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Common Core Standards Debated in Senate Committee

The West Virginia Senate education committee on Monday heard opinions on Common Core standards, and most who shared thoughts seemed to agree there is room for improvement. Many leaders in education want to keep some form of Common Core, and some parents and lawmakers want to move in another direction. State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano want to give the new standards more time rather than eliminate them now. After the House passed a bill over the weekend departing from Common Core standards, the Senate bill continues moving at the committee level.

Common Core Repeal is in the Works

A bill repealing Common Core has made it out of a House Committee. The House Education Committee moved the bill to the full House, and several supporters of the repeal rallied outside the Capitol on Wednesday. The Charleston Gazette reports educators spent countless hours developing the Common Core lessons to teach the math and English/language arts standards, which are based on the national Common Core blueprint and were only fully implemented in the Mountain State this school year. And the cost for developing them was around $42 million. Students are being tested based on the Common Core standards this spring, while legislation that could change that makes its way through the state house.

AG's Office Warns of IRS Scam

The attorney general's office is warning West Virginians to beware of callers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his office has been flooded with calls from people who have received voicemails from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller demands a call back to discuss a tax matter.
Morrisey says this week alone his office has received more than 150 calls about the scam. He urged residents to resist the come on. Morrisey says the IRS never calls a taxpayer to demand payment.

Mountain State Students Can Apply for Settlement Funds

A three-judge panel says former students of Mountain State University are entitled to an $11.3 million payout. The mass litigation panel met in Charleston on Thursday to approve the proposed settlement after students argued that Mountain State did not provide them with an education worthy of the tuition they paid. The private university closed after it lost its accreditation in 2012 because of leadership, organizational and integrity issues.
Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro was the lead lawyer for the students. He said notices were sent out to more than 10,000 former students to make claims for the settlement, but barely more than 1,000 have responded. The deadline is Sunday.

Rail Open Again After Train Derailment

A rail line where an oil train derailed has reopened in southern West Virginia. Crews restored the tracks and reopened the line Thursday afternoon, but cleanup activities continue at the site in Mount Carbon. Investigators have not determined what caused 27 cars of the 109-car CSX train to go off the tracks during a Feb. 16 snowstorm. The overturned cars have been relocated to a rail yard. A statement says about 172,000 gallons of crude oil recovered from the tank cars will be transferred to other tank cars to be taken other places. And about 97,000 gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered from containment trenches near the Kanawha River.

Man Sentenced for Water Tampering

A Raleigh County man has been sentenced for tampering with water samples from coal mining operations. Online court records show 47-year-old John W. Shelton received a 21-month sentence on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Beckley. Shelton had pleaded guilty in October 2014 to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act. Prosecutors say he admitted tampering with water samples while working as a field technician and manager at Appalachian Laboratories. The lab conducted water sampling and analysis to ensure that pollutant discharges from mining operations into public waterways didn't exceed permitted limits. At the October plea hearing, Daniels told the court that he and other employees added distilled water to samples to dilute them. The dilution made it appear that the samples were within permissible limits.

Pharmacy Owner Pleads Guilty

The owner of an area compounding pharmacy has enetered a plea to a federal healthcare fraud charge. Paula Butterfield owns Trivillian's Pharmacy in Kanawha City, and pleaded guilty on Wednesday after being charged with making a false statement. Prosecutors have said she submitted false claims to Medicare, and asked for payment for drugs that were never dispensed to her. The pharmacy is also facing two counts of health-care fraud and one count of misbranding drugs.

Former Marshall President Has Passed Away

Former Marshall University President Mike Perry has died. He died Wednesday of cancer, according to Marshall University, at the age of 78. Perry was a Huntington native who served as interim president of Marshall University from 1999 to 2000. He donated his entire salary to the university's general scholarship fund during his tenure. In January, Marshall's Board of Trustees voted to remove the "interim" from his name on the roster of former presidents. He also served on the Board of Trustees.

Bill That Bans Abortions Goes to Governor

Lawmakers are sending Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks conception, similar to one he vetoed last year. The Senate passed the proposal 29-5 Wednesday. The House passed it earlier this month. The bill provides some exemptions for women in medical emergencies. Rape and incest aren't exempted. Tomblin vetoed similar legislation in 2014 over constitutionality concerns and has said he would veto the bill again. Lawmakers need a simple majority to overturn policy vetoes. Republicans now control the Legislature.

Utility Customers Set Demand Record

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.

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