Economy

Appalachian Trail
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Kathleen Mallow-Sager

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says a record number of thru-hikers have stopped at its visitor center in Harpers Ferry this year.

West Virginia Lottery

West Virginia Lottery revenues are declining, primarily from competition from casinos in neighboring states.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the Lottery Commission's acting director, John Myers, said Friday revenues are shrinking at a steady rate of about 4 percent.

For November, the Lottery had gross revenue of more than $87 million, down approximately $2.7 million from November 2014.

Coal Layoffs, unemployed
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Alpha Natural Resources continues to scale back its coal-mining operations.

Workers were told Friday at mines in West Virginia and Virginia that they were being laid off. The total in both states is more than 160, with the majority occurring in West Virginia, according to media reports.

Hancock County
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

The former CEO of Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino is in charge of marketing the company's surplus property in northern Hancock County.

The State Journal reports Ted Arneault will make about 1,300 acres of properties available for commercial and industrial development.

Coal Layoffs, unemployed
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.5 percent in November.

WorkForce West Virginia says in a news release that the number of unemployed state residents fell by 3,200 last month to 52,100.

Dog Bless

Officials at the Humane Society of Raleigh County say its no-kill shelter has been forced to close its doors to new intakes and cut its hours due to overwhelming debt.

Humane society board member Melissa Lyons tells The Register-Herald that the shelter is faced with full kennels and ever-increasing veterinary bills.

natural gas, fracking
wikimedia

In a dramatic turn of events last year at the statehouse, a bill died on a tie vote during the last night of the 2015 legislative session. The issue was whether companies should be allowed to force mineral owners to sell their gas if the majority of their neighbors have already agreed to sell. Forced pooling. The topic resurfaced during interim meetings last month and is expected to be a priority this legislative session.


Deer
Scott Baue / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Meat processors participating in the Hunters Helping the Hungry program are getting a larger reimbursement from the state.

The Division of Natural Resources says the reimbursement has been increased from $1.45 per pound of processed venison to $2 per pound. The change went into effect with the 2015 deer seasons.

Members of West Virginia's Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board have voted to approve $120 million in cuts to workers' health plans.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the cuts are slated to affect more than 200,000 public employees and retirees. Board members voted on the cuts Thursday because they say there has been no additional state funding to offset rising health care costs. PEIA says it has exhausted its reserve fund in recent years.

Jarek Tuszynski / CC-BY-SA & GDFL

You’ve probably seen them. Barns with faded paint usually in black or red with yellow lettering delivering an old message from another time: “Chew Mail Pouch” and “Treat yourself to the best.”  Once upon a time these hand-painted advertisements covered more than 20,000 barns all across America.


Timber
Frode Inge Helland / wikimedia commons

Pardee Resources has sold a sawmill in West Virginia to The Jim C. Hamer Company.

Philadelphia-based Pardee announced the recent closure of the sale on Wednesday in a news release. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

ATV
aiisha / Dollar Photo Club

  A feasibility study for a proposed all-terrain vehicle trail system in central West Virginia will soon be presented to the state Legislature.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the study is expected to be complete by Jan. 4 and follows more than a year of analysis by Marshall University's Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute and a series of public workshops in a seven-county area.

WVU Parkersburg
Snoopywv / wikimedia commons

West Virginia University at Parkersburg is selling two downtown properties that were donated to the school in 2008.

The university's governing board agreed Wednesday to sell one property to Parkersburg Brewing Company for a brewery and wholesale and retail sales outlet. The purchase price is $251,000.

Coal Layoffs, unemployed
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.9 percent in October.

WorkForce West Virginia says in a news release that the number of unemployed state residents fell by 3,500 in October to 54,300.

Mountaineer Food Bank

Food banks across the state are getting help from the West Virginia Lottery.

The Lottery's Given and Win Food Drive begins Monday at 441 retailers across West Virginia. Anyone who donates five non-perishable food items at a participating store will have a chance to win a pack of 100 instant lottery tickets.

WVNS-TV

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear from first generation college students, like Savanna Lusk, the daughter of an underground coal miner and Logan Bays the son of a former surface miner. Host Jessica Lilly spoke on WVNS-TV Morning Show, previewing this week's episode.

University of Charleston
Acdixon / wikimedia commons

University of Charleston President Ed Welch says a tuition increase will be offset by more financial aid.

Undergraduate tuition at the private university will increase by $3,000 to $28,900 a year.

Alpha Natural Resources

Coal operator Alpha Natural Resources is seeking to eliminate health and other non-pension benefits for more than 4,500 non-union retirees.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha says in a recent bankruptcy court filing that the benefits cost it about $2.7 million in 2014 and represent a liability of about $125 million.

2bgr8 / http://2bgr8stock.deviantart.com/art/Money-Cash-113445826

United Bankshares, Inc. is acquiring Bank of Georgetown in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $269 million.

Charleston, West Virginia-based United Bankshares says in a news release that the acquisition will enhance its presence in the Washington, D.C., metro region.

Power Lines
Kreuzschnabel / wikimedia commons

Appalachian Power and affiliate AEP West Virginia Transmission Co. are investing $20 million in Cabell and Lincoln counties to improve reliability during the harsh winter months.

The investment in the transmission grid includes a new substation and about 4 miles of transmission line.

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