www.wvgazettemail.com http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: August 31, 2015 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/OBIT01/308319999 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/OBIT01/308319999 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 Amid uncertainties, WVU President Gee to meet privately with Tech students, staff today http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839877 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839877 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:29:57 -0400 Samuel Speciale By Samuel Speciale MONTGOMERY, W.Va. - West Virginia University President Gordon Gee will speak with students, faculty and staff at the school's Institute of Technology this afternoon, but a university spokesman declined to say if the meeting will involve a briefing on the school's future in Montgomery.

The meeting is closed to the public and has been described by one school spokeswoman as a "presidential update."

A separate, open meeting to discuss the future of WVU Tech and WVU's new satellite campus in Beckley is scheduled for Tuesday. The West Virginia Board of Governors will meet in Morgantown and, according to their agenda, could make a decision regarding the two campuses, which are separated by only 40 miles.

Due to difficulty in attracting students and persistent structural issues with facilities on campus, the future of WVU Tech in Montgomery has been debated for years. While WVU has invested thousands of dollars in recent years, the school's future became even more uncertain last year when WVU officials announced they were negotiating an $8 million purchase of the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley.

The move was seen as competitive, despite Gee and other school officials saying the two schools would complement each other instead of compete for students. About 1,200 students are enrolled at WVU Tech.

Since those negotiations were opened up, it has been rumored WVU would close Tech and that students and faculty have been prepared for a move to the Beckley campus. While those rumors were dispelled in March when WVU Tech President Carolyn Long said the school planned to enroll students for the 2015 and 2016 school years, it remains to be seen if the school will remain open beyond then.

Long is campus president of both WVU Tech and the Beckley campus.

WVU has operated Tech since 1996 when it was incorporated as a regional campus. The school was established in Montgomery in 1895.

Reach Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com, 304-348-7939 or follow @samueljspeciale on Twitter.

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WVU expanding parking at Evansdale campus http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839878 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839878 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:03:22 -0400 MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University is expanding parking at the Evansdale campus as part of a redevelopment project.

The university says a new 140-space short-term parking lot for faculty, staff and students will be completed in a few weeks.

A 98-space lot has re-opened.

The university plans to construct additional parking spaces around the new Evansdale Crossing.

The Evansdale redevelopment includes the construction of parking lots, new buildings, roadways and intersections.

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Loss of rock could change ride through Gauley rapid http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839879 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839879 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:03:06 -0400 BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - A whitewater industry expert says a rock formation change could give experienced rafters a different ride through one of the Gauley River's most challenging rapids.

ACE Adventure Resort chief of staff David Bassage tells The Register-Herald that a car-size rock at the Class V Heaven Help You rapid on the Lower Gauley is gone. He says the rock apparently broke off.

The rock was one of two located about 10 feet apart just before a pour-over.

Bassage says there's no indication that the change will pose a bigger risk or hazard.

He says the last significant rapid formation change of this magnitude occurred in 1985 when a flood rearranged rivers in northern West Virginia.

The Gauley River rafting season is scheduled to begin Sept. 11.

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Deadline looms for drought loss loans in 2 W.Va. counties http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839880 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839880 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:02:39 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A deadline is looming for small businesses and other organizations in two counties to seek federal disaster loans for drought-related losses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration says the filing deadline for federal economic injury loans is Sept. 28. The loans are available in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties as a result of drought from Aug. 22, 2014, through Oct. 15, 2014.

Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private can apply for loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other expenses that they could have paid if the disaster hadn't occurred.

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4 W.Va. fire departments receive federal grants http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839881 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839881 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:02:29 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Four fire departments in West Virginia have been awarded federal grants for fire prevention and safety operations enhancements.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito says the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded a total of nearly $850,000 in grants to the departments.

The Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department will receive the largest grant, $693,481.

A $95,239 grant was awarded to the Hooverston Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Follansbee. The Cora Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $31,334 grant, and the Verdunville Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $29,679 grant.

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Conference focuses on planning for 2016 elections in W.Va. http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839882 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839882 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:02:14 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Local elections officials across West Virginia will discuss planning for the 2016 elections at a conference in Charleston.

The two-day conference begins Monday at Embassy Suites. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant will deliver opening remarks.

Tennant's office says elections officials will discuss legislative updates, voter registration, absentee voting and other topics.

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W.Va. State University to offer media diversity fellowship http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839883 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839883 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:02:00 -0400 INSTITUTE, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia State University says a new fellowship program allows minority students to work alongside media professionals to tell the state's story, including its diverse ethnic history.

The one-year, paid West Virginia Media Diversity Fellowship was created by the university and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

The university says students will promote diversity in all aspects of public broadcasting development, including news, social media, television and radio.

The program's first Fellows are media studies graduate students Ikram Benaicha and Scotty White.

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Another MTV VMAs, another controversial Miley Cyrus http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/ARTICLE/150839884 ARTICLE http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/ARTICLE/150839884 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:49:11 -0400 By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer By By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer Justin Bieber cried, Taylor Swift won most of the awards and Kanye West ranted onstage, but Miley Cyrus still owned the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.

The 22-year-old wild child flashed one of her breasts, wore outfits that showed most of her skin and traded words with Nicki Minaj. She closed the Sunday show with a performance of a new song about marijuana.

She posed for photos clutching a moon man trophy and passed out avocados to photographers and reporters.

"I didn't actually win one of these. They just give it to you for free because you host, so that I just wanted to clarify," she said.

Sunday's show comes after Cyrus stole the night at the 2013 VMAs after twerking on Robin Thicke, causing a frenzy. At last year's show, she won video of the year for "Wrecking Ball."

But at the 2015 VMAs, Cyrus hit a more controversial stride when she revealed one of her breasts.

"MTV isn't under the authority of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), so MTV would not be subject to any broadcast decency fines for that, but if I were a sponsor for the VMAs, I'd probably be pretty outraged," Melissa Henson, director of grassroots education and advocacy for the Parents Television Council, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press after the VMAs.

"Especially since they labeled it as TV-14, so they're telling parents, 'OK, this is OK for your 14-year-old to watch."'

Henson added that she wasn't sure if Cyrus' breast reveal was "an accident or not, but it's pretty clear ... she was certainly walking that boundary of getting very close to showing most if not all of her breasts, most if not all of her crotch area" with her range of outfits.

MTV said the clip will be removed from all future broadcasts.

West admitted he "rolled up a little something" before rambling onstage after accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from Swift.

He covered a range of topics in nearly 13 minutes: He bashed MTV, apologized to Swift for taking her microphone in 2009 and claimed he would run for president in 2020. He also admitted, "I don't understand awards shows," and said he was upset that Justin Timberlake and Gnarls Barkley lost album of the year to the Dixie Chicks at the 2007 Grammy Awards.

Swift, who won video of the year for "Bad Blood," left the awards show drama-free. She was gracious as she handed West his award and stood close to Kim Kardashian as the rapper grew wordy onstage. She also joined Minaj during the rapper's opening set to sing "The Night Is Still Young" and "Bad Blood." They wore similar red outfits and finished with a hug.

But Minaj had another bone to pick at the show - with Cyrus.

Minaj called out the singer after winning best hip-hop video for "Anaconda": "And now back to this (expletive) that had a lot to say about me a lot in the press. Miley, what's good?"

The cameras cut to Cyrus, who fired back with "we all know how they manipulate" words during interviews, referencing a pre-VMAs interview in The New York Times. Then Cyrus told the audience about voting for the artist to watch category, which later was awarded to Fetty Wap.

"I lost this award in 2008 and I was fine with it. Whatever! Because it's no big deal. It's just an award and I persevered," she yelled, appearing to look over at Minaj.

In the recent interview, Cyrus criticized Minaj for her "pop star war" with Swift that began in July.

"Congratulations Nicki," Cyrus ended.

The VMAs, though heavily focused on antics and wild moments, had some memorable musical moments, too.

Tori Kelly was a vocal powerhouse during her performance of "Should've Been Us," ending in a cappella to a rousing applause. The Weeknd's smoky performance of "Can't Feel My Face" was energetic and smooth, and even West, Swift and Selena Gomez got out of the chairs to dance to the upbeat track. And Demi Lovato brought a sexy vibe when she sang her anthemic "Cool for the Summer" outdoors with background dancers wearing bright colors that added to the song's summer-feel.

Even Bieber's return to the big stage was favorable, and by the end of it he was emotional onstage and cried.

And, surprisingly, Cyrus ended the night with music news: She announced the free release of her new album, "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz."

Online:

http://vma.mtv.com

AP entertainment writer in Derrik Lang contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

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Daily Mail editorial: Truancy, tardiness have lasting consequences http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839885 DM04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839885 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:19:48 -0400 Despite lawmakers' and school officials' best efforts, tardiness and truancy remain problems among students - and parents.

Students at four of Charleston's West Side elementary schools and its middle school were tardy nearly 6,000 times last school year alone, the Gazette-Mail's Samuel Speciale reported.

That's cause for concern.

Some areas of the West Side face myriad problems: drugs, crime, low socioeconomic status, unemployment. When the parents are dealing with issues as debilitating as these, it's easy to see how it affects their school-age children. Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring pointed out the kids who rack up most of the tardies are the ones who face troubles outside of school.

"We're always playing catch-up with these kids," he said. "But we also have to try and get them on track."

Duerring, other school officials and West Side community leaders have formed a task force aimed at addressing a variety of concerns. In addition to tardiness and truancy, schools on the West Side must deal with falling test scores, discipline and other problems that could arguably be tied to kids missing too much time in the classroom.

It's easy to make generalizations about why kids arrive late to school or miss instruction entirely. Each family unit and child is unique and has problems that might not be easily solved by conventional methods.

However one student's tardiness or absenteeism can be detrimental not only to that student, but the classroom as a whole. Students can become distracted, making it difficult for the teacher to complete lessons.

Eventually, the classroom falls behind schedule and may not meet certain benchmarks as the school year progresses. Come test time, the students aren't as prepared as they should be. That carries over into the next academic year.

Having a solid educational background is key. Knowledge truly is power, but how can kids succeed in life and break the cycle of poverty if they don't have the ability?

We applaud the task force for taking steps to recognize and address the problems our children face, and urge parents to - no matter what's going on at home - equip their children with a strong educational foundation that can help them succeed in life.

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Daily Mail editorial: PSC's extra trucking regulation welcomed http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839886 DM04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839886 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:09:16 -0400 The state Public Service Commission last week reported that its Transportation Enforcement Officers conducted 3,292 commercial vehicle inspections on 10 highways designated as high-crash areas, a 58 percent increase over the number of inspections conducted in those areas during the same quarter last year.

The extra inspections were funded in part by a federal transportation grant and were conducted outside of regular business hours.

"As a result of these inspections, 211 vehicles were taken out of service for equipment safety violations such as faulty brakes, lights, tires and steering mechanisms, poorly secured loads and improperly labeled hazardous materials," the PSC said in a news release.

There's government over-regulation, which we see all too often, and there's appropriate regulation. The PSC's commercial vehicle inspections fall into the latter.

Over the years, poorly maintained vehicles - particularly large trucks with bad brakes, worn tires or faulty steering parts - have caused too many accidents, killing others on the road.

Based on previous years' research, large truck collisions account for about seven percent of all crashes, yet account for about 15 percent of all fatalities.

So taking vehicles off the road that shouldn't be there improves safety for all. And checking them outside of routine hours keeps a watch on those who try to abuse the system.

"People get in routines, and certain people know to drive at certain times when they won't get checked," Matthew Epling, a transportation enforcement officer with the state Public Service Commission told the Gazette-Mail in a 2012 inspection.

"Having the ability to increase our presence in this way has made West Virginia's roadways safer for the traveling public and has, no doubt, saved lives and property," said Bob Blankenship, director of the Transportation Enforcement Division.

Thanks to the PSC and all transportation officials who work to make the highways safer for everyone.

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Charles Krauthammer: What six years of 'reset' have wrought http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839887 DM04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839887 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:08:32 -0400 WASHINGTON - On Sept. 5, 2014, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.

The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports The Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.

The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory - two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America's commitment to its security - is testimony to Vladimir Putin's contempt for the American president. He knows Obama will do nothing. Why should he think otherwise?

Putin breaks the arms embargo to Iran by lifting the hold on selling it S-300 missiles. Obama responds by excusing him, saying it wasn't technically illegal and adding, with a tip of the hat to Putin's patience: "I'm frankly surprised that it held this long."

Russia mousetraps Obama at the eleventh hour of the Iran negotiations, joining Iran in demanding that the conventional-weapons and ballistic-missile embargoes be dropped. Obama caves.

Putin invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, breaks two Minsk cease-fire agreements and erases the Russia-Ukraine border. Obama's response? Pinprick sanctions, empty threats and a continuing refusal to supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry, lest he provoke Putin.

The East Europeans have noticed. In February, Lithuania decided to reinstate conscription, a move strategically insignificant - the Lithuanians couldn't hold off the Russian army for a day - but highly symbolic.

Eastern Europe has been begging NATO to station permanent bases on its territory as a tripwire guaranteeing a powerful NATO/U.S. response to any Russian aggression.

NATO has refused. Instead, Obama offered more military exercises in the Baltic States and Poland. And threw in an additional 250 tanks and armored vehicles, spread among seven allies.

It is true that Putin's resentment over Russia's lost empire long predates Obama. But for resentment to turn into revanchism - an active policy of reconquest - requires opportunity. Which is exactly what Obama's "reset" policy has offered over the past six and a half years.

Since the end of World War II, Russia has known that what stands in the way of westward expansion was not Europe, living happily in decadent repose, but the United States as guarantor of Western security. Obama's naivete and ambivalence have put those guarantees in question.

It began with the reset button, ostentatiously offered less than two months after Obama's swearing-in. Followed six months later by the unilateral American cancellation of the missile shield the Poles and the Czechs had agreed to install on their territory. Again, lest Putin be upset.

By 2012, a still clueless Obama mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia is "without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe," quipping oh so cleverly: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back." After all, he explained, "the Cold War's been over for 20 years."

Turned out it was 2015 calling. Obama's own top officials have been retroactively vindicating Romney. Last month, Obama's choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that "Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security." Two weeks ago, the retiring Army chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, called Russia our "most dangerous" military threat. Obama's own secretary of defense has gone one better: "Russia poses an existential threat to the United States."

Turns out the Cold War is not over either. Putin is intent on reviving it. Helped immensely by Obama's epic misjudgment of Russian intentions, the balance of power has shifted - and America's allies feel it.

And not just the East Europeans. The president of Egypt, a country estranged from Russia for 40 years and our mainstay Arab ally in the Middle East, has twice visited Moscow within the last four months.

The Saudis, congenitally wary of Russia but shell-shocked by Obama's grand nuclear capitulation to Iran that will make it the regional hegemon, are searching for alternatives, too.

At a recent economic conference in St. Petersburg, the Saudis invited Putin to Riyadh and the Russians reciprocated by inviting the new King Salman to visit Czar Vladimir in Moscow.

Even Pakistan, a traditional Chinese ally and Russian adversary, is buying Mi-35 helicopters from Russia, which is building a natural gas pipeline between Karachi and Lahore.

As John Kerry awaits his upcoming Nobel and Obama plans his presidential library (my suggestion: Havana), Putin is deciding how to best exploit the final 17 months of his Obama bonanza.

The world sees it. Obama doesn't.

Charles Krauthammer's email address is letters@charles krauthammer.com.`

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Delegate Eric Nelson and Senator Mike Hall: Tax reform committee covering all ground http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839888 DM04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/DM04/150839888 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:03:58 -0400 More than four months ago, the Legislature created a Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform made up of seven senators and seven delegates, representing various geographic regions of the state, to review a topic that affects nearly every West Virginian - taxes.

The Committee's mission is to review the current tax structure and seek to simplify, make fairer, provide for economic growth opportunities, and produce sufficient revenues to fund basic state services such as education, roads, health care and public safety.

In our six meetings so far, we have covered a tremendous amount of ground. We have reviewed how West Virginia's tax structure got to where it is, and we have also reviewed the two most recent studies of tax reform undertaken in 1999 and 2006.

In addition, we have reviewed what other states are doing to ease the tax burden on their citizens and improve their business climates. We've heard from economic experts from Marshall University, West Virginia University, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the Tax Foundation, to name a few.

The Committee has analyzed personal income taxes, business taxes, real and personal property taxes, and municipal and county taxes. And we've just scratched the surface!

One of the concerns we most often hear and read about is the misconception that the Committee on Tax Reform has a predetermined agenda to eliminate certain taxes and the corresponding revenue to the state budget.

Let us, as co-chairmen of the Committee, take this opportunity to put that issue to rest.

When we started this journey of tackling tax reform, we did so openly, with no predetermined ending.

We want every idea to be on the table, and we are approaching every topic with a clear and open mind. We want to thoroughly examine this issue from every angle to make the decisions that are right for West Virginia and our citizens, period.

The Committee has a great deal more information to consider in the coming weeks and months. In upcoming meetings, we will examine sales taxes today (Aug. 31); special consumption, insurance, gaming taxes and special revenue items (Sept. 15); and property tax assessment and school funding issues (Oct. 5).

Then, on Oct. 20, we will hold a public hearing in the House Chamber to give groups and individuals the opportunity to share with the Committee their thoughts on West Virginia's taxation system and how to improve it. Any thoughts can be sent to the Committee at tax.reform@wvlegislature.gov.

As co-chairs, we encourage you to participate. Please don't wait until Oct. 20. Every meeting is open to the public, everyone is encouraged to attend.

Throughout this process, the Committee has worked diligently to ensure this process is transparent. Meeting agendas are posted online in advance so citizens can see the topics, and every document and presentation given the Committee has been posted on our website - go to www.legis.state.wv.us, hover over "Joint" and select "Interim Committees," then select "Joint Tax Reform."

You, the public, are seeing the information we are seeing and using to help guide our decisions.

If you're unable to make it to Charleston, you can listen to the meetings via the Legislature's website - www.legis.state.wv.us.

Additionally, presentations to the Committee have been videotaped and are available at the West Virginia Senate's official YouTube channel - www.youtube.com/user/wvsenate.

If you missed a meeting, or want to catch up on the work the Committee has done so far, these are great resources with which to begin.

Above all, we encourage you to contact your delegates and senators. Share with them your ideas on how we can all work together to improve West Virginia's tax structure.

We are working toward a brighter future, and we need your input to do it.

Delegate Eric Nelson, Jr., R-Kanawha and Senator Mike Hall, R-Putnam, are co-chairmen of the West Virginia Legislature Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform. The Committee can be reached at tax.reform@wvlegislature.gov.

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Christopher Regan: W.Va. needs Dick Cheney like it needs a hole in the head http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839893 GZ04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839893 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 By Christopher Regan By By Christopher Regan

Our local Chambers of Commerce can be great civic institutions. My company participates in the Wheeling Chamber actively, and we recently had a nice event bringing small business owners from the area to our front lawn for a summer get-together. It's great for the community when local companies know one another and do business together. But the National Chamber and State Chamber are something quite different.

Somewhere along the line, those organizations became captives of the Republican Party, and of the increasingly destructive, right-wing elements of the Republican Party at that. Nothing symbolizes that more than the West Virginia Chamber's decision to bring former Vice-President Dick Cheney to Greenbrier County as some kind of keynote speaker.

The whole country, and West Virginia in particular, has paid an awful price for Mr. Cheney's ascension to the second-highest office in the land. Not only did the Cheney-Bush Administration precipitate the Great Recession - the worst economic disaster in 80 years, it also started the Iraq War - the worst foreign policy disaster in at least 50 years. These completely avoidable twin catastrophes cost us thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars.

Shamelessly peddling fears of an Iraqi nuclear bomb that did not exist, Cheney is widely understood to have been the real force behind the push for war in Iraq in 2003. America lost 4,425 servicemen and women in Iraq, and trillions of tax dollars were spent, or committed as interest on debt. Despite incredible valor on the part of our military, no improvement in the overall situation materialized as a result of the war, and most indications are that things there are worse. There were hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties among the Iraqi population.

The mind can swim hearing numbers in the trillions, so it is worth making specific comparisons to understand just what Bush-Cheney spent, in addition to the priceless lives of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines:

n Social Security: Our seniors depend on Social Security, and the value of the benefits are losing ground to the cost of living. Various Republican plans to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, or end social security block grants are supposed to "save" anywhere from $15 billion to $50 billion dollars a year. So we could fully fund, or even expand, Social Security for the rest of the century, had Bush-Cheney not wasted the money in Iraq.

n Education: The unaffordability of college for our young people is a scandal. Several Democratic candidates have put forth proposals to help students afford the schooling they need to compete for jobs. One proposal that would make college at public universities tuition-free for 10 years has a price tag of $350 billion over 10 years. Republicans deride this plan as "unaffordable." But Bush-Cheney buried almost 10 times that much in Middle Eastern sand.

n Roads: West Virginia needs somewhat more than $1 billion to fix our roads. It will be tough to get it. But more than that amount was spent in any week of the unnecessary 10-year conflict in Iraq.

n Health care: Medicare and Medicaid are key survival mechanisms in West Virginia. Without them, hundreds of thousands of West Virginians, many of them either elderly or children, would not be able to see a doctor or obtain needed prescriptions. Republicans insist we can't afford them and want to cut several hundred billion dollars from these lifelines. Where might we have gotten the money? You get the picture.

Remarkably, the trillions spent in Iraq that could have protected our seniors in their retirement, educated our children, rebuilt our state, and healed our sick and injured are only a part of the disaster inflicted on this country by Mr. Cheney's administration. The Great Recession, caused by reckless Republican spending, criminally unregulated banking, and massive tax giveaways to the wealthy, obliterated retirement savings for millions of Americans, and cost our country millions of jobs, some of which we'll never get back.

So what in the world is the State Chamber of Commerce doing inviting Dick Cheney to West Virginia?

Believe it or not, Cheney is selling another Middle East war these days. He's threatening Americans with nuclear war again, but this time Iran is his target. If we don't remember how that turned out the last time he tried that line, shame on us. Cheney will always have another war to peddle, for other Americans to fight, but we should remember that he himself carefully dodged the draft.

I suppose Cheney has made himself a wealthy man - increasingly a prime qualification in the Donald Trump Republican Party. His old company, Halliburton, paid him about $35 million when he stepped into the vice-presidency - an amount he more than repaid as the company reaped billions on his war. But that kind of business plan is hardly useful to the Chamber of Commerce.

It's more likely the West Virginia Chamber, increasingly dominated by hard-right Republicans, somehow admires Cheney. Regardless of his results, regardless of the disasters he brought upon our country, regardless of the naked self-interest and personal gains he reaped at the expense of our country, Dick Cheney remains rich and powerful. For the hard right in America today, that's all they need to hear - all they will hear, in fact.

Consider a contrast with former President Carter: Recently diagnosed with cancer, President Carter never started a war and never profited from his office. In 35 years since his presidency ended, he's served the causes of peace and democracy, here and around the world. A committed Christian, President Carter lived a life of humility, service, and prayer we read about in the Gospels.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney travels the country agitating for war.

The West Virginia Chamber can be reached at 304-342-1115. Call and let them know Cheney can skip West Virginia.

Christopher Regan is the vice chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party and an attorney at Bordas & Bordas in Wheeling.

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Gazette editorial: Another global warming price to pay http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839894 GZ04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839894 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 Television news, which thrives on dramatic videos, has spent most of the summer showing terrible wildfires ripping through Western states, destroying homes, killing firefighters, costing taxpayers billions, sickening some residents through smoke pollution.

Wildfires are one of many expensive evils being inflicted on Planet Earth by global warming. Others include worse hurricanes, droughts, floods, twisters, sea level rise, storm surge and such nature calamities. Economic losses may reach trillions.

Last week, NASA issued another warning saying sea levels will rise at least 3 feet this century, making coastal regions vulnerable to severe storm damage.

Regarding wildfires, the Union of Concerned Scientists says:

"Wildfires in the western United States have been increasing in frequency and duration since the mid-1980s, occurring nearly four times more often, burning more than six times the land area, and lasting almost five times as long."

This rising menace is mostly attributable to drier, hotter conditions caused by "the greenhouse-gas emissions we have already produced," the organization says.

Ominously, once the wildfire season is over, burned-over regions will be vulnerable to deadly flash floods and mudslides, because water-absorbing forest has been destroyed.

As usual, West Virginia coal interests and politicians probably will declare that fossil-fuel burning doesn't cause greenhouse gases that heat Earth. They will claim that air pollution controls are a sinister "war on coal," and that climate change is a left-wing myth.

Here's a silly example:

As President Obama headed to New Orleans to mark the 10 anniversary of deadly Hurricane Katrina - which killed 1,245 people and caused $108 billion damage - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asked him not to mention global warming.

Jindal said the anniversary should not be a time for "the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism," and that any mention of climate change "would be met with nothing but derision."

Good grief. Overwhelming scientific evidence asserts that burning fossil fuels creates a greenhouse layer in the sky, heating the planet and causing ever-worse weather nightmares like Katrina. Just because Jindal and other conservatives greet this evidence with "derision" doesn't make it any less real.

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Accused Putnam funeral home owner replaced on state board http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839897 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839897 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 Joel Ebert By Joel Ebert Less than a week after being named in a lawsuit that accuses him of racketeering related to the sale of more than 100 pre-need funeral arrangements, the owner of a Poca-based funeral home has been replaced in his position of president on a state board.

Until this week, Chad Harding, co-owner of Gatens-Harding Funeral Home, had been serving as the president of the West Virginia Board of Funeral Service Examiners.

Harding and his wife, Billie, were named in a lawsuit filed on Aug. 19 in Southern District of West Virginia, which was brought forth by Iowa-based insurance company Homesteaders Life Co.

The insurance company filed the lawsuit seeking at least $900,000 in damages for the actions taken by the Hardings.

The lawsuit alleged between 2005 and 2013, the Hardings had sold and cashed in on pre-need funeral contracts to 111 people who weren't actually dead. Fourteen people died after the funeral home initially said they did.

Beginning in September 2012 - and up until as recently as March of this year - Gatens-Harding submitted claims to Homesteaders Life, saying that a member of the insurance plan had died and the funeral home had rendered services.

For each submitted death claim, Gatens-Harding received payments ranging from $1,448 to $14,565.

The average funeral with a casket and visitation costs about $7,000, Kraus said, noting that the majority of people entering pre-need contracts pay for their entire plan with one payment.

In total, Gatens-Harding reportedly received about $919,000 from the insurance company for all 111 people it had claimed were deceased who actually weren't.

According to the complaint, Chad Harding signed his name on every one of the claims.

Last Thursday, following the lawsuit's initial filing, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sent a letter to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant notifying her of several changes to the Board of Funeral Service Examiners.

Among the changes were the appointment of Connie Grisell of Glen Dale, who is taking the seat held by Harding.

Members of the Board of Funeral Services serve four year terms. The president of the board is elected by its members each year.

Last June, Harding was elected president and he was reappointed again this June.

Chris Stadelman, spokesman for the governor, said Harding was not reappointed to the board by Tomblin.

"He was serving beyond the expiration date of his term until a new appointment was made," Stadelman said, adding Tomblin was aware of the complaint when he made the decision to appoint a new person to Harding's position.

Harding was first appointed to the board in March 2010 by then-Gov. Joe Manchin.

Chad Harding did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Gazette-Mail for this story.

A post on Gatens-Harding Funeral Home's Facebook page Wednesday thanked supporters for their prayers and calls.

"We want to say thank you to all the people that have called, emailed and text to say I love you and we support you," the post stated. "There are always two sides to every story. We are not perfect and yes we make mistakes. Our attorney is working to get this resolved as soon as possible and if we owe anything it will be paid completely. We appreciate your continued prayers."

Reach Joel Ebert at 304-348-4843, joel.ebert@dailymailwv.com, or follow @joelebert29 on Twitter.

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VentLine: Aug. 31, 2015 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839908 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839908 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 It is man's law to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It isn't God's law. It is between a man and a woman.

One more time people; no one is born in the wrong body. God doesn't make mistakes.

Please put Charlie West back on the front page where he belongs. Thank you.

To all of these men who don't want to be dads to their own children, however they will raise another man's child: you need to listen to the song "Cats in the Cradle" by Cat Stevens. [Editor's note: "Cats in the Cradle" is by Harry Chapin.]

I'm thinking about what is going on in Kentucky now. Everybody is afraid of lawyers. That is how this country has gotten so disjointed.

I get sick and tired of people talking about people getting SSI that don't deserve it. I worked all my life until I was in a bad car wreck and was unable to work or even walk; I was in a wheelchair. Please make these people understand. SSI isn't just for lazy people.

The state gives teachers money for faculty senate to help us buy supplies. Now our new principal is going to make us share it with teachers who aren't supposed to get it because they get money through other avenues. Can someone help us?

People complain about killing Charley. On a dead end on a West Side hill, near the steps someone seems to be killing the deer and then slaughtering them. Dead animals can be found in yards and the forest.

Two weeks ago I found my beagle/combo dog dead in a closet. I knew he had disappeared, but I didn't know where he was. Rigor mortis had set in. Boy do I miss him - he was my pal. I just don't want to be without him. If you have an animal be kind to them and take care of them.

How ironic that Capito is held up as a role model when she voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

I agree they need to remove Juan Williams from Fox News Channel. They also need to remove Geraldo Rivera. The reason: they both interrupt people and attempt to dominate airtime.

The longer Barack Obama is in office, the more obvious it becomes that he hates America. In particular he hates white Americans.

So John Kasich is for homosexual marriage, Planned Parenthood, abortion, the illegal alien amnesty and anchor babies. It sounds to me like he ought to be a Democrat.

That cartoon on page 5A today is the most disgusting and destructive I've ever seen.

I was reading the Vent Line the other day and one comment stated they'd vote for Hillary because she was ugly. Tell me this; did you vote for Shelley Moore Capito?

The coal mines were a lot better off when the union had a stronger presence. If the union was still in force things would be a lot better.

I won't vote for Hillary because she is a lying, deceitful criminal person who hates America and just likes herself. Oh, that is like the current president.

The current corrupt administration will raise the American flag in Cuba while it takes down the Confederate flag in the south. What a disgrace.

So now the county commission wants landline owners to pay for all the cell phones calls being made to 911 for drug addicts?

Tomblin seems to be on vacation all the time. I wish a firecracker could be stuck up his butt so he could accomplish something before he retires.

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Statehouse Beat: Capitol security measures considered http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839917 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839917 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 One of the charming things about the state Capitol is its accessibility. This time of year, I frequently run into tourists asking for directions to the visitor's entrance, and they always seemed surprised when they learn they can use any door they want.

However, that may be about to change.

Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, has directed Senate Clerk Clark Barnes to study options to enhance security to the Capitol.

Evidently, there was a interagency meeting tentatively planned for last week that got canceled while Barnes awaits recommendations from Protective Services (the Capitol complex police) and the National Guard.

"We certainly owe it to our employees, our constituents who are visiting and our legislators to ensure they have as safe a place as possible to work in," Barnes said.

The state ramped up security at the Capitol complex after the September 11 terrorist attacks, including adding security checkpoints to entrances to most buildings on campus, requiring visitors to pass through metal detectors and have parcels X-rayed.

At that time, the Wise administration's plans for enhanced security included the Capitol, which was to have four visitors' entrances, with metal detectors and X-ray machines.

Some legislators at the time balked at the cost - I believe plans called for hiring 14 full-time security officers to man the entrances year-round - and the proposal was effectively killed when the late Sen. Bill Sharpe, D-Lewis, argued against it, declaring, "It's the people's Capitol."

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Cynics might say that if legislators plan to take up controversial measures such as right-to-work and repeal of prevailing wage in the 2016 session, it could behoove them to make accessibility to the Capitol more restrictive.

Imagine how long it might take 6,000 people - the estimated crowd of the labor rally at the Capitol back in March -- to go through security, particularly if by some coincidence, only one or two visitors' entrances happened to be open at the time.

However, as Barnes noted, in this day and age, it's best to assume that everyone is at risk. (I spoke to him the day after the WDBJ-TV reporter and videographer were murdered on live television.)

And, there have certainly been times over the years during heated debates on the House or Senate floor when I've looked up at packed galleries full of angry people and crossed my fingers that there wasn't a nut with a handgun among them.

Likewise, members of the press corps could have sworn they saw members of the Citizens Defense League packing heat during rallies for permit-less conceal carry laws last session, despite a ban on weapons in the Capitol.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, security measures at 26 state capitols include metal detectors at visitors' entrances, so we've passed the tipping point to where most capitols have restricted entrances.

(Rules vary from state to state, according to the NCSL. In some capitols, everyone must go through the security checkpoints, while some exempt elected officers, legislators and/or state employees. Texas has a particularly interesting policy: Persons with state government IDs, and those with concealed-carry permits get to bypass the security checkpoints.)

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Security checkpoints might also be in order given all the angry state employees who believe they've been shorted pay this year with the switch from semi-monthly to biweekly pay periods.

While Auditor Glen Gainer's office has done some impressive spin control to explain that the lost pay isn't really lost, I get the impression most state employees aren't buying it.

(I'm sure Gainer wants to tamp down the uproar long before he has to face Delegate John McCuskey, R-Kanawha, in the 2016 auditor's race. 38,000 disgruntled state employees is a sizeable voting bloc.)

In an unusual move, Julie Thomas, acting director of employment litigation and a general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Resources, has requested a copy of the Level I decision in the grievance David Harper Gardner Jr. and others filed against the Department of Transportation alleging they were shorted pay with the change.

"As a Wave 2 agency, DHHR is trying to anticipate as many glitches as possible before going live," Thomas wrote to UE Local 170 West Virginia Public Workers Union representative Gordon Simmons. "DHHR feels this grievance decision may assist us in preparing for the switch."

Apparently, a massive number of DHHR employees are planning to file a grievance when that department switches to biweekly pay in December.

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Finally, congratulations to Archie Bradley, son of Lottery Commission deputy director David Bradley, on his promotion from high-A Visalia to AA Mobile. (As we know, the jump from A to AA ball is probably the toughest hurdle in the climb up the minor league baseball ladder.)

Bradley's manager in Visalia? None other than Nitro's J.R. House, who also deserves kudos for being selected as the California League manager of the year.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1220, or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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Readers' Voice: Aug. 31, 2015 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839919 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ01/150839919 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:01:00 -0400 On our precious Earth will we run out of minerals or run out of trees first? At least we can keep on replanting trees.

I want to comment on Judge James Mazzone's courtroom list of things that people can't wear to court. I totally agree with him. People go to the grocery store and they look like they just got out of bed and with short shorts and low cut pants you see more than you want to see. Thank you, Judge.

AEP is raising the electricity rates and then when poor people who have low or no income can't pay the huge amount, they turn the electric off. People are suffering because they don't have that much money.

Just wondering why Riverside cheerleaders can be suspended and still be on the squad but when this happens at other schools they are suspended and kicked off the team.

To all of you people who are praising Trump for sending illegal aliens back - most of those people came over here and worked hard for their dollar and had kids here. Why don't you talk about the thousands of Cubans who came in illegally through Florida who got to stay?

I thought something was going to be done about the traffic problems in Cross Lanes or was that just another pack of lies told by the politicians as it has been for the last 25 years?

How rude that you would go to a restaurant and not tip. Someone is making your food to order and you don't tip.

While oil prices are so very low and the gasoline prices are still at the same level where are all the profits going? We need to know this, America.

Do you think there's any chance that the DOH could get out and clean up the interstate? Our roads look horrible because there's trash and weeds everywhere.

To the people on Campbell's Creek - the now-closed car wash is not a dump site. Please quit leaving your trash there.

It's extremely poor planning by the city to block up Louden Heights Road and Bridge Road at the same time.

There's no sense in showing the weather over and over on channels seven and eight. One time is enough.

Fox News is doing everything it can to knock Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race. They just have program after program about her emails, especially Megyn Kelly. It's unbelievable and pitiful.

Comparing so called "anti-gun" people to vultures? We can play that game. "Gun-crazies" can be compared to another bird, a bird that is used to describe people who are afraid of everything - the chicken.

Mayor Danny Jones is not the one wasting public funds. This Janet Johnson is the one wasting public funds with frivolous lawsuits.

The Hurricane police need to get out and do something about the school traffic on Teays Valley Road. It wouldn't hurt them to be out here in the mornings directing traffic, especially at West Teays Elementary.

It seems like Senator Jeff Kessler has this idea that one section of society should pay for the education of a huge section of the other part of society. He likes to spend other people's money.

There is no way under the stars to control guns. The only thing you'd be controlling is the guns purchased by people who are doing it legally. Do you really think that crooks are buying guns legally and registering them in their name? They would have the guns and the legal people who follow the law would not.

When you are in this country illegally and you have not entered through the legal process you are a criminal and you are breaking the law, therefore you have no rights or civil liberties and should not have health care. Why can't we be like other countries and enforce these laws?

Why are football coaches having the boys run on the road when they have perfectly good tracks at the high schools?

Who at the Board of Education had the bright idea to tell students to confront a gunman in the building and throw things at them rather than hiding or trying to get out of the building and try to save their lives?

To the person saying that we don't have to worry about the overpopulation because humans are killing each other right and left and wants gun control I would like to ask: what about the 53 million abortions that do not require guns?

Obama calls those who are against the Iranian nuclear deal crazy. He's crazy along with the country of Iran, its leaders and its people. They are all chanting "death to America" and if that's not a red flag, I don't know what is.

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Monday Gazette cartoon http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839988 GZ04 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150831/GZ04/150839988 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:50:00 -0400

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