MOUTH OF THE ELK - Where The World Churns

(10/10/2002)

By Bob Weaver

VERIZON WILL SPEND $15 MIL ON 911 - Kanawha County could be developing a pilot project for 911 mapping and addressing for the rest of West Virginia. Dozens of West Virginia counties are struggling with the problem, while others have developed systems that are not uniform.

Verizon, the telecommunications company, has given $15 million to improve the state's dispatching systems, much of it linked to upgrading to cell phone technology.

West Virginia's addressing board has hired the Michael Baker, Jr. firm to map the entire state and assign new addresses in counties where addressing systems are incomplete or inconsistent.

HIGHER ED REPORT CARD - West Virginia scored second worst in the nation on a higher education report card. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education gave negative marks to the state system in areas from affordability to benefits, but indicated several improvements have been made. It's the only state where fewer that one in five have a bachelor's degree.

FOREIGN CORPORATION BUYING AMERICAN WATER - The Thames Water Company, owned by a German multi-national company, is buying water companies in West Virginia and around America, formerly West Virginia Water Company and now American Water Company, with a few whispers of dispute.

The company has been the United Kingdoms worst polluter in two of the past three years, while raking in giant corporate profits.

Within two months West Virginia's PSC will approve the sale and 160,000 families in 17 counties will depend upon a German mega-conglomerate for their water, water improvement and development of systems in rural areas.

Some public outcry has raised concern the for-profit company will not invest in costly upgrades in rural areas like West Virginia.

STATE RANKS 45TH IN CAMPAIGN STUDY - Low scores were awarded the state in the way it requires parties to report campaign finance openness. The low score was mostly linked to loopholes because parties were allowed to have special accounts, such as administrative or building funds that don't have to be reported. The state also failed the Pew Charitable Trust (Center for Public Integrity) funded report because of a lack of categories.

KANAWHA CANDIDATES WANT COUNTIES CONSOLIDATED - Republican candidate "Brud" Warner says there are too many counties to run government efficiently. He wants centralization through consolidation, as does Delegate Ray Keener (D) who said "We need to look at that to consolidate costs and expenses."

Calhoun County should take a serious look at annexing Kanawha County and Grantsville becoming their county seat, since the Calhoun Commission has critical expertise in squeezing efficiency out of every dollar.

Down in centralized Charleston, they don't even know how many cars are in the state car pool, and forbid one looks at the Kanawha County budget.

THREE 13-YEAR-OLDS KILLED IN ONE WEEK - Three 13-year old children were killed on ATV's in one recent week, in a state that does not have minimal requirements regarding safety and use of the vehicles. For the past eight years, the West Virginia Legislature has declined to develop safety standards or define where the vehicles can been ridden. Seventeen have been killed this year, mostly boys, the highest number in any state.

FUN TURNS ARROGANT - Speaking of hillbilly down and dumb images, Charleston's Capital High thought it was a fun idea to have "Logan County Hick Day" before the schools had their homecoming game. The game has been known to generate fist fights, name calling and jeers.


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