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Southwestern Energy will spend about $5.38 billion to acquire drilling assets in West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania now owned by Chesapeake Energy. The acquisition includes 256 operated and producing horizontal wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, and an additional 179 non-operated or non-producing wells in the same areas. Southwestern will also assume part of the transportation and processing capacity commitments from Chesapeake Energy once the deal is finalized.
The West Virginia Racing Commission says it needs the authority to set the number of live racing days at the state's tracks. The Charleston Gazette reports that the commission approved a resolution this week to seek legislation giving it the authority. The resolution aims to reviatlize the state's thoroughbred and greyhound racing industry. Tracks are struggling to meet the number of living racing days mandated by state law. Commissioners approved requests on Wednesday to cancel seven horse racing days at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town in November and December and December's horse races at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester. The tracks sought the cuts because of a lack of purse funds.
West Virginia service members and first responders will be honored later this year by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin. They are asking state residents to submit photos of service members and first responders for recognition trees that will be displayed in the governor's reception room during the holiday season. Submit your photos by Nov. 14. They should be mailed to the West Virginia Governor's Mansion, attention Tina Amburgey. The address is 1716 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, W.Va. 25305. Photos will not be returned, so photo copies should be submitted.
Senate President Jeff Kessler's office is looking into the state Public Service Commission's decision to approve higher natural gas prices. Kessler tells The Parkersburg News and Sentinel that he'll review rate increases for Mountaineer Gas and Peoples Gas customers. The Public Service Commission announced the rate hikes in a news release last week. They take effect Nov. 1. The commission says Hope Gas customers will see a rate decrease, however. Mountaineer Gas says it will make no profit off the increased purchase price. Since there is ample supply of natural gas, Kessler questioned how the increases make sense under the basic law of supply and demand. Officials say gas rates have dropped for eight straight years.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has named a new director of policy for the governor’s office. It's Lawrence J. Malone, and the Governor says his first day will be Oct. 27. Malone has operated his own communications and marking consulting firm, Malone Consulting Services. Other positions he's held include communications director for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, along with work in healthcare and technology.
Republican Shelley Moore Capito won't attend a West Virginia Public Broadcasting debate Friday. Democrat Natalie Tennant, Libertarian John Buckley, Bob Henry Baber of the Mountain Party and Phil Hudok of the Constitution Party will participate. Capito's campaign said the congresswoman will be on her previously scheduled bus tour. Capito and Tennant, West Virginia's secretary of state, debated last Tuesday in Charleston. Third-party candidates weren't involved. Since Capito won't be at the Friday event, it's unlikely Capito and Tennant will debate again before the November 4th election. They are seeking retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat.
Two health-related Incidents at Yeager Airport late Wednesday led to HazMat crews being called out to decontaminate. Several workers have been exposed to some type of unknown substance in the first incident, and in the other several people had been taken off of a plane for an unrelated health concern. An unclaimed bag had an unknown substance in it, and two workers were taken to CAMC General.
More than a dozen people have applied to become the next executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission. Commissioner Betty Ireland is chairwoman of the commission's personnel committee. She tells The Charleston Gazette that the committee is interviewing 15 applicants from a wide range of legal backgrounds. State law requires the executive director to be a lawyer and a member of the West Virginia bar for at least five years. The commission fired former executive director Joan Parker on June 5. Charleston attorney Rebecca Stepto has been serving as interim executive director.
Streams and lakes across West Virginia will be stocked with about 42,000 pounds of trout during the next two weeks. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources began its fall trout stockings on Tuesday. Trout stockings will continue next week. Nine lakes and 25 streams will be stocked. Wildlife resources chief Curtis Taylor says in a news release that information about trout stockings will be posted first on the DNR's Facebook page at 2:30 p.m. each day. The information will be posted on the DNR's website, www.wvdnr.gov , and on the Fishing Hotline, 304-558-3399, an hour later.
An Oct. 27 swearing-in ceremony is set for Mingo County's new family court judge. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Sabrina L. Deskins to the position last month, and the swearing-in ceremony will be held at noon on Oct. 27 in the main courtroom of the Mingo County Courthouse in Williamson. Deskins will complete the remainder of Miki Thompson's term. Gov. Tomblin appointed Thompson in July to replace former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury. Thornsbury resigned and pleaded guilty in October 2013 to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a corruption probe.