Government

WV State Troopers, WV State Police
Suzanne Higgins / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia State Police say they've arrested dozens of people in southern West Virginia on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine during targeted efforts in the past month.

Since October 26 state troopers in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, and Braxton counties found 2 meth labs, arrested 14 people and seized a little over $1000.

This resulted in 28 felonies and 2 misdemeanor charges.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The forum started with opening remarks from State Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley) and Del. Tiffany Lawrence (D-Jefferson). Participants then watched part of the PBS film Poor Kids and a short preview of a film about child poverty in the state being produced by West Virginia PBS.

They then met in smaller groups to talk about how poverty affects children academically and socially, stereotypes associated with being poor, what resources are available in the community and what can be done to prevent families from becoming poor.

Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin made his third major jobs announcement in two weeks Tuesday in Charleston. A supplier for the steel industry, the newest company locating in West Virginia will not just create jobs, but also heavily rely on coal to do it.

“Today, 60 more West Virginians will have good paying jobs and the coal industry will have a new customer,” Tomblin said.

He made the announcement surrounded by executives from Carbonyx International USA and representatives of the state Department of Commerce.

Govenor Earl Ray Tomblin speaks to a crowd in Charleston about Medicaid
Ashton Marra

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling announced today that a second round of 61,000 auto-enrollment letters have been mailed to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients and parents of children covered by Medicaid notifying them that they may automatically qualify for health insurance coverage.
 

To date, the DHHR has determined that 58,390 consumers are eligible for Medicaid expansion

Governor's Office / wv.gov

West Virginia's annual Joyful Night celebration is set for Dec. 3.
 
     Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the holiday event at the State Capitol Complex is free and open to the public.
 
     Activities begin at the North Plaza with music by two high school bands. Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin will then light a tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Fisher of Charleston, followed by a performance by a children's chorus.
 

Ashton Marra

Legislators got their first look at a bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in the state during interim meetings in Charleston. A controversial proposal, lawmakers are taking their time scrutinizing the legislation before they even decide to present it to the full legislature for consideration when they convene for the 2014 Regular Session in January.

The comprehensive bill is a compilation of medical marijuana laws from multiple other states and sets forth these five provisions:

1. Creation of a Patient Registry

@Sen_JoeManchin / Twitter

"All we do is work, work, work."

That's the message from Sophia Mullins, first grader at Gauley River Grade School. She wrote to Senator Joe Manchin asking him for help:

Dear Sir,
 
My name is Sophia Mullins. I live in Craigsville, West Virginia. I am in the first grade at Gauley River Grade School. All we do is work, work, work. I need a break. Can you please help?
 
Thanks,
Sophia

Ashton Marra

In his first press conference as Speaker of the state House of Delegates, Speaker Tim Miley announced the intended formation of a new committee in his chamber, the committee on small business, entrepreneurship and economic development.

The committee will be separated from the one already in existence in the House which is focused on the energy industry and labor. Miley said this new committee is important because small businesses are the backbone of future economic growth in the state.

Ashton Marra

The state superintendent said enrollment numbers in public schools statewide are down and the Department of Education is now left trying to figure out where those students have gone.

Superintendent Dr. James Phares reported to a Joint Committee on Education, student enrollment has decreased by more than 1,200 student since last year.

Harrison County led the enrollment decrease losing 283 in the last five years.

CBP / Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Center near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., will soon add new buildings.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $51.7 million contract to construct 250 room student dormitories and a student center.

In a news release Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said the addition of dorms will turn the facility into a full service campus, and will save the government money for training and travel expenses.

Ashton Marra

More than 42,000 West Virginians are employed by the manufacturing industry and state lawmakers were told that number is expected to grow in the coming years, but industry leaders say the state needs to focus on educating those workers now.

President of the West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Karen Price said the problem with the state’s manufacturing industry is not a job shortage, but a labor shortage.

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

A former Mingo County prosecutor has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
 
     Michael Sparks entered the plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. He faces a year in prison when he's sentenced Feb. 24.
 
     Sparks resigned in October after being charged in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs.
 
     Crum was shot to death in April in an unrelated attack as he ate lunch in his vehicle.  
 

Ashton Marra

A law signed by Governor Tomblin in April is already having its intended effect of decreasing the state’s prison population. Legislators meeting this week in Charleston got an update on how Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison reform bill, is doing.

State lawmakers are presented with projections all the time. The projected annual revenue, for example, is constantly talked about within the corridors of the Capitol because in recent years, those projections have shown major declines in funds.

National Weather Service

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 9:30

Here's a roundup of tweets from local and regional authorities, including emergency services and the National Weather Service:

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 9:14 p.m.

In addition to a wind advisory in effect for most of the state, a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for the western portion of West Virginia.  The National Weather Service in Charleston reports this watch is in effect until 1 a.m. Monday.

Cecelia Mason

The West Virginia Board of Education is pledging not to share students' personal information with anyone outside the system.
 
     The move was codified with a resolution passed at the board's regular meeting this week and will eventually become policy.
 
     The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the action was taken in large part to appease those are concerned with West Virginia's adoption of the national Common Core standards for education.
 

West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy

 

About half of the West Virginians who've applied for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act are eligible for government insurance programs.

Figures released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services show 7,096 West Virginians applied for health coverage through the federal government's website from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2. Of that total, about 3,100 were eligible for coverage either through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

whitehouse.gov

A federal judge has dismissed charges against a West Virginia man accused of sending a threatening letter to President Barack Obama.
 
     A U.S. Secret Service forensic handwriting analysis showed that 20-year-old Ryan Kirker of McMechen didn't write the letter.
 
     According to court records, the letter sent to the White House in April was filled with profanity and racial slurs.
 
     A federal grand jury charged Kirker in June with threatening the president.
 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

A new report says the Legislature should change the way fiscal notes are prepared for legislation.
 
     The report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says fiscal notes are generally inaccurate, often biased, inconsistent and lacking in details.
 
     Fiscal notes are estimates of the costs of legislation. They are prepared by the state agencies that the legislation would affect.
 

Ashton Marra

An Italian based automotive parts manufacturer announced plans to more than double the work force of their West Virginia location. Sogefi USA will add 250 jobs to their Wayne County plant as they create a new line of parts for General Motors vehicles.

“Today, thanks to our collaborative efforts and hard work, 250 West Virginians can look forward to good paying new jobs,” Governor Tomblin said as he made the announcement at Sogefi USA’s manufacturing plant in Wayne County Tuesday morning.

DonkeyHotey/Flickr

On a national level, political watchers say West Virginia is on the verge of a big change, one that would pull the state from its traditionally Democratic roots and push it toward a future of Republican leaders and a new generation of young voters might be behind that change.

West Virginians are a proud people, proud most of all of their heritage. Almost any West Virginian can share his or her story of a parent or grandparent who came to the state to work in the factories, steel mills or coal mines to provide for their families.

Adjutant General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard
Dave Mistich

The National Guard in West Virginia is now granting military ID cards to same-sex spouses, ensuring that they get benefits such as health care.
 
     The Charleston Gazette  reported Friday that one ID card has been issued to a same-sex spouse at a National Guard location in Martinsburg. An application is pending at the Air National Guard in Charleston.
 
     The National Guard had been issuing the IDs to same-sex spouses only at its four federally run facilities. The five state-run guard facilities are now doing the same.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by relatives of three men killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster who claimed Alpha Natural Resources failed to pay them each $1.5 million as promised under a settlement with the federal government.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

Two congressional Democrats want the U.S. Labor Department to investigate how West Virginia law firm Jackson Kelly has handled black lung benefits cases for its coal industry clients.
 
     Reps. George Miller of California and Joe Courtney of Connecticut cite an investigation of the federal program by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC.
 
     Miller is ranking Democrat on the House committee that oversees the program.
 
     The reports say Jackson Kelly withheld medical records that could have helped miners prove they have the disease.
 

Appalachian Regional Commission with data from the U.S. Census Bureau

Southern West Virginia has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, but an article in The Washington Post said that is starting to change.

With a decline in the coal industry’s production and a President enacting stronger regulations on it, the politics are shifting toward the right, at least, that’s what the article claims. But can it be said that a trend in southern West Virginia is actually happening across the entire state?

Cecelia Mason

The 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress report shows 35 percent of West Virginia's fourth graders scored at or above the proficient level in math.

While that's up from a score of 31 percent in 2011, it's still below the national average. Nationwide, 42 percent of fourth graders are meeting or exceeding proficiency.

At the same time West Virginia’s eight graders show similar improvements and have similar disparities in scores.

167th Airlift Wing / Air National Guard

An aircraft change at the West Virginia National Guard 167th Airlift Wing's base is expected to eliminate more than 80 full-time airmen jobs.
 
     The Martinsburg base's C-5A cargo aircraft will be replaced with smaller C-17s beginning in October 2014.
 
     The unit's wing commander, Col. Shaun J. Perkowski, tells The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., that 86 airmen are expected to be furloughed as a result of the change.
 

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

A state task force says West Virginia should require prescriptions for cold medications that contain an ingredient used illegally to make methamphetamine.
 
     The recommendation is one of several approved Wednesday by the Governor's Advisory Council on Substance Abuse.
 
     The Charleston Gazette  says the council also recommended that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin oppose any legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use.
 

Provided

There’s always been the debate, to which region does West Virginia belong? Former Senator Robert C. Byrd was famously quoted as saying West Virginia is the most northern southern state, the most southern northern state, the most eastern western state and the most western eastern state. Many West Virginians will tell you, we belong with everyone and yet, we belong with no one.

Rick Haye - Marshall University Communications

Forums held across southern West Virginia this week are focused on budget cuts in higher education. Sponsored by Marshall University, a forum Thursday evening in South Charleston will allow legislators to hear new ideas on how colleges and universities plan to deal with the cuts. Thursday's discussion is the last in a series of three such forums.

Ashton Marra

“Excellence in Education: It’s Everyone’s Business.” Those words served as the slogan for an education summit in Charleston focused on bringing educators, administrators, business leaders and even state lawmakers together to talk about the future in education for our state. To improve that future, those groups looked to Florida to learn how the state was able to take their education system from 49 to 6 in a just over a decade.

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