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GSC 2nd Annual Pioneer Showcase a Success

The second annual Glenville State College Pioneer Showcase took place on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

The showcase is a competition where GSC students present research and creative arts abstracts in a formal setting. The judges are made up of GSC faculty.

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(L-R) Marilynn Burkowski, Johnny King, Holly Wright, and Harmonia Rosales.


“The projects presented in the showcase were excellent and a good reflection of the quality and talent of the students at Glenville State College. There were twelve student entries, and we hope to have even more next year,“ said GSC Department of Science and Mathematics Chair and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Morris, a facilitator of the event.

Johnny King won first place with his research on the ‘Effect of Silvicultural Techniques and Rainfall on Diameter Growth Increment of Yellow Poplar.‘ King is a junior Forest Technology major from Frametown, West Virginia in Braxton County. He was awarded $250.

Marilynn Burkowski won second place and $100 with her research on the ‘Spatial Distribution of Plant Invasives in West Virginia.‘ Burkowski is a senior Forest Technology major from Glenville, West Virginia (Gilmer County). Earlier in the year, Burkowski presented her research with other GSC students at the ninth annual Undergraduate Research Day held at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia in Kanawha County.

Harmonia Rosales won first place and $250 for her oil painting, ‘Emerald’s Café.‘ Rosales is a senior English major from Champaign, Illinois.

Holly Wright won second place and $100 for her sculpture ‘Good Enough For You.‘ Wright is a senior Education major from Parkersburg, West Virginia in Wood County.

For more information on the GSC Pioneer Showcase, contact the event’s coordinator Liza Brenner at “Liza.Brenner@glenville.edu” or 304.462.6346.

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Monday Starters

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—The race for Democratic nomination for Agriculture Commissioner has drawn a lot of attention during the Primary Election campaign, mostly because long-time Commissioner Gus Douglas is NOT running and there is a dearth of other statewide races.  The state Department of Agriculture is actually one of the larger divisions of the executive branch. It oversees livestock and poultry health and testing, meat and poultry inspection, plant and pest control and farmland preservation and conservation, just to name a few of its responsibilities. The Ag Department budget is over $50 million, roughly equal to the Auditor’s, Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s budgets combined.

—Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican Bill Maloney each will win their party’s nomination easily Tuesday.  That sets up a rematch of last year’s Special Gubernatorial Election that Tomblin won by just 7,700 votes.    Take a look at results map from that election and you’ll see how the two essentially split the state in half last time, with Tomblin taking all the south and central regions and Maloney getting most of his support in the north and east.

—Here is some information from Patti Hamilton, executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties, about some of the local races in Tuesday’s primary:

27 incumbent assessors are unopposed, 18 incumbent assessors have opposition (either the primary or general or both), and nine assessor seats are open.

29 incumbent county prosecutors are unopposed, 18 incumbents have opposition (either the primary or general or both), and eight seats are open.

There are 30 open seats in the county sheriff races, 20 incumbents have opposition (either the primary or general or both), and five incumbents are unopposed.

43 incumbent county commissioners have opposition (either in the primary or general election or both), 11 seats are open, and four commissioners are unopposed.

—WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck is making the inevitable speculative short lists of possible candidates to take over as AD at Stanford now that Bob Bowlsby has left to become commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.  Luck added to the speculation when he told a reporter who asked him about his possible interest, “I have no comment on it.” That’s different from when Luck was asked if he were interested in the Big 12 commissioner’s job and he said simply “no.”  Luck’s son, Andrew, is graduating from Stanford, but he still has a daughter, Mary Ellen, who is a student there and a member of the Stanford volleyball team.  Media reports say another possible candidate is Condoleezza Rice. The former Secretary of State is a Stanford professor and an avid sports fan.

—We have had a several reminders recently of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers.  Trooper Andrew Loudin continues to recover after being shot in the chest last week in Elkins by suspect in a child abuse case.  Additionally, a federal judge sentenced three people for their roles in protecting Charles Smith.  Smith shot and killed U.S. Marshall Derek Hotsinpiller last year. Smith also died in the shoot out. And it was learned last week that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Jarod Green, the drunk driver who smashed his vehicle into a Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department cruiser earlier this year, killing Deputy Todd May.

—“The Life of Julia” slide show on President Barack Obama’s campaign website is ripe for ridicule, but all voters should take a hard look at it.  The presentation, which details government assistance available for the fictional Julia from cradle to grave, should serve as a defining image of a particular vision for America.  Take a look for yourself and decide if this is how you see the country.

—And finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I have donated $2000 to John Raese’s senate campaign.  I’ve contributed to Raese’s campaigns before and it’s always a tricky proposition in my business as a talk show host and an opinion writer.  Raese owns the company I have worked for all my adult life (West Virginia Radio), and has been a loyal friend for 35 years.  I see the contribution as a way of expressing my own loyalty in return to a man I admire and appreciate.  I’ll still talk about the Raese-Manchin race on Talkline, and maybe write about it occasionally, and I’ll still try to be fair, but certainly understand those of you who will reasonably question my objectivity in that race.

Award-Winning ‘War on Kids’ Documentary Featuring John W. Whitehead

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Documentary Channel to Air Award-Winning ‘War on Kids’ Documentary Featuring John W. Whitehead on Sunday, May 06, 2012, 8:00 PM EST

On Sunday, May 06, 2012, at 8:00 PM EST, the Documentary Channel will air The War on Kids, a documentary directed by Cevin Soling which examines the increasingly authoritarian nature of the public schools and their long-term impact on young people.

The documentary features an interview with constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, who has been a vocal critic of overreaching school zero tolerance policies—one-size-fits-all disciplinary procedures that mandate suspension or expulsion for students who violate the rules, regardless of the student’s intent or the nature of the violation. The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of hundreds of students who have run afoul of school zero tolerance policies.

Most recently, Institute attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of a 14-year-old honor student who was suspended for shooting plastic “spitwads” while at school.

“For the millions of students attending elementary and secondary public schools, their time in school will be marked by overreaching zero tolerance policies, heightened security and surveillance and a greater emphasis on conformity and behavior-controlling drugs—all either aimed at or resulting in the destruction of privacy and freedom,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “As The War on Kids shows, the moment young people walk into school, they find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed and snooped on. Between metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, America’s schools have come to resemble prison-like complexes.”

Named the best educational documentary by the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, The War on Kids is a 2009 documentary film about the American school system.

The film takes a look at public school education in America and concludes that schools are not only failing to educate, but are increasingly authoritarian institutions more akin to prisons that are eroding the foundations of American democracy.

The documentary features interviews with schoolchildren, high school teachers, administrators, prison security guards, renowned educators and authors, including attorney John Whitehead.

As Whitehead points out, under the guise of protecting and controlling young people, school officials have adopted draconian zero tolerance policies, which punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor.

School systems began adopting these tough codes after Congress passed the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, which required a one-year expulsion for any child bringing a firearm or bomb to school.

Zero tolerance rules in many states also cover fighting, drug or alcohol use and gang activity, as well as relatively minor offenses such as possessing over-the-counter medications and disrespect of authority.

Nearly all American public schools have zero tolerance policies for firearms or other “weapons,” and most have such policies for drugs and alcohol.

In the wake of the Columbine school shootings, legislators and school boards further tightened their zero tolerance policies, creating what some critics call a national intolerance for childish behavior.

In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are expellable offenses.

The Rutherford Institute is regularly called on to defend students dealt excessive punishments for violating unreasonable zero tolerance policies.

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Spring Art Show This Weekend in Downtown Sutton – May 05-06, 2012

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Poplar Forest Co-Op Gallery, Town Square Cafe, Controled Excentrics and the Elk Theatre will offer a Spring Art Show in downtown Sutton from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday May 05-06, 2012 on the courthouse lawn and Fourth Street.

Local artisans, entertainers and food will be featured. Co-Op members get booth spaces for free, with a $25 refundable cleanup deposit.

Non-member artists are welcome to participate with a $35 booth fee.

Co-Op memberships are available for $48 a year.

Artists joining at the event receive a free booth.

The town of Sutton is holding a citywide yard sale the same weekend.

For booth reservations or sponsorship information, call Tamara Cicogna at 304.765.3655.

GSC Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda Established

A chapter of the national music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda (PKL) has been established at Glenville State College. PKL is an exclusive organization that recognizes and encourages the highest level of musical achievement and academic scholarship.

Members of PKL are nominated and elected through a rigorous screening process.

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GSC Fine Arts Department Chair Lloyd Bone and GSC Provost Dr. John Peek with
the charter certificate for the music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda.


“This society honors excellence in both school work and musical achievement. I want to see students step up to meet the challenge of being inducted into PKL. It is truly an honor,“ said GSC Assistant Professor of Music Teresa Dody, who is a member herself and has organized the founding of the GSC chapter of PKL.

Student eligibility is first determined by musical achievements, talent and zeal; then academic standing is taken into consideration.  Juniors must be in the top ten percent of their class, and seniors must be in the top twenty percent of their class. Alumni may also be selected for their achievements since leaving GSC.

The GSC Department of Fine Arts faculty members have all been inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda and serve as the founding members of the GSC chapter. They hope to add up to two students and/or alumni a year as the program progresses.

For more information on the GSC chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, contact Dody at “Teresa.Dody@glenville.edu” or 304.462.6345.

GSC Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble to Perform in Europe

The Glenville State College Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble has been invited to perform at the 2012 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference (ITEC) June 23-30, 2012, at the Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria.

The group is one of about twenty collegiate ensembles from around the world that has been invited to this bi-annual conference which is the largest conference in the low brass discipline in the world.

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The GSC Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble will visit Austria this summer.
(L-R FR) Ryan Deems, Stephanie Sumner, Brittany Lott, Matt Sumner (not going on trip)
(L-R BR) Seth Stemple, Josh White, John Reid, Chris Baber, Jonathan Bailess, Ethan Hacker, Travis Truax, and Leon Hart


“This is a major opportunity as this is a very prestigious invite and a wonderful performing and learning experience for our students. Our students and alumni have worked hard for over six years to get to this point. I am incredibly proud of them and for the opportunity to showcase Glenville State College on an international level,“ said Lloyd Bone Jr., GSC Assistant Professor of Music and Fine Arts Department Chair.

This will be the third consecutive ITEC performance by the GSC Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble. The group was also invited to the 2008 ITEC in Cincinnati, Ohio and 2010 ITEC in Tucson, Arizona.

The Glenville State College Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble is comprised of undergraduate Music Education majors and undergraduate Bachelor of Music majors.

The ensemble has performed in a wide variety of brass chamber music concerts on the Glenville State College campus and around West Virginia.

In addition to their performances at the ITEC, the group also was invited to the 2007 United States Army Band Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Washington, D.C.  Bone is in his eighth year conducting the GSC ensemble.


Members of the GSC Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble who will be heading to the 2012 ITEC in Linz, Austria are:

•  Alumni Ryan Deems of Clarksburg, Harrison County West Virginia

•  Alumni Stephanie Sumner of Glenville, Gilmer County West Virginia

•  Junior Jonathan Bailess of Edmond, Fayette County, West Virginia

•  Alumni Travis Truax of Saint Marys, Pleasants County West Virginia

•  Senior Chris Baber of Craigsville, Nicholas County West Virginia

•  Junior Leon Hart of Parkersburg, Wood County West Virginia

•  Sophomore Brittany Lott of Petersburg, Grant County West Virginia

•  Sophomore Seth Stemple of Fairmont, Marion County West Virginia

•  Sophomore Ethan Hacker of Exchange, Braxton County West Virginia

•  Freshman Josh White of Waverly, Wood County West Virginia

•  Freshman John Reid of Clear Creek, Raleigh County West Virginia

•  Junior Brittany McGuire of Beckley, Raleigh County West Virginia

•  Sophomore Ryan Spangenberg of Madison, Ohio


The GSC Fine Arts Department is undertaking a fundraising campaign to raise money to cover expenses for this wonderful opportunity for these GSC students. The department will be holding car washes, bake sales and concerts as part of their efforts. The GSC Fine Arts Department is asking for financial support from GSC alumni, students, faculty, staff, family, friends, and local residents. “The Glenville community has always been very gracious and helpful when we have had to fundraise for big trips and honors. Because of the massive distance of the trip, our need is great to cover all the expenses. Any help of any kind will be hugely appreciated,“ said Bone.

Those wishing to help defray the cost for the ensemble may send donations to Sheri Skidmore, GSC Department of Fine Arts, 200 High Street, Glenville, West Virginia 26351.

To make a donation for the trip or for more information, contact Bone at “Lloyd.Bone@glenville.edu” or 304.462.6341.

Upcoming Movies - 05.04.12

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Marvel’s The Avengers

Opens Friday, May 4, 2012 | Runtime: 2 hrs. 23 min.

PG-13 - Intense Sci-Fi Action/Violence and A Mild Drug Reference

Marvel Studios presents ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon, ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series ‘The Avengers,‘ first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ assemble in summer 2012.

Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner

Director: Joss Whedon

Genres: Action/Adventure

GSC Bluegrass Band to Record CD

The ever expanding list of accomplishments by the members of the Glenville State College Bluegrass Band will soon include their very own CD.

Around twenty current and former members of the band will travel to meet in Tennessee briefly after graduation to record their first CD at the studios of Blue Circle Records owned by the legendary song writer and singer Tom. T. Hall and his wife Dixie.

The group will stop in Auburn, Kentucky on Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, 2012 to perform at a bluegrass festival.

They will arrive in Nashville on May 20, 2012 for a tour of Music City.

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The GSC Bluegrass Band is heading to Nashville, Tennessee to cut their first CD.
(L-R); (front row) senior Carol Belknap of Gassaway (Braxton County), WV,
sophomore Ryan Spangenberg of Madison, Ohio,
former member Trish Cottrill of Glenville, WV,
(back row)freshman Robbie Mann of Berkeley Springs (Berkeley County), WV,
freshman Laiken Boyd of Cameron (Marshall County), WV,
freshman Jordan Young of Beckley (Raleigh County), WV,
freshman Toni Doman of Cameron (Marshall County), WV,
and sophomore Richie Jones of Alum Bridge (Lewis County), WV.


The band will spend the next three days recording at Blue Circle Records in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.

GSC freshman Laiken Boyd of Cameron (Marshall County), West Virginia came to Glenville State College because of the bluegrass music program.

She plays fiddle, guitar, bass, and sings for the GSC Bluegrass Band.

“I have really enjoyed my first year at GSC. I am looking forward to the new challenges and experiences that our recording sessions will present us,“ she said.

The Halls are providing studio time and engineering service at no cost to the GSC Bluegrass Band. GSC Alum Rebekha Long, the first graduate of the GSC Bluegrass Music Degree Program, works for Blue Circle Records as a studio engineer and graphic designer and will be working on the project. The band will have to pay to have the CDs produced and designed. The band has worked extremely hard this year to save money for this exciting project.

“Part of the history of our Bluegrass Program has been to perform and learn from some of the legendary people in the industry. This amazing opportunity to work with the Halls will add to the prestige of the GSC Bluegrass Program. It will also serve as a good transition for me taking over the program from the wonderful job that retiring Buddy Griffin has done,“ said Megan Darby, Director of the GSC Bluegrass Degree Program.

The CD will include two original Tom T. and Dixie Hall songs as well as traditional bluegrass from Lester Flatt, the late Earl Scruggs, the Carter Family, Jimmy Martin, and others.

CDs should be available for purchase at the annual GSC Bluegrass Band Concert on October 23, 2012.

This will be an expensive endeavor for the bluegrass band. Any donations from the GSC community for this project will be greatly appreciated.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation or provide food and snacks for the trip should contact Darby at “Megan.Darby@glenville.edu” or call 304.462.6347.

Craft Vendors Sought for North Bend State Park May Events - 2012

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Art and craft persons looking for a venue to showcase their work are invited to consider two opportunities at North Bend State Park in May.

The park offers a rural setting and attracts a nice crowd for events.

“Pottery, sewing, jewelry, woodworking and those types of items are popular with visitors to the park for special weekends,” said Ken Zebo, activities coordinator at North Bend State Park.

Two events in May traditionally feature vendors with personally made arts and craft items: Engines and Wheels May 05 and Bluegrass Festival, May 11-12, 2012.  “At these events, the vendor and the crafter or artist is one and the same,” Zebo said.

North Bend State Park is located near Cairo and Harrisville.

It is a year-round vacation park with lodge and restaurant, cabins, campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, lake and fishing, and special events.

Zebo organizes special weekends and nature-based activities that are family oriented.

Artisans interested in being part of Engines & Wheels or Bluegrass Festival weekends should contact Ken Zebo at 304.643.2931 to make arrangements to be a vendor at either weekend.

Congresswoman Weighs-in on What EPA Official Said

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West Virginia Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito believes controversial statements that surfaced this week from an EPA regional administrator are more than just a bad choice of words.

A video came out of 2010 statements made by the EPA’s Al Armendariz where he suggested oil and gas companies that don’t follow regulations should be treated in a way the Roman Empire operated.

“Like when the Romans conquered the villages in the Mediterranean, they’d go into little villages in Turkish towns and they’d find the first five guys they saw and crucify them,“ Armendariz said in a video recording.

He has since apologized for the remarks.

Congresswoman Capito said Friday on MetroNews Talkline the remarks are more about the attitude of the Obama administration’s EPA than anything else.

“In my view it says something larger about the EPA to me. It shows the tactics that we’ve seen exhibited in West Virginia,“ Capito said.

The congresswoman points to the veto of the Spruce Mine permit and the delay in approving other mining projects.

“The EPA has an attitude of a sledgehammer coming at you with no recourse or no ability to get some common sense in,“ she said.

Both the Obama administration and the EPA have distanced themselves from the comments.

The EPA has a statement on its website addressing the controversy:

“It is deeply unfortunate that in a 2010 video an EPA official inaccurately suggested we are seeking to ‘make examples’ out of certain companies in the oil and gas industry.“

Capito says Armendariz’s comments show absence of any economic balance and she believes that’s the way the EPA operates.

Capito stopped short of saying Armendariz should be fired.

“I don’t know if he needs to be fired. I don’t like his attitude. If the administrator doesn’t agree with it she should fire him. We’ll see what she does,“ Capito said.

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - McGraw Has a History of Beating the Odds

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West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is like a cat on Election Day. This Democrat always seems to land on his feet, even when his critics and opponents believe he’s done for.

In 2004, McGraw survived a challenge from Republican Hiram Lewis, winning by just 6,000 votes.

McGraw was wounded politically that year, not so much by the underfunded Lewis, but rather by a withering campaign funded by then-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against McGraw’s brother, Warren, in the state Supreme Court race.

The attack ads against Warren McGraw drifted over into the attorney general’s race and nearly cost Darrell McGraw his seat.

In 2008, McGraw beat Dan Greear, a hard-campaigning Republican, by just 5,300 votes out of nearly 679,000 votes cast.

Now, in 2012, McGraw may have another substantial political fight on his hands as he seeks a sixth four-year term. This time it’s Republican Patrick Morrisey.

Neither candidate has a primary opponent, so they will face each other in November.

Morrisey is a lawyer from Jefferson County who works for a Washington, D.C. law firm, primarily on health care and federal regulatory issues.

He’s a political unknown in West Virginia, but he has established his viability by raising $152,000 during the first reporting period. That’s nearly twice as much as McGraw, who raised just $84,000 during the same time.

Morrisey is leaving his job soon so he can campaign and fund-raise full time.

“If I can get the resources and really hustle around the state, then I have a good chance of winning,“ he told me.

Raising money has never been a particular strength for McGraw.

He raised and spent $294,000 in the ‘08 race and $207,000 in ‘04. He’ll need to work the phones and host more fundraisers in 2012 to match Morrisey’s expected war chest.


McGraw has also struggled to carry the state’s most populous counties. He has lost Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh and Wood in each of the last two elections.

Additionally, Greear beat him by 4,000 votes in Kanawha in ‘08, although McGraw carried Kanawha in ‘04. McGraw narrowly won Monongalia County in ‘08, but lost in ‘04.

McGraw typically makes up the difference in southern counties, where he tends to win by wide margins.

Morrisey will try to exploit the anti-Obama sentiment in West Virginia. He’ll cite his work on the multi-state lawsuit challenging the unpopular Affordable Care Act and he’ll talk tough about fighting the EPA on the air quality standards that are threatening the coal industry.

Morrisey also anticipates PAC money coming in on his side, if he can get the race close enough. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce would love to see McGraw sent packing, and it has money to spend.

McGraw typically likes to avoid his opponents, as if pretending they don’t exist. But this time, his opponent has a built-in weakness.

Morrisey moved to West Virginia in 2004, but only became eligible to practice law in the state last January.

The attack ad practically writes itself.

For several election cycles, there’s been a sense that the political winds of the state are shifting.

The Republican presidential nominee has carried the state the last three elections, and will again in 2012. Many Democrats campaign on conservative principles.

McGraw is more of a throwback, a New Deal Democrat who earned his political stripes coming up in the rough-and-tumble world of southern West Virginia politics.

His critics - and there are plenty of them - love to predict his demise, but they haven’t gotten it right ... yet.

Nearly 1,600 Gas Wells Finished in West Virginia since 2006

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A survey shows natural gas drillers have completed nearly 1,600 wells in West Virginia since 2006.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports an additional 1,273 wells are still being developed where companies are rushing to tap vast deposits of the Marcellus shale field.

The study by the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, an arm of the state Department of Commerce, found that Wetzel County has 62 completed Marcellus wells, followed by 46 in Tyler County.

Large numbers of wells also exist in the southern coalfields, including in Logan, Lincoln, Boone, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

But West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association Executive Director Corky DeMarco says current low natural gas prices may cause drillers to curtail operations or shift their attention from dry to wet gas regions.

G-Comm™: Education Should Come Before Politics, Bureaucracy

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Education isn’t about county lines or state lines or making sure the teachers unions and politicians are happy.

It’s about preparing our students for life in the 21st Century and I hope the proposed new elementary school that will serve kids in both Gilmer and Lewis counties will do just that.

While they’ll be some pushback from those who put politics and bureaucratic funding formulas above actual education, they need to understand that the world has changed.

Our kids are no longer just competing with kids from other counties and other states – they are competing with every kid, in every classroom, in every corner of the world.

~~  WV Media: WBOY, WTRF, WOWK, WVNS, State Journal ~~

OddlyEnough™: Largest WV Newspaper Declines to Endorse Manchin

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is heading into the May 08 primary without the support of West Virginia’s largest newspaper.

Manchin finds himself losing some high-profile supporters on both sides of the ideological divide.

The Charleston Gazette endorsed the Democrat during the 2010 special primary and general elections. But a Wednesday editorial leaves it up to readers whether to vote for him this time.

The editorial says Manchin does not support some of his party’s core values, making him at times a Democrat in name only.

The newspaper also notes that Manchin will not say whether he will back President Barack Obama, the top of his party’s ticket.

It also cites his vote with Republicans on a birth control issue.

But Manchin’s votes on reproductive health have also cost him the longtime support of West Virginians for Life.

But the editorial says that the former governor has no worthy opponent from either party and will probably win re-election.

Former state legislator Sheirl Fletcher is Manchin’s primary challenger.

Republican John Raese is seeking a rematch in November.

 

 

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Lawmakers and Conflicts of Interest

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The West Virginia Ethics Commission decided last week that House Speaker Rick Thompson would have an “inescapable conflict” if he had taken a position as legal counsel for the West Virginia Education Association teacher’s union.

At first blush, this might seem like a slam dunk. Thompson is in a position to determine the success or failure of legislation and the WVEA lobbies lawmakers for pay raises and on other issues.

Thompson pledged to keep the two duties separate, but it would have been a tricky proposition given that he would have responsibilities to his employer and to the public trust in his position as Speaker.

So, Thompson won’t take the job with the WVEA. “I certainly would not do anything wrong, but if that’s their decision, that’s their decision and I will abide by it,“ Thompson told the Gazette.

It must be noted, however, that the West Virginia Legislature is filled with potential conflicts of interest. As a part-time body, most lawmakers have other jobs. They are lawyers, bankers, school teachers, insurance salesmen, businessmen, doctors and nurses.

Here are a few more specific examples: Senator Evan Jenkins (D-Cabell) is executive director of the West Virginia Medical Association. House of Delegates Majority Whip Mike Caputo (D-Marion) is a vice-president with the United Mine Workers of America.

Would Thompson’s position with WVEA have been any different?

The Ethics Commission apparently believes Thompson’s situation is unique because he is a presiding officer. It’s likely that the commission will craft its final opinion so that it impacts only lawmakers in the highest leadership positions, such as the Speaker and Senate President.

But let’s say the commission had signed off on Thompson working for the WVEA, or Thompson had simply not sought a ruling. The press-and thus the public-would have quickly learned about it.

That kind of news travels fast. As a result, Thompson may have been subject to more public scrutiny on education issues.

Perhaps a bigger risk of malfeasance in the Legislature exists with conflicts of interest that are not reviewed by the Ethics Commission and which the public never hears about. Politicians are human, and as such some are tempted to use their position in ways that benefit themselves or their families.

The bright light of disclosure has a sanitizing effect. We can expect and hope that public officials act in an ethical manner, but public scrutiny helps keep them honest. But first, the public has to know about them.

Ultimately, it’s better for the public trust in West Virginia that Speaker Thompson does not work for the WVEA, but most of the potential conflicts are not as blatant as Thompson’s would have been.

And therein lies the risk. They slip through and no one is the wiser.

Hatfield-McCoy Feud Fuels Star Treatment

Despite being more than 125 years old, the Hatfield & McCoy feud will be a surprisingly hot subject in the national media this spring and summer.

A host of cable series, shows and books will focus on one of the world’s most notorious feuds, most prominent among them a three-day History channel miniseries, “The Hatfields and McCoys: An American Vendetta,“ starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton that begins airing Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.

On the coattails of what the channel bills as an “epic three-night event,“ several of its other shows will do Hatfield and McCoy-themed programs. History’s popular “American Pickers” will lead up to the series with a program that recently brought hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz to the Mountain State, checking out some little-known feud memorabilia. “How the States Got Their Shapes” will tape a show of its own this June.

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While the high-profile Costner-Paxton miniseries looks to be an action-packed telling of a colorful feud, with the dramatic license to be expected from a TV drama (see the trailer at www.history.com/hatfields-and-mccoys), History also will screen a two-hour documentary about the feud’s historical bonafides.

In addition, several new books are out or coming out. On the smaller scale, independent West Virginia book publisher Woodland Press recently released “The Devil’s Son,“ a novel by Parkersburg native Anne Black Gray, inspired by some of the feud’s characters and billed as a “vast historical epic.“

At the larger end of the publishing spectrum, Dean Young, author of the nonfiction best-seller “Skeletons On The Zahara: A True Story of Survival,“ has a “retelling” of the feud due out later this year in a book from Little, Brown.

Need more? Earlier this month, Anderson Cooper filmed an episode of his new daytime talk show, “Anderson,“ about the feud, featuring Costner and a Hatfield family member, to air before the series.

All this is music to the ears of Bill Richardson, who for years has toiled at turning the feud into tourism gold for West Virginia and has fingers in several of these projects.

More than a pig

“There is going to be a landslide of national media about our state’s history and that will result in a landslide of attention,“ said Richardson, who helped with research on the Young book and was interviewed for the History documentary.

Richardson, a West Virginia University Extension associate professor who does community development work in Mingo and Logan counties, also is a filmmaker, artist and author who, several years back, produced his own 57-minute Hatfield & McCoy documentary, “Feud.“

He has been instrumental in encouraging feud-related tourism destinations in the state (see a list at a website he developed called hatfieldmccoycountry.com). Among them:

The burial sites of Devil Anse Hatfield and Randle “Ole Ran’l’ McCoy, patriarchs of the feuding families; The Paw Paw Massacre site where the Hatfields executed three McCoys for killing Devil Anse’s brother; the place where Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, “the Romeo and Juliet of the hills,“ met and fell in love; and The Hog Trial site, where a trial featuring a contested pig contributed to the feud.

Richardson hopes all the attention will lead to more people visiting the state and learning a more nuanced, broader view of the feud than the caricature of violent hillbillies going at each other for vendetta-settling target practice.

“It wasn’t just ignorant hillbillies fighting over a pig, which is one of the ways it has been characterized. When you actually get down to the facts of the history, it is very different than the myths that have grown up.“

Causes and effects

There was not a sole causal event, but many factors in the feud that set two backcountry families at each other’s throats for the better part of the 1880s, and led to the murder of an estimated dozen people and the wounding of 10 others.

Most of the Hatfields lived in West Virginia’s Mingo County along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Across the river, the McCoys called Pike County, Ky., home and had fought for the Union.

One of the seeds of the feud was the 1865 murder of returning Union soldier Asa Harmon McCoy, killed by a group of ex-Confederate militia dubbed the “Logan Wildcats.“ Devil Anse Hatfield was an initial suspect, but when it was learned he was home sick at the time, suspicion shifted to his uncle, Jim Vance, a member of the Wildcats.

Later, the ire stirred up in both families was deepened by the romance between Johnse Hatfield and Roseanna McCoy, along with a host of other personal conflicts.

But there was more than a just blood feud in play. Larger forces also were at work, in a dispute that eventually would put two state governments at loggerheads—the West Virginia governor even threatened a militia invasion of Kentucky at one point, as murder, retribution and foiled justice abounded.

Yet this feud also led to an influential U.S. Supreme Court ruling on due process and extradition after a posse brought a Hatfield to Kentucky to stand trial for the slaying of Alifair McCoy, killed during the “New Year’s Night Massacre” in 1888, the crowning violence of the affair.

The Hatfields were a more affluent family than the McCoys, due to the success of Devil Anse’s timbering business in the great virgin forests of Appalachia.

“Devil Anse was one of the very first post-Civil War entrepreneurs,“ said Richardson. “He was one of the first people to begin logging that timber and capitalizing on it. Coal had been discovered, but not really mined yet in Southern West Virginia. This was even before the railroad was through here,“ Richardson said.

So, add a dispute over timber rights into the mix and that a Hatfield - Henry D. Hatfield, a nephew of Devil Anse - would become the 14th governor of West Virginia, and you begin to fill in a more interesting history of a much-caricatured feud.

“It became individual disputes between two families,“ Richardson said, “and then it spiraled out of control.“

The full tale

Richardson is sensitive to questions about whether all this renewed attention could be a negative for the state and whether the History series will have any nuance to it.

“I just think the discussion of negative depictions is premature,“ Richardson said. “If, when the show comes out, it does portray us negatively (which I don’t think it will), then that’s a perfectly legitimate discussion. But to start talking about it now, when it hasn’t happened—and may not—just makes people miss the point that good things are happening in a place and for a state that usually only gets bad press.“

It’s true, he said, that the way the feud has been portrayed in years past reinforced stereotypes of mountain folk.

“All the negative stereotypes of mountain people can be traced back to the Hatfield and McCoy feud. When people talk about ignorant hillbillies marrying their cousins, that all came from the Hatfield and McCoy feud. And that is because it was such a big story back then.“

The renewed interest in the feud, whether told with nuance or lack of it, will be a bonanza for the state, he said.

“We’re going to get what I estimated to be about $120 million of media coverage about the history of West Virginia.“

History, after all, is mostly about wars, battles and conflicts, he said. In studying how to develop a tourism industry around a violent event like the feud, Richardson pondered how some other states built a thriving tourist business around Wild West outlaw Jesse James.

“If you think about Jesse James, he was a cold-blooded murdering outlaw,“ Richardson said, “but Missouri and two or three other states have built a tourism industry around his life.“

Some in West Virginia might be anxious about over-attention to the feud, but there is no reason not to mine such rich history, he said.

“It seemed to me ridiculous to run away from that history when everyone else was embracing (such tales) and turning them into an economic asset,“ Richardson said.

The History channel series will be interested in telling a good story, he said.

“The Costner miniseries will absolutely tell a fictionalized version of the history,“ Richardson said. “It will depart from the facts, there’s no doubt about it.“

Yet he cited a similar film project he helped with, John Sayles’ “fictionalized history” film, “Matewan,“ which stirred a whole lot of interest in the actual history of the Mine Wars era.

“I can’t control whether they play fast and loose with the truth,“ Richardson said. “All I can control is trying to utilize that to try and get people to come here and learn the true story, which is even more interesting than the mythology.“

Ritchie County Genealogy & History Fair – Saturday, 04.28.12

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The first ever Ritchie County Genealogy & History Fair will be held Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at the Ritchie County High/Middle School Commons Area.

Vendors will be selling genealogy and history books, maps and other items.

Admission is free and a concession stand will be available.


Vendors slated to participate include:

•  Calhoun County Historical & Genealogical Society

•  Doddridge County Historical Society

•  Gilmer County Historical Society

•  Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants (Lewis County)

•  Harrison County Genealogical Society

•  Marion County Historical Society

•  Ritchie County Historical Society

•  Roane County Historical Society

•  Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance

•  Upshur County Historical Society

•  Genealogy by David Boggs

•  Genealogy by Lockhart

•  Mountain Heritage Books


For further information, email: “info@ritchiehistoricalsociety.com” or call 304.643.2738 or toll free 866.363.8416.

West Virginia Juvenile Justice System to Be Examined

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West Virginia’s juvenile justice system will be examined by a court-hired monitor due to concerns that it focuses more on punishment than rehabilitation.

“Currently there seems to be too little emphasis on individual programming and re-entry strategies,“ state Supreme Court administrative director Steve Canterbury said Monday in a news release.

The court has tapped Cindy Largent-Hill, a former director of the Division of Juvenile Services, for the job. Largent-Hill is a member of the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission, which is looking at the division’s programs and operations plan for the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem and the Honey Rubenstein Center in Davis.

“This is a monitor, not a special master and not a receiver,“ Justice Margaret Workman said in the release. “It would be premature without full information and study to appoint a special master or receiver. We want to work cooperatively with the other branches of government.“

Largent-Hill will work with circuit courts and their probation staffs, visit facilities, review files of juveniles at the Salem and Davis facilities and talk with residents.

She told the Charleston Daily Mail that she wants to help change the system, and not just police it.

Most youths entering the system were abuse victims or have drug problems. But treatment opportunities sometimes are overshadowed by a focus on punishment, she said.

“They are stunted in so many ways — socially, emotionally, behaviorally — so they are much more complex, so it’s not just a teenager with a bad attitude anymore,“ she said.

The system offers vocational and educational classes and is less like prison that it was several years ago. But it could do a better job, said Denny Dodson, the current Juvenile Services director.

Dodson said some juveniles don’t want to take advantage of educational or vocational programs. Some judges also are part of the problem.

“The good judges use that rehabilitation, but some courts use it as a punishment, and it’s out of exasperation, realizing the change wasn’t going to happen,“ he told the newspaper.

GSC Trillium Reading Announced - 04.24.12

The 9th annual Glenville State College Trillium Reading is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM in the Mollohan Campus Community Center Room 315.

The Trillium is a literary and arts journal that contains artwork, poetry, and prose created by GSC students, faculty, staff, and community members.

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The 2012 cover of the Trillium, GSC’s literary and arts journal,
designed by GSC senior Psychology/Sociology major
Sara Wise from Sand Fork, West Virginia (Gilmer County).


“This is a great opportunity for the authors and artists featured in the Trillium to bring their works to life in front of an audience. I was thrilled with the amount of submissions we received this year and the quality of the work. I invite all to attend this event,“ said GSC Trillium Editor Rose Johnson.

Free copies of the 2012 Trillium will be available at the reading as well as in the Mollohan Campus Community Center, the Robert F. Kidd Library, the GSC Department of English in the Heflin Administration Building, and other locations on the campus.

For more information about the Trillium reading, contact the faculty advisor Dr. Jonathan Minton at “jonathan.minton@glenville.edu” or 304.462.6322.

Swing Dance Being Held at Glenville State College

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Members of the Glenville State College Jazz Ensemble will be hosting a Swing Dance on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 7:00 PM in the GSC Mollohan Campus Community Center Ballroom.

The ensemble will be performing a number of swing tunes ranging from old standards to newer material as well as a few ballads.

Several student soloists will be featured including a pair of vocalists.

There will also be a guest performance by the West Virginia University Graduate Jazz Sextet featuring GSC Assistant Band Director Jason Barr.

“All are invited to this night of big band swing entertainment, bring your dancing shoes if so inclined,“ said GSC Jazz Ensemble Director Dr. David Lewis.

For more information on the GSC Swing Dance, contact Lewis at “David.Lewis@glenville.edu” or 304.462.6343.

Two Years After the BP Oil Spill: IS THE GULF ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSING?

If you still don’t have a sense of the devastation to the Gulf, American reporter Dahr Jamail lays it out pretty clearly:


“The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Eyeless shrimp

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”

Eyeless shrimp, from a catch of 400 pounds of eyeless shrimp, said to be caught September 22, 2011, in Barataria Bay, Louisiana [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]

“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.
Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.

“I’ve seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera. “The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday.”

While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and “their shells missing around their gills and head”.

“We’ve fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this,” he added.

Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.

Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs “with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they’ve been dead for a week”.

Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.

“We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.”

Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was “ten per cent what it normally is”.

“I’ve never seen this,” he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.

Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.

***

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. “It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known”.

The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic – able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and carcinogenic.

Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP’s submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from “a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor”.

Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia published results of her submarine dives around the source area of BP’s oil disaster in the Nature Geoscience journal.

Her evidence showed massive swathes of oil covering the seafloor, including photos of oil-covered bottom dwelling sea creatures.

While showing slides at an American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, Joye said: “This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads.”
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.

“Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline,” Subra told Al Jazeera. “We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation.”

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, PAHs “are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore, and can be formed when oil is burned”.

“The fish are being exposed to PAHs, and I was able to find several references that list the same symptoms in fish after the Exxon Valdez spill, as well as other lab experiments,” explained Cowan.

“There was also a paper published by some LSU scientists that PAH exposure has effects on the genome.”

The University of South Florida released the results of a survey whose findings corresponded with Cowan’s: a two to five per cent infection rate in the same oil impact areas, and not just with red snapper, but with more than 20 species of fish with lesions. In many locations, 20 per cent of the fish had lesions, and later sampling expeditions found areas where, alarmingly, 50 per cent of the fish had them.

“I asked a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] sampler what percentage of fish they find with sores prior to 2010, and it’s one tenth of one percent,” Cowan said. “Which is what we found prior to 2010 as well. But nothing like we’ve seen with these secondary infections and at this high of rate since the spill.”

“What we think is that it’s attributable to chronic exposure to PAHs released in the process of weathering of oil on the seafloor,” Cowan said. “There’s no other thing we can use to explain this phenomenon. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

***

Crustacean biologist Darryl Felder, in the Department of Biology with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in a unique position.

Felder has been monitoring the vicinity of BP’s blowout Macondo well both before and after the oil disaster began, because, as he told Al Jazeera, “the National Science Foundation was interested in these areas that are vulnerable due to all the drilling”.

“So we have before and after samples to compare to,” he added. “We have found seafood with lesions, missing appendages, and other abnormalities.”

Felder also has samples of inshore crabs with lesions. “Right here in Grand Isle we see lesions that are eroding down through their shell. We just got these samples last Thursday and are studying them now, because we have no idea what else to link this to as far as a natural event.”

According to Felder, there is an even higher incidence of shell disease with crabs in deeper waters.

“My fear is that these prior incidents of lesions might be traceable to microbes, and my questions are, did we alter microbial populations in the vicinity of the well by introducing this massive amount of petroleum and in so doing cause microbes to attack things other than oil?”

One hypothesis he has is that the waxy coatings around crab shells are being impaired by anthropogenic chemicals or microbes resulting from such chemicals.

“You create a site where a lesion can occur, and microbes attack. We see them with big black lesions, around where their appendages fall off, and all that is left is a big black ring.”

Felder added that his team is continuing to document the incidents: “And from what we can tell, there is a far higher incidence we’re finding after the spill.”

“We are also seeing much lower diversity of crustaceans,” he said. “We don’t have the same number of species as we did before [the spill].”

***

Felder is also finding “odd staining” of animals that burrow into the mud that cause stain rings, and said: “It is consistently mineral deposits, possibly from microbial populations in [overly] high concentrations.”

***

Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deep-water Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.

Whitehead’s work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP’s oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf’s food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.

“What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.

According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.

“That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish,” he explained. “So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can’t think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish.”
But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.

Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a “keystone” species in the food web of the marsh, “Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences.”

***

Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has “great concern” about the hundreds of dolphin deaths he has seen in the region since BP’s disaster began, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.

“Adult dolphins’ systems are picking up whatever is in the system out there, and we know the oil is out there and working its way up the food chain through the food web – and dolphins are at the top of that food chain.”

Cake explained: “The chemicals then move into their lipids, fat, and then when they are pregnant, their young rely on this fat, and so it’s no wonder dolphins are having developmental issues and still births.”

Cake, who lives in Mississippi, added: “It has been more than 33 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams, and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has been 23 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned.”


Cake believes we are still in the short-term impact stage of BP’s oil disaster.

“I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover,” said Cake, who is 72 years old. “Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades.”

***

“We’re continuing to pull up oil in our nets,” Rooks said. “Think about losing everything that makes you happy, because that is exactly what happens when someone spills oil and sprays dispersants on it. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters.”

Khuns and her husband told Al Jazeera that fishermen continue to regularly find tar balls in their crab traps, and hundreds of pounds of tar balls continue to be found on beaches across the region on a daily basis.

Meanwhile Cowan continues his work, and remains concerned about what he is finding.

“We’ve also seen a decrease in biodiversity in fisheries in certain areas. We believe we are now seeing another outbreak of incidence increasing, and this makes sense, since waters are starting to warm again, so bacterial infections are really starting to take off again. We think this is a problem that will persist for as long as the oil is stored on the seafloor.”


Did the BP Spill Ever Really Stop?

We’ve repeatedly documented that BP’s gulf Mocando well is still leaking.

Stuart Smith – a successful trial lawyer who won a billion dollar verdict against Exxon Mobil – noted recently:

New sampling data from the nonprofit Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) provide confirmation that not only is BP’s oil still very much present in the water in Bayou La Batre, but that it still exists in a highly toxic state nearly two years after the spill.

Water samples were taken by Dennis and Lori Bosarge, LEAN members from Coden, Alabama. The lab-certified test results are in (see full lab report at bottom), and they are startling in that they suggest that oil is still leaking from the Macondo reservoir – most likely from cracks and fissures in the seafloor around the plugged wellhead. Scientists believe the cracks were caused by BP’s heavy-handed “kill” efforts.

G-Comm™: WHAT MUST BE SAID

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Why do I say: Israel’s atomic power endangers world peace?

Because what must be said may be too late tomorrow


WHAT MUST BE SAID

Why have I kept silent, held back so long,
on something openly practiced in
war games, at the end of which those of us
who survive will at best be footnotes?

It’s the alleged right to a first strike
that could destroy an Iranian people
subjugated by a loudmouth
and gathered in organized rallies,
because an atom bomb may be being
developed within his arc of power.

Yet why do I hesitate to name
that other land in which
for years – although kept secret –
a growing nuclear power has existed
beyond supervision or verification,
subject to no inspection of any kind?

This general silence on the facts,
before which my own silence has bowed,
seems to me a troubling, enforced lie,
leading to a likely punishment
the moment it’s broken:
the verdict “Anti-Semitism” falls easily.

But now that my own country,
brought in time after time
for questioning about its own crimes,
profound and beyond compare,
has delivered yet another submarine to Israel
(in what is purely a business transaction,
though glibly declared an act of reparation)
whose specialty consists in its ability
to direct nuclear warheads toward
an area in which not a single atom bomb
has yet been proved to exist, its feared
existence proof enough, I’ll say what must be said.

But why have I kept silent till now?
Because I thought my own origins,
tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,
meant I could not expect Israel, a land
to which I am, and always will be, attached,
to accept this open declaration of the truth.

Why only now, grown old,
and with what ink remains, do I say:
Israel’s atomic power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what must be said
may be too late tomorrow;
and because – burdened enough as Germans –
we may be providing material for a crime
that is foreseeable, so that our complicity
will not be expunged by any
of the usual excuses.

And granted: I’ve broken my silence
because I’m sick of the West’s hypocrisy;
and I hope too that many may be freed
from their silence, may demand
that those responsible for the open danger
we face renounce the use of force,
may insist that the governments of
both Iran and Israel allow an international authority
free and open inspection of
the nuclear potential and capability of both.

No other course offers help
to Israelis and Palestinians alike,
to all those living side by side in enmity
in this region occupied by illusions,
and ultimately, to all of us.

~~  Günter Grass ~~


The English translation was published by the Guardian.

Translated by Breon Mitchell.

You can read the poem in the original German H E R E.

 

Complaint: Calhoun Attorney Engaging in ‘Legal Tomfoolery’

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The WV Record Reports:

A New York woman is accusing a Calhoun County attorney of “legal tomfoolery” in representing her interests in an estate dispute in neighboring Gilmer County.

Marlea Cottrill on April 9 filed an ethics complaint against F. John Oshoway with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the state Supreme Court that investigates attorney misconduct.

In her complaint, Cottrill, 51, of Jump, N.Y., a suburb of Syracuse, hired Oshoway, 60, a sole practitioner in Grantsville, to defend her in a lawsuit involving the estate of her late father, Willard, only to have him do next to nothing.

According to her complaint, Willard Cottrill passed away in October 2010 “under extreme and unusual circumstances.“ In June, Cottrill was named as a co-defendant in a suit to quiet title filed by the estate’s executor, Michael W. Murphy, her brother-in-law in Gilmer Circuit Court.

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F. John Oshoway

The suit seeks to divest any interest on Willard’s property in Linn claimed by Ruth Mitchell, the other co-defendant. According to the suit, Willard in his will dated Nov. 1, 2006, requested Mitchell, “be provided a residence on his real property,“ but “‘shall not preclude divestiture of the property by heirs, and is not intended to establish a life tenancy.‘“

It was not until two months later, Cottrill says, that she found out about it, and only through Mitchell. In a panic, she says she drove nine hours to Gilmer County to find an attorney to answer the complaint or risk losing all her rights to inheritance.

Eventually, she found Oshoway who agreed to accept her case for $2,000. Initially, Cottrill paid him $500, and sent him a check for the balance after returning to New York.

Between then and last month, Cottrill says Oshoway has failed to communicate with her about not only the status of the case, but its implications. Also, he has failed to provide her copies of any court documents filed since then including her answer.

All documents she’s received have either been provided by Mitchell or her attorney, Dan Grindo. A copy of the answer Oshoway filed for Cottrill, that Grindo’s office sent her via fax on Sept. 2, 2011, does not bear the time-stamp of the circuit clerk’s office.

Because she was not properly served with a summons, and copy of the complaint, Cottrill says Oshoway should’ve moved to have her dismissed from the suit. However, he failed to do that.

Eventually, Cottrill says she received a telephone call from Oshoway early last month. In it, she says he expressed bewilderment she hadn’t received any documents from him, but would ensure she receive a copy of all pleadings made since she hired him.

However, when she did not receive anything after two weeks, Cottrill wrote him a letter asking him to withdraw from the case. In her letter, she also asked he provide an accounting of his work, and a refund of her retainer.

Shortly thereafter, Oshoway responded saying he would be filing a motion to withdraw as her attorney. However, he disputed receiving an additional $1,500 from her after the initial $500. Instead, he said the check she sent was for $1,000.

In her complaint, Cottrill says that “is absolutely untrue” and provided a copy of the cancelled check Oshoway cashed for $1,500. Also, she made clear the basis of her complaint she was not disputing Oshoway’s fee, but instead his “lack of communication, and zealous representation for the work I thought I paid him to do.“

“One of my concerns,“ Cottrill said, “is the area of West Virginia that Mr. Oshoway works from is severely economically depressed and I wonder how often this sort of legal tomfoolery happens.“

“I fear for the people of Calhoun and Gilmer counties that have no other means of justice as Mr. Oshoway doesn’t seem the least bit inclined to follow up on clients’ needs or wishes once he has been paid,“ Cottrill added. “And even then, Mr. Oshoway doesn’t seem to feel the need to accurately reflect records of payment received by those clients.“

When reached for a comment about Cottrill’s complaint, Oshoway said “I was not aware it.“ Also, he said “I wouldn’t comment on it” after seeing it.

According to ODC, Cottrill’s complaint is one of four pending against Oshoway.

~~  Lawrence Smith - The WV Record  ~~

Glenville: Free Movie - 04.19.12

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Ritchie County Genealogy & History Fair – 04.28.12

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The first ever Ritchie County Genealogy & History Fair will be held Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at the Ritchie County High/Middle School Commons Area.

Vendors will be selling genealogy and history books, maps and other items.

Admission is free and a concession stand will be available.


Vendors slated to participate include:

•  Calhoun County Historical & Genealogical Society

•  Doddridge County Historical Society

•  Gilmer County Historical Society

•  Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants (Lewis County)

•  Harrison County Genealogical Society

•  Marion County Historical Society

•  Ritchie County Historical Society

•  Roane County Historical Society

•  Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance

•  Upshur County Historical Society

•  Genealogy by David Boggs

•  Genealogy by Lockhart

•  Mountain Heritage Books


For further information, email: “info@ritchiehistoricalsociety.com” or call 304.643.2738 or toll free 866.363.8416.

G-Comm™: In a Pickle

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Last week, I was driving back to Morgantown from Spencer via Weston when I stumbled across something that made me bring my car to a screeching halt—the unincorporated community of Pickle Street. Now, for those of you who often travel U.S. Route 33 in Lewis County, the name Pickle Street may not faze you. But I was tickled. The community wasn’t named Pickle, which would be amusing in its own right, but Pickle Street. The sign is not located at a street intersection, either. I did what any innocent traveler would do. I stopped, took a picture, and then I Googled it.

Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Pickle Street is an unincorporated community in Lewis County, West Virginia, United States, on U.S. Route 33 along Leading Creek. It is mostly a residential area, but it has an auction house. At a general store near Pickle Street, but before it was established, asking for pickles was a code for whiskey.”

Who knew? Give me a pickle meant give me whiskey. If there was ever a doubt, West Virginians sure are ingenious.

This got me thinking about other towns that have caused me to sharply pull over to the side of the road, risking life and limb, to take a photo of signs announcing clever names. There’s Cucumber, West Virginia—it has the distinction of being the only town named Cucumber in the world. There’s Big Ugly. War. Looneyville. HooHoo. Needmore. Thursday. And even a community named Odd.

I grew up down the Elk River from End of the World, Booger Hole, and Twist and Chute. I’ve also lived in Pinch, Big Chimney, Duck, and Big Otter. And the funny thing is (with the exception of Booger Hole, which still makes the hair on my arms stand up), I never thought that those town and community names were…well…odd.

~~  Nikki Bowman - WVLiving ~~

Upcoming Movies - 04.20.12

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The Lucky One

Opens Friday, April 20, 2012 | Runtime: 1 hr. 41 min.

PG-13 - For some sexuality and violence

U.S. Marine Sgt. Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) returns home from his third tour of duty in Iraq with the one thing he believes kept him alive: a photograph of a woman he doesn’t even know. He learns the woman’s name is Beth (Taylor Schilling) and goes to meet her, eventually taking a job at her family-run kennel. Though Beth is full of mistrust and leads a complicated life, a romance blooms, giving Logan the hope that Beth could become more than just his good-luck charm.

Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Adam Le Fevre

Director: Scott Hicks

Genres: Drama

 

 

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Think Like a Man

Opens Friday, April 20, 2012 | Runtime: 2 hrs. 0 min.

PG-13 - Sexual content, some crude humor and brief drug use

Think Like a Man follows four interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up after the ladies they are pursuing buy Harvey’s book and start taking his advice to heart. When the band of brothers realize they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire using the book’s insider information to turn the tables and teach the women a lesson of their own.

Cast: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson

Director: Tim Story

Genres: Comedy, Romance

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Chimpanzee

Opens Friday, April 20, 2012 | Runtime: 1 hr. 18 min.

G - Mature Theme

Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the forests of Africa with ‘Chimpanzee,‘ a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable baby chimp named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family—including his mom and the group’s savvy leader — navigates the complex territory of the forest.

The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimps, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever.

Cast: Tim Allen, China Anne McClain

Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield

Genres: Nature, Animals

Race Logos Sought for Contest

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The 2012 Mountain lakes festival is now accepting entries for the 2012 “That Dam Race” logo design contest.

All types of designs for the 5K race will be considered.

Entries are due by Tuesday, May 01, 2012.

For more information, visit www.mountainlakesfestival.com or call 304.765.6533

G-Comm™: Arts Alive Is More Than Just One Night of Stardom

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Jennifer Garner’s extraordinary talent is to be credited for earning her one of the nation’s most prestigious arts awards, the Golden Globe.  The same can be said for multiple award-winning musician Brad Paisley. Yet both of these million-dollar megastars had a little help nurturing that talent—exposure to the arts at a young age while growing up in West Virginia.

Years of research show that an education that includes the arts is closely linked to almost everything that we as a state and nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

That’s why events like the West Virginia Department of Education’s Arts Alive, an annual showcase of talented student dancers, actors, musicians and artists, are so vital for our state.

Arts learning can improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life; they connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing.

Now more than ever, the complexities of our global economy demand that learners of all ages be well-educated, well-rounded creative problem-solvers. Well-taught arts courses are where those skills required and refined whether children yearn to become an actress like Jennifer Garner or a musician like Brad Paisley.

Every child, regardless of economic status, deserves the opportunities to develop those skills as part of a broad curriculum that includes the arts instead of a limited basic curriculum that fails to nurture the whole child. We want our children to want to come to school to discover what they are good at, not be discouraged because the limited curriculum only tells them what they can’t do well.

There is a reason Finland has only a 2% high school dropout rate. Finland has created a school system that values a wide curriculum and a system that makes schools places where students want to be, places where the arts are a part of each student’s day and at each programmatic level.

It’s not just our children who benefit from the arts; our communities do to. Some economists estimate the creative sector accounts for nearly half of all wage and salary income in the United States, $1.7 trillion, as much as the manufacturing and service sectors combined.

As we work together in this complex world to develop good kids who do great work, we must make sure the arts are valued and supported. You can exercise your support on April 20 by attending the Sixth Annual Arts Alive celebration at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston. Our schools are full of talented students who will showcase the benefits of their arts education. The lobby showcase begins at 6:30 PM, followed by the mainstage performance at 7:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available from the Clay Center at 304.561.3500.

The signature event will feature performances and the visual arts as well as theater, dance, instrumental and vocal music performed by public school students from across West Virginia.

This year we challenged students in new ways through the Science in the Arts program, which asked students to consider, research and present information about relationships between two seemingly different subjects. Entries included artwork created with science as well as video presentations. We also for the first time asked students of dance, theater and music to submit original scripts, choreography, compositions and improvisations. I am proud to say West Virginia students have exceeded our expectations.

In signing the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage; for it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”

I hope you will share in the vision the arts provide by joining me and others in support of West Virginia’s student artists and attend Arts Alive on April 20, 2012.

~~  Marple - WV superintendent of schools, overseeing West Virginia’s public schools ~~

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