Friday, March 14, 2014

New Orleans Saints to train at the Greenbrier Resort

WV Metro News is reporting that the NFL's New Orleans Saints will hold part of their preseason camp at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.  According to Jim Justice, the owner of the Greenbrier, the arrangement with the Saints will run through 2016.   The resort will build three practice fields and a 55,000 square foot multi-use building for the Saints.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rumor: Major announcement forthcoming from Greenbrier Resort

A Metro News article is reporting that a "variety of sources" are saying the Greenbrier Resort will soon make a major announcement concerning the relocation of an existing facility to the Greenbrier. "Speculation centers on a couple of possibilities: a professional athletic training facility, an NFL team training camp or another golf tournament" according to the report.

During its recently completed session, the W.Va. Legislature approved two tax credit programs that will benefit the Greenbrier and other travel and tourism businesses in the state. A Register Herald article indicates that the Greenbrier resort could receive up to $25 million in tax breaks over 10 years for a new resort-style medical facility.

Monday, March 10, 2014

W.Va. governor asks Feds to study health effects of chemical spill

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) is asking federal authorities to do further study on the possible health effects caused by the chemical spill that occurred near Charleston, West Virginia, according to a report by CNN.

On January 9th, 10,000 gallons of the chemical MCHM spilled from the storage facility Freedom Industries into the Elk River, just upstream of the West Virginia American Water Company’s water treatment plan at Charleston, WV. The leak contaminated water for 300,000 residents in nine counties.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Group hopes to reintroduce elk to W.Va.

WV Metro News is reporting that a group of West Virginians that recently gathered at Chief Logan State Park are hoping to reintroduce elk to the state. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged its support to the project and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) is also supportive of the idea, "provided the elk are put in a place where the public will have long standing or permanent access to them."

A elk feasibility study, conducted in 2002, identified two areas of the state that would make suitable habitats for the elk, according to a Gazette Mail article from June of this year.

It's official: ’Country Roads’ is a state song

On Friday, the West Virginia Legislature approved a resolution making the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" a state song according to an article published by Herald Mail Media. The song, made popular by John Denver in the 1970s, joins three other songs which have been so designated by the Legislature, giving the Mountain State a total of four (count 'em, four) state songs.

Video: Country Roads, by John Denver

Thursday, March 06, 2014

W.Va. House passes "Chemical Spill" bill

Water Crisis
WSAZ 3 News Channel is reporting that the so-called "chemical spill" bill, more formally known as the Water Protection Act, has been passed, in a 95-0 vote, by the West Virginia House of Delegates. The W.Va. House and Senate will need to work out a compromised by the end of the session, which occurs this Saturday.

This year's legislative session began on Jan. 8th.  The next day 10,000 gallons of the chemical MCHM spilled from the storage facility Freedom Industries into the Elk River, just upstream of the West Virginia American Water Company’s water treatment plan. The leak contaminated water for 300,000 residents in nine counties.

Click "read more" for the rest of the story...

Legislative committee removes key provisions in "Meth Bill"

Crystal Meth Rock
Yesterday, a Metro News article reported that the House Judiciary Committee removed the requirement for prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine from Senate Bill No. 6 (SB 6) on Tuesday night. However, the amended bill that would lower yearly purchase limits for medicines containing the key meth-making ingredient pseudoephedrine.

Today however, backers of a bill mandating a prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine were working to reinstate that requirement according to an article in The Herald-Dispatch.

Click "read more" to view a video about the bill, as originally passed by the Senate.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Denver's 'Country Roads' being pushed as official state song (again)

John Denver (1973)
A Charleston Daily Mail article reports  that Del. Mary Geartheart (R, Mercer Co.) has introduced a resolution that would make John Denver's song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads", an official state song.  The resolution has passed in the House and is currently before the Senate Government Organization for consideration.

This resolution, House Concurrent Resolution No. 40 (HCR 40), can be read in its entirety on West Virginia Legislature's website.

"Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known as simply "Country Roads", was written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver in 1970, and the song was first recorded by Denver for his 1971 album Poems, Prays, and Promises.

Click "read more" to view a YouTube video of "Country Roads".

Appalachian Power, Wheeling Power ask for 4.4 percent rate increase

According to a Charleston Gazette article, Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power have asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission for a rate increase of 4.4 percent.  The increase would go toward reimbursement of past and ongoing fuel costs, primarily coal, and purchased power.

Interesting enough, the U.S. Energy Information Administration report from March 2014 indicates that nationwide, nominal annual average coal prices to the electric power industry actually fell for the second consecutive year, from $2.38/MMBtu in 2012 to $2.35/MMBtu in 2013.

The two power companies serve about 478k customers in 23 West Virginia counties.

Report: W.Va. the most miserable U.S. state in 2013

Commenting on a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report released in February, a Washington Post article noted that West Virginia ranked dead last in such categories as "life evaluation", "emotional health", "physical health", and "healthy behaviors".  Oddly enough, the state ranked 14th in "work environment".

A few days later, a Washington Post blog article noted that West Virginia has received a similar bad ranking on the Index since it was first issued, in 2008.

On a related and equally troubling topic: Time magazine's 2013 report named West Virginia as the nation's "most neurotic state". Click "read more" for more about that, below the page-break.

W.Va. grassroots groups assist during state's water crisis

Elk River at Charleson, WV
An article published Feb. 27th at notes that just hours after 10,000 gallons of MCHM spilled in the Elk River, just upstream of a municipal water system that serves nine counties, the grassroots organization WV Clean Water Hub began organizing water deliveries to those in need of water.

Soon, other West Virginia grassroots groups joined the relief effect, including Aurora Lights, Coal River Mountain Watch, Keeping of the Mountains Foundation, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and RAMPS.  

Now, about several weeks after the spill occurred, some residents are complaining that the water still has a strange odor, and some worry about chemical residues and long term effects of exposure to MCHM, according to a article.

In a Charleston Gazette article published in January, entitled What is "Crude MCHM"? Few know., the director of West Virginia Poison Center was quoted as saying "There's not much known about this chemical".  The article also notes that current Federal and state laws "set limits and mandate samples for only certain chemicals" and MCHM isn't one of them.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Jobs Issue in West Virginia

For many decades, jobs has remained one of the key issues of concern to most West Virginians. While many of the state's residents seem to feel there is no "real solution" for the state's poor job market, few seem aware of the fact that the jobs issue has been undergoing analysis and study for some time.

Since 1965, when it was first established by Congress, the focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has been to foster the economic development of Appalachia. The mission of ARC is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. The ARC is a planning, research, advocacy and funding organization; it does not have any governing powers within the region.
ARC undertakes projects that address the four goals identified by ARC in its strategic plan:
  • Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
  • Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the region economically competitive.
  • Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.