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Customers of Appalachian Power set an unofficial record for peak demand as they turned up the heat during Friday's deep freeze. The utility's customers in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee pushed electricity demand to 8,697 megawatts. The previous high was 8,460 megawatts set on Jan. 30, 2014. Appalachian Power President Charles Patton said several communities served by the power company set record lows as cold gripped the region. Appalachian Power has approximately 1 million customers in the three states.
The new company peak remains unofficial until next month when additional metering information is available.
The Small Farm Conference opens tomorrow in Charleston at the Charleston Civic Center. It’s the first time ever the event has been held in the capital city and those involved can pick from among 180 sessions, ranging from aquaculture to woodland inventory for maple syrup production. And the “Winter Blues Farmers’ Market will be open for $2 Thursday from 4:30 - 8 p.m. A portion of that money goes to the food charity group Manna Meal. There will be more than 40 vendors at the market and one of those vendors is Hampshire High School, which will be selling meat from its small herd of prized Berkshire swine. The Small Farm Conference registrations will be taken at the door and you can pay a daily conference fee, or a full-conference fee. Cost is $60 per day and includes meals, all of which will be locally sourced.
For more information, contact WVDA Communications Officer Buddy Davidson at 304-541-5932, or visit http://smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu/events/conference.
Citing a steep decline in the number of bucks taken last year, West Virginia is considering limits on antlerless deer this year. The Charleston Gazette reports that Division of Natural Resources biologists are proposing more conservative bag limits this fall for female deer -- a move triggered by a 34 percent decline in last year's buck kill. Wildlife officials control the state's deer population by managing the harvest of females. This past season, more than 30 counties had a three-deer limit with a requirement that at least one antlerless deer be killed before a second buck could be taken. That could drop to nine counties this year. A combination of other limits is also being considered.
The Republican led State Senate on Tuesday brought back a bill to allow charter schools. The move on the Senate floor prompted Democrats, in protest, to request that bills be read out loud in their entirety. On Monday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler led a charge to postpone indefinitely the charter school bill. The motion passed with three Republicans absent in the committee. On Tuesday, Republicans moved to pull the bill out of the committee for floor consideration. The motion passed 18-16 along party lines. The bill could get a vote by Thursday.
Some state lawmakers are leading a charge to make it criminal to enforce the federal Affordable Care Act. Republicans in the state House of Delegates are backing a bill under which federal employees would face felony charges for enforcing the ACA, and state workers would be charged with a misdemeanor if they administer the regulations under the act, according to the Charleston Gazette. The legislation also declares the federal health-care law “invalid” in West Virginia. So far the bill has stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
The second-ranking Republican state senator is pushing to make medical marijuana legal in West Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael filed a bill Monday to allow marijuana use for patients with debilitating health conditions. He said he previously had opposed medical marijuana, now thinks it has legitimate value as a therapeutic medicine for things like cancer, HIV and AIDS, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Carmichael said he still opposes legalizing recreational marijuana. Twenty-three states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
As U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin considers a 2016 return bid for governor, Republicans have filed legislation to block him from handpicking his Senate successor for two years. If he reclaims his old job, Manchin will have served enough of his Senate term that he, as governor, could name the next senator to serve through 2018. With majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in more than eight decades, Republicans can stymie Manchin's ability to name a potential replacement. Berkley County Republican Sen. Craig Blair filed an election bill Monday requiring special elections, not appointments, in cases like Manchin's.
Winter has recked havoc in quite a few ways lately, and melting snow doesn't make things any easier. Thousands of dollars in damage has been reported at a locally owned business in Kanawha City, and WCHS TV says the buildng had a flat roof that couldn't handle the melting snow or rain. After leaks, the celing at Spa Bliss gave way. The spa had to cancel a packed appointment list Monday but hopes to repoen today. There are 27 employees hoping they will.
The weather has been causing problems with water supplies, as thousands in Kanawha County know first hand. Frigid cold followed by fluctuating temperatures have left several thousand West Virginia American Water customers without service. The company said Monday that efforts to restore service have been hampered by multiple main breaks and high demand. Storage tanks have been drained by weather-related main breaks. The outages are primarily in Kanawha and Boone counties. Another 500 customers went under a boil water advisory Monday after about 3000 were impacted over the weekend. WV American Water has brought in additional crews to restore service, and they ask all customers to only use water for essential purposes to help its system recover.
The board of West Virginia University is encouraging administrators to complete the $8.5 million purchase of Mountain State University's Beckley campus. Meeting in Morgantown, the governors unanimously approved backing the purchase on Friday, stating the administration should take "all necessary steps" to complete the sale. In a statement, WVU President E. Gordon Gee called the purchase a "unique opportunity" for the university to introduce academic programs to southern West Virginia. The Beckley private school's accreditation was revoked by the Higher Learning Commission in June 2012 because of leadership, organizational and integrity issues. A three-judge panel has given its approval to the sale.