Breaking Local News
More people are signing up for health insurance in West Virginia through the new marketplace. Enrollment in the state has jumped to nearly 8,000 people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says as of Feb. 1, 44 percent of those enrolled through the federal exchange in West Virginia were ages 55 to 64, 22 percent were ages 45 to 54 and 13 percent were ages 35 to 44. Nearly six in 10 of the state enrollees are female. Open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace and the state's expanded Medicaid program began Oct. 1 and will continue through March 31.
The University of Charleston plans to establish an associate degree nursing program at its Beckley campus in response to area demand for more nurses. The program would fill a void left by the closure of Mountain State University. The University of Charleston took over Mountain State's campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg on Jan. 1, 2013, after Mountain State lost its accreditation. The nursing program would require board approval.
Because of yesterday's weather, the trash pickup schedule in Charleston had to be adjusted. Thursday trash pickup routes will run today, and Friday routes will run on Saturday.
In-home water testing is underway in two Kanawha County homes, and eight other homes across the are impacted by the January 9th Freedom Industries chemical spill. The testing looks at drinking water quality including the odor, then in the next phase health-risks will be assessed with medical professionals. Results of the tests aren't available yet, but the testing has begun in Kanawha and Cabell Counties.
Kanawha County Schools and members of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department looked into issues with bottled water Wednesday at three schools after there were complaints of a musty odor. The affected schools were Sharon Dawes Elementary, John Adams Middle School and Andrew Jackson Middle School. The musty smell may be confined to one particular brand of water, and tests have concluded the smell may be related to where the water was store prior to being shipped to the schools.
It may be a week before all the evidence of Tuesday's coal slurry spill is gone, although crews have been making progress with the cleanup. The slurry spilled in Fields Creek and DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman said the spill did impact the Kanawha River. While the cleanup is happening, state mine inspectors have shut down Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant near Winifrede. Huffman says the slurry contains heavy metals and other toxins, but not Crude MCHM, which is what spilled at the Freedom Industries Plant January 9th.
Alpha Natural Resources says federal prosecutors have closed a $210 million settlement stemming from a West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers in 2010. Under the settlement, Bristol, Va.-based Alpha would face no criminal charges in the Upper Big Branch explosion as long as it abided by the agreement's terms. The agreement required Alpha to compensate the miners' families, bankroll cutting-edge safety improvements and pay for years of violations by the mine's former owner, Massey Energy. Alpha executive vice president and general counsel Vaughn Groves says in a news release that the company has met or exceeded its obligations.
A legislative committee unanimously passed an amended bill Wednesday that proposes new regulations for above-ground storage tanks following last month's chemical spill. The latest version of the bill passed by the House health committee would require annual inspections for tanks like the one at Freedom Industries that leaked chemicals January 9th. The proposal also requires public water systems to have plans in place to protect their water from spills, and react quickly when they occur. The bill has two more House committee stops. The Senate already passed its own version.
The state Division of Highways has reopened a section of road that had been closed for weeks because of a rock fall The section of West Virginia Route 3 in the Raleigh County area of Sundial has been closed since late December because of fallen rocks, according to a news release from the DOH. It's slow going though, and speeds are reduced to 15 mph until the road can be repaved this spring. But the hillside has been stabilized, and the repairs have been made to ensure it's safe for motorists.
Funeral services are happening today for a Clendenin Firefighter who passed away last weekend in a car accident. Volunteer firefighter Lt. Nathan Smith's funeral will be held at 2 p.m. today at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Elkview. Smith was a 13-year veteran of the Clendenin Fire Department.