Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
County-By-County Unemployment Rates Tell the Story – April 2013
West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.6% in April 2013.
Unemployment rates declined in 52 counties as well.
Two counties, Pocahontas and Monongalia, reported increasing unemployment rates, while Jefferson County reported no change in the monthly rate.
Three counties reported an unemployment rate above 11%.
These included Pocahontas (11.3%), Clay (12.2%), and Webster (12.7%).
Three counties recorded an unemployment rate of less than 5%.
These included Pendleton (4.9%), Jefferson (4.3%), and Monongalia (4.2%).
||Total Nonfarm on Payroll
||Goods Producing Employees
||Service Providing Employees
Grants Can Help Landowners Create Habitat in West Virginia
West Virginia landowners who want to apply for grants to improve wildlife habitat have until June 14, 2013 to contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The agency is currently considering projects for Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, funded by the federal farm bill.
They will be ranked and considered for funding in July.
West Virginia State Conservationist Greg Kist says the program funds activities that increase food, shelter and nesting habitats for various species.
Landowners can create habitat by cutting back woodland borders, fencing sensitive areas, restoring streams and planting warm season grasses, among other things.
Species targeted for help include the cottontail rabbit, grouse, mussels, trout and various songbirds, including the Golden Winged Warbler in West Virginia.
Governor Sees WV as Leader in Natural Gas Industry
The 2013 Appalachian Basin NGV Expo and Conference in Charleston has drawn to a close and now it’s time for West Virginia to take the lead in the industry.
“We have all this energy sitting right underneath the ground here and we could really be a leader in saying that the United States can be independent of the foreign imports that we are having to depend on right now,” said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
For three days, hundreds of natural gas and automotive industry professionals from across the nation pooled their ideas together in regards to the future of natural gas use in the U.S.
“It brings a lot of good people together to exchange ideas so I think it’s very important for us with a lot of natural gas,” said Tomblin.
The event concluded with the Governor’s Luncheon, which featured a panel discussion with special guests Jim Bruce, vice president of corporate public affairs with UPS, and Donald Itzkoff, executive counsel, government affairs and policy with GE Transportation.
The discussion focused on where the industry sits right now and the obstacles it would need to overcome to continue to grow in the future.
One of those obstacles pertains to the cost associated with converting a vehicle to natural gas, something Tomblin is working to address.
“I along with about twenty other governors around the country have kind of banned together to ask the automobile manufacturers to see how they can, I guess, lower the price and build vehicles with the natural gas motors already in them,” said Tomblin.
Tomblin believes that would cut down the costs considerably.
Not only is cost a big obstacle at this time, but also the lack of stations where someone could fill their natural gas vehicle.
Tomblin hopes to have three natural gas fueling stations built along I-79 in West Virginia by the end of the year which will greatly help the industry in the state.
“That will make the fueling sources more available which also would encourage private businesses to convert their fleet as well as individuals to convert their personal automobiles,” he said.
It is estimated that it would cost someone with a natural gas vehicle 50% less to fill up as it does for someone with a gasoline vehicle.
Tomblin said he wants to see the state in the next four years become a leader in this industry.
~~ Travis Brinks - WVMN ~~
GFP - 05.20.2013
Business | G-Biz™
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
Politics | Government | Election
~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
It would be great if the country could see WV as a ‘education leader’.
By Anonymous on 05.21.2013
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GRANTS AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES - 05.20.13
American Academy of Pediatrics: CATCH Resident Funds Grants
2013 CATCH Resident Funds grants will be awarded on a competitive basis for pediatric residents to plan community-based child health initiatives.
CATCH Resident Funds projects must include planning activities, but also may include some implementation activities.
Maximum award: $3,000.
Eligibility: pediatric residents working with their communities.
Deadline: July 31, 2013.
NSTA: Making a Difference Award
The Drug, Chemical & Associated Technologies Association “Making a Difference” Award recognizes excellence in a science program developed and implemented by middle-level science teachers, grades 6-8.
Entries must show innovative and effective teaching strategies combined with a science program that has influenced students to explore and investigate science and its application to global problems.
Maximum award: $2,500 to be used to enhance or expand the winning science program; the winning school’s lead science teacher and principal will be awarded coach airfare and two nights’ hotel accommodation to attend NSTA’s National Conference.
Eligibility: innovative middle-level science programs.
Deadline: November 30, 2013.
NSTA: Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award
The Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award recognizes excellence in the field of aerospace education.
The recipient will be honored during the Awards Banquet and the Aerospace Educators Luncheon at the annual NSTA Conference.
Maximum award: $3,000; plus $2,000 in expenses to attend NSTA’s National Conference.
Eligibility: K-12 teachers of science in formal education settings (elementary, middle, high school).
Individuals must be nominated and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.
Self-nominations will be accepted.
Deadline: November 30, 2013.
G-Fin™: U.S.A.: Economic Brief – 05.20.13
Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly)
In April, 40 states and the District of Columbia had over-the-month unemployment rate decreases, 3 states had increases, and 7 states had no change.
Non-farm payroll employment increased in 30 states, decreased in 18 states and the district, and was unchanged in 2 states.
Real average hourly earnings rose 0.5% in April, seasonally adjusted.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% and the CPI-U fell 0.4%.
Real average weekly earnings was unchanged over the month.
Consumer Price Index
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers decreased 0.4% in April after decreasing 0.2% in March.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1% in April, the same increase as in March.
Producer Price Index
The Producer Price Index for finished goods decreased 0.7% in April.
Prices for finished goods fell 0.6% in March and increased 0.7% in February.
The index for finished goods less foods and energy advanced 0.1% in April.
U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes
U.S. import prices fell 0.5% in April, following a 0.2% decrease in March.
Lower prices for fuel and nonfuel imports contributed to the declines in each month.
Prices for U.S. exports decreased 0.7% in April after a 0.5% decline in
Extended Mass Layoffs (Quarterly)
In the first quarter of 2013, 914 extended mass layoff events involved 154,374 worker separations, both measures down from first quarter 2012 levels.
Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
There were 3.8 million job openings on the last business day of March, little changed from February.
The hires rate (3.2%) and the separations rate (3.1%) were also little changed in March.
WV Governor: The Appalachian Region - Fueling The Transportation Needs of Tomorrow
It is an exciting time for natural gas development. I believe now is the time to begin taking advantage of this abundant, clean burning, domestic natural resource. That is why I joined the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association to host the first-of-its-kind, Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Vehicle Conference and Expo. It was an opportunity for everyone-members the business community, state government leaders and employees, as well as the public- to learn about the economic, environmental, and safety benefits of natural gas vehicles. During the conference, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion with representatives from two national leaders in transportation, United Parcel Service and GE Transportation, both of whom are leaders of natural gas transportation innovation. We identified the hurdles our country must overcome to fully make use of this abundant, domestic energy source for our transportation needs. We discussed the benefits of shifting to natural gas as a transportation fuel. Lastly, we laid out the steps that West Virginia and other states can take to advance natural gas deployment for transportation. I’m proud to say, our state has already taken a number of these steps.
Governor Tomblin moderates a panel discussion during
the 2013 Appalachian Basin NGV Expo and Conference in Charleston.
Last year, West Virginia, along with 22 other states, demonstrated interest in using natural gas fueled vehicles in its state fleet and encouraged auto manufacturers to increase production of these vehicles to meet the needs of those interested. Together, our goal was to leverage greater purchasing power to pursue the transition of state vehicle fleets to compressed natural gas vehicles. Our automakers responded-and said they are prepared to meet an increasing market demand for compressed natural gas vehicles.
Last year, I also brought together public and private sector transportation, government, and natural gas industry experts, establishing the Governor’s Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force. I charged the Task Force with finding the most sensible and cost-effective approaches to encourage the use of natural gas to fuel our state’s transportation needs.
The Task Force found the primary consideration for natural gas vehicle infrastructure development should be in counties that have the largest vehicle concentration and host interstate traffic. In January, I had the opportunity to join IGS Energy to announce the development of three compressed natural gas stations in West Virginia. The Task Force also recommended transitioning 25 percent of the state fleet to natural gas vehicles in four years. This means our state government could have nearly 2,000 natural gas vehicles on the road by 2017.
I believe we can make West Virginia a national leader in the utilization of natural gas for government transportation. As we begin to see more natural gas vehicles on our roads, and natural gas fueling stations opening in our communities, I believe consumers will be encouraged to learn more about the benefits of natural gas powered vehicles. Natural gas as a vehicular fuel is currently half the cost of regular gasoline. Transitioning to this fuel source can save us money, create new jobs, and has the potential to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I believe it will open many doors-for our state and our nation.
Superstorm Sandy Agriculture Assistance Package Announced for West Virginia
West Virginia will be among 12 states eligible for $209 million in federal funding to help farmers, landowners and communities recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, according to West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick.
“The general public doesn’t always see the damage that natural disasters do to rural agriculture and forestry operations in West Virginia,” said Commissioner Helmick. “But these industries are vital to our state, and I’m pleased that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing funding to help our farmers recover from this historic disaster.”
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in West Virginia has been collecting data from locally elected County Office Committees (COC) since the event to determine the types and extent of damage, according to State FSA Director Alfred J. Lewis.
Approximately $700,000 has been approved through the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) based on information already collected from the counties. The majority of the funding will go to remove tree debris from farmland and fence lines. FSA has received more than 100 applications so far for individual assistance, and expects several more applications before the May 31, 2013 deadline.
Eligible counties in West Virginia include Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Barbour, Braxton, Clay, Nicholas, Webster, Lewis, Upshur and Boone. FSA will begin providing assistance immediately to eligible landowners.
ECP participants receive cost-share assistance of up to 75% of the cost to implement approved emergency practices. Qualified limited-resource producers may receive cost-share assistance of up to 90%.
More information on limited-resource eligibility is available at www.lrftool.sc.egov.usda.gov/LRP_Definition.aspx, or by visiting a local FSA office and picking up
States included in the disaster declaration are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
For more information on eligibility requirements and applications, producers may visit a local FSA county office or the FSA website at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
For information on Presidential Disaster Declarations, visit www.disasterassistance.gov.
G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - The IRS Scandal Undermines Trust
We don’t trust the federal government much anymore.
Since 1958, Pew Research has being asking the question, “How much of the time do you trust the government?” Fifty-five years ago, 73 percent of Americans said they did just about always or most of the time, while 23 percent said some of the time or never.
In 2013, the numbers are reversed. Only 26 percent trust the government, while 73 percent are distrustful.
The precipitous decline in trust began during the Vietnam War and continued through Watergate. We briefly regained our confidence in the federal government after 9/11 as Americans rallied together, but that has faded.
The developments of the last few weeks will add to the cynicism.
Yesterday, I wrote about Benghazi and the apparent failure of the Obama Administration to level with the American people about the attack that left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead. Now, in an unrelated story, we’re finding out that the IRS targeted conservative groups for greater scrutiny.
The IRS scandal has resonated with Americans perhaps even more than Benghazi because anyone who gets a W-2 and fills out a tax form can relate. We all live with a certain amount of fear that we’ve made a mistake on our taxes that will trigger an audit.
Our expectation is that the IRS has no agenda; that as the powerful collector of taxes, as well as the arbiter of the meaning of a byzantine tax code, the IRS will carry out its responsibilities fairly and impartially.
But an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration found that the IRS gave particular scrutiny to conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. The finding reinforces complaints that Tea Party groups had been making for some time.
According to a timeline from the Treasury Inspector, IRS Tax-Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner, was told in June 2011 that the unit was more closely scrutinizing groups that had the words “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in them.
However, then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, a Bush appointee, vehemently denied to Congress at a March 2012 hearing that organizations with conservative political leanings were being singled out.
Even liberal columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times had to concede, “Maybe some of the paranoia is justified.”
The outrage is bipartisan, as it should be. From West Virginia, both Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito called the IRS’s actions “un-American.”
President Obama, during a news conference Monday, called the scandal “outrageous” and said he learned about it the same time everyone else did.
According to the IRS website, the agency’s mission is to “Provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.”
The disconnect between the latter portion of that mission statement and the conduct of the IRS means that the next time Pew Research asks the trust question, the numbers may be even more abysmal.
WVU Faculty Want Alternative to PEIA Coverage
West Virginia University’s Faculty Senate says the school should be allowed to look at other health insurance options for its employees.
The state-run Public Employees Insurance Agency currently provides coverage for WVU employees.
The Dominion Post reports that the Faculty Senate endorsed a letter on Monday that asks state lawmakers to allow the university to explore a private benefits provider and choose the best option.
A PEIA spokeswoman, Diane Holley-Brown, says the agency’s Finance Board lowered employer and employee premiums for three of its health care plans, effective July 01, 2013.
She says the goal is to make the plans affordable and beneficial to all of the PEIA’s members.
Plans to Increase Exports of Liquefied Natural Gas Could Accelerate Fracking Boom, Critics Say
A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster.
Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.
Expanded drilling is unlocking enormous reserves of crude oil and natural gas, offering the potential of moving the country closer to its decades-long quest for energy independence.
Yet as the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers.
Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Sempra Energy are seeking federal permits for more than 20 export projects.
Funding from Health Reform Law to Help Uninsured West Virginians Get Affordable Health Coverage
$2.4 Million Available for 27 Community Health Centers Across West Virginia
Senator Jay Rockefeller today announced $2,483,778 in federal funding from the health reform law to give community health centers the ability to help uninsured West Virginians enroll in affordable health plans. This announcement comes as advocates and health care professionals gather in Flatwoods, West Virginia for the Enroll West Virginia Conference to discuss expanding Medicaid and enrolling West Virginians in the new health insurance marketplace.
“Community health centers play a critical role in keeping West Virginians healthy, which is why I pushed to increase funding in the health reform law to boost their services,” said Rockefeller. “West Virginia’s community health centers serve thousands each year, and can help even more by making sure consumers have the guidance and education they need to choose a health plan that works for them. This funding will provide more resources for our local health workers so they can meet with more families in need of affordable care.”
Rockefeller has worked in the Senate to make health care more affordable and accessible. He played a strong role in making sure the health reform law secures robust investments in community health centers so they can continue to provide primary and preventive care and help the uninsured get coverage. The health care law provides $150 million for enrollment assistance nationwide. The 27 eligible community health centers in West Virginia provide care for over 380,000 West Virginians.
This funding was made available through the health reform law, and is disbursed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It will give health centers the opportunity to hire new staff, train existing staff, perform community outreach, and hold educational events to help consumers better understand coverage options and eligibility, and to enroll uninsured West Virginians in new affordable health insurance plans. The in-person assistance and education is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to make applying for health insurance easier and more understandable. The funding is given to the state to distribute to community health centers that apply for state-administered grants.
Below are the 27 eligible community health centers in the state:
• Belington Community Medical Services Association—Belington, WV
• Bluestone Health Association—Princeton, WV
• Cabin Creek Health Center—Dawes, WV
• Camden-On-Gauley Medical Center—Camden-on-Gauley, WV
• Change—Weirton, WV
• Clay Battelle Health Services Association—Blacksville, WV
• Community Care of West Virginia—Rock Cave, WV
• Community Health Systems—Beckley, WV
• E. A. Hawse Health Center—Baker, WV
• Lincoln County Primary Care Center—Hamlin, WV
• Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center—Grantsville, WV
• Monongahela Valley Association—Fairmont, WV
• Monroe County Health Center—Union, WV
• New River Health Association—Scarbro, WV
• Northern Greenbrier Health Clinic—Williamsburg, WV
• Pendleton Community Care—Franklin, WV
• Preston-Taylor Community Health Centers—Grafton, WV
• Rainelle Medical Center—Rainelle, WV
• Ritchie County Primary Care Association—Harrisville, WV
• Roane County Family Health Care—Spencer, WV
• Shenandoah Valley Medical Systems—Martinsburg, WV
• St. George Medical Clinic—St. George, WV
• Tug River Health Association—Gary, WV
• Valley Health Care—Mill Creek, WV
• Valley Health Systems—Huntington, WV
• Wirt County Health Services Association—Elizabeth, WV
• Womencare—Scott Depot, WV
GFP - 05.15.2013
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
Politics | Government | Election
~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
I would like to try and summarize this article.
I am Jay Rockefeller and I just helped spend another 2.4 million of your tax dollars on more government that you didn’t even need or want.
He neglected to mention that you will also be getting thousands of new IRS agents to enforce the law.
By Burnt Weiney on 05.15.2013
Dear Burnt. I can’t wait until our IRS gets their hands on your med records to go with the financial records. We will be able to have more scandal with all that good stuff. thanks, ‘J’
By anonymous for a reason on 05.15.2013
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West Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.6% in April 2013
West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.6%in April 2013.
This is the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state in four years.
The number of unemployed state residents fell 2,600 to 53,500.
Total unemployment was down 3,800 over the year.
The national unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.5%.
Total non-farm payroll employment declined 100, where a gain of 1,400 in the goods-producing sector was narrowly offset by a loss of 1,500 in the service-providing sector.
Within the goods-producing sector, mining and logging added 600 jobs, construction gained 1,000, and manufacturing employment slipped 200.
Within the service-providing sector, employment gains included 200 in trade, transportation, and utilities, 100 in professional and business services, and 200 in other services.
Employment declines included 800 in educational and health services, 600 in leisure and hospitality, and 600 in government.
Unemployment was unchanged in both information and financial activities.
Since April 2012, total non-farm payroll employment has added 2,200 jobs, with gains of 2,000 in the service-providing sector and 200 in the goods-producing sector.
Employment gains included 1,500 in mining and logging, 700 in trade, transportation, and utilities, 100 in professional and business services, 1,600 in educational and health services, and 900 in leisure and hospitality.
Employment declines included 100 in construction, 1,200 in manufacturing, 100 in information, 100 in financial activities, 500 in other services, and 600 in government.
West Virginia’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell six-tenths of a percentage point to 6.6% in April
New Unit to Be Built at Weston Psychiatric Hospital
The state has awarded a $12 million contract to build a 50-bed forensics unit at the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital.
Work is expected to begin soon on the addition to the state-run psychiatric hospital in Weston, WV.
Chief operations officer Greg Nichol with the state Department of Health and Human Resources says Marks Landau Construction of Wexford, PA, has a year to complete the project.
Acting DHHR Secretary Rocco Fucillo says the forensics unit will help address overcrowding.
West Virginia Senator Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, says the expansion also will create construction jobs.
But Facemire says he is still concerned about the hospital’s employees, who are overworked and underpaid.
Fucillo says staffing is an issue at all medical facilities.
But he says staffing has improved at the hospital.
OddlyEnough™: New Book Teaches Children ABCs of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc invests in dozens of businesses, and a new book tries to explain it all to young readers, from A to Z.
Two Omaha residents, author Nancy Rips and illustrator Tom Kerr, have teamed up on “My First Berkshire ABC” to teach children about one of the world’s best-known companies, and a little about the local billionaire behind it.
More than 1,000 copies were sold at Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday, which draws thousands of people to Omaha, and where Buffett has a say on what gets sold.
“You need something to bring home to your kids and grandkids to explain Berkshire,“ Rips, who has also written three books about Jewish holidays, said in a joint interview with Kerr.
Most pages show companies that Berkshire owns or invests in.
G, for example, is for “Geico,“ and features the car insurer’s talking gecko. And W is for “Wells Fargo”, and features the bank’s familiar stagecoach.
The book’s theme changed at Buffett’s suggestion.
“Our first effort was things like, ‘S is for sharing. Mr. Buffett believes in sharing. K is for being kind,‘“ Rips said.
“I got an email back from Warren saying, it’s too laudatory, they will lampoon him in the news,“ she continued. “And I wrote a whole new proposal: A is for Acme (Brick), B is for Borsheim’s (jewelry), C is for Clayton Homes, D is for Dairy Queen. I got an email back: ‘You’re in the show.‘“
Kerr has worked at many newspapers and drew McGruff, the Crime Dog for the National Crime Prevention Council.
“Part of what Warren talks about is investing in things that you know,“ he said. “Virtually everything in here is something that somebody can relate to and touch and understand.“
Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger is shown under “Q,“ stamping boxes of “quality” merchandise.
Rips and Kerr have not heard from Buffett on whether he likes the book. Buffett’s assistant Carrie Sova had no comment on that question.
Kerr depicted Buffett just four times, including on the cover holding his usual Cherry Coke.
“This book is not all about Warren Buffett,“ Kerr said. “I picked my spots. He’s so synonymous with Dairy Queen that I wanted him there, and obviously on the cover with Coca-Cola.“
“Cherry Coke,“ Rips interjected.
“Yep,“ Kerr said. “She had me change that.“
GRANTS AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES - 05.13.13
Dollar General Literacy Foundation: Youth Literacy Grants
Dollar General Literacy Foundation Youth Literacy Grants provide funding to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading.
Grant funding is provided to assist in implementing new or expanding existing literacy programs; purchasing new technology or equipment to support literacy initiatives; and purchasing books, materials, or software for literacy programs.
Maximum award: $4,000.
Eligibility: schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations.
Deadline: May 23, 2013.
ACTFL: Florence Steiner Award
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Florence Steiner Award honors the memory of a teacher, department chair, professional speaker, and ACTFL President-Elect who inspired a generation of foreign language teachers and challenged them to improve their teaching through better communication of the goals and outcomes of second-language education with the public, administrators, colleagues, and students.
Maximum award: $500.
Eligibility: ACTFL members for at least the last three years who have a minimum of five years teaching experience, with at least half of each year’s assignment in the area of foreign language education.
Deadline: May 28, 2013.
Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation: Grants for Youth with Disabilities
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation Grants program is dedicated to helping young Americans with disabilities maximize their potential and fully participate in society.
The foundation supports organizations and projects within its mission that have broad scope and impact and demonstrate potential for replication at other sites.
A major program emphasis is inclusion: enabling young people with disabilities to have full access to educational, vocational, and recreational opportunities, and to participate alongside their non-disabled peers.
Maximum award: $90,000.
Eligibility: 501(c)3 organizations. Deadline: June 01, 2013.
Kennedy Center: VSA Playwright Discovery Competition
The Kennedy Center VSA Playwright Discovery Competition invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of script writing.
Writers may write from their own experience and observations or create fictional characters and settings.
Scripts can be comedies, dramas, or even musicals.
Maximum award: Division 1 (Grades 6-8, or equivalent): $375 for his/her school; publication in the 2013 VSA Playwright Discovery Program booklet. Division 2 (Grades 9-12, or equivalent): $750 scholarship, $375 for his/her school; publication in the 2013 VSA Playwright Discovery Program booklet.
Deadline: June 01, 2013.
Funds to Help West Virginia Health Centers with Insurance Signups
More than $2.4 million in federal funds is being made available to help West Virginia health centers enroll uninsured individuals into health insurance coverage.
The federal health officials said funding of about $150 million nationwide will expand efforts of community health centers to provide in-person help to enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage.
Officials say the funds will allow health centers to hire new staff, train existing staff, and conduct community outreach events and other educational activities.
Health centers will help consumers understand their coverage options, determine their eligibility, and enroll in new affordable health insurance options.
Donation Benefits Lewis County Students at WVU
Some graduates of Lewis County High School will be receiving scholarships at West Virginia University thanks to a donation from a judge’s estate.
WVU said Judge William Fury and his wife, Elizabeth, had no children of their own and both mentored youth in the county.
William Fury was a founder and coach in the county’s Little League baseball program, while Elizabeth Fury was a teacher for more than 25 years in the Lewis County school system.
More than $541,000 will be used for undergraduate and graduate scholarships at WVU for Lewis County High graduates.
The scholarships were made available through a bequest in William Fury’s will.
WVU said the first recipients are freshman journalism student Mari Phillips and freshman animal and nutritional sciences major Jacqueline Jones.
The scholarships are based on financial need, academic achievement and involvement in extra-curricular activities, community service and civic activities.
Special consideration will be given to students who have overcome significant obstacles or handicaps in order to attend WVU.
Scholarship recipients are recommended to WVU by a selection committee comprised of the rector of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Weston, Lewis County high’s principal and WVU’s admissions officer.
G-Fin™: Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level in Almost Five-and-Half Years
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level in nearly 5-1/2 years last week, signaling labor market resilience in the face of fiscal austerity.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level since January 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were revised to show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported. Economists had expected first-time applications to rise to 335,000 last week.
U.S. stock index futures pared losses on the report, while Treasury debt prices trimmed gains. The dollar trimmed losses against the yen.
The third straight weekly decline in claims pushed them further below the 350,000 mark, which economists normally associate with a firming labor market.
Claims are showing no sign of a pick-up in layoffs even as other parts of the economy such as manufacturing start to show strain from tighter fiscal policy.
A Labor Department analyst said no states had been estimated and there was nothing unusual in the state-level data.
The four-week moving average for new claims, a better gauge of job market trends, dropped 6,250 to 336,750 - the lowest level since November 2007.
Coming on the heels of data last week showing surprising strength in the labor market, the claims report could further assuage fears of an abrupt slowdown in the economy.
Employers added 165,000 new jobs to their payrolls in April and hiring in the previous two months was stronger than initially reported. The unemployment rate dropped to a four-year low of 7.5%.
The improvement in employment contrasts sharply with other data, including retail sales and manufacturing, that have suggested a cooling in the economy at the end of the first quarter, which persisted early in the April-June period.
The slowdown in activity after the economy expanded at a 2.5% annual pace in the first three months of the year has been blamed on higher taxes which went into effect on January 1 and $85 billion in government budget cuts known as the “sequester.“
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid dropped 27,000 to 3.0 million in the week ended April 27. That was the lowest level since May 2008.
G-Fin™: U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Collect Internet Sales Tax
The U.S. Senate passed legislation to force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for state and local governments.
The vote was 69-to-27 in favor, and included senators from both major parties. The vote sends the issue to the House of Representatives, where it must be passed in the same form before it can be presented to the president to be signed into law.
The 11-page bill, called the Marketplace Fairness Act, allows U.S. states to force online retailers with more than $1 million in annual out-of-state sales to collect sales taxes from customers and remit them back to state and local governments. States will be required to provide software to help calculate the taxes.
You can read the actual bill, introduced in the Senate as S.743, here. The House version is H.R.684.
Today, U.S. states can impose a sales tax on products or services sold in that state, including those offered online; most do, some do not. Court rulings around the issue have required retailers to have a physical presence in the state to be subject to taxation.
The new legislation is interesting because it is a tax-related measure that divides the usual base of support for such things. Ideologically speaking, Republican legislators have long opposed most taxation efforts; on the other hand, the lack of taxation on Internet transactions comes at the expense of brick-and-mortar retail businesses, another area of support for that party.
Supporters see the measure as a way to protect government’s right to collect taxes; opponents see the measure as yet another tax. Either way, it represents a major change in the way that the online marketplace has been functioning to date, and could trigger audits as businesses that engage in e-commerce come under further scrutiny.
President Barack Obama has indicated that he supports the measure, leaving House lawmakers with the final hurdle.
GFP - 05.09.2013
Business | G-Biz™
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
Politics | Government | Election
Technology | Computer | Science | G-TechNote™
~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
“95% of all working households will receive a tax cut” Barrack Obama Feb. 24, 2009
By Burnt Weiney on 05.09.2013
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Area Counties’ Lifeline Customers Eligible for Broadband Discount
Lifeline-eligible customers in eight West Virginia counties served by Frontier Communications can subscribe to broadband service for discounted rates through a limited-time Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pilot program.
The FCC’s Lifeline program, which historically provided a discount for phone service for qualifying low-income consumers, will support broadband adoption through discounts for broadband services and the promotion of digital literacy as part of a yearlong pilot program, Dana Waldo, senior vice president and general manager for Frontier in West Virginia, said in a news release.
The program will serve eligible customers in Mason, Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties.
Frontier is working with Future Generations, a West Virginia nonprofit organization, to provide computer training to participants and demonstrate the value of broadband.
“Providing opportunities for low-income West Virginians to obtain broadband is critical in building our state’s capacity for continued economic growth,“ LeeAnn Shreve, director of Future Generations Rural America, said in the release. Future Generations Rural America also offers low-cost refurbished laptops to this same demographic through a partnership with Mission West Virginia.
Residents interested in participating in the program or receiving more information can call 1.888.483.6767 to speak with a Frontier broadband consultant.
Workshop to Show Nonprofits How to Apply for Neighborhood Investment Program
Only NIP application workshop this fiscal year set for June 05, 2013
The West Virginia Development Office (WVDO) will host a workshop to explain how West Virginia nonprofit organizations and their donors can benefit from the Neighborhood Investment Program (NIP).
The workshop will be held on Wednesday, June 05, 2013, at the Bridgeport Conference Center, located at 300 Conference Center Way in Bridgeport. Pre-registration is required. On-site check-in for the event starts at 1:00 PM.
The June 05 event is the only NIP application workshop for this fiscal year.
WVDO is presenting the workshop at no charge. Participants are asked to register with WVDO by May 29, 2013.
To register, visit www.wvdo.org/NIPregistration or call 304.558.2234. Organizations are not required to attend the workshop to apply. However, attendance at the workshop is strongly encouraged due to significant changes in the application for fiscal year 2014.
After the workshop, the application and guidelines will be available on the website.
The workshop gives an overview of the benefits of NIP involvement and provides Fiscal Year 2014 applications. The deadline for submitting NIP applications is July 5, 2013.
NIP was established by the West Virginia Legislature to encourage charitable giving to local nonprofit organizations. To participate, qualified 501(c)3 organizations must apply to the West Virginia Development Office. After receiving approval from the NIP Advisory Board, the nonprofit organizations are awarded tax credit vouchers to distribute to donors. Businesses and individual taxpayers that contribute to approved nonprofit organizations can earn credits to reduce certain West Virginia taxes.
For additional information about the Neighborhood Investment Program, call the West Virginia Development Office at 800.982.3386 or 304.558.2234.
G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Tomblin’s Medicaid Gamble
At first glance, the Tomblin Administration’s decision last week to sign up for the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems like good deal. Almost 92,000 West Virginians who don’t have health insurance and make up to 138% of the poverty level will get Medicaid coverage and Washington will pay for it.
But as with every deal, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
First, there are legitimate financial concerns for the state. The federal match will drop to 90% of the total cost by 2021, with West Virginia taxpayers picking up the rest. The state share will be $66 million by 2023.
West Virginia, and all the other states buying into the expansion, have to be concerned that the federal government’s share will drop even more as Washington faces increased pressure to get its budget under control.
Governor Tomblin said during last week’s announcement that if Washington doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain, then West Virginia may be forced to cut benefits. But that’s much easier said than done. Can you imagine the political outcry if the state tried to eliminate a health benefit for the poor?
That leads to another problem with expansion. None of the participating states knows what all the rules are. The Obama Administration is running behind on crafting many of the specifics that will ultimately impact the bottom line.
As Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) said, “Every day we find out a different way that our numbers are going to be impacted.” Tennessee decided against expansion.
Tomblin says West Virginia will try to get waivers from the federal government for “maximum flexibility” to run Medicaid. The Governor has some good ideas, such as expanding managed care for Medicaid and adding co-pays.
Those moves and others would be helpful, but typically the more money Washington provides, the more strings that are attached and the less likely Washington is to let states go their own way.
Also, it’s possible the entire ACA will just be too complicated to work. Even a few strong supporters of the law are now expressing concerns.
West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller recently criticized the sluggishness in putting the new law in place saying, “The law is so complicated and if it doesn’t get done right the first time, it will simply get worse.” And Senator Max Baucus called implementation a “train wreck.”
The Tomblin Administration did its due diligence. An independent actuarial report produced enough arguments in favor of expansion to tilt Tomblin in favor of it. It’s also worth noting, however, that Tomblin will be out of office by the end of 2016. If Medicaid expansion turns out to be a fiscal and regulatory nightmare, another governor will have to worry about it.
GRANTS AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES - 05.06.13
Popular Science/Delta Faucet: Science Fair
Popular Science has teamed up with Delta Faucet to host a nationwide contest for the best original science projects in the category of sustainability.
Maximum award: $1,000.
Eligibility: elementary, middle school, high school, and college students.
Deadline: May 30, 2013.
National Weather Association: Sol Hirsch Teacher Grants
National Weather Association Sol Hirsch Teacher Grants to improve students’ education in meteorology.
Teachers selected will be able to use the funds to take an accredited course in atmospheric sciences, attend a relevant workshop or conference, or purchase scientific materials or equipment for the classroom.
Maximum award: $750.
Eligibility: K-12 teachers.
Deadline: June 03, 2013.
PTO Today: Parent Group of the Year
PTO Today’s Parent Group of the Year Contest is an excellent opportunity to showcase your hard work while giving your school the chance to win cash and prizes.
Maximum Award: $3,000, and 100,000 labels for education points.
Eligibility: all parent groups—PTO, PTA, HSA, PTC, etc.; public and private schools; rural, suburban, and urban schools.
Deadline: June 03, 2013.
Keep America Beautiful/Waste Management: Think Green Grants
Waste Management is joining forces with Keep America Beautiful (KAB) to encourage local solutions that showcase environmental stewardship and community improvement efforts.
Grants will be awarded for programs that will improve communities, increase local recycling, or expand public education related to recycling.
Maximum award: $10,000.
Eligibility: KAB-certified affiliates in good standing.
Deadline: June 12, 2013.
Microsoft: DigiGirlz High Tech Camp
Microsoft DigiGirlz High Tech Camp for girls works to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry.
During the camp session, the girls listen to executive speakers, participate in technology tours and demonstrations, network, and learn through hands-on experience in workshops.
This year camps will take place at various dates throughout the summer in San Diego, CA; Charlotte, NC; Fargo, ND; Redmond, WA; Las Colinas, TX; and St. Louis, MO.
Maximum award: free attendance to camp.
Eligibility: girls grades 9-11 in the 2012-2013 school year and at least age 13 at time of application.
Deadline: varies by location.
G-Fin™: U.S.A.: Economic Brief – 05.03.13
Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5%.
Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.
Productivity and Costs
Productivity increased 0.7% in the non-farm business sector in the first quarter of 2013; unit labor costs increased 0.5% (seasonally adjusted annual rates).
In manufacturing, productivity increased 3.8% and unit labor costs decreased 0.5%.
U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, March 2013
Total March exports of $184.3 billion and imports of $223.1 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $38.8 billion, down from $43.6 billion in February, revised.
March exports were $1.7 billion less than February exports of $186.0 billion.
March imports were $6.5 billion less than February imports of $229.6 billion.
Quarterly Data Series on Business Employment Dynamics
From June 2012 to September 2012 gross job gains from opening and expanding private sector establishments fell to 6.8 million.
Gross job losses from closing and contracting private sector establishments increased to 6.6 million.
Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment (Monthly)
Jobless rates were lower in March than a year earlier in 306 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 44, and unchanged in 22.
Non-farm payroll employment was up in 287 metropolitan areas over the year, down in 80, and unchanged in 5.
Personal Income and Outlays, March 2013
Personal income increased $30.9 billion, or 0.2%, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $20.7 billion, or 0.2%, in March.
Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $21.0 billion, or 0.2%.
In February, personal income increased $151.2 billion, or 1.1%, DPI increased $134.0 billion, or 1.1%, and PCE increased $81.6 billion, or 0.7%, based on revised estimates.
Unleash the Power of Age
Seniors and the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare and helps seniors take charge of their health.
The law provides important benefits such as free preventive services, free annual wellness visits, and a 50% discount on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.“ You can also work with your doctor to create a personalized prevention plan.
Top Things to Know for Seniors
Under the health care law, your existing guaranteed Medicare-covered benefits won’t be reduced or taken away. Neither will your ability to choose your own doctor.
Millions of people with Medicare received cost relief during the law’s first year. If you had Medicare prescription drug coverage and had to pay for your drugs in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole,“ you received a one-time, tax free $250 rebate from Medicare to help pay for your prescriptions.
If you have high prescription drug costs that put you in the donut hole, you now get a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs while you’re in the donut hole. Between today and 2020, you’ll get continuous Medicare coverage for your prescription drugs. The donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.
Medicare covers certain preventive services without charging you the Part B coinsurance or deductible. You will also be offered a free annual wellness exam.
The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended as a result of reducing waste, fraud and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare, which will provide you with future cost savings on your premiums and coinsurance.
A Minute with Jay: Toyota and West Virginia – Rockefeller’s Vision Becomes Reality
Senator Rockefeller first met with Toyota officials in 1986 to convince them to build a major automotive plant in West Virginia.
After dozens of meetings, both in West Virginia and in Japan, his decade-long effort paid off in 1996 with an announcement that Toyota was locating a $400 million engine and transmission plant in Buffalo with 350 jobs.
Today, Toyota represents the second largest industrial development project in West Virginia in 50 years.
From its beginnings as an engine plant that employed roughly 350 workers in 1996, Toyota has expanded seven times and now employs about 1,200 people.
Because of such a special celebration this week, Senator Rockefeller has dedicated more than one minute to talk about the history of Toyota and West Virginia.
In this video, Senator Rockefeller is joined by Matt Oliver, Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia employee, and Debbie Phillips, former Putnam County Development Authority Executive Director, to discuss the journey to get Toyota to choose Putnam County for its engine manufacturing plant and the impact it has on the community and state.
West Virginia to Expand Medicaid Covering 91,500 Uninsured
West Virginia will expand Medicaid as called for by the federal health care overhaul, through a plan unveiled Thursday by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin that would extend coverage to an estimated 91,500 uninsured low-income residents.
The decision follows a financial analysis that concluded that more than $5 billion in promised federal funds will cover nearly all of the resulting costs over the next decade.
But with Medicaid already squeezing the state budget, the report also calculates that West Virginia’s share of the burden during that time will increase by $375 million.
That is prompting Tomblin to pursue several cost controls: Medicaid will cover mental health and substance abuse treatment through managed care, an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service arrangement; and some patients will face copayments based on income.
Expanded coverage would begin January 01, 2014, while enrollment would open October 01, 2013.
Tomblin was one of just two Democratic governors who had yet to choose whether to expand Medicaid, leaving Governor Steve Beshear of neighboring Kentucky as their party’s last holdout. President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, and the state’s Republican Party attacked Tomblin over his expected decision even before he announced it.
Thursday’s decision also arrives in the wake of another audit commissioned by Tomblin. That report contrasted West Virginia’s glaring health problems with massive spending and numerous problems at the Department of Health and Human Resources, which oversees Medicaid.
The audit found West Virginia ranked 48th among states for overall health care outcomes, and rated among the worst for obesity, diabetes, adult smoking and heart disease deaths. The agency that oversees Medicaid, the Bureau of Medical Services, meanwhile has 1.4% of the department’s workforce to handle a program that already costs $3 billion — 72% of its budget.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, joined Tomblin for Thursday’s announcement at Charleston’s St. Francis Hospital along with chief executives of several hospital systems. Expanding Medicaid is expected to help the state’s hospitals, which face a scheduled in federal reimbursement payments, by providing coverage to thousands of residents now treated at hospitals without compensation as charity care. The financial analysis cites studies estimating the annual savings to hospitals at $20 million to $30 million.
CCRC Actuaries conducted the analysis, enlisting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and other specialists to measure the benefits and pitfalls of expansion. It also found that expanding Medicaid should help both employer-based health plans and private insurance premiums.
State employers face penalties, estimated at between $6 million to $18 million per year, if they drop health coverage and send employees to the federal law’s insurance exchange. That marketplace aims to offer private insurance coverage by allowing participants to pool their buying power. Employers would avoid penalties if Medicaid could cover their workers instead.
The analysis concludes that expanding Medicaid while following other provisions of the federal health care law eventually will reduce the ranks of the state’s uninsured from 246,000 West Virginians to around 76,000.
The federal health care law calls on states to extend Medicaid benefits to people who make less than 138% of the federal poverty line. That’s about $32,499 for a family of four. With one of the strictest limits among states, West Virginia now bars adults from enrolling if their household earns just one-fourth of that — $8,240 for a family of four.
As a result, half of the West Virginians on Medicaid are blind or disabled. Nearly 20% are children, while a slightly larger portion is seniors. But West Virginia still has the 12th-largest Medicaid program among the states when measures as a percentage of its population, with around 330,000 residents covered according to federal figures.
Medicaid already covers some recipients through managed care, and Thursday’s plan would extend it to more existing patients and those who join through expansion. Similar to health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, found in private insurance, managed care requires each patient to choose or be assigned a primary care physician. They then have access to services from a network of health care providers and facilities, with their main doctor referring them to specialists. These patients must secure prior approval before receiving certain testing and procedures, or if they wish to seek services outside of the provider network.
Utility Discounting Water for Low-Income Residents
West Virginia’s largest water utility is offering a 20% discount to qualifying low-income households.
West Virginia American Water says the program is open to residential customers who receive at least one of the following: Supplemental Security Income, WV WORKS, and — for residents 60 or older — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Eligible residents will receive an application in the mail from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources within the next two weeks.
Under the program, the average household using 3,315 gallons of water would see its monthly bill drop from $39.11 to $31.29.
`West Virginia American Water serves about 550,000 people.
Tax Day Collections Erase WV Revenue Deficit
West Virginia general revenues have rebounded, thanks to last month’s deadline for income taxes.
April saw state government collect nearly $565 million. Officials were expecting $511 million.
The results erased a $49 million revenue deficit for the budget year. With that year ending June 30, the state began this month nearly $5 million ahead of estimate.
Personal income taxes account for April’s robust collections. Other key revenue sources were flat or below projection.
Those include severance taxes on coal, natural gas and other extracted resources.
Those were down slightly for the month. Officials say the state’s energy sector has stabilized after months of declining coal production and falling natural gas prices.
But officials also still fear that tax revenues will miss the mark in both May and June.
West Virginia Budget Approved without Line-Item Vetoes
For the first time in more than a decade, West Virginia lawmakers are getting the final say on new state spending.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed this year’s budget bill without making any changes.
West Virginia governors can reduce or erase any spending line or language in the annual budget bill once it passes the Legislature.
Records indicate the last chief executive to keep his veto pen capped was Governor Bob Wise, in 2001.
This year’s bill details more than $11 billion in spending for the budget year that begins July 01, 2013.
It includes $4.1 billion supported by general tax revenues.
Those revenues have faltered in recent months. That prompted Tomblin to order $75 million in cuts.
Lawmakers passed the budget bill earlier this month.
G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Time for Tax on Internet Sales
Quick, raise your hand if you pay sales tax on your Internet purchases.
You probably don’t, even though you are supposed to if you live a state that has a sales tax.
The instructions for the West Virginia tax code specify that a “use tax” of six percent applies to “Internet purchases, magazine subscriptions, mail-order purchases, out-of-state purchases, telephone purchases originating out-of-state, (and) TV shopping networks.”
But hardly anyone correctly fills out the West Virginia Schedule UT form and calculates those taxes do the state.
Those uncollected taxes add up. It’s estimated that at least $11 billion dollars due the states is left on the table every year because of what amounts to a giant loophole in collections.
That would change under the Marketplace Fairness Act. That federal legislation would require retailers with at least $1 million in annual remote sales to collect sales taxes and send the money to the appropriate state or city.
That’s not a simple matter. There are about 9,600 different taxing jurisdictions in the country. Qualifying sellers would need special software, which bill supporters say the states will give them for free, that would calculate the taxes.
That’s the right move. The current two-tiered system not only lets taxes due go uncollected, but also puts brick-and-mortar businesses at a disadvantage.
In West Virginia, the local merchant has to impose a six percent sales tax, while an out-of-state business can sell the same item with no taxes.
The primary reason these taxes have gone uncollected over the years is that a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota) said Internet and catalog sellers don’t have to collect sales tax in states where they have no physical presence.
However, the Court’s opinion left the final say up to public policy makers.
“The underlying issue is one that congress may be better qualified to solve and one that it has the ultimate power to resolve,” the Court said.
The U.S. is on the verge of doing just that, with the help of Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, who both support the bill. The House of Representatives should follow suit.
This is not about imposing new taxes, but rather having a fair and equitable system of collecting the taxes that are already due.
WV Broadband Project Nears Completion, Fiber-Optic Cable Installed Many Public Facilities
Frontier Communications is wrapping up work on projects expanding high-speed Internet across the state.
The Charleston Gazette says a new state report shows 583 miles of fiber-optic cable has been installed to schools, libraries and other public facilities. Seven miles of cable remains to be installed.
Frontier also is installing 85 miles of fiber-optic cable to link West Virginia University and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. Six miles of cable remain to be installed.
The work is part of the state’s $126.3 million federal stimulus project to expand broadband service.
The state has until September to spend the stimulus funds. State officials expect about $4 million won’t be spent.
G-Fin™: U.S.A.: Economic Brief – 04.26.13
Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2013 (advance estimate)
Real gross domestic product—the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States—increased at an annual rate of 2.5% in the first quarter of 2013 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter).
In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 0.4%.
Advance Gross Domestic Product by Industry, 2012
Durable-goods manufacturing, finance and insurance, and wholesale trade were the leading contributors to U.S. economic growth in 2012.
Overall, 19 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 2.2% increase in real GDP.
Mass Layoffs (Monthly)
In March, employers took 1,337 mass layoff actions involving 127,939 workers.
Mass layoff events decreased by 85 from February, and associated initial claims decreased by 7,529.
Rockefeller Announces Funding to Prevent Cuts at FBI Facility in Clarksburg …
Senator Jay Rockefeller announced Congress approved funding that will enable some national security facilities in West Virginia to avoid furloughs and rehire employees so those workers can continue to protect our country and respond to emergencies.
“The terrible tragedy in Boston reinforces that those who protect our country and respond to emergencies should be able to get the resources they need to do their jobs to the fullest,” said Rockefeller. “Our FBI and ATF facilities in West Virginia play essential roles in reducing the risk of terrorism and identifying those who could be looking to do harm. While this fix only protects some employees and government operations from cuts, I’m absolutely still working to find a solution to all of the harmful, across-the-board spending cuts.”
The legislation prevents across-the board cuts, known as the sequester, to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) spending, which oversees both the FBI Criminal Justice Information Systems Division (FBI-CJIS) in Clarksburg, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) National Tracing Center in Martinsburg. The funding will help the FBI-CJIS facility avoid potential furloughs of employees, and allow the ATF center to rehire contract workers that had been let go to comply with the spending cuts.
Last week, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees approved DOJ’s programming request to avoid automatic budget cuts that would have forced furloughs of employees that play critical roles in protecting the country – such as those at the FBI and ATF. Attorney General Eric Holder has reinforced that such cuts would have forced layoffs and prevented employees from effectively responding to emergencies and safeguarding the American people.
U.S. Senate to Vote on Online Sales Tax Bill
The President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce says online retailers should have to collect the same sales taxes that brick and mortar stores are required to charge.
“Somebody selling a product who’s in your backyard pays. Somebody selling a product who’s not in your backyard doesn’t necessarily pay,” Steve Roberts said.
The U.S. Senate is expected to take a final vote before the end of the week on legislation that would give states the authority to force online retailers to collect sales taxes for Internet purchases. Businesses with less than $1 million a year in online sales would be exempt.
The measure does have Republican support in the Senate. However, it is expected to run into opposition in the U.S. House of Representatives where opponents say the bill could set a precedent for further expansions of state level tax collection authority.
Roberts says House members should listen to the business owners they represent.
“The brick and mortar folks recognize that they are a visible part of the community. They’re employing people. Not only are they paying sales tax, they’re paying all the other taxes and fees that are required to located either in a city or a county,” Roberts said on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.
“They’d like to have the field leveled up a little bit.”
According to numbers from the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. Internet sales totaled $226 billion last year.
In the same time, the National Conference of State Legislatures says states lost $23 billion in uncollected sales taxes for those purchase.
~~ WVMN ~~
G-Fin™: Jobless Claims Fall, Labor Market Recovery Advances
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by a surprisingly large 16,000, a sign there is still gas in the tank for the labor market’s recovery despite signs of slower growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The report runs counter to several weeks of signals that economic activity softened in March and early April, a phenomenon economists have dubbed the spring swoon because it also happened in the previous two years.
The four-week moving average for new claims, a less volatile measure of labor market trends, fell 4,500 to 357,500.
The data eased concerns of a deterioration in labor market conditions after nonfarm payrolls posted their smallest increase in nine months in March.
Still, claims have been difficult to adjust for seasonal swings in recent weeks because of the Easter holiday and spring breaks that are staggered across the nation’s schools, so analysts were cautious about too firm a conclusion about what the data might signal.
Labor Department analysts said there was nothing unusual in the data and no states had estimated their claims, but the data were still affected by holidays in some regions.
STILL SOME BRIGHT SPOTS
The report helped propel U.S. stock prices higher. Yields on U.S. government debt also rose, with investors preparing for an upcoming $29 billion auction of seven-year notes. The dollar weakened against the euro and the yen, with traders citing a recent slew of soft economic data that has raised concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.
While data for January and February suggested that growth accelerated in the first quarter, the economy appeared to have hit a speed bump at the end of the quarter. Data ranging from employment to retail sales and manufacturing weakened significantly in March, and factories appear to have continued to sputter in April.
Even the housing market, until recently a bright spot in the economy, has shown signs of slowing. Mortgage rates, however, have come close to record lows, leading to a spurt in mortgage applications in recent weeks. In the week through Thursday, the average interest rate on 30-year fixed rate mortgages hit 3.4%, the lowest since January and near the lowest on record, mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac said.
Analysts had expected 351,000 new jobless claims last week. The prior week’s number was revised to show 3,000 more applications than previously reported.
Economists expect the government next week will report that employers hired 145,000 people in April. Employers added only 88,000 workers to their payrolls last month after a solid 268,000 increase in February.
The slowdown has been blamed on government belt-tightening, although analysts also think a mild winter followed by an unusually cold March may have led some employers and consumers to bring forward hiring and purchases.
It was unclear whether there was any impact in the claims data from a brief shutdown of offices in Boston area last week as police hunted for a man suspected of helping plant bombs at the Boston Marathon. State authorities asked hundreds of thousands of Boston-area workers to stay in their homes on April 19, 2013.
Gilmer County Commission Financial Statements - Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012
Gilmer County Commission Financial Statements
For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012
Following are The Gilmer County Commission Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012 - Click to Read or Print:
• BALANCE SHEET - GOVERNMENTAL FUNDS
• STATEMENT OF ACTIVITIES
• STATEMENT OF NET ASSETS
• RECONCILIATION OF THE BALANCE SHEET - GOVERNMENTAL FUNDS
• RECONCILIATION OF THE STATEMENT OF REVENUES, EXPENDITURES AND CHANGES IN FUND BALANCES OF GOVERNMENTAL FUNDS TO THE STATEMENT OF ACTIVITIES
• STATEMENT OF REVENUES, EXPENDITURES AND CHANGES IN FUND BALANCES - GOVERNMENTAL FUNDS
• VENDOR LIST
GFP - 04.25.2013
Financial & Economy | G-Fin™
Politics | Government | Election
~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
Long past September 30, 2012 but at least its done. Doesn’t look good, spent more than was taken in for the year and the fund balance is way lower than in a long time so that explains how they got so broke. The audit will tell all. Hard to say why the Chief Inspector hasn’t put out the 2011 audit on the web, was told it was done and over?
By Small Wonder No 911 on 04.25.2013
It likely takes an accountant to figure these numbers out.
Can anyone say if it shows missing funds in the sheriff, or the county funds themselves?
We keep hearing the rumors about missing funds everywhere, as well as the commission spending most of the >reserve< funds?
We hear that there is >no< money to return the 911 Center to us as well?
Would be nice if the truth would come out about the county financial condition.
Taxpayers have the right to know.
By watching on 04.26.2013
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Experts: Gas-Producing States Need Fuel Stations
Liquid and compressed natural gas could save drivers and companies money, but experts say gas-producing states like West Virginia can’t take advantage of them without pipelines and fueling stations.
Kathryn Clay is executive director of the Drive Natural Gas Initiative, an industry group focused on building infrastructure.
The U.S. has 1,200 natural gas fueling stations nationwide, compared with 160,000 gasoline stations.
But Clay says the growth rate is accelerating.
Experts in Morgantown discussed challenges facing the industry Wednesday and policies that could stimulate demand and stabilize prices.
They say a push for natural gas vehicles failed in the 1980s because the market and technology were different.
Today’s shale-gas boom has created an oversupply.
The U.S. is the world’s-largest gas producer but accounts for only 1% of natural gas vehicles.
Gilmer County Recreation Center Receives Funding from Wes-Mon-Ty Resource Conservation & Development
The Gilmer County Recreation Center was recently presented a check by Jane Collins, Soil Conservation District Supervisor, for Gilmer County in the amount of $4,000.
This money was awarded to the Recreation Center, for two major projects, through a grant from Wes-Mon-Ty Resource Conservation and Development.
Jane Collins, Soil Conservation District Supervisor for Gilmer County
David Lyons, Director at the Gilmer County Recreation Center
Larry Sponaugle, President of the Gilmer County Recreation Center Board
Andy Sentz, District Conservationist, with USDA-NRCS
The Grant money will be used to implement a detailed plan designed by Andy Sentz, District Conservationist, with USD-NRCS to correct the erosion that has occurred near the swimming pool and the bank behind the newly constructed Bill and Reva Bennett Building.
G-LtE™: MR. BLANKENSHIP, FIX THIS MESS
MR. BLANKENSHIP, YOU HAD THE CONTROL AND THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS PROJECT, THE CONSOLIDATED GILMER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
IN SPITE OF THAT THERE WAS NO CORE DRILLING, NO WETLAND ASSESSMENT AND NO OBLIGATION FOR THE LAND UNTIL AFTER THE DATE APPLICATION WAS DUE TO THE SBA.
AT THE CEFP MEETING TO SELECT THE SITE FOR THE CONSOLIDATED GILMER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, THE ARCHITECT ADMITTED THEY HAD NOT BEEN WHERE THE BUILDING WOULD BE SET.
DIDN’T WILLIAMSON & SHRIVER SEE CEDAR CREEK?
IT WAS ON THE MAP THEY DREW. DIDN’T THEY ADVISE YOU THAT A WETLANDS STUDY WOULD BE REQUIRED?
IT APPEARS YOU ARE DELIBERATELY HOLDING GILMER COUNTY HOSTAGE TO MAKE SURE YOUR CONTRACT IS RENEWED AND/OR THIS TAKEOVER NIGHTMARE CONTINUES. EITHER THAT OR YOU ARE TOTALLY INCOMPETANT. WHICH IS IT?
IT IS ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING THAT LEWIS COUNTY TOOK HOME THE MONEY ONE MORE TIME WHILE THE SOIL QUALITY FOR THE INTERCOUNTY SCHOOL IS SO POOR FOR HEAVY CONSTRUCTION THAT YOUR ARCHITECTS HAD TO RECONFIGURE BUILDING DESIGN. THAT IS WHY YOUR ENGINEERS WERE HIRED, TO PREVENT ANY “FORESEEABLE PROBLEMS” SUCH AS THE DESIGN CHANGE FROM GAS TO ELECTRIC BECAUSE THEY HAD NO GAS?
CALL THEM YOURS BECAUSE THE STATE HIRED THEM, NOT GILMER COUNTY. WE DID NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO GO TO BID.
THE STATE WAS BOSS. WE’RE JUST A CHECKBOOK.
BUT IT SEEMS LEWIS COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT MACE WAS TOLD HOW TO DOT EVERY EYE AND CROSS EVERY TEE TO MAKE SURE THE INTERCOUNTY SCHOOL HAPPENED.
WHY IS THAT?
YOU SAID THE REASON WE DIDN’T GET MIP MONEY FOR DESPERATELY NEEDED HEATING AND A/C AT GILMER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL WAS DUE TO “NASTY POLITICS” AT THE SBA MEETING.
GCHS HAS MOLD BUT NO MONEY CAME OUR WAY WHILE WE PAID FOR LEWIS COUNTY LAND. HOW MUCH MORE WILL THE POLITICS OF THIS SITUATION COST US?
AT THE LAST GILMER BOARD OOF EDUCATION MEETING YOU SAID THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE NEEDS APPLICATION RELATIVE TO WETLANDS OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT WOULD STOP FUNDING OF A GILMER COUNTY SCHOOL. OBVIOUSLY THAT WAS NOT TRUE.
YOU INSIST ON FOLLOWING STATE LAW DOES NOT APPLY RULES, GET IT DONE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS PROCEDURES AND NO MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION POLICIES.
HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT FOR YOU?
PLEASE DON’T ASK US, ALL WE SEE IS LESS IN THE CHECK BOOK AND DECREASING STUDENT PERFORMANCE.
~~ A CONCERNED CITIZEN ~~
GFP - 04.23.2013
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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~
TO A CONCERNED CITIZEN
WOW: You said this very well. Shame there are not enough SMART ones in the local Gilmer County School System and the State Board of Education to understand what you wrote. They only see things their way, which by the way is not working for the betterment of this county or it’s students. It’s working for them, not us. More money, power and control is all the “elites” are looking for, not a better education for our children. Lewis County comes out smelling like a rose and it comes from the hard working people of Gilmer County not Lewis. Thanks to us, the Gilmer County taxpayers. The three top people at this county BOE, (Blankenship, Simmons, Armour) are on the bottom of the list of about every citizen of this county. Maybe we could send them to Washington. They would fit right in.
By just a thought on 04.23.2013
Never wanted consolidation, definitely not one school. The state is going to just stay here while our community schools are shut down one by one and for what? Can’t be to protect the kids safety due to dangerous buildings because they are still sitting at the same desk in the same locations two years later.
Drop out rates on the rise, graduation rates dropping, drugs in the school,technology access poor and breaking down, inappropriate conduct right and left. Taking children to juvenile court and expelling them is no answer. All these years such things seldom if ever seen in Gilmer County.
Out of control State BOE encouraging families to leave by forcing their children into a poorer performing school district in the name of consolidation. Supposedly saving money while we watch neighboring counties go broke trying to lease bus service and stuck with the contracts. The cost so prohibitive they can’t pick the kids up even close to their home anymore. Rural elementary schools here have always had better testing results and discipline records but the State BOE wants to force them to into a cookie cutter system.
Nothing that shows consolidation has ever improved education. It’s been going on for YEARS and W.V. still gets a failing grade at the national level.
By State BOE Don't Ruin Gilmer Over Egos on 04.23.2013
There is NO fix to this mess.
So many individuals who have had a part in it, due to their self inflated egos, and all are out the reach of the voters.
The CUBIES set this in motion. They should be ashamed for what they clearly imposed on our children.
Not to mention, parents, taxpayers, school staff and others.
The ONLY ones who can do anything, to date, have done nothing.
Please, Governor Tomblin, all of the Legislature, please come to the aid of Gilmer County citizens ! PLEASE !
You do have a responsibility to Gilmer citizens.
By anonymous on 04.23.2013
Gilmer Board of Education is powerless.
Citizens. voters, public, parents, staff have all been effectively silenced.
The Board of Education for the State of West Virginia shows incompetence daily.
Charleston elected officials must approve, as we have experienced no improvement in our schools.
By Gilmer Observer on 04.23.2013
Many people don’t know who the CUBES are?
Lets have a “CUBES in the Park Day” !
They can once again proudly wear their CUBIE T-Shirts !
Have not seen them around. They must be saving them for a Special Occasion !
By Giv It. Tooemm on 04.23.2013
That NASTY PARAGRAPH that Superintendent Blankenship, displays on the School Board Meeting agenda, shows exactly what an immature, cowardly, group of people the state board of education has set in place. You voters up in Glenville have been skru-ed!
By watching from away on 04.23.2013
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