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The miner killed Wednesday night in Boone County had 40 years of experience, and died at the age of 63. State mine safety officials say Asa Fitzpatrick died after rock from the mine roof fell on him as he prepared to install a roof bolt at a Patriot Coal subsidiary. This was the fifth mining-related fatality in West Virginia this year. It's the first since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin urged a statewide stand down for safety talks in February.
A new report by the National Research Council says miners need better resources and safety training. The report outlines seven recommendations for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the National Occupational Safety and Health Administration. One of those recommendations is to accelerate efforts to develop other technologies that could help miners save themselves by escaping. Things like better communication systems, real-time gas monitors and fail-safe tracking devices. Rather than propose new regulations, the report emphasizes self-escape training and tools for underground miners.
An honor flight is planned for this spring, taking area Veterans from World War II, or the Korea or Vietnam wars to Washington DC to see their memorials. The flight will have room for 149 veterans, their doctors and guardian assistants. Since their inception in 2005, the honor flights have taken 100,000 veterans to Washington DC, paid for by donations. The West Virginia flight will take off from Tri-Sate Airport in Huntington May 11th.
Governor Tomblin's education bill is on its way to the the full Senate after passing the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. The proposed overhaul of public schools in the state was unanimously approved by the Senate Finance Committee without any changes. The Senate Education Committee also gave their approval earlier this week. The governor is seeking to change the way teachers are hired and transferred. His bill would also give counties more flexibility for setting the yearly school calendar. The bill would reduce education costs by $630,000 next year, and $2.1 million the year after that. Groups representing teachers and school workers are largely opposed.
There's been another mining death in West Virginia. This one happened in Boone County late Wednesday. The WV Office of Miner's Health, Safety, and Training says a roof collapsed, and the man died from injuries after he was brought to the surface. The man worked for a Boone County operated by Patriot Coal. The MSHA website, this is the first fatality at a mine in West Virginia since the safety stand down, and the fifth West Virginia mine-related death so far this year.
Drivers in West Virginia soon may be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. A bill before West Virginia lawmakers now would make it a primary offense if you're not buckled up, meaning an officer could see the lack of a seat belt and pull you over. Right now, the officer would have to pull you over for something else first, and then cite you for not wearing a seat belt. This week the new seat belt bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 13-11 vote. West Virginia is one of 16 states where seat belt violations are not a primary offense.
More noticeable progress is coming on the East End Park. The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority announced this week that contracts between the city and the contractor have been finalized, and with all the paperwork behind the, crews can start putting shovels to the ground...likely by the week after next. It's a park project that will go up on Nancy and Dixie streets on the East End, and the Daily Mail says the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority has earmarked $260,000 for the project. Federal block grant funds administered by the city will help pay for the rest.
Education reform is a big topic in the current legislative session, and lawmakers voted on the governor's bill this week. Governor Tomblin's bill cleared the Senate Education Committee, despite rallies from teachers' unions against it. The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee, and if it clears that, it would go to the full Senate. After that, the House would get a chance to comb over the bill and propose any changes.
There will be more traffic and visitors in Charleston today for the West Virginia state high school boys basketball tournament. Games kicked off Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center, and there are more quarterfinal matchups today. The semifinals are on Friday and the finals are on Saturday.
The West Virginia Supreme Court is taking a deeper look at Kanawha County Circuit Court after an inmate was mistakenly released from jail. Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster said Sunday that she did not intend to issue an order that ultimately let Jeremy Carter out of the South Central Regional Jail. In a written statement, Webster said her order dismissed a separate motion for a psychiatric evaluation and she did not direct the charge against Carter to be dropped, nor for him to be released from jail. The Supreme Court issued an administrative order Tuesday for an official inquiry into Webster's docket.