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New Mine Safety Rules Become Effective Next Year

A new state mine safety rule will require coal operators to install detection systems that automatically shut down continuous mining machines when people get too close. The rule gives companies until July 1, 2017, to install proximity detection systems on machines already in service. The systems will be required on new machines put into service after Jan. 1, 2015, and on rebuilt machines after July 1, 2015. The Charleston Gazette reports that the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety approved the rule on Wednesday.

More WV Kids Have Insurance Now

A study shows the percentage of West Virginia children who lack insurance fell from 6.7 percent in 2008 to 4.5 percent in 2012. That translates to 1-in-22 children remaining uninsured. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report released Thursday said the decline compares favorably to national average during the same period. It fell from 9.7 percent to 7.5 percent in 2012. While more children were insured during that period, how the coverage was obtained has changed. More children are under public insurance coverage such as Medicaid as opposed to private insurance. The report also found that more children in low-income families saw significant gains in coverage.

Work Zone Awareness Week Continues

This is the 15th anniversary of Work Zone Awareness Week, and the orange signs mean business. Through Friday, the West Virginia Trucking Association wants drivers to slow down and pay close attention to work crews that are out fixing roads damaged by the harsh winter.

Gas Prices Edge Up

Average gasoline prices in West Virginia are up 1 cent over the past week. AAA East Central says the price of a gallon of regular gas is $3.61. That's 4 cents cheaper than a year ago. Prices range from $3.58 in Bridgeport and Clarksburg to $3.70 in Martinsburg. Nationally, gas prices average $3.59 this week.

Flags at Half-Staff Honor Fire Chief

State flags at the Capitol Complex Wednesday and at state facilities in Logan County were at half-staff in honor of a fire chief who died while responding to a call for assistance. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered the flags to be lowered in honor of Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief, 63-year old George Underwood. Assistant state fire marshal Jason Baltic told WCHS-TV that Underwood collapsed on April 3 as he was helping to clean out a blocked culvert. Tomblin said in a news release that Underwood had served as the fire department's chief for more than 25 years.

Suit Settled in Randolph County

The Randolph County Commission and the county 911 Center have settled a wrongful death lawsuit for more than $210,000. The lawsuit alleged that the county EMS's slow response time might have contributed to 37-year-old Melanie Nicole Miller's death in 2010. Miller's mother, Wilma D. Miller of Elkins, sued the commission, the 911 Center, the county EMS and the city of Elkins in 2012, and when the ambulance didn't arrive, the family took Miller to the hospital where she died later that day. The city was later dropped from the case. The county EMS remains as a defendant. The Inter-Mountain reports that a circuit judge approved the settlement last week.

Investigation Continues Into 4-Year Old's Shooting

Sheriff's deputies say a young girl was shot by her brother Monday. It happened in South Charleston...a 4-year-old girl was taken into Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston with a gunshot wound, and Kanawha County Sheriff's deputies think she was shot by her 5-year old brother. The girl's wound was in the arm and she is expected to be okay. The father was questioned and detained, and eventually arrested, and charged with Child Neglect resulting in Risk of Serious Bodily Injury. 23-year old John Seymour and 24-year old Tabitha Bowen, both of Cross Lanes, are facing the same charges. Child Protective Services is also involved in the investigation.

Awards Ceremony Kicks Off Crime Victims Rights Week

Two West Virginia corrections officials and a correctional organization are recipients of an award honoring efforts on behalf of crime victims. Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein, Mount Olive Correctional Complex warden David Ballard and Correctional Industries were given the Geneva Foster Pioneer Award during a ceremony Monday in Charleston. Foster was a longtime advocate of crime victims and their survivors before she died in 2004. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin hosted the ceremony at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse.

Putnam County Officers Watch For Texting While Driving

Putnam County deputies have been cracking down on distracted driving, and several people were cited last weekend. The Putnam County Sheriff's department said it issued 22 citations for texting/talking on phones while driving. Don't think the crackdown is over...the sheriff's office said previously that it was focusing on the crackdown from April 4th through 13th, along Interstate 64.

WV American Water Ordered To Keep Partnerships

State regulators have ordered West Virginia American Water Company to continue participating in a series of public-private water projects. Monday's ruling by the Public Service Commission came on a complaint filed by five public service districts and several other local agencies. The complaint alleged that West Virginia American Water improperly withdrew from partnerships to expand water service in various areas of the state. The PSC ruled that the water company has an obligation to continue participating in projects proposed by the local agencies that would extend service to new customers in areas that the company could reasonably serve. The projects must be technically feasible and the company must have a reasonable opportunity to earn a return on its investment.

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