(AP) — Gov. Steve Beshear is leading a trade
mission to Canada, which is Kentucky's largest trade
partner. The governor's office says
more than a dozen Kentucky
small businesses will be matched with Canadian businesses and distribution
networks during the trip. The Kentucky
companies represent a variety of industries. The meetings are aimed at
allowing Kentucky companies to form
partnerships and begin selling products to Canada. The Kentucky
delegation will make stops in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
The group is scheduled to return to Kentucky
on May 30.
State officials say Kentucky exported more than $7.6 billion in products and
services to Canada
last year. Top exports include motor vehicles, auto parts and aerospace
State Delegate Don Perdue said WayneCounty’s
future is in peril following the announcement of more than 400 coal-mining
layoffs during the Memorial Day weekend.
“Those layoffs have an extraordinary
impact on Wayne County, not only from the point of view that many of those
employees are Wayne County citizens, but also from the loss in tax base that
our county will accrue from these layoffs and from the shut down of that mine,”
said Perdue (D-Wayne, 19).
Nearly 1,800 West Virginia miners learned Friday they
will face unemployment within 60 days, according to the state’s two largest
coal producers, Alpha Natural Resources and Murray Energy.
Alpha Natural Resources blamed the
layoffs at its Camp Creek operation near East Lynne on a low demand for coal
and federal EPA regulations.
Touting the need to establishing
new job opportunities, Perdue said, “Now it’s becoming even more critical for
the benefit of all those folks that are going to be laid off at least at that
mine that we are able to do that.”
The outward impact of the layoffs
will be huge, Perdue said, with suppliers, support services and retailers such
as grocery stores and gas stations feeling the pinch.
“As that employment becomes
non-existent, than so do those revenues in retail.”
Virginia’s biggest problem a “lack of
diversification,” Perdue said he hopes jobs will spring from the newly
completed Heartland Intermodal Gateway in Prichard,
a truck-rail transfer terminal that provides most of the state with a link to
international markets. He said the transportation industry is “in our future”
and that they need to accelerate this outlet.
“These are people that are out of work now. They’re going to
have to respond to being out of work now, so we have to respond to the business
of trying to create new jobs now.”
The state Public Service Commission
approved an overall $123 million or 9 percent rate increase Tuesday for
Appalachian Power Company and Wheeling Power Company but residential customers
will pay more.
The order spells out different
percentages of increases per customer classification and for residential
customers the increase is 16.1 percent a month. The average residential
customer will see an increase of $19.50 to their monthly bill, which state Consumer
Advocate Jackie Roberts thought is too high.
“Our position was that after
evaluating the filing, we thought the appropriate level of expenses for the
company would result in base rate increase of 3.49 percent,” Roberts said.
AEP Communications Director Jeri
Matheny maintained that even with the increase that residential customers would
still be paying below the national average. She said the increase is necessary
to improve their service.
“We requested this increase about a
year ago and it’s finally come to fruition,” Matheny said. “We need it mainly
to improve our infrastructure. We’ve got a lot of aging infrastructure out
there; the lines, the towers. And we need to invest in that to insure that
electricity stays reliable and improves.”
The PSC has ordered a 1-year
phase-in of the residential rate increases. The move will decrease the increase
to 11.8 percent, a $14.30 increase for the average customer.
Matheny was “glad that the PSC had
recognized some of the increasing costs of doing business.” Roberts felt that
some further evaluation was needed of the long report, but initially the
increase seemed excessive.
“We need to evaluate the order and
analyze the issues addressed by the commission,” she said. “But on a first
blush, this seems to be a very high increase for residential customers.”
Appalachian Power and the smaller Wheeling Power received
approval to increase their base rates and approval for a surcharge to pay for a
new vegetation clearing program. The PSC said the base rate increase is tied to
a $407 million investment by Appalachian Power to bring its power plants into
compliance with federal environmental regulations. The new vegetation program
was ordered by the PSC following the 2012 derecho and Superstorm Sandy that
happened later that year.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and U.S.
Attorney Booth Goodwin held a drug summit Tuesday night at WVU Parkersburg to
address what is now widely being referred to as an epidemic in the state
of West Virginia.
A delegation attended the summit
that included residents, including former drug users, law enforcement, police
officers and elected officials to discuss issues in a town hall
format. Manchin addressed the issue, saying that the widespread use of drugs
has affected almost everyone directly or indirectly.
“If you look around this room,
whether you’re a policeman, or whether you’re just one of us out in the crowd,
there’s not one person here that doesn’t know someone in their family or
extended family who has not been affected,” Manchin told the crowd. “Not one of
us. It is rampant, it is of epidemic proportions.”
Goodwin talked about how
prescription drug abuse has led to heroin, which is so dangerous because of the
unknown element of the drug.
“It’s not in a neat little package
with 30 milligrams or even 80 milligrams of a controlled substance,” Goodwin
said. “It can be 20 percent potency or 80 percent potency and you won’t know.
Because of that, the chances of overdosing grow exponentially.”
He said that drug abuse accounts
for 80 to 90 percent of the property crime in West Virginia counties. Manchin said that it
wasn’t just a West Virginia
“This is a national problem. It’s
not just our state and West Virginia, or just WoodCounty,”
Manchin said. “We have 19 counties in West
Virginia that are currently designated high
Goodwin said that the epidemic has
affected both the smallest of small towns and big cities alike, but even as a
federal prosecutor he knows it’s not an issue that can be fixed by arrests
“We’ve prosecuted an investigated
literally hundreds of drug dealers,” he said. “But enforcement is not enough.
It takes education, it takes reaching out to schools, letting kids know the
dangers that they face.”
Manchin told a story of a
discussion in which a group of kids told him that the easiest place to get
prescription drugs was right in their homes.
“I had a group of young people in Wheeling. I said just
tell me where the drugs are coming from,” Manchin recalled. “They said the
medicine cabinet. Mom or grandma got a prescription for pain killers and didn’t
use them all. Before you know it your kids bringing it to school and passing
A law was recently passed allowing citizens to carry Noloxone,
an antidote to opiate overdoses. Previously, only medical personnel had access
to the drug. Goodwin thought the drug could prove effective in the hands of
family and friends, using the analogy that “like an EpiPen is to allergic
reactions, Noloxone is to overdoses.”
State Attorney General Patrick
Morrisey announced Tuesday that the office recently filed a suit against Simple
Recovery Solutions, a Florida company that
allegedly tried to collect unverified debt or debt which never really existed
from West Virginia
The suit accuses SRS of unfair
competition methods and practices of deception by contacting consumers to
collect debt they didn’t owe. The company is accused of violations of the West
Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act; the complaint also alleges that
the organization operated without a valid West Virginia business license.
Morrisey said that the goal of the
suit was to protect the public.
“This complaint seeks to protect West Virginia consumers
from paying out money they do not owe,” Morrisey said. “Our office believes SRS
and its owners have collected, or attempted to collect, unverified debts from
at least 125 West Virginia
consumers so far.”
He said fraudulent debt collection
is a problem in West Virginia
and consumers had to be made aware of “unscrupulous business practices.”
The lawsuit was filed in Kanawha
County Circuit Court.
The Social Security Administration is reviewing the status of recipients whose cases were handled by Stanville attorney, Eric C. Conn, and a number of Social Security disability recipients in Eastern Kentucky and the surrounding area have been told that their checks are going to be cut off. The check cut-off is pending on further review of their cases.
The investigation is based on evidence handled by one of four physicians- Dr. Bradley Adkins, Dr. Srinivas Ammisetty, Dr. Frederic Huffnagle or Dr. David P. Herr. Letters have been sent out to those recipients affected and one of the letters states that the Office of the Inspector General has determined that fraud played a role in some of those cases. Along with that, it stated that medical evidence from those doctors and submitted by Conn or his associates must be disregarded.
Kent Wicker, Conn's attorney, said his client is innocent of allegations of wrongdoing and expects the suspensions to be a brief setback for clients. Wicker also went on to say that Conn's office has received phone calls from "several dozen" clients who received the letters and Conn is referring all of the clients to other attorneys to handle the redetermination process.