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George Hohmann: UMW launches campaign over benefits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The United Mine Workers of America began running television spots in the St. Louis market last Monday explaining how, in its view, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Patriot Coal conspired to shed their obligations to provide health-care benefits for retirees and widows.Peabody spun off Patriot in 2007. Patriot later acquired mines that Arch spun off into Magnum Coal. Patriot filed bankruptcy in July and is reorganizing.In November the union won its effort to move the bankruptcy case from federal court in New York City. The case was shifted to St. Louis, the headquarters of Peabody, Arch and Patriot.The union's initial television spot can be seen online at More about the union's campaign is online at*Following news stories about employment losses in West Virginia and migration out of the state last year, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts sent a letter to all members of the Legislature urging them to move quickly on an agenda that includes education reforms, fair trials, transportation, energy and health-care issues."Our members employ over half of the workforce in West Virginia which leaves us uniquely positioned to address issues around workforce readiness and our economy," Roberts wrote. *Chesapeake Energy Corp., a major participant in the Marcellus Shale natural gas field in West Virginia, plans to slash its charitable spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.The company spent more than $56 million on charities between 2010 and 2011, according to The Journal.
Chesapeake's decision to scale back support of nonprofits can't be good news for schools and other community organizations the company has supported in the Northern Panhandle.*After watching the "Pipestem Trout Wrangler" episode of "Fly Rod Chronicles" on the Outdoor Channel, my wife asked when I plan to fish those waters in Summers County.Well, soon!But I am skeptical that I will have as much luck as the show's host, Curtis Fleming, who pulled one big trout after another out of the Bluestone River.
My impression of the show: It was a wee bit over the top. This impression began when the episode opened by explaining to viewers that access to the river is by horseback.I don't doubt the horseback option is offered. It certainly would be a memorable experience. But I don't think the show ever mentioned that you also can access the Bluestone via Pipestem Resort State Park's aerial tramway.From this fisherman's perspective, the fact that the tramway is available means the water isn't quite as remote and inaccessible as viewers might have been led to believe.Don't get me wrong. "Pipestem Trout Wrangler" was an enjoyable half-hour of TV. But I do believe it may have set some unrealistic expectations.Contact writer George Hohmann at 
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