Government

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

State regulators have issued a pollution violation notice to an oil and gas drilling company following a tank explosion at a Tyler County well site.
 
     The Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that the tank ruptured on Jan. 2 at Jay-Bee Oil & Gas' Lisby gas well pad. Fluid leaked from the tank onto grounds surrounding the well pad.
 

WVU College of Business and Economics

The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics presented their state economic outlook to lawmakers Wednesday.

The report says West Virginia is seeing growth in the areas of employment and per capita personal income.

According to the study, approximately 3,000 jobs were added in the past year, with the natural resource and mining sector contributing most to the increase.

Aaron Payne

The Healthy Kids and Families Coalition presented 11 issues known as the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty and then hand-delivered them to legislators at the Capitol Tuesday. The group wants these issues made priority as the 60-day  session begins Wednesday.

Those 11 issues include:

1. Protect Funding for Family Support Programs

The goal is to keep Family Resource Networks and Starting Points Family Resource Centers across the state funded.

2. In-Home Family Education Programs/Early Childhood

Ashton Marra

Forty-eighth in job creation, 50th in median household income, 49th in K-12 achievement--all statistics House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said his party is looking to improve upon this legislative session during a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday.

This year, the Republican caucus is focused on growing the state’s economy through tax reform, setting priorities for existing revenue sources and strengthening education.

“They need to focus on putting people back to work,” Armstead said of the Democratic leadership in his chamber.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The results of a preliminary legislative audit have found evidence of mismanagement of a $5 million revolving loan program administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Division of Corrections

A private prison company in Kentucky said Monday it can house West Virginia inmates for less than the state Division of Corrections.

Kentucky’s Corrections Corporation of America said in a bid opened by the state Purchasing Division it can house up to 400 West Virginia prisoners in its Beattyville facility for $59.80 per day.

It costs the DOC around $65 per day to house prisoners at an in state facility according to division Commissioner Jim Rubenstein.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University's Board of Governors has approved a 20-member committee to search for the university's next president.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The House of Delegates leadership plans to focus on government accountability and integrity during the 2014 legislative session.

House leaders unveiled a platform on Sunday that includes fraud reporting and state purchasing reforms.
 
Several measures are aimed at the Attorney General's Office. One would require all money received by the state through settlements to go into the General Revenue Fund to be appropriated by the Legislature. Another would require a case to be assigned to outside counsel if the attorney general has a conflict of interest.

Roscoe Bartlett, U.S. Representative for Maryland's 6th congressional district from 1993 to 2013, is going "off the grid" in the mountains of West Virginia. By building his own home powered by solar energy, and attempting to live off resources collected himself, Bartlett says his mission is to be “independent of the system.”

Kentucky lawmakers face tough money decisions this year.

Is West Virginia moving from blue to red?

Some Pennsylvania artists find a good use for acid mine drainage.

And bird counters are documenting the winter population.

state capitol
wikimedia / Wikimedia

The results of a legislative audit of the state department of Agriculture is being turned over to federal authorities.  After learning of findings of suspicious activity within a legislative audit, Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley ordered the Legislative Auditor to turn over the information to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
 

Is this the 1980s all over again for West Virginia – or is it just a temporary blip? That’s the question I have after learning the state lost population last fiscal year.

In fact, West Virginia lost more people that any other state – 2,376 – according to a new census estimate. The only other state to see a population decrease, Maine, lost 199 people.

The truth is, West Virginia’s population has been pretty static since the 1930s, when it reached 1.8 million for the first time. Since then, it’s gone up and down a bit, but always returned to that same number.

Charleston is on the verge of recording its lowest number of murders in two decades.

The Daily Mail reports that with less than a week left, the city has recorded just one murder in 2013. That's down from 10 last year.

Susan Sterner / whitehouse.gov

The Moorefield man who threatened the White House has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Patrick S. Crites was remanded to the custody of U.S. marshals last week after being sentenced in U.S. District Court in Elkins.

Crites was charged with transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce in November 2012.

The State Journal reports that Crites admitted to sending a threatening email to the White House.

region1workforcewestvirginia.org

Nearly 7,000 West Virginians who receive long-term federal unemployment benefits will be cut off at the end of the week.
 
     Without an extension, federal funding for the benefits will run out on Dec. 28. The benefits are available for people unemployed for at least 26 weeks.
 
     David Watson with Workforce West Virginia tells the Charleston Daily Mail that more than 1,300 recipients of federal jobless benefits live in Charleston. Huntington and Beckley each report more than 500 recipients.
 

Drug Enforcement Agency

West Virginia lawmakers are taking another look at the state's reimbursements to property owners for cleaning up methamphetamine labs.
 
     Under a 2007 law, the reimbursements are made through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
 

Federal mining regulators issued more than 290 citations during October and November impact inspections.
 
     The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says it also issued 21 orders following inspections at 18 coal mines and three other mines.
 

flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

The West Virginia Lottery Commission has approved the use of electronic touch screens at the state's racetrack casinos as an option for betting on live table games.
 

Judge Michael Thornsbury
Associated Press

Federal prosecutors are seeking a delay in the sentencing of a former Mingo County circuit judge so they can have more time to investigate information he provided in a corruption probe.
 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby filed a motion Thursday asking a federal judge to delay Michael Thornsbury's Jan. 13 sentencing by 90 days.
 

West Virginia Department of Education

West Virginia education officials they've made progress on the governor's education priorities but more needs to be done.
 

West Virginia Department of Commerce

The West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission spent $138,285 for a four-day celebration of the state's 150th anniversary at the Capitol.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the largest expense was a 3-D movie that was projected onto the Capitol facade. The state paid $50,000 of the movie's $175,000 cost. The remainder was paid with private donations.

Other expenses included $21,400 for souvenirs and $21,000 for musical entertainment.

Palosirkka / wikimedia Commons

State and local officials are seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging West Virginia's ban on gay marriage.
 
     The Charleston Gazette reports that the West Virginia Attorney General's Office and Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick asked a federal judge this week to dismiss the case.

An advisory panel is recommending two Mingo County public defenders as potential candidates to replace former Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury.
 
     The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission submitted the names of Teresa McCune and Jonathan Jewel to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday.

A gun rights group has gone to court in an attempt to stop enforcement of Charleston's gun ordinances.
 
     The West Virginia Citizens Defense League asked Kanawha Circuit Court on Tuesday to issue an injunction against the ordinances.
 

The National Park Service will be closing the Ajax Spring located off of Fayette Station Road after recent mandatory testing indicated the water does not meet the minimum requirements for drinking water.  Despite the fact that the spring is posted as a non-potable water source, there are concerns that residents in the local community use the spring water for household use. 

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

The Williamson office building that formerly housed a pain clinic is being given to the West Virginia State Police.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Monday that the agency also will receive $340,000 in cash proceeds forfeited by one of the operators of Mountain Medical Care Clinic.

The pill mill was shut down in 2010 following a federal investigation that ended with several criminal convictions.

A former state Supreme Court candidate has withdrawn from consideration as an appointed circuit judge in Mingo County.

Tish Chafin wrote to the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission on Thursday. Commission member Kent Carper tells The Charleston Gazette that Chafin sought the position out of concern that solid candidates wouldn't apply.

The executive director of the state Ethics Commission admits the panel violated West Virginia's open meetings law.
 
     The violations occurred Thursday when the commission failed to send the required notice of two meetings to the Secretary of State's Office. One was devoted entirely to open meetings laws.
 
     According to state code, notice of public meetings must be approved and listed online for five business days to be legal.
 

WV Office of Legislative Services

The state House of Delegates already has a committee focused on improving the business climate in the state. It’s title, the Committee on Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business. A mouthful, to say the least.

So, when Delegate Tim Miley became Speaker Miley in June, he proposed a change.

The West Virginia Division of Highways will be closing a section of Interstate 77 in Mercer County to allow for controlled blasting of a slipping hillside.

            The I-77 northbound slow lane between mile post 3 and 3.5 has been closed to traffic since December 2, 2013 due to the instability of the hillside. After consulting with a contractor, the WVDOH has decided to address the issue by bringing down the hillside with explosives.

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