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Consumer spending in West Virginia is higher than it was before the Great Recession but is lagging behind the nation in spending growth. Figures released Thursday by the federal government for the first time show that West Virginia's per capita consumer spending in 2012 grew 3.2 percent over the previous year. The nation as a whole grew by 3.3 percent in spending during that time. On average, each West Virginian spent $30,642 on consumer goods and services in 2012. Per capita spending nationwide was $35,498.
A Delbarton man at the center of an alleged kickback scheme at an Arch Coal mine in southern West Virginia appeared in court yesterday. David Runyon pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Charleston and faces up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines if convicted of extortion and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors say companies had to pay kickbacks to Arch employees for business at the Mountain Laurel mining complex in Logan County. Several others have already pleaded guilty.
A coalition of environmental groups plans to rally tonight at the state capitol building. The demonstration will be to oppose an environmental permit for mountaintop removal next to the Kanawha State Forest, and will be collecting signatures for petitions asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to rescind the permit that would allow for mountaintop removal. After gathering signatures tonight, the group plans to present to the governor on Friday.
Kanawha County Sheriff’s deputies along with US Marshals arrested 22-year old Tiffany Ann Graley of Saint Albans Wednesday on an outstanding warrant. Cpl BD Humphreys says Graley's underlying charge was for operating a clandestine meth lab, and she was arrested at the Motel 6 in Cross Lanes. Graley and investigators think she traveled back to WV yesterday, and was staying in a motel room with her boyfriend. When the Deputies knocked on the door it was opened by her boyfriend and Graley was behind him and was taken into custody without incident.
A conservative scholar and author will headline a West Virginia GOP event four days before his sentencing for federal campaign finance violations. A state Republican Party news release says Dinesh D'Souza will speak at the party's annual Victory Dinner on September 19 in Charleston. In May, D'Souza pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to getting two associates to make $10,000 contributions to Wendy Long who lost the 2012 New York Senate race to Democratic incumbent Kristen Gillibrand. D'Souza could face 10 to 16 months in prison. In the news release, West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas called D'Souza a warrior for conservative values and a brilliant academic.
Alpha Natural Resources says its losses widened in the second quarter because of weak domestic and international coal markets. The company posted a loss of $512.6 million, or $2.32 per share, compared with a loss of $185.7 million, or 84 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. On the bright side, the loss per share was a little less than analysts had projected. Revenue decreased 21 percent to $1.05 billion during the second quarter. Last week Alpha announced that it expects to lay off 1,100 workers at 11 West Virginia surface coal mines by mid-October amid dismal markets and federal regulation.
Public school students in West Virginia are starting to head back to class. School started yesterday in Braxton and Wayne counties. Students in Cabell County return to school today and classes in Mercer County begin tomorrow. Students in 20 other counties will return to class next week. The following week, classes will begin in 30 counties. Brooke County students will be the last to return to school on Aug. 25. School starts in Kawnawha County next Monday, August 11th.
St. Albans has lost its bid to join the state's home rule program because of technical problems with its application. Media outlets report that the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board denied St. Albans' application on Monday. Board members said the city didn't submit paperwork in time. St. Albans was one of 23 municipalities seeking to participate in the program. Sixteen will be chosen. The home rule program gives municipalities a larger say in how they govern by shifting power from the state to the local level. It began as a five-year pilot in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling.
Frontier Communications and the Communications Workers of America have tentatively agreed on a new contract following more than a year of negotiations. The company and the union didn't provide details of the proposal, which must be ratified by union members. The Charleston Gazette says the ratification should be done by the end of August. If the proposed contract is ratified, it would cover about 1,500 Frontier workers in 42 counties who formerly were Verizon employees.
The Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce will host a panel of West Virginia lawmakers and coal industry representatives at the Bluefield Coal Symposium Aug. 12. WVNS-Tv reports the discussion will be moderated by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and include panelists from the West Virginia Coal Association. The event will be held at Bluefield State College. The chamber says written questions from the public for the panel may be submitted in advance.