Gilmer County Circuit Court Report

The Free Press WV

On Monday, October 24, 2016 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his regular monthly motion day in Gilmer County.

•  One fugitive from justice, Roderick Stewart waived to return to the state of Kentucky and authorities have until 4 PM November 02, 2016 to pick him up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

Roderick Stewart was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.

•  Eight juvenile matters were heard, with 2 being dismissed.

•  Marcus Schofield was before the Court with his attorney, Melissa Roman of Buckhannon asking for his bound over cases to be dismissed for failure to present his case timely to a grand jury.

Judge Facemire dismissed the matters pending against Schofield after Prosecutor Hough related he could not prove the felony in the matter and was choosing to prosecute this matter in magistrate court as a misdemeanor.

•  An old case from 2015 was before the Court for forfeiture of $334.00 and with nobody appearing to object, the money was forfeited with 10% going to the prosecuting attorney and the remaining 90% going to the state police.

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kristopher Speas

He was before the Court permitting an information to be filed against him instead of going to the grand jury for indictment.

Upon his plea of guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver (meth) 6 bound over counts were dismissed against him.

Upon Judge Facemire accepting his guilty plea he referred it to the probation officer for a presentence investigation and set the matter for sentencing.

Then Speas asked that the presentence be dispensed with and asked to be sentenced immediately and thereupon Judge Facemire sentenced him to 1-5 years in the penitentiary with no fine imposed but Speas must pay court costs within 18 months of his release.

Tyler Mason of Sissonville represented the defendant.

•  One civil matter was set for a motion to compel but said motion was withdrawn prior to hearing.


The Free Press WV

Early Voting is open during regular business hours at each county courthouse or courthouse annex

Early Voting is also available each Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Following is the information to Contact the County Clerks in the area to confirm Early Voting hours and locations:

Barbour County Clerk
Macel Auvil
8 North Main Street
Philippi, WV 26416
Phone: 304.457.2232
Fax: 304.457.5986

Braxton County Clerk
Susan K. Lunceford
300 Main Street
P.O. Box 486
Sutton, WV 26601
Phone: 304.765.2833
Fax: 304.765.2093

Calhoun County Clerk
Jean Simers
363 Main Street, Suite 101
P.O. Box 230
Grantsville, WV 26147
Phone: 304.354.6725
Fax: 304.354.6447

Clay County Clerk
Connie Workman
246 Main Street
P.O. Box 190
Clay, WV 25043
Phone: 304.587.4259
Fax: 304.587.7329

Doddridge County Clerk
Beth A. Rodgers
108 East Court Street, Suite 1
West Union, WV 26456
Phone: 304.873.2631
Fax: 304.873.1840

Gilmer County Clerk
Jean Butcher
10 Howard Street
Glenville, WV 26351
Phone: 304.462.7641
Fax: 304.462.8855

Harrison County Clerk
Susan J. Thomas
301 West Main Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Phone: 304.624.8675
Fax: 304.624.8575

Lewis County Clerk
Cindy Rowan
110 Center Avenue
Weston, WV 26452
Phone: 304.269.8215
Fax: 304.269.8202

Nicholas County Clerk
Audra Deitz
700 Main Street
Suite 2
Summersville, WV 26651
Phone: 304.872.7820
Fax: 304.872.9600

Pleasants County Clerk
Sue E. Morgan
301 Court Lane
St. Marys, WV 26170
Phone: 304.684.3542
Fax: 304.684.7569

Ritchie County Clerk
Tracie McDonald
115 East Main Street
Room 201
Harrisville, WV 26362
Phone: 304.643.2164
Fax: 304.643.2906

Roane County Clerk
Charles B. White
200 Main Street
Spencer, WV 25276
Phone: 304.927.2860
Fax: 304.927.2489

Tyler County Clerk
Teresa Hamilton
121 Main Street
P.O. Box 66
Middlebourne, WV 26149
Phone: 304.758.2102
Fax: 304.758.2126

Upshur County Clerk
Debbie T. Wilfong
40 West Main Street
Room 101
Buckhannon, WV 26201
Phone: 304.472.1068
Fax: 304.472.1029

Webster County Clerk
Eva R. Green
2 Court Square
Room G1
Webster Springs, WV 26288
Phone: 304.847.2508
Fax: 304.847.5780

Wetzel County Clerk
Carol Haught
200 Main Street
P.O. Box 156
New Martinsville, WV 26155
Phone: 304.455.8224
Fax: 304.455.5256

Wirt County Clerk
Suellen Calebaugh
19 Washington St
Room 102
P.O. Box 53
Elizabeth, WV 26143
Phone: 304.275.4271
Fax: 304.275.3418

Wood County Clerk
Mark Rhodes
1 Court Square
P.O. Box 1474
Parkersburg, WV 26102
Phone: 304.424.1850
Fax: 304.424.1982

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Judge Orders Cabell Clerk to Register Voters Online

A federal judge has ordered a West Virginia county clerk to process online voter registrations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed the proposed class-action lawsuit Thursday against Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole in U.S. District Court in Huntington.

The ACLU’s lawsuit says that when the Cabell clerk receives an online registration, it sends back a paper application and a letter that says the secretary of state’s website doesn’t provide the information required by law for the clerk’s office to process a voter application.

The lawsuit says an unknown number of people who registered online didn’t get their registration processed by Cole’s office.

Judge Robert Chambers’ preliminary injunction Tuesday orders Cole to process online registrations.

Calls to Cole and her attorney were not immediately returned.

►   Free Clinic Provides Care for Communities Impacted by Floods

The first free health clinic offering comprehensive services ran this past weekend, with more than 600 people receiving care from about 350 volunteer healthcare providers. Motivated to help folks in communities hit by record-breaking flooding last summer, West Virginia Health Right partnered with the nonprofit Remote Area Medical to offer the free health clinic over two days. 

The event was based at Elkview Middle School in Kanawha County – the heart of the flood zone. Volunteers in bright green shirts sat in rows at lunch tables checking patients in. They asked for a name and the service desired, but little else. Unlike many free clinics, everyone was welcome, regardless of medical insurance status.

“This is an event that we’re saying right up front – you know no judgement zone – we know there are challenges out there,” said Angie Settle, CEO of West Virginia Health Right.

“We know you might have insurance, but we also know there’s a $5,000, $10,000 deductible, and rather than take that and go buy yourself a pair of glasses or do something for yourself, you may take your child to the doctor, or you’re going without,” she said.

Health Right began planning the clinic just three or four days after the June 2016 floods that devastated much of the central and southeastern parts of the state. It’s the first clinic of its kind in West Virginia, although Remote Area Medical – the partnering non-profit group – has been holding these types of clinics around the world since 1985.

Settle said even without the flood many of these families were struggling.

“So you think… ‘Do I want to have groceries this week, or can I take $125 and go to the eye doctor?’” said Settle. “A lot of times they are just going to skip it.”

We’re in a classroom where 20 dental chairs are set up. Volunteer providers clean teeth, fill cavities, and extract rotten or broken teeth.

“It’s obvious the need’s there, just from the severity of the mouths we’re seeing,” she said. “Somebody had seven teeth extracted at one time. So think about that…. Somebody’s teeth are so diseased that they had to have seven teeth extracted at once.”

Because a lot of insurance plans, including Medicaid, do not cover preventive dental care or eye exams, the vast majority of the patients came for those two services, Settle said.

Two were Patricia Taylor and her adult daughter Amanda. 

“We had our teeth pulled, we had our eyes examined, and it was wonderful,” said Patricia. She held a napkin over the front of her mouth where four teeth had been pulled. Neither Taylor had insurance.

Patricia said her retirement plus Social Security is $100 a month too high to qualify for Medicaid and private insurance is too expensive. Her daughter Amanda was struggling with health issues and recently stopped working – she said she does qualify for Medicaid, but had yet to enroll.

When I met them they had already been at the clinic almost 12 hours, having begun waiting at 1 that morning.

“This gave us an opportunity to get some services done that we couldn’t afford, or we’d have to put some type of bill on hold to try and get that done,” said Amanda.

Patricia gave the example of getting poison ivy several weeks earlier. It cost her $107 to go to her primary care provider – money she took from her utility bill.

The clinic had providers had in almost every discipline – chiropractic, physical therapy, orthopedics. All were volunteers.

“Everybody here is putting in their own time, time they could be working and making money to give us an opportunity to get some kind of preventative or maintenance care,” said Amanda. 

By far the most popular were dentists and eye doctors. Patients were able to come in, get a full eye exam, and receive a pair of glasses made the same day.

As the day wore on, though, the volunteer providers had to turn away patients seeking dental and vision care. Settle hopes to recruit more of these providers next year, especially since the event will likely grow as word gets out.

►   WVU Astrophysicist Participates in Hydrogen Mapping Project

An astrophysicist from West Virginia University is among a team of scientists from around the world who have mapped the distribution of hydrogen across the Milky Way.

D.J. Pisano, an associate professor of physics and astronomy in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, said the new survey helps fill in gaps from a previous survey.

The research was published last week in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The team used two of the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescopes — Parkes Observatory in Australia and the Effelsberg in Germany — to survey from both the northern and southern hemispheres. Astronomers in Germany did additional data processing to produce a combined, consistent map.

Pisano says the collaboration of scientists around the world made it possible to survey the entire sky.

►   FEMA to Pay $1.7M for School Facilities

West Virginia’s U.S. senators say the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide $1.7 million to the state for the Nicholas County School to secure temporary facilities following the flooding in late June that damaged or destroyed buildings.

According to Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the $2.3 million cost. The state is expected to pay the balance.

Education officials have said students in Nicholas and Kanawha counties displaced by the floods are to be moved from makeshift classrooms to long-term temporary modular units by the start of 2017.

Once they are relocated to permanent facilities, the state hopes to own several modular units that can be deployed in the event of a fire, flood or other disaster.

FEMA says the funding is in addition to a grant announced last week.

►   Police Lacking in Mental Health Training

There are no police agencies in West Virginia that undergo crisis intervention team training — even though the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has said West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates of severe mental illness.

CIT training teaches police about signs and symptoms of mental illness, de-escalation techniques and resources in their community.

According to the University of Memphis CIT Center, only West Virginia, Arkansas and Alabama have no CIT-trained agencies.

Chiefs of Huntington, Morgantown and Charleston police departments all said interactions with people in mental health crises are a regular part of the job.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston says police agencies have limited resources, so many incorporate “elements of CIT” into currently existing trainings.

►   West Virginia graduation rate nears 90 percent

West Virginia education officials say the state’s high school graduation rate has risen to nearly 90 percent.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano says the 2015-16 rate is up from 86.5 percent a year earlier and 84.5 percent before that.

A five-year strategic plan released two years ago called for improving the graduation rate annually and reaching 90 percent for all West Virginia students by 2020.

The rate reported Tuesday is nearly there at 89.81 percent.

Martirano credits statewide initiatives, especially tracking 45 indicators to identify students at risk of dropping out, including attendance, behavior and grades.

He says graduates typically earn more lifelong and are less likely to be jailed or get involved with illegal drugs.

Federal data show the national graduation rate rose to 83.2 percent for 2014-15.

►   Blankenship appeal focuses on ‘willful disregard’

Attorneys for Don Blankenship will argue in federal appeals court Wednesday that the former Massey Energy CEO did not willfully disregard safety standards leading up to the explosion that killed 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch mine on Apr. 05, 2010.

“Mr. Blankenship’s conspiracy conviction is infected with error and must be reversed,” his lawyers wrote in his appeal brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.

Oral arguments begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the appeal of his 2015 conviction of conspiracy to willfully violate mandatory mine safety and health standards.

The crime is a misdemeanor, and Blankenship was sentenced this past April 6 to the maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $250,000 fine. He’s serving his sentence at Taft Federal Prison in California.

His 94-page appeal brief filed June 27 contends that there was never any proof that Blankenship willfully disregarded federal mine safety standards.

“There was no allegation that Blankenship and his alleged conspirators believed they were violating and intended to violate the law,” Blankenship attorney William Taylor III wrote in the appeal brief.

Blankenship’s lawyers argue that Blankenship was attentive to safety. They also contend that willfulness requires proof of knowledge that conduct is unlawful and thus an intent to break the law:

“And they authorized the jury to find willful violations and to convict absent proof that Blankenship believed he was violating and intended to violate the law when, among other things, making management decisions about budgets and production targets.”

Federal prosecutors, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, counter that willful disregard doesn’t have to be explicit and that Blankenship demonstrated a pattern of flouting safety standards.

“Should this Court hold that reckless disregard for the law can never be part of the definition of willfulness in a criminal prosecution, thereby overruling its own precedents and contracting those of the Supreme Court and every other court of appeals?” Ruby and the federal attorneys asked in their own 97-page response brief.

The federal prosecutors contend that Blankenship was obsessed with safety reports but that he made clear to subordinates that his priority was coal production. They contend the behavior constituted reckless disregard.

“No court, including the Supreme Court, has ever held that reckless disregard cannot form a component of willfulness in appropriate contexts, and this Court would contradict decades of precedent were it to become the first,” the federal prosecutors wrote.

Other arguments

Blankenship’s appeal has several other aspects, including whether the superseding indictment properly identified which of the federal mine safety regulations Blankenship was accused of willfully violating.

Another bone of contention is whether Blankenship’s attorneys should have been allowed to recross-examine one of the government’s key witnesses.

And, finally, the two sides disagree whether the jury — which deadlocked twice — received proper instructions about reasonable doubt.

The instruction to jurors by U.S. District Judge Irene Berger was: “If the jury views the evidence in the case as reasonably permitting either of two conclusions — one of innocence, the other of guilt — the jury should, of course, adopt the conclusion of innocence.”

Blankenship’s lawyers argue that jurors received insufficient instructions that failed to differentiate between proof beyond a reasonable doubt and lesser standards such as a preponderance of the evidence.

“There were vigorous disputes about what the evidence in this case meant, especially in relation to Blankenship’s intentions and state of mind,” Taylor wrote. “Confusing even one juror about the standard of proof could have tipped the outcome.”

Federal prosecutors countered that this claim is poppycock and that the jury charge included 38 instructions on the necessity for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Given the entirety of the trial court’s jury charge, there can be no serious contention that the jury was unaware that it must find proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict,” prosecutors wrote.

“Defendant asks this Court to become the first to reverse a conviction based on the ‘conclusion of innocence’ instruction given here, but the record provides no reason for the Court to do so.”

How it will work

Each side in such hearings before the circuit court of appeals generally has 20 minutes of argument time, for a total of 40 minutes of argument time per case.

Appellants argue first and may reserve up to one-third of their time for rebuttal following appellees’ argument.

The Fourth Circuit court hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies.

The court has 15 active judges. The court uses a computer program to achieve random selection of three-judge panels and random assignment of cases to panels.

If a panel has had significant prior involvement with a case, the case will be returned to that panel if possible.The identity of the three-judge panel hearing the case is not disclosed until the morning of oral arguments.

The court sits during six weeks in Richmond each year at the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., United States Courthouse and at special sessions scheduled at law schools and other locations throughout the circuit.

Following argument of each case, the judges come down from the bench to shake hands with counsel and thank them for their advocacy before calling the next case.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


Trump and anxious Republicans across the nation seize on spiking health care costs in a final-days effort to spark election momentum.


The House speaker calls on the military to immediately suspend efforts to recover enlistment bonuses paid to thousands of soldiers in California who signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.


It’s the largest auto-scandal agreement in U.S. history. Owners can choose between selling their cars back or having them repaired so they don’t spew excess pollution.


Even as it provides support for Iraq’s battle to retake Mosul, the U.S. led-coalition lays the groundwork to push the militants out of the Syrian city of Raqqa.


The opposition-controlled congress opens a political trial against Nicolas Maduro, arguing that he effectively abandoned the presidency by neglecting his job.


The tech giant forecasts a return to growth in iPhone sales this winter, after a rare slump that hampered Apple’s revenue and stock performance over the last three quarters.


Anheuser-Busch says it has completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck, a journey of more than 120 miles through Colorado.


A man dies after jumping off a highway bridge in New Jersey with his two young sons in his arms. Yet the boys survive and are expected to recover fully.


The Cavaliers get their NBA championship rings the same night the Indians host Game 1 of the World Series.


Since the playoffs expanded in 1995, only four teams with the best regular-season record - which the Cubs had this year - have won the World Series.

The Real Living Wage? $17.28 An Hour – At Least

The Free Press WV

Fifteen dollars shouldn’t be too much to ask – or demand.

In almost every state, a worker needs more than $15 an hour to make ends meet. Add in student debt, and the minimum living wage shoots up to $18.67 an hour nationally. A family with children needs significantly more.

That’s according to new research from People’s Action Institute, which calculates the national living wage at $17.28. A living wage is the pay a person needs to cover basic needs like food, housing, utilities and clothing, along with some savings to handle emergencies.

In some states, the living wage is much higher. New Jersey, Maryland, and New York have a living wage greater than $20 per hour for a single adult. In Hawaii and Washington, D.C., that figure hits almost $22 per hour. No state has a living wage for a single adult lower than $14.50 an hour.

This is the first report in the annual Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series to factor in the $1.3 trillion in student debt owed by college students nationwide into the calculation of what a living wage should be nationally and in the states.

“Students should not be saddled with thousands of dollars in debt after graduation. However, those who do graduate with debt need jobs that pay enough to make ends meet,” the report says. “And, making ends meet should include not only basic necessities like food and housing, but the ability to put aside money for savings and to pay off existing debt.”

In addition to calling for increasing the federal minimum wage to a living wage and eliminating the tipped subminimum wage, usually paid to people like restaurant servers, the report also calls for expanding tax-free student debt forgiveness and reinvesting in higher education to eliminate the need for student loans to begin with.

“We Just Choose Bills Out Of a Hat”

In Iowa, where the living wage is $15.10 an hour for a single person – twice the state minimum of $7.25 – and higher for families with children, people are doubling and tripling up on jobs, rooming together, and even turning to predatory payday loans.

Tonja Galvan is one of those Iowans. She makes a bit more than $20 an hour at the John Deere plant in Ankeny, near Des Moines, where she lives with her mother, daughter, and granddaughter. Even with three generations of the family working – her mother and granddaughter are paid much lower wages – they can never catch up.

“When we can’t pay everything,” Galvan says, “we just choose bills out of a hat to see what we’ll pay and what we’ll push to the next month.”

Galvan sees many other families struggling – and she’s helping take charge in a campaign with the Iowa Citizen for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI). Galvan has joined other workers, teachers, service providers, and other Iowans to press for a higher wage floor, hitting the doors in her community and speaking with county supervisors.

They’ve scored wins in four counties around the state – Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Wappelo – with a phase-in of new wage floors ranging from $10.10 to $10.75. (Johnson County’s will also be pegged to the consumer price index.)

Iowa CCI organizer Matthew Covington calls the increases “a step in the right direction,” but he’s the first to say they’re just a step. His organization is now making sure cities in Polk County match that county minimum, take it higher, and close exemptions for the restaurant and grocery industries. Meanwhile, Iowa CCI also has their sights set on the state legislature.

In Colorado, a coalition of nonprofits, faith groups, and small businesses are taking a different approach for raising the wage floor. They’re turning to the ballot box.

An initiative supported by this coalition, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, would gradually increase the hourly minimum statewide to $12 by 2020.

Though the corporate opposition has poured money into the state, there’s plenty of business support for increase – and recent research from the University of Denver debunking claims of a negative impact on jobs.

In fact, Lizeth Chacón, executive director of Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA) and co-chair of the coalition, says the number of jobs grew after the state’s last minimum wage increase, in 2006. Those gains were seen in restaurants, small businesses, and rural areas. The number of small businesses in the state also increased.

“Small businesses helped put this proposal together,” says Chacón. “They said, ‘We’re already paying our staff more because we want them to be able to support their families and stay with us.’”

The People’s Action Institute living wage figures show just how needed these fierce campaigns are. As Iowa CCI’s Covington knows, the numbers aren’t academic. “The more we talk about actual costs,” he says, “the more it helps.”

~~  Julie Chinitz ~~

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   10 Healthy Habits You Don’t Really Need to Do

Life is short, time is precious, and these bromides mean we simply shouldn’t be wasting our efforts on what the Guardian calls “pointless” and “useless” habits we’ve apparently been brainwashed into adopting. Inspired by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ list of 40 medical treatments that people should dismiss—City AM has the full list of those—the Guardian calls out a rather tongue-in-cheek list of other routines we should reconsider. The top 10 “don’t bothers” for Americans:

  1. Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  2. Taking vitamin C supplements
  3. Flossing
  4. Washing your jeans
  5. Having a landline
  6. Drinking eight glasses of water a day
  7. Putting food in your fridge that doesn’t need to be refrigerated
  8. Washing your hair every day
  9. Peeling vegetables
  10. Owning more than 10 items of clothing

Check out the full list at the Guardian for dozens more.

►   The Pentagon Wants Years-Old Signing Bonuses Back, and Soldiers Aren’t Happy

The US military is trying to reclaim signing bonuses and student loan compensation it says it improperly awarded to 9,700 California soldiers during the mid- to late 2000s, at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The LA Times reports that soldiers who served their six-year contracts to completion are now being placed in debt collection for failing to return their bonuses, which in many cases were as high as $25,000. The soldiers, understandably, are less than thrilled that a government they put their lives on the line for is now trying to walk back on its promises. “I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill,“ says former Army sergeant first class Robert Richmond, one of the soldiers from whom the government is trying to reclaim money. “They’ll get their money, but I want those years back,“ says former Army master sergeant Susan Haley.

The issue, NPR reports, stems from a 2010 discovery that California’s National Guard office had misspent up to $100 million. Independent audits revealed the money had gone to signing bonuses for soldiers who shouldn’t have been eligible for such compensation. (It was meant to be limited to “soldiers in high-demand assignments ... [or] noncommissioned officers badly needed in units due to deploy,“ per the Times.) A years-long review of the program revealed almost 10,000 incidences of improperly awarded bonuses—bonuses the military say it’s legally required to recoup. No one, from soldiers to military leadership to lawmakers, is happy about the situation. The military says it would happily defer the debts if Congress would legalize it. As the story gains more media traction, the California House of Representatives on Sunday condemned the Pentagon’s effort to recoup the money, and pledged to do what it could to help the veterans.

►   Woman at Center of UVa Rape Controversy Stands by Story

The woman at the center of a now-retracted 2014 Rolling Stone article about campus rape is not retracting the account she gave to the reporter, the Washington Post reports. Jackie, as she’s called to protect her identity, says in her first public statements in nearly two years that she stands by the story she told to Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely about being sexually assaulted by a group of fraternity men. After the article was published, local police investigated the account and found that the rape Jackie described in the article did not take place. A Columbia School of Journalism investigation excoriated everyone involved with the article at Rolling Stone for irresponsible reporting.

The disastrous article has landed Erdely and Rolling Stone in court this week, facing allegations they defamed former UVa administrator Nicole Eramo. Buzzfeed News reports that the first week of the case has largely focused on inaccuracies in the article, which is where Jackie comes in. She sent a taped deposition to the court saying she felt pressured to participate in the Rolling Stone article but that she stands by the gist of her account as told to Erdely, though she did contradict herself at certain points, saying that before the article’s publication she had concerns that it was “not entirely accurate.“ She was also considerably cagier about the details, claiming she has PTSD and, though she believed her story to be true at the time, she can’t remember now whether certain details are true.

►   Serial Subject Adnan Syed Wants to Go Free Before New Trial

A defendant awaiting retrial for the slaying of his high school girlfriend and whose story was the center of a popular podcast is asking to be released from prison, the AP reports. Justin Brown, a lawyer representing Adnan Syed, wrote in a motion filed Monday that Syed should be released while awaiting retrial because he poses “no danger to the community.“ Brown also noted his client has already served 17 years in prison “based on an unconstitutional conviction for a crime he did not commit.“ Syed was convicted in 2000 of strangling 17-year-old Hae Min Lee. His story became the centerpiece for the first season of the Serial podcast. In June, a judge granted Syed a new trial because his attorney failed to cross-examine an expert witness about cell tower data linking Syed to the crime scene.

“Completely absent from Syed’s record are circumstances that typically cause courts concern regarding pretrial release,“ Brown wrote in his motion. Brown also wrote that Syed is not a flight risk because of his strong ties to the community, and because he enjoys so much support from the public after Serial, which attracted millions of listeners and inspired an army of armchair investigators to help hunt down evidence to bolster his defense. Christine Tobar, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, which is handling the case, said in an email that the office had not yet received a copy of the filing but planned to “review and determine how best to respond.“ Brown said in a statement that “there is no reason to think Adnan would run from the case he has spent half his life trying to disprove.“

►   It’s Cats vs. Monk Seals in Hawaii

The feral cat population has exploded in Hawaii, where they are not native and face no natural predators—and this could spell disaster for the endangered monk seal. That’s because cat poop often contains a parasite called Toxoplasmosa gondii, and when sewage and polluted runoff carry the infected feces to the ocean, it can prove lethal, reports Scientific American. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that eight Hawaiian monk seals have succumbed to the disease since 2001, which is a sizable number given that 1,100 are estimated to be alive today in the wild. The same bacteria have also killed California sea otters and helped send the Hawaiian crow into extinction, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

But while conservationists call for the “humane euthanization” of some feral cats, animal welfare advocates oppose a “hierarchy in which the protection of certain animals comes at the suffering of others,“ as the president of the Hawaiian Human Society puts it. Monk seals are considered the most endangered pinniped in the country, and their numbers are expected to dip below 1,000 soon, with starvation among the young the largest known problem. Meanwhile, Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife estimates that 300,000 feral cats live on Oahu and as many as 400,000 on Maui, which is roughly two cats per human resident. NOAA is working with California’s Marine Mammal Center on a monk seal hospital in Kona to try to care for the sick ones before they die.

►   Judge Approves Biggest Auto Industry Settlement Ever

A $14.7 billion settlement deal from Volkswagen revolving around its emissions scandal was hammered out in June, and Tuesday that deal was confirmed by a federal judge in San Francisco, making it the largest civil settlement involving the auto industry of all time, Reuters reports. Per the AP, 475,000 owners of VW or Audi models with 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engines will be able to start setting up buybacks of their vehicles next week (a VW spokeswoman tells Reuters the buybacks will begin in mid-November). Just over $10 billion has been allotted to pay for the buybacks (based on trade-in value) and for additional compensation that will range between $5,100 and $10,000 for each owner. Another $4.7 billion will go toward emissions-reducing projects and other clean-vehicle initiatives.

►   Cops in Maine Arrest a Talking Tree

If Florida has its own special sauce of crime, then Maine might, too. Police in Portland arrested a man dressed as a tree on Monday, reports WMTW. More specifically, cops say Asher Woodworth, 30, covered himself in evergreen branches, walked into an intersection, and proceeded to block traffic. Responding officers escorted him to the sidewalk, gave him a warning, then arrested him when he walked right back into the intersection.

“His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his ‘performance’ and how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography,’” a police official tells the Portland Press Herald. You can watch video here. Woodworth is charged with obstructing a public way, but he’s free after posting bail. If you’re wondering what the going rate is on bail for tree impersonators: 60 bucks.

►   Dad Jumps From Bridge With 2 Kids; Then, a ‘Miracle’

A father parked his vehicle on a New Jersey overpass, grabbed his two young sons in his arms, maneuvered around an 8-foot-high suicide prevention fence, then jumped, killing himself on Monday, police say. The boys, ages 1 and 3, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. An hour earlier, around 7pm, the unidentified man had argued with his wife and threatened to hurt their children in Pequannock before driving away with the two boys in a white SUV, reports CBS New York.

Police tracked the vehicle to the overpass on Interstate 287 in Wanaque Township using the man’s cellphone signal, but they found it empty, report ABC 7 and The man’s body was then found beneath the overpass in a wooded area near the Wanaque River. His children, found conscious, were taken to a hospital with concussions, per WPIX. The youngest also suffered a bruised lung. A police officer says it’s a “miracle” they survived at all, adding, “I was expecting the worst outcome when I arrived at the scene, and I was amazed last night and even this morning on the condition of the children.“ They reportedly fell between 20 and 100 feet, per the Washington Post; the distance wasn’t immediately clear in the dark.

►   Man writes letter to editor about yoga pants; women take to the streets

A male reader who sent a letter to a small Rhode Island newspaper criticizing women who wear yoga pants in public found that snug-fitting pants were the least of his problems as hundreds of people picketed his home and thousands rebuked him on social media.

Alan Sorrentino, 63, in a letter to the Barrington Times - a newspaper which says it has a print circulation of 5,000 - described yoga pants as “stinky, tacky, ridiculous looking.“

“They do nothing to compliment a woman over 20 years old,” he wrote in the letter, which was published on Wednesday. “In fact, the look is bad. Do yourself a favor, grow up and stop wearing them in public.“

On Monday, the letter was posted on news sites around the world and thousands of commenters made their feelings clear on Facebook and Twitter.

Sorrentino told a Providence radio station, WPRO, that he had received death threats, and he compared the threats to those he had received in the past as an openly gay man.

In the radio interview, he urged protesters to “calm down.“

Sorrentino did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

At Sunday’s “Yoga Pants Parade,“ hundreds of people marched past Sorrentino’s house holding up signs reading, “we wear what we want” and “love yourself.“

Jamie Burke, 40, who organized the protest, said it had a larger meaning than yoga pants.

“This was not about a bunch of ladies parading around for their right to wear yoga pants,“ Burke told Reuters. “It was men and women standing up against casual sexism and the policing of women’s bodies.“

Sorrentino had a different view of the protesters.

“They should really take a good look at themselves, and do a little introspection and just calm down and leave people alone. If you have got something to say write it down, and you don’t go terrorize people in their home,“ he told the radio station.

He said the letter was a satire, but Burke, who said she had invited Sorrentino come along to the parade, said she was not amused.

“The tone of the letter was just not funny,“ said Burke, whose husband, children, mother and father accompanied her at the parade. “I don’t believe it - if he was really kidding, he would have joined us.“

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Scattering Ashes a Big No-No, Says Vatican

Keeping the cremated ashes of a loved one in an urn on your mantel is officially against the rules for Catholics. New guidelines from the Vatican state that ashes must never be scattered or kept by family members, but held in a “sacred place” like a cemetery, reports the BBC. This “prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect,“ as well as “any unfitting or superstitious practices,“ the Catholic Church says.

It adds it cannot “condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person … or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration.“ If a person requests “cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied,“ the Vatican adds, noting a burial is preferred “to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.“

►   4 Die in Australia Theme Park Tragedy

Police in Queensland, Australia are investigating a horrific accident that left four people dead on a ride at a popular Gold Coast theme park. Two men and two women in their 30s and 40s died on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Dreamworld park on Tuesday, with two people thrown from the ride and two others trapped in a conveyor belt underneath after what police describe as a “malfunction,“ the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The ride—described by visitors as one of the tamest of the park’s 50 or so attractions—features six-person circular rafts moving along an artificial river, the BBC reports. The water was drained during a desperate attempt to rescue the two trapped people, reports the Guardian.

Police have yet to name the victims, who are believed to have been part of a family group. “We saw a bunch of people running out hysteric, we saw a little girl screaming for her mum, it was scary,“ a woman who was lining up for the ride at the time of the accident told reporters. “We believe she was on the ride, I don’t believe she was in the same raft, but we do understand from what she said it was her family involved and she was screaming for her mother.“ Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised there will be a full investigation of the “horrific, horrific scene.“ The theme park, which is Australia’s biggest, says it will be closed until further notice.

►   ‘American Psycho’ Jury Sees Chilling Video

A jury in Hong Kong watched chilling video Tuesday of a British banker describing how he tortured and killed an Indonesian woman he met in a bar, saying he repeatedly raped her and “tortured her badly.“ In the video he shot, Rurik Jutting, who is on trial in Hong Kong’s High Court for the American Psycho-style murder of two Indonesian women two years ago, can be seen shirtless in his apartment, the AP reports. “My name is Rurik Jutting. About five minutes ago I just killed, murdered, this woman here,“ he says into the camera. He also pointed the camera down briefly to show the body of Sumarti Ningsih, 23, lying face down in a bathroom.

It was part of an extended, rambling monologue that continued for hours over several video clips in which Jutting discussed his use of drugs and prostitutes, whether to commit suicide, and how he felt no guilt. The graphic video was shown on the second day of Jutting’s trial for murdering Sumarti and Seneng Mujiasih, 26. During his monologue, Jutting said, “I’ve always had dark fantasies” involving rape, torture, murder. He said he had earned more than $1 million from his job at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong over the previous two years but had spent most of it on drugs and prostitutes.

►   Attackers Kill Dozens at Police Training Center

Gunmen stormed a police training center late Monday in Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province and detonated explosive vests, killing at least 48 police trainees, authorities said. Baluchistan’s top health official, Noorul Haq, says at least 116 people were wounded—mostly police trainees and some paramilitary troops—and the death toll is expected to climb. Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, says the attackers appeared to be in contact with handlers in Afghanistan, the AP reports. He said the attackers belonged to the banned Lashker-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi group, an Islamic militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

The attack started when between four and six gunmen opened fire as they rushed the hostel at the police training center in a suburban area of the provincial capital of Quetta. “They were rushing toward our building firing shots so we rushed for safety toward the roof and jumped down in the back to save our lives,“ one of the police trainees told Geo television. Haq, the top health official, says many of the trainees were killed when the gunmen detonated explosive vests. General Afgan says the attackers may have had inside help, although he did not give details. “This is an open war and when you have enemy inside and outside, they can easily exploit the situation,“ he says.

►   Is Russia Revving Up for a Nuclear War?

Russia’s been conducting country-wide nuclear drills, the Wall Street Journal reports. The largest of the exercises, practicing civilian evacuation and sheltering procedures, involved 40 million people, and some bomb shelters are even getting upgrades. But does Russia actually expect to start a nuclear war with the US? Commentators are largely dismissive, saying the exercises are nothing more than posturing from Russian president Vladimir Putin. Posturing or not, it’s beginning to look a lot like a new Cold War, the Journal notes, with US and Russian forces engaged in a proxy war in Syria and Russian nuclear missiles moving into striking range of European capitals.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that Russian state television has been busy stirring up anti-American sentiment and warning the populace to prepare for all eventualities. One recent Russian news report stated: “If it should one day happen, every one of you should know where the nearest bomb shelter is. It’s best to find out now.“ The main trigger point at the moment appears to be the conflict in Syria, where Russia is providing significant military aid to the forces of embattled dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom the US fiercely opposes. So far, the US and Russia have avoided direct military engagement in Syria.

25 Pipelines Proposed for the East

Coal may be declining, but fracking is booming.

Over two dozen natural gas pipelines are planned for the region, many of which cross our favorite outdoor playgrounds. Other pipelines will use eminent domain to traverse private property. All of them will affect the future of energy, health, and recreation in the East.

Dominion Power stands behind their Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a necessary means to meet energy needs throughout the region. “Demand is expected to increase by 165% over the next two decades,” Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby says. “Our existing infrastructure is simply not capable of meeting these needs.” As communities grow and businesses expand, energy demands also increase within those developments, Ruby says.

Touting natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” Dominion and other energy companies are hoping to build a massive pipeline infrastructure that could extend fossil fuel dependence for another century or more. Currently 34 percent of our energy comes from natural gas.

19 pipelines are proposed for Appalachia. If built, we would blow past our climate change commitments made in Paris, according to Oil Change International.  And a recent report by Synapse Economics shows that gas pipelines aren’t needed to feed electrical demand. They conclude: “Given existing pipeline capacity [and] existing natural gas storage…the supply capacity of the Virginia‐Carolinas region’s existing natural gas infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet expected future peak demand.”

Each individual pipeline costs upwards of $50 million, with several reaching into the billion-dollar price range. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline comes with an estimated price tag of $3 billion, while the Atlantic Coast and Northeast Energy Direct lines ring up at over $5 billion. Such high costs will force the region and the nation to commit to fossil fuels for many more decades. More pipeline infrastructure also means more drilling and fracking in order to supply the lines with enough gas.

The Free Press WV

But the multibillion dollar investment in a natural gas infrastructure—including massive subsidies from the federal government—is taking away from investment in renewable energy. If the U.S. had given the same subsidies to solar and wind as it has to oil and gas, we could meet most of our energy needs today with renewables.

Solar and wind power now make up over 75 percent of new electric capacity additions in the United States—representing over $70 billion in new capital investment in 2016 alone.

So why aren’t we building a renewable energy infrastructure instead of a fossil-fueled pipeline network?

No one is claiming that renewables can provide all of our electricity overnight. Massive hurdles in energy storage still need to be cleared, and the better battery grail remains elusive. But a smart grid of renewable technologies seems like a better long-term investment than thousands of miles of fracked-gas pipelines.

Is Natural Gas Better Than Coal?

Ruby argues that natural gas provides a vast improvement over the coal. “Natural gas produces half the carbon emissions as coal,” Ruby claims. “Our project will help the region reduce carbon emissions and meet the regulations of the new Federal Clean Power Plan.”

Natural gas companies also claim that access to local shale gas supplies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will prove more cost-effective than transporting the gas from the Gulf Coast. Pending their completion, pipelines like the Atlantic Coast project could save the consumer base hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. “Cheap energy options lead an improved economic competitiveness of the region,” says Ruby.

But is the environmental and public health cost worth it? “The pipelines in and of themselves are devastating for the communities that they pass through,” says Maya van Rossum, spokesperson for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “They cut through wetlands, creeks, rivers, and inflict an immense amount of ecological harm that cannot be undone.”

And according to Ramon Alvarez of the Environmental Defense Fund, natural gas is only better than coal if leakage in the gas pipelines and extraction is less than 3.2 percent. Leakages regularly soar above this limit. Methane—the leaked gas—is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Fracking, a drilling method that involves injecting high-pressure toxic fluids into the ground, has been linked to increased earthquakes and groundwater contamination. It uses mercury, lead, methanol, uranium, and formaldehyde to blast through the ground, and many of these chemicals end up in communities’ drinking water.

Pipeline construction itself causes air pollution and acid rain that harms the surrounding soil and vegetation, invades natural wildlife habitats, and contaminates water supplies. Once completed, pipelines continue to cause disruption by maintaining rights-of-way that permanently splinter natural landscapes and block regular animal movement, while also emitting air pollution from compressor stations that jeopardize public and environmental health.

Many local landowners and environmentalists believe that this money would be better spent investing in a renewable energy infrastructure that would set us on a path toward cleaner energy and healthier, more sustainable communities.

Joanna Hanes-Lahr, a resident in Annapolis, Md., worries about pipeline safety amid increased rates of leakage and rupture. She is concerned about drinking water, gas explosions, and increased air and water pollution. She and others believe that a renewable energy infrastructure makes more sense ecologically and economically.

“We don’t need the fracked gas,” she says. “Clean energy is here today.”

What about jobs?

The pipeline industry promises to create new jobs, but they neglect to mention the expenses that accompany them. Pipeline construction often threatens the status of community projects, tourism, and scenic viewsheds which attract many more jobs and visitors. Wintergreen and Nelson County may encounter a loss of $80 million and 250 jobs as a result of two large projects—a new resort hotel and marketplace—that would be postponed or canceled due to pipeline construction.

Already, solar and wind industries employ more workers than oil and gas. The solar industry has hired more veterans than any other industry, retrained coal workers, and has created one out of 80 jobs in the U.S. since the Great Depression. And wind is not far behind. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is the fastest growing job category.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has also found that the clean energy sector provides more jobs and a better quality of employment than natural gas jobs. Natural gas employees “spend six months to build something and then [they’re] out,” says van Rossum. “For every million invested in clean, renewable energy versus fossil fuels, you get 3 to 5 times the number of direct jobs created. You also get a lot more long-term jobs.”

Where are the pipelines proposed?

Some of the outdoor community’s most treasured sites may be destroyed by pipeline implementation, including the beloved backbone of the Blue Ridge: the Appalachian Trail. The proposed PennEast, Atlantic Coast, and Mountain Valley pipelines cross the Appalachian Trail on several occasions, which will cause permanent disruptions to the trail and surrounding forest.

“The natural gas companies have not done a good job articulating a plan that will not have an impact on hikers [because] they are looking at boring under the trail, which is not compatible with the trail experience,” says Director of Conservation Laura Belleville.

Pipelines have also been proposed through Delaware State Forest in Pennsylvania and High Point State Park in New Jersey, the latter of which boasts the highest point in New Jersey. “Now, when you go to look from that high point, what you’ll see is just a swath of denuded forest with a pipeline cut through it,” says van Rossum.

In West Virginia and Virginia, Monongahela and George Washington National Forests and the Blue Ridge Parkway will be permanently marred by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will require regular clearcutting along its entire length.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline similarly endangers Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, while the Leach Xpress Pipeline moves within 2 short miles of The Wilds Preservation Area and Wayne National Forest in Ohio. Farther south, the Dalton Expansion Project will cross the Etowah River and has already poisoned the waterway after an oil spill during the preparatory construction process. The Sabal Trail Pipeline that winds through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida crosses above the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System, parts of which lie only 30 feet below the earth’s surface and are liable to collapse as a result of the pipeline’s intended path.

The Sierra Club has already opened cases against pipelines where “environmental effects have not been adequately addressed in public areas,” says Thomas Au, the Oil and Gas Chair of the Pennsylvania chapter. Right now, the Constitution Pipeline and Atlantic Sunrise Pipelines worry Au the most. These proposed pipelines pass through Ricketts Glen State Park and across the Lehigh, Susquehanna, and Conestoga Rivers.

Private landowners are also in jeopardy. Pipeline companies are frequently given permission by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use eminent domain to construct and maintain pipelines across private property. Even if property owners refuse to sell their land, the companies can seize the land anyway.

That’s what happened to the North Harford Maple Farm in New Milford, Pennsylvania, where the Holleran family runs their maple syrup business. But the Constitution Pipeline will run straight through the Holleran’s property and take down the maple trees that they and their loyal customers depend on.

Even worse: most people who will lose their land to pipelines will not receive any energy benefits in return. Eminent domain seizures mostly accommodate the interests of those on either end of the pipeline while taking resources from the communities in between.

Many of the proposed pipelines will take new paths rather than follow existing rights-of-way, like highways and electric lines. Choosing to use pre-established pipeline routes reduces waste by conserving the amount of land in use—a perk that appeals to environmentalists and landowners alike.

“When we saw what Dominion had crafted for its pipeline route, we were a little horrified,” says Jon Ansell, Chairman of the Friends of Wintergreen. “There are better choices using the principle of co-location.” The Nelson County, Va., organization hopes to protect Wintergreen Resort from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by examining alternative routes that use more existing rights-of-way.

Pipelines ultimately inflict lasting wounds but provide only a short-term energy fix. Together, these pipelines will cut across 3,500 miles of Appalachia and beyond.

~~  Duane Nichols ~~

Financial & Economy | G-Fin™ | GrantsBusinessNewsWorldwideUnited StatesWest VirginiaOutdoorsNature | Environment(6) Comments

Permalink - Link to This Article

~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

This statement:

“If the U.S. had given the same subsidies to solar and wind as it has to oil and gas, we could meet most of our energy needs today with renewables.“

is a flat out lie.  So too is much of the rest of the article. Subsidies for “clean energy” are orders of magnitude greater than subsidies for petroleum. 

The article is liberal/progressive left-wing ideological hackery, not a realistic representation of the issue. 

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne  on  10.25.2016

What “Pat McGroyne” fails to take into account is, his rebuttal to the statement only applies to RECENT subsidies. For the past month or year, it may be true(though I doubt it, without MUCH unequal manipulation of the parameters…)
but for the past CENTURY?


By Rodney Hytonen  on  10.25.2016

The first 15 years, the report says, are critical to developing new technologies. It finds that oil and gas subsidies, including tax breaks and government spending, were about five times as much as aid to renewables during their first 15 years of development; nuclear received 10 times as much support.

By Rodney Hytonen  on  10.25.2016

Drill Baby Drill!! Frack Baby Frack!!

By Trail Rider  on  10.26.2016

I’ve worked in the oilfield for 40 years. The government does not subsidize the industry. This guy is a flat out quack!

By Trail Rider  on  10.26.2016

Well, Rodney, if you want to include extended periods of history, let’s go back to the time of the Roman Empire.  I would respectfully suggest that water power was heavily subsidized, even moreso than fossil fuels.

Choosing a starting point that favors your argument is willful deception, not accurate or truthful information.

What do you think?

By Pat McGroyne  on  10.26.2016

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“Heroes and Zeros”: Because You Can’t Tell the Lawmakers Without a Scorecard

The Free Press WV

Just in time for the election: a free scorecard that runs down the voting record of every state senator and House delegate is available for voters in West Virginia.

The Heroes and Zeros 2015/2016 scorecard was created by the West Virginia Citizen Action Group and is freely available on their website, Gary Zuckett, executive director at CAG, said the guide looks at every important vote on a wide variety of progressive issues - from prevailing wage and water quality to voter ID and the so-called religious freedom restoration act - and assigns representatives a score based on their voting record.

“People can really get a feel for what their individual legislator did,” Zuckett said. “Vote by vote, bill by bill, issue by issue, they can find out how they were represented during the past two years.“

Groups across the spectrum endorse candidates: unions, industries and organizations focused on individual issues such as guns or abortion. But Heroes and Zeros is one of the most comprehensive scorecards available - and it’s certainly one of the most progressive.

Zuckett said that based on the information collected for the guide, the Legislature seems to be moving in a very conservative direction.

“I’m afraid they would have to get a failing grade,” he said of representatives’ support of progressive issues. “In the House, just under half are at 20 percent or less. They only got one out of five right. And the Senate is actually worse.“

Three lawmakers - all in the House of Delegates - scored 100 percent. Three - including Senate President and GOP Gubernatorial nominee Bill Cole - scored zero. Zuckett said the hope behind the scorecard is that it will help empower citizens - and maybe break through some of the barriers that keep people from feeling like they can be constructively involved.

“People have jobs and families and we understand they can’t go up to the Legislature on a daily basis when they’re grinding that sausage, to keep the scrutiny on them,” Zuckett said. “So that’s why we put this scorecard together.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Foodland in Grantsville with Empty Shelves

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Community grocers in rural areas struggling to keep shelves stocked

For shoppers at a Foodland in central West Virginia, getting every item on their grocery list is a sign of good luck. Each aisle has its share of bare shelves. Employees guide customers to possible alternative items. Produce and meat remain well-stocked, but everything else is slim pickings.

“I can’t find everything I need for the week here,” said local shopper Dana Shimer. “I have to go out of my way to the Wal-Mart. Here I can only get any essentials that I forget.”

The only grocery store in Grantsville, where the population hovers around 650, is the Foodland. Outside of convenience stores scattered throughout Calhoun County, with limited options outside of snack foods, the closest alternative is a Wal-Mart in Spencer. That’s a 40-minute drive from Grantsville.

“[Foodland] is the only grocery store within 25 miles,” said Grantsville Mayor Zach Hupp. “I would imagine a lot of people rely on it.”

The Free Press WV

Facemire Foods, the Gassaway-based company that owns and operates the Foodland, hasn’t been able to adequately supply the store for months, according to residents.

Corey Facemire, vice president of the company, said Thursday that the Grantsville Foodland is short in supplies because of the economic struggles in West Virginia adversely affecting sales. With the workforce in the state still adjusting to the loss in coal jobs and natural gas prices taking a hit, locals don’t have enough disposable income to buy as much food and keep the store afloat, he said.

“We’re in pretty rough shape in the state, and two of the biggest companies, Wal-Mart and Kroger, are opening up new places that we have to compete with,” he said. “We’re doing our best to get through this, and I think we’re just about over the hump.”

Facemire said the company would have a delivery come in Friday, the first in weeks. He expects that delivery to be the start of the Grantsville Foodland recovery and return to normal operations.

Facemire Foods’ struggles aren’t unique, however. SuperValu, Facemire Foods’ wholesaler and franchiser, is undergoing major changes of its own. The company announced the sale of its successful Save-A-Lot chain for $1.37 billion to a private-equity firm. Much of that will be used to reduce the company’s debt.

Facemire said SuperValu is evaluating the state of the current Foodland program, but he isn’t sure if the sale will impact his company immediately.

Three West Virginia Foodlands have already been converted to the Piggly Wiggly brand this year, leaving just 11 Foodland locations left, 10 of which are in West Virginia.

While SuperValu and Facemire Foods are taking a look at the current state of their business, massive retail competitors like Kroger are in good enough shape to take losses even when customers aren’t buying as much, according to Facemire.

The Free Press WV

“It’s tough competing with the Krogers and the big guys in the industry,” he said. “They are able to take some hits and still function.”

In Grantsville, Foodland and other businesses don’t have a large customer base to work with. The town’s population has been declining since the 1940s. Its income per capita is $16,616, well below West Virginia’s average of $23,237. Nearly 30 percent of people in Grantsville are below the poverty line.

Hupp said the limited number of nearby job opportunities means many residents go out of town for work.

“Any business that could come into the area the people would benefit from,” Hupp said. “I know with us being a small town it would be tough, but the people would definitely try to help out a new business.”

The lack of viable alternatives to Foodland in the area lead to an increased food insecurity rate for its residents. In Calhoun County, 16.7 percent of people do not have reliable access to healthy foods, according to a 2014 study by the hunger-relief organization Feeding America. Healthy foods are often found in groceries but are an uncommon sight in convenience stores. The rate was higher than the state’s average of 15.3 percent.

Grocery stores in rural areas across the United States have encountered difficulties in recent years. Populations continue to migrate toward the cities and retail chains keep adding more locations in driving distance, making it difficult for rural stores to stay afloat, according to a 2010 study done by Jon Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Not only does the local grocery store provide the sustenance of life, it fills the roles of economic driver, community builder, employer and meeting place,” the study reads. “Unfortunately, many rural communities across the nation are losing local grocery stores, and residents are forced to leave their communities to purchase food, often at great expense due to great distance.”

Another study done by the University of Minnesota this year said roughly two-thirds of rural grocers in the state plan to leave the business within a decade. A nearby grocery store is a benefit to rural and disadvantaged areas, but Facemire said the business only goes as its customers go.

“We’re going through what many other businesses are going through right now,” he said. “If people don’t have the money, they can’t buy the groceries.”

~~  Max Garland - GM ~~

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


Crucial Pennsylvania may be slipping away to Clinton. A loss there would leave Trump only a razor-thin pathway to winning the White House.


Dozens of police trainees are killed when gunmen attack the facility in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province.


The administration confirms that premiums will go up sharply next year for health insurance sold to millions of consumers through


Camps have been set up to accommodate 60,000 people, but some 200,000 could be displaced in the first weeks of the battle to drive the Islamic State group from the city.


Authorities hunt for a man suspected of going on a violent rampage in the Oklahoma City area while apparently taunting law enforcement via social media.


Pope Francis meets with President Nicolas Maduro as the Vatican takes a more active role trying to defuse the tense standoff in the South American nation.


Lexus, Toyota and Buick are the most reliable brands in Consumer Reports’ latest survey, a reward for their conservative approach to new technology.


In the U.S., cancer deaths tied to smoking are highest among men in Southern states where smoking is more common and rules against it are less strict.


A jury acquits a man of stalking TV star Kendall Jenner but convicts him of trespassing at her secluded Hollywood Hills home.


The Cleveland Indians’ last title was in 1948. The Chicago Cubs are trying to win for the first time since 1908.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Tomblin believes next governor will have to raise taxes

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says West Virginia’s next governor will have to raise taxes.

“My opinion is there is not enough money unless a governor wants to come in and cut complete departments or complete programs out,” Tomblin said during a recent appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

The state’s budget woes of recent years have been well-documented with the significant downturn in coal and the glut of natural gas creating record-low prices. Tomblin has responded with spending and hiring freezes along with $400 million in budget cuts in recent years. The next move, which will made by the next governor and legislature, will have to look for new revenue sources, according to Tomblin.

“It’s going to be hard to make it without some additional revenues (tax increases). There’s nothing that absolutely stops a legislature from down the road, two years or three years, from lowering those taxes,” Tomblin said.

Tomblin proposed a telecommunications tax in this year’s State of the State Address. The six percent tax would have brought in $60 million annually but it never got a serious look from legislative leaders. Tomblin’s also talked about an increase in the sales tax. The increase in the tobacco tax was the only tax increase to pass earlier this year.

The leading candidates for governor, Democrat Jim Justice and Republican, state Senate president, Bill Cole, have had to answer the budget question on the campaign trail. Justice has ruled out tax increases and further budget cuts, predicting during the last debate a coal comeback will help in the early days of his administration. Cole hasn’t ruled out any options for balancing the budget.

Tomblin, who has endorsed Justice, said last week it might be possible for the fortunes of natural gas and coal to turn but it won’t be an immediate revenue increase for the state.

“It’s going to be hard to make it up that quickly. I just think you can continue to cut but I think the amount of money that’s needed to satisfy the state’s obligations cannot be met by simply making cuts,” Tomblin said, adding the legislature found out earlier this year that further cuts will be difficult.

“People may talk around and say it’s easy but if you look back at this past legislative session, the extended session, it was much harder for the legislature to make those cuts than they originally intended,” Tomblin said.

►   Sustainable Travel Pilot Project Nearing Completion

A pilot project for a new program called Sustainable Travel West Virginia is nearing completion and has received good feedback so far. The free, voluntary program, which is a joint effort of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Tourism, allows tourism-related facilities that have made a commitment to environmental stewardship and community support to benchmark those practices against industry standards. Those facilities can then promote those practices to the public through their membership in Sustainable Travel West Virginia.

“We see Sustainable Travel West Virginia as a valuable tool not only in the protection and preservation of our environment, but also in helping members of the public make smart choices about the facilities they use and visit,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman.

“And the benefits don’t end there,” added Tourism Commissioner Amy Goodwin. “Sustainable Travel West Virginia will also help tourism-related organizations better evaluate and improve energy and cost savings efforts, promote those efforts and hopefully see an increase in business from consumers who appreciate those efforts.”

Members of this voluntary program would enter data such as energy and water use, amount of recycling conducted versus waste generated, use of energy efficient appliances and windows, and use of locally produced materials into a third-party database called enviroIndex™ to get a full rating report. Upon acceptance into the program, they’ll receive logos that can be used to market their “green” status, will have their business included in an online map application that will allow members of the public to search for sustainable travel and tourism destinations, and will receive promotional assistance from DEP and Tourism.

The feedback received during the pilot, which runs through the end of the month, will be used to gauge interest in the program and enhance it – with a goal to initiate a full-scale launch in 2017. Even though there are only a few days left in the pilot, tourism and travel industry businesses are still encouraged to register, use the ratings tool and provide feedback.

Companies interested in signing up for the pilot can email to request assistance. Information about the program can also be found on the DEP website HERE.

►   Work of Appalachia Artists Showcased at WVU

Two public events at West Virginia University this week will examine the work of artists from Appalachia.

Self-taught artist Minnie Adkins and writer-musician Mike Norris, both of eastern Kentucky, are visiting during the events. Work by Adkins is on display in an exhibition in the Art Museum of WVU, and Norris and Adkins have written several children’s books together.

On Tuesday, the documentary “O Appalachia: Art and Lives of Appalachian Self-Taught Artists” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. The film was produced by the museum in 2015 and aired on West Virginia Public Television in August.

The second even will be at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, with Adkins and Norris talking about how they create their children’s books. Adkins will also offer some woodcarving demonstrations.

►   1,500 students to attend ‘GEAR UP’ student leadership academy in Charleston

When: Wednesday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

What: A leadership academy to inform students of college options and empower them to take charge of their futures.

West Virginia GEAR UP will host a leadership academy featuring a presentation from Josh Shipp, a nationally renowned youth leadership coach. Additionally, college mascots from across West Virginia will present dance routines incorporating college information during a “Mascot Mania” dance-off contest.


10 AM: Opening remarks featuring Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System

10:20 AM: Mascot Mania competition featuring mascots from colleges across W.Va.

10:40 AM: Leadership presentation from nationally renowned speaker, Josh Shipp

11:45 AM: Student presentations

12:05 PM: Scholarship awards ceremony

12:20 PM: Closing remarks

Who: More than 1,500 ninth grade students participating in the West Virginia GEAR UP program.

West Virginia GEAR UP is a federally funded college readiness project coordinated by the Higher Education Policy Commission. The project serves students in ten counties: Boone, Fayette, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wirt, and Wyoming.

Where: The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Maier Foundation Performance Hall, Charleston, W.Va.

►   Barbour Commissioner hopeful voters will adopt ‘vital’ levy

Barbour County Commissioner Phil Hart said the county’s upcoming Emergency Preparedness Levy should be a ‘no brainer,’ but that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

“To me it’s a no brainer,” he said. “I’d be willing to pay 25 cents a day to know that I’ve got equipment with people highly trained to meet my needs if service is needed.”

In his time as a Commissioner, Hart has seen at least one fire levy overwhelmingly defeated. But he thinks voters could make a different choice this time around.

“The amount of increase on the taxes people will see is going to be pennies a day,” Hart said. “Pennies is going to equal preparedness.”

The levy will raise an estimated total of $547,702 for ten community centers, two EMS units, and three volunteer fire departments

“We want to ask them to come out and support that for the community,” Hart said. “Emergency services is saving the life of the life of their loved one or them in a time of a medical emergency or a fire or a natural disaster. Is it worth a few pennies a day? That’s the decision they’ll have to make when they go to the ballot box.”

The additional levy per $100 of assessed valuation shall be on Class I property 2.5 cents, Class II property five cents, and 10 cents on Class III or IV property.

The Barbour County Commission traditionally reserves money for the first responders, but have been trying to stay ahead of declining revenues.

“Our coal severance taxes went down–decreased tremendously over the last five years,” Hart said. “But at the same time, our regional jail bill for the county continues to increase. And that there is due to the drug activity in Barbour County.”

The ten community centers receiving money–approximately $15,000 each–are in Brushy Fork, Arden, Talbott, Union, Junior, Mt. Liberty, Tacy, Nestorville, Century, and Galloway.

Hart said that money will help maintain those centers and bring in back-up generators so that residents have a place to regroup during a serious weather event or natural disaster.

“In time of a natural emergency, people could go to their community center to get warm, have a warm meal,” Phil Hart said. “In the summer time, cool down. Charge your cell phone or medical equipment that would be needed.”

“Plus that would serve the county as a contact point for the communities to go out and allow the emergency squads and fire departments to have up to date equipment to provide a vital service to the citizens of Barbour County,” he said.

The levy provides a total of $130,000 for Belington Emergency Squad and Barbour County Emergency Squad and $267,702 for the volunteer fire departments in Junior, Belington, and Philippi.

Hart said for those units, equipment upgrades are the biggest needs.

According to Hart, none of the money goes to salaries for any full-time employees.

The levy would cover fiscal years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

►   Elkview Free Clinic Treats Hundreds of Patients

Hundreds of people were treated over the weekend at a free health clinic in Elkview.

Organizers of the clinic, which was held Saturday and Sunday at Elkview Middle School, say around 600 patients, some as far away as Virginia and Tennessee, were served.

West Virginia Health Right, a Charleston-based free and charitable clinic, and Remove Area Medical, a nonprofit group based in Rockford, Tennessee, partnered to provide free dental, vision and medical care to anyone who needed it, including flood victims.

Health Right CEO Angie Settle says overall there were about 300 volunteers during the clinic, including dentists, eye doctors and physicians. She says they could have used more volunteer dentists and eye doctors.

She’s planning for the clinic to be an annual event.

►   Four Counties Awarded Drug Incinerators

Four West Virginia counties will receive drug incinerators to destroy old and unwanted prescription drugs.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office announced that the devices will go to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the Huntington Police Department, the Star City Police Department and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.

Morrisey’s office says the incinerators will help law enforcement officers dispose of the drugs turned into their offices.

The four departments also agreed to accept and destroy pills from other law enforcement agencies in their region.

The incinerators are an extension of a program that has put drug drop boxes throughout the state.

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