Thumbs up ... to the West Virginia Eye Institute, along with a team of two physicians, a cataract surgeon, two technicians and an optician who provided glasses to 120 uninsured patients and referred four for surgery. Another 38 got free eye exams. The team from the WVU School of Ophthalmology travels to under-served areas because of geographic or financial limitations. The school partnered with the Benedum Foundation and Walmart Foundation to develop the Appalachian Vision Outreach Project.
Thumbs up ... to fewer 16-year-old students dropping out of high school after the compulsory attendance age was raised to 17. The number of 16-year-olds who dropped out in the 2011-12 school year declined more than half — from 694 to 359 — from the previous year. Lawmakers made the change as a way to help improve graduation rates while boosting the state’s economy and reducing the negative social effects associated with high school dropouts.
Thumbs up ... to youth tobacco use in state declining, according to the latest data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Division of Tobacco Prevention. The 2013 West Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey indicates the percentage of high school students who say they have never tried or used any form of tobacco has increased from 20.6 percent in 2000 to 46.1 percent in 2013.
Thumbs up ... to artists from Tamarack being recognized for their work by WV Living magazine. Ten of the 12 Made in West Virginia awards selected by the magazine went to artisans at the Beckley retail center. Those honored include David Shombert, Woodspun Workshop; Wendy Clark, WenWeave; Mary Almond, photography; Larry Sumpter, fine art; Chris Malouf, C. D. M. Engraving; Merideth Young, upcycled jewelry; Robert Worth, dulcimers; Paul Meyers, Shedalow Ironworks; Amy Pabst, quilts and more; and Uncle Bunk’s, pickles and relishes.
Thumbs up ... to Rosedale Elementary which won $25,000 as part of the 2013 U.S. Cellular’s Calling All Communities campaign. Only 20 schools in the nation were chosen via online voting as 2013 champions. Rosedale claimed the No. 19 spot. Since the campaign began in 2008, U.S. Cellular has awarded $4.5 million to 76 schools across the country for them to use however they see fit to enhance students’ educational experiences.
Thumbs up ... to Raleigh County Schools being awarded a $1 million grant from the State School Building Authority. The money is earmarked for use at Beckley-Stratton Middle School to fund a new roof, a complete reconfiguration of the HVAC system, to replace windows and to make electrical upgrades. The funds will be matched with county dollars and are part of a $5.3 million project to address major facility issues at Beckley-Stratton.
Thumbs up ... to McDowell County’s public schools receiving a $204,000 grant to improve exercise programs for students. The Highmark Foundation grant comes after a six-month planning grant allowed West Virginia University’s College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences and others to work with the McDowell County Board of Education to develop a plan to increase physical activity in 11 schools.
Thumbs up ... to Shirley at Eddie’s Market in Bradley, who found a large sum of money and returned it to its owner.