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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.
The usual spot for the governor's inauguration party won't host it this year. The Charleston Civic Center has been the spot for the inauguration party for more than three decades, but this time around the event will be at the Clay Center. The governor's inauguration committee selected the venue, but Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Schuler-Goodwin says the decision ultimately came down to the governor and first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin and she's not sure why one place was chosen over the other. The inauguration party is set for January 14th.
There are big problems at the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter. Two animals have come down with the contagious disease distemper, and the facility is closed for at least three weeks, according to the agency's facebook page. The Charleston Gazette reports the disease also means about 80 dogs will be euthanized. There will be an emergency board meeting this morning at the shelter to come up with alternatives to euthanasia.
Another West Virginia Senatory is speaking out about gun violence. A day after Sen. Joe Manchin said it was time for an honest conversation about gun restrictions, U.S. Sen, Jay Rockefeller issued a statement calling on Congress to immediately act to protect children and families from gun violence. In the statement, Sen. Rockefeller said making sure children and families are safe each and every day should be our top priority. About the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, he said, "Friday’s unspeakable actions are another stark wakeup call that we must do more. This is not the time for soft words and empty promises, but a call for strong action.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Senator Joe Manchin has come out in favor of gun control legislation, and has at the very least opened the door for conversations about it. Manchin is an avid hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, and says it's time for all sides in the gun policy debate to talk honestly and openly about reasonable restrictions on guns. Because of that stance, a pro-Second Amendment group is planning a protest this Saturday morning at Manchin's Charleston office.