News

Arts and Culture
5:00 pm
Sat January 31, 2015

French Creek Freddie is West Virginia's Groundhog Prophet

Back in 1978 the superintendent here, at what used to be called the French Creek Game Farm, was Bill Vanscoy. And he said a newspaper reporter called him the day before Groundhog day, and asked him if they had a groundhog and if it had seen its shadow. Mr. Vanscoy told the reporter whatever was appropriate to the weather they were having. Then the reporter asked what the groundhog's name was. Mr. Vanscoy said it was French Creek Freddie, and it just took off from there.

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Coal Layoffs
6:47 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Alpha Idles Coal Operations in Logan, Mingo Counties

Credit AllVoices.com

BRISTOL, Va. (AP) - Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources Inc. says it has notified workers at coal mines in two West Virginia counties that the company plans to idle their operations.
 
     The decision will mean the loss of nearly 100 jobs.
 
     In an announcement today, Alpha said the affected mines are in Logan and Mingo counties. The company cited weak market conditions and federal anti-pollution regulations.
 

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The Legislature Today
6:44 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Study Reports on What Would Happen if Prevailing Wage is Repealed

At the legislature today, when their party took over control of the House and Senate, Republicans promised tort reform. Several bills are moving through the legislative process including one about nursing home administrators that was up for amendments on the senate floor today.  And we’ll find out more about West Virginia’s prevailing wage law.  It’s also a target of the majority.  We’ll talk with a fiscal policy expert and one of our statehouse colleagues covering the issue on The Legislature Today. 

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Inside Appalachia
5:57 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Meet W.Va.'s Groundhog Prophets and Hear How Gas Drilling is Affecting Parts of Appalachia

French Creek Freddie lives at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in Upshur County, W.Va.

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of West Virginia groundhogs who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve. Also, we hear how increased drilling is affecting folks in PA and W.Va. Some politicians and residents are touting the natural gas industry as the best solution to bring jobs back to central and northern Appalachia. And while some people are finding well paying jobs and economic opportunities because of the boom in the gas industry, others are finding discontent.


The Struggle to Find Jobs Forces Some Appalachians to Leave the Mountains

Often on our show we hear about people who are trying to maintain hope in the midst of what many across the country would probably consider a life of poverty or despair.

Sometimes the temptation to lose hope is powerful. What future do we face in Appalachia? The need to feed our families is very real- but for many, the struggle to find jobs means they must cast their nets further and further away from home. We Appalachians know that it isn’t resignation that keeps us here- it’s pride for our mountains, our deep roots in our local communities and our strong connection with home. Part of what we love about Appalachia is the natural beauty, the simple sound of clean snow crunching under our feet.

Snowshoeing 101

When it comes to exploring the wintry outdoors in deep snow, it can be hard to get started, it helps to have a guide. That’s what Allegheny Front Contributor Ashley Murry found out when she tried snowshoeing for the first time She joined beginners to the sport, as well as seasoned outdoor trip leaders, Bill Grove and Katie Getsie, as they strapped on snowshoes in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Click here to search for guided snowshoeing trips like the one Ashley Murry took in Pennsylvania.

Click here to find directions to the Cranberry Nature Center in West Virginia, located along the Highland Scenic Highway. After a good snow, you can sometimes snowshoe along Kennison Mountain. Even with a light dusting of snow, it's an incredibly beautiful place for a winter hike.
You can also find snowshoe trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in Tennessee.

And here's a link where you can find information about snowshoeing and cross country skiing in North Carolina.

Increased Gas Drilling in W.Va. and PA Brings Jobs, but also Some Discontent

New technology now allows energy companies to blast water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressures to release gas from shale formations. With hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, gas companies are able to drill for more natural gas in some areas in Appalachia.

After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Almost a hundred residents from several counties throughout West Virginia are filing lawsuits for nuisance and negligence against several companies engaged in horizontal drilling activities. Glynis Board went out to Doddridge County to catch a glimpse of life in the growing rural gas fields of the state.

Gas Companies Rush to Build New Pipelines in PA

State Impact’s Marie Cusick has been following the gas boom in Pennsylvania. She reports that the pace of gas production is driving energy companies to build more pipelines that are needed to transport the new gas to markets.

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects

On January 21, the US. House of Representatives passed a resolution called the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The resolution directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny pipeline projects within 12 months after receiving a complete application. Whether or when that bill might be taken up by the Senate is unclear.

In West Virginia, there are at least two major pipeline projects in the pre-filing stage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline will each go through environmental analysis and a public comment period before being approved or denied by the Federal Government. Tamara Young Allen, spokesperson with FERC, says this process normally takes 12-18 months. The House Resolution says that FERC review should only take a year. 

Click here to make a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the Mountain Valley Pipeline [docket number  PF15-3-000]  or the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [docket number  PF15-6-000]

Click here to make a comment to the U.S. Forest Service, which is considering whether to issue a special use permit to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which would allow the company to conduct site survey and testing in a 17.1-mile segment of the Monongahela National Forest and 12.6 miles of the George Washington National Forest.

What's in a Name?

In this episode we’re looking at a town that got it’s name for sand flies-it’s also a town that is home to the famous Punxsutawney Phil that we see each year on Groundhog Day.

Yes- Punxsutawney PA got it’s name  from a Native American word for sand flies. Known as “town of the ponkies”- a word for sand gnats- became Punxsutawney.

French Creek Freddie and Concord Charlie

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of

West Virginia groundhogs-who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve.

The West Virginia Wildlife Center will have their Groundhog Day celebration on Feb 2, 10:00 am.

Our theme music is by Andy Agnew Jr., Our What’s in a Name Music is by Marteka and William with Johnson Ridge Special. Music in today’s show was also provided by Bing Crosby, Billy Pollard, Jake Scheppes, and the Glennville State Bluegrass Band.

 

 

 

 

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Legislature
5:23 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Role of Labor Commissioner Argued in House Committee

Credit West Virginia Legislature

The Government Organization Committee met Friday to discuss a number of bills, one of which was House Bill 2217, relating to the qualifications of the Commissioner of Labor. With a bill that’s been getting a lot of attention, it was relatively quiet in committee today, with only one vocalized vote against it progressing to the floor.

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Courts
3:50 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Tomblin Appoints Successor to Circuit Judge Who Resigned After Affair

  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has appointed an Elkins attorney to succeed a circuit court judge who resigned after admitting having an affair with a corrections official.

Tomblin announced David H. Wilmoth's appointment to the Randolph County judgeship Friday. Wilmoth succeeds Jaymie Wilfong, who resigned in November.

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High School Sports
2:33 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

WVSSAC Director Gary Ray to Retire

Credit http://www.wvssac.org/

The executive director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission is retiring.

Gary Ray will step down next January after more than eight years as head of the agency that oversees interscholastic athletics, cheerleading and band activities among its member schools.

The SSAC board of directors accepted Ray's retirement at a meeting Wednesday. A search will begin soon for Ray's replacement.

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Government
11:22 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Manchin Backs Prescription-Only Cold Medicine to Stem Meth

Credit Drug Enforcement Agency

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on state lawmakers to make certain cold medicines used to create methamphetamine available by prescription only.

In a letter Thursday, the Democrat asked the Republican-led Legislature to limit pseudoephedrine sales to people with prescriptions. It would apply to cold medicines like Sudafed.

Manchin pointed to successes Oregon and Mississippi, where the medicine is prescription-only.

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Natural Preservation
11:20 am
Fri January 30, 2015

USDA, WVU and Others Partner to Protect a Warbler

Credit Mdf / wikimedia Commons

  A five-year project to conserve a threatened warbler in West Virginia and several other states has won an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The funding is aimed at providing habitat for the cerulean warbler. Once abundant, numbers of the sky-blue bird have declined by about 70 percent since the 1960s. Habitat loss is a leading cause.

The Appalachian Mountains are a breeding stronghold for the warbler and mountaintop mining for coal has shrunk the bird's habitat.

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Government
11:02 am
Fri January 30, 2015

West Virginia Still Hopes to Turn Ex-Navy Base into Prison

Credit Navy Information Operations Command / U.S. Navy

  West Virginia officials say plans are moving forward to convert part of a soon-to-be closed Navy base in Pendleton County into a state prison.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told legislators Thursday that the state has submitted a formal application to the federal General Services Division to use part of the 122-acre Sugar Grove military base.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the Navy announced plans in 2012 to close the Naval Information Operations Command base.

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Infographic Childhood Poverty
10:42 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Infographic: A Snapshot of Childhood Poverty

Credit West Virginia Public Broadcasting
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West Virginia Morning
8:36 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Floor Session Remarks Spark Debate

On West Virginia Morning, remarks spark a not-so-respectful debate lasting nearly an hour at the end of the floor session yesterday and Liz McCormick will bring us up to date on that.

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Infrastructure
10:20 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects, and it Could Affect West Virginians

At a community meeting in Union, W.Va. last November, a hundred citizens voiced their concerns for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.

On January 21, the US. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 161, known as the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The resolution directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny pipeline projects within 12 months after receiving a complete application.

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Legislature
6:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

North v. South, Republican v. Democrat, Drugs v. Education: Heated Debate in the House

Delegate Patrick McGeehan
Credit Daniel Walker / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the end of every floor session, senators and delegates are allowed to give remarks to the entire body.  In the House Thursday, these remarks led to extended debate about jobs in the north and the lack of them in the south; about drug addiction and education, and the debate lasted for nearly an hour.

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The Legislature Today
6:23 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Education Chairs Sen. Sypolt and Del. Pasdon Talk Controversial Bills

At the legislature today, lawmakers were updated on a bill that passed two years ago and its effect on overcrowding in the state's jails and prisons. But correction officials say it will take more money to continue implementing the new law.

And does the state Public Service Commission have too much control over your local water utility? Some small public service districts say yes.

These stories plus a look the education issues facing lawmakers on The Legislature Today.

Government
6:05 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

West Virginia's Craft Brewing Industry Hopeful for Boost from Legislature

Credit Larry Dowling / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During the Governor’s State of the State Address earlier this month, Tomblin detailed some of his main priorities for this legislative session. The governor detailed the measures he would ask lawmakers to take to balance this year’s budget, bills he would introduce to improve the state’s business climate and juvenile justice system. But he also touched on a bill he hopes will incite the growth of an already burgeoning industry in West Virginia, craft brewing.

For Brian Arnett of Mountain State Brewing Co. located in Thomas and Morgantown, craft brewing--especially here in West Virginia--is something way more than just yeast, barley and hops.

“It’s a full on revolution. It’s people that want to know a story behind what they’re consuming and they like they story and they like the different flavors and the provided variety and flavors and things they would not get otherwise,” said Arnett.

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Government
4:40 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

W.Va. Community, Technical College System Chief Leaving

Credit Community and Technical College System of West Virginia

  The chancellor of West Virginia's community and technical college system is leaving after 11 years on the job.

Chancellor James L. Skidmore announced Thursday he will leave his post on June 30. He was the first chancellor of the system.

Since his start in 2004, Skidmore said he worked to secure a 35 percent increase in community and technical college budgets. He also sought improvements to infrastructure and the creation of two advanced technology centers.

A search committee will be formed to find a successor.

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Legislature
3:40 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

In Tight Budget Year, DOC Looking for Boost

DOC Commissioner James Rubenstein before the Senate Finance Committee.
Credit West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Finance Committee continued budget hearings Thursday with state Division of Corrections. Since the passage of the governor’s Justice Reinvestment Act in 2013, the Commissioner of Corrections told lawmakers overcrowding is becoming less and less of an issue, but the division is still asking for a budget increase.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein presented the governor’s proposed budget for his division for the upcoming fiscal year. In it, the governor is suggesting a budget increase of about $1.8 million from general revenue funds.

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Government
3:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

W.Va. GOP Wants Election Changes in Possible Manchin Gubernatorial Bid

As U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin considers a 2016 return bid for governor, Republicans hope to block him from handpicking his Senate successor for two years.

If he reclaims his old job, the Democrat will have served enough of his Senate term that he, as new governor, could name the next senator through 2018.

With majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in more than eight decades, Republicans can stymie Manchin's ability to name a potential replacement.

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Legislature
2:24 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Democratic Senator Questions Need for DOH Audit

Members of the Senate leadership team meet at the podium to discuss some procedural questions during Wednesday's floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate voted on Senate Bill 8 Wednesday, authorizing a performance audit of the state Division of Highways. The bill, which was welcomed by the Department of Transportation, met some opposition on the chamber floor. 

DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told members of both House and Senate committees last week he was all for the bill which authorizes an outside organization to come in and audit the ten DOH districts, looking for areas of inefficiency, better practices, and better allocation of funds, among other criteria. 

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