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Short takes on co-ops, women’s football, entrepreneurial cities and good news

Thinking about using solar for electric power but don’t know where to start?

The Kanawha County Solar Co-op will have its final public information session at 2 p.m. May 21 at West Virginia State University Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd. West in Charleston. The session is an opportunity to learn about solar power and the solar co-op process.

The co-op, currently at 60 members, is open to new members until May 31. Kanawha County residents interested in joining can sign up at the co-op website at

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While social media users are accustomed to seeing photos of proud moms standing with their smiling football-playing sons in uniform, Charleston Newspapers’ Metro sections have a contrasting photo: A couple of kids posing with their football-playing moms in uniform.

Sure enough, the Kanawha Valley now has a women’s league tackle football team. The West Virginia Wildfire, a nonprofit, women’s semi-professional football team, plays its games at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.

Team owner and coach Ralph Whittington said the West Virginia Wildfire was founded in 2010. It was winless its first two seasons, but then won back-to-back national championships in the “Eights Division.” The team competes in the United States Women’s Football League.

Most of the women on the team are from Charleston and surrounding areas, with a few from Beckley and Morgantown. “We have an active roster of about 24 players, which is the best we have had,” Whittington said.

The team tries to play as many as eight regular season games, plus post-season, if it makes it. Other teams in the league are from Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, Maine and other New England states.

The Wildfire play at 7 p.m. today at Little Creek Park against the Cincinnati Sizzle, and play at home again on June 25 against the Erie Illusion.

Learn more at

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If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start your own business, you might want to head to Holland, Mich. According to WalletHub, an online financial service, the midwestern city with a population of just over 33,000 is the best place for new startups.

Small-sized cities across the country round out the top 30 list, but no city in West Virginia makes the cut.

It’s not all bad for West Virginia, though. Parkersburg is recognized among cities for having the most accessible financing. As entrepreneurs can attest, having access to capital is important.

However, Parkersburg — along with Charleston — has the lowest average growth in number of small businesses in the country. Ouch.

Cities of all sizes have something to offer business startups. Metropolitan areas have higher populations, thus more opportunities to network or to cultivate new business. But, as Wallethub points out, smaller cities have advantages, too.

“Lower overhead costs, stronger relationships with customers and the potential to become a big fish in a little pond are among the benefits,” according to the site.

That’s accompanied by drawbacks like a smaller professional network, limited industry options and difficulty in obtaining talent.

Despite the negatives, cities across our state need to embrace the positive. West Virginians are a hard working, innovative bunch. All our state’s entrepreneurs need is a little help getting started.

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Have you noticed the latest crime news in Charleston lately? Can’t recall?

That’s because, according to Police Chief Brent Webster, there has not been a lot to report.

“There have been no shootings in Charleston since January 30,” the chief told a crowd at the West Side Neighborhood Association annual dinner at Emmanuel Baptist Church Thursday evening.

He pointed out that crime in Charleston, particularly on the West Side, makes big news, but he feels it’s important for people to realize the good news in little to no bad news.

Why the improvement? Community policing for one. Charleston’s Finest is active in reaching out to people across the community — in regular meetings with groups like the neighborhood association; in establishing walking police beats on the West Side so police, residents and business owners can establish relationships; in project West Invest, in which city police officers are moving into West Side neighborhoods; and more.

So remember the old adage: No news is good news. And quite frankly in the news business — fair or not — good news often is no news.

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