West Virginia News   150325

The Gilmer Free Press


CHARLESTON, WV - A report says one-third of West Virginia schoolchildren under age 6 live in poor households and are at risk of falling significantly behind their classmates’ achievements.

The West Virginia KIDS COUNT’s annual report on children’s wellbeing says the vocabularies of children as young as 18 months from low-income families are already several months behind their peers, and that continues throughout their educations.

The report released Tuesday says there’s a 24% reading proficiency gap between low-income fourth-graders and their wealthier classmates, and a 23 gap in math proficiency for low-income eighth-graders.

The report suggests continued investments in high-quality child care can help close the achievement gap.

Overall, the report ranked West Virginia 37th in the nation for child wellbeing. That’s unchanged from a year ago.


HUNTINGTON, WV - After running from the police and admitting to using heroin, a Huntington man was thankful to the police for arresting him.

Curtis Wilson Sias, age 24, was arrested early Sunday morning after Huntington police initiated a traffic stop on Sias’ Jeep Cherokee. The suspect accelerated away from the officer and drove off, squealing his tires and fishtailing his vehicle. After jumping a curb and parking, Sias took to the passenger side door and left the scene on foot.

Police found Sias and arrested him for fleeing and for DUI but the kicker came when he thanked the officers for arresting him, stating it was the only way he would ever get off heroin.

Sias is now in Western Regional Jail after admitting to his use of heroin


CLARKSBURG, WV — Three dams along the West Fork River are scheduled to come down following a vote by the Clarksburg Water Board.

The Exponent Telegram reports that the board voted 2-1 Monday to enter an agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that clears the way for the removal of the dams amid liability concerns. The dams are owned by the water board.

John Schmidt is field supervisor for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s West Virginia field office. He said the agreement will allow the agency to begin the permitting process, which he estimated would take about 90 days.

Schmidt said work to take the dams down would begin in the summer.

The Harrison County Commission is expected to attempt to seize ownership of the dams.


GHENT, WV — State police say a Tennessee woman died and four other people were injured when an SUV going the wrong way hit a car head-on on the West Virginia Turnpike.

State police Sgt. J.A. Alexander tells media outlets that the accident occurred around noon Sunday near the Ghent toll booth in Raleigh County.

Alexander says an SUV driven by 43-year-old Rafael Herrera of Florida pulled off the highway near the toll booth. The SUV then re-entered the highway going north in a southbound lane.

Alexander says the SUV hit a car driven by Lisa McCormick of Knoxville, Tenn., head-on. McCormick was killed and three children in the car were injured. Herrera also was injured.

Sgt. M.A. Painter says Herrera is wanted in Pennsylvania on a charge of making terrorist threats.


CHARLESTON, WV - West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman has assigned two senior status judges to hear cases in the 2nd Circuit until a vacancy is filled.

The vacancy will be created on March 31 when Judge Mark A. Karl retires.

Workman issued an administrative order on Tuesday assigning Senior Status Judge Robert B. Stone to preside from April 01 to April 30. Senior Status Judge Arthur Recht will begin hearing cases in the circuit on May 01.

Recht will hear cases until Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appoints Karl’s successor.

The 2nd Circuit covers Marshall, Tyler and Wetzel counties.


CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a provision in a spending bill that required him to sell bonds for two state park projects.

Media outlets report that Tomblin used a line-item veto to remove the provision from the legislation. Lawmakers inserted the provision into the bill before passing it on March 14.

The Legislature had approved a $52 million bond sale in 2012 to pay for improvements at Beech Fork State Park in Wayne County and Cacapon State Park in Morgan County. But the bonds were never issued due to declining state lottery revenue, which would be used to pay for them.

Tomblin says in his veto message that he’s concerned about the provision’s impact on the state’s bond rating. He also questioned the constitutionality of the Legislature’s directive.


HUNTINGTON, WV - A Point Pleasant man will spend more than three years in prison for an investment scheme that cost victims more than $220,000.

Mark Anthony also must pay restitution.

The 40-year-old Anthony had pleaded guilty in November 2014 to mail fraud. He was sentenced on Monday to 37 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Anthony defrauded an elderly couple and at least three other victims. Anthony told the victims that he would invest their money in annuities and money market accounts. Instead, he spent the money for his own use.


CHARLESTON, WV - A now-bankrupt chemical company has pleaded guilty to three pollution charges related to last year’s spill that contaminated a West Virginia river.

Mark Welch, chief restructuring officer of Freedom Industries, entered the plea on behalf of the company Monday in federal court in Charleston.

Freedom faces a maximum $900,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled June 29.

The spill of thousands of gallons of a coal-cleaning agent into the Elk River prompted a tap water ban for 300,000 Charleston-area residents for days.

Two former Freedom owners and two lower-level employees pleaded guilty to a pollution charge last week and will be sentenced in June.

Another former Freedom owner, Dennis Farrell, and former President Gary Southern face trial later this year on spill-related charges. In addition, Southern faces charges related to Freedom’s bankruptcy.


Clarksburg, WV - A Clarksburg man was arrested on sexual assault charges Thursday.

Robert Watson III, age 44, was arrested after interviews with a juvenile victim led police to believe he sexually assaulted the then 10-year-old in June 2013.

The juvenile informed police that Watson sexually assaulted her on a couch while everyone was asleep.

The Clarksburg Police Department made the arrest.

Watson is currently being held in the North Central Regional Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.


Buckhannon, WV - An Upshur County man was arrested after a high-speed chase with police.

Joshua Butcher, age 27, was arrested after a Buckhannon police officer attempted to pull him over.

He tried to evade the officer on WV Highway 20 passing Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School at 100 miles per hour.

Butcher then entered the Stony Run Laundry Mat parking lot, crossed over Stony Run Road into a field and then exited the vehicle and fled on foot into the woods.

Butcher then broke into a residence along WV Highway 20, where the person living in the home called the police.

The arresting officer later identified Butcher by using video surveillance from Wal-Mart and matching his clothing description.

Butcher is charged with nighttime burglary, fleeing from an officer and fleeing with no vehicle.

He is currently being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in lieu of $120,000 bail.

Hannah’s House Thrift Store Is Now Accepting Donations

The Gilmer Free Press

Hannah’s House Thrift Store is now accepting donations for the store.

We will accept most any item you donate be it clothing, glassware, jewelry, household items, decorations, lawn and garden items, clean appliances and furniture, etc.

You may drop items off in front of the Appcon Building in Glenville.

Should you have a yard sale or items for a yard sale that you don’t want, call us, we may work out a deal.

If you’re tearing down or cleaning out a building and just want rid of stuff, call us and we’ll most likely come get it.

What will not accept are mattresses, filthy dirty clothes, shoes and bedding.

If it’s too gross and filthy for you to use, then please, don’t bring it to us.

You may reach me on my cell at 304.588.3398 or at home 304.462.4740.

At this time, we don’t have a number for the store.  In the near future, we will.

Deana J. Burke

U.S.A. News     150325

The Gilmer Free Press


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network (TRAIN) Act, which would reform the environmental permitting process for rail projects in order to facilitate a more efficient way to approve rail infrastructure. The bipartisan legislation would promote additional investment in rail systems without compromising environmental quality.

“Our nation’s railroads move 29 million carloads every year and take millions of trucks off the road, but critical investments are needed to remove bottlenecks and improve the efficiency of the system,” Senator Manchin said. “Unfortunately, these important projects languish on the vine year after year due to a relentlessly bureaucratic federal permitting process. In 2012, we streamlined this process for federal highway and road projects to get them off the drawing board, and, just last year, we did the same thing for major projects along our nation’s waterways. It’s time that we extend these commonsense reforms to our nation’s railroads to ensure that we can efficiently move goods throughout the nation and keep our economy moving.”

“Freight rail traffic is growing, which means we need more infrastructure to move goods and services and ensure the rail remains a major component in our economic future,” said Senator Blunt. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that burdensome federal regulations do not hamper investment and innovation in our nation’s freight and passenger rail industry.”

U.S. Senator John Thune (SD), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, is an original co-sponsor. He is looking forward to bringing this bill before the Commerce Committee for consideration.


In 2012, Congress identified duplicative and burdensome permitting requirements for other modes of transportation, and responded by enacting permitting reform legislation as a part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The TRAIN Act would expand these reforms to railroad infrastructure.

The rail industry has encountered significant challenges in the federal environmental permitting process that have resulted in burdensome administrative delays unrelated to environmental concerns. The unnecessary delays result in cost increases that reduce the amount of capital railroads have available to invest in projects.


An industry trade group and a small, Texas-based Internet provider are among the first to mount a legal challenge to the federal government’s new net neutrality rules.

On Monday, USTelecom — a group that includes some of the nation’s largest Internet providers — filed suit in Washington, while Alamo Broadband sued the Federal Communications Commission in New Orleans.

The court filings kick-start a legal effort to overturn the FCC’s regulations, passed in February, that aim to keep Internet providers from speeding up, slowing down or blocking Web traffic.

“We do not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable,“ USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement. “Therefore, we are filing a petition to protect our procedural rights in challenging the recently adopted open Internet order.”

In its petition, Alamo alleges that the FCC’s net neutrality rules apply onerous requirements on it under Title II of the Communications Act, the same law that the FCC uses to monitor legacy phone service.

“Alamo is thus aggrieved by the order and possesses standing to challenge it,“ the company’s lawyers wrote in the petition, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The challenges are coming much sooner than expected. Many analysts believed that Internet providers would have to wait until the FCC’s rules were officially published in the Federal Register before being eligible to appeal.

But according to legal experts familiar with the challenges, certain sections of the FCC’s rules operate on a different timeline. Those parts, referred to as the “declaratory ruling” sections of the net neutrality rules, were considered final as soon as the FCC published them on its Web site, according to the experts, which it did March 12.

“USTelecom is filing this protective petition for review out of an abundance of caution,“ USTelecom writes in its challenge, a copy of which was also obtained by The Post.

After the declaratory ruling becomes final, potential challengers have 10 days to file an appeal; both petitions were filed hours before the deadline.

In a statement, the FCC called the petitions “premature and subject to dismissal.“ It is unclear whether the FCC will be immediately asking for the cases to be thrown out.

Supporters of the FCC are eager for the battle to be joined.

“Our side does want an early challenge so that this administration will defend it, and [FCC Chairman Tom] Wheeler will defend it,“ said one industry lobbyist who represents smaller telecom firms. “The sooner the better.“

Consumer advocacy groups that had pushed hard for the strong new rules said Title II was “the right law” and insisted that the FCC has a strong case.

“These companies have threatened all along to sue over the FCC’s decision, even though that decision is supported by millions of people and absolutely essential for our economy,“ said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press. “Apparently some of them couldn’t wait to make good on that threat.“

In a separate legal challenge filed Friday in Cincinnati, Tennessee sued the FCC over its February decision to block the state’s restriction on city-run Internet service.

“The FCC has unlawfully inserted itself between the State of Tennessee and the State’s own political subdivisions,“ the challenge alleges.

World News   150325

The Gilmer Free Press


New York, NY - Oil prices have kept falling as top producer Saudi Arabia refuses to heed calls to cut output to help balance the fluctuating market.

On Tuesday, North Sea Brent crude oil futures were trading at $55.58 a barrel at 0301 GMT, down 34 cents. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 48 cents to $46.97 a barrel.

The fresh drop in oil prices came after Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, announced it is producing roughly 10 mb/d of crude oil, some 350,000 b/d above the official figure provided to the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in February.

“The market was under pressure early in the trading day after comments from Saudi Arabia that it was producing almost 10 million barrels per day,“ ANZ bank said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the Arab kingdom has the capacity to supply crude to any new client.

He also said that non-OPEC countries should also help curb the downward trend in the prices.

“We refuse to take responsibility alone because (OPEC) produces 30% of market output and 70% comes from outside,“ al-Naimi said.

Oil prices fell around 60% between July 2014 and February this year.

The Saudi minister cited the 1998 crash, saying OPEC cooperated with other oil producers to cut output and shore up oil prices.

“Today, the situation is difficult. We tried, met with them but did not succeed because they insisted that OPEC should take the responsibility alone,“ said Naimi.

“All must contribute if we want to improve prices because it is in the interest of all,“ the Saudi minister said.


Beijing, China - Euro zone businesses ramped up activity in March as the European Central Bank started printing money to spur economic growth, while a slowdown among Chinese factories fueled expectations of more monetary stimulus.

U.S. manufacturing growth also edged up despite a stronger U.S. dollar and the threat of an interest rate rise from the Federal Reserve later this year.

The Eurozone Composite Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from data vendor Markit, based on surveys of thousands of companies and seen as a good growth indicator, jumped to a near- four-year high of 54.1 from February’s 53.3.

The surveys pointed to first-quarter euro zone economic growth of 0.3%, Markit said, matching the previous three months’ but shy of the 0.4% median forecast in a Reuters poll taken earlier this month. [ECILT/EU]

The ECB began its quantitative easing program to buy bonds worth more than a trillion euros in March.

“I wouldn’t want to give QE too much credence at this stage. The ECB has only been buying for a couple of weeks and QE takes a long time to have any impact - if at all,“ said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank. “The outright QE itself has had zero impact; growth was already happening.“

A sub-index measuring euro zone prices jumped to an eight-month high of 49.0. But it has spent three years below the break-even level of 50, suggesting inflation will not return any time soon.

Oil prices have tumbled over the past nine months and inflation rates across the world have followed suit.

European shares and the euro edged up on the data suggesting the euro zone economy was gaining momentum, but the slowdown in China kept oil and commodities-linked assets under pressure. The U.S. dollar recovered from recent losses, while Wall Street stocks edged higher. [MKTS/GLOB]


China’s flash HSBC/Markit PMI dipped to an 11-month low of 49.2 in March, below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.

“The deteriorating PMI confirmed that downside risks to China’s 2015 growth have started to materialize. We expect an accelerated monetary easing cycle and somewhat loosening of the fiscal stance,“ said Jian Chang at Barclays.

Some analysts expected China’s first-quarter economic growth to slip below the government’s new full-year target of 7.0%, widely seen as the level needed to keep employment steady.

China’s economic slowdown is stabilizing, with employment and services among the bright spots, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday.

The country’s leaders have said they would be willing to tolerate somewhat slower growth as long as the labor market remained resilient. But the latest PMI employment sub-index contracted for a 17th straight month, hitting its lowest since the depths of the global financial crisis.


Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector edged up to a five- month high in March, according to Markit.

The preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 55.3, its highest since October, when the final PMI was 55.9.

“Manufacturing regained further momentum from the slowdown seen at the turn of the year, with output, new orders and employment growth all accelerating in March,“ said Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist.

The flash reading of the index measuring new orders also rose in March to the highest since October, coming in at 56.4, compared with February’s final reading of 55.8.

Employment growth also rose in March from February, Markit said.

NES PTO: Amish-Made Baskets, Primitive Decor and Pampered Chef Bingo - 03.28.15 - Saturday

The Gilmer Free Press

G-TechNote™: Computer Scientists Invent New Way to Manipulate Light

The Gilmer Free Press

Scientists say a new device that controls light faster and more efficiently than ever before is key to the development of the next generation of supercomputers.

The device is a tiny plastic honeycomb, smaller than a bee’s stinger. The structure can bend light around the tightest of corners without sacrificing the speed or structural integrity of the light beam.

The employment of light beams are essential to supercomputers and their promise of speed and power, as light-based computer processing systems can move information at speeds thousands of times faster than traditional devices, which rely on electrical signals.

But even though light is fast, it’s difficult to manipulate without slowing or diminishing the quality of the light beam.

“Computer chips and circuit boards have metal wire connections within them that transport data signals,“ Raymond Rumpf, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas El Paso, explained in a recent press release. “One of challenges when using light is figuring out a way to make tight bends so we can replace the metal wiring more effectively.“

Currently, optical fibers are the most common technique for transporting light-based information. But these wires can’t make sudden turns, the path must be gradual.

The honeycomb-like miniature lattices—created using a nanoscale 3D printing technique called direct laser writing—allow light to be bent at extremely sharp angles without allowing energy to escape. The device is sometimes called a photonic crystal, and its complex series of lattices incrementally steer the light beams around corners.

“Direct laser writing has the potential to become a flexible means for manufacturing next-generation computer devices,“ said Stephen Kuebler, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Central Florida.

Researchers are now working to perfect the device to navigate even tighter turns. As supercomputing power is expected to squeeze into smaller and smaller volumes, like smartphones, computer engineers must find ways to twist and turn light at sharper and sharper angles.

The development of the new honeycomb latticed device is detailed in the latest issue of the journal Optical Express.

GSC’s Tara Cosco Successfully Defends Dissertation

Glenville State College Assistant Professor of Special Education Tara Cosco has successfully completed her Doctor of Education degree. The now Dr. Cosco defended her dissertation earlier in March at Northcentral University in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The degree focused on Technology and E-Learning.

Her dissertation, titled ‘Adult Student Preferences for Communication Media in an Interactive Online Environment,‘ explored college and university students’ use and perceptions of communication tools in an interactive online environment. She wanted to determine if the tools help students learn in an interactive environment and if the tools help them learn in relation to their learning styles.

The Gilmer Free Press
GSC’s Dr. Tara Cosco with her congratulatory cake
after successfully defending her dissertation

“The problem that I wanted to address is that the availability of Internet courses does not automatically create quality learning experiences prompting a pedagogical dilemma for educators in how to foster interaction when students and teachers are separated. The specific problem addressed by my research was that instructors do not know how students perceive the communication tools in an interactive course that has multiple tools and if those tools help students learn according to their individual learning styles. I interviewed 20 college and university students from approximately 20 different institutions who had taken four or more interactive online courses using multiple tools. Data consisted of over 200 pages of interview transcripts and over 50,000 words. From that data, seven themes emerged from which I was able to frame and complete the dissertation,“ Cosco explained.

“Now that the degree is over, I can reflect and know that I am grateful for the experience and opportunity to further my education. Many of my friends and family members encouraged me through the difficulties and celebrated successes with me throughout this journey; their encouragement helped me reach this goal and I could not have done it without them!“ she said.

Cosco has 15 years of experience in the education field. She taught special education for six years in the West Virginia public school system and then taught at an independent school in Princeton, New Jersey for three years. She has been an assistant professor at Glenville State College for seven years. In addition to her teaching duties at GSC, she also serves as faculty advisor for the international education honor society Kappa Delta Pi.

Her official graduation ceremony will be held over the summer in Arizona. Cosco hopes to attend with family and friends.

Corps: Sutton Dam Storm Releases May Be Higher Than the Past

The Gilmer Free Press

HUNTINGTON, WV - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says water releases from Sutton Dam after extreme storms could raise the Elk River to levels higher than residents have seen in the past.

The corps says flood-waters held back by the dam will be released as quickly as possible after downstream flows drop below control levels.

This is to prepare for any future precipitation.

Residents are advised to stay alert to any possible change in river levels.

More Landowners Resisting Gas Pipelines

The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV – Huge pipelines intended to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to eastern markets are running into spreading resistance from landowners.

Richmond-based Dominion Resources and its partners have filed about 100 lawsuits against landowners who are resisting surveying crews for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Now landowners in the path of a different pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, have filed preemptive suits to stop surveying crews hired by the Pittsburgh-based EQT energy company and its partners.

Isak Howell is an attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit organization that represents dozens of landowners along each line.

“These companies are proposing to use the right of eminent domain -– the extraordinary power to take private property against the landowners’ wishes – and it should not be granted lightly,“ Howell states.

Each pipeline would cost billions of dollars, run for hundreds of miles and carry billions of cubic feet of gas a day. They are designed to carry Marcellus and Utica natural gas to North Carolina and Virginia, with other connections.

Both projects would go through rugged, hard-to-build-in terrain. The companies argue the projects would put people to work and would lower gas prices, which they maintain would be good for the economy.

Howell says the landowners don’t expect to see any benefit in their region, just the negative impact on land and water.

“They’re definitely going to have a huge environmental impact out on the land,” he stresses. “The companies should be held to the letter of the environmental laws before these pipelines are ever approved.“

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will determine much of the future of both projects. Both cross national forests, which complicates the picture. And the landowner lawsuits in state courts will also need to be addressed.

Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed suit on behalf of three families in Summers and Monroe counties. Howell says their cases turn on the interpretation of a law that’s more than a century old.

He says it states a company can use eminent domain for a public use. But he says the gas won’t be used in West Virginia, which leaves open the question of whether it qualifies.

“There’s not a definitive case answering this question that I’ve been able to find, and so, possibly very soon, it’s going to be up to a West Virginia court to decide whether that bar is as high as we think it is,“ he explains.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

WV State Police Is Search for Runaway Accused Killer from Weston Sharp’s Hospital

The Gilmer Free Press

WESTON, WV – West Virginia State Police are looking for an accused murderer Monday night after he walked away from a State Mental Hospital in Weston, Lewis County earlier in the day.

Rocco Jesse Zuccaro, age 30, of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, is believed to have escaped at 4:20 PM from the William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital.

“He’s been described as a white male, six foot tall, about 170 pounds, wearing black pants that had a rip on the left pant leg and a dark blue or black pullover shirt, glasses. He has dark hair and a mustache,” Lt. Michael Baylous with the State Police said. “We’re unsure of what direction he took off when he escaped.”

Police believe Zuccaro to be dangerous and warn not to approach him, rather, call West Virginia State Police or 911 if he is encountered.

He is supposed to be wearing both a dark shirt and dark pants with a rip in the left leg.

Zuccaro is accused of murdering Jason Lee Pratz, age 30, who was found shot to death inside his home in February 2013 in Brooke County.

Late in February of this year, he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, and was admitted to a mental institution.

“He has ties to [Burgettstown and Brooke County], but he could be anywhere,” Baylous said. “The most important thing is if anyone encounters him, they need to contact the West Virginia State Police by phone or in person immediately, or dial 911.”

Gilmer Men Arrested on Drug Charges

Two Gilmer County men were arrested on drug charges on Saturday, March 21, 2015 after one man hit the building while going through the McDonald’s drive thru.

The Gilmer Free Press      The Gilmer Free Press

Kevin Curry, Age 26(L), and Andrew Taylor, Age 33(R), went through the Glenville McDonald’s drive thru at approximately 9:00 AM, and Curry hit the building while doing so.

A customer reported the incident, and a West Virginia State Police trooper then saw a similar vehicle parked on the side of the road approximately 20 minutes later.

According to WV State Police, Curry had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and had trouble getting out of the vehicle.

The trooper then performed a field sobriety test.

The trooper then talked with the passenger, Taylor, and noticed he also had bloodshot eyes and asked him to exit the vehicle.

Once Taylor exited the vehicle, troopers patted him down and found a syringe, stamps of heroin and Xanax.

Curry then gave police consent to search the vehicle.

Seven Xanax bars, 62 stamps of heroin, five syringes and $43 were found in total.

Curry was charged with DUI, possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy.

Taylor was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent and conspiracy.

Both men are currently being held in the Central Regional Jail in lieu of $60,000 bail each.

Study: Suicides Increasing in U.S. workplaces

Suicide is responsible for more than 36,000 deaths in the United States and nearly 1 million deaths worldwide annually.

In 2009, suicides surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death by injury in the U.S.

The Gilmer Free Press

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine analyzes the upward trend of suicides that take place in the workplace and identifies specific occupations in which individuals are at higher risk.

The highest workplace suicide rate is in protective services occupations (5.3 per 1 million), more than three times the national average of 1.5 per 1 million, Medical Xpress reported.

“Occupation can largely define a person’s identity, and psychological risk factors for suicide, such as depression and stress, can be affected by the workplace,“ commented lead investigator Hope M. Tiesman, PhD, epidemiologist with the Division of Safety Research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

“A more comprehensive view of work life, public health, and work safety could enable a better understanding of suicide risk factors and how to address them. Suicide is a multi-factorial outcome and therefore multiple opportunities to intervene in an individual’s life — including the workplace —should be considered.

“The workplace should be considered a potential site to implement such programs and train managers in the detection of suicidal behavior, especially among the high-risk occupations identified in this paper.”

This study compared workplace versus non-workplace suicides in the US between 2003 and 2010.

Slightly more than 1,700 people died by suicide in the workplace during this period, for an overall rate of 1.5 per 1,000,000 workers. In the same period, 270,500 people died by suicide outside of the workplace, for an overall rate of 144.1 per 1,000,000 people.

Examining the data across occupational lines, researchers found that workplace suicides were 15 times higher for men than for women and almost four times higher for workers of ages 65-74 than for workers 16-24.

Several occupations have consistently been identified to be at high risk for suicide: Law enforcement officers, farmers, medical doctors and soldiers.

West Virginia News   150324

The Gilmer Free Press


AGs will wager a Kentucky ham and piece of West Virginia-made Blenko glass.

CHARLESTON/ FRANKFORT, KY — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway today announced that they will enter a friendly wager over the outcome of Thursday night’s Sweet 16 game between No. 1 ranked University of Kentucky and No. 5 seed West Virginia University in Cleveland.

If UK wins, Morrisey will give Conway a piece of handmade glass made by the Milton, WV-based Blenko Glass Co. If WVU wins, Conway will give Morrisey a Meacham’s country ham from Union County, where Attorney General Conway’s father was born and raised.

“While Kentucky has a great team, I believe West Virginia—a squad with incredible heart—can pull off this big upset. Our offices have worked together in a bipartisan manner on several initiatives, but when it comes to men’s basketball, we must draw the line,“ Morrisey said. “Let’s Go, Mountaineers!”

Conway stated “given the recent history of this developing NCAA tournament regional rivalry, this game is likely to be a battle. The Kentucky players, guided by Coach Calipari, have proven all season long that they will rise to any challenge, and we are all looking forward to taking on our neighbors to the East.  Congratulations to the Mountaineers on their berth in the Sweet 16, but I look forward to celebrating a Kentucky victory over WVU with my spoils from Attorney General Morrisey. Our Wildcats are on an historic roll. Here’s hoping for a continuation of a perfect season for the University of Kentucky that culminates with a ninth national title. Go CATS.”

The last time WVU and UK met in basketball was in 2011, when UK beat WVU in the NCAA East Regional Third Round. One year earlier, WVU beat UK in the NCAA East Regional Finals. Overall, the two teams have played each other 19 times since 1924. UK has 14 overall wins to WVU’s five.

The match-up between the two coaches has a slightly different history, however, WVU head coach Bob Huggins is 8-2 in games against UK head coach John Calipari throughout both men’s coaching careers. Seven of Huggins’ wins were when he was the head coach at the University of Cincinnati against Calipari’s teams at the University of Massachusetts and University of Memphis.


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded West Virginia University (WVU) for receiving the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) Physics Frontier Center Award. The award provides a $4,738,010 federal grant to leverage and expand the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) program, which is a joint project between WVU and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia.

“The NANOGrav Physics Frontier Center Award boosts WVU’s national prominence in STEM education and enables students and professors at our state’s largest university to take part in groundbreaking research,” Senator Capito said.  “I hope that opportunities, like those available through this grant, will encourage young West Virginians to consider careers in STEM fields, gain the skills necessary to compete in the changing workforce and become our state’s future leaders. I am thrilled to congratulate WVU on this outstanding achievement.”

“West Virginia University students and professors continue to make our state proud with their innovative and meaningful work,” Senator Manchin said. “I congratulate the participants of the WVU and Green Bank Observatory Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) program on receiving the NANOGrav Physics Frontier Center Award. Through the $4.7 million grant, undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors will have an unparalleled opportunity to expand their own skillsets as well as our nation’s knowledge of the universe. The WVU PSC is a testament to the value of STEM education, and I am pleased that West Virginia remains on the forefront of the growing STEM industry. I trust that their efforts will truly be out of this world.”

This award will fund summer salaries for three associate professors, a post-doctoral scholar, four graduate students, and a systems administrator at WVU.  The award will also provide funds for project-related equipment, travel and support for up to eight undergraduate students. Students will have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of NANOGrav research, including local and remote operation of the world’s most sensitive radio telescopes, and analysis of the data collected to find new pulsars.


Charleston, WV - The West Virginia DOH has released a YouTube video promoting safety in construction zones after a close call last week where a tractor trailer caused an accident hitting a roller on I-77. A construction crew had been out repairing potholes near the Kanawha-Jackson county line on the interstate.

Equipment operator John Stover, who was working at the site, described the scene of the accident.

“We had heard a loud bang, we immediately noted it was a crash, we saw a flash of yellow of black and turned to the left and there was a tractor trailer jackknife coming at us,” he said. “So we all hightailed and ran and jumped over the guardrail.”

Stover said the accident certainly could have been much worse than it was, and crew supervisor Stanley King was relieved to see that no one was injured as a result of the crash.

“I got there and he was on the stretcher, and he was talking and he wasn’t bleeding or anything”, said King. “He just got shook up. I was real relieved when I saw he was up and he was conscious and awake.”

Occupational safety specialist Shane Hudnall noted that if there’s anything good that could come out of such an accident, it’s that the incident can be used as a tool to educate employees in the future about safety when working on road repairs.

“The only good thing we can take out of this, we can use it for a training tool,” Hudnall explained. “This is why it’s important to wear seatbelts on our equipment; this is why it’s important to make sure traffic control is set up exactly to the standard. So we take this as a tool and use it to better train our employees.”

King implored the public in the video to slow down in construction sites and allow workers to safely do their jobs.


PHILIPPI, WV — West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin will give students advice on how to succeed during an appearance at Alderson Broaddus University.

Benjamin is scheduled to speak at the university in Philippi at 5:30 PM Monday.

Alderson Broaddus says the event is free and open to the public.


BEAVER, WV - A southern West Virginia pain clinic under investigation by the federal government has reopened four days after authorities conducted a raid.

Hope Pain Clinic manager Mark Radcliffe says the clinic in Beaver reopened to patients on Monday.

Media outlets report federal and state law enforcement officers removed boxes of files from the clinic on Thursday and turned away patients.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has said the clinic is under investigation but he couldn’t comment further. A U.S. magistrate has sealed search warrants related to the case. No charges have been filed.

Radcliffe says the clinic has cooperated fully with investigators.


BRANDYWINE, WV - A club has asked the West Virginia Supreme Court to overturn Pendleton County’s exotic entertainment ordinance.

Golden Angels Cabaret is appealing a permanent injunction issued by the Pendleton County Circuit Court that bars it from providing nude and seminude dancing. The injunction has prevented the club from opening in Brandywine.

Attorney Floyd M. Sayre III filed the appeal on behalf of the club’s parent, Pancakes, Biscuits and More, LLC, and the owner, Robin Shifflett.

In a March 9 brief, Sayre argues that the County Commission didn’t meet public notification requirements before adopting the ordinance in 2005.

Pendleton County Circuit Court Judge H. Charles Carl III ruled in November 2014 that the commission “substantially complied” with public notice requirements.

U.S.A. News   150324

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Washington, D.C. - Cash-strapped Americans anxious for tax refunds are increasingly turning to payment advances, prepaid cards or other costly services when getting tax preparation help, according to new federal data raising concerns among regulators about whether consumers are fully informed about the fees.

Regulators are looking to increase oversight of preparers amid the rise in “refund anticipation checks,“ a type of cash advance especially popular among low-income families who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, the government’s $65 billion cash benefit program. The advances are being marketed as a way to get fast refunds or defer payment of tax preparation costs.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says some consumers have complaints about refund anticipation checks centered on advertising, quality of service or fees.

The bureau is finalizing the first rules on prepaid debit cards, including those for tax refunds, that would require “easy to understand” disclosures upfront about costs and risks.

Refund anticipation checks rose to roughly 21.6 million in 2014, up 17% from 2011, according to IRS data provided to The Associated Press. About half the purchasers are EITC recipients; roughly 84% are low-income, according to the data. Industry analysts project the payment advances and their fees will become more widespread as tax preparers seek to boost revenue.

Currently, refund anticipation checks and prepaid cards make up 10% of industry giant H&R Block’s revenue and more than 20% of Liberty Tax Service’s, according to earnings reports.

Both companies said they are committed to providing consumers with the information they need to make tax-filing decisions, including use of refund anticipation checks. They said the payment advances offer added value, such as convenience.

The Internal Revenue Service has been pushing Congress for new authority to regulate the $10.1 billion tax preparation industry after an appeals court last year barred it from requiring tax preparers to undergo background checks and testing.

“It’s the wild, wild West,“ said Nina Olson, the IRS’ national taxpayer advocate, describing the current state of the industry. She called the level of risk for abuse in pricing and quality of service unprecedented.

The National Association of Tax Professionals supports certification of providers to ensure a minimum level of competency. But the Institute for Justice, which filed the lawsuit against IRS, says new licensing requirements and other oversight aren’t the answer.

“We should do more to increase competition, not drive independent tax preparers out of the market,“ said Dan Alban, an attorney for the group.

The average tax-preparation fee for 2014 returns is $273, up 11% from two years ago, according to a survey by the National Society of Accountants. But there’s wide variation, with fees of $400 or more, according to the National Consumer Law Center.

Netran Washington, age 40, a materials handler in Cleveland, says he’s been going to a neighborhood tax preparer for four years, eager for a fast refund. Washington readily agreed when asked if he preferred to pay for the tax preparation later.

Washington says he was later surprised by a $500 fee that included the cost of a cash advance.

Still, he kept going each year until a friend suggested the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, an IRS program providing free tax preparation services to low-income families. The IRS-certified tax preparer found a filing error that had cost Washington $1,000 in unused tax credits and helped him file an amended return. “It was very upsetting,“ Washington said.

Four states — California, Maryland, New York and Oregon — require preparers to undergo training. The California attorney general’s office recently requested information from H&R Block about its refund anticipation checks, which range in cost from $34.95 to $59.95; at issue may be whether the fees may be subject to strict truth-in-lending laws, the company said in financial filings. H&R Block emphasized that it was a request for information, not a lawsuit.

Consumer groups in Colorado and Ohio are pushing proposals to require greater disclosure.

In Ohio, a federal court two years ago barred the owner of Dayton-based Instant Tax Service from doing business after finding various abuses, including defrauding mostly low-income customers. “Taxpayers should have the ability to research and compare prices,“ says David Rothstein of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland.

In his budget proposal, President Barack Obama asked Congress to give IRS and the Treasury Department explicit regulatory authority and to increase penalties for certain tax filing errors due to willful or reckless conduct. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate, but prospects remain uncertain in a GOP-controlled Congress unhappy with the agency’s investigations of the tea party and also its role in implementing Obama’s health care law.


New York, NY - The average national price of a regular gallon of gasoline has dropped 4 cents in the last two weeks to $2.50.

Falling oil prices and strong production at U.S. refineries led to lower numbers at the pump. The drop during the two-week period ended Friday comes despite labor strikes at some refineries.

Los Angeles had the most expensive gas among cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states at $3.29. Charleston, South Carolina, had the cheapest at $2.11.

The average national price for midgrade gas was $2.71 and $2.87 for premium. Diesel stands at $2.97, down 5 cents.

World News   150324

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BOGOTA, Colombia — New labeling on the world’s most popular weed killer as a likely cause of cancer is raising more questions for an aerial spraying program in Colombia that underpins U.S.-financed efforts to wipe out cocaine crops.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a French-based research arm of the World Health Organization, on Thursday reclassified the herbicide glyphosate as a carcinogen that poses a greater potential danger to industrial users than homeowners. The agency cited what it called convincing evidence that the herbicide produces cancer in lab animals and more limited findings that it causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans.

The glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup is a mainstay of industrial agriculture worldwide, and it’s a preferred weapon for killing Colombian cocaine harvests. More than 4 million acres of land have been sprayed over the past two decades to kill coca plants, whose leaves produce cocaine.

The fumigation program, which is partly carried out by American contractors, long has provoked hostility from Colombia’s left, which likens it to the U.S. military’s use of the Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War. Leftist rebels, currently in negotiations with the government to end a half-century conflict, are demanding an end to the spraying as part of any deal.

Daniel Mejia, a Bogota-based economist who is chairman of an expert panel advising the Colombian government on its drug strategy, said the report is by far the most authoritative and could end up burying the fumigation program.

“Nobody can accuse the WHO of being ideologically biased,” Mejia said, noting that questions already had been raised about the effectiveness of the spraying strategy and its potential health risks.

Mejia’s own research published last year found higher rates of skin problems and miscarriages in districts targeted by herbicides. It was based on a study of medical records from 2003 to 2007.

Colombia’s ombudsman office said it would seek suspension of the spraying program if the WHO results prove convincing.

But U.S. and Colombian government officials argue that cocaine does more health damage than aerial spraying.

“Without a doubt this reopens the debate on fumigation and causes us to worry,” Colombia Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria told The Associated Press on Saturday, referring to the WHO findings.

But Gaviria argued that the need to suppress cocaine harvests “transcends” other considerations.

Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate-based products strongly rejected the WHO ruling. They cited a 2012 ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the herbicide was safe.

Colombia already has scaled back use of aerial herbicides in favor of more labor-intensive manual eradication efforts, partly in response to criticism by farmers.

Colombian officials say aerial spraying last year covered 136,000 acres, down from a 2006 peak of 425,000 acres.

Critics of the program concede that the government has improved safety standards, such as by avoiding herbicide flights during strong winds, and installing GPS devices on fumigation aircraft that keep records of plane movements and help investigators to determine the validity of farmers’ compensation claims.

In 2013, Colombia agreed to pay Ecuador $15 million to settle a lawsuit over economic and human damage linked to spraying along their common border.

Gen. Ricardo Restrepo, commander of the anti-narcotics police, said he had not seen the WHO warning, and Colombia’s herbicide spraying was proceeding as usual.

“My job is to carry out the strategy,” he said.


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Gilmer County Farm Show Elimination Dinner - 03.27.15

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Glenville: Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser - 03.29.15

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The Glenville State College Honors Program is hosting a Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from 11:30 AM until 5:00 PM at the Gilmer County Recreation Center.

Donations will cover salad, spaghetti, and desert. Carry-out orders will be welcome.

We will also raffle Longaberger gift baskets and Vera Bradley purses.

The GSC Honors Program is hosting the dinner and raffle to raise money to send some of its students to study abroad in London in May, 2015.

The trip is being sponsored by Dr. Sallie Anglin and Dr. Megan Gibbons in the GSC Department of Language and Literature through EF (Education First). The trip is designed for students who have taken at least one 200 level English course in order to further their studies of English literature and theater in London, Oxford, and Stratford, England. The trip will include walking tours of literary sites, including the birthplace of Shakespeare, the site of his famous Globe Theater, acting workshops, and theatrical performances.

This trip will give GSC students a direct, hands-on learning experience, and exposure to international culture.

Please contact Dr. Jonathan Minton at 304.462.6322 or for more information about the dinner and raffle.

Gilmer County Schools Community Meeting - 03.24.15 - Tonight

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G-TechNote™: Technology Rewriting Rulebook for Human Interaction

Consider the following two situations. In the first scenario, a man and a woman sit across from each other at a romantically lit table in a fancy restaurant texting – looking down and talking to others, maybe each other – but rarely glancing up except to place drink and food orders, Physorg wrote.

In the second, a mother walks into a diner joining friends for lunch, carrying her two-year-old. She sets him down at the table, hands him a tablet device, takes out her smartphone, searches messages, and half listens for only occasional moments of adult conversation squeezed in between swooshes across their collective screens.

What ties them together? The distance between them. Both scenarios reflect a new phenomenon of the digital age growing ever more rapidly. It’s called “virtual distance”.

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Rules of interaction

Virtual distance is a psychological and emotional sense of detachment that accumulates little by little, at the subconscious or unconscious level, as people trade off time interacting with each other for time spent “screen skating” (swiping, swishing, pinching and tapping).

It is also a measurable phenomenon and can cause some surprising effects. For example, when virtual distance is relatively high, people become distrustful of one another.

One result: they keep their ideas to themselves instead of sharing them with others in the workplace – a critical exchange that’s necessary for taking risks needed for innovation, collaboration and learning.

Another unintended consequence: people disengage from helping behaviors – leaving others to fend for themselves causing them to feel isolated, often leading to low job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

Virtual distance research underscores that the rules of interaction have changed. It changes the way people feel – about each other, about themselves and about how they fit into the world around them.

But the demonstrated impacts measured among adults seem comparatively benign when considered against what it might be doing to children.

Virtual distance

Kids learn by looking at loved ones closely, watching what they do and listening to how they say things.

The actions and behaviors parents model have a profound and lasting impact upon a child’s development. For example, the “serve and return” of interactions between children and adults is a key factor in child cognitive development.

If much of what the child notices about the world comes from a small screen where only a shallow representation is available, what do children have to mimic? How much practice do they get developing human capacities crucial to establishing emotional ease and social sensibilities?

Virtual distance is a game-changer when it comes to human relations. When technology is used as an agent for relationships, in some cases it can be beneficial. However, when technology is used purposelessly as a default it doesn’t just squeeze out sophisticated interpersonal interactions, it changes the nature of what’s left.

The purposeful use of technology can support children’s learning but when technology becomes either a substitute or a proxy for relationships, language development in children can be held back.

Communication becomes the transfer of impersonal information instead of the sharing of a passion. This can have an impact on language development for kids, but it can impact other aspects of our lives.

Taking a risk and having a go at that tricky math problem seems more difficult when a child is on their own than when with a friend. More so sticking with a difficult task (a real gym-buddy is more effective than an app).

These kinds of skills – self discipline, ethical understanding and interpersonal communication, as well as social ability, and critical thinking (among others) – are what UNESCO calls “transversal competencies”. And they can be impaired through virtual distance.

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