25 Pipelines Proposed for the East

Coal may be declining, but fracking is booming.

Over two dozen natural gas pipelines are planned for the region, many of which cross our favorite outdoor playgrounds. Other pipelines will use eminent domain to traverse private property. All of them will affect the future of energy, health, and recreation in the East.

Dominion Power stands behind their Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a necessary means to meet energy needs throughout the region. “Demand is expected to increase by 165% over the next two decades,” Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby says. “Our existing infrastructure is simply not capable of meeting these needs.” As communities grow and businesses expand, energy demands also increase within those developments, Ruby says.

Touting natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” Dominion and other energy companies are hoping to build a massive pipeline infrastructure that could extend fossil fuel dependence for another century or more. Currently 34 percent of our energy comes from natural gas.

19 pipelines are proposed for Appalachia. If built, we would blow past our climate change commitments made in Paris, according to Oil Change International.  And a recent report by Synapse Economics shows that gas pipelines aren’t needed to feed electrical demand. They conclude: “Given existing pipeline capacity [and] existing natural gas storage…the supply capacity of the Virginia‐Carolinas region’s existing natural gas infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet expected future peak demand.”

Each individual pipeline costs upwards of $50 million, with several reaching into the billion-dollar price range. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline comes with an estimated price tag of $3 billion, while the Atlantic Coast and Northeast Energy Direct lines ring up at over $5 billion. Such high costs will force the region and the nation to commit to fossil fuels for many more decades. More pipeline infrastructure also means more drilling and fracking in order to supply the lines with enough gas.

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But the multibillion dollar investment in a natural gas infrastructure—including massive subsidies from the federal government—is taking away from investment in renewable energy. If the U.S. had given the same subsidies to solar and wind as it has to oil and gas, we could meet most of our energy needs today with renewables.

Solar and wind power now make up over 75 percent of new electric capacity additions in the United States—representing over $70 billion in new capital investment in 2016 alone.

So why aren’t we building a renewable energy infrastructure instead of a fossil-fueled pipeline network?

No one is claiming that renewables can provide all of our electricity overnight. Massive hurdles in energy storage still need to be cleared, and the better battery grail remains elusive. But a smart grid of renewable technologies seems like a better long-term investment than thousands of miles of fracked-gas pipelines.

Is Natural Gas Better Than Coal?

Ruby argues that natural gas provides a vast improvement over the coal. “Natural gas produces half the carbon emissions as coal,” Ruby claims. “Our project will help the region reduce carbon emissions and meet the regulations of the new Federal Clean Power Plan.”

Natural gas companies also claim that access to local shale gas supplies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will prove more cost-effective than transporting the gas from the Gulf Coast. Pending their completion, pipelines like the Atlantic Coast project could save the consumer base hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. “Cheap energy options lead an improved economic competitiveness of the region,” says Ruby.

But is the environmental and public health cost worth it? “The pipelines in and of themselves are devastating for the communities that they pass through,” says Maya van Rossum, spokesperson for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “They cut through wetlands, creeks, rivers, and inflict an immense amount of ecological harm that cannot be undone.”

And according to Ramon Alvarez of the Environmental Defense Fund, natural gas is only better than coal if leakage in the gas pipelines and extraction is less than 3.2 percent. Leakages regularly soar above this limit. Methane—the leaked gas—is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Fracking, a drilling method that involves injecting high-pressure toxic fluids into the ground, has been linked to increased earthquakes and groundwater contamination. It uses mercury, lead, methanol, uranium, and formaldehyde to blast through the ground, and many of these chemicals end up in communities’ drinking water.

Pipeline construction itself causes air pollution and acid rain that harms the surrounding soil and vegetation, invades natural wildlife habitats, and contaminates water supplies. Once completed, pipelines continue to cause disruption by maintaining rights-of-way that permanently splinter natural landscapes and block regular animal movement, while also emitting air pollution from compressor stations that jeopardize public and environmental health.

Many local landowners and environmentalists believe that this money would be better spent investing in a renewable energy infrastructure that would set us on a path toward cleaner energy and healthier, more sustainable communities.

Joanna Hanes-Lahr, a resident in Annapolis, Md., worries about pipeline safety amid increased rates of leakage and rupture. She is concerned about drinking water, gas explosions, and increased air and water pollution. She and others believe that a renewable energy infrastructure makes more sense ecologically and economically.

“We don’t need the fracked gas,” she says. “Clean energy is here today.”

What about jobs?

The pipeline industry promises to create new jobs, but they neglect to mention the expenses that accompany them. Pipeline construction often threatens the status of community projects, tourism, and scenic viewsheds which attract many more jobs and visitors. Wintergreen and Nelson County may encounter a loss of $80 million and 250 jobs as a result of two large projects—a new resort hotel and marketplace—that would be postponed or canceled due to pipeline construction.

Already, solar and wind industries employ more workers than oil and gas. The solar industry has hired more veterans than any other industry, retrained coal workers, and has created one out of 80 jobs in the U.S. since the Great Depression. And wind is not far behind. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is the fastest growing job category.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has also found that the clean energy sector provides more jobs and a better quality of employment than natural gas jobs. Natural gas employees “spend six months to build something and then [they’re] out,” says van Rossum. “For every million invested in clean, renewable energy versus fossil fuels, you get 3 to 5 times the number of direct jobs created. You also get a lot more long-term jobs.”

Where are the pipelines proposed?

Some of the outdoor community’s most treasured sites may be destroyed by pipeline implementation, including the beloved backbone of the Blue Ridge: the Appalachian Trail. The proposed PennEast, Atlantic Coast, and Mountain Valley pipelines cross the Appalachian Trail on several occasions, which will cause permanent disruptions to the trail and surrounding forest.

“The natural gas companies have not done a good job articulating a plan that will not have an impact on hikers [because] they are looking at boring under the trail, which is not compatible with the trail experience,” says Director of Conservation Laura Belleville.

Pipelines have also been proposed through Delaware State Forest in Pennsylvania and High Point State Park in New Jersey, the latter of which boasts the highest point in New Jersey. “Now, when you go to look from that high point, what you’ll see is just a swath of denuded forest with a pipeline cut through it,” says van Rossum.

In West Virginia and Virginia, Monongahela and George Washington National Forests and the Blue Ridge Parkway will be permanently marred by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will require regular clearcutting along its entire length.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline similarly endangers Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, while the Leach Xpress Pipeline moves within 2 short miles of The Wilds Preservation Area and Wayne National Forest in Ohio. Farther south, the Dalton Expansion Project will cross the Etowah River and has already poisoned the waterway after an oil spill during the preparatory construction process. The Sabal Trail Pipeline that winds through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida crosses above the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System, parts of which lie only 30 feet below the earth’s surface and are liable to collapse as a result of the pipeline’s intended path.

The Sierra Club has already opened cases against pipelines where “environmental effects have not been adequately addressed in public areas,” says Thomas Au, the Oil and Gas Chair of the Pennsylvania chapter. Right now, the Constitution Pipeline and Atlantic Sunrise Pipelines worry Au the most. These proposed pipelines pass through Ricketts Glen State Park and across the Lehigh, Susquehanna, and Conestoga Rivers.

Private landowners are also in jeopardy. Pipeline companies are frequently given permission by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use eminent domain to construct and maintain pipelines across private property. Even if property owners refuse to sell their land, the companies can seize the land anyway.

That’s what happened to the North Harford Maple Farm in New Milford, Pennsylvania, where the Holleran family runs their maple syrup business. But the Constitution Pipeline will run straight through the Holleran’s property and take down the maple trees that they and their loyal customers depend on.

Even worse: most people who will lose their land to pipelines will not receive any energy benefits in return. Eminent domain seizures mostly accommodate the interests of those on either end of the pipeline while taking resources from the communities in between.

Many of the proposed pipelines will take new paths rather than follow existing rights-of-way, like highways and electric lines. Choosing to use pre-established pipeline routes reduces waste by conserving the amount of land in use—a perk that appeals to environmentalists and landowners alike.

“When we saw what Dominion had crafted for its pipeline route, we were a little horrified,” says Jon Ansell, Chairman of the Friends of Wintergreen. “There are better choices using the principle of co-location.” The Nelson County, Va., organization hopes to protect Wintergreen Resort from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by examining alternative routes that use more existing rights-of-way.

Pipelines ultimately inflict lasting wounds but provide only a short-term energy fix. Together, these pipelines will cut across 3,500 miles of Appalachia and beyond.

~~  Duane Nichols ~~

“Heroes and Zeros”: Because You Can’t Tell the Lawmakers Without a Scorecard

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Just in time for the election: a free scorecard that runs down the voting record of every state senator and House delegate is available for voters in West Virginia.

The Heroes and Zeros 2015/2016 scorecard was created by the West Virginia Citizen Action Group and is freely available on their website, Gary Zuckett, executive director at CAG, said the guide looks at every important vote on a wide variety of progressive issues - from prevailing wage and water quality to voter ID and the so-called religious freedom restoration act - and assigns representatives a score based on their voting record.

“People can really get a feel for what their individual legislator did,” Zuckett said. “Vote by vote, bill by bill, issue by issue, they can find out how they were represented during the past two years.“

Groups across the spectrum endorse candidates: unions, industries and organizations focused on individual issues such as guns or abortion. But Heroes and Zeros is one of the most comprehensive scorecards available - and it’s certainly one of the most progressive.

Zuckett said that based on the information collected for the guide, the Legislature seems to be moving in a very conservative direction.

“I’m afraid they would have to get a failing grade,” he said of representatives’ support of progressive issues. “In the House, just under half are at 20 percent or less. They only got one out of five right. And the Senate is actually worse.“

Three lawmakers - all in the House of Delegates - scored 100 percent. Three - including Senate President and GOP Gubernatorial nominee Bill Cole - scored zero. Zuckett said the hope behind the scorecard is that it will help empower citizens - and maybe break through some of the barriers that keep people from feeling like they can be constructively involved.

“People have jobs and families and we understand they can’t go up to the Legislature on a daily basis when they’re grinding that sausage, to keep the scrutiny on them,” Zuckett said. “So that’s why we put this scorecard together.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Foodland in Grantsville with Empty Shelves

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Community grocers in rural areas struggling to keep shelves stocked

For shoppers at a Foodland in central West Virginia, getting every item on their grocery list is a sign of good luck. Each aisle has its share of bare shelves. Employees guide customers to possible alternative items. Produce and meat remain well-stocked, but everything else is slim pickings.

“I can’t find everything I need for the week here,” said local shopper Dana Shimer. “I have to go out of my way to the Wal-Mart. Here I can only get any essentials that I forget.”

The only grocery store in Grantsville, where the population hovers around 650, is the Foodland. Outside of convenience stores scattered throughout Calhoun County, with limited options outside of snack foods, the closest alternative is a Wal-Mart in Spencer. That’s a 40-minute drive from Grantsville.

“[Foodland] is the only grocery store within 25 miles,” said Grantsville Mayor Zach Hupp. “I would imagine a lot of people rely on it.”

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Facemire Foods, the Gassaway-based company that owns and operates the Foodland, hasn’t been able to adequately supply the store for months, according to residents.

Corey Facemire, vice president of the company, said Thursday that the Grantsville Foodland is short in supplies because of the economic struggles in West Virginia adversely affecting sales. With the workforce in the state still adjusting to the loss in coal jobs and natural gas prices taking a hit, locals don’t have enough disposable income to buy as much food and keep the store afloat, he said.

“We’re in pretty rough shape in the state, and two of the biggest companies, Wal-Mart and Kroger, are opening up new places that we have to compete with,” he said. “We’re doing our best to get through this, and I think we’re just about over the hump.”

Facemire said the company would have a delivery come in Friday, the first in weeks. He expects that delivery to be the start of the Grantsville Foodland recovery and return to normal operations.

Facemire Foods’ struggles aren’t unique, however. SuperValu, Facemire Foods’ wholesaler and franchiser, is undergoing major changes of its own. The company announced the sale of its successful Save-A-Lot chain for $1.37 billion to a private-equity firm. Much of that will be used to reduce the company’s debt.

Facemire said SuperValu is evaluating the state of the current Foodland program, but he isn’t sure if the sale will impact his company immediately.

Three West Virginia Foodlands have already been converted to the Piggly Wiggly brand this year, leaving just 11 Foodland locations left, 10 of which are in West Virginia.

While SuperValu and Facemire Foods are taking a look at the current state of their business, massive retail competitors like Kroger are in good enough shape to take losses even when customers aren’t buying as much, according to Facemire.

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“It’s tough competing with the Krogers and the big guys in the industry,” he said. “They are able to take some hits and still function.”

In Grantsville, Foodland and other businesses don’t have a large customer base to work with. The town’s population has been declining since the 1940s. Its income per capita is $16,616, well below West Virginia’s average of $23,237. Nearly 30 percent of people in Grantsville are below the poverty line.

Hupp said the limited number of nearby job opportunities means many residents go out of town for work.

“Any business that could come into the area the people would benefit from,” Hupp said. “I know with us being a small town it would be tough, but the people would definitely try to help out a new business.”

The lack of viable alternatives to Foodland in the area lead to an increased food insecurity rate for its residents. In Calhoun County, 16.7 percent of people do not have reliable access to healthy foods, according to a 2014 study by the hunger-relief organization Feeding America. Healthy foods are often found in groceries but are an uncommon sight in convenience stores. The rate was higher than the state’s average of 15.3 percent.

Grocery stores in rural areas across the United States have encountered difficulties in recent years. Populations continue to migrate toward the cities and retail chains keep adding more locations in driving distance, making it difficult for rural stores to stay afloat, according to a 2010 study done by Jon Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Not only does the local grocery store provide the sustenance of life, it fills the roles of economic driver, community builder, employer and meeting place,” the study reads. “Unfortunately, many rural communities across the nation are losing local grocery stores, and residents are forced to leave their communities to purchase food, often at great expense due to great distance.”

Another study done by the University of Minnesota this year said roughly two-thirds of rural grocers in the state plan to leave the business within a decade. A nearby grocery store is a benefit to rural and disadvantaged areas, but Facemire said the business only goes as its customers go.

“We’re going through what many other businesses are going through right now,” he said. “If people don’t have the money, they can’t buy the groceries.”

~~  Max Garland - GM ~~

Did You Know?

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Crucial Pennsylvania may be slipping away to Clinton. A loss there would leave Trump only a razor-thin pathway to winning the White House.


Dozens of police trainees are killed when gunmen attack the facility in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province.


The administration confirms that premiums will go up sharply next year for health insurance sold to millions of consumers through


Camps have been set up to accommodate 60,000 people, but some 200,000 could be displaced in the first weeks of the battle to drive the Islamic State group from the city.


Authorities hunt for a man suspected of going on a violent rampage in the Oklahoma City area while apparently taunting law enforcement via social media.


Pope Francis meets with President Nicolas Maduro as the Vatican takes a more active role trying to defuse the tense standoff in the South American nation.


Lexus, Toyota and Buick are the most reliable brands in Consumer Reports’ latest survey, a reward for their conservative approach to new technology.


In the U.S., cancer deaths tied to smoking are highest among men in Southern states where smoking is more common and rules against it are less strict.


A jury acquits a man of stalking TV star Kendall Jenner but convicts him of trespassing at her secluded Hollywood Hills home.


The Cleveland Indians’ last title was in 1948. The Chicago Cubs are trying to win for the first time since 1908.

In West Virginia….

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►   Tomblin believes next governor will have to raise taxes

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says West Virginia’s next governor will have to raise taxes.

“My opinion is there is not enough money unless a governor wants to come in and cut complete departments or complete programs out,” Tomblin said during a recent appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The state’s budget woes of recent years have been well-documented with the significant downturn in coal and the glut of natural gas creating record-low prices. Tomblin has responded with spending and hiring freezes along with $400 million in budget cuts in recent years. The next move, which will made by the next governor and legislature, will have to look for new revenue sources, according to Tomblin.

“It’s going to be hard to make it without some additional revenues (tax increases). There’s nothing that absolutely stops a legislature from down the road, two years or three years, from lowering those taxes,” Tomblin said.

Tomblin proposed a telecommunications tax in this year’s State of the State Address. The six percent tax would have brought in $60 million annually but it never got a serious look from legislative leaders. Tomblin’s also talked about an increase in the sales tax. The increase in the tobacco tax was the only tax increase to pass earlier this year.

The leading candidates for governor, Democrat Jim Justice and Republican, state Senate president, Bill Cole, have had to answer the budget question on the campaign trail. Justice has ruled out tax increases and further budget cuts, predicting during the last debate a coal comeback will help in the early days of his administration. Cole hasn’t ruled out any options for balancing the budget.

Tomblin, who has endorsed Justice, said last week it might be possible for the fortunes of natural gas and coal to turn but it won’t be an immediate revenue increase for the state.

“It’s going to be hard to make it up that quickly. I just think you can continue to cut but I think the amount of money that’s needed to satisfy the state’s obligations cannot be met by simply making cuts,” Tomblin said, adding the legislature found out earlier this year that further cuts will be difficult.

“People may talk around and say it’s easy but if you look back at this past legislative session, the extended session, it was much harder for the legislature to make those cuts than they originally intended,” Tomblin said.

►   Sustainable Travel Pilot Project Nearing Completion

A pilot project for a new program called Sustainable Travel West Virginia is nearing completion and has received good feedback so far. The free, voluntary program, which is a joint effort of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Tourism, allows tourism-related facilities that have made a commitment to environmental stewardship and community support to benchmark those practices against industry standards. Those facilities can then promote those practices to the public through their membership in Sustainable Travel West Virginia.

“We see Sustainable Travel West Virginia as a valuable tool not only in the protection and preservation of our environment, but also in helping members of the public make smart choices about the facilities they use and visit,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman.

“And the benefits don’t end there,” added Tourism Commissioner Amy Goodwin. “Sustainable Travel West Virginia will also help tourism-related organizations better evaluate and improve energy and cost savings efforts, promote those efforts and hopefully see an increase in business from consumers who appreciate those efforts.”

Members of this voluntary program would enter data such as energy and water use, amount of recycling conducted versus waste generated, use of energy efficient appliances and windows, and use of locally produced materials into a third-party database called enviroIndex™ to get a full rating report. Upon acceptance into the program, they’ll receive logos that can be used to market their “green” status, will have their business included in an online map application that will allow members of the public to search for sustainable travel and tourism destinations, and will receive promotional assistance from DEP and Tourism.

The feedback received during the pilot, which runs through the end of the month, will be used to gauge interest in the program and enhance it – with a goal to initiate a full-scale launch in 2017. Even though there are only a few days left in the pilot, tourism and travel industry businesses are still encouraged to register, use the ratings tool and provide feedback.

Companies interested in signing up for the pilot can email to request assistance. Information about the program can also be found on the DEP website HERE.

►   Work of Appalachia Artists Showcased at WVU

Two public events at West Virginia University this week will examine the work of artists from Appalachia.

Self-taught artist Minnie Adkins and writer-musician Mike Norris, both of eastern Kentucky, are visiting during the events. Work by Adkins is on display in an exhibition in the Art Museum of WVU, and Norris and Adkins have written several children’s books together.

On Tuesday, the documentary “O Appalachia: Art and Lives of Appalachian Self-Taught Artists” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. The film was produced by the museum in 2015 and aired on West Virginia Public Television in August.

The second even will be at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, with Adkins and Norris talking about how they create their children’s books. Adkins will also offer some woodcarving demonstrations.

►   1,500 students to attend ‘GEAR UP’ student leadership academy in Charleston

When: Wednesday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

What: A leadership academy to inform students of college options and empower them to take charge of their futures.

West Virginia GEAR UP will host a leadership academy featuring a presentation from Josh Shipp, a nationally renowned youth leadership coach. Additionally, college mascots from across West Virginia will present dance routines incorporating college information during a “Mascot Mania” dance-off contest.


10 AM: Opening remarks featuring Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System

10:20 AM: Mascot Mania competition featuring mascots from colleges across W.Va.

10:40 AM: Leadership presentation from nationally renowned speaker, Josh Shipp

11:45 AM: Student presentations

12:05 PM: Scholarship awards ceremony

12:20 PM: Closing remarks

Who: More than 1,500 ninth grade students participating in the West Virginia GEAR UP program.

West Virginia GEAR UP is a federally funded college readiness project coordinated by the Higher Education Policy Commission. The project serves students in ten counties: Boone, Fayette, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wirt, and Wyoming.

Where: The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Maier Foundation Performance Hall, Charleston, W.Va.

►   Barbour Commissioner hopeful voters will adopt ‘vital’ levy

Barbour County Commissioner Phil Hart said the county’s upcoming Emergency Preparedness Levy should be a ‘no brainer,’ but that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

“To me it’s a no brainer,” he said. “I’d be willing to pay 25 cents a day to know that I’ve got equipment with people highly trained to meet my needs if service is needed.”

In his time as a Commissioner, Hart has seen at least one fire levy overwhelmingly defeated. But he thinks voters could make a different choice this time around.

“The amount of increase on the taxes people will see is going to be pennies a day,” Hart said. “Pennies is going to equal preparedness.”

The levy will raise an estimated total of $547,702 for ten community centers, two EMS units, and three volunteer fire departments

“We want to ask them to come out and support that for the community,” Hart said. “Emergency services is saving the life of the life of their loved one or them in a time of a medical emergency or a fire or a natural disaster. Is it worth a few pennies a day? That’s the decision they’ll have to make when they go to the ballot box.”

The additional levy per $100 of assessed valuation shall be on Class I property 2.5 cents, Class II property five cents, and 10 cents on Class III or IV property.

The Barbour County Commission traditionally reserves money for the first responders, but have been trying to stay ahead of declining revenues.

“Our coal severance taxes went down–decreased tremendously over the last five years,” Hart said. “But at the same time, our regional jail bill for the county continues to increase. And that there is due to the drug activity in Barbour County.”

The ten community centers receiving money–approximately $15,000 each–are in Brushy Fork, Arden, Talbott, Union, Junior, Mt. Liberty, Tacy, Nestorville, Century, and Galloway.

Hart said that money will help maintain those centers and bring in back-up generators so that residents have a place to regroup during a serious weather event or natural disaster.

“In time of a natural emergency, people could go to their community center to get warm, have a warm meal,” Phil Hart said. “In the summer time, cool down. Charge your cell phone or medical equipment that would be needed.”

“Plus that would serve the county as a contact point for the communities to go out and allow the emergency squads and fire departments to have up to date equipment to provide a vital service to the citizens of Barbour County,” he said.

The levy provides a total of $130,000 for Belington Emergency Squad and Barbour County Emergency Squad and $267,702 for the volunteer fire departments in Junior, Belington, and Philippi.

Hart said for those units, equipment upgrades are the biggest needs.

According to Hart, none of the money goes to salaries for any full-time employees.

The levy would cover fiscal years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

►   Elkview Free Clinic Treats Hundreds of Patients

Hundreds of people were treated over the weekend at a free health clinic in Elkview.

Organizers of the clinic, which was held Saturday and Sunday at Elkview Middle School, say around 600 patients, some as far away as Virginia and Tennessee, were served.

West Virginia Health Right, a Charleston-based free and charitable clinic, and Remove Area Medical, a nonprofit group based in Rockford, Tennessee, partnered to provide free dental, vision and medical care to anyone who needed it, including flood victims.

Health Right CEO Angie Settle says overall there were about 300 volunteers during the clinic, including dentists, eye doctors and physicians. She says they could have used more volunteer dentists and eye doctors.

She’s planning for the clinic to be an annual event.

►   Four Counties Awarded Drug Incinerators

Four West Virginia counties will receive drug incinerators to destroy old and unwanted prescription drugs.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office announced that the devices will go to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the Huntington Police Department, the Star City Police Department and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.

Morrisey’s office says the incinerators will help law enforcement officers dispose of the drugs turned into their offices.

The four departments also agreed to accept and destroy pills from other law enforcement agencies in their region.

The incinerators are an extension of a program that has put drug drop boxes throughout the state.

Race in America? What Is That?

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As an undergraduate at Brown University in the 1970s, William Darity, Jr. expected to learn the reasons behind the inequality he’d seen all around him growing up in the Middle East and North Carolina. He realized pretty quickly that economists were not going to be much help.

Darity, the son of North Carolinians, spent his first eight years in Lebanon and Egypt while his father worked for the World Health Organization, then lived until the age of 12 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. During the Jim Crow era, he visited his grandmother in a town where a railroad track divided the city into black and white sections, marking two separate economic worlds.

At Brown, Darity was disappointed by how his teachers explained why some people reap the benefits in a society and some don’t. Most taught that some individuals and groups grew more prosperous than others because of differences in education — what economists refer to as “human capital.” Labor economists tended to say that educational differences meant that some people were more productive than others, which explained why some flourished and others languished in the long run. They believed that competitive markets would ensure that everybody ended up earning according to what they produced. Those with higher earnings were able to save more, and so they accumulated more wealth over the course of their lifetime.

Darity wondered, then, why disparities persist, even when markets are competitive. Black Americans, for example, are paid less than their white counterparts at every level of education.

Motivated by what he describes as youthful hubris, Darity got a Ph.D. in economics and set out to change the way economists deal with these issues. Today he is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. With a group of colleagues that include Darrick Hamilton and James Stewart, he has developed a framework for understanding the inequality problem, which he calls “stratification economics.” The new approach—interdisciplinary and integrating economics with psychology and sociology—expands the boundaries of how economists analyze intergroup differences.

“The traditional approach says that educational attainment is a consequence of parental investment,” says Darity, “but it doesn’t explain how parents can feasibly make those investments.” The explanation he puts forth is a blow to the long-cherished view of America as a land of equal opportunity, where it’s not supposed to matter who your parents and grandparents are or how much money they have.

But that, says Darity, is the key. In his view, the capacity of parents and grandparents to invest in their children is contingent on their wealth position.

“Parental wealth and the provision of inheritances as well as gifts over the parents’ lifetime can support the young person and give them a foundation for their own basis for wealth later,” he explains. “The greater the wealth position of your parents, the greater the degree of economic security that you experience during your childhood, so that you’re more likely to have better levels of health and a better sense of confidence about your ability to be successful in a society.”

The real driver of inequality, then, is not an individual’s level of education and productivity, but the resources that parents and grandparents are able to transmit.

“This has strong implications if we’re looking at racial and ethnic differences in the accumulation of wealth,” Darity observes. “This can be tied to — especially if we’re thinking about black/white differences — the long-term consequences of enslavement; the Jim Crow period; and social policies that created wealth for whites but didn’t do so for blacks, like the GI Bill and the subsidization of the purchases of homes with public funds which is disproportionately made available to whites.” (Black veterans had limited choices of colleges and often could not take advantage of the GI housing provisions.)

Many social scientists have sought cultural explanations for racial disparities, rather than the structure of stratification Darity proposes. For example, sociologist and former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Labor Secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson, argued in his influential 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action,” that the high rate of families headed by single mothers was in large part to blame for economic inequality. Darity notes that this line of thinking has very deep roots.

“If you go back to W. E. B. Du Bois’ study, The Philadelphia Negro, it kind of runs along two paths. One path is focused on the impact of discrimination on people’s earnings and their occupational status, but another path concerns issues surrounding family structure and the like that fall directly into the path of the dysfunctionality kinds of arguments.”

The cultural explanation is appealing to policymakers because it excuses them from the challenge of remedying inherited stratification through large-scale reforms.

“There’s actually something convenient about those arguments in the sense that if you took them seriously, it would mean that blacks were fully capable of engaging in the self-correction to improve their situation, so there would not necessarily be any need to rely upon social policy that would require the political support of whites,” says Darity.

But he believes that this ‘self-correction’ logic applies only in exceptional cases.

“Obviously there are always going to be individuals who are outliers, who accomplish great things with minimal resources. But if we’re thinking about patterns at the average, then I think one of the most dramatic statistics that we’ve discovered in the work that we’ve been doing is that blacks with a college education, that is, blacks who have a college degree, have two-thirds of the net worth of whites who never finished high school. That’s a stark sense in which somebody has taken personal responsibility, has been motivated, has achieved, but there’s not the same payoff.”

Some hoped that the Obama presidency might herald a new era of economic equality, but those dreams have yet to be fulfilled. Darity notes that Obama’s speeches emphasize ending a culture of victimization and the taking of personal responsibility. “That kind of message is not very different from the position that would be taken by the researchers at the Manhattan Institute [a conservative think tank],” he says. “Essentially what he’s done is to embrace a set of arguments that attribute racial disparities primarily to dysfunctionality in the black community.”

Darity is unimpressed.

“If you buy the black dysfunction story, then the key is for young black men to pull up their pants or the equivalent,” he says. “But that’s a very different policy from saying, well, we should assure all Americans a human right to work. Or even if we don’t talk about an employment guarantee, then at least the basic income guarantee.”

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“If we’re concerned about black-white disparities specifically and we want to have a race-specific policy, then I think we have to start talking about a program of reparations [for slavery].” (Darity and his wife, Kirsten Mullen, are currently completing a book that details how a reparations program might be executed, due to hit the shelves by mid-2017.)

“If we are not willing to pursue race-specific policies,” Darity argues, “then we need universal programs that are race-conscious in the sense that they will disproportionately benefit the most disadvantaged groups even though they are programs that everyone is eligible for.” One such program would be a federal job guarantee.

Darity has also worked with economist Darrick Hamilton to devise a wealth redistribution program through “Baby Bonds,” which would help put Americans on more equal footing without confiscating any existing wealth.

“That’s essentially the provision of a trust fund to each newborn infant, but while it’s universal it’s not uniform. The amount would be contingent upon the wealth position of the child’s family. We think in terms of a $50 endowment for a child of somebody like Bill Gates, but a $50,000-$60,000 endowment for children whose families are in the lowest quintile of the wealth distribution.”

And because racial disparity in income, wealth and employment is so deeply embedded in the structure of U.S. society, he says remedying it will require truly transformative policies.

Asked if there have been improvements in the way academic economics tackle issues of inequality since his student days in the 1970s, Darity does not have particularly good news:

“Actually, I think it’s shifted even further to the right so that alternative approaches are even more marginalized now,” he says. “The ideological content of economics is masked somewhat by the high degree of technical requirements. So in some respects I think economics is even less open than it was when I was first exposed to the field.”

Darity has seen positive signs in the work of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the efforts of economist Joseph Stiglitz, and the Roosevelt Institute, which recently put out a report drawing heavily upon stratification economics as a frame for analysis. He hopes to get a paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives on stratification economics that would expose a larger audience of economists to the ideas.

His work suggests that until economists deal with the reality of the structural dimension of inequality, racial disparities will not only be a stain on American society, but will continue to limit America’s broader economic prosperity.

Lynn Parramore - Cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.“ She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU

In USA….

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►   10 Best Cities for Vegetarians

It’s getting easier for vegetarians to eat out these days, but some cities are better than others. Datafiniti has rounded up the 10 US cities with the most vegetarian restaurants per 100,000 people. The winners:

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Santa Fe is king when it comes to vegetarian restaurants

  1. Santa Fe, NM (29.6 per 100,00 residents)
  2. Eugene, Ore. (16.5)
  3. Ithaca, NY (16.2)
  4. Grants Pass, Ore. (13)
  5. (tie) Bend, Ore. (12.6)
  6. (tie) Corvalis, Ore. (12.6)
  7. Flagstaff, Ariz. (12.2)
  8. Ann Arbor, Mich. (11.1)
  9. Boulder, Colo. (10.6)
  10. Champaign, Ill. (10.5)

Click for the FULL RANKINGS, including a separate one for vegan restaurants that also has Santa Fe on top.

►   Emmett Till Memorial Sign Riddled With Bullets

A bullet-riddled sign marking the spot where the tortured and mutilated body of 14-year-old Emmett Till was found in Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River 61 years ago will be replaced thanks to the generosity of donors. An Emmett Till Interpretive Center fundraising challenge surpassed its $15,000 goal Sunday evening, the New York Daily News reports. Till, a black teenager from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when he was murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman. Earlier this month, filmmaker Kevin Wilson Jr. shared a photo of the sign, which had dozens of bullet holes.

“This child died in 1955 and people still have so much hatred,“ state Rep. Robert E. Huddleston tells ABC. “Why do they feel the need to keep on killing him again and again?“ He says the sign has been vandalized before, and the original version of is believed to have been dumped in the river by vandals. Till’s brutal murder—and the acquittal of his killers by an all-white jury—helped galvanize the civil rights movement. The fundraising page, which has now raised more than $18,000, is still open at the Till center, which has thanked supporters and said it plans to continue its work of telling the truth.

►   Police Break Woman’s Windows to Rescue Kid Who Doesn’t Exist

Police in Suffolk, Virginia, have a little egg on their face, Newsnet5 reports, after they broke into a woman’s car on a hot day intending to save a trapped child, and instead found nothing but a wig. Jasmine Turner, the owner of the car, says she was surprised when police called her concerned about the welfare of a child locked inside her car on Thursday. Turner told local news station WAVY: “I don’t have a baby so I’m like, ‘Where’d the child come from? Who put the child in my car?‘“ Police broke the window anyway, but discovered what had appeared to be a child to the concerned bystander who called 911 was actually no more than a wig and some blankets.

Perhaps due to embarrassment, or perhaps due to more pressing business elsewhere, the responding officers reportedly left the scene before Turner returned to her car. Turner claims police told her they wouldn’t pay for her repairs, which she estimates will cost several hundred dollars. In a classic case of he-said-she-said, the local police department says authorities referred her to the city’s risk management division to file a claim for reimbursement. Either way, for now, Turner says she’s afraid to drive the car. “I really can’t take my car anywhere around Suffolk. Anywhere actually,“ she says.

►   Coming Soon: Girl Scout Cookie Cereal

For those whose annual supply of Girl Scout cookies dwindles too quickly: Here comes ... Girl Scout cookie cereal? Yes, it’s true. The organization has teamed with General Mills and plans to have two flavors on shelves in January, reports BuzzFeed. One will be Thin Mints, of course, and the other Caramel Crunch. You can see images of the boxes here and here via the Instagram account of candyhunting, which first got wind of the news. Both boxes say “limited edition,“ and it’s not clear whether it’s a one-time test or a more permanent arrangement.

►   Brittany Maynard’s Mother Speaks Out in Heartbreaking Interview

When 29-year-old Brittany Maynard took her own life in a physician-assisted suicide on November 01, 2014, it brought an end to her part in a long national debate about the right of terminally ill patients to choose the terms of their own death. Now, Maynard’s mother is continuing her daughter’s quest for right-to-die (or “death with dignity”) legislation, with a new book about her daughter’s life and death, Wild and Precious Life. In a new Yahoo News interview with Katie Couric, Deborah Ziegler explains how difficult it was for her to watch her daughter suffer and slowly deteriorate from a deadly brain tumor. Maynard’s health became so bad, she chose to move to Oregon, one of the few states that allows terminally ill patients to end their own lives.

But Maynard’s widower, Dan Diaz, is upset about his mother-in-law’s book, Cosmopolitan reports. In a post shared on Facebook, Diaz claims that Maynard told him, “No one else can tell my story Dan, except for you.“ He has slammed the book as inaccurate and colored by Deborah’s personal concerns. Diaz says Brittany did not want her mother to write a book, and that she told him as much. He is working to share Brittany’s story in a film, a medium he believes is more suited to the story.

►   NC Judge Tried to Bribe Deputy With Bud Light

Wayne County Judge Arnold O. Jones II is going to jail for trying to spy on his wife’s text messages, the Raleigh News and Observer writes. When he suspected his wife was having an affair, instead of snooping through her phone himself, Jones thought it would be a good idea to ask a friend in the sheriff’s office if copies of text messages between his wife and another man could be obtained through police channels—which is illegal without a warrant and suspicion of criminal activity. In exchange for the warrantless surveillance, Jones offered his “friend” two cases of Bud Light. Perhaps offended by the low-quality beer on offer, the deputy reported the judge for corruption.

The jury deliberated for only 33 minutes before finding Jones guilty, Fox News reports. Jones was convicted on three felony charges. He will face sentencing on January 23. His defense plans to appeal the verdict. Jones’ defense team argues that he was never informed his request was illegal, but his long career as a judge—including time as the chairman of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission—would seem to make it unlikely their appeal will be successful. Also working against Jones: He ended up paying $100 cash for the information instead of beer.

►   Man Had Wife’s Family Killed to Lure Her to Funeral—and Her Own Death

It sounds more the stuff of a soap opera than reality, but as an El Paso, Texas, courtroom has heard, it was very much the stuff of real life—and death. Samuel Velasco was last Monday convicted on three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country: The first murder was that of Velasco’s father-in-law, Francisco Maria Sagredo Villareal, who was murdered in his house in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on October 3, 2008. His daughter Cinthia Sagredo Escobedo was murdered in the same city on November 20. Two days later, Ruth Sagredo Escobedo—daughter of Francisco and sister of Cinthia—was murdered while in her sister’s funeral procession, reports KDBC. Prosecutors say Velasco arranged to have his wife’s relatives killed in order to lure her across the border and to her own death.

Ruth Sagredo didn’t attend her father’s funeral, per court documents cited by the Washington Post, so her sister was next killed. As for why Velasco wanted Sagredo dead: He was staring at a possible 99-year sentence in connection with a 2005 sex-assault case involving a child. Vice News reports Sagredo was the only witness the prosecution intended to call, as the victim confided in her (the Post specifies the victim was Velasco’s 4-year-old stepdaughter). Sagredo had married Velasco in February 2004 but filed for divorce 11 months later, with her stated date of separation as the date the alleged molestation occurred. Sagredo’s first husband testified that she was “was very adamant” that Velasco should “pay for what he did.“ The sex-assault case was dismissed in 2009; Velasco now faces mandatory life in federal prison at his January 25 sentencing, per an ICE press release.

►   Woman in Town for Relative’s Funeral Killed in Flurry of Bullets

An already sad occasion was rendered devastating early Saturday in Gastonia, NC, when a South Carolina woman in town for her sister-in-law’s funeral was killed by gunfire that bombarded the home she was visiting, the Charlotte Observer reports. Jacobia English Lane had joined a gathering of friends and family members AP, and WSOC say up to 30 had congregated; the Gaston Gazette says 17) on the eve of the funeral for her sister-in-law, who had died after a long battle with cancer, when about 30 bullets from what a local detective confirmed was a high-powered rifle flew through the air outside and struck her brother’s home at around 12:30am; one bullet hit the 37-year-old Lane in the back of the head as she sat on a couch inside, family spokesman Christopher Dennis says.

Dennis—who calls the occurrence a “senseless, unprovoked act of violence,“ per the Observer—says a bullet also pierced a pillow on a bed where Lane’s husband was sleeping, though he wasn’t injured. Lane’s 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter witnessed her death. Cops say a teen in the home was also hit in the arm with a bullet but will be fine. “My sister and my wife were best friends,“ Tim English, Lane’s brother and the deceased woman’s widower, tells the Gazette, noting how Lane would often make the two-hour drive to visit his wife during her illness. “We were all just ... remembering the good times we had with my wife.“ Police are asking for the public’s help in Identifying the shooter. “I think they’re going to turn themselves in because of their conscience,“ English says. “But if anybody has anything, please come forward.“

►   Ricciardo gives Butler the boot

Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo laughingly handed Scottish film star Gerard Butler a sweaty boot filled with Red Bull on the U.S. Grand Prix podium on Sunday and demanded he drink.

With a global live audience of millions watching, and tens of thousands at the track, the actor swallowed his pride and also the contents.

“I hear Mr Butler does not drink alcohol, I respect that completely,“ the Australian, who finished third for the Red Bull team, told the crowd as Butler approached to conduct the podium interviews.

“But I believe he’s going to drink some Red Bull out of my shoe right now. The race wasn’t that exciting but hopefully now…“

Ricciardo, a race winner in Malaysia this month, has made a habit of quaffing the podium champagne from his race boot—dubbing the gesture a ‘Shoey’—when he finishes in the top three.

He said last month that he had been introduced to the quirky celebration by Australian fishermen and surfers and has enticed rival drivers to join him in the dubious ritual.

“If the sparkling wine is cold, then it tastes good. Normally on the podium, it’s cold so you don’t get all the flavors but if it’s warm, then you get the sweat and all that through it ... but the cold taste kills the bad stuff,“ he had said in Singapore.

Ricciardo said then that he would probably limit the celebration to victories only, but he said nothing about extending the ‘treat’ to others.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg were spared on Sunday, however, with Butler the target instead.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I hate you,“ said the Scot, who played the role of King Leonidas in the 2009 movie ‘300’ set in ancient Sparta, before raising the boot to his lips.

“Fortunately I could taste mostly the Red Bull,“ he told Hamilton when asked about the flavor.

He later sounded as if he might have actually enjoyed the experience: “Too much fun at the F1 U.S. Grand Prix, especially being given the boot by @danielricciardo,“ he said on Twitter.

►   California woman carrying human skull on stick prompts investigation

A woman in Sacramento, California who this week carried a human skull on a stick through the streets has prompted an investigation into the identity of the deceased and the cause of death, police said on Friday.

Sacramento Police Department officers on Wednesday responded to the 2900 block of Connie Drive after receiving reports of a woman walking down the street with the skull.

When stopped by police, the woman led them to a nearby abandoned homeless camp where she found the skull. Police soon discovered a decomposed body in the vacant lot, they said.

“Detectives have not released the name of the woman who was in possession of the skull and she has not been charged with anything at this time,“ the police department said in a statement.

“Foul play has not been determined, therefore we are awaiting the Sacramento County Coroner’s report for further information.“ 

The coroner’s report is expected to be released next week.

In The World….

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►   How Escape From N. Korea Leads to Online Sex Work in China

“Why are our lives so different, just because of where we are born?“ That’s the question posed to the Washington Post by Suh, a 30-year-old North Korean woman now being held in a Bangkok detention center after being busted by local cops while trying to cross from Laos to Thailand. And this is only her most recent travail: Suh and two other women interviewed by the Post were trying to flee their lives as sex “video chatters” in China, an online profession many women are sucked into after first escaping North Korea—either by willingly getting sold to Chinese men to get out of their home country, or after being tricked into thinking they were being hired for jobs in China, only to end up as human trafficking victims. Purchasing North Korean women is big business in China for men who can’t find wives any other way: The asking price for women between 15 and 25 can near $12,000.

Life in China is impoverished and dangerous for these North Korean nationals: They can be deported back to their home country if they’re caught, per Radio Free Asia. North Korean women trying to survive there often fall into the online “video chatting” business, allowing them to bring in some extra cash from the safety of their own homes. But it’s a demeaning, demoralizing trade. “I felt so disgusting,“ Suh says. And it’s what led Suh (who brought her 18-month-old daughter with her, but had to leave her 5-year-old daughter behind) and the two other women to try to escape once more—this time to Laos, then to Thailand, where they wouldn’t have been able to be repatriated back to North Korea. The two women being detained with Suh want to eventually make it to South Korea, but Suh is applying for asylum instead in “the strongest country on Earth”: the United States. (Their sad story HERE .)

►   Solved: Missing Head of Baby Jesus Is Back

The caper of the missing baby Jesus head has been solved. A woman who snatched the head from the statue in a churchyard in Canada returned it after the story became international news, CBC reports. That happened after a local artist sculpted a new noggin in red terra cotta with lizard-like eyes and spiky hair a la Maggie Simpson—and drew global scorn for her trouble. The head of baby Jesus, cradled in the arms of a sedate Virgin Mary, has been a frequent target of vandals at Sainte-Anne-des-Pins Catholic Church in Sudbury, Ontario. After the latest theft, the pastor said he would forgo ordering a replacement that could cost as much as $10,000.

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The head of baby Jesus has been returned to its place in an Ontario churchyard.

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A replacement head for baby Jesus drew international scorn on social media.

That’s when local artist Heather Wise stepped in, crafting a “temporary replacement” that one Tweeter user likened to ET and another to a “demonic hedgehog.“ After reading about the dust-up, a local woman said to be suffering from personal problems returned the head on Friday. “I almost cried,“ Rev. Gerard Lajeunesse told the Star. He said he doesn’t plan to press charges and is thankful baby Jesus is intact again. News of the happy ending drew applause at Sunday Mass.

►   End of the ‘Jungle’: Migrant Camp Coming Down in France

A camp that has come to symbolize Europe’s struggle to handle an ever-growing wave of migrants is being emptied and dismantled near Calais, France. Nicknamed the “Jungle,“ the camp has been home to somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 people, and a mass evacuation got started Monday, reports the AP. The migrants will be ushered through a processing center, then bused to temporary centers around France, where their pleas for asylum will be formally examined. At that point, they’ll either be shipped back to their country of origin or allowed to remain. Unaccompanied kids—about 1,300 are estimated to be at the camp—will be processed separately, and many are expected to be allowed into Britain under new rules, reports the Guardian.

As the New York Times reports, the migrants come from nations such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Sudan, and they flocked to the camp near Calais in the hope they could then sneak into Britain, perhaps by hitching a ride on a truck over the Channel Tunnel. Many think they have a better chance of finding work in the UK than elsewhere in Europe, notes the BBC. So far, the evacuation has remained largely peaceful, but tensions seemed to be rising, reports BuzzFeed. When all are out, authorities will destroy the camp.

►   Chile’s president forgets to sign name at voting booth, leaves behind ID

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet had a rocky go of voting in the nation’s local elections on Sunday, having to return to the polls twice after leaving her ID behind and forgetting to sign her name.

Bachelet, voting in the upper-middle class Santiago neighborhood of La Reina, first forgot to grab her national identification card from poll workers after casting her vote.

She retrieved the ID from the voting area and then walked outside to address journalists. However, Bachelet had to return to the booth again to sign a voter registry as required by law, after failing to do so in previous voting attempts.

“I missed you all very much,“ Bachelet joked to the poll workers.

Bachelet later told reporters the worker in charge of the poll where she voted became nervous and forgot to present her with the registry to sign. The poll worker in question gave the same account.

The episode proved amusing to local media with national newspaper La Tercera saying it was “as unusual, as it was embarrassing.“

In Chile’s local elections for mayors and councilors, the right is set to make gains against Bachelet’s center-left governing coalition, which could provide a boost for the right in next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

However, high abstention rates by Chileans disenchanted by a string of political corruption scandals in the South American nation have made exact predictions difficult.

►   Thailand vs Australia to go ahead, but no joy permitted

Australian football fans must tone down their dress and resist chanting or any “joyful activities” if they want to support the Socceroos at their World Cup qualifier with Thailand next month.

The Nov. 15 match will go ahead as originally planned, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said on Friday, but both the Australians and Thai hosts have asked fans to be mindful the host nation is mourning following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) had sought to move the match out of respect for the long-reigning monarch, who died earlier this month aged 88.

But FFA on Friday confirmed the 2018 World Cup qualifier would be played at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium as originally scheduled, and asked fans to respect local customs and a series of requests from the Thais.

The Australian body asked fans to respect a number of requests it said were from the Sports Authority of Thailand, including that clothing for spectators “shall be in polite manner with suggested colors such as white, black, gray and preferably with no designs on them”.

Banners, drums, trumpets, flags, megaphones, whistles and cheering sticks have been banned from the stadium, while FFA said the Sports Authority of Thailand had said fan chants would be strictly prohibited both inside and around the venue.

Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Gilmer County Elementary School

Walt Helmick, Commissioner of Agriculture, Gilmer County Elementary students, teachers, State Officials, and others gathered on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, to celebrate the groundbreaking for the school’s new high tunnel.

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(L-R) Gabe Devono, Superintendent, Ike and Sue Morris,
Aiden Isenhart,student representing Gilmer County Elementary School,
Walt Helmick, WV Agriculture Commissioner,
Nicole Viars, Assistant State Conservationist,
Jeff Griffith, NRCS, Jane Collins and Larry Sponaugle,
Conservation Supervisors for Gilmer County


The high tunnel has been ordered, Sue Morris has donated her construction team to put the high tunnel together, and the students are ready to learn how to grow vegetables and the nutritional benefits of eating their own grown food.

This has been a project of “total cooperation” from the community and everyone is excited about the benefits the students will receive from this project.

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This group picture will be framed and displayed in the school, thanks to Sue and Ike Morris

GSC Literary Magazine Open for Submissions

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The Trillium, Glenville State College’s literary and arts journal, is open for submissions for the 2017 issue.

All GSC students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members are invited to submit visual art, poetry, fiction, song lyrics, and other forms of creative expression.

Written submissions should be submitted electronically, as an attachment, to with contact information and a brief biographical statement about the author. Written works should be sent as Microsoft Word document attachments or as a RTF file.

Visual work can be sent in JPG, PNG, BMP, or GIF formats and should also include contact information, a brief description of the artwork, and a biographical statement about the artist.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, December 05, 2016.

For more information, contact , , or 304.462.6322.

Did You Know?

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Iraqi forces push toward the city from all sides, battling militants near the Islamic State stronghold in a belt of mostly uninhabited towns and villages.


Lines of refugees walk to a registration center in the French port city of Calais, the first day of the mass evacuation and destruction of the filthy camp.


With email dumps exposing the Clinton campaign, the WikiLeaks founder is waiting to see if total transparency can defeat an entrenched group of insiders.


A tour bus returning to Los Angeles from a casino trip slams into the back of a semi-truck slowing for a maintenance crew on a California highway, killing 13 and injuring 31.


In a bloody year of more than 3,000 shootings in the city, one bullet has transformed the life of Jonathan Annicks.


But the federal-state program for low-income people faces real consequences depending on who wins the White House in November.


Tom Hayden, whose name became linked with the celebrated Chicago 7 trial, Vietnam War protests and ex-wife actress Jane Fonda was 76.


Studies find that about a third of low-wage workers say they’ll never be able to afford to quit working.


Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Martin are among those who rib the comedian for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable.


Seattle’s Stephen Hauschka and Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro miss short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the NFC West rivals settle for a 6-6 tie.

In West Virginia….

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►   Couple charged after infant found with broken legs

A Braxton County couple is facing charges after police say their 1-month-old child suffered fractures to both of his legs.

West Virginia State Police said in a news release that 23-year-old Whitney King and 24-year-old Carey Coffman were arrested Thursday on two counts each of child neglect resulting in serious injury.

State police say the investigation began September 21 when the child was taken to the hospital with a fractured left leg.

Troopers say the injury was referred to as a “bucket handle” fracture which is commonly associated with abuse. Doctors also discovered the baby’s right leg had also been previously fractured and was healing.

Police say both parents were questioned and neither could explain how the injuries occurred.

It’s unclear if King and Coffman have attorneys.

►   Former schools credit union exec charged with embezzlement

The former director of a credit union for a West Virginia county’s school workers is facing charges of embezzling at least $156,300.

Former Ohio County Public Schools Federal Credit Union executive director Kathleen Gramlich was charged in a federal information Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling.

The court filing says Gramlich embezzled the money between June 2013 and March 2016 to pay off personal debts.

The credit union serves about 1,000 current, former and retired Ohio County public school workers and their families.

The U.S. attorney’s office in northern West Virginia says Gramlich faces up to 30 years in prison if she’s convicted.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II said the accounts of credit union members were never in jeopardy.

►   Tractor Trailer Carrying Several Cars Catches Fire on Interstate 79

Three fire departments responded to a truck fire on Interstate 79 Saturday night.

Harrison County 911 said it happened in the southbound lanes near mile marker 124, which is the Jerry Dove Drive exit, around 8:19 p.m.

The tractor trailer was carrying several vehicles, and was a working fire when firefighters arrived on scene.

Fire departments from Anmoore, Bridgeport, and Stonewood responded.

No injuries have been reported.

►   FSU president to retire when contract ends in 2017

The president of Fairmont State University announced Friday that she will retire once her contract ends next year.

In an email sent to all of the school’s faculty, Maria Rose, the school’s 14th president, wrote that she had notified the school’s governing board that she plans to retire on June 30. University spokeswoman Ann Mazza said that Rose is retiring to spend more time with her family.

“As you know, an injury this summer didn’t slow me down — much — and I intend on working a full schedule and engaging with you until midnight of my final day on the job,” Rose wrote.

At a special meeting at the end of October, the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission is expected to approve guidelines for Fairmont State and Glenville State College to search for new presidents. Glenville State’s President Peter Barr announced in August that he, too, would retire at the end of the academic year.

Once the guidelines are set, the search committee may begin looking for Rose’s replacement.

Rose said that the school’s board of governors will serve as a search committee to find her replacement. The board is scheduled to meet again at 3 p.m. on December 08.

Rose has a long history with the school. She is a graduate of the school, and prior to her appointment as president in 2012, she served as the school’s provost and vice president for academic affairs as well as being a faculty member.

In her time as a faculty member, Rose taught developmental writing, reading and study skills and coordinated a campus-wide peer tutoring program, according to a news release from the school.

“Through the years, each of us has contributed to the story of this great institution,” she wrote. “I am grateful for your hard work, dedication and commitment to our students. I am grateful for the relationships built and lives changed by this University, which has made a great impact on my life.”

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in education she received from Fairmont State, Rose earned a Master of Arts in reading and a doctoral degree in education curriculum and instruction from West Virginia University.

“You know that like many of our students, I was the first in my family to attend college. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and was glad to teach in public schools for 10 years,” Rose wrote to the faculty. “As I have told you before, there was never a doubt in my mind or in my parents’ minds that I would go to college, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would someday be a university president.

“That is the power of a higher education degree. Education can create opportunities you never dared to imagine.”

►   State of emergency ends in WV

Four months after Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency hours after the June 23rd flood, the emergency is over.  The state of emergency expired Friday in Kanawha, Clay, Greenbrier, Webster, and Nicholas Counties.  However, despite the State of Emergency ending, the recovery isn’t over.

“It’s been a significant situation for the individuals affected,” said Kanawha County Manager Jennifer Sayre. “It’s certainly been a serious situation for them to deal with and continue to deal with.”

Although the flood waters are long gone, the damage is still very evident in many communities.  Sayre and her counterparts in the other flood zone counties continue to work with victims on a number of long term recovery programs.  The Private Property Debris Removal program is still being administered.  The National Guard is working on the program to remove debris from private property after an assessment funded through FEMA.  Officials are continuing to look for grants to help with public infrastructure restoration.  Long term hazard mitigation funds are also available from FEMA on a separate program to either buyout and demolish flooded properties or retrofit them to survive the next flood.

“Even if the governor stands down the State of Emergency, we’re still in the area and still helping the community with the recovery effort,” Sayre said. “It’s going to be a long process.  Some of them are working as they can on their homes and some don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to rebuilding their homes so they’re doing it in the evenings and on weekends.  It could take months.”

Winter is coming on quickly and many are still working to rebuild after the disaster.  Sayre said from what she can tell in Kanawha County all flood victims displaced by the high water have at least found temporary shelter with family or in an apartment or temporary trailer provided by FEMA.

The governor’s State of Emergency cleared away red tape to allow state agencies to respond rapidly to evolving situations after the flood.  The recovery has reached the point it’s no longer necessary, but by no means is the recovery over especially for those who lost everything.

“It won’t be over quickly,” Sayre said. “The county commission and our offices will continue to help those affected by this flood and do anything we can to help the community.”

►   WV State police charge school janitor with sexual assault

A Kentucky high school janitor from West Virginia is facing sexual assault charges.

West Virginia State Police arrested Jerry Swafford, 60, of Mingo, Wednesday for allegedly touching a teenage student inappropriately. He’s the janitor at Belfry High School in Kentucky.

Troopers said they found the student passed out on Swafford’s bed following a house party. Swafford is also accused of providing teens at the party with alcohol.

According to WVSP, Swafford admitted to touching the student.

He was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and is being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail.

►   Tomblin says last overseas mission worth it

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said Thursday he’s been on the go since his investment mission to the United Kingdom and Ireland began last weekend.

Tomblin took time enough out from that schedule for an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We’re trying to get us more jobs in West Virginia and hoping to get additional investment from those in West Virginia,” said Tomblin, who is scheduled to return to the U.S. on Saturday.

Tomblin, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and others were in Dublin, Ireland Thursday. The investment trip comes at a time when Tomblin has less than 90 days left in his final term in office and the state budget has an $81 million revenue shortfall after the first three months of the fiscal year. Despite that, Tomblin said the trip is cost-effective.

“You can’t just sit back and wait for people to come to West Virginia,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what a good place we are to do business.”

Existing businesses from the area already in West Virginia include Williams Lea Tag, which Tomblin described as a back office business with more than 500 workers in Wheeling. Tomblin also met with officials from Randox Laboratories, which has a location in Jefferson County and is looking to expand. He had similar discussions with Christopher Peacock Cabinets which has an operation in Wardensville.

The governor indicated he’ll have some news from those meetings before he leaves office.

“It looks very positive and we probably should have some announcements in the next few weeks,” Tomblin said.

The time spent in London included meetings with officials associated with the plastics industry who are aware of West Virginia’s natural gas reserves, the governor said.

“They are very interested—both the plastics and chemical industries,” he said.

Tomblin has been on five international missions including previous trips to Japan, other areas of Europe and Brazil.

►   Kanawha County Commission Joins WV Paving Lawsuit

The Kanawha County Commission is joining the city of Charleston, the state of West Virginia and three other cities in the state in suing West Virginia Paving over an alleged monopoly.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to join the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

The complaint alleges that West Virginia Paving Inc. and its sister companies violated the state’s Antitrust Act. The companies took control of at least 15 asphalt plants and created a scheme that caused the municipalities to pay at least 40 percent more for asphalt, according to the lawsuit.

WV Paving, in a news release, said “there is no factual or legal basis for the lawsuit.“

Kanawha County has spent more than $822,000 on paving projects from WV Paving since 2007, said Deputy County Manager Andrew Gunnoe. More than $600,000 of that amount was part of a project to build a new bridge in Coonskin Park.

“I understand a lot of our paving is subsidized by state and federal funds; that’s not the point,“ commission President Kent Carper said. “It’s public funds. My observation is this: If their allegations are true — they had two companies competing with one another after they signed an agreement or a representation that they were independent — there’s a word for that.“

Carper said he plans to ask other county agencies whether they plan to join the lawsuit.

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