Thumbs up ... to the 78 percent of the 17,651 West Virginia high school students who graduated by earning their diplomas in four years, matching the national rate. West Virginia’s rate has been able to improve from 77 percent during the two previous school years.
Thumbs up ... to the official state fruit, the Golden Delicious apple, being honored with a stamp. The 33-cent postcard stamps feature four apple varieties. The state Division of Culture and History said the Golden Delicious apple was discovered on a family farm in Clay County in 1905. It was designated the official state fruit in 1995.
Thumbs down ... to the number of methamphetamine labs in West Virginia jumping more than 400 percent since 2008 as the drug has become easier to manufacture. In 2012, 271 meth labs were reported. In 2009, 109 meth labs were reported. The number rose to 140 in 2010 and to 171 in 2011. Forty labs have already been reported since the beginning of 2013.
Thumbs down ... to West Virginia receiving F’s in the American Lung Association’s annual “State of Tobacco Control 2013.” The report gave F’s in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke-free air, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage. The American Lung Association says tobacco causes an estimated 3,821 deaths annually and costs the state $1.7 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. West Virginia gets $231 million in tobacco-related revenue annually but invests only 28 percent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Thumbs down ... to the crisis of child poverty in West Virginia. The West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition reports the latest numbers show that 30 percent of children age 5 and under grow up in poverty in the Mountain State and half of the kids in school qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Thumbs up ... to Thomas S. von Dohlen, 17, of Caldwell, a member of Boy Scout Troop 70 and sponsoring organization Lewisburg United Methodist Church, awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. For his project, the junior at Greenbrier East High School in Fairlea chose the church’s outreach ministry Snacks and Packs Program. After clearing out the site and hauling off debris, he and his team designed and built a storage and organizational area to store and sort snacks before delivery to local schools for students.
Thumbs up ... to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin being elected co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission by the governors of the 13 states that make up the ARC. Tomblin will serve a one-year term that began Jan. 1 and says he will work to continue economic development and infrastructure improvements.