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Fire Claims Life of a Camper

The Free Press WV

A person was killed in a camper trailer fire near the town of Dixie close to the Fayette/Nicholas county line Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed one person had dead. It had investigators headed to the scene.

Temperatures dipped into the 20s in many areas late Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Outdoors

The Free Press WV

►  West Virginia tourism gets almost heaven rights

The West Virginia Tourism Office says it has obtained rights to use the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in marketing and will begin this week.

Made famous by John Denver, it calls the mountain state “almost heaven,” has been an unofficial West Virginia anthem almost since its 1971 release and was named an official state song in 2014.

Fans sing it at West Virginia University home football games.

The tourism office says it will make it a centerpiece of a major ad campaign next year.

According to National Public Radio, Denver first heard the incomplete song in the Washington, D.C., apartment of songwriter Bill Danoff and his girlfriend and writing partner, Taffy Nivert.

They finished it and recorded it together months later in New York City.


►  Philadelphia’s iconic ‘LOVE’ sculpture to return in 2018

City officials say the return of Philadelphia’s iconic “LOVE” statue will take a few more months.

The city Parks & Recreation department announced Thursday the Robert Indiana sculpture is still being restored. The sculpture was on display at a plaza next to City Hall while its permanent home, Love Park, has been going through a multimillion-dollar renovation.

The sculpture will look different upon its return. City officials say workers are repainting it to the original colors of red, green and purple that the artist used instead of red, green and blue.

Officials say the sculpture will be displayed next year upon completion of Love Park.

Outdoors

The Free Press WV

►  Tourism to seek $15 million increase in advertising budget from state lawmakers

State Commissioner of Tourism Chelsea Ruby told industry leaders Monday that she’ll ask the state legislature to increase the Division of Tourism’s budget by $15 million next budget year.

Ruby spoke at the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Tourism taking place at the Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack in Chester.

Tourism’s current advertising budget is around $6 million. Ruby said that needs to more than double if West Virginia is going to have a significant impact.

“In order to put us on a national stage where we think we belong we would need about an additional $15 million—so that’s what our hope is and that’s what we’re going to be going to the legislature for and asking for in this next session,” Ruby told MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio, which is attending the conference.

Tourism brings in about $4.1 billion a year to West Virginia and supports 45,000 jobs. Ruby said that’s a significant number but it’s not growing.

“What you see is that we are losing market share,” she said. “Last year our numbers went down and over the past four years we’ve gone down 15 percent and in that same time period every state around us has seen an increase.”

Governor Justice asked for an additional $5 million in tourism advertising for this budget year but it was turned down by lawmakers. Ruby said if the budget remains the same the state will remain a small player in the tourism game.

“We believe if we can get that $15 million we can go on a national stage. Right now, we’re really on a small regional stage and we’re ready to take it to the next level,” she said.

Canaan Valley State Park General Manager Steve Drumheller supports the move.

“If you have more money and you can get the word out broader it’s bound to help,” Drumheller said.

Ruby is also pushing a plan that would move away from the traditional advertising matching grants that tourism businesses have competed for in West Virginia for years. She said it’s time for regional cooperation.

“If you look at the average length of stay in West Virginia it’s about half the national average. So we’re starting some new tactics to get folks to work together to promote destinations instead of specific attractions in West Virginia,” Ruby said.

Justice for months has advocated for increased funding for tourism advertising in West Virginia, frequently lamenting that the state can’t seem to compete with a televised advertising campaign for the state of Michigan.


►  Bobcat in bathroom of Oklahoma newspaper startles publisher

A small-town Oklahoma newspaper publisher found a startling front-page story practically in his newsroom: There was a hissing bobcat in the bathroom.

Sapulpa Herald publisher Darren Sumner says the wild animal jumped at him one recent morning as he was heading into the restroom at his office in Sapulpa, a Tulsa suburb.

Sumner shut the door and trapped the adult male cat inside until police and a game warden arrived. Wildlife control workers captured the bobcat in a cage and released it in nearby Pawnee County.

Neither Sumner nor the wild cat was injured in the confrontation.

Sumner said the animal likely got into his building through an open door.


►  Fat grizzly killed for preying on calves to be displayed

A grizzly bear killed for preying on cattle in Montana will be stuffed and put on display.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks plans to donate the young male grizzly to Benefis Health System, which operates a hospital and other medical facilities in Great Falls.

Montana grizzly bear management specialist Mike Madel says the grizzly was one of the fattest he’d handled. The Great Falls Tribune reports bears in the area south of Glacier National Park where the bear was caught are fat from eating a bumper crop of wild berries this year.

Madel says Fish, Wildlife and Parks can’t sell bear parts but will donate mounts if they’re used for educational purposes.

The bear weighed 540 pounds and was linked to the deaths of 13 calves.

Outdoors

The Free Press WV

►  Utah senator: Trump shrinking 2 national monuments in Utah

Donald Trump is shrinking two national monuments in Utah, accepting the recommendation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reverse protections established by two Democratic presidents, a Republican senator said Friday.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said he was “incredibly grateful” that Trump called him on Friday to say he is approving Zinke’s proposal on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments. He and Trump “believe in the importance of protecting these sacred antiquities,” but said there is “a better way to do it” by working with local officials and tribes, Hatch said.

Hatch’s office said Trump called the senator and said, “I’m approving the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase recommendation for you, Orrin.”

Zinke recommended in September that the two Utah monuments be shrunk, along with Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.

The two Utah monuments encompass more than 3.6 million acres — an area larger than Connecticut — and were created by Democratic administrations under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historic, geographically or culturally important.

Bears Ears, designated for federal protection by former President Barack Obama, totals 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah on land that is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings. Grand Staircase-Escalante, in southern Utah, includes nearly 1.9 million acres in a sweeping vista larger than the state of Delaware. Republicans have howled over the monument designation since its creation in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton.

Conservation groups and tribes have vowed to file lawsuits if Trump attempts to rescind or reduce the monument designations.

Trump asked for the review this spring following complaints by Hatch and other Republicans that the 1906 Antiquities Act had been misused to create oversized monuments that hinder energy development, logging and other uses. The review included sweeping sites mostly in the West that are home to ancient cliff dwellings, towering sequoia trees, deep canyons or ocean habitats roamed by seals, whales and sea turtles.

National monument designations add protections for lands revered for their natural beauty and historical significance with the goal of preserving them for future generations. The restrictions aren’t as stringent as national parks, but some policies include limits on mining, timber cutting and recreational activities such as riding off-road vehicles.

No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but they have trimmed and redrawn boundaries 18 times, according to the National Park Service.

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