Thumbs up ... to Foster’s Main Street Tavern in Beckley which hosted “Wag-Fest 2013” recently. The benefit concert raised $1,000 for Operation Underdog, a local nonprofit animal advocacy group. The funds will be used for fostering, transport and veterinary expenses for local homeless animals in Operation Underdog’s care.
Thumbs up ... to West Virginians taking advantage of the special license plates offered by the state. With 112 different choices, Mountain State motorists are generating $1.2 million each year. Three-fourths of that amount is destined for the state road fund.
Thumbs up ... to a report by the National Park Service showing the organization pulled in $53 million in revenue during 2011. The 1.2 million visitors to the state’s attractions such as New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area helped fund 717 jobs in the local area.
Thumbs up ... to the federal government’s making $56 million available to West Virginia to eliminate hazards caused by past coal mining operations. The reclamation grants are intended to improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage and restoring water supplies, among other things.
Thumbs down ... to West Virginia leading the nation in the percentage of adults receiving government income assistance who have disabilities, according to U.S. Census figures. The report showed 30.4 percent of the 46 million adults nationwide who received income-based government assistance in 2011 had a disability. In West Virginia, the rate is 41.7 percent.
Thumbs up ... to Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, for being named the Best Unique Gift Shop by the state’s wedding magazine, WV Weddings. Tamarack was chosen for its exquisite, handmade gifts.
Thumbs up ... to the state’s exporting 40 percent more coal in 2012 than it did in 2011. That translated into $7.4 billion for the year. Yet the news is bittersweet. Despite the increase, coal production was down overall more than 8 percent in 2012.
Thumbs up ... to Rep. Nick Rahall receiving the prestigious Harry S. Truman award. Rahall was honored for his work getting the National Guard a seat at the Joint Chiefs of Staff table. Other Truman award winners include Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as Gov. Tom Ridge and comedian Bob Hope.