Governor Tomblin Announces Transportation Alternatives, Recreational Trails Program Grants

More than $5.6 million to assist with 42 projects across West Virginia
The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today joined representatives from the West Virginia Division of Highways and the Federal Highway Administration’s West Virginia Division Office to award over $5.6 million in Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants to 42 projects across West Virginia. 

“Today’s grant presentations are the start of many anticipated infrastructure improvements in cities and towns across the Mountain State,” Governor Tomblin said. “These projects will not only help make communities safer, but also more accessible and enjoyable for the people who call them home.” 

The total grant funding was allocated as follows: 

The West Virginia TAP grant is administered as part of a federal program held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is a federal-aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Recipients of the TAP grants include:


Martinsburg Train Station Corridor 2014 - $154,000


Madison Main Street Streetscape 2014 - $120,198


Beech Bottom Sidewalk Improvements 2014 - $144,000


Huntington Old Main Corridor 2014 - $350,000
Huntington Paul Ambrose Trail for Health Pedestrian Bridge 2014 - $500,000


Lewisburg Elementary School Safe Routes Project 2014 - $80,000
Lewisburg Feamster Road Sidewalk 2014 - $200,000
Rupert Sidewalk 2014 - $99,084
White Sulphur Springs Main Street Streetscape 2014 - $259,200


Romney Sidewalk & Streetscape 2014 - $214,720


Lost Creek Train Depot Renovations 2014 - $40,000
Shinnston Rail Trail Restoration 2014 - $184,206
West Milford Sidewalk Improvements 2014 - $96,000


Charleston Sidewalks in South Hills 2014 - $160,000
Dunbar 12th Street Streetscape 2014 - $205,344
St. Albans Streetscape 2014 - $245,000


Pleasant Valley Sidewalks 2014 - $160,000


Mason Sidewalk Improvements 2014 - $179,976


Morgantown City-wide Bicycle Signage & Facilities 2014 - $96,000


St. Marys Sidewalk Improvements 2014 - $152,000


Kingwood Sidewalks 2014 - $143,200


Poca Sidewalks 2014 - $119,429


Cairo Sidewalks 2014 - $100,000


Spencer Streetscape 2014 - $200,030


Paden City School Sidewalk Improvements 2014 - $80,000


Vienna Grand Central Avenue Streetscape 2014 - $127,881


Pineville River Drive Sidewalks 2014 - $200,000

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is also an assistance program of the FHWA and allows states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail use. Recipients of the RTP grants include:


Confederate Cemetery Recreational Trail - $80,000
Rainelle Recreation Trail: Phase II - $48,000


Trail Relocation - $24,200


Nature Trails-Phase II Trail Maintenance Equipment - $56,320
Kanawha County Trail System - $80,000
Kanawha County Trailhead Facility - $40,000


Golf Course Ridge Trail - $32,947


Wayne County Trailhead Facility - $40,000


Wellness Trails - $120,000


Mon River/Caperton Trail Connector-Star City River Landing - $96,000
Collins Ferry Road: Mon River Trail Connector - $60,000
Foundry Street Linkage-Downtown to Rail-Trail - $34,320


Deckers Creek Trail Surface Repair Project - $101,376


Tucker County Rocks! - $120,000

Wayne/Kanawha/McDowell/Mingo/ Wyoming 

Wayne County Trail System - $80,000

The Fiscal Impacts of School Consolidation: Research Based Conclusions

The Gilmer Free Press

Consolidation proponents often argue that consolidating schools and/or districts will lower per pupil costs. But a stream of studies over half a century casts doubts on this assumption.

Many consolidation decisions are justified in part on projected cost savings. These projections are based on standard economic theory regarding “economies of scale. Theoretically, certain fixed costs — such as the number of administrators or the amount spent on utilities — do not increase, and may even decrease, when the number of students in a school or district increases with consolidation. With more students and the same or lower costs, the total cost per student should come down. Some analysts and many consolidation proponents accept as an article of faith that larger schools and larger districts have lower costs per pupil than smaller ones.

But the relationship between size and cost is not that clear, as the many studies reveal:

  • An early study by Hirsch (1960) of 29 school districts near St. Louis reviewed costs not only on a per pupil basis, but based on number of pupils per square mile, and rate of increase in enrollment. Hirsch concluded that there were no consistent economies of scale, and that sharing academic programs would be a more cost-effective way than consolidation to deal with the fiscal problems of districts.
  • A quarter of a century later, Valencia (1984) reviewed 40 studies on the impact of school closures on costs and other factors. He concluded that “closing schools reduces per-pupil costs very little, if at all.” One of the leading studies Valencia reviewed (Andrews 1974) examined school closures in 49 districts nationwide. Of the 49 districts, 35 had projected cost savings in support of the proposed closures. Andrews compared these projections with the actual changes in cost after the closures. Of the 35, only 12 had actually calculated the changes in cost after the closures. Of the 12, only four were able to report actual savings, six concluded the closures had no cost impacts, and two reported actual cost increases.
  • Later, Jewell (1989) studied data from 50 states and the District of Columbia and found that per pupil cost and student enrollment were not statistically related, suggesting that there are no economies of scale.
  • At the same time, Kennedy et al (1989) analyzed 330 school districts in Arkansas and found very slight correlations between district size and cost per student (measured as Average Daily Attendance), with the cost being lower in the larger districts. Test scores at some grade levels were higher in smaller districts and some were higher in larger districts. Larger districts were also more likely to have higher drop out rates. All of these correlations, however, were very slight and not practically significant. The authors concluded that “there is no evidence to suggest that consolidation of small school districts into larger ones will necessarily reduce expenditures per student, increase standardized test scores, or reduce dropout rates.”
  • More recently, Streifel et al (1991) analyzed the revenue and expenditure changes for three years before and after 19 school district consolidations, comparing the rate of change to the state average rate of change. The 19 were selected from information supplied by state departments of education. Five of the 19 were in Arkansas. He found a no statistically significant relationship between changes in the total cost per pupil of the consolidated districts and the other districts in the same states and concluded that “…there appears to be no overall basis for expecting that significant financial advantage or increased revenue are necessary outcomes of consolidation.”
  • And most recently, the Charleston Gazette, in a national award winning series of articles on the cost of school closings in West Virginia, found that over a ten year period the state closed 325 schools in pursuit of economies of scale, and in doing so substantially increased the number of central office administrators, despite the fact that the number of students being served by the system declined by 41,000 in this period. Meantime, per pupil transportation costs more than doubled (Eyre and Finn 2003).

Why do costs increase with consolidation, and what kinds of costs increase?

Projected cost savings from consolidation are either temporary or illusory because lower costs in some expenditure categories are often offset by higher costs in other areas.

Streifel’s study noted above is revealing. He analyzed the expenditure patterns before and after consolidation for six expenditure categories (administration, instruction, transportation, operation and maintenance, total cost, and capital costs). Of these six, only savings in “administrative costs” was related to consolidation at a statistically significant level. Consolidated districts increased administrative costs 10% while the average cost increase was 31%. Although this relationship was statistically significant, the relationship was not uniform. In three of the 19 consolidation cases, including one of the Arkansas districts, the district administrative costs actually increased more than the state average.

But what might have been saved in administrative costs was often more than offset by increases in other costs. As a result, although not statistically significant, total costs per pupil actually increased more in the 19 consolidating districts than statewide average increases (32% compared to 29%), including in three of the five Arkansas districts.

It is interesting that in the category of “instruction costs” (where one might expect any savings from lower administrative costs to be shifted in the interest of educational quality improvement) the increases in spending in the 19 consolidating districts were actually lower than the state average increases in spending (25% compared to 29% overall, and in 11 of the 19 districts individually).

And significantly, Streifel found that whether a consolidation proved fiscally advantageous or disadvantageous with respect to a particular expenditure category did not depend on how big the consolidating districts or the resulting consolidated districts were.

The Gilmer Free Press

Consolidation and Equity

Valencia (1984) also concluded from this literature search that schools with large percentages of low-income and minority students have experienced most of the closings in five major cities, and that the school closings reduced parental involvement in children’s education and decreased public support for educational bond levies. These impacts raise significant equity issues. In Phoenix, a federal court agreed with plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit claiming that consolidation decisions unfairly selected a minority school for closing. The court ruled that the plaintiffs “have a right to expect that the administration of the schools of this city will be done fairly, without discrimination or undue adverse impact to any particular segment of the student population.”

Reasons Why Consolidation May Impose Fiscal Hardships

Numerous reasons have been suggested for the increased costs or reduced revenues that may result from consolidation (Sher and Tompkins 1977):

  • Moving personnel from salary schedules of smaller schools and districts to higher salary schedules of larger schools and districts. Increasing bargaining power of teachers.
  • More specialized staff
  • Higher costs of having to transport more kids longer distances.
  • Higher rates of vandalism
  • Lower support for bond levies
  • Need for new and larger facilities

Some of these changes may result in improved school performance. Some clearly do not.

The Fiscal Impacts of the Socio-Economic Effects of Consolidation

The socio-economic impact of schools on communities is significant, and school closures reduce the fiscal capacity of local communities to provide support for education.

Lyson (2002) analyzed data from all 352 incorporated villages and towns with populations of under 2,500 in New York State, almost all of which had had a school at one time. He compared the 71 places with 500 or fewer people with the 281 with more than 500 people. Almost three-fourths of the larger group had a school (73.7%), while only about half (52.1%) of the smaller group did. Those with and without schools in each of the size categories had similar age level profiles, percent of households with children, and percent of children enrolled in school, but the economic and fiscal capacity of the communities without schools was much lower than that of the communities with schools. Among the smaller size grouping of towns and villages:

  • 60% of the communities with schools saw population growth from 1990 to 2000; only 46% of those without schools grew.
  • Average housing values in the communities with schools are 25% higher than in those without schools. Their houses are newer, and more likely to be served by municipal water and sewer systems.
  • Communities with schools enjoy higher per capita incomes, a more equal distribution of income, less per capita income from public assistance, less poverty and less child poverty.
  • Communities with schools have more professional, managerial, and executive workers; more households with self-employment income; 57% higher per capita income from self- employment; a higher percentage of residents who work in the village; and fewer workers who commute more than 15 minutes to their jobs.
    The differences between larger rural communities with schools and those without were similar, but not as extreme as the differences in the smaller communities.

An earlier similar study reached similar conclusions. Dreier and Goudy (1994) compared population changes in incorporated Iowa towns that had or did not have a high school. Half the communities with a high school gained a significant amount (5% or more) of population over 2 or more decades while three-fourths of communities without a high school were losing population. They concluded that a community without a high school loses population faster than all communities losing population during the same time period.

Sederberg (1987) studied the secondary economic impacts of school districts in six rural Minnesota counties and found:

  • School district payroll ranged from 4-9% of total county payroll.
  • Total take-home pay from school district jobs ranged from 5-10% of the counties’ retail sales.
  • School district expenditures ranged from 1-3% of total retail sales.
  • People employed by the school district ranged from 1-5% of all employed people in the counties.

Finally, Petkovich and Ching (1977) examined changes in retail sales and total labor supply that could be expected if the local high school in an agricultural community in Nevada were closed. An input-output model constructed from survey data predicted that closing the high school would produce an 8% decrease in retail sales and a 6% decrease in labor supply.


School and school district consolidation produces fewer fiscal benefits and more fiscal costs than is popularly believed. Administrative cost savings are most likely, but these savings may often be largely offset by other cost increases, especially for transportation. Consolidating schools can also adversely affect the local economy, reducing the fiscal capacity of the school district. These costs are disproportionately imposed on poor and minority communities.


Dreier, William H.; Goudy, Willis (1994). “Is There Life in Town after the Death of the High School?” or High Schools and the Population of Midwest Towns. Paper presented at the Annual Rural and Small Schools Conference, Manhattan, KS, Oct 24, 1994.

Eyre, Eric, and Scott Finn (2002). Closing Costs: School Consolidation in West Virginia. Series on the costs of school consolidation running August 25 and 30, September 8, 12. 24, and 29, and October 3 and 6, 2002.

Hirsch, W.Z. (1960). Determinants of Public Education Expenditure. National Tax Journal, 13(1), pp 29-40.

Jewell, R.W. (1989). School and School District Size Relationships. Education and Urban Society, Feb 1989, pp. 140-153.

Kennedy, Robert L. et al. “Expenditures, MAT6 Scores, and Dropout Rates: A Correlational Study of Arkansas School Districts,” ERIC Accession No. ED303910, Jan. 1989.

Lyson, Thomas A. (2002). What Does a School Mean to a Community? Assessing the Social and Economic Benefits of Schools to Rural Villages in New York. Department of Rural Sociology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Petkovich, M. D., & Ching, C. T. K. (1977). Some Educational and Socio-Economic Impacts of Closing a High School in a Small Rural Community. Reno, NV: Agricultural Experiment Station, Max C. Fleischmann College of Agriculture, University of Nevada.

Sederberg, C. H. (1987). Economic Role of School Districts in Rural Communities. Research in Rural Education, 4(3), 125-130.

Sher, J.P. and Tompkins, R.B. (1977). Economy, Efficiency, and Equality: The Myths of Rural School and District Consolidation. In J. P. Sher (ed.), Education in Rural America (pp. 43-77). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Streifel, James S, Foldesy, George, and Holman, David M. (1991). The Financial Effects of Consolidation. Journal of Research in Rural Education; v7 n2 p13-20, ERIC No. EJ424923.

Valencia, Richard R. (1984). School Closures and Policy Issues. Policy Paper No. 84-C3, ERIC No. ED323040.

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Administrator, Community Advocate, Elected Official/Staff, Media, Networks/Groups, Parent, Policy Maker, Publications, Teacher

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All States, Consolidation, Rural Trust Publication, School Finance/Funding, School/District Size, Small Schools/School Size

~~  Challenge, WV ~~

Things to Know for Friday, March 27, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press


As Saudi Arabia and its allies bomb Shiite rebels allied with Iran, Egyptian officials promise that a ground assault will follow.


Canada and Germany’s biggest carriers, as well as two low-cost European airlines, announce new rules requiring two crew members to always be present in the cockpit.


The apparent gas explosion also launches rubble and shards of glass across streets in Manhattan’s East Village while injuring at least a dozen people, including several critically.


The Army sergeant says he was tortured repeatedly and threatened with execution after trying to escape.


The U.S. is discussing allowing Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges at a fortified, underground site in exchange for other restrictions on its nuclear-related work, the AP learns.


The legislative action gives credence to Republican claims that their new, two-house majority will be able to govern without the chaos that has often plagued Congress.


The U.S. should begin a push to exploit the enormous oil reserves in the Arctic waters off Alaska, an Energy Department advisory board urges.


The human remains - confirmed by scientific sleuthing as those of the long-lost king - were found under a parking lot in Leicester in 2012.


The producers of “Downton Abbey” say the upcoming sixth season of the popular drama will be its last.


After a three-day breather, the tournament swings back into action with Sweet 16 matchups.

Abandoned Mine Blows Out Creating Damages and Concerns

Glenville, WV - Responders in Gilmer County were called to the scene of an abandoned mine that blew-out about 3:30 AM Thursday morning, March 26, 2015.

Gilmer County first responders showed up at the intersection of WV Highway 5 and Lynch Run Road, an area between Glenville and Sand Fork.

Officials said the mine face gave way causing water, mud, wood, coal and other debris to flood into the roadway shutting down the highway for a period of time and spilling into the Little Kanawha River.

Officials are trying to figure out what caused the mine to blow, but believe it was a result of melted snow and heavy rain flooding the area.

Gilmer Fire Chief Martin Hess said, “The main thing is no body got hurt. We’ve notified water companies and plants from here to Parkersburg about the situation so they can close their intakes and not take any water in.“

The Division of Highways and the Gilmer County Volunteer Fire Department cleared the road around 7:00 AM.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Public Health, and Gilmer County PSD have been called to the scene to check for contaminants.

Testing on the water will continue throughout the day.

West Virginia News   150327

The Gilmer Free Press


Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, along with Representatives David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins, sent a letter to President Obama to express their full support of Governor Tomblin’s request to declare a major disaster for the state of West Virginia as a result of Winter Storm Thor. The storm moved through West Virginia on Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5, and caused severe weather conditions in all 55 counties, including heavy rain and snow, devastating flooding, mudslides, landslides and power outages.

If granted, public assistance will be made available for infrastructure and clean-up efforts in 30 counties, including Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, McDowell, Mingo, Monongalia, Putnam, Raleigh, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming. Funding for hazard mitigation efforts would be made available to the entire state.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20502

Dear Mr. President:

As members of West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation, we are united in our support of the thousands of West Virginians who continue to suffer as a result of severe weather that affected our State between March 03, 2015 through March 14, 2015, resulting in flooding, landslides, mudslides, and severe winter storm conditions.

Many counties throughout West Virginia experienced significant damage from this winter storm, not only to transportation and utility infrastructure, but also to valuable recreational areas.  This extreme weather caused major damage to many bridges, highways and other critical infrastructure in communities that are home to some of West Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens – the elderly, the disabled, and those who live on a fixed income.

To access federal disaster aid, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made a request for a declaration of major disaster for the State of West Virginia, submitted March 24, 2015, under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5208 (Stafford Act).  We respectfully request that you review this request expeditiously for Public Assistance for Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, McDowell, Mingo, Monongalia, Putnam, Raleigh, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood, and Wyoming counties; and Hazard Mitigation for the entire state expeditiously, and give it every appropriate consideration.  We also ask that FEMA begin immediate discussions with the appropriate State officials in regard to Governor Tomblin’s urgent appeal.

We remain so very proud of the work of our local citizens, first-responders, and brave National Guard troops who are already working to help these communities recover and rebuild, and we urge you to do everything in your power to make sure that they have the federal support they need and deserve throughout this difficult process.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Boone County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Danville man Thursday and charged him in connection with a September 2014 traffic accident that killed two adults and two children.

Chief Deputy Chad Barker said Frank Gene Thompson, age 40, was high on meth when he wrecked the pick-up truck on U.S. Highway 119 at the intersection of Bradley Road. Thompson survived the crash but his four passengers did not.

“It’s really unspeakable,” Chief Deputy Barker told MetroNews Thursday. “You can’t imagine what that accident was like. You can’t put yourself in those family members’ shoes.”

The victims were Betty Holstein, age 31, Rebecca Bias, age 46, Alyssa Bowman, age 5, and Nathaniel Thompson, age 1.

Frank Gene Thompson is charged with four counts of DUI causing death.

“My heart really goes out to the family of the 5-year-old little girl and 1-year-old little boy. It’s just a terrible, terrible situation,” Barker said.

Nathaniel Thompson was Frank Gene Thompson’s biological son and Alyssa Bowman his stepdaughter.

Chief Deputy Barker said it took six months to complete the interviews and get the toxicology test results back on Thompson, showing he was under the influence of meth. Barker said deputies were suspicious right from the start.

“We began this process that morning, one o’clock in the morning, we were going down that road, it’s just taken six months to get to the point where we are. We’ve been gathering facts along the way,” Barker said.

Thompson is being held in the Southwestern Regional Jail on $500,000 bail.


WESTON, WV — An accused murderer who took off from the state mental hospital in Weston this week is now being held in the North Central Regional Jail on $200,000 bail. Rocco Zuccaro, age 30, of Burgettestown, PA, was arraigned on a felony escape charge Thursday morning.

Zuccaro scaled a 15-high brick wall at the Sharpe Hospital before escaping into a wooded area.

He was found late Wednesday night in some tall grass in the McWhorter community near Lost Creek.

“We are relieved and appreciative of the fact that law enforcement was able to locate Mr. Zuccaro and now that we know he is back safely in custody where he wouldn’t pose a danger to himself or anyone else in the community,” Brooke County Assistant Prosecutor David Cross told MetroNews.

Zuccaro is charged with murder in Brooke County where he allegedly shot and killed Jason Bratz in 2013. Cross said he is scheduled to go on trial in June.

“We are very hopeful to conclude the matter and bring it to trial. We will await the results of what the jury decides,” Cross said.

Zuccaro has been a patient at the Sharpe Hospital for what assistant prosecutor Cross described as “competency restoration.” Zuccaro was recaptured 15 miles away from the hospital, which isn’t unusual in these types of cases according to Cross.

“Normally they are located within 30 to 40 miles of the facility they escaped from,” he said.

There was no word Thursday afternoon if Zuccaro would be sent back to Sharpe Hospital.


CHARLESTON, WV — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a bill to let businesses pay for minor road repair projects, like filling potholes.

In Thursday’s veto message, the Democrat wrote the proposal wouldn’t be a cost effective use of state resources. He wrote it would be unduly burdensome for the commissioner of highways to administer.

The bill would have let businesses donate to a fund and earmark contributions for specific projects. The commissioner would have decided what would have counted as minor repairs and set a maximum dollar amount on them.

It’s the third policy bill Tomblin has vetoed from the Republican Legislature for concerns that weren’t about technical glitches.

Lawmakers overrode his veto on a 20-week abortion ban.

He vetoed a bill that would have deleted permitting requirements to carry concealed handguns.


LUMBERPORT, WV — A Murray Energy Company wants to expand a coal slurry impoundment in Harrison County to increase its capacity.

The former Consolidation Coal Company, now called Murray American Energy Inc., is seeking state approval to broaden the impoundment by 103 acres and increase its height by 70 feet.

Department of Environmental Protection permit supervisor Randy Moore tells The Exponent Telegram that the company’s proposal would be a substantial expansion.

At current mining conditions, Moore says the expansion would extend the impoundment’s life span an estimated 11 to 12 years.

Murray acquired Consolidation Coal from CONSOL Energy in December 2013 and changed the company’s name.


PRINCETON, WV — A Bluefield man has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his infant son.

Media outlets report that a Mercer County Circuit Court jury also found 24-year-old Cassidy Byrd guilty of a child abuse charge. He faces up to 40 years in prison on the abuse charge and 12 months in jail on the manslaughter charge.

Jurors handed up their verdict on Wednesday. Byrd is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27.

Mercer County assistant prosecutor Kelli Harshbarger said during closing arguments that Byrd’s son, Ethan Byrd, died in April 2014 from a blow to his head.

Byrd was attacked by fellow inmates in a holding cell at the Mercer County Courthouse in June 2014. He was at the courthouse for a preliminary hearing.


U.S. Census figures show counties in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle continue to bulk up on population gains.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties posted the greatest population increases from 2013 to 2014.

Their combined gain of 2,565 residents was more than the other 53 counties combined.

Overall, 16 counties gained population and 39 counties lost residents.

Census estimates show the state lost nearly 3,300 residents last year.

Berkeley County had the single-largest gain of 1,813 residents and Monongalia County had the second-largest increase of 1,246 residents.

Kanawha County’s loss of 1,171 residents was the highest in the state but it remains the most populous county.

Clay County had the highest percentage loss of residents at 2.8%.


CHARLESTON — The West Virginia University Extension Service is surveying agritourism operators to getter a better sense of how a growing segment of the nation’s farm economy is doing in the state.

The survey wants to know what type of agritourism can be found in West Virginia, its economic impact and the challenges agritourism operators face. The survey will also seek ideas for support programs.

Agritourism encompasses many farm activities, including corn mazes, hay rides, pick-your-own operations and roadside produce stands.

Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick says the survey is aimed at learning the needs of the industry and to demonstrate the economic impact of agritourism.

The survey is a collaborative effort between the WVU Extension Service, West Virginia State University and the Department of Agriculture.


PARKERSBURG, WV - Authorities have seized 40 dogs and five cats from a Parkersburg residence.

Police Chief Joe Martin says his department helped the Humane Society of Parkersburg remove 26 dogs and four cats from a garage on the property on Wednesday. The other animals were removed from the home.

Martin says the animals taken from the garage were reported to have skin disorders, eye and ear infections and other medical conditions.

He says charges are pending against the homeowner.


Two men were arrested for breaking into a Philippi animal clinic to steal drugs.

Jeffrey Wilson, age 24, and Shawn Hunt, age 23, both of Philippi, were arrested after the Philippi Police Department and West Virginia State Police Crime Scene Investigation Team served a search warrant at the apartment where the two men live.

Wilson and Hunt gained entry to the Audubon Animal Clinic on U.S. Highway 250 by knocking a hole through an exterior wall, said police.  They took narcotics and mainly Ketamine, according to police, which is a horse tranquilizer that has recently become popular on the street.

The Ketamine taken from the animal clinic was recovered at the apartment.

Both men are being charged with breaking and entering.


A Harrison County man is behind bars after police say he took pornographic pictures of a four-year-old girl.

Police say 38-year-old Phillip James Hamilton Jr. of Mount Clare admitted to taking nine explicit photos of that little girl on his cell phone while she was in his care and had her pose in a sexual manner.

Braxton County Man Arrested On Multiple Sex Related Charges

Braxton County Police have charged 42-year-old Junior Jenkins after he allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old girl back in 2008.

Police say the victim, who is now 21, told them that Jenkins had sex with her, and also made her help him make meth for up to three straight days.

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The guy who escaped was from Brooke county wv not Pennsylvania

By Marshall  on  03.27.2015

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VVV Food Distribution - Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

On Saturday, March 28, 2015 from Noon until 2:00 PM VVV will be distributing food and other items.

Person(s) and/or families must live in Gilmer County in order to receive. 

Deana J. Burke
Founder/Executive Director

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) spoke on the Senate floor this afternoon in support of The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mister President, I rise today to discuss The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

“I am proud to join with my colleagues to co-sponsor this important legislation, and I applaud Senator Cornyn and Senator Klobuchar for putting forward this bipartisan bill.

“The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is a call to action.

“We’ve heard a lot of discussion about it on the floor here over the last several days.

“The horrible crime of human trafficking impacts thousands of Americans – mostly women and children – each year. It occurs in cities, suburbs and rural towns.

“We cannot allow this horrendous crime to continue.

“Last year, I hosted a forum at West Virginia State University to discuss how we can combat human trafficking.

“The event featured law enforcement, advocates, academics and state lawmakers.

“I also supported several bills when I was in the House of Representatives to further this fight and end this vicious crime.

“There is nothing more monstrous than the sexual exploitation of a human being – especially a child.

“We must stand up for those voices who have been silenced and say no more.

“While not in large numbers, trafficking occurs in West Virginia’s small communities and towns.  In our hotels and at our truck stops.  At our schools and online.

“Several things contribute to trafficking in the Mountain State - our interstates, high poverty and unemployment rates, and the drug epidemic to name a few.

“I am working in a bipartisan way with Senator Joe Donnelly to address this drug epidemic, but we must also say no more to this shameful crime.

“The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act will make it easier for law enforcement to identify and address patterns of human trafficking.

“The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act takes a needed two-prong approach.

“It bolsters the tools available to law enforcement to crack down on human traffickers - and - helps victims restore their lives through increased federal resources.

“We need to care for our sons, our daughters and our neighbors – and keep our eyes and ears open.

“This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue.  It’s a human issue.

“Now is the time to stand up and say no more to human trafficking.

“Now is the time to show broad support for these victims and punish traffickers to the fullest extent of the law.

“This bill has gone through a very transparent process. It was carefully considered and unanimously approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It has been available for every Senator or member of the public to read for months. And, earlier this week each and every Senator consented to consider this bill on the Senate floor.

“It has widespread support from 200 advocacy groups, including the NAACP, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Rights 4 Girls, National Association to Protect Children, Fraternal Order of Police and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“The innocent victims of human trafficking have suffered enough.

“Now is the time for us to join together, pass this legislation and take a significant step to end this crime.” 


The federal budget proposed by House Republicans would reduce the amount of money that government employees earn through a popular retirement fund and potentially increase the amount they have to contribute to their health-care plan, according to newly released details.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) last week unveiled the spending blueprint — which aims to achieve several hundred billions of dollars in savings through measures affecting federal employees — but did not initially release the specifics.

After those become known, groups representing federal workers blasted the House Republican budget, saying it calls for the most drastic cuts for U.S. government employees in recent history.

Richard Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, criticized the plan as a “grossly unfair and misguided budget.” He added that the changes amount to “nothing more than a pay cut for federal employees and broken promises to federal retirees living on fixed incomes.”

Supporters of the GOP plan say that it achieves important savings across the government and that the changes in the retirement and health-care plans would bring federal employees more in line with local and state civil servants.

The House GOP budget would lower the rate of return for the most popular fund within the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement program available only to federal employees and members of the uniformed services. The savings would result from offering a lower interest rate on the G Fund, which invests in short-term U.S. Treasury securities. The fund has offered relatively high interest rates on par with those for long-term bonds.

Financial experts cite the Thrift Savings Plan as a model for 401(k) plans because of its simplicity, low fees and diverse investment options, among other benefits.

The House Republican plan would also require federal employees to contribute more toward their retirement plans, but it does not specify an amount. Instead it refers to the recommendations of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles committee, which called for the government and its workforce to pay an equal share toward the cost of the benefit.

Under that proposal, federal employees’ contributions would increase by about 6% of their salaries. Their current rates are generally about 7% of pay, including Social Security deductions for workers who must pay into the system.

On health care, the House GOP budget would tie the government’s share of federal employee health-care costs to inflation, ditching a formula based on the annual rates of change within the available plans. The proposal would save the government an estimated $32 billion over 10 years, but critics say it would effectively increase federal worker contributions, because overall inflation rises slower than health-care cost inflation.

Additionally, the plan would base federal retirees’ health benefits on length of service, reducing premium subsidies for those who had “relatively short” careers with the government to achieve a projected savings of $1.2 billion over a decade.

Price’s office declined to comment Monday, but he defended his proposals in a statement last week. “By demanding Washington live within its means, we are forcing government to be more efficient, effective and accountable, providing our local communities the freedom and flexibility to improve the delivery of vital services and assistance to those in need, and saving and strengthening vital programs for America’s seniors,” he said.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, sent a letter to House lawmakers on Monday calling on them to oppose the Republican plan. “Balancing the budget on the backs of federal workers is unacceptable,” she said.

Federal employee groups argue that the federal workforce has already shouldered too much of the burden for deficit-reduction measures during the Obama administration, citing more than $110 billion in savings realized through pay freezes and increased retirement contributions for new employees.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement Monday that the latest proposals from House Republicans represent a “direct assault” on the government’s workforce.

House Republicans have touted their plan as a way to save more than $5 trillion on projected spending over the next decade without increasing taxes.

House Democrats have proposed an alternative budget that would raise taxes on the wealthy, expand benefits for the working poor and fund federal agencies at rates closer to what President Obama proposed in his 2016 fiscal plan. It would not cut federal worker pay or benefits.

“The House Democrat budget helps federal employees by providing robust funding to all agencies to perform agency operations,” said a Democratic aide for the House Budget Committee, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the plan.


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its seventh-annual list of the top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most Energy Star certified buildings in 2014. This year, Washington, D.C., debuts in the top spot with 480 buildings. EPA’s Energy Star Top Cities list shows how cities across America, with help from Energy Star, are embracing energy efficiency as an effective way to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

“Cities across the country are saving billions every year through partnering with our Energy Star program and increasing energy efficiency, while doing their part to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This is the type of leadership we need from city leaders and building owners who are demonstrating that increasing energy efficiency strengthens local economies, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and helps preserve a healthy planet for future generations.”

More than 25,000 buildings across America have earned EPA’s Energy Star certification since 1999. The buildings have saved nearly $3.4 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the annual electricity use of nearly 2.4 million homes.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. Energy Star certified buildings are verified to perform better than 75% of similar buildings nationwide, and they use an average of 35% less energy and are responsible for 35% fewer emissions than typical buildings. Many common building types can earn the Energy Star, including office buildings, K-12 schools, hotels, and retail stores.

The program starts with tools to help building owners or managers understand how their buildings are currently performing and what to aim for in terms of improvements. A typical upgrade includes the following: tuning up the building systems; reducing lighting loads; reducing supplemental loads (e.g., equipment, wasteful behaviors, leaky windows, poor insulation, etc.); improving air distribution systems; and making upgrades to heating and cooling equipment. The stages, when followed in order, account for the interactions between different building systems. For example, replacing heat-producing incandescent bulbs with cool CFLs or LEDs will mean that a building’s air conditioner won’t have to work as hard in the summer months, so a building may be able to downsize its cooling system based on the new lighting’s heat output. Another benefit of the five-stage approach is that it ensures the lowest-cost measures are tackled first. As organizations progress through the five stages, they can roll their cost savings into larger and larger investments, culminating in the last, most expensive stage. By the time organizations start making upgrades to heating and cooling equipment, they typically have already amassed substantial cost savings from previous lower-cost improvements.

To create the annual top cities list, EPA tallies the number of Energy Star certified buildings for the end of the previous year within each metropolitan area, as defined by the U.S. Census. These areas include the city itself as well as surrounding towns and suburbs.

The top 25 cities are:

Rank   Metro Area             2014 Building Count
1       Washington, DC         480
2       Los Angeles             475
3       Atlanta                 328
4       New York               299
5       San Francisco           292
6       Chicago                 251
7       Dallas-Fort Worth       248
8       Houston                 235
9       Denver                 195
10       Boston                 176
11       Phoenix                 165
12       Philadelphia             158
13       Seattle                 149
14       Riverside, CA           127
15       Minneapolis-St. Paul     122
16       Charlotte               95
17       San Diego             92
18       Miami                   90
19       Sacramento             89
20       Virginia Beach           81
21       Detroit                 80
22       San Jose               70
23       Austin                   65
23       Portland, OR           65
24       Louisville               59
24       Tampa                 59
25       Salt Lake City           55

Energy Star is the simple choice for energy efficiency. For more than 20 years, people across America have looked to EPA’s Energy Star program for guidance on how to save energy, save money, and protect the environment. Behind each blue label is a product, building, or home that is independently certified to use less energy and cause fewer of the emissions that contribute to climate change. Today, Energy Star is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world, helping families and businesses save $300 billion on utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two billion metric tons since 1992.

Why More U.S. Colleges Will Go Under in the Next Few Years

When officials at Sweet Briar College announced earlier this month that the Virginia women’s’ school would close at the end of this year, the news drew the attention of countless national media outlets and panicked alumnae looking for ways to save the school.

After all, how often does a “rich girl’s school,” as one student described Sweet Briar in the New York Times, just suddenly shut down?

It’s pretty rare for a more than 100-year-old school with a national reputation for a beautiful campus, close-knit community and accessible professors to just up and close. In the 10 years leading up to 2013, five nonprofit colleges and universities closed a year on average, according to a study from higher education researchers at Vanderbilt University. But the trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years, as colleges cope with lower tuition revenue due in part to lackluster enrollment, student worries about employment prospects and being saddled with debt after graduation.

“We expect that there will be more college closures over the next three to four years,” Susan Fitzgerald, a senior vice president at Moody’s. “I don’t think it’s going to be a landslide of college closures, but we are coming through a very tough period of time.”

About one-third of all colleges and universities in the U.S. are on an unsustainable financial path, according to a 2012 report from consulting firm Bain & Co. While some of the schools on that list have resources, like a large endowment and a steady enrollment base, that could help them stave off closure, smaller, private colleges “need to be on the lookout,” Jeff Denneen, the leader of Bain’s higher education practice and one of the authors of the report, said in an interview.

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“They have many fewer degrees of freedom and a much shorter runway to get things in order and I think that’s a little bit of what you saw at Sweet Briar,” he said.

Declining enrollments fueled by relatively flat high school graduation rates and increased competition from online competitors are squeezing private schools with fewer than 5,000 students, particularly those that draw on their local region in areas like the rural northeast and some of the Midwest, Fizgerald said. But one of the biggest challenges facing this group of schools is the crisis in college affordability.

About 40 million Americans are already saddled with student loan debt and the heightened attention on the issue has made prospective college students wary of taking on more.

“In the post-Great Recession era, there’s more and more focus on the return on investment on what one gets from an education,” said Jason Lane, a senior fellow at SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government. The concern from students and families is so great that the Obama administration is developing a ratings system to help students better understand the relative value of their degree.

During this fiscal year, public and private universities in the U.S. are expected to experience the slowest net tuition revenue growth in more than a decade, according to Moody’s U.S. higher education outlook. That’s in part because they’ve had to expand tuition discounts to draw in more students. For small, private schools that rely heavily on tuition revenue, that sort of arrangement can be hard to keep up for a long period of time.

“That’s why these colleges then end up in these really financial stressed situations,” said Fitzgerald. Indeed, Sweet Briar’s interim president, James F. Jones Jr., called an uptick in the school’s aid dollars as a share of tuition and fees — known as the tuition discount rate—“financially unsustainable” in a statement announcing the school’s closing.

A group of the school’s faculty and alumnae is trying to stop the school from shutting down, in part by alleging that Sweet Briar officials violated state law when they solicited donations, even as they were planning to close the school.

To be sure, Sweet Briar’s financial woes may be specific to the school. While changing demographics and the recession are challenging schools of all kinds, many private, liberal arts schools are doing just fine, according to David Warren, the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, an group representing more than 1,000 nonprofit private schools.

“Just because they’re small, just because they have the modest faculty or just because they’re rural, that doesn’t mean that closings are in sight,” he said.

Many of these types of schools have innovated successfully to adapt to changing demands by finding a specific niche such as health sciences or art and design, reaching out to non-traditional college populations, or including some kind of online learning in the mix.

“For a lot of these smaller private liberal arts institutions that were largely dependent on tuition and serving students that were fairly college ready, there’s a lot more competition for that demographic and it’s shrinking pretty significantly,” said Lane.

~~  Jillian Berman - MSN ~~

EducationNewsUnited States(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

While it might not be imminent, it is certainly possible that this could happen to GSC. I wonder if any thought has been given to that possibility, by the powers that be. How would it impact the local economy, local housing, local employment, which businesses the most, possible alternative uses for the site and facilities? While it may never happen, it’s always best to consider every scenario, particularly when it could impact your own survival. I’m not worried about the possibility and won’t worry until the politicians say, “Don’t worry about it”.

By Skip Beyer  on  03.27.2015

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Oil-by-Rail Safety Bill in Congress

CHARLESTON, WV – On Wednesday, senators introduced a bill in Congress to improve safety of oil shipments by rail.

The legislation, from two senators from Washington state, would require thicker tank-car walls and safety features, and set limits on how volatile crude oil can be for rail transport. It also would add more rail inspections and a system for reporting close calls. The bill comes after last month’s derailment and explosion in Fayette County and other similar events.

Rebecca Ponzio, oil campaign director for the Washington Environmental Council, says efforts to urge industries to make changes haven’t been sufficient.

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“We need safety improvements right now,“ said Ponzio. “We’ve seen the results of the accidents, the derailments - it’s just not good enough to say this is going to happen voluntarily. It needs to be required.“

In response to the new legislation, the American Petroleum Institute said more than 99 percent of crude oil is shipped by rail without a problem.

Most of the cars that carry crude are owned not by the rail companies, but by shippers and the oil and gas industry. The U.S. Department of Transportation is working on updated standards for tank-car safety that it says won’t be ready until mid-May.

In the meantime, Ponzio says any set of effective safety rules includes better informing the public.

“It includes public-disclosure requirements – the community has a right to know what is going through our state. It includes financial responsibility, requiring the companies that carry the oil through our state are on the hook in case of a spill.“

Last month, a train with more than 100 rail cars filled with crude oil derailed near Mount Carbon in Fayette County. The massive explosions that followed forced the evacuation of 1,000 people.

~~  Dan Hayman ~~


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World News   150327

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Islamic State’s use of social media to recruit hires is under fire, thanks to online vigilantes who have come together to sabotage the fighters and fundraisers on Twitter.

The New York Times reported the vigilantes were using screen names like TouchMyTweets, The Doctor and IS Hunting to target suspected IS accounts, blacklist the accounts in question and urge other Twitter users to report the accounts to the social network’s violations department.

The group is sometimes associated with hacking organizations like Anonymous. Women hackers who identify themselves as “Anonymisses” also are devoting significant time to hunting down online IS activities and accounts.

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Hacking collectives began in 2014 as violent images of IS beheadings and executions grew online. The New York Times reported the Islamic State has grown its following on Twitter and critics, including cyber-security experts, have said Twitter has allowed IS abuse of social media to happen with little intervention.

Author J.M. Berger and data scientist Jonathon Morgan of crowd-data intelligence group Ushahidi, however, have shown Twitter has taken measures to stem the tide IS recruiting on social media – by increasing the organizational costs to the fighters of operating on Twitter.

The researchers said some 18,000 pro-IS Twitter accounts have been suspended by the company, reported DefenseOne. Some 70,000 to 90,000 Twitter accounts are used by the Islamic State, according to The New York Times.

Islamic State supporters on Twitter were identified by their behavior, followings, and other publicly available data. They are more active than the average Twitter user, the researchers said.

In addition to tweeting beheadings and IS propaganda, IS accounts complained frequently about account suspensions.

75% of IS supporters tweeted in Arabic and only 20% preferred English.

The accounts were most often traced to Saudi Arabia, followed by Syria, Iraq and the United States.

Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, has said the U.S. State Department’s protocol on limited communication with the IS on Twitter is an “embarrassment” that provides a legitimizing boost to IS, reported DefenseOne.  ~~  UPI ~~


PARIS — One of the pilots of the German airliner that crashed in the Alps was apparently locked out of the cockpit when the plane went down, an official with knowledge of black box audio recordings said Thursday.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the details emerged from cockpit audio recovered from the mangled black box found among the debris of the aircraft. It was unclear which pilot may have been outside.

The CEO of Lufthansa, which owns budget carrier Germanwings, has described the pilots as “experienced and trained.“ The co-pilot was just 18 months out of flight school.

The Airbus A320, on a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, inexplicably began to descend from cruising altitude after losing radio contact with ground control and slammed into a remote mountainside in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board.

The A320 is designed with safeguards to allow emergency entry if a pilot inside is unresponsive, but the override code known to the crew does not go into effect — and indeed goes into a five-minute lockdown — if the person inside the cockpit specifically denies entry, according to an Airbus training video and a pilot who has six years of experience with the jets.

The pilot, who demanded anonymity because he did not want to meddle in an ongoing investigation, said airlines in Europe are not required to have two people in the cockpit at all times. European regulators have refused to comment on the regulation when contacted by The AP.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the standard U.S. operating procedure is that if one of the pilots leaves — for example to use the toilet — a flight attendant takes their spot in the cockpit.

The New York Times earlier quoted an unidentified investigator as saying someone can be heard knocking on the cockpit door. The Times quoted the source as saying: “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.“

Lufthansa has refused to identify the pilots, or give details of ages and nationality, but it said the co-pilot joined Germanwings in September 2013, directly after training, and had flown 630 hours.

The captain had more than 6,000 hours of flying time and been Germanwings pilot since May 2014, having previously flown for Lufthansa and Condor, Lufthansa said.

Gilmer County Farm Show Elimination Dinner - 03.27.15 - Tonight

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Fishing Report - 03.27.15



Anglers should call the Beech Fork Corps of Engineers office at 304.525.4831 and go to  for information and current lake levels.  No current fishing reports, the lake is at summer pool almost due to recent rains.


During the winter season, anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Fish will still feed but have a slower metabolism.  A few bass are being caught off rocky points using live minnows.  Anglers should look for points that have some cover such as stumps, logs, or ledges.  Some hybrid striped bass may be caught using large chubs.  Anglers should try spots such as at the mouth of the Bluestone Arm or near the dam.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!  Right now the tailwaters are high and unfishable with more rain expected.  Anglers should be careful wading this time of year due to the cold water and slippery conditions.  Wear your personal flotation devices at ALL times!


The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11. For more information call Corps of Engineers at 304.853.2398 and go to


For information on current lake levels call the Corps of Engineers recorded message at 304.849.9861 and go to . No current fishing reports, the lake is at summer pool almost due to recent rain.


During the winter season, fish are still active but have a slower metabolism, so anglers should fish slowly and methodically.  Spotted bass are hitting plastic jigs in crawfish colors.  The spotted bass will be found along the rocky drops with points another good spot to try.  Walleye are starting to be creeled by local anglers.  Best places to try are along the shallow clay flats either early or late.  As the year progresses, walleye will be moving up the river to begin spawning.  Best baits are jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers.  With any warm, stable weather, fish may become more active.  Try to pick a day that is bright and sunny which warms up areas of the lake, especially dark or mud banks.  A few degrees can make a difference!


The lake is at normal pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  A few walleye have also been in about 10-15 feet of water.


The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304.269.7463.


The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  Walleye are being caught off rocky points in about 10-15 feet of water.  Try minnows and small crank baits.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 04.  For more information contact the Corps of Engineers at 304.872.3412 and go to


T The lake is at winter pool and frozen in places.  Fishing has been challenging with the cold and ice.  Bass are in about 10-12 feet of water.  Crappie and bluegill are also hitting on jigs and live minnows.  The tailwaters were stocked with trout February 11.  Before heading to the lake please call Corps of Engineers at 304.765.2705 and go to


The lake level is about 40 feet above summer pool and all boat ramps are currently closed.  Lake elevation is expected to decrease over the next few days.  The tailwater outflow is about 15,000 cfs and muddy.  Water temperature is 40oF.  The tailwater boat ramp has been under water for the last few days and shoreline access is minimal during these high flows.  Once water flow decreases, younger walleyes should be readily available as they have moved through the dam into the tailwater during high flow events (above 5,000 cfs).  Walleye fishing is best during higher flows (1,500 to 5,000 cubic feet per second).  Trout were last stocked in early February and trout fishing is best at low flows (less than 1,000 cubic feet per second).  Call the Corps of Engineers telephone hotline at 304.265.5953 for daily lake and tailwater conditions.


OHIO RIVER (New Cumberland, Pike Island, and Hannibal pools and tailwaters)

Over the next week, warming water temperatures and high flows should trigger walleye and sauger to move into tailwater areas below dams.  Jigs with minnows are particularly good baits but 3-inch plastic grubs and deep-running crankbaits are also productive.


Water temperature has warmed over the last week and is about 44oF.  The river is high and muddy, but increased water temperatures and flows should cause fish to start moving upstream and congregate at tailwater areas just below the Morgantown, Hildebrand, and Opekiska dams.


Recent heavy rains and warmer temperatures have caused ice to break up.  Debris may still be scattered around the lake due to ice damage last week.  The winter boat ramp at the Cheat Lake Park near the dam is the only public ramp currently open.  The tailwater fishing pier can be very good for walleye and sauger.  The pier is located entirely in West Virginia about 25 minutes from Morgantown.  Take U.S. Highway 119 from Morgantown to Point Marion, PA.  Turn right after crossing the Cheat River and proceed 4 miles to Cheat Dam.

Try the tailwater fishing pier for sauger, smallmouth bass, walleye and white bass.  Jigs with minnows or 3-inch power grubs are the best baits.  White or chartreuse are good colors.  Start fishing at dark when sauger and walleye begin feeding.  The pier is located entirely in West Virginia about 25 minutes from Morgantown and is lighted for night fishing and is handicapped accessible


South Branch and Cacapon Rivers

Water levels throughout the area have dropped over the past week and near or slightly below normal flow for this time of year.  Water temperatures are in the mid 40’s at most locations and the water is clear.  Anglers are starting to catch a few smallmouth bass.  The spring trout stocking season is underway and many streams are receiving weekly trout stockings.

Shenandoah River

Flows in the Shenandoah River are near normal flow for this time of year.  Smallmouth bass are biting and fishing plastics near the head of pools around the bedrock ledges and in eddies is always a good strategy.

North Branch River

Flows in the North Branch are currently 800 cfs but projected to drop over the next couple days and there should be some great trout fishing opportunities by the weekend.  The first white whitewater event on the North Branch is scheduled for April 11 and 12.  Check the Corp or Engineers webpage for specifics or schedule changes. 

Small Impoundments

Most small impoundments are in great fishing condition and some are receiving spring trout stockings.  Check the 2015 fishing regulations to see if your favorite water is on the January or February stocking schedule.

Jennings Randolph Lake

There has been no recent reports of angler success at Jennings Randolph Lake.  The West Virginia boat launch is scheduled to open for the season next Wednesday April 1.  The WV launch is free and a $5 per day fee is collected for the Maryland Ramp. Jennings Randolph Lake has a dedicated phone line for up-to-date recreational information 304.355.2890.

Mt. Storm Lake

Anglers at Mount Storm Lake should target striped bass, black bass, and walleye.  This is a great location for winter fishing since the lake doesn’t freeze.  Fish can be caught throughout the lake but many anglers do well fishing with chicken livers near the discharges.


Water levels are high, milky and some still with ice cover.  If you are looking for a place to go, please check the fishing regulations and the WVDNR website for a list of public access sites or call your local WVDNR district office for some advice and a place to fish.  The March trout stocking is rolling and going well.  Make sure you purchase your 2015 WV fishing license.


The New and Greenbrier rivers are high and off color right now with more rain expected so fishing may be slow there.  Sometimes high water improves the fishing at Kanawha Falls so anglers may also want to try their luck there for musky or walleye (use big chubs for bait) or lake anglers can find some excellent bass fishing at Plum Orchard Lake and Stephens Lake.  Best baits are plastic worms fished slowly along the bottom, spinnerbaits are also good choices.  Anglers should call ahead to make sure that the ramps are not iced over.


Lower Ohio and Kanawha Rivers

Sauger and walleye will begin congregating behind locks, tributary mouths and along shoal areas in preparation for their spawn as soon as the water warms a bit, be ready!  R.C. Byrd tailrace is a great place to try.  Try bait, and small brightly colored jigs fished slow close to the bottom.  Added scent or a small piece of bait or nightcrawlers attached to the tail end of jigs really helps at this time of the year.  Fish S-L-O-W.

Guyandotte, Coal, Poca, Elk, and Mud Rivers

A few reports of very large muskies caught and released from the Elk and Coal rivers using slow moving baits and soft plastics (large tubes).  Try for walleye and sauger behind lower and upper falls as they congregate with warming water temperatures to go through their spawning rituals.

Small Impoundments

Barboursville and Ridenour lakes were recently stocked.


So far this month, trout have been stocked into the following area lakes:  Rollins and Turkey Run lakes in Jackson County, Tracy Lake and Pennsboro Water Supply Reservoir in Ritchie County, Mile Tree Lake in Roane County, Conaway Run Lake in Tyler County and Cedar Creek State Park Ponds in Gilmer County.  Additionally this month Mountwood Park Lake in Wood County will be stocked again.  This information is updated daily at 4:00 pm, January through May.  Trout anglers can use a variety of baits including small worms; mealworms, salmon eggs, cheese, or trout power bait.  Lure anglers like small spinners, Joe type flies, and trout magnets also work well.

This is a good time to fish Ohio River tailwaters.  Anglers fishing below the Belleville dam are catching a few sauger, walleye and a few other species.  Suspended minnows or lead headed jigs with twister tails (white or chartreuses), which are fished along the bottom, are the lures of choice.  When the river is running high and muddy clever anglers are tipping their jig hooks with minnows.  Best spots to fish these areas include eddies and back-current sections, and anywhere that river flows are unusual slow.  Fishing along the Willow Island tailwaters is restricted due to hydro-power development.  Anglers now have access only to a point approximately 150 yards below the dam, and flows have changed significantly.

Warm water discharges associated with industrial facilities hold fish in the winter along the Ohio River.  Best bet for lures here include crank baits and rubber jigs.  Expect to catch white bass, hybrid striped bass and a few other species at these hot spots.

Fishing for largemouth bass can be good during warm sunny days in area lakes.  Slowly fished rubber worms or jig-and-pig combos are good terminal tackle choices.  Area lakes with good winter bass angling opportunities include Mountwood in Wood County, Conaway Run in Tyler County, Charles Fork in Roane County, North Bend Lake in Ritchie County, and Elk Fork, Woodrum, and O’Brien lakes in Jackson County.

Musky streams are expected to be fishable this weekend.  Winter musky anglers use medium to large lures, and they concentrate their fishing efforts around brush piles or other areas of good cover.  Middle Island Creek, the major streams in the Hughes River system, and the Little Kanawha River are good area musky waters.

Stream Conditions
NORTHERN Levels Conditions
Ohio River (Wheeling)     X     X
Fish Creek   X     X
Fishing Creek   X     X
Big Sandy (Preston) X   X   X
Monongahela River   X   X  
Black Water Creek     X     X
Wheeling Creek     X   X  
Buffalo Creek   X     X
S. Branch (Potomac)   X   X    
S. Branch (Smoke Hole)   X   X  
Shenandoah River   X   X  
Patterson Creek   X   X    
N. Fork S. Branch   X   X  
Cacapon River   X   X  
Back Creek   X   X    
Opequon Creek   X   X  
Lost River   X   X  
CENTRAL Levels Conditions
Elk (Sutton)     X   X
Little Kanawha     X   X
Elk (Clay)     X   X
West Fork River     X   X
Gauley River     X   X
Cranberry River     X   X
Cherry River     X   X
Cherry River (N. Fork)     X   X
Cherry River (S. Fork)     X   X
Williams River     X   X
Knapps River     X   X
Greenbrier (E&W Forks)     X   X
Little River     X   X
Shavers Fork     X   X
Buckhannon River     X   X
Holly River     X   X
Elk River (Webster)     X   X
Elk River (Back Fork)     X   X
SOUTHERN Levels Conditions
New River (Hinton)   X   X    
Greenbrier (Hinton)     X X    
Greenbrier (Ronceverte)   X   X    
Anthony Creek   X   X    
Big Creek   X   X    
Meadow River   X   X    
Turkey Creek   X   X    
Potts Creek   X   X    
Second Creek   X   X    
Pinnacle Creek   X   X    
Horse Creek Lake   X   X    
Big Huff Creek   X   X    
Indian Creek   X   X    
Glade Creek (New River)   X   X    
Marsh Fork   X   X    
New River (Gauley)   X   X    
Glade Creek (Man)   X   X    
Camp Creek   X   X    
East River   X   X    
Fork Creek   X   X    
Dry Fork Creek   X   X    
Berwind Lake   X   X    
Little Kanawha River X   X  
Ohio River X   X  
Hughes River X   X  

Trout Stockings

March 25, 2015

  • Big Sandy Creek
  • Coopers Rock Lake
  • Cranberry River
  • East Fork Greenbrier River
  • Glade Creek of Mann
  • Horse Creek Lake
  • Jimmy Lewis Lake
  • Kings Creek
  • Little River East Fork Greenbrier River
  • Middle Fork River
  • Mountwood Park Lake
  • North Fork of South Branch
  • South Branch (Smoke Hole)
  • Summersville Tailwaters
  • Tomlinson Run
  • Tomlinson Run Lake

March 24, 2015

  • Anthony Creek
  • Beech Fork Tailwaters
  • Bullskin Run
  • Cacapon park lake
  • Dunkard Fork Lake
  • East Lynn Talwaters
  • Evitts Run
  • French Creek Pond
  • Jenning Randolph Tailwaters
  • Knapps Creek
  • Krodel Lake
  • Laurel Fork of Holly River
  • Left Fork of Holly River
  • Lick Creek Pond
  • Middle Creek (Berkeley)
  • Mill Creek (Berkeley)
  • New Creek
  • North Fork of Anthony Creek
  • North Fork of Patterson Creek
  • Opequon Creek
  • Right Fork of Little Kanawha
  • Rocky Marsh Run
  • South Branch (Franklin)
  • South Fork of Cranberry River
  • Wayne Dam
  • West Fork of Twelvepole
  • Williams River

March 23, 2015

  • Buffalo Fork Lake
  • Cranberry River
  • Deer Creek (Pocahontas)
  • Dillons Run
  • Edwards Run
  • Fort Ashby Reservoir
  • Greenbrier River
  • Kimsey Run Lake
  • Mill Creek of South Branch
  • New Creek Dam #14
  • Rockhouse Lake
  • Spruce Knob Lake (condition of lake: 75%-80% slush ice; clear 20 feet around edges)
  • Spruce Laurel Fork
  • Summit Lake
  • Tygart Valley River Headwaters
  • Watoga Lake

March 20, 2015

  • Anawalt Lake
  • Berwind Lake
  • Buckhannon River
  • Cacapon Park lake
  • Cranberry River
  • Dry Fork (McDowell)
  • Gandy Creek
  • Laurel Fork (Randolph)
  • Left Fork of Right Fork of Buckhannon River
  • Opequon Creek
  • Rocky Marsh Run
  • Second Creek (C&R)
  • South Branch (Franklin)
  • South Mill Creek Lake

The Escapee from Weston Sharpe Hospital Is Captured

The Gilmer Free Press

BRIDGEPORT, WV – The accused murderer from Pennsylvania who escaped from Sharp Mental Hospital in Weston, Lewis County, WV earlier this week is back in police custody.

West virginia State Police said Rocco Zuccaro, age 30, of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, was apprehended in the McWhorter area of Harrison County on Wednesday night.

State Police said Sgt. J.M. Menendez found Zuccaro hiding in tall grass near a natural gas facility.

Law enforcement officers from across West Virginia were searching the McWhorter area because of multiple reports from people who had spotted Zuccaro.

Zuccaro, who is being held on the North Central Regional Jail, will be charged with felony escape Thursday morning.

The search for him started Monday afternoon when he escaped from William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital in Weston where he was undergoing a psychological evaluation ahead of a possible trial for the 2013 shooting death of a Brooke County man, Jason Pratz.

In addition to West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police, the Weston Police Department, the U.S. Marshal Service and other law enforcement agencies were part of the search for Zuccaro.

2015 WV Counties’ Health Ranking

The Gilmer Free Press

SAND FORK, WV – Pendleton County ranked healthiest in West Virginia, according to the 2015 County Health Rankings.

The report was eleased Wednesday, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The five healthiest counties in West Virginia, starting with most healthy, are Pendleton, Jefferson, Monongalia, Pleasants, and Upshur.

The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, and Mercer.

The rankings are a comparison of health in nearly every county in the United States.

The counties in each state are compared among 30 factors that influence health including education, housing, violent crime, jobs, exercise, and diet.

This year’s rankings showed that the healthiest counties in each state have higher college attendance, fewer hospital stays, and better access to gyms and parks.

he least healthy counties have more smokers, more teen births, and more alcohol related car crash deaths.

Area Counties Health Rankings (Better to Worst)
4th——-  Pleasants
5th——-  Upshure
11th—— Ritchie
12th—— Wirt
17th—— Barbour
26th—— Tyler
27th—— Braxton
30th—— Calhoun
33rd—— Wetzel
34th—— Harrison
37th—— Roane
40th—— Clay
43rd—— Webster
45th—— Lewis
46th—— Nicholas

Click H E R E to see the Entire Detailed Report/Data


The Gilmer Free Press

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the USDA’s 2016 Farm To School grants.

Designed to increase the availability of local foods in eligible schools, these grants help new programs get started or can be used to expand existing efforts.

Four different kinds of grants are available:

•  Planning grants are for schools or districts just getting started on farm to school activities. They’re designed to help recipients organize and structure their efforts for maximum impact by incorporating best practices into early planning considerations.

•  Implementation grants are available for schools or school districts seeking to augment or expand existing farm to school efforts.

•  Support service grants are intended for non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers to evolve farm to school initiatives.

•  Additionally, all eligible entities can still apply for funds to support training and technical assistance, such as local procurement, food safety, culinary education and integration of agriculture-based curriculum.

Planning awards range from $20,000 - $45,000 and a 25% match of the total project cost is required. Implementation and support service awards range from $65,000 - $100,000 and a 25% match of the total project cost is required.

Training awards range from $15,000 - $50,000 and there is no match requirement.

Proposals for planning, implementation and support service grants are due no later than 11:59 PM EST, May 20, 2015.

Letters of intent for training grants are due by 11:59 PM EST, April 30, 2015.

To assist eligible entities in preparing proposals, USDA will host a webinar related to the application process on March 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EST.

More information about the grant program, upcoming webinars relevant to applicants, and sample grant applications can be found online by Clicking H E R E.

Dominion Taking Applications for $1.5M in Education Grants

The Gilmer Free Press

RICHMOND, VA — Dominion Resources’ charitable arm is accepting applications for $1.5 million in grants to schools and educational institutions in 10 states and Washington.

The Richmond-based energy provider says its K-12 Education Partnership program will give schools up to $10,000 each to fund projects related to energy and the environment.

Dominion’s The Higher Education Partnership program will award college and post-secondary schools up to $50,000 each for projects in energy, environmental studies, engineering and workforce development.

The schools and educational groups eligible to apply for the grants are in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Applications must be submitted online by May 15 for the 2015-2016 school year.

Time on Task May Not Be Enough

The Gilmer Free Press

BECKLEY, WV — Two members of the state Senate from Southern West Virginia say they are getting mixed signals from the state Board of Education on how to deal with high numbers of snow days for school children in their district.

Senators Mike Hall (R-Wyoming)  and Jeff Mullins (R-Raleigh) say they were told in an email from the state Board of Education counties who had missed a large number of days would be able to make those up with the banked time they have already accrued by extra time added to the instructional days children were present in the classroom.

“In this e-mail it basically states to assist counties, the West Virginia Board of Education offers the following information and it goes through what waivers they are going to allow,” said Senator Mullins. “The waiver ‘accrued time’ is in this list, so they have the ability to grant this waiver.”

There is confusion now however since an attorney representing the state Board of Education disagrees. He says the law is clear, a missed day is a missed day, and making it up by going extra hours to school isn’t going to satisfy the requirements of a 180 calendar.

Hall and Mullins worried if forced to follow those guideline without the waiver, school children in their district would be in school until last week of June.

“We’ve got camps kids go to during the first weeks of June,” he said. “Church camps and football, basketball, team camps start in June. They’re going to have to miss school or cancel team camps.”

Mullins said the bigger issue would be the fact of summer school which starts not long after the last day of school and some who depend on summer school for additional instructions may be short changed.

Hall and Mullins want the waiver to allow counties to use their banked days to make up the time missed for snow in a shorter span.  They are waiting on a judgement as to whether it will be allowed.

“We’re waiting to hear what the lawyers tell us is the legal requirement,” Hall said. “We can’t get around the law, but we’re hopeful we can get a waiver here and there will be some wiggle room in that ruling, but we may be stuck with it this year.”

~~  Chris Lawrence - MN ~~

EducationPolitics | Government | ElectionState-WV(3) Comments

Permalink - Link to This Article

~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Braxton County students began school on August 5 with this exorbitant number of snow days in mind as a possibility. These students, parents and families were not allowed to participate in the State Fair 4H activities unless they had to miss school. Hind sight it 20-20. My feeling is EVERYONE knew about the Almighty 180 Day Rule before the calendar was created and if they opted to tack on those days at the end of the year then they need to reap what they have sown and suck it up and be expected to honor the contract.

By Mary  on  03.26.2015

Just more of the West Virginia Board of Education “muddling” along.

Don’t forget, these are the people that want to take over control of ALL spending, ALL finances in each and every school district.

By we see  on  03.26.2015

Did you hear Wade Linger on Hoppy moan and whine over and over how the Legislature is micro-managing the State Board of Education.  What is this nonsense but long distance micro-management by the WV BOE of the worst kind?

By Bunk  on  03.26.2015

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Adopt-A-Highway Spring Statewide Cleanup Set For April 25, 2015

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV - The state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting registrations for the Saturday, April 25 Adopt-A-Highway Spring Statewide Cleanup. Volunteers have until Friday, April 10 to register.

Co-sponsored by the DEP and the state Division of Highways, the Adopt-A-Highway program is administered by the DEP’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP).

The program’s goal is to improve the quality of our environment by encouraging public involvement in the elimination of highway litter.

Individuals, families, churches, businesses, schools, civic organizations, government agencies and communities can register to pick up trash on almost any state-maintained road, back road, or main route. Private roads and interstate highways cannot be adopted.

The Adopt-A-Highway program provides garbage bags, work gloves and safety vests to volunteers. The state also takes care of disposing of collected trash. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old to participate.

More than 4,800 volunteers turned out for the spring 2014 Adopt-A-Highway spring cleanup and cleared over 1,500 miles of West Virginia roadways.

Since the program’s inception in 1988, state citizens have cleaned up almost 70,000 miles of state highways and roads during annual spring and fall Adopt-A-Highway events.

To register, call 1.800.322.5530 or send an email to .

If you reach the REAP voicemail, please leave your name, phone number, group name, date of cleanup, number of participants, and the county where your adopted road is located.

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