Economy

Glynis Board / WVPublic

The annual W.Va. Pipe Trades Apprentice Contest took place last week in Wheeling.

Awards:

Top Pipe fitter apprentice: Morgan Morgan – Local 83, Wheeling

Prize: $750, oxygen acetylene torch, gauges and hoses

Top Welding apprentice: William “Kieth” Kidd – Local 83, Wheeling

Prize: $750, Lincoln welding machine, welding hood and gear

Top Plumbing apprentice: Kenneth Raulston Jr. – Local 152, Morgantown

Prize: $750, tubing cutters, plumbing tools and tool bag

Top H.V.A.C. apprentice: Roger Harris – Local 625, Charleston

A former hospital nurse has been awarded more than $1 million in a lawsuit that claimed she was fired for expressing concerns of possible violations.
 
A Kanawha County Circuit Court jury made the award Thursday after a nine-day trial to Susan Nutter, who worked at Thomas Hospital's psychiatric unit from August 2008 to November 2009.
 

Zero-waste events--that’s the goal of one start-up organization in Morgantown. Green Earth Event Services was founded by Morgantown resident Garth Lindley in 2011. The organization provides recycling and composting services and Lindley says that while there's a learning curve among public they interact with,  he's surprised by the overall enthusiasm he receives wherever the organization sets up.

Linda Wertheimer talks to Evan Osnos about his New Yorker piece in which he explores how the coal industry has become a political player in the state, and what that could mean for future regulation.

Americans United for Change

An organization working to lobby law makers to raise the minimum wage made a stop in Charleston today. The group called, Americans United for Change, is behind a tour across the country the in the "Give America a Raise” bus.

While in the state, they are joined by West Virginia Citizen Action Group, local faith and labor leaders, a small business owner, and low-wage workers.

WVU

West Virginia University hosted the state’s inaugural high school business plan competition. Sierra Cook, a Glen Dale resident and a senior from John Marshall High School took first prize: a $10,000 college scholarship to be used at any of nine WV schools.

Cook says her interest in the mushrooms was sparked when she learned about their health benefits. She believes the niche-market business idea to grow and sell shitake and miyake mushrooms has a lot of potential to take off.

Appalachian Studies Association

About 800 people are expected to attend a conference at Marshall University in Huntington Friday through Sunday for the 37th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference.

Marshall University Education Professor and conference organizer Linda Spatig says the theme is New Appalachia: Known Realities and Imagined Possibilities.

Associated Press

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a coal company fighting to reinstate a water pollution permit for a massive West Virginia strip mine.

The justices say they will not disturb a federal appeals court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency acted within its authority in 2011 when it retroactively vetoed a permit issued four years earlier by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. and its Mingo Logan Coal Co. subsidiary challenged the appellate ruling concerning the mountaintop removal coal mine in West  Logan County.

Anita Wallace has run a day care in her home in rural Athens County, Ohio, for eight years. The schedule is more family-friendly than when she logged 60 hours a week as a manager at Wal-Mart, and the pay is about $27,000 a year — not bad for the area.

Wallace adores the children, getting down on the floor to let toddlers snuggle on her shoulder. But Wallace, 40, and her husband, 47, also have three of their own kids to raise.

"They're very expensive!" she says, laughing, as her own children — two still live at home — inform her of the new track uniforms they need.

FFA

"Future Farmers of America" was founded in 1928 with a mission to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They teach that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting-- it's a science, it's a business and it's an art. There are about 5,000 members of the Future Farmers of America organization in the state of West Virginia, and almost 600,000 across the country. One of the organization’s leaders today is a young man from Point Pleasant.

Meet Wesley Davis. He goes by Wes. He’s 19 and this guy has a story.


history.com

The History Channel featured a new show this year that focused on ginseng in Appalachia. According to Neilson ratings, the show, called Appalachian Outlaws, was one of the most popular on cable channels, averaging over 2.7 million viewers per each of its six episodes. There’s no official word if season two is in the works, and while some fans are hoping that there will be a second season, other people are hoping the show will just go away.


Historic Jefferson County Village Making Improvements

Mar 12, 2014
Rebecca Glover / WV Public Radio

The village of Middleway, W.Va., appears to be a moment frozen in time.  The historic district of the village is home to buildings that date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was a battleground throughout the Civil War. 

Nowadays, the streets are quiet, the cars are few, and the numerous buildings that line the streets are dark and uninviting.  Moss and vines creep up the old War Hospital on Queen Street and residential properties are boarded up and left alone.

Greenbier
Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons

The Greenbrier resort and its billionaire owner could receive up to $25 million in tax breaks over 10 years for a new medical institute.
 
Owner Jim Justice said the $86 million medical resort would offer doctors that care for professional athletes. It was first announced in 2011.
 

Bill Hughes

A bill to regulate the disposal of waste produced by gas-well drilling will likely be introduced by the governor in a special session.
 
Lawmakers who negotiated a version both sides could agree on were unable to get the measure passed before midnight Saturday, the deadline for the regular session.

region1workforcewestvirginia.org

West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.9 percent in January.  
 
WorkForce West Virginia says the number of unemployed residents fell 700 in January to 46,900.
 
In the goods-producing sector, employment gains were seen in construction, mining and logging, while the state experienced job losses in manufacturing.
 

wikimedia

The West Virginia Senate Finance Committee has watered down a House bill to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage would be increased by $1.50 over three years instead of two.
 
Under the bill amended Wednesday, the standard would increase from $7.25 to $7.50 an hour in January 2015, to $8 in January 2016, and to $8.75 in January 2017. Originally the House voted to raise the wage 75 cents each year over two years.

hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com

West Virginia's largest casino has announced plans to add a 1,200-seat concert venue as it seeks to fend off increased competition from casinos in Maryland.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races said Monday that it will begin construction this month on the venue, which will be located on the casino floor and feature a box office and VIP area. Hollywood hopes to open the venue by the end of September. A name for the venue has not yet been selected.
 

Lottery
West Virginia Lottery Commission

West Virginia Lottery officials say revenue continued to drop in January.

The Charleston Gazette reports that state lottery revenue fell 12 percent from January 2013 to $89.45 million.

Racetrack video lottery at the state's four racetrack casinos continued to fall in January, as competition in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland continues to put a crunch on revenues.

FirstEnergy Corp. is planning $110 million worth of infrastructure upgrades in West Virginia this year.
 

Ohio-based FirstEnergy said Thursday that the projects include transmission improvements, construction of new distribution lines, and replacement of underground cables, utility poles and other equipment.
 

Mountain State Brewing Co.

Growers are being sought to participate in a three-year research project to determine the viability of hop production in West Virginia.
 
The project will be conducted by the West Virginia State University Extension Service.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With the state eclipsing the $5 billion mark for tourism revenue in 2012, this week’s Travel  South Conference in Charleston gave visitors bureaus across the state a chance to cash in and drive even more tourism opportunities to their respective areas. But the conference comes nearly seven weeks after the spill of thousands of gallons of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries. 

Many locals worry that the tourism economy would, much like the water, be left with a tainted reputation. Tourism professionals from across the country seemed unphased by the water crisis while here and local travel professionals hope the stigma of the spill won’t last. 

Jobs First Program Helps Huntington’s Homeless

Feb 25, 2014

Officials at the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless are taking a new approach to the problem of homelessness and unemployment.

  Jobs First is a new idea developed by coalitions around the country. Instead of working with job candidates by training, developing and molding them before they apply for jobs, Jobs First helps them find jobs right away and continues to train them while they’re employed.

Helping the unemployed and homeless find work first puts them one step closer to a stable living environment where they can provide for themselves.

Jessica Lilly

The legislative session last year is often referred to as the "year of education reform" as lawmakers looked for ways to improve education quality.

West Virginia is ranked 48th in teacher pay and right around the middle of the road compared to other states for cost of living. Educators say there is a connection to quality.

Although West Virginia teachers get a 1.5 percent pay increase each year until they reach 35 years, teacher salaries are among the lowest paid in the nation.

International Energy Agency

The report, titled “The Social Costs of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon,” highlights a forecasted decline in oil demand in the world’s energy market.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate has unanimously passed a bill to conserve and invest a portion of oil and gas revenues to use for future infrastructure and economic development.

The Future Fund Bill passed Friday sets aside 25 percent of the severance tax revenues collected from private oil and gas companies above a $175 million benchmark. This benchmark projects funds needed to sustain government operations.
 

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill is selling the rest of its chemicals, helping employees find new jobs and winding down operations.

Saying the small company's problems exceed its size, attorney Mark Freedlander announced Freedom Industries' plans in federal bankruptcy court Friday. The company won't use up to $4 million the court had permitted Freedom to borrow to keep running.

Economic Policy Institute

A recent study says income inequality between the top 1% of West Virginia's wealthiest and rest of working West Virginians is among the highest in the nation.

While the West Virginia legislature considers increasing the state's minimum wage, a new report shows  the state's top 1% of income earners captured over half of all West Virginia's income growth between 1979 and 2007.

Submitted Photo / W.Va. Dept. of Commerce

The Berkeley County Development Authority has announced Rust-Oleum Corp. will open a distribution center in Martinsburg.

Development Authority Executive Director Stephen Christian says the company will lease about 630,000 square feet in the Shockey Commerce Center.

Christian said the Authority has been working with the company since April to find a location.

Rust-Oleum is headquarted in Vernon Hills, Ill. and manufactures protective paint and coatings. Between 80 and 100 people will work at the facility.

The Wall Street Journal, on their blog titled Bankruptcy Beat, breaks down millions of dollars doled out to Freedom Industries executives and those at related companies before the January 9 spill and their soon-to-follow bankruptcy filing.

Tips to Protect Against Identity Fraud

Feb 18, 2014
Chelsea Demello / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The security breaches that led to issues with credit cards used at some major retailers has brought attention to the problem of  identity theft.

Shepherd University recently held an open workshop for students on how prevent becoming just another statistic. 

Students were quizzed on their knowledge at the beginning of the workshop and then again after the workshop to see what they had learned.   

During the workshop, BB&T Spokesman Robert Hennen gave several tips to protect against identity theft and fraud, such as:  

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