Thumbs up ... to proposals from a task force of the West Virginia Dental Association that would mandate kindergartners, second-graders and sixth-graders show proof that a dentist has examined them. As many as 40 percent of West Virginia children never see a dentist.

Thumbs up ... to the Exhibition Coal Mine for sharing its Appalachian Coal Town Christmas decorations with Beckley while the popular attraction is undergoing a $3.5 million construction and renovation project. Nearly 20 displays are popping up along the streets and at the Neville Street park.

Thumbs down ... to the fact that between 2002 and 2006, the number of coal-mining operations nationwide increased by 9 percent while the number of federal inspectors was cut by 18 percent, meaning agency officials never conducted more than 150 required inspections at more than 100 underground mines across the coalfields.

Thumbs up ... to West Virginia University’s Rich Rodriguez, who has tied for one Coach of the Year award and is among 10 finalists for another. He and Jeff Jagodzinski of Boston College tied for the Football Bowl Subdivision Region I honor. Rodriguez also was named as a finalist for the 2007 Liberty Mutual national Coach of the Year Division I-A award.

Thumbs up ... to the 64 players who participated in the ninth annual Pearl Bowles Memorial Golf Tournament Nov. 24 at Clearfork Valley Golf Club. The tournament raised $5,000 for the Wyoming County Toy Fund and is the single biggest fundraiser for the project.

Thumbs up ... to Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Huntington and Rocco’s Ristorante in Ceredo, which will be featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” the Food Network show hosted by Guy Fieri. The owners of both restaurants said the show’s producers learned about their restaurants from e-mails sent by loyal customers.

Thumbs up ... to Jack Schroeder of Beckley, who won the United Way of Southern West Virginia’s fundraising grand prize, a $20,000 vehicle from any of nine participating dealerships; second-prize winner was Robert Martin of Beckley, who will receive a $3,000 gas card from Shell stations; third prize went to Ned Payne of Beckley, who won a 42-inch Hitachi plasma high-definition TV.

Thumbs up ... to Girl Scout Troop 5399 of the Black Diamond Girl Scout Council, which as a service project is working to collect at least 50 hats, caps, toboggans, bandanas — anything that can be used to make attractive head wear — which will be donated to Hospice of Southern West Virginia and Raleigh General Hospital, which maintains a wig closet for cancer patients.

Thumbs up ... to West Virginia University alumna Deborah Weiner, a research historian at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore, awarded the Southern Jewish Historical Society’s Book Prize for “Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History.” Weiner’s book was selected for the top prize from among 11 books published during 2003-06 throughout the nation.

Thumbs up .... to Gov. Joe Manchin, who will serve as the 2008 chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Manchin previously served as the association’s vice chairman.

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