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Wild Game: An Excellent Nutritional Alternative To Beef And Other Farmed Meat

West Virginia’s abundance of wildlife provides opportunities for many families to fill their freezers with an ample amount of highly nutritious wild game.

Wild game can provide a healthy, high-protein alternative to beef and other commercial meats. For example, white-tailed deer (venison) has fewer calories and contains approximately five times less fat than an equivalent serving of beef.

“Wild game that is legally harvested during one of West Virginia’s hunting seasons provides a healthy source of protein for many West Virginians,“ said Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Many families incorporate venison, wild turkey and other wild game into their diets on a regular basis.“

Hunters and their families are not the only West Virginians who benefit from the state’s abundance of wildlife resources. The DNR-sponsored Hunters Helping the Hungry Program processes deer for needy families and individuals in the Mountain State. Since the program’s inception in 1992, 941,066 pounds of hunter-donated venison has provided more than 1.2 million meals for needy West Virginians. The 2017 hunting season will mark this successful program’s 26th year.

For more information about the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program, visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov or call the DNR district office in French Creek at 304.924.6211.

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Outdoors

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►  Rotten potatoes discovered after Agriculture Department handoff

The current state Department of Agriculture says it inherited 210,000 pounds of potatoes from the prior administration.

The trouble is, many of the potatoes were well past their prime by the time they were discovered.

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt’s administration has talked about the rotten potatoes this week as part of an ongoing discussion of property it took over from the previous administration — including a large potato processor and a mobile poultry processing unit that it’s trying to lease or sell.

The administration, which took office in January, knew it was getting that equipment but disagreed philosophically with what it viewed as providing direct services to farmers when the private sector could perform those functions.

The rotting potatoes were a big surprise.

“We got an invoice three weeks after inauguration that said we had a rental space in Huntington, and that triggered us to discover what was in this rental space,” Crescent Gallagher, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, said this morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “It was actually storage space for potatoes.”

The new administration found 50,000 pounds in a cooler in Huntington and 160,000 pounds in a cooler at the department’s Huttonsville farm.

They were bought by department as part of the broader project to provide potato processing services to farmers. In short, the government was buying excess potatoes from 30 to 40 farmers but had no contract buyer in place.

“The rotten potatoes we found is a clear indication that this project was poorly thought out,” Gallagher said.

“To move such a project forward, as such a cost to the taxpayer, without an actual plan or buyer was extremely irresponsible of the previous administration. Plain and simple, this was bad government.”

MetroNews has not yet been able to reach previous Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick.

The previous administration bought excess potatoes from farmers at 20 cents a pound, Gallagher said. The potatoes that were found were worth about $42,000, he estimated.

“Fifty thousand of the potatoes were cleaned. If you know anything about potatoes the second you clean them they start sprouting. Those were mostly goo by the time we found them,” Gallagher said.

What the department recovered was about $8,000 from selling 160,000 pounds to food banks. The price was a nickel a pound. The net loss, Gallagher said, would be estimated at $32,000 plus staff time.

“Best we could do to make sure everything did not go to waste,” Gallagher said.

The remainder were thrown away.

“Yeah, they were unusable,” Gallagher said. “They were basically just goo by the time we found them.”


►  Bridge Day 2017 full of thrills, celebration and West Virginia pride

The sounds of cheering, music and opening parachutes echoed through the New River Gorge for Bridge Day 2017 Saturday.

Traffic on U.S. Route 19 near the New River Gorge Bridge was shut down by West Virginia State Police at 7 in the morning. Lines began to form of eager people waiting for the opening of the bridge to pedestrians at 9. Once the barriers opened, many rushed to the bridge to catch pictures of the lingering morning fog underneath.

This year was special for the annual celebration as it honored the 40th anniversary of the bridge’s opening on October 22, 1977. Several keynote speakers were on hand to help commemorate the event on a stage close to the bridge’s north end. U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said Bridge Day is special for her. Her father, 28th and 30th West Virginia Governor Arch Moore, is noted for the idea to construct the bridge.

“My dad always said he held his breath when he went across the bridge”, said Capito. “It wasn’t because he was scared, it was because of the beauty and wonder of it. My dad is smiling today.”

Other speakers included U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins who took time to walk around the bridge and thank people for coming. To him, the iconic structure is far more than a record-setting bridge.

“Yes it’s shorter travel time, yes it’s incredible vistas, yes it’s recreation and its tourism. But it for us is a symbol of strength and power and resilience. People around the world see this bridge and know that’s West Virginia strong.”

Several welders and contractors who built the bridge attended the 40th anniversary ceremony. West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith applauded the “founding fathers” of the bridge.

“They understood what transportation could do. They very aggresively mounted a program to build the interstates, the Appalachian corridors and indeed this bridge today.”

An estimated 300 brave individuals BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumped from the bridge. The technique they used to accomplish the daring feet differed. A platform, known as the “diving board” rested on top of the guardrail providing a roughly 876 feet drop. Others chose the catapult, which launched participants far above the height of the bridge before falling.

The occasional whir of a motor signaled a “scissorlift jump” was coming. Crowds gathered with phones pointed in the air as the lift added about 30 additional feet to the jump. BASE jumper Michelle Kasper described what goes through her head when her toes reach the edge. Kasper is from Canada and starting a BASE jumping tour. Two questions in particular race through her mind.

“Why am I here? What am I doing? Every jump is nerve-racking. I’m still newer to the sport, but the second you leave that edge it’s totally worth it. Just taking it all in (and) watching that ground coming up at you is quite an exhilarating feeling.”

Dustin Pyle had just completed a jump and was en route to complete another one when he stopped to speak with MetroNews. He was with a group from Arkansas who all agreed on one important piece of advice.

“Don’t hit the trees. Just focus on what you need to do and really try to get everything out that you need to. Focus on exactly what you need to do for the jump.”

For those who did not wish to jump but wanted a thrilling experience, there were other activities occurring underneath the bridge. Eight repelling lines offered a breath-taking yet slower-paced way to take in the scenery. On the northern end of the bridge was a zipline running from the bridge’s catwalk to Fayette Station Road around 100 feet below.

In addition to statewide news coverage, the event received world-wide attention from several media outlets. CBS News and The Weather Channel were reporting live throughout the day. Snapchat, a popular social media application for sharing pictures, was on hand sending content to millions of subscribers worldwide on their “Bridge Day” story.

Most who attended came to watch the jumpers and take the once per year opportunity to walk across the bridge. Vendors on each end of the bridge provided hot food, cold drinks and handmade memorabilia.

Those with a sweet tooth were in luck as over 1,000 locally-made cupcakes were distributed to celebrate the bridge’s 40th anniversary. As they were handed out, Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith concluded the 40th anniversary ceremony reminding everyone of the bridge’s impact on more than just West Virginia.

“It’s just almost unfathomable to understand how much this bridge and this corridor had on the whole area here, and the greater region and the eastern part of the United States. We need to savor and celebrate the success of this remarkable, historic structure. I’ll invite our many guests from out of town to come back to West Virginia.”

Bridge Day 2018 will be held on Saturday, October 20.

WV Receives More Than $230K in Specialty Crop Block Grants

The Free Press WV

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the awarding of 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grants to West Virginia.

Twelve out of 31 projects submitted from West Virginia were selected to share $230,000 in funding.

The purpose of the program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.“

Grant recipients have three years to plan, implement and gather data on their respective projects.

The federal agency handed out a total of $60.5 million to 678 projects across the United States and its territories for 2017.

For a complete list of West Virginia’s 2017 SCBG recipients, Click HERE .

Information on the 2018 SCBG process should be available by December 01.

Call 304.558.2210 or email to be placed on our grant opportunity list for upcoming notifications.

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