Breaking Local News
Being sick at Christmas is not exactly what most families have in mind. Public health officials in West Virginia say flu activity is up 63 percent since last week. The Intelligencer reports that positive tests for influenza at hospitals statewide and the state laboratory topped off at 165 for the week ending Dec. 15. Public health officials are urging West Virginia residents to get a flu shot this season. During the holidays travel is up and there are family gatherings, and both provide opportunities for the flu virus to spread. Flu season typcially runs through February or March.
Charleston police say after an argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend the man broke in using a grill's propane tank. 40-year old Johnny Chandler of Charleston is accused of stealing his girlfriend purse and she locked him out of the house. The criminal complaint shows he broke his way in using the propane tank from the grill, and once inside he choked and assaulted the victim. She was eventually able to get away after spraying Chandler with mace. He was taken to the South Central Regional Jail on burglary charges.
Since the West Virginia 511 system was introduced early December, thousand have used it to get tips about traveling. The new 511 system was launched by the WV Department of Transportation to make traveling a little easier, offering road advisories, including conditions and closures. You can dial 511 from any phone, check the website at www.WV511.org. You can also download the WV Drive Safe app.
The weather so far this ski season hasn't been very cooperative, but on Sunday Winterplace resort near Beckley was able to have its opening day. Winterplace had hoped to open in early December, but the lack of snow kept that at bay until yesterday. The ski industry is a multi-million dollar industry in West Virginia boosts tourism each year.
An anonymous man from West Virginia has made the holidays brighter for many Wood County families by paying off 41 layaway contracts that included toys and gifts for children. The anonymous customer paid about $8600 to cover all the gifts at the Kmart in Vienna on Wednesday.
Good news came this week for Putnam County. BusinessWeek and Bloomberg Rankings released the news this week that Putnam County is one of America's best towns to raise kids, and is the #1 place in West Virginia to raise a family. Criteria included information about public schools, safety, income and a county's unemployment rate from towns with populations between 5,000 and 50,000. Putnam County stood out for its water park and for the quality of its drinking water, among other things.
Firefighters went to an area near Sissonville Middle School this week because people in the area smelled of a strong odor of natural gas. Firefighters found what's been described as a faint odor of natural gas near a small pipeline, and the company that owns the pipeline was called to investigate it. Last week a gas line explosion destroyed four homes and damaged several others in the Sissonville.
School will start earlier than ever next year. On Thursday, the Kanawha County Board of Education voted to start classes on Aug. 9th 2013. As it approved the new school calendar, the board also requested reliability tests for all air conditioning units. Board president Pete Thaw and board member Jim Crawford voted against the new school year. August 9th is a Friday, which will mean students head back to class for one day, then have a weekend.
Several parents showed up at Thursday's meeting to raise concerns about conditions at South Charleston Middle School, saying the locker rooms are unusable and there are leaks and AC issues in the buildings. The board agreed to look further into those conditions. The board's next regular board meeting is Jan. 17.
The Putnam County Chamber of Commerce has announced it will sponsor a syposium in January to help high school students. The High School Business Symposium is for students who finish an entrepreneurship program sponsored by local banks through the Chamber's Education Committee. Teams of high school students from Buffalo, Hurricane, Poca and Winfield are part of the program, which emphasizes leadership skills and development of a product to market and sell. The projects will be presented to business professionals and community leaders January 10th at the new Buffalo High School.
The jobless rate continues to improve. West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.3 percent in November. WorkForce West Virginia says the number of jobless residents fell by 1,500 to 58,700, but total employment also dropped by 900. There was a job gain in the service-providing sector, but that was offset by the loss of 1,200 jobs in the goods-producing sector.