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Winemakers and distillery producers met recently to talk about creating a trail that would link wineries and distilleries in West Virginia that are within close proximity to each other. Winery trails have long been established in nearly every state in the country. In fact there are 277 such trails nationwide, according to America's Wine Trails. There just aren't any in West Virginia. The Charleston Gazette notes that U.S. wine production and consumption is at an all-time high. Consumption increased 1.9 percent to 325.4 million 9-liter cases of wine in the U.S. last year.
A renovated Charleston Civic Center could include new glassed-in corridors, an expanded convention center space and an outdoor plaza along the Elk River, according to concept renderings presented to city council's Finance Committee. This is a preview design that's meant to show what the building could aspire to, and a final design is expected by the spring.
Regardless of the final design, the consultants said they want to ensure several key upgrades are made, including addition of more convention space; a better separation of the convention space and Coliseum; and incorporation of the Elk River into the design of the facility. Design would also allow the Civic Center to host two large events at once one in the convention space and one in the Coliseum. Construction could begin as early as the spring of 2015 and if on schedule, will wrap up in late 2017. The Civic Center will not close during construction.
The Charleston Police Department is joining a growing list of law enforcement agencies considering the purchase of body cameras for officers. The Charleston Gazette reports that the department has received one sample camera. Capt. Ted Malone says the department will order two more to try out before making a final decision. Morgantown and Fayette County authorities have ordered cameras. Buckhannon police expect all nine officers to be wearing cameras by early 2015. Malone says that while it's possible the cameras could catch an officer's wrongdoing, he expects they more likely would be used to defend officers against citizen complaints.
A house that Kanawha County wanted to tear down ended up burning to the ground this week, and it's being investigated as arson. A fire was reported around 8:45 Thursday morning, at the home off of Rutledge Road. Neighbors reported hearing explosions, and investigators think whoever set the fire used torches and propane tanks. The house was a condemned meth house, and a nearby camper that had also been used for meth was not damaged. Anyone with tips on the fire, should call police.
Unemployment rates fell in all 55 of West Virginia's counties in September. WorkForce West Virginia says that at 11 percent, Mingo County was the only one with a jobless rate in the double digits. Counties with an unemployment rate below 5 percent included Harrison (4.9), Putnam (4.9), Preston (4.7), Jefferson (4.6), Pendleton (4.3) and Monongalia (4.1). The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate in September was 6.6 percent.
Hospital board members got a look at the new Charleston Area Medical Center Cancer Center this week. Construction will take another six months or so, but the board got to see the progress on the building that CAMC bought nine years ago. The building will house the new David Lee Cancer Center, which is across the street right now. And the CAMC Breast Center will also move to the new building. When the new cancer center opens in early 2015, it will offer things like medical and radiation oncology, mammography rooms, and ultrasound rooms, and there will even be a shop that offers wigs and pedicures.
West Virginia's regional jails will soon offer a financial education course to help inmates avoid becoming repeat offenders. The West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority plans to begin offering the four-week Financial Peace University program in November to inmates serving sentences for misdemeanor convictions. The state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety says the program basics such as eliminating and avoiding debt, maintaining a budget, balancing checkbooks and saving for emergencies. Officials say course will reduce the participating inmate's sentence by five days. Inmates also can seek that reduction through an existing life skills course as an alternative.
West Virginia hunters will have another option for going after wild boar starting Saturday. That's when the firearms season for wild boar opens. It runs through Nov. 1 and is restricted to Boone Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming counties. The dates were announced by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Because of declining boar numbers, gun hunters are restricted to an October firearms season. Wild boar archery season has been underway since Sept. 27 and will run through Dec. 31.
Sen. Joe Manchin will took colleague Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island around West Virginia yesterday to learn about coal and energy resources. The two Democratic U.S. senators are looking for common ground on energy and climate change issues. On Oct. 10, Whitehouse brought Manchin to Rhode Island to learn about the effects of climate change.
New technology is helping with water-monitoring in at least one spot. The Putnam Public Service District has a new, state-of-the-art source water monitoring panel, and a news release from the district says it's been installed at its water treatment plant in Teays Valley. The special panel lets plant operators know about changes in source water that could affect water quality and alert them to contamination. Operators would even be able to shut down raw water pumps and still keep the water plant operational while they investigate the possible contamination.