ill. Firefighters responded, and he was airlifted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital in extremely critical condition. The boy was later pronounced dead. Detectives have begun a death investigation in the area where the two were hiking. The boy’s identity was not released. According to the National Weather Service, Phoenix reached 100 degrees by 10am Friday and hit a high of 112 just after 5:30pm. The boy’s death comes in the middle of a summer that has yielded several heat-related deaths across Arizona.

►   Attorney Held in Contempt for ‘Black Lives Matter’ Button

An “act of civil disobedience” resulted in a Youngstown, Ohio, attorney being handcuffed and sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court. Andrea Burton on Friday morning refused to comply with a judge’s order that she remove a “Black Lives Matter” button that she was wearing, WFMJ reports. After giving her several chances to remove the button, Judge Robert Milich had Burton cuffed and taken to jail. She’s out now, pending an appeal. “I’m not anti-police,“ Burton tells WFMJ, “I work with law enforcement and I hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record I do believe all lives matter. But at this point they don’t all matter equally, and that’s a problem in the justice system.“

The local NAACP tells WKBN that it is keeping a close eye on the situation because it may violate Burton’s civil rights. An ACLU representative says holding someone in contempt of court for refusing to remove an article of clothing is not unheard of, adding, “Many times this has been done to retain the defendant’s right to a fair trial.” As for Milich, he says it’s just a matter of following the law. “A judge doesn’t support either side,” he tells WKBN. “A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law.“

►   Teen Dies When Lightning Strikes Personal Watercraft

A 14-year-old girl was killed and her 49-year-old stepmother injured Friday when lightning struck the personal watercraft they were riding in a Utah reservoir. Daggett County sheriff’s officials say Jayleen Reynolds and stepdaughter Brooklyn Reynolds were riding in a remote area of Flaming Gorge Reservoir around noon when the lightning struck, the AP reports. The teen was pronounced dead, and her stepmom was airlifted to the hospital with critical injuries. On Saturday, her condition was upgraded to fair. The teen’s father, who was on another watercraft, was treated at the scene for shock.

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