— Thumbs up ... to Wild and Wonderful Pet Pantry for being awarded a $2,000 grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The funds will help with distribution of over 9,000 pounds of pet food to more than 450 pets in Beckley and the surrounding area.
Thumbs up ... to a $4.6 million grant for Greenbrier Valley Airport from the Department of Transportation’s Airport Improvement Program. The funds will be used for a runway rehabilitation project.
Thumbs up ... to volunteers working to restore the Wyco independent Baptist Church. Future plans are to house a coal camp museum inside the restored church, complete with audio recordings of the area’s history.
Thumbs down ... to the sad fact that the number of homeless students in West Virginia’s public schools is rising. The number of children legally defined as homeless jumped from 4,234 in the 2008-09 school year to around 5,000 this past year. Students are considered homeless if they have no permanent housing, but the definition goes beyond that: It includes children who live in motels, in a house with more than one family, with an adult who isn’t their parent and those in foster care.
Thumbs up ... to the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and United Way of Southern West Virginia for partnering for a concert Sept. 19. Proceeds from the concert will benefit programs sponsored by both organizations throughout southern West Virginia and Ukraine.
Thumbs up ... to Christian Brand, winner of the 2010 BNI Memorial Tournament. The event was held in honor of the late Ben McGraw, a young golfer who died tragically last year. The title was Brand’s second straight. He shot a final-round 3-under 69. Brand is the third golfer to win back-to-back BNI titles.
Thumbs down ... to a new study that predicts that West Virginia will continue to see small but steady population growth only until 2030. The study by West Virginia University says the state’s population has grown by only 0.2 percent annually since 2006. It attributes the growth to births outpacing deaths and a weak national economy that’s reduced job opportunities outside West Virginia.
Thumbs up ... to three public colleges in West Virginia getting federal grants to help low-income, first-generation or disabled students succeed. The U.S. Department of Education awarded $368,173 to Bluefield State College, $354,116 to West Virginia Institute of Technology and $275,202 to Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College to provide support services such as tutoring and academic counseling. The goal is to increase student retention and graduation rates.