News

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

A widow is battling for black lung benefits of her dead husband.  Mary Fox filed an appeal on behalf of her late husband Gary Fox last year. Testimony before a federal appeals court began today in Virginia.

The hearing comes the same day stories from a yearlong investigation by the Center for Public Integrity revealed lawyers with the Jackson Kelly law firm submitted only favorable evidence in court.

Between the years 2000 to 2010, over 55,000 work-related diseases were reported. Of those, more than 26,000 were noted as cases of Pneumoconioses, diseases in which dust, such as coal, causes scarring of the lungs. The Center for Public Integrity's investigative team takes a look at one of the coal industry's top legal firms and the withholding of evidence related to the matter.

Ghostly stories from the Whipple Company Store

Oct 29, 2013
Whipple company store
wikimedia / Wikimedia Commons

Built during a time of labor strife in the southern coalfields, the Whipple Company Store in Fayette County is one of those buildings that just LOOKS haunted. Every Halloween, the owners offer tours full of history, folklore, and ghost stories. Producer Catherine Moore set out to do a fun piece about the reported paranormal activity at the store with a couple of local ghost hunters. Well, she got more than she bargained for and found out that there’s a lot more to the so-called hauntings, and to the history of the store, than meets the eye.

Breaking down the Consol-Murray sale

Oct 29, 2013

Consol Energy is selling five of its long wall coal mines in West Virginia to Murray Energy. It’s a deal slated to cost more than $3 billion.

In the deal, Consol will get:

$850 million in cash;

Almost $200 million in value of future payments;

The acquisition of $2.4 billion in Consol's liabilities, to Murray Energy.

In return,

Murray Energy will receive:

Almost 4,000 new employees;

6 more coal preparation plants;

5 more active mining complexes;

6 more longwall mining systems;

23 more continuing mining units;

West Virginia's two U.S. senators say they'll be watching closely to see how Ohio-based Murray Energy treats safety and the workforce of the five CONSOL Energy mines it's buying.
 
     Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have requested a meeting with Murray Energy to discuss the transition.
 
     The companies announced the deal Monday for the sale of the Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge, McElroy, Robinson Run and Shoemaker mines.
 
     Pennsylvania-based CONSOL said it wants to shift resources to natural gas development.
 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

CONSOL Energy sells five longwall mines to Murray Energy, the families of Upper Big Branch Mine victims speak out against a Halloween attraction at King's Dominion, and the first in a series of Halloween stories on the Whipple Company Store.

In 1960, then-Senator and Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy visited McDowell County, West Virginia and forged a bond with those living in the state's southern coalfields. It was a victory in West Virginia's Democratic primary that helped confirm his broad appeal to the rest of America. After winning the presidential election, Kennedy exposed the rest of the country to the perils of poverty that faced the region. In this article, USA Today reports on the way Kennedy's assassination has resonated with those living in southern West Virginia, the way things were then, and how they are now.

Kings Dominion does not plan to host the attraction in 2014.
KingsDominion.com

Kings Dominion does not plan to host a Halloween themed attraction called, Miner's Revenge next year.

The Virginia-based amusement park does not plan to host a Halloween themed attraction called, Miner's Revenge next year. The  park charged more than $32 for admission during the weekends in October. The haunted attraction's similarities to the Upper Big Branch disaster similarities infuriated the families of the victims. Some have said it’s eerily similar to their real life nightmare.

Ashton Marra

A hearing in Kanawha County Circuit Court will determine whether or not juvenile residents of state facilities will see a difference in the way grievances are handled and an increase in educational opportunities.

Mercer County Judge Omar Aboulhosn will be presented a proposed agreement between the Division of Juvenile Services and Mountain State Justice, a Charleston based public interest law firm whose lawsuit against the division resulted in the closure of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth and later the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Politico

Several Organizations in West Virginia that address drug abuse and mental health issues will get a boost from the federal government.  Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin today announced $733,068 in federal funding for community organizations across the state to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth in West Virginia.

The funding comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant program with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Joe Long / AP

Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall, today announced more than $697,000 in federal funding for pipeline safety efforts in West Virginia.  
 

CONSOL Energy Inc. is selling all five of its longwall coal mines in West Virginia to Ohio-based Murray Energy for $3.5 billion.
 
     Pennsylvania-based CONSOL said Monday the deal for its Consolidation Coal Co. subsidiary is good for long-term growth.
 
     CONSOL is selling McElroy Mine, Shoemaker Mine, Robinson Run Mine, Loveridge Mine and Blacksville No. 2 Mine, plus river and dock operations. The mines produced a combined 28.5 million tons last year.
 

Tonya Kinder

A grieving family is honoring their loved one with a memorial scholarship, with the help of the ambulance company where he worked. Mark Kinder II died in January while returning from dropping off a patient. Jan Care is donating the money for the scholarship.

It’s been about nine months since Mark Kinder II was killed. Mark’s sister Tonya, also a Jan Care employee, says her brother is believed to have been resting in the passenger seat when the accident happened.

WV Film Office

The West Virginia Film Office is always looking for the next great location for a film or television shoot. If you own a home, business, or property that you would like the film and television industry to consider featuring in a potential production, you can now post your information to the film office's online locations library.

"In addition to tax incentives, one of the most effective tools utilized by the film office to recruit the film industry to the state is its online locations database," said Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office.

The family of an EMT who died on the job honors him with a scholarship to promote his vocation, an online program called West Virginia Welcome helps statewide the hospitality and tourism industries, and Beth Vorhees speaks with horror writer Frank Larnerd discusses his book Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckled Yarns of Appalachia.

A new, free hospitality training program is available online. WV Welcome is a free course designed to help folks in the tourism industry better serve guests from out of state.

Jerry Henderson became an advocate for hospitality when she opened her own Bed and Breakfast about 20 years ago in Buckhannon.  She now serves as the treasurer of WV Hospitality and Travel Association and says knowing the best ways to be a gracious host is not only good for business, it’s good for the state.

Ashton Marra

Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee made a stop in West Virginia to help energize the state Republican Party during a fundraiser Friday night.

An evening that started with state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas poking fun at an array of federal indictments coming from Mingo County, all against Democratic leaders, transitioned to focus on what Huckabee called the true message of the Republican party—valuing every life based on inherent worth given by God and not status.

The Washington Post breaks down West Virginia's transition from being a state that has traditionally favored Democrats to becoming more and more likely to vote Republican.

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Nine Ohio and West Virginia residents who have cancer and other diseases have filed federal lawsuits this month against chemical giant DuPont, alleging the company knowingly contaminated drinking-water supplies with a chemical used by one of its plants.

Patriot Coal

Patriot Coal is responding to recent actions from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Yesterday, Thursday MSHA released a statement stating that the agency had labeled two West Virginia coal mines and one in Kentucky as pattern violators, meaning they've repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations.

Manchin leads effort to reschedule hydrocodone

Oct 25, 2013

Senator Joe Manchin held a conference call this morning to discuss the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration is recommending hydrocodone be reclassified.

  The FDA is recommending to the Department of Health and Human Services that hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin or Lortab be reclassified from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.

Under this category, it’s acknowledged that the drug has a high potential for abuse, can cause severe psychological or physical dependence, and should be used with severe restrictions.

Brian Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kentucky prepares to introduce new science education standards.

A report on the effects of natural gas fracking is due out soon.

And we hear from two West Virginia writers with books out just in time for the spooky season.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

A Boone County judge has ordered four pharmaceutical drug distributors to reveal their shipments to West Virginia pharmacies over the past five years.
 
Circuit Judge William Thompson acted Thursday in a lawsuit filed last year by former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The suit accused the companies of helping to contribute to the state's pain pill abuse epidemic.
 

Looking for a place to go ghost hunting this week leading up to Halloween? Check out this abandoned amusement park believed to be cursed in southern West Virgina.

Herdzone.com

Ashton Marra reports on Senator Joe Manchin's bill that proposes a delay in the individual mandate as part of the Affordable Care Act, Cecelia Mason on electric billing issues in the Easter Panhandle, Clark Davis previews Marshall Women's Basketball season and The Pines perform "Rise Up and Be Lonely" on this Mountain Stage song of the week.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
Courtesy Photo

Senator Joe Manchin is proposing a delay in a key component to the federal Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate. Manchin defended his legislation saying it allows the administration more time to fix glitches in the enrollment system, but a left-leaning policy group in Charleston maintains a delay will have significant negative impacts on West Virginians.

The individual mandate requires all Americans sign up for health insurance through the federal health care exchange by April 1, or face a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of their annual income, whichever is greater.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Public Service Commission got an earful from Eastern Panhandle electric customers unhappy with Potomac Edison’s billing practices during a public hearing Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Customers are upset because last winter and spring they received estimated monthly bills that were much higher than normal. In some cases the electric company did estimated readings several months in a row. Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson) was among those who spoke during the hearing.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has labeled two West Virginia coal mines and one in Kentucky as pattern violators, meaning they've repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations.

One of the mines is Pocahontas Coal Co.'s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County, where two men died within two weeks of each other in February.

The others are Brody Mining's Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County and Tram Energy's Mine No. 1 in Floyd County, Ky.

They're the first added to the list since MSHA began using new screening criteria in March.

Herdzone.com

Marshall Women’s Basketball Head Coach Matt Daniel is set to tip off his second season in Huntington.

How does the Marshall Women’s Basketball program rebound from a rough first year under new Head Coach Matt Daniel in 2012-2013? They bring in 10 new girls to fill the roster. A year after finishing 9-20 overall and 3-13? in Conference USA play, the Marshall Women hope to fit more into Coach Daniel’s up-tempo style of play.

Nature Conservancy celebrates 50 years in W.Va.

Oct 24, 2013
Rocks in Cheat River
The Nature Conservancy / Kent Mason

Fifty individuals or organizations who contributed to the protection and restoration of West Virginia’s natural heritage over the past 50 years are being honored by The Nature Conservancy, which has announced the Mountain State’s “Conservation Heroes.”

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