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 By Camille Howard

 Saturday was another testament to the generosity of the people of the Mountain State, particularly here.

Before Elf Denver ever arrived to take his usual place above Petersburg Electronics, bags of toys and over $800 had already been donated. In just a few hours time the 650 toys quota was met and by noon the total had climbed to 850. Not only were we met with donations but smiling faces from all those who gave.

 A very big thanks to Petersburg Electronics’ Pete and Adam Peters, who volunteer their building/parking area and time every year for the event; WELD’s Chip Combs, who gave live reports and stories from inside the store throughout the morning; Grant County Little League’s Buddy Alt, Bob Smith, Becca Hott and Shannon Sites; and our own Erin Camp to photograph the event.

 We enjoyed good weather and have turned over the proceeds to Shari Taylor and the Jordan Run CEOS for the next step in the project - to sort and then fulfill wishes.

 None of us alone could have made Toys for Happiness the success it is. God bless each of you for giving.

 WVU Extension Agent Alex Coffman has been awarded the national award “Achievement in Service” from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals.

 Coffman won out of many eligible WVU Extension 4-H agents who have served more than three but less than seven years and have contributed significant service to the profession.

 Coffman has been the Grant County 4-H agent for five years. She is the director of local county camps as well as WV 4-H Dance Weekend.

 She works with youth healthy living, specifically mindfulness and outdoor education. She enjoys teaching Global Education, such as the Global Foods Cooking club.

 She was recognized this year at the 2021 NAE4-HYDP Conference in Memphis, Tenn.

 Since 2014 WV Living magazine has been honoring West Virginia Wonder Women, women who are raising the bar in their communities, serving as beacons of light in their industries, and forcing change for the greater good.

 The magazine is to celebrating these Appalachian mothers, millennials and mavens proving that in a time full of uncertainty, divisiveness and hate, love for one another is what is really needed. No need for bulletproof bracelets or a golden lasso of truth—these women are creating a better West Virginia with their can-do attitudes and Mountain State spirit.

 Grant County resident Carla Kaposy was in Charleston Nov. 30, to receive well-deserved recognition for her outstanding efforts of service to the community and the state.

“With each class of Wonder Women, I get more and more inspired. These women give me great hope for the future of our state,” says WV Living publisher and editor-in-chief Nikki Bowman Mills. “After reading about each of these strong and influential women, one thing is for sure—we get things done. These women are movers and shakers, decision-makers, givers, and doers and they are moving our state forward. We hope this issue of WV Living inspires more women to step into leadership roles, reach back and bring others along.”

 Kaposy’s West Virginia roots run deep, a native of Randolph County, she has lived in Petersburg for two decades. She is the executive director of the Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a founding member of Project Equip, serves on the Grant County Board of Education and she and her husband own Heritage Hearing, a multi-county hearing health care practice.

“After college, I moved to Pittsburgh, but I always knew I wanted to come back to West Virginia. I’ve been back for about 20 years. My husband and I just decided to take a chance on some things, and we purchased our own business and have been business owners since then—we just have that sort of drive and like taking risks. I love seeing people excited about coming to West Virginia because I love the place that we live and all the people of West Virginia. We have so much natural beauty here, and it’s just exciting to show that off to people.”

 Reviving one of its seasonal traditions, West Virginia Theater East will be staging a production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, Dec. 10, 11 and 12, at Petersburg’s Landes Arts Center.

 WVTE previously presented “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in 1991 and 2010. One of this year’s actors, Ryker Harvey, is the offspring of a participant in the 1991 show, Medea (Thompson) Harvey.

 Show times are 7 p.m. On Dec. 10 and 11, plus 2 p.m. on Dec. 12. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance at EventBrite.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” follows the shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a heartwarming tale involving a broken leg, burned up applesauce cake, gossiping ladies and six rowdy kids.

 Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claudia, Ollie and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. Among other things, they set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, smoke cigars in the ladies room and steal classmates’ school snacks. Lured by the promise of free treats, the Herdmans show up at church and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, complicating things for stand-in pageant organizer, Grace Bradley (Kristina Fox Goldizen). It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But yuletime magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in. The Herdman children are played by Tabitha Goldizen (Imogene), Caroline Anderson (Gladys), Jacy Riggleman (Ralph), Summer Twigg (Ollie), Jameson Rafferty (Leroy) and Leanna Thorne (Claudia).

 Other members of the Bradley family are Jason Redman (father), Jakob Rohrbaugh (Charlie) and Gabby Goldizen (Beth/narrator). Beth Bradley’s stuck-up friend, Alice, is played by Madelyn Cook.

 The Grant County Sheriff’s Department assisted in a series of investigations that involved a man traveling from Georgia to Hardy County to distribute drugs to multiple other drug sellers in the area. The final guilty plea in the multi-defendant case was entered in late October with sentencing currently underway.

 Kaleb Joseph Beals, of Silver Creek, Ga., admitted to helping distribute methamphetamine, also known as “crystal meth” or “ice,” in the area from 2018 to 2019.

 According to a report from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Beals trafficked crystal methamphetamine from Georgia into Hardy County via Interstate-81 and then across Corridor H into Hardy County. Beals then met with four West Virginia residents to help traffick the drug in Hardy and the surrounding counties.

 Accused along with Beals were Jennifer Ann Howell, 41, Richard Allen Howell, 42, and Kenneth Allan Evans of Moorefield and Kelly Marie Talbert, 36, of Keyser.

 Since then, all four have pleaded guilty to their involvement.

 J. Howell and Talbert pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine (aiding and abetting) while R. Howell and Evans pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

 According to newly audited financial from Grant Memorial Hospital (GMH), the facility is continuing to weather the storm that is Covid-19 as well as showing overall growth.

 Last week, the GMH board of trustees reviewed and approved their audited financial statements for 2021. The meeting marked one of the first reports made to the board by new chief financial officer (CFO) Nick Mezza. The meeting was preceeded by a meeting of the GMH finance committee.

 During his presentation, Mezza reported a positive growth at the hospital over the past year and has shown significant growth in the past two years.

“If you go from a two-year period, our assets have increased 70% and our retained earnings have increased 2%. That is really outstanding from a corrospondingly operating revenue perspective and from an income perspective, as the auditors indicated, that is a 14% growth.”

 Mezza said that, when compared to other hospitals, GMH’s financial performance is very positive, with most hospitals averaging a 2-3% growth.

 He also clarified that these growth numbers are not due to Covid or the funds from Covid. Mezza explained that this growth was purely patient revenue numbers, which have also increased.

“This is a positive,” Mezza said. “This is a testament to management and the progress that has been made, especially in the middle of a pandemic. That’s not to say we still don’t have a long way to go, but it is tremendous.”

 Mezza then presented the board the internal financial for the period ending 2021. Overall, he told the board that the hospital showed a net gain of approximately $244,000. He also reported that the overall net revenue of the hospital was slightly down between September and October; however, he said the hospital had very cautiously controlled spending which resulted in a net gain. Compared to last year, inpatient days have increased 32%, emergency room visits have increased 30% and surgeries have increased 23%. He also clarified that this increase was a progression from 2020.

 By Josiah Cork

West Virginia News

 CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — After the first day of the much-awaited firearm buck season, the deer harvest seems to be running about the same as last year.

“We had a little over 11,000 bucks checked in, and that’s running pretty consistent or pretty close to what we saw last year,” Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources section, said Tuesday.

 He noted that the first day’s total is not complete and will continue to increase.

“Hunters have 72 hours to check their deer from the time of kill. So we still have numbers coming in from the first day’s kill,” Johansen said.

 Last year’s first-day total was about 12,265 deer after the count was completed.

“We’re running pretty close to last year, because I expect that number to go up as more hunters check their deer in,” Johansen said, referring to the 11,000 or so bucks checked in as of Tuesday.

“We had estimated that the kill was going to come in pretty close to last year. Of course, this is all preliminary. Things could change with weather and everything,” he said.

 Despite subfreezing temperatures in the mornings, the weather so far has been mostly favorable for deer hunting, according to Johansen.

“Monday was a pretty decent day. We had reports of some pretty high winds in some areas of the state. That’s less than ideal. But other parts of the state reported really good weather. And cool temperatures, that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing,” Johansen said.

 The cold weather is good for hunting in part because of hunter behavior rather than deer behavior.

 Clearway Energy Group (“Clearway”) is pleased to announce the hiring of five recent graduates of the Wind Energy Technology program at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College (“Eastern”) in Moorefield, WV.

 The five new wind techs will support the operations and maintenance of Clearway’s new 115-megawatt Black Rock Wind Farm near Elk Garden, WV, and its 54-megawatt Pinnacle Wind Farm near Keyser, WV, re-powered just this year with new turbine technology. Along with Clearway’s 240-megawatt Mount Storm Wind Farm, Clearway is now the largest owner-operator of wind farms in the Mountain State, having invested nearly $460 million this year alone.

 The five new Clearway wind techs are: Andrew Cosner, 20, of Petersburg, Ian Guckavan, 22, of Moorefield, Austin Locklear, 22, of Petersburg, Logan Reel, 24, of Keyser and Tyler Simmons, 21, of Keyser.

 One of the new wind techs, Logan Reel, was hired through Clearway’s West Virginia Wind Energy Apprenticeship Program, which helps workers displaced from the coal industry (as well as their family members) find new employment opportunities in renewable energy. “I grew up looking at the turbines on the mountains in the area and found them inspirational,” said Reel, who grew up in Moorefield. “Wind turbines are a step in the right direction towards a better future. Working in the renewable energy field has given me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

 By Alan Fram

Associated Press

 It took half a year but Democrats have driven President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion package of social and climate initiatives through the House. It gets no easier in the Senate, where painful Republican amendments, restrictive rules and Joe Manchin lurk.

 Facing unbroken GOP opposition, Democrats finally reached agreement among themselves and eased the compromise through the House on Nov. 19. One Democrat voted no in a chamber they control by just three votes.

 They’re negotiating further changes for a final version they hope will win approval by Christmas in the 50-50 Senate, where they’ll need every Democratic vote. House passage of the altered bill would still be needed.

 

 The gauntlet they face:

BRIGHT SIDE FOR DEMOCRATS

 Yes, just weeks ago the bill’s price tag was $3.5 trillion over 10 years. It passed the House at around $2 trillion and will likely fall further in the Senate.

 And yes, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have already forced their party to constrain the measure’s size and ambition. Manchin, at least, wants to cut still further.

 But while they’ve enraged progressives wanting a more robust measure, neither moderate senator has signaled a desire to blow up the party’s top legislative priority. Both have held months of talks with party leaders, suggesting each wants an agreement, though one reflecting their views.

 Things can still implode in the Senate, where debate will begin no earlier than the week of Dec. 6. But Democrats retain a strong chance of enacting their plans for spending increases and tax cuts making child care, health coverage, education and housing more affordable and slowing global warming, largely financed with higher levies on the rich and big companies.

(AP) West Virginia’s Supreme Court last Monday gave a temporary setback to labor groups who challenged a new law prohibiting union dues or fees from being withheld from state employee paychecks.

 The five-member court said a Kanawha County circuit judge abused her discretion in June by issuing a temporary injunction that was sought by the labor groups, who said the law is discriminatory and was passed out of spite.

The law bans the deductions unless a worker provides written consent.

 The justices dissolved the injunction and remanded the case back to the circuit court for further proceedings. A lawsuit filed by a dozen groups claimed the law violates equal protection and contracts clauses of the state Constitution as well as free speech protections because it discriminates against certain employees’ viewpoints.

 Unions representing teachers, firefighters, police, coal miners and corrections officers were among those joining the lawsuit. Gov. Jim Justice, who signed the measure into law, vetoed a similar bill in 2017.

 FirstEnergy Corp. has applied to build five solar energy projects throughout its West Virginia service territory.

The Akron, Ohio based utility company estimates that the projects, if approved by West Virginia regulators, would generate 50 megawatts of power, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

 The plans comply with a 2020 bill passed by the state legislature that permits electric utilities to own and operate up to 200 megawatts of renewable generation facilities. They would not displace the company’s current coal-fired generation capacity, the newspaper reported.

 The application was submitted through FirstEnergy’s two subsidiaries, Mon Power and Potomac Edison.

Construction could begin as early as 2022, with all projects expected to be completed by 2025.

 The sites include a 26-acre reclaimed ash disposal site in Berkeley County, a 51-acre site adjacent to a Mon Power substation in Hancock County, a 95-acre site in Monongalia County and a 44-acre reclaimed strip mine property in Tucker County. A fifth location is under review.

 By Steven Allen Adams

Special to The Journal Martinsburg

 State Treasurer Riley Moore is leading West Virginia and a coalition of states to put banks on notice for playing politics with taxpayer dollars.

 In a press release and video released last Monday, Moore and financial officers in 15 other states wrote an open letter to the U.S. banking industry warning them against pulling investments from fossil fuel industries or making decisions about investments based on political considerations. Moore called this “woke capitalism.”

“I’m announcing a multistate coalition of state treasurers and state financial officers to push back against the woke capitalism that is happening in this country right now,” Moore said in a video statement. “Currently, we have banks that are denying capital to the fossil fuel industry around the country. Coal, gas and oil are critical industries in our country. As a coalition, we’ve come together to say we’re not going to take it anymore.”

 According to the letter, Moore and the coalition said they would take collective action against banks who boycott investing in coal, oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels. While each state has different laws governing what they can do, Moore said it was possible that states could close accounts at banks who choose to deny fossil fuel companies access to loans and other forms of banking services.

“We have a compelling government interest, when acting as participants in the financial services market on behalf of our respective states, to select financial institutions that are not engaged in tactics to harm the very people whose money they are handling,” the letter stated.

“Further, we have the responsibility, as fiduciaries and stewards of more than $600 billion, to ensure that our financial service providers are free from harmful conflicts of interest that could jeopardize state funds,” the letter continued. “Any financial institution that has adopted policies aimed at diminishing a large portion of our states’ revenue has a major conflict of interest against holding, maintaining or managing those funds.”

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