Economy

Local Food Local Places working group of representatives from federal, regional, state, and local organizations tour Wheeling.
Glynis Board / WVPB

Momentum continues to mount behind local food and local economic development efforts in the Northern panhandle. Wheeling was one of the top picks in a national Local Foods, Local Places Competition. As a result, local organizations are receiving technical assistance from multiple state and federal agencies to help capitalize on the growing demand for local foods.  Meetings with federal agency representatives began last week.


West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Overall, West Virginia continues to see a decline in population since 2012. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, while the state's population grew from 2010 (1,854,176)  to 2012 (1,856,313) the state has seen a drop-off in consecutive years since--with the last estimate from July 1, 2014 putting West Virginia's population at 1,850,326.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, held a field hearing this week in Beckley, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. The carbon pollution standards are the first of their kind and aim is to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent nationwide by reducing carbon pollution from power plants. Senator Capito held a hearing in southern West Virginia where tightening regulations might be felt most acutely.


Patriot Coal

  Patriot Coal is temporarily idling two mines at a southern West Virginia coal mining complex.

On Monday, the St. Louis-based company announced the changes at its Paint Creek Complex near Cabin Creek.

The company says it's idling the Samples surface mine and Winchester underground mine because of high coal inventory levels. Patriot attributes the high levels to the CSX railroad service disruption last month and diminished demand for coal.

www.mine-engineer.com

Representatives of the coal and gas industry as well as solar are expected to speak at a public forum in Martinsburg next week. The forum is about energy and how it relates to West Virginia’s economy.

West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey
West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey / West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection hosted a public hearing in Charleston to discuss a new air quality permit for natural gas facilities in the state. Some wish the DEP would use the permit writing process to incorporate suggestions from scientists who have studied air around gas facilities.


Courtesy Photo Tudor's Biscuit World

One may not expect that eating breakfast could be considered political activism. Yet, on Wednesday morning at Tudor’s Biscuit World on the west side of Charleston, the Democratic Party asked residents of the area to come out in support of a struggling West Virginia food bank.

The event, raising money for the Mountaineer Food Bank, came just one day after another fundraiser was canceled by the conservative non-profit  Go West Virginia Inc.  The Associated Press obtained an invitation to the Go West Virginia event, which called for a $100,000 donation for a Tuesday morning breakfast at the Charleston Courtyard Marriott. The invitation said donors would not publicly be disclosed.

Catherine Moore

Early one morning this past January, two Clay County school busses pulled up at the state capitol complex in Charleston. Inside were members of the group “What’s Next, Clay County?”, one of twenty-five communities across the state that is organizing to strengthen their local economy as a part of the “What’s Next, WV?” initiative. 

Over seventy people attended their first community meeting last fall—not a small feat in a community of their size. They chose five areas to focus their work: youth and education; infrastructure; small business; drugs; and cleaning up trash and dilapidated properties.

Since then, they realized they would need outside help to accomplish all they have set out to do, so they set off for a day at the capitol. This is a story about a small, rural community fighting for a brighter economic future for their families and neighbors. 

    

U.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey says more data and research are necessary to best understand the potential risks to water quality in areas with unconventional oil and gas development.

January 2nd of 2014 the Lisby Pad explosion spilled an unknown amount of "black sludge" associated with a horizontal drilling site in Tyler County into a feeder stream of a local municipality's source water stream.
Bill Hughes

 

State senators in Charleston took action this week to roll back aboveground tank regulations put in place after last year’s chemical spill which contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians.

Adam Zyglis / The Buffalo News

  A new report released in the wake of New York State's decision to ban the horizontal gas drilling process known as fracking analyzes more than 100 scientific studies that have been approved and distributed by oil and gas industry representatives.


  When you hear the word “ginseng” you might think about a wild plant that grows in the hills of Appalachia … and you would be right, that’s the good stuff. But there’s another way ginseng grows that’s a little less wild. Basically, we’re talking about ginseng farming in the forest, which can yield roots as valuable as the wild stuff. So is it a viable business for West Virginians? Well, there are some rules and regulations that might be hindering growth, but experts say there are ways to promote the industry.


 The War on Coal, pressures from natural gas development, crumbling infrastructure, whatever you want to blame it on - jobs are becoming more and more scarce these days in communities dependent on coal. As a result, some folks are reaching back to their roots, literally and figuratively, to make ends meet - just as they have for generations. And there’s some big money there. Especially harvesting ginseng. But can plants like ginseng play a significant role in our economy today? Enquiring minds would like to know…


Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An Eastern Panhandle distillery decided to close its doors this week because of uncertainty about regulations the owners say are making their business unprofitable.

Distilleries must sell their liquor to the state and buy it back at a 28 percent markup under a provision of the liquor law called bailment. Bloomery Sweetshine Distillery in Jefferson County says that markup has made doing business unsustainable.

http://news.pg.com/multimedia

  Procter & Gamble plans to invest $500 million in a West Virginia manufacturing facility slated to open in 2017.

In a news release Tuesday, the multinational manufacturer said it expects to create 700 permanent jobs at the planned facility in Berkeley County, near Tabler Station outside Martinsburg.

Another 1,000 temporary construction positions are expected.

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company hasn't announced which brands will be produced there.

President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes more than $3 billion worth of tax credits and other spending to help the Appalachian region recover from the declining coal industry. People across the coalfields are responding with mixed feelings.

In southern West Virginia, many people see initiatives from the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions as an attack on their livelihoods.

So it’s not surprising to hear skepticism and doubt from the coalfields when the president announces intentions to throw a financial lifeline to Appalachia.


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.

West Virginia's groundhogs both predicted an early spring this year. At the West Virginia Wildlife Center Monday morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow.  At Concord University, Concord Charlie also did not see his shadow.
However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

  Timberline Four Seasons Resort is using crowdfunding to raise money for improvements.

The Tucker County resort launched an online crowdfunding on Tuesday at www.snowfunding.com. The goal is to raise $75,000 in 65 days.

Timberline CEO Fred Herz tells The Charleston Gazette that the resort sees crowdfunding as a way to engage customers in its activities and planned undertakings.

http://www.coalheritage.org/

  An annual spring lecture series that explores the heritage of the coal industry kicks off the first week of February with featured musicians and poets.  

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

  

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission announced this week that it will be offering free assistance to students and families looking to apply for financial assistance in pursuit of a college degree.

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