Thumbs up ... to Smoot’s Tree Farm, located near Allingdale and Camden On Gauley, in Webster and Nicholas counties for being awarded the Designation of “Outstanding Forest Management” for 2012 by the Elk Conservation District. Ralph Smoot, working with consulting forester Nathan Kennedy of Buckhannon, a state-approved forester, has developed a “Forest Reserve Management Plan or (Stewardship Plan) in managing and maintaining the tree farm.
Thumbs down ... to West Virginia losing more than 1,200 coal mining jobs in the last quarter of 2012, nearly two-thirds of them in strip mining. Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows the number of jobs dropped to 21,400. Analysts say the trend will likely continue because of competition from natural gas and surface mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
Thumbs up ... to Lewisburg native Nancy Herkness’ book “Take Me Home,” chosen by Amazon to represent West Virginia in its list of 50 Great American Love Stories. Herkness set “Take Me Home” in the fictional town of Sanctuary, W.Va., but says Sanctuary bears a certain similarity to her hometown of Lewisburg.
Thumbs up ... to local country music group Taylor Made, recently named MusicRow Magazine Country Breakout Awards Independent Artist of the Year for 2012. The band has recorded six new songs for its new 12-track album that will be released in the upcoming months. Its newest single, “That’s What Life Is,” was No. 40 on MusicRow and No. 46 on Billboard.
Thumbs down ... to West Virginia having the highest level of acute hepatitis B in the nation with a rate of 4.7 per 100,000 people, according to the West Virginia Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department is participating in a vaccination pilot program to help curb increases in the infectious virus. The program aims to reach high risk adults, such as those who take IV drugs, share needles and/or participate in high risk sexual activity.
Thumbs up ... to the first Strikes for Tykes Bowl-a-thon, held at White Oak Lanes in Oak Hill recently, which raised more than $5,000 for the New River Gorge Learning Co-op. NRGLC is a Montessori-based educational program for preschool and elementary-age students that strives to instill a love of learning. It emphasizes independent work and respect for fellow students and the world they live in. Students acquire critical thinking skills and competence in core subjects, with an opportunity for experiential outdoor and environmental education.