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What's better than a raise? Perhaps a raise when you don't expect it. The raise for City of Charleston workers goes into effect next week after city council members approved it earlier this week. It's the first pay raise for city employees since the middle of 2009. That means all full-time staff, including police and fire fighters, will get a boose. Elected officials are excluded. The pay raises are possible because of leftover funds from the last fiscal year.
A Kanawha County woman is suing Go-Mart after she slipped on oil and hurt her knee on their property. It happened January 28 at a Go-Mart in Dunbar, and Cindy Sheppard claims in the suit that the defendant was responsible for properly maintaining the premises of the store, and it was negligence that presented the dangerous situation. Sheppard is seeking compensatory damages.
A man accused of having child pornography will stay in jail. 50-year old Clay Counts was denied a bond reduction this week in Kanawha Magistrate Court. Counts was arrested in September after a child pornograpy investigation, and charged with sexual abuse and possession of child pornography. A grand jury now has the case.
The search has widened for the two men responsible for robbing a gun store. The two men were caught on camera stealing an assault rifle now, and detectives ask that anyone with information on the two call either Hurricane or Charleston police. Officers are looking for Jesse and David Burgess. They are persons of interest in the theft of an assault rifle from Dunlap's Gun & Pawn in Hurricane on Sept. 21. Police say they are both from Charleston.
The West Virginia Dept. of Education says across Kanawha County, more than 25 percent of students missed five or more days of school without an excuse last year. Eight in ten missed 10 or more days. There are catch up classes known as intercessions available, and the Gazette reports the principals of Kanawha County's two year-round schools want local judges to force students who serially skip class to take the catch-up classes. The district continues to look for ways to fight the truancy issue.
West Virgina hopes more denists will decide to stay here and practice dentistry here upon graduation. Analysis by the state says of the 189 graduates between 2007 and 2010, 75 chose to stay in state and practice dentistry. Others who got degrees from West Virginia University's School of Dentistry moved on. In 2011, only six graduates stayed in West Virginia, according to school records. A new program has been announced by WVU officials that offers loan reimbursement to five students who commit to practicing in West Virginia. The Dental Workforce Loan Reimbursement program is federally funded and provides up to $50,000 over the course of two years to students who practice in one of the state's shortage areas.
The Wet The Dries Coalition wants a study to be done on the economic impact of increased water releases from Hawks Nest Dam. The alliance is made up of West Virginia Professional River Outfitters, the New River Clean Water Alliance, Plateau Action Network and the Hydropower Reform Coalition, and says increasing dam releases would create more than 5 miles of new whitewater in Fayette County. The dam's license is coming up for review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board means jobs and back pay for more than 80 former workers at Horizon Natural Resources in Kanawha County. In the ruling, the board found that Massey Energy and its subsidiary, Mammoth Coal Company, broke the law by refusing to hire workers who had been part of the United Mine Workers of America, when Horizon went bankrupt and Massey bought it in 2004. In a statement, the UMWA president called it a victory for the workers . The companies also have to recognize the UMWA and bargain with the union, if requested, under the ruling. Alpha Natural Resources now owns the site since Alpha bought Massey last year.
Coal production is down and that may drag down revenue growth this budget year. Tax collection numbers for September were released Monday and they show most categories at or just below estimates, and coal is the exception. State Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow says $21.2 million in severance tax revenue was collected last month and coal makes up part of that. He says that total is about $11 million below estimates for the month and 50 percent less than last year at this time. The downward trend in coal is having a dramatic impact on the entire revenue picture this budget year.
Kanawha County schools are applying for $25 million in federal Race to the Top education funds. The money would be aimed at cutting down on the high school dropout rate and instillinga a career-minded mentality early on by exposing students to things like auto mechanic and other trade-based skills sets while they're still in elementary school. Kanawha County will request their share of $400 million in federal funds under President Obama's Race to the Top program later this month, and there are plans to start internships with local businesses. You may also see career fairs at middle-schools and revised course material that is more career-focused. The grant money is awarded in December.