Government

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 / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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.

A Kanawha County Family Court judge is facing a battery charge following an incident at a Charleston hospital.
 
 Charleston police arrested 61-year-old Mark Snyder on Monday night. He's accused of grabbing a nurse's arm and trying to drag her down a hallway at Charleston Area Medical General Hospital.
 
     A criminal complaint says the nurse told police that Snyder was upset about the care of a patient he was visiting. The complaint says Snyder refused several requests to leave and was escorted out of the hospital by a security guard.
 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia's tax revenue slide is continuing as October's collections fell about $8 million below estimates.
 
     Deputy revenue secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that collections of personal income, consumer sales and business and occupation taxes were all below estimates.
 
     Personal income and consumer sales taxes are the state's biggest sources of tax revenue.
 
     Natural gas production boosted severance tax collections above estimates. But Muchow says it wasn't enough to offset the declines.
 

Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry
Justice Allen Loughry / West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

A national poll conducted by a nonpartisan think tank and a justice advocacy group shows more and more Americans believe campaign spending on judicial elections is swaying decisions in the courtroom.

The groups are now calling for the spread of more public campaign financing and other reforms for state Supreme Court elections, much like a pilot program already in place in West Virginia.

Ashton Marra

The Mingo County Commission is expected to name a new county prosecutor and county commissioner this week.

Former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former Commissioner David Baisden resigned in October after they were charged in separate cases stemming from a corruption probe.
 
WSAZ-TV  reports that the commission interviewed candidates to replace Sparks and Baisden on Monday. Commissioners plan to name a new prosecutor and magistrate at their meeting on Wednesday.

Efforts to help state veterans continue

Nov 4, 2013

The author of a study published last year on state veterans is trying to do more to help them.

Joseph Scotti has started a new organization called WHOLE Veterans. It stands for Welcome Home: Overcoming, Living, Engaging.

Scotti says it takes a lot of different people within a community to encourage veterans to reach out for help when they need assistance. He says there simply aren't enough people at the moment to deal with absolutely every veteran who needs care.

West Virginia University’s College of Law hosted three visiting professors from the University of Guanajuato last week. “Mexico Week” at the law school featured lectures and panel discussions giving students an opportunity to better understand life south of the border.

Perhaps the longest standing relationship WVU has with a sister school abroad is with the University of Guanajuato. In continuing with that tradition, professors from the school in the small university town of Guanajuato came to share their world with students.

La Ley

Ashton Marra

This week, it was the Democratic Party’s turn to raise money, but also pay tribute to a man who has served the state for 50 years.

“Your overwhelming proof, Jay, that it’s not about the circumstances you come from, it’s about soul. And Jay Rockefeller, you’ve got soul.”

Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Charleston to honor Senator Jay Rockefeller at the annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner.

Department of Transportation

 

 

A bridge replacing a 70-year-old span linking Nitro and St. Albans is open for traffic.

The old bridge was demolished earlier this year to make way for the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge. It cost nearly $24 million to construct.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin were among the dignitaries on hand Friday to mark the opening of the span to traffic. It opened to foot traffic Thursday night.

Instead of a ribbon cutting, a construction worker used a blowtorch to cut through a chain.

Hundreds looked on as the new span made its debut.

In downtown Parkersburg sits the federal Treasury Department's headquarters of the Bureau of the Public Debt. Employing more than 1,800 at that location, the agency is responsible for managing, selling and accounting for the more than $17 trillion that U.S. taxpayers owe to themselves, to Social Security, and to foreign investors. The federal government is also Parkersburg's largest employer.

Education Summit kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 5

Nov 1, 2013

Governor Tomblin’s education reform bill passed by the legislature earlier this year requires all children to read proficiently by the third grade.  A strategy to make sure that happens will be discussed at an education summit Tuesday, November 5. 

From grades kindergarten to third grade, children learn to read.  By fourth grade, they must read to learn.

An automatic reduction to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, will begin taking effect today, cutting benefits for more than 47 million people across the country. 

West Virginians rely heavily on this assistance program, with about 20 percent of the population enrolled.

A Kanawha County man who is already struggling to provide for his family said this national cut means he will have to make even harder choices in the near future. 

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

An industry trade group has launched a campaign in West Virginia opposing legislation that would require prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine.
 
     Pseudoephedrine is also used illegally to make methamphetamine.
 
     The Consumer Healthcare Products Association began running ads this week on Charleston-area news websites. The group also has set up a website called Stop Meth, Not Meds, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
 

Provided

A judge called the inner workings of the Gene Spadaro Juvenile Center “concerning” after receiving a report from a court monitor for the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission.

The Commission was established in June of 2011 to examine the operations and programs of the Division of Juvenile Services facilities across the state. Cindy Largent-Hill is a member of the commission and visited the Spadaro Juvenile Center in Fayette County Monday.

A federal judge issued a memorandum Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to finalize federal coal ash regulations.

United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton issued a ruling giving the Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to name how long it will take to review and revise coal ash regulations. 

Provided

Judge Omar Aboulhosn heard what may be the last evidence in the case filed by Mountain State Justice against the Division of Juvenile Services.

Mountain State asked three juvenile residents to testify in an evidentiary hearing Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

B.M., identified only by his initials for the court, is a juvenile resident of the Sam Perdue Juvenile Center in Princeton. He is one of the 25 residents relocated after Aboulhosn order the closure of the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center in Salem over the summer.

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.
 

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.

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.

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.  
 

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.

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.

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.
 

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