The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 24, 2013

W.Va. news briefs

The Associated Press

Man charged after reports of assault rifle near school

A Wellsburg man is facing charges following an investigation into reports of a suspicious man carrying an assault rifle near a local school.

Follansbee City Police Chief John Schwertfeger says 38-year-old Justin Charles Nixon was charged Friday with public intoxication, obstructing an officer, brandishing a weapon and making terroristic threats.

Officials say Nixon was charged after being apprehended by police responding to the threat. Brooke County school officials locked down several area schools as a precaution.

Schwertfeger told the Steubenville Herald-Star that Nixon matches the description provided by witnesses. He also says although a weapon wasn’t found on his person, an assault rifle was found in a home on the street where he was staying.

The Brooke County Sheriff’s Department and Wellsburg Police also assisted in the investigation.


Kanawha school board freed from library funding

The West Virginia Supreme Court says the Kanawha County school board is no longer forced to allocate part of its annual budget to fund the public library.

Media outlets report the court’s decision Friday ends a decade-long legal battle against being forced to give millions each year to the library.

Justices had originally ruled in the board’s favor in 2006 but stayed the decision to give the Legislature time to re-write a state mandate that school systems help fund public libraries in their counties.

The school board went to court again and in 2011, a lower court judge ruled the state mandate was unconstitutional. That’s the decision the State Supreme Court upheld Friday.

Funding from the school board amounts to nearly 40 percent of the library’s annual budget.


Water quality monitoring grants are now available

MORGANTOWN (AP) — Watershed groups in West Virginia can apply for portions of $160,000 in funding to help develop or expand water quality monitoring.

The funding is through the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University. It is making the funding available to groups in four regions that make up its 3 Rivers Quest program.

The regions include the Monongahela River Basin, the Upper Ohio River Basin, the Northern Allegheny River Basin and the Southern Allegheny River Basin.

Each region has been allotted up to $40,000. Grants can total up to $7,000.


State is 46th in Advanced Placement test rankings

CHARLESTON (AP) — More high school students in West Virginia are taking Advanced Placement examinations to earn college credit.

But the College Board’s annual AP report ranks the state 46th for the number of students who pass the tests.

An annual report released Wednesday by the board says only 9.8 percent of 2012 graduates in West Virginia earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one AP exam. The national average is 19.5 percent.

About 3,700 West Virginia students took the AP tests in 2010, up from about 1,800 in 2002. The number of students succeeding on the exams rose from 886 to 1,631 during the same period.

Center for Professional Development CEO Dixie Billheimer tells media outlets that her department is working on expanding access to AP courses.


Ky., Va., W.Va. nonprofits awarded health grants

CHARLESTON (AP) — Three nonprofit health organizations in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia are receiving grants to improve cardiovascular health in Appalachia.

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation announced the grants Thursday.

The Delaware-based foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program awarded $210,000 to the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department in Ashland, Ky., for a program aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

St. Mary’s Health Wagon in Clintwood, Va., received $239,500 for an initiative to prevent, detect and treat heart disease. The program also works to reduce cardiovascular health disparities in southwest Virginia for the uninsured and under-insured.

West Virginia Health Right in Charleston received $185,025 for a program designed to improve at-risk patients’ health through sustainable lifestyle changes and continuity of health care.


W.Va. in line for $56 million in mine-reclamation funds                                                               CHARLESTON (AP) — The federal government is making $56 million available to West Virginia to eliminate environmental hazards caused by past coal mining operations.

The funding was announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The federal dollars are intended to improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage and restoring water supplies damaged by mining, among other things.

Officials say the total funding approved for 28 coal-producing states has been slashed by 10 percent in anticipation of the automatic budget cuts kicking in March 1.

The mining reclamation grants are awarded annually. They are funded in part by a per-ton reclamation fee levied on all coal produced in the U.S.


Putnam preschool teacher receives statewide award

CHARLESTON (AP) — A Putnam County preschool teacher has been recognized for her work.

The West Virginia Universal Pre-K Collaborative on Thursday honored Buffalo Elementary teacher Pamela Smith as its teacher of the year.

Smith was selected over more than a dozen other finalists.

The award was presented at the West Virginia Department of Education’s Pre-K Leadership Summit in Charles-ton.