Associated Press

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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.
 

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.
 

Harry Schaefer, Environmental Protection Agency / wikimedia Commons

An organization that promotes energy efficiency puts West Virginia among the top five most improved states in this year's annual scorecard.
 
     The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its rankings Wednesday.

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.
 

WDTV

The father of one of four children killed in a West Virginia house fire says his daughter's donated organs are keeping three transplant patients alive, so she continues to bring joy to other families.

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.
 

Politico

West Virginia Internet providers say they're working hard to reach the nine percent of people who lack broadband access, but hurdles remain.

The internet providers spoke Monday at the third Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation Broadband Summit in Morgantown.

The Foundation was formed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller who noted when the last broadband summit was held four years ago, less than 72 percent of West Virginians had access to broadband. Today, 91 percent have access.

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.

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.

Overview of Cranberry Glades and Cranberry Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
Jaknouse / wikimedia Commons

Hunters and anglers who use the Monongahela National Forest will have to avoid a large area while timber is being harvested.
 
     The U.S. Forest Service and the state Division of Natural Resources say they'll have to steer clear because of safety concerns while helicopters move logs.
 
     The work was set to begin Friday and could last as long as six weeks, depending on weather.
 

Cannon at Droop Mountain
Beeflower / wikimedia Commons

The commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Droop Mountain is continuing in West Virginia.
 
     The Division of Natural Resources says the last in a series of hikes at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park in Pocahontas County will take place on Tuesday, November 5.
 
     The all-night, 30-mile hike that starts near Lewisburg and concludes at Droop Mountain will help mark the Civil War battle that occurred there November 6, 1863.
 

Thomas J. Piccard
AP

A prosecutor says the former police officer who sprayed a courthouse in West Virginia with bullets expressed hatred for the federal government in writings found at his home and on his body.
 
     U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said Thursday that 55-year-old Thomas J. Piccard expressed his hatred in writings found after the Oct. 9 shooting at the federal courthouse in Wheeling.
 
     Ihlenfeld wouldn't provide further details. But he says Piccard's hatred of the government was one of three factors that contributed to the shooting.
 

Judge Michael Thornsbury
Associated Press

A Delbarton man convicted of selling drugs to a sheriff is seeking his release from prison until a judge hears a petition in his case.
 

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.
 

WDTV

The Allegheny County Medical Examiners Office has confirmed the identities of three of the five people who died in an Elkins house fire this week.

Forensic Supervisor Anthony Bofo says 29-year-old Alan Chamberlain died Tuesday night at the West Penn Burn Center outside of Pittsburgh.

His 2-year-old daughter Brianna Chamberlain and her half-sister, 11-year-old Catherine Bolgar, also died there Tuesday.

Brianna's twin and a 4-year-old sister died at an Elkins hospital, but the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office has not yet released their names.

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.
 

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.
 

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.

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.
 

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.

A Fairmont man is facing charges that he embezzled about $10,000 from a youth football league.

Environmental groups are reacting to a ruling from a federal judge which says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no legal right to force a West Virginia chicken farmer to obtain pollution permits for runoff from her Hardy County farm.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the runoff entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed from Lois Alt's poultry farm is stormwater and therefore not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

WVSU campus in Institute, W.Va.
Steve Shaluta / W.Va. Department of Commerce

West Virginia State University will host a program aimed at increasing awareness of what it's like to be poor.   The Simulation of Poverty program is set for Saturday in the Wilson University Union. It's designed to raise awareness and encourage solutions to poverty. 

A company involved in the problematic federal health care exchange website has a contract to design a system to manage West Virginia state government accounts.
 
     CGI Group subsidiary CGI Federal is the developer of the complex U.S. government website that's been hit by technical problems, resulting in long waits for Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
 

West Virginia's Head Start preschool program is no longer available in every county due to federal budget cuts, state officials said Tuesday.

The federally funded program helps prepare low-income children for elementary school and also provides them with meals and health care. The programs are a legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1960s war on poverty.

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