WVBE Sets Cut Scores for A-F Accountability System

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) approved cut scores for the West Virginia School Accountability System. Cut scores were set at each programmatic level to define the points needed to earn each letter grade (A-F) within the system.

“Cut scores represent the range of points needed to earn each respective letter grade and designate where each letter grade ends and the next letter grade begins,” said Lloyd Jackson, WVBE Vice President.

Cut scores were defined at each programmatic level, elementary, middle school and high school, by the WVBE using a normal bell curve to establish a baseline during the first year of assigning grades. Cut scores will remain constant thereafter for a number of years so schools will know their targets for grade improvement.

“For the foreseeable future, the cut scores will not change,” Jackson said. “We want our schools to know their target for improvement. Nothing would make our Board happier than for no schools to earn a D or an F, and under this system, it is a possibility.”

Cut scores were determined for each programmatic level separately. Total points were derived by summing the points earned on each measure and schools were ranked from the highest total points earned to the lowest. Stanines were calculated which represent nine equally spaced intervals across the full distribution of total points earned by all schools. The school with the highest number of points within a grade band set the top cut score for that letter grade. For the A letter-grade, the top cut is the highest number of points possible: 1,200 points for elementary and middle schools and 1,500 points for high schools.

Policy 2320, A Process for Improving Education: Performance Based Accreditation System, assigns all public schools a grade of A through F based on multiple measures of student and school performance. The system is designed to be transparent and provide data while using language that can be easily understood by parents and the community. Schools will be held accountable for what is considered their core mission – increasing student achievement. All public schools throughout West Virginia will receive a letter grade for the first time in November 2016.

Cut scores for each programmatic level can be found by visiting:

“When & Where to Visit” for Fall Color

The Free Press WV

Scattered color is reported at areas of lower elevation in West Virginia. The best of that scattered color can be found in river valleys. Huntington’s Ritter Park, Charleston’s Coonskin Park and Kanawha State Forest should have some good color. Trees in areas of higher elevation throughout West Virginia have mostly lost their leaves due to recent rain and snowfall.

Things to see and do

This weekend’s fall festivities in the Mountain State will surely get you into the Halloween spirit. Listen to spooky ghost tales at Harvest Fest & All Hallows Eve Encampment in Point Pleasant, witness the dazzling display of over 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins at The Pumpkin House during C-K Autumnfest, or warm up with some tasty chili samples at the inaugural WV Fire & Ice craft beer tasting and chili cook-off in Logan County. For a list of upcoming events this fall, visit

U.S. Children With Health Coverage at Record High; WV One of Best

The Free Press WV

More American children now have health insurance than at any time on record, according to a new study. And West Virginia is among the states with the best numbers.

A report released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families showed the uninsured rate for children also saw its sharpest two-year decline on record, as 95 percent of kids accross the country had health coverage in 2015.

The study found that in West Virginia, the uninsured rate for children was below three percent, said Renate Pore, healthcare policy consultant with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

“We have 2.8 percent children uninsured. That’s the smallest uninsured number we’ve ever had,” Pore said. “And we are among the top 10 in health insurance coverage for kids.“

According to Pore, the good numbers are the result of more than ten years of work at the state and federal level. She said she credits Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the recent governors.

Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director at the Georgetown center, said that researchers looked but couldn’t find any sign that the national statistics have ever been better.

“This is the highest level in pretty much all of recent recorded data,” Alker said. “Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance program and the Affordable Care Act have succeeded in raising the number of children with health insurance.“

According to Pore, the young people in West Virginia who don’t have coverage now are likely to be at-risk teens.

“They may not be living with their parents. They may not be in school. They may be homeless,” Pore said. “Those are the kids that are very hard to reach, but we need to continue to make an effort to get to them.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

10 Best U.S. Cities for Celebrating Halloween

Ah, Halloween! The time of year the boundaries of the word “sexy” are stretched beyond recognition to encompass costumes like Sexy Ken Bone, Sexy Poop Emoji and Sexy Sriracha. Budgets, possibly to a less absurd degree, get stretched, too. In addition to getting the perfect Halloween look, there’s the cost of cards, invites and spooky decorations. You’ll also have to lay out money for candy—the kinds favored by kids (i.e., chocolate bars, red licorice, gum drops) or adults (i.e., booze).

WalletHub cites a National Retail Hub survey that found 70 percent of Americans will take part in Halloween celebrations, spending roughly $83 a person. That adds up to an estimated $8.4 billion total, up $1.5 billion from a year ago. That uptick in cost might translate to an increase in fun, depending on the city you call home. WalletHub weighed factors like the Halloween weather outlook, trick-or-treater friendliness and the number of Halloween activities available to figure out the list of 2016’s Best Cities for Halloween.

Here’s how the the top 10 cities out of the full list ranked:

1. Santa Ana, CA
2. New York, NY
3. Jersey City, NJ
4. Newark, NJ
5. Laredo, TX
6. Gilbert, AZ
7. Chula Vista, CA
8. Plano, TX
9. Chicago, IL
10. Las Vegas, NV

A few more Halloween stats of interest:

  • $3.14 billion: The amount spent on costumes.

  • 4%: The share of Americans age 35 and up who will dress as one of the major-party presidential candidates. (And yes, both Sexy Hillary Clinton and Sexy Donald Trump costumes exist. I couldn’t find a Sexy Jill Stein or Gary Johnson outfit, but Playboy apparently and ridiculously tried to make Sexy Bernie Sanders happen last year.)

  • $547.9 million: Halloween candy sales.

  • $300+ million: Annual revenue from ticket sales to haunted attractions (80 percent of which are charity-operated).

  • 72%: Share of parents who say they steal Halloween candy from their kids.

For more, check the infographic below, courtesy of WalletHub.


The Free Press WV


The Free Press WV

Mallinckrodt is donating 55,000 drug deactivation pouches to the state - 1,000 to every county

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined elected officials and community leaders at Winfield Middle School, during National Red Ribbon Week to unveil a statewide drug prevention initiative. Mallinckrodt has pledged to donate 55,000 drug deactivation pouches to the state to ensure proper disposal of unused or outdated prescription medications.  Each of the 55 counties will receive 1,000 pouches for their residents.

“Prescription drug abuse has devastating effects on countless families across our nation,” Senator Joe Manchin said. “I have made a promise to the people of West Virginia and to the American people that I will do everything I can to beat this epidemic and to help those in recovery return to the lives they once enjoyed, drug-free. An important part of keeping prescription drugs out of the wrong hands is proper drug disposal, and that is what we hope to accomplish through this statewide initiative.”

Senator Manchin’s office will work with each county sheriff’s office and local law enforcement, drug prevention coalitions, and senior centers in distributing the drug deactivation pouches to help keep prescription drugs off the streets.

“The Sheriffs in West Virginia are very happy to be able to help get prescription drugs off the street and prevent their abuse by any means possible,” Executive Director of the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Association Rodney Miller said.  “This project lets people destroy unused or unwanted drugs in a safe manner before they can get in the hands of potential abusers or children who could accidently consume them.  West Virginia’s Sheriffs thank Sen. Manchin for his efforts in fighting our drug abuse problems in our State.“

The drug deactivation pouches were purchased and donated by Mallinckrodt, a global specialty pharmaceutical company. The user-friendly, pouch-based systems deactivate prescription drugs and render chemical compounds safe for landfills. After placing pills in the specially formulated pouch and adding regular tap water, it can be sealed and thrown away with the household trash, making the disposal process convenient for all.

“The Bureau of Senior Services welcomes the opportunity to be a part of this statewide program to help fight drug abuse in West Virginia,” Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services Robert Roswall said. “It is important that our state’s seniors do their part in this fight as well. Providing seniors information and an easy and efficient way to dispose of unused and outdated medicines has the potential to make a serious impact on the fight against drug abuse in the Mountain State.”


 The statewide West Virginia donation is part of Mallinckrodt’s nationwide one-million pouch donation initiative to help combat the abuse of prescription pain medications, which is one of the top public health threats in the country today.

A national survey of U.S. adults who used opioids showed that nearly 6 out of 10 had or expect to have leftover opioids, according to findings published online June 13, 2016, in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. Nearly 68 percent of those who used prescription pain relievers non-medically in 2012-2013 got them from friends or relatives, according to the 2013 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“We are pleased and excited that Senator Manchin selected Putnam County to unveil this statewide plan,” Putnam Wellness Coalition Project Director Bill O’Dell said. “The Putnam Wellness Coalition, like many of the other substance abuse coalitions around the state, is thankful for this effort and for all the help Senator Manchin and others provide. Our vision for Putnam County is to have an empowered community which promotes healthy living, the elimination of substance abuse, and that is a great place to live, work, play, go to school, and raise a family.  The Putnam Wellness Coalition engages communities within Putnam County in ongoing efforts to eliminate substance abuse by creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment that inform, advocate, and support youth and adults. Today’s announcement is one example that fits all of those criteria.”  

The drug deactivation pouches are manufactured by Verde Technologies.


The pouches will be delivered to the county coordinators in the coming weeks. Individuals who would like to obtain a pouch, can contact the coordinator in their county listed below.


County Coordinators

Barbour County Sheriff Philip Ferguson, 8 North Main Street, Philippi, WV 26416

Berkeley CountySheriff Kenneth LeMaster, 802 Emmett Rousch Drive, Martinsburg, WV 25401

Boone County     Sheriff Randall White, 206 Court Street Madison, WV 25130

Braxton County Sheriff Eddie Williams, 300 Main Street, Sutton, WV 26601

Brooke County   Sheriff Chuck Jackson, 300 Courthouse Square, Wellsburg, WV 26070

Cabell County    Sheriff Thomas McComas, 750 5th Avenue, Suite 101, Huntington, WV 25701

Calhoun County Sheriff Carl Ballengee, 363 Main Street, Suite 204, Grantsville, WV 26147

Clay County       Sheriff Garrett Samples, 246 Main Street, Clay, WV 25043

Doddridge County    Sheriff Michael Headley, 135 Court Street, West Union, WV 26456

Fayette County   Sheriff Steve Kessler, 100 North Court Street, Fayetteville, WV 25840

Gilmer County   Sheriff Larry Gerwig, 10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV 26351

Grant County     Sheriff Emory Feaster, 5 Highland Avenue, Petersburg, WV 26847

Greenbrier County   Sheriff Jan Cahill, 200 North Court Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901

Hampshire County   Sheriff John Alkire, 66 N High Street, Romney, WV 26757

Hancock CountySheriff Ralph Fletcher, 102 North Court Street, New Cumberland, WV 26047

Hardy County    Sheriff Bryan Ward, 204 Washington Street, Moorefield, WV 26836

Harrison CountySheriff Albert Marano, 301 West Main Street, Clarksburg, WV 26301

Jackson County  Sheriff Anthony Boggs, 100 Maple Street, Ripley, WV 25271

Jefferson County      Sheriff Peter Dougherty, 102 Industrial Boulevard, Kearneysville, WV 25430

Kanawha County      Sheriff John Rutherford, 301 Virginia Street East, Charleston, WV 25301

Lewis County     Sheriff Adam Gissy, 110 Center Avenue, Weston, WV 26452

Lincoln County  Sheriff Ken Farley, 8000 Court Avenue, Hamlin, WV 25523

Logan County     Sheriff Sonya Dingiss-Porter, 300 Stratton Street, Logan, WV 25601

Marion County  Sheriff Joseph Carpenter, 316 Monroe Street, Fairmont, WV 26554

Marshall CountySheriff Kevin Cecil, 600 7th Street, Moundsville, WV 26041

Mason County    Sheriff Gregory Powers, 200 6th Street, Point Pleasant, WV 25550

McDowell County     Sheriff Martin West, 90 Wyoming Street, Welch, WV 24801

Mercer County   Sheriff Don Meadows, 210 West Main Street, Princeton, WV 24740

Mineral County Sheriff Jeremy Taylor, 150 Armstrong Street, Keyser, WV 26726

Mingo County    Sheriff James Smith, 72 East 2nd Avenue, Williamson, WV 25661

Monongalia County  Sheriff Allen Kisner, 116 Walnut Street, Morgantown, WV 26505

Monroe County  Sheriff Michael Gravely, 350 Main Street, Union, WV 24983

Morgan County  Sheriff Vince Shambaugh, 111 Fairfax Street, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411

Nicholas County Sheriff David Hopkins, 700 Main Street, Summersville, WV 26651

Ohio County       Sheriff Patrick Butler, 51 16th Street, Wheeling, WV 26003

Pendleton County     Sheriff Donald Hedrick, 100 South Main Street, Franklin, WV 26807

Pleasants County      Sheriff D Wayne Wilson, 305 Barkwill Street, Saint Mary’s, WV 26170

Pocahontas County   Sheriff David Jonese, 900 10th Avenue, Marlinton, WV 24954

Preston County  Sheriff Daniel Loughrie, 103 West Main Street, Kingwood, WV 26537

Putnam County  Sheriff Steve Deweese, 3389 Winfield Road, Winfield, WV 25213

Raleigh County  Sheriff Steve Tanner, 215 Main Street, Beckley, WV 25802

Randolph County      Sheriff Mark Brady, 4 Randolph Avenue, Elkins, WV 26241     

Ritchie County   Sheriff Bryan Backus, 109 North Street, Harrisville, WV 26362

Roane County     Sheriff Todd Cole, 200 Main Street, Spencer, WV 25276

Summers County      Sheriff Gary Wheeler, 120 Ballengee Street, Hinton, WV 25951

Taylor County    Sheriff Terring Skinner, 214 West Main Street, Grafton, WV 26354

Tucker County   Sheriff Brian Wilfong, 215 Second Street, Parsons, WV 26287

Tyler County      Sheriff Earl Kendle, 121 Court Street, Middlebourne, WV 26149

Upshur County   Sheriff David Coffman, 38 West Main Street, Buckhannon, WV 26201

Wayne County   Wayne County Commission, 700 Hendricks Street, Wayne, WV 25570

Webster County Sheriff David Bender, 2 Court Street, Webster Springs, WV 26288

Wetzel County   Sheriff John Brookover, 200 Main Street, New Martinsville, WV 26155

Wirt County       Wirt County Commission, 1 Court Street, Elizabeth, WV 26143

Wood County     Sheriff Ken Merritt, 401 Second Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101

Wyoming County      Sheriff C.S. Parker, 24 Cedar Avenue, Pineville, WV 24874

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


Cody Hall, a spokesman for protesters opposing the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, says they will continue efforts to block the project.


The Republican vice presidential candidate told reporters he’s fine and no one on board appears injured.


A defense attorney for Ammon Bundy was hit by a stun gun and tackled by federal authorities after he kept yelling at the judge, demanding his client be released immediately.


Trump seized on newly public emails in which Bill Clinton aide Doug Band describes overlapping relationships of the Clintons’ global philanthropy and the family’s private enrichment.


In their first joint appearance on the campaign trail, the two women sought to celebrate their political marriage of mutual interest, and reassure voters it’s real.


The troops explored a network of tunnels and uncovered a bomb-making facility, offering a glimpse of the challenge they will face as they move closer to the city.


Government foes are calling for a general strike on Friday but a powerful socialist leader warns that the military will seize any businesses that participate.


An AP investigation found that dozens of those hired by the company had checkered pasts, including convictions for cocaine trafficking or child molestation.


Twitter has failed to keep pace with rivals Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and in recent months, rumors abounded that it would be acquired.


Cranberry capsules didn’t prevent or cure urinary infections in nursing home residents in a study challenging persistent unproven claims to the contrary.

In West Virginia…

The Free Press WV

►   Attorney General’s Office Looking for Social Security Fraud

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office says it has added a criminal investigations component to its unit looking for Social Security disability fraud.

Two investigators and an analyst have been working with the Social Security Administration, its inspector general’s office and the state’s Disability Determination Section to review suspicious or questionable disability claims.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says they have helped administratively prevent more than $1.4 million in improper payments over the first nine months.

According to Morrisey, they are now also reviewing past claims and payments for fraud and possible referral to county and federal prosecutors.

The Attorney General’s Office has 95 attorneys among 188 staff, including two cross-designated as assistant federal prosecutors.

The Social Security Administration runs a hotline on weekdays for calling in suspected fraud at 1.800.269.0271.

►   State Gets Nearly $26M to Help With Energy Bills

A federal agency has released nearly $26 million in funding to help low-income families in West Virginia with energy bills and energy-efficiency upgrades.

The money comes from The Administration for Children and Families and its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The administration is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Jeannie Chaffin, the agency’s Community Services director, says the money will help families with children and seniors keep their homes at a safe temperature.

Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance should contact their local, state, territory or tribal assistance program or call 866.674.6327.

►   West Virginia National Guard to locate at ex-coal site

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says the West Virginia National Guard will locate some operations at a development being formed out of a reclaimed coal mine in southern West Virginia.

Tomblin said Thursday the former Hobet surface mine site in Boone and Lincoln counties will be renamed Rock Creek Development Park.

Tomblin says an Appalachian Regional Commission grant will enable work to move forward on a master plan for the 12,000-acre site for industrial, commercial and residential development.

The governor says the National Guard will expand training of existing units on property adjacent to the site. The Guard also will expand programs for vehicle and tire maintenance and use the site for a project involving apple trees and greenhouses.

Tomblin highlighted the project in his January State-of-the-State speech.

►   $2M Federal Funding Announced for Bluefield Incubator

West Virginia’s U.S. senators say Bluefield will get $2 million from the federal Economic Development Administration to develop an industrial incubator for start-up businesses in the region hit hard by the decline in coal mining.

According to Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, incubator projects are needed to lay the groundwork for tech innovation and help the state strengthen and diversity its economy.

The EDA says the incubator will provide space and services to entrepreneurs to help with retooling existing businesses, fostering new ones and providing job opportunities to displaced workers.

It’s projected to create 36 jobs, save 36 others and leverage more than $500,000 in private investment.

The total incubator project cost is estimated at $2.5 million.

►   West Virginia counts 24,251 early voters on first day

West Virginia’s secretary of state says 24,251 voters cast ballots Wednesday, the first day of early voting in the state’s general election.

The 10-day early voting period ends Saturday, November 5, three days before Election Day.

According to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, voters can cast ballots at their county courthouse, courthouse annex or community voting location designated by their county during regular business hours.

She says early voting locations will also be open on the next two Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

West Virginia has 1.27 million registered voters, with 45 percent registered Democrats and 31 percent Republicans. Some counties are still processing registration files.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Man Attacked by Shark Explains How He Survived

Joseph Tanner was resting his arms on his surf board when something grabbed his right leg and yanked him under the waves, he recalled Wednesday, nearly three weeks after the shark attack north of Oregon’s Cannon Beach. The shark had his leg in its jaw, and as Tanner struggled to break free, he remembered that he should try to punch the shark in the nose or poke it in the eye. “I opened my eyes and there were gills in front of me. I can’t reach the nose and I can’t reach the eyeballs, so I just started hitting the gills,“ he tells the AP. The shark released him and he screamed a warning to his friends who were surfing about 40 feet away, then began paddling to shore on his board, blood streaming from his mangled leg.

The Free Press WV

Tanner paddled about 200 yards—a five-minute ordeal—before catching a wave and riding it in for the last 40 yards. Tanner, a critical care nurse in Legacy Emanuel Medical Center’s intensive care unit, immediately began telling his rescuers what to do. He directed them to make a tourniquet from a T-shirt and, when that wasn’t tight enough, he told them to make another out of the leash from his board. He also told them to cut off his wet suit so paramedics could start an IV when they arrived. The rescue helicopter flew him to Legacy Emanuel, where he required three surgeries. As he recovers, Tanner hopes other surfers can learn from his experience. All surfers should know how to tie a tourniquet and know their blood type, he says—and a thick wet suit definitely doesn’t hurt. “I wore the thickest wet suit that they sell,“ he says. “That wet suit quite possibly saved my life.“

►   Man Adopted in U.S. 37 Years Ago Being Deported to Strange Country

A South Korean man flown to the US 37 years ago and adopted by an American couple at age 3 has been ordered deported back to a country that is completely alien to him, the AP reports. Adam Crapser is currently confined in an immigration detention center in Washington state pending his deportation. He waived an appeal during a hearing Monday because he is so desperate to get out of detention that he was even willing to go to a country where he does not speak the language or know the culture. Crapser’s plight mirrors those of thousands of others who were brought to the US but whose adoptive parents didn’t secure green cards or US citizenship for them. One group estimates 35,000 intercountry adoptees lack US citizenship.

Seven years after Crapser and his older sister were adopted, their parents abandoned them. The foster care system separated Crapser, 10 at the time, from his sister. When Crapser was 12, he moved in with Thomas and Dolly Crapser, their biological son, two other adoptees and several foster children. There, he was physically abused, Crapser has said. In 1991, the couple was arrested on charges of physical child abuse, sexual abuse, and rape. Federal immigration officials say they became aware of Crapser after he applied to renew his green card two years ago: his criminal convictions, ranging from burglary to assault, made him potentially deportable under immigration law. Crapser got into trouble with the law after he broke into his parents’ home—it was, he said, to retrieve the Korean Bible and rubber shoes that came with him from the orphanage—and later it was for stealing cars and assaulting a roommate.

►   FCC: ISPs Will Have to Ask Before Sharing Data

Federal regulators have approved new broadband privacy rules that make internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon ask customers’ permission before using or sharing much of their data, the AP reports. Under the measure, for example, a broadband provider has to ask a customer’s permission before it can disclose her location or interests by tracking her phone and usage. For some information that’s not considered as private, customers can say they don’t want their internet provider to share it, like names and addresses. The Federal Communications Commission’s measure was scaled back from an earlier proposal, but was still criticized by the advertising, telecommunications, and cable industries.

Cable and phone companies want to grow revenue from ad businesses of their own—AT&T has said increasing advertising tailored to customers’ preferences is one of its goals with its $85.4 billion purchase of HBO, CNN, and TBS owner Time Warner; Verizon has bought AOL and agreed to buy Yahoo in order to build up a digital-ad business. But the new rules could make doing that more difficult. Companies and industry groups say it’s confusing and unfair that the regulations are stricter than the Federal Trade Commission standards that digital-advertising behemoths such as Google and Facebook operate under. The FCC does not regulate such web companies. FCC officials passed the rules on a 3-2 vote, its latest contentious measure to pass on party lines.

►   A New Low for Crime’: 200 Pumpkins Stolen

Almost 200 pumpkins were stolen from a New Jersey farm stand in the wee hours of Tuesday, a crime that required the culprits to make three trips to fill up their van with pumpkins. All three trips were caught on surveillance video that’s been released by the family-run Farms View Roadstand in Wayne. While pumpkins may sound like a strange target for theft—one customer tells NBC New York “it’s a new low for crime"—the owner’s son explains that the thieves can make between $2,500 and $3,000 from the stolen pumpkins. The family is offering a $1,000 reward for tips that result in an arrest.

►   Defense Dept. Will Stop Seeking Repayment of Vets’ Bonuses

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop seeking repayments of enlistment bonuses given to California National Guard members who served overseas. His decision comes in the wake of angry reaction from members of Congress who demanded he relieve the burden on the Guard members, reports the AP. And the White House said President Obama has warned the Defense Department not to “nickel and dime” service members who were victims of overzealous recruiters. In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said effort to collect reimbursement should stop “as soon as is practical.“

He said he has ordered the department to set up a streamlined process by January 1 to help troops get relief from the repayment obligation, because the current program has moved too slowly. The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that the Pentagon has demanded that some soldiers repay their enlistment bonuses after audits revealed overpayments by the California National Guard. Recruiters under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals at the height of the two wars improperly offered bonuses of $15,000 or more to soldiers who re-enlisted, the newspaper reported. The new process will put “as little burden as possible on any soldier who received an improper payment through no fault of his or her own,“ Carter said.

►   Guy Nabs Grape Dropped From Hot Air Balloon—With His Mouth

Since at least high school, Brent Fraser has had a “natural knack” for catching things in his mouth. The odd skill has finally paid off. Fraser, 35, has apparently claimed the world record for the “greatest height catching a grape in the mouth” at 101 feet, reports the Valley News, though Guinness World Records still needs to confirm the feat, which could take weeks. While the world record for the longest self-thrown grape catch is a distance of 69.5 feet, no one had ever attempted to seize a record for the highest catch, so the New Hampshire resident decided to be first. Using walnut-sized grapes dropped from a hot air balloon at an airport in Thetford, Vt., Fraser succeeded Tuesday in catching one dropped from 75 feet, then another from 101 feet.

“I really wanted 100 feet, so to get 101 was really cool,“ says Fraser, who only realized the extent of his talent while seeing the Blue Man Group as an adult. “In the show, they were throwing marshmallows at the crowd trying to get people to catch it, and nobody was catching it,“ he says. “Then they threw one at me and I caught it.“ Then he caught another. Fraser now hopes his skill will nab him another world record soon: He’s tried to beat the world record for the greatest distance grape catch in the mouth using a sling slot—a video shows a man succeeding at over 354 feet—but has so far failed. Getting pummeled with grapes hurt “so bad,“ he says. “I felt like I was being punched in the face.“

►   In Pizzeria’s 25-Cent Toy Machine, Kid Finds ... Pills?

A mother’s alarming Facebook post about a 25-cent vending machine dispensing medication instead of toys to her 7-year-old daughter has gone viral in the days before Halloween. Courtney Jones allowed her mother to give her youngest daughter, Allyson, three quarters at the Rochester House of Pizza in New Hampshire last week, but the machine dispensed two toys and a container of prescription pills, reports WSB Radio. Jones says she counted one capsule and three pills, one of which was broken in half, and took them to police after the restaurant’s manager simply taped over the machine. She says her daughter was old enough to know it’s not candy, “but had she been younger maybe she wouldn’t have known” and hopes another child doesn’t find pills and “accidentally eat them.“

Rochester police, meanwhile, tell WMUR that the pills have been confirmed to be blood pressure medication, and that while no other drugs were found and they believe it to be an isolated event, their investigation is ongoing. Jones, meanwhile, is worried that, because the supplier buys the toys and treats in bulk from out of state, similar mistakes may be occurring elsewhere to unsuspecting children and parents. She writes: “It’s also a good reminder that Halloween is coming and even though you think people like this don’t live around here it’s obvious they do. Check and double check your child’s candy.“ Her post has been shared more than 4,000 times.

►   Arby’s Throws Caution to the Wind, Offers Venison Sandwich

In what one executive calls the fast-food chain’s “biggest stretch” yet—and what may be the biggest test of gastrointestinal bravery in recent memory—Arby’s is offering a limited-time-only venison sandwich, reports. According to WZZM, the Arby’s Bambi Burger* features a “thick-cut venison steak and crispy onions with a berry sauce on a toasted roll.“ “You simply can’t find this at other restaurant chains,“ Arby’s executive Rob Lynch says. Diners at 17 Arby’s locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Georgia will soon be able to find out if that’s for a good reason or not. Arby’s is offering the venison sandwich at locations where deer hunting is especially popular. “Hunters hunt the meats, and we have the meats, so it makes sense for us to connect with them,“ Lynch says.

The Free Press WV

*Ed. Note: Not the actual name.

►   Nanny Charged With Force-Feeding Baby to Death

Oluremi Oyindasola, a 66-year-old live-in nanny, was napping on the couch of a Maryland home when 8-month-old Enita Salubi toddled over to her in a walker, crying, and woke her up. What police say happened next is unimaginable. Oyindasola, they say, was captured on home surveillance video trying to feed the baby while she was still in the walker, failing, then taking her out of the walker, holding her around the chest, removing the nipple from a baby bottle, and pouring “a large amount of white liquid directly inside” the baby’s mouth. The 8-month-old is seen on the video squirming and resisting for 25 seconds. Then Oyindasola allegedly force-fed her a second bottle, during which Enita started having trouble breathing and went into medical distress. She died at a hospital Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post reports.

“She forcefully poured the two bottles of what looks to be milk down the baby’s mouth, causing her to not be able to breathe, suffocating her, and eventually she died at the hospital,“ says a police spokesperson, per NBC Washington. Police say Oyindasola called Enita’s father when the baby became unresponsive and he rushed home, calling 911 on the way. An autopsy found white liquid inside Enita’s lungs, and the medical examiner determined she died of asphyxiation. Oyindasola, who was the only person watching the baby when she died, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse resulting in death, and more. Multiple neighbors tell NBC they had been concerned for the baby: “That baby just cried [and] cried,“ says one. “Every time I came outside, I’d hear that baby cry.“

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Switzerland tells slightly tipsy volunteer firefighters: Cheers!

Switzerland is easing an alcohol ban for volunteer firefighters and other emergency workers using heavy vehicles, saying it had led to staffing shortages when crises demanded quick action, especially in smaller towns lacking professional personnel.

Starting on January 01, slightly tipsy volunteer firefighters and off-duty members of so-called professional “blue light” organizations responding to urgent situations will be no longer face punishment - provided their blood-alcohol level does not exceed 0.50 percent, the limit governing other drivers.

“This change is necessary as rescue and disaster relief organizations today are increasingly dependent on people who are not on duty or on call,“ the Swiss Federal Roads Office said in a statement on Wednesday. “The government is addressing the need for the best-possible recruitment of personnel in the event they are needed for unexpected rescue operations.“

The current ban on alcohol caps volunteer emergency service workers’ blood-alcohol level at 0.10 percent.

Peter Wullschleger, a Zurich emergency services commander, said the drinking ban remains in force for all firefighters who are on duty or on call and can reckon with being dispatched to an emergency.

Easing the restriction for those who are not is primarily aimed at small communities with no professional firefighters that must rely on volunteers to be ready at a moment’s notice.

“With the ban, theoretically it would have been impossible for somebody enjoying even a nice glass of red wine during the Christmas holidays to fulfill their duty in the event of an emergency,“ Wullschleger said.

Wednesday’s announcement represents the latest Swiss tinkering with laws on alcohol and occupational safety.

Last October, the Alpine republic closed a legal loophole that enabled cable car drivers to escape criminal prosecution if caught drunk on the job.

►   3rd-Largest Democracy May Ban Sex Outside Marriage

Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy, with more than 260 million people, but it’s moving in a direction that some rights groups find very alarming. In what could end up being the latest victory for religious conservatives in the majority-Muslim country, its highest court is considering changing the constitution to outlaw sex outside of marriage, reports the Washington Post. Activists warn that a ruling to ban unmarried sex would not only make gay sex illegal in the country for the first time, it would turn the millions of couples who have only informal or ceremonial marriages into criminals. “It’s obvious this law will be a disaster, and women will be most affected,“ says a women’s rights activist.

Indonesia’s legal code still has more in common with the law of colonial power Holland than Islamic law, but religious conservatives, including a group calling itself the “Family Love Alliance,“ have been pushing hard for change, the International Business Times reports. Some of the nine justices on the court have already expressed their support for a change to the constitution. In hearings over the last few weeks, “expert” witnesses have testified that homosexuality represents a danger to Indonesia. The witnesses included an anti-gay activist who claimed that gay marriage in the US was a conspiracy masterminded by a small group of Jews, the Post reports. A decision is expected later this year.

►   Italy Rattled by ‘Apocalyptic’ Quakes

“It was an unheard-of violence,“ the AP quotes Ussita mayor Marco Rinaldi as saying. “It was something terrible.“ Two earthquakes shook central Italy about two hours apart on Wednesday, causing mass panic but few injuries in an area where nearly 300 were killed during a quake in August, Reuters reports. The first earthquake Wednesday was a 5.4 magnitude; the second was a 6.1—or eight times stronger than the first. The fact that terrified people were still in the streets after the first quake probably saved lives when the stronger one hit. Buildings across the area were damaged or destroyed, power was lost, and hundreds of people will be sleeping in the streets overnight. Rinaldi calls Wednesday’s quakes “apocalyptic” and believes his town is “finished.“

►   Photographer Caught in Car Bomb Attack Tells His Tale

Bryan Denton was out of the safety of the armored vehicle and away from cover when the suicide car bomb approached, looking “like an armadillo covered in steel plates.“ “As everyone began to run, and the soldiers opened up on the vehicle, my only thought was to get low and find cover,“ the photographer writes in a photo essay for the New York Times. Denton describes a tense journey leading up to the car bomb attack—the day’s fourth, though only successful—as he traveled with Iraqi counterterrorism forces on the road to Mosul last week. Denton and other journalists were put to work keeping an eye out for car bombs from their armored vehicle in a convoy that included a tank for protection and a bulldozer to clear the way and create dirt banks to slow approaching vehicles.

Throughout the long day, Denton’s convoy took near-constant machine gun and mortar fire from ISIS while Iraqi soldiers worked to clear IEDs and mines from their path. Periodically, cars laden with explosives would drive at the convoy, only to get stuck or be destroyed before reaching their target. The convoy had stopped and Denton was out taking photos when the fourth car bomb came at them. It took Denton four or five seconds to get to the nearest Humvee for cover. “Too long,“ he notes. The car bomb exploded before he made it. Something hit his wrist, leaving a gash down to the bone. Read the full story here and find out why Denton says he’s “incredibly lucky.“

►   Woman Guilty in Friend’s Coffee Murder

A sensational trial that was practically a national soap opera in Indonesia has wrapped up, and a woman is going to jail for 20 years as a result. Australia’s Jessica Wongso, 28, was found guilty of murdering friend Mirna Salihin, 27, by lacing her iced coffee with cyanide in a cafe in Jakarta earlier this year, reports ABC Australia. In a trial broadcast live on TV to huge audiences, prosecutors claimed Wongso was jealous of her friend, who’d recently gotten married, and angry that she’d previously told Wongso to break up with a boyfriend, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Judges called the crime “vile and sadistic,“ reports the AP, though Wongso continues to insist she’s innocent and plans to appeal.

One key factor in the case: A full autopsy wasn’t conducted for religious reasons, reports the Australian AP. The defense called toxicologists who testified there was no proof that cyanide was the cause of death. The judges disagreed, and a former boss testified that Wongso once told her she knew “the right dose” to kill someone. During the trial, Wongso said she couldn’t recall her actions in the cafe but denied poisoning her friend’s drink. Surveillance video does not show her tampering with the iced coffee. One of her lawyers says Wongso was so confident she would be exonerated that she told her family not to attend the verdict as she would soon be home.

►   Waiter Learns the Hard Way to Be Careful Around Ancient Art

A waiter who was all thumbs cost a priceless Roman sculpture one of its own. The BBC reports on the incident at London’s British Museum, which the Art Newspaper says took place in December, in which the unfortunate unnamed server from an outside catering vendor was setting up for a corporate function at the museum. The waiter got too close to the low pedestal of the 3-foot Townley Venus—a Proconnesian marble statue of the goddess of love dating from the first or second century and replicating the Greek original created in the fourth century BC—and accidentally headed the statue’s right hand (already missing its index finger), breaking off the thumb and knocking it to the ground, per the Telegraph.

“This was an unfortunate incident,“ a museum spokesman says, adding the museum is taking the breakage “seriously” and that “the preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance.“ The ancient statue was dug up in 1775 from the Roman baths at Ostia and scooped up by an English collector; he sold the sculpture to the museum in 1805. But apparently the appendage reattachment process was seamless, with another museum rep telling the Art Newspaper it was a “clean” break and the adhesive-assisted fix was “straightforward.“ That rep also notes that any staff members involved in special events at the museum have been rebriefed on how to work around the venue’s antiquities.

America’s Opioid and Heroin Crisis, and the Big Pharma

No pain, no gain

The Free Press WV “I would like to talk to you about drugs,“ John Oliver said on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, but not in some 1960s “reefer madness” way. “Unfortunately, America is now in the midst of a new drug crisis, and it seems that no one is safe from it,“ he said. That would be the “epidemic of addiction to opioids, like heroin and prescription painkillers,“ he said, and it’s a serious one: As of 2015, an estimated 2.6 million Americans were addicted to these drugs, and some 30,000 Americans die from overdoses each year from heroin and prescription opioids.

Oliver focused on the prescription variety, the chemical cousins of heroin that some 75 percent of U.S. heroin addicts started their addiction with. Now, according to the U.S. surgeon general, some 250 million opioid prescriptions are written each year, equal to one for each adult. It wasn’t always this way — as recently as the early 1990s, doctors were “excessively wary” about prescribing these powerful, addictive drugs, Oliver said. And it wasn’t just Big Pharma — patient advocates argued that excessive fear of opioids was causing injured and dying people too much pain. But when Perdue — maker of OxyContin — and other drug companies got involved in the late 1990s, he said, all hell broke loose.

After discussing Perdue’s shady marketing and downplaying of addiction risk, Oliver said we “may be glad to hear that in 2007 they admitted some responsibility,“ paying out $634 million. “But at a certain point, the question has to become less ‘What did we do wrong?‘ and more ‘What do we do now?‘“ Oliver said. “There is no one simple answer here.“ We need to be more careful about prescribing opioids and make alternative treatments more widely available, he said, but “not all opioid addicts will respond to the same treatments, and not all people in pain will find relief from alternative therapies. This is going to take a massive effort and a significant investment — it won’t be cheap, it won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy. And it is hard not to be angry at the drug companies, like Purdue, whose promise of cheap, quick, easy pain solution helped put us in this f—-ing mess.“ Watch below, and be warned, that last F-bomb isn’t bleeped out.

$4,000 Grant Helps Doddridge CEOS Develop Heritage Quilt Trail

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) has awarded a $4,000 grant to Doddridge County Community Educational Outreach Services (CEOS) for the development of a heritage art quilt trail in Doddridge County. The PACF’s Senior Program Officer, Marian Clowes, recently spoke to the CEOS about the grant and the philanthropic work that the community foundation undertakes in Doddridge County though the Doddridge County Community Foundation.

The Free Press WV

The grant will enable the CEOS to design and implement a quilt trail consisting of 10 hand-painted quilt blocks on 8’ by 8’ sign boards to be installed on or near historically significant buildings or sites in Doddridge County. The first block has been installed at the Doddridge County Park. The heritage art quilt trail will encourage tourism to the area and help preserve the county’s Appalachian heritage.

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Community Educational Outreach Service (WVCEOS) has a strong tradition of education, service, and community development, dating back to 1914 when the first club was established. Doddridge County initiated their first club in 1925. The primary purpose of the CEOS is education.

The vision of CEOS is to be leaders in strengthening individuals, families, and communities to become productive contributors to meet the needs of a changing and diverse society. Doddridge County has seven community clubs dispersed throughout the county, with an open membership of 138 individuals. Current programs include community service, family, health, leadership, personal development, heritage, environmental, and literacy programs.

Governor Tomblin Announces Recommendations for Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

The Free Press WV

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced 11 state recommendations for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Investment Program grants, totaling more than $5.1 million in grant funding.

“In my time as Governor, I have seen how beneficial these grants are across West Virginia,” Governor Tomblin said. “They help lift up communities, providing education opportunities, helping us advance our workforce, and addressing critical community needs ranging from infrastructure to public health. The ARC continues to be a strong partner in our local communities, and I am grateful for that partnership – which is helping move our state forward.”

The West Virginia Development Office administers the state’s ARC program, a partnership of federal, state and local participants providing financial and technical assistance for economic development and infrastructure projects.

Projects recommended for ARC funding are:


Jobs for West Virginia Graduates, Inc.
The project will provide at-risk high-school students with specialized instruction and guidance, including tutoring and mentoring services, career development training and leadership development.  The result will strengthen graduation rates and employability for at-risk students.  The project will serve an estimated 120 students.

West Virginia Development Office, West Virginia Flex-E-Grant Program
The West Virginia Development Office and the Appalachian Regional Commission, in partnership with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, have operated a mini-grant program that focuses on community capacity-building.  These projects focus on developing local community leaders, engaging citizens in local initiatives and strategically planning for the future.  Through this funding, an estimated 250 local citizens, public officials, and non-profit staff and volunteers will receive training in leadership or become involved in a local community project.
Region 1 Planning and Development Council, Sewer Infrastructure Mapping Project
The project will provide high-accuracy mapping of sewer system infrastructure across an 11 county area of southern West Virginia, accurately mapping the location of collection lines, manholes and other system features.  The project will benefit sewer systems by reducing the cost of system repairs, facilitating future expansions of sewer systems and improving the management of sewer systems. 

Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area, Pathways to Self-Sufficiency
The project will provide adult literacy, financial education, basic employability soft skills training, industrial certification training, and job placement through Goodwill’s Career Center and outreach trainings and services.  Through this project, at least 115 individuals in Lincoln and Mingo Counties will receive services. 


Flatwoods-Canoe Run PSD, Exchange Road Water Extension Phase 1
The project will extend public water service to an unserved area west of I-79 at Exit 67 in the Flatwoods area of Braxton County.  Current customers rely upon private wells that are that are unreliable in quantity and poor in quality.  The project will also provide water and fire protection service to 254 developable acres of land, increasing future economic development in the Flatwoods area.  Project will serve 60 new customers, including 59 residential customers and one commercial customer and facilitate future economic development.


Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Harm Reduction Program Expansion
The project will expand harm reduction services, including prevention education, counseling and referral services, community-based naloxone education and training, and community outreach to those suffering from drug abuse addiction.  The project will expand harm reduction program sites in Cabell County and promote healthy lifestyles and counseling for program clients. 


Town of Bradshaw, Comprehensive Sewer Upgrade Plan
The project will conduct an evaluation of the Town of Bradshaw’s wastewater system to assess the extent and location of sources of significant leakage and disrepair.  The assessment will include a capital improvement plan for upgrading and improving the city’s wastewater system in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.  The project will benefit the town’s 120 existing customers and provide planning needed for future upgrades to improve quality of life and community development. 


Town of Reedy, Wastewater System Improvement
The project will provide upgrades to the Town of Reedy sewage collection system and wastewater treatment plant to correct inflow and infiltration problems in the system.  The project will serve 88 existing residential and commercial customers in an ARC-designated distressed county and provide much needed infrastructure improvements for the town. 


City of Welch, McDowell Street and Riverside Drive Water Line
The project will replace water lines in the McDowell Street and Riverside Drive areas in the City of Welch.  Currently, the water lines experience water loss and outages due to landslips and outdated lines.  The project will increase public safety, reduce landslips, and provide better water quality and service to homes and businesses, including the local hospital.  The project will serve 190 existing customers, including 62 commercial customers and 128 residential customers.


West Virginia Development Office, Consolidated Technical Assistance
The West Virginia Development Office, with ARC funding assistance, will continue the Consolidated Technical Assistance program. The grant allows the West Virginia Development Office to employ staff for the purpose of providing technical assistance to ARC applicants and grantees, monitoring and administering ongoing projects, updating the West Virginia Development Plan and maintaining a project information system. 

West Virginia Development Office, Competitive Improvement Program
The project will provide training and consultation services to small and medium-sized firms in West Virginia to increase their competitiveness. The project will address a unique need for which no other funding sources are available. The results of these services will be a greater number of companies that are increasing the range of their market and market share and a commensurate increase in the number of jobs retained or created.

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