College Foundation Of West Virginia Sets New Goal For Completion Of Federal Student Aid Application

The Free Press WV

The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) has announced the statewide goal to have at least 63 percent of high school seniors file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April 15, 2018.

Filing the FAFSA is the first step in applying for financial aid for college. Students who file the FAFSA are considered for the Federal Pell Grant, which awards up to $5,920 annually to students to cover the cost of tuition and other education expenses. Additionally, students must submit a FAFSA to apply for many in-state scholarship and grant opportunities, such as the PROMISE Scholarship, which awards up to $4,750 annually, and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant, which awards up to $2,700 annually.

The following schools met or exceeded last year’s 60 percent FAFSA completion goal:

  • Bishop Donahue Memorial High School
  • Bluefield High School
  • Bridgeport High School
  • Buffalo High School
  • Cameron High School
  • Capital High School
  • Central Catholic High School
  • Charleston Catholic High School
  • Cross Lanes Christian School
  • East Fairmont High School
  • East Hardy High School
  • Elkins High School
  • Fairmont Senior High School
  • Faith Christian Academy
  • Frankfort High School
  • George Washington High School
  • Greenbrier East High School
  • Greenbrier West High School
  • Harman Elementary/High School
  • Hedgesville High School
  • Herbert Hoover High School
  • Hundred High School
  • Hurricane High School
  • Lewis County High School
  • Lincoln County High School
  • Lincoln High School
  • Logan Senior High School
  • Magnolia High School
  • Martinsburg High School
  • Midland Trail High
  • Mingo Central High School
  • Montcalm High School
  • Moorefield High School
  • Morgantown High School
  • Nitro High School
  • North Marion High School
  • Paden City High School
  • Parkersburg Catholic High School
  • Paw Paw High School
  • Pendleton County Middle/High School
  • Petersburg High School
  • Ravenswood High School
  • Ripley High School
  • Scott High School
  • Shady Spring High
  • Sissonville High School
  • South Charleston High School
  • South Harrison High School
  • Spring Mills High School
  • Teays Valley Christian School
  • Tucker County High School
  • Tug Valley High School
  • Tygarts Valley Middle/High School
  • Union Educational Complex
  • University High School
  • Valley High School (Smithers)
  • Valley High School (Wetzel)
  • Van Junior/Senior High School
  • Wahama High School
  • Washington High School
  • Webster County High School
  • Weir High School
  • Westside High School
  • Wheeling Park High School
  • Williamstown High School
  • Winfield High School
  • Wirt County High School
  • Wyoming County East High School


Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the HEPC, noted that student aid dollars oftentimes go unclaimed simply because students do not file the FAFSA.

“The financial aid is out there, but students have to apply to receive it,” said Hill. “All students who plan to pursue some form of education or training beyond high school, regardless of their income or grades, should file the FAFSA to be considered for federal and state student aid.”

Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor for the CTCS, stressed that filing the FAFSA can help many students go to college debt-free.

“If students receive the maximum award amounts for the Federal Pell Grant and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant, they will already have nearly $9,000 to pay for college,” said Tucker. “This is more than double the average yearly cost of tuition at West Virginia’s two-year institutions. Filing the FAFSA is a crucial step in transitioning to postsecondary education.”

March 01 is the deadline for students to submit a FAFSA to be considered for the PROMISE Scholarship, and April 15 is the deadline for students to submit the FAFSA to be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. Students who plan to pursue education or training beyond high school during the 2018-19 academic year can now complete the 2018-19 FAFSA online at using their 2016 tax returns. Students who wish to apply for the PROMISE Scholarship can do so now at

Staff from the Financial Aid Division at HEPC are working with college and university partners to help increase financial aid awareness throughout communities in the state. As a result, hundreds of free financial aid and FAFSA workshops are scheduled throughout the academic year. A full list of workshops is available at

CFWV is West Virginia’s college- and career-planning resource. The initiative is led by HEPC in partnership with CTCS, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts.

Fall Foliage Report: Colors Approaching Peak

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Fall color is approaching peak in parts of southern West Virginia, just in time for Bridge Day, which is scheduled for Saturday.

The state Division of Forestry along with the state Tourism Office released their fall foliage report Wednesday:

In the higher elevations, wind, rain and frost have brought many of the leaves of all species except oaks to the ground. Limited viewing opportunities remain in the eastern mountains as the oaks change to yellow. Most of the remaining color can now be found in southern and central West Virginia, along with parts of the Eastern and Northern Panhandles.

West Virginia counties and regions showing good color:

Berkeley (70%) — A good range of color can be found at Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area off Hampshire Grade Road.

Doddridge (75%) — U.S. 50 from Parkersburg to Clarksburg is a recommended drive.

Mercer (75%) — U.S. Route 19 from Princeton to Gardner is scenic.

Mingo (30%) — King Coal Highway is showing quite a bit of color.

Monongalia County (65%) — Coopers Rock State Forest on the Preston-Monongalia border is still colorful.

Morgan (60%) — Color is approaching peak just in time for the Berkeley Springs Fall Studio Tour—a driving tour of local art studios Oct. 21-22. The three-state panorama off W.Va. Route 9 and Detour Road is another good view.

Logan (40%) — Blair Mountain is showing quite a bit of color.

Nicholas (70%)— W.Va. Route 39 from Summersville to Gauley Bridge is a recommended drive.

Ohio (55%) —The maples along W.Va. Route 88 through Oglebay Resort are showing good color.

Ritchie (60%)—U.S. 50 from Parkersburg to Clarksburg is approaching peak color.

Taylor (65%) —Tygart Lake State Park is beautiful now. The oaks are still green but other trees are showing oranges, yellows and reds.

Featured #AlmostHeaven Road Trip: New River Gorge

Color is at 75% along U.S. Route 60 from Gauley Bridge to Ansted, where Hawks Nest State Park offers scenic overlooks of the New River Gorge. Some leaves have dropped from the higher elevations but the lower elevations are showing good colors in pockets. Spectators at this weekend’s Bridge Day festivities should see some fall colors in the gorge. This is a good time of year to visit Babcock State Park as well.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to continue sharing their favorite fall photos, moments and memories using #AlmostHeaven.

New River Gorge Bridge 40th Anniversary Celebration

On October 22, 2017 the New River Gorge Bridge will celebrate 40 years! Join us for a special celebration on October 21, 2017 at the 38th annual Bridge Day festival.

Traffic comes to a halt on the New River Gorge Bridge as thousands of people pour onto the bridge — and a few of them jump off it — during the annual celebration of Bridge Day this Saturday.

The event, which starts in Fayetteville on Friday and moves to the bridge on Saturday, includes B.A.S.E. Jumping, rappelling, a Bridge Jam with live music, a Taste of Bridge Day and many other events.

Friday, October 20

  • 5 pm-9 pm: Taste of Bridge Day at Smokey’s Steakhouse @ Adventures on the Gorge
  • 7 pm-midnight: The Bridge Jam at the Cascade Festival Grounds on Maple Ave.
  • 8 pm-11 pm: Groundhog Gravy Band at The Rendezvous Lodge @ Adventures on the Gorge

Saturday, October 21

  • 5:30 am: Vendors to various staging lots
  • 7 am: Route 19 closes
  • 7:30 am: Active Southern WV Bridge Day 5k race registration begins
  • 8:30 am: Shuttles begin at designated parking lots (Kroger, WalMart, Fayetteville High School, Lighthouse Worship Center and Midland Trail High School)
  • 9 am-3 pm: Bridge Day begins
  • 9 am-1:30 pm: Into the Gorge bus rides start (this is pre-sold)
  • 9:15 am: 5k race begins
  • 10 am-3 pm: Bridge Day Car Show at the Gorge Gateway Center on Laurel Creek Rd.
  • 2:30 pm-midnight: The Bridge Jam at Cascade Festival Grounds on Maple Ave.
  • 3 pm-5:30 pm: Bridge Day Chili Cook Off at Downtown Fayetteville
  • 5pm: Route 19 re-opens
  • 8:30 pm-11:30 pm: The Wild Rumpus at The Rendezvous Lodge @ Adventures on the Gorge

For more information, please contact the Bridge Day office at 304.465.5617.

Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27

The three-day special antlerless deer season for youth hunters, persons who possess a Class Q/QQ permit and senior citizens with a Class XS license will soon be underway.

The first segment of the season is one day, October 21, and the second segment is two days, December 26-27.

This season is open on private and public lands in counties that have a firearms deer hunting season.

Youth hunters ages 8-17 may participate in this special antlerless deer season.

Hunters ages 8-14 must be accompanied by a licensed adult who may not hunt or possess implements for the taking of wildlife.

Hunters ages 15-17 must comply with all licensing requirements.

The Free Press WV

“The special split antlerless season provides an excellent opportunity for parents and other mentoring adults to pass on the skills, safe habits and traditions of hunting to youth hunters,“ said Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist with the DNR. “This season also provides excellent opportunities for our seniors and other eligible hunters to take to the woods at a time when hunting pressure is at a reduced level.“

All hunters participating in this season, as well as accompanying adults, must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange.

The daily bag limit for this special antlerless deer season is one antlerless deer per day.

A total of three antlerless deer may be harvested during this season.

These deer will not count toward the hunter’s annual deer season bag limit, and Class N/NN stamps are not required for this special season.

Each harvested deer must be field tagged and electronically registered within 24 hours of the close of each segment of the split season and before pursuit of any additional deer.

Deer may be checked in on the Electronic Licensing System at, by calling 1.844.WVCHECK or by visiting a license agent.

Please, refer to the 2017-2018 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for additional details on this special split antlerless deer season. Hunters may also direct their questions to any of the six DNR district offices.

NewsWest Virginia

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I get it that it’s a pose for the camera, but should he Really be wearing a Police hat for hunting?

By Hunter  on  10.20.2017

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  • 9 States Will Require Passports for Domestic Flights Within the U.S. :  The TSA: always convenient.  ESQUIRE

  • Trump admits he’s trying to kill Obamacare. That’s illegal:    “Modern American history has never seen as full-scale an effort to sabotage a valid law as we have with Trump and the Affordable Care Act — a law whose legality has been upheld twice by the U.S. Supreme Court. The president has a legal obligation, under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, to [take Care that the laws be faithfully executed’” That means he must make sure that our laws are implemented in good faith and that he uses his executive discretion reasonably toward that end. His agencies likewise have a legal obligation, under the Administrative Procedure Act — the statute that sets the rules for our entire federal regulatory apparatus — not to use their power to engage in arbitrary action. The intentional, multi-pronged sabotage of the ACA that we have seen over the past nine months — reaching new heights since attempts by Congress to repeal the law failed — violates both Trump’s constitutional obligations and quite possibly the obligations of his Department of Health and Human Services.”  Vox

  • AGs sue DeVos for eliminating protections for students:  “Eighteen Democratic attorneys general are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to enforce an Obama-era rule meant to protect students from predatory career college programs, BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday. The attorneys general from 17 states and D.C. filed suit against Tuesday after DeVos blocked and then promised to undo an Obama-era rule called ‘gainful employment.’ It would have stopped federal financial aid funding from going to career college programs at for-profit colleges that leave students with low income and massive debt loads. The lawsuit alleges that DeVos is violating federal law by not enforcing the rule.”  The Hill

  • NC GOP faces court scrutiny of gerrymanders:    “North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature, already ordered by federal courts to fix illegal racial gerrymandering, is now charged with one of worst partisan gerrymanders in U.S. history. Three-judge federal panel hears suit by League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others asserting that with fairly even splits in popular votes in recent elections for Congress, Republicans manipulated election district maps to give GOP a 10-3 majority of state’s congressional seats. Suit quotes Rep. David Lewis, GOP chair of state house redistricting committee, as saying he wanted maximum Republican advantage and settled for 10-3 GOP tilt only ‘because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.‘”  Reclaim The American Dream

  • DeepMind Unveils Self-Taught Artificial Intelligence:  The only way to win is not to play. AlphaGo software already beat Go’s human world champion this year, but the Google-owned company says its updated program goes a step beyond. While the original was trained on data from 100,000 human-played games, new AlphaGo Zero just learned the rules and taught itself the rest. Within three days it had learned to beat its predecessor, despite using about one-twelfth the computing power. DeepMind scientists hope this reinforcement learning technique could be applied to fields like quantum chemistry or particle physics.    Nature

Did You Know?

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After approving the president’s $4 trillion budget plan, GOP senators begin efforts to enact the first tax overhaul in three decades by the end of the year.


John Kelly speaks about the reality and pain of war sacrifice, praising those who serve and summoning the 2010 death of his own son to defend President Donald Trump against accusations of insensitive outreach to a grieving military family.


Drone footage from Raqqa shows bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lying piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.


Environmental pollution was the cause of one in six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — a new major study says.


The number of U.S. adults without health insurance is up nearly 3.5 million this year, as rising premiums and political turmoil over “Obamacare” undermine coverage gains that drove the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low.


Former President Obama says Democrats should reject politics of “division” and “fear” as he drums up support for the party’s gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey.


Some survivors are ready for closure, but feel engulfed by anxiety and security fears as they attend a country music concert benefiting victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in modern U.S. history.


Prototypes for Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, which must be completed by Oct. 28, are being built at a construction site in San Diego, just a few steps from homes in Tijuana, Mexico.


French pastries, and butter, have become so popular abroad that the increased demand has caused a mini shortage of the dairy product in French supermarkets.


Enrique Hernandez hits three home runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 11-1 to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988.

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The Free Press WV
October 20, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse
Commission Office
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV





        9:15-Jeff Campbell-GCEDA-Resolution for Broadband

        9:30-Gary Wolfe


    Discussion and/or action on:

        1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations

        2) Approve Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements

        3) Board Appointments and/or Resignations:

            a) Board Seats open on the:

        4) Budget Revisions

        5) Budget Control Report

        6) Approve Invoices for Payment

        7) Approve County Commission Minutes-None

    v8) Receipt of County Board Minutes:

            a) Gilmer County Public Service District

            b) Wes-Mon-Ty RC & D Board minutes-August 22, 2017



    Discussion and/or action on:

        a) Appoint Sheriff Larry Gerwig as Administrator for William Pal Conrad Estate

        b) Reimbursement for Election Expenses

        c) Certify Election Results-October 07, 2017 Special Election

        d) Record Preservation Management Grant Application




Regular Session on November 03, 2017

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On Friday, October 20, six Glenville State College alumni will be inducted into the Curtis Elam Athletic Hall of Fame, which was established in 2001 through the generosity of the late Curtis Elam, a 1949 graduate.

This year’s inductees will be:

  • Dr. Carl Nichols ‘64
  • John Flint ‘68
  • Jim Garnett
  • Steve Buffington ‘75
  • Greg Del Price ‘80
  • Tammy Spence ‘03

Nichols will be inducted in the meritorious category and Garnett will be inducted posthumously.

A meet and greet social reception for banquet attendees will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Waco Center with the induction banquet following at 7:00 p.m.

The Hall of Fame induction banquet is being held in conjunction with homecoming weekend.

The inductees will also be recognized on Saturday, October 21 at the annual parade and during halftime of the football game.

The public is invited to attend. Contact GSC’s Alumni Office at 304.462.6116 for ticket information.


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Future Pioneers are invited to participate in Glenville State College’s annual Fall Open House on Saturday, October 21.

Visitors can begin arriving at 8:15 am. at the Waco Center; check-in is scheduled from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. (the Waco Center is located at 921 Mineral Road).

The day will begin with a welcome and information session that will provide an overview of student services, financial aid, housing, and more.

Campus tours will be held from 9:50 to 10:20 a.m., ending with a tour of the academic departments.

During this portion of the Open House, students will have an opportunity to visit the departments associated with their intended majors and meet some of their future faculty members.

The day will wrap up with a free lunch at 12:15 p.m.

The Fall Open House coincides with Homecoming Weekend 2017.

To sign up and for more information, visit or call 800.924.2010 by Monday, October 16.

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The Gilmer Free Press

Area High School Football Scoreboard
2017: Week 9 Games
Hannan (2-5)   #12 North Marion (5-2)  
Gilmer County (1-6)   #12 Braxton County (5-2)  
Calhoun County (0-8)   #11 Valley (Wetzel) (5-2)  
#6 Webster County (6-1)   #10 Doddridge County (6-2)  
Wirt County (3-4)   Williamstown (4-4)  
Ritchie County (2-6)   Parkersburg Catholic (0-6)  
#1 South Harrison (7-0)   Magnolia (2-6)  
#3 St. Marys (6-0)   Tyler Consolidated (4-3)  
Roane County (AA) (0-7)   Paden City (2-5)  
#14 Ravenswood (4-3)   Van (3-5)  
#4 Midland Trail (A) (8-0)   Beallsville, OH  
Nicholas County (5-2)   #8 Cameron (6-1)  
#4 Liberty Harrison (7-0)   Valley (Fayette) (3-5)  
Robert C. Byrd (4-3)   Richwood (4-3)  
#9 Keyser (5-2)   Elkins (3-4)  
#5 Bridgeport (7-1)   #11 Lincoln (5-2)  
Shady Spring (3-4)   #8 Hurricane (4-3)  
Clay County (5-2)   #12 Parkersburg (4-3)  
Philip Barbour (5-2)   Buckhannon-Upshur (3-4)  
Lewis County (1-7)   Brooke (1-6)  
Greenbrier East (1-6)      
Parkersburg South (2-5)      
BYE WEEK:  Notre Dame


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Click HERE or the EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS on the Page Menu (top) to see more Upcoming Events


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Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence agent is now smarter than ever and taught itself how to play Go

The new agent, named AlphaGo Zero, beat the previous agent 100 games to 0 after just three days of practice.

Applel has new self-driving car hardware covered with iPod-style white plastic

The cars have a lot of different sensors, including six Velodyne lidar sensors.

A former Uber executive was dropped from a lawsuit involving a woman who was allegedly raped by a driver

Emil Michael, Uber’s former senior vice president of business who resigned in June, is no longer a defendant.

Google put a custom, self-designed chip inside its latest flagship smartphone

For now, Google’s IPU is dormant inside the Pixel 2 devices.

BTIG analysts apologized for being too optimistic about Snapchat

“We were wrong to not have a SELL rating,“ analyst Richard Greenfield said.

Some of the fake Facebook accounts tied to Russia also used the Messenger app

“My understanding at this stage is that it’s a small number,“ said David Marcus, VP of Messenger.

New York City will be bathed with orange light in support of its bid for Amazon’s $5 billion headquarters

Many of the city’s landmarks will be lit up in orange.

Games publisher EA has shut down the studio Visceral Games

The future of the unreleased ‘Star Wars’ game the studio was working on is now uncertain.

Google admitted its AI is making errors when deleting terrorist content off YouTube

“As we have increased the volume of videos for review by our teams, we have made some errors,“ the company wrote.

The Guardian is launching a $35 million venture capital fund to invest in startups

GMG Ventures will invest in “early stage businesses focused on developing the next generation of media technology.“


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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

Nice to see the Gilmer County Commission finally reveal their meeting minutes after long lapses of no information.  Can’t help but wonder if this was posted specifically because of the topic -  Sheriff Gerwig being assigned to another estate case before closing out others. Memories of Willard F. Cottrill today. d. 10/20/10 R.I.P.  The minutes should be interesting.  Let freedom ring.

By MC  on  10.20.2017

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West Virginia News

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►  Parachutists to gather in West Virginia for Bridge Day

Thrillseekers from across the globe are converging on West Virginia for an annual bridge-jumping event.

Saturday’s Bridge Day festival in Fayetteville is being held for the 38th year. It is the one day a year that it’s legal to jump off the 876-foot high span across the New River Gorge.

Hundreds of BASE-jumping parachutists make the annual leap off the bridge. The acronym BASE stands for the places from which jumpers usually leap: buildings, antennae, spans and earth.

More than 80,000 people are expected to walk across the bridge. Rappellers also will make their way from a cat walk under the bridge to the river below. Also available to anyone for $159 will be an 800-foot-long high line slide that drops 300 vertical feet.

The 3,030-foot-long bridge opened to traffic in October 1977.

►  3,000 pumpkins need carvers for West Virginia display

With more than 3,000 pumpkins to carve for his West Virginia home’s annual Halloween display, Ric Griffith is looking for some volunteers to tackle the task.

Griffith has the pumpkins set up in rows ready to be turned into jack-o’-lanterns and other hand-drawn designs.

Griffith says volunteers will start arriving at his home in Kenova on Sunday to handle the many tasks that include cutting and cleaning pumpkins and putting them in place.

He says sometimes people will walk into his yard and ask how they can help, and he puts them to work. He says the annual project is “total randomness coming together into a finished product.”

Griffith said the pumpkins will be lit after being carved and remain that way through Halloween night on October 31.

►  Fairmont State choses new president

Dr. Mirta Martin will become the next president of Fairmont State University, the Board of Governors announced during a meeting Thursday morning.

Dr. Martin has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, banking, advisory and consulting, and her career involves work in both the public and private sectors, as well as work with public-private partnerships.

Martin is scheduled to officially begin her presidency on January 01, 2018, taking over duties from interim president Stephen B. Jones.

►  Manchin announces 2018 campaign staff

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, announced his re-election campaign staff Wednesday, which includes former members of Governor Jim Justice’s staff and a longtime adviser to the senator.

Grant Herring and Marcus Constantino will serve as communications director and digital director respectively. Both left the governor’s office — Constantino in August and Herring in September — following Justice’s switch to the Republican Party.

Justice, who was elected as a Democrat, announced the move at an August 3 rally in Huntington with Donald Trump.

Larry Puccio will serve as senior adviser to the campaign. Puccio served as chief of staff for Manchin during his time as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005 and later when Manchin became governor. He also served as chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party from June 2010 to January 2015, stepping down to serve as chairman of Country Roads PAC, Manchin’s political action committee.

According to a September 15 filing with U.S. Federal Election Commission, Country Roads PAC has $451,184.35 on hand.

Puccio also is registered as a lobbyist according to the West Virginia Ethics Commission, which has directories of registered lobbyists on its website dating back to a 2009-2010 period. As reported in the register for the 2017-2018 registration period dated October 10, Puccio represents multiple interests in his lobbying work, including the Greenbrier Resort, Mylan Inc., Frontier Communications, FirstEnergy and the West Virginia Press Association.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, serves as CEO of Mylan.

Puccio and Manchin were named in a lawsuit worth more than $14 million regarding an investment into a Hilton Garden Inn in Morgantown. Manchin said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” the investment was made as part of a blind trust.

Puccio also served as chairman of the Justice transition team prior to the governor’s January inauguration.

The rest of the campaign staff includes the following individuals:

— Pat Devney, who is serving as campaign manager.

— Patti Hamilton, who is the West Virginia Finance Director. She is responsible for overseeing in-state fundraising efforts.

— Kelsey Kirby, whose responsibilities as a grassroots organizer includes engaging community leaders and college students. Kirby is Manchin’s granddaughter, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May.

— Gary Burke, who will focus on mobilizing local and Democratic leaders. According to a campaign press release, Burke previously worked for DuPont Chemical as well as other Democratic campaigns.

“We’ve assembled a phenomenal group with the passion and talent to lead our campaign in 2018,” Manchin said in a press release. “Each of our campaigns has always been about directly engaging as many voters as possible and this one won’t be any different.”

►  Ex-West Virginia school employees sentenced for embezzlement

Two former West Virginia school system employees have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison apiece for embezzlement.

Media outlets report David Bryan Jarrell and Tracy L. Harvey were sentenced Wednesday in Boone County Circuit Court.

Jarrell was the transportation director for Boone County’s school system and Harvey was a bus mechanic and purchasing agent.

They were accused of using county funds to buy tires and other automotive-related items. State police have said the embezzlement involved tens of thousands of dollars.

In September, ex-county board of education president Mark Sumpter and ex-board member Danny Cantley were indicted on charges of accepting gifts from companies doing business with the school system.

An indictment says Sumpter allegedly accepted tires from board vendors, while Cantley allegedly received auto racing event tickets.

National News

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►  ‘Murder insurance’ or protection in self-defense cases?

The National Rifle Association is offering insurance for people who shoot someone, stirring criticism from gun-control advocates who say it could foster more violence and give gun owners a false sense of security to shoot first and ask questions later.

Some are calling it “murder insurance,” and say that rather than promoting personal responsibility and protection, it encourages gun owners to take action and not worry about the consequences. And, they say, it’s being marketed in a way that feeds on the nation’s racial divisions.

Guns Down, a gun-control group formed last year, is running an ad campaign to criticize the NRA’s new insurance. It’s just the latest group to take aim at the NRA’s offering.

“The reason I call it murder insurance is because if you look at the way this is marketed, it’s really sold in the context of ‘There’s a threat around every corner, dear mostly-white NRA member,’ and that threat is either a black man or a brown man or some other kind of person of color,” said Guns Down director Igor Volsky.

“So when you inevitably have to use your gun to defend yourself from this threat around every corner, you have insurance to protect you.”

Carry Guard insurance was launched this past spring by the NRA. Rates range from $13.95 a month for up to $250,000 in civil protection and $50,000 in criminal defense to a “gold plus” policy that costs $49.95 a month and provides up to $1.5 million in civil protection and $250,000 in criminal defense.

The NRA isn’t the only gun lobbying group offering such insurance. The United States Concealed Carry Association has been in the business much longer and provides up to $2 million in civil costs and $250,000 for criminal defense. But the NRA is the most prominent gun-rights group in the country and it offered similar insurance previously. And Carry Guard is more comprehensive and being marketed more aggressively than it has been previously. It’s drawing attention to a type of policy that was relatively obscure until now.

Guns Down’s advertising campaign casts a spotlight on the policies and asks the two insurance companies involved with it — Lockton Affinity, which administers it, and Chubb, the underwriter — to drop it. The campaign includes a video message from Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen shot and killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman whose case drew nationwide notoriety.

The video featuring Fulton begins with images showing some of the most racially divisive moments in recent history — from the white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, to surveillance footage showing Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine African-Americans in 2015 during a prayer meeting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

“They spend millions lobbying for laws that allow them to ‘shoot first’ and ‘stand their ground.’ But that just makes it easier to get away with murder,” Fulton says. She criticizes the insurance and implores viewers to tell Chubb and Lockton Affinity to drop the insurance — and to not purchase their products until they do.

Lockton declined to comment to The Associated Press. In a statement, Chubb told the AP that it provides insurance for a wide range of risks and when customers are engaged in “lawful activity,” including hunting, shooting at gun ranges or when a firearm accidentally discharges. It noted that Carry Guard includes training and safety courses.

Neither Chubb nor Lockton would provide data on the number of policies sold or the claims filed.

Carry Guard was aggressively promoted during this year’s NRA annual meeting, with life-sized posters featuring spokeswoman Dana Loesch holding a card that offers three tips for what to do after shooting someone: Call 911, wait for police to arrive and then call the Carry Guard number for legal assistance. It advises gun owners to not speak with police about the incident until speaking first with an attorney.

The NRA insurance doesn’t require policyholders to take any safety or tactical training courses but encourages them to do so. Initial training courses cost $850 per student for a three-day session.

Peter Kochenburger, an insurance expert at the University of Connecticut School of Law, has been following the emergence of gun insurance. There’s no way to track the number of policies sold or the number of claims filed, though he suspects the latter is fairly small.

Such insurance might benefit society, he said, because it could compel the industry to research ways to make gun ownership and storage safer or by providing discounts to gun owners who take safety courses.

But it could also lead to a “moral hazard” of unintentionally emboldening a gun owner to shoot someone by offering a false sense of security. And the potential backlash against the insurance companies involved might not be worth the revenue such a niche policy could generate, he said.

“Is the potential public relations mess worth the small amount,” Kochenburger said. “‘Murder insurance’: That’s terrible p.r.”

►  The obscure Supreme Court case that decided tomatoes are vegetables

It’s a question used to trick schoolkids the nation over: Is the tomato actually a fruit or vegetable?

Botanically, it’s a fruit. But legally, it’s not.

And the origins of that discrepancy lie in a 19th-century Supreme Court case so obscure, many tomato experts aren’t even aware of it.

“Tomatoes have such an outlandish history,“ said George Ball, the chief executive at the seed company Burpee. “Most people hear it and are bewildered for life.“

As Ball explains it, fruits and vegetables differ in one major botanical way. A fruit is technically the seed-bearing structure of a plant – and a vegetable can be virtually any part of the plant we eat.

At the time of the court case in question, Nix v. Hedden, fruits and vegetables differed in another big way, as well: Imported vegetables were slapped with a 10-percent tariff upon their arrival in the United States, and imported fruits were not.

When one Manhattan wholesaler – John Nix & Company, owned by John Nix and his four sons – got hit with the tariff on a shipment of Caribbean tomatoes, he disputed the tax on the grounds that tomatoes were not technically vegetables.

The case, filed in 1887, made its way to the Supreme Court in 1893. There, the court disagreed with the Nixes, ruling that people neither prepare nor eat tomatoes like fruits – and that they should be taxed accordingly.

“Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas,“ wrote Justice Horace Gray in his 1893 opinion. “But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables.“

The timing of Gray’s decision was fortuitous: It came during a period of radical transformation of the world’s fruit and vegetable trade. Once a series of largely local or regional markets, a new class of national wholesalers, like the Nixes, were beginning to introduce urban consumers to produce from much farther away.

According to news reports from the time, John Nix & Company were among the first to source produce from Florida, California and Bermuda, even chartering a steamship to bring onions back faster. The firm exported fruit to Europe, and returned with imported European potatoes. At the time of the junior John Nix’s death, in 1922, the company had opened a second office in Chicago to accommodate the growing long-distance flow of fruits and vegetables.

In 1937, when the League of Nations sought to classify fruits, vegetables and other goods for the purpose of coordinating tariffs, tomatoes ended up under “vegetables / edible plants / roots and tubers.“ (A documentation official at the World Customs Organization said the Gray ruling may have been at play.)

And the U.S. Department of Agriculture has subsequently used the classification, too – “in my understanding,“ said Travis Minor, a specialty crops analyst for the USDA, “stemming back to the 1890s Nix v. Hedden case.“

That doesn’t mean the question is settled. Several states have rebelled: Tennessee and Ohio have named the tomato their state fruit – though New Jersey has made it the state vegetable, specifically citing Nix v. Hedden.

To further complicate matters, the European Union issued a directive in December 2001 classifying tomatoes as fruit – along with rhubarb, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and melons.

But to Burpee’s George Ball, the two classifications shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. His company’s logic – rather like Justice Gray’s – is that plants should be described according to their usage.

“Are [tomatoes] fruits? Of course,“ he said. “Are they vegetables? You bet.“

And as for Burpee’s final verdict, it says “vegetable” on the seed packet.

►  Right Turn: Will Trump fix ACA mess he made?

The compromise from Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., would provide states with greater flexibility under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for authorizing cost-sharing reduction payments known as CSRs for two years. Those payments help offset deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers who obtain insurance under the federal health care law.

Trump insisted he’d been involved in crafting the deal. (Then “Obamacare” wasn’t dead?) Republican lawmakers, however, haven’t signed on since they’ve been touting their determination to destroy “Obamacare,“ not to save it.

On the other hand, if they don’t accept the Alexander-Murray deal (which Senate leadership squashed to push the Graham-Cassidy replacement scheme), they’ll be blamed for making insurance premiums even more costly and leaving more Americans without coverage.

Welcome to the Trump era in which Republicans wind up contradicting themselves and holding the bag – and their noses – because the president is committed only to preserving his ego and claiming a win.

We might – get this – see the president demand Republican leadership move the compromise plan to the floor where “Chuck and Nancy” (Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California) can round up the votes needed to pass it.

In a critical sign of support, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, told Chuck Todd on Tuesday afternoon, “I’m very pleased that Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray continue to work so hard to try to stabilize the insurance markets, to lower premiums and to provide some stability, which is really needed. This bill may not be perfect. I would have liked to have seen a specific authorization and some seed money for reinsurance pools, which would further help to lower premiums. But this is a good package, and I hope it will be passed very quickly so it can have an impact on rates this year.“

She’ll need to bring a number of Republicans with her and prevail upon the majority leader to put it to a vote.

On one level this shows how entirely unprincipled and reckless have been the president’s actions. One day he’ll destroy coverage, the next he might spare it. The content of bills and their affect on actual people makes no difference to him.

The current situation also speaks to the intellectual dishonesty and vapidity of Republicans who inveigh against “Obamacare,“ cannot come up with a popular alternative and then would (in some cases) rather see vulnerable citizens hurt than fix some of the problems with the Affordable Care Act and buy more time for further revisions.

Defenders of “Obamacare” and fierce critics of the Republicans’ effort to kill it were delighted with the Alexander-Murray agreement. Andy Slavitt of the Bipartisan Policy Center and the former head of CMS, praised the bipartisan effort to retain coverage in lieu of “partisan efforts which reduce coverage, cut Medicaid, and diminish patient protections.“ He explained:

“They have reached an agreement which preserves the ACA entirely while accomplishing three things. First, it undoes some of the harmful effects of the Trump administration’s actions by restoring CSR payments and outreach funding for the next two years, although other harmful actions by the administration also need to be addressed. Second, it provides new health plan options and added state flexibility while maintaining important consumer protections. And third, it represents a down payment on additional bipartisan reforms to increase the affordability of coverage for Americans.“

In a similar vein, Schumer commended the agreement insofar as it “stabilizes the system” with two years of CSR payments. He suggested, “Our Republican colleagues seem to be in the opposite place on the long term, but I think there’s a growing consensus that in the short term we need stability in the markets.“

That’s the bitter pill Republican now will need to swallow – or not. Having failed to craft a workable GOP alternative to “Obamacare,“ they might indeed have to keep it running until such time as they might come up with a feasible replacement.

Considering what we’ve seen this year and their prospects for the 2018 midterms, “such time” may be never.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

►  ‘It looks like we’re afraid of foreigners’: Army turns away some green card holders

The U.S. Army has stopped enlisting some immigrants who are legal permanent residents while mandating lengthy delays for others, part of a controversial effort across the military to tighten security in the ranks by subjecting foreign-born recruits to tougher background checks.

Implemented quietly late last week, the new policy halts indefinitely all enlistments involving green card holders seeking to join the Army Reserve, which is a part-time military service commitment. Green card holders seeking to become full-time soldiers remain eligible to enlist in the active-duty Army, but they are no longer allowed to start basic training before their background checks are complete - a process that could take a year or more.

Caught up in policy changes are potentially hundreds of immigrants already in the Army’s recruiting pipeline, and thousands more who would have followed. Many have prioritized military service with the goal of gaining fast-tracked citizenship - a perk the Army can offer as it competes with the private sector for talented applicants.

The Pentagon defends this and related measures implemented in recent months, claiming they’re necessary to prevent terrorists and foreign agents from infiltrating the American military.

Critics deride the moves as potentially unlawful, and that they’ll turn away prospective troops who possess language and medical skills desperately needed throughout the armed forces. The piecemeal, secretive manner in which these new rules have been adopted has caused widespread confusion for recruits and recruiters alike, opponents say, and sends a terrible message.

“It looks like we’re now afraid of foreigners in the military. And that means mission failure,“ said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who created an immigrant recruitment program for the military. “If you’re going to be deployed in more than 100 countries to fight a global war, you can’t be afraid of foreigners.“

Other new regulations also extend the waiting period for military green card holders to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Previously, that could occur just weeks into basic training. Now active-duty recruits must wait a 180 days.

The dramatic policy changes have eroded confidence among recruits closely monitoring every development. One Army Reserve recruit, a green card holder from Haiti, told The Post on Wednesday that his training date was suspended with no indication when he can expect to resume the enlistment process.

“We had a contract and now they’re not going to respect the terms,“ said the recruit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal.

“It’s confusing. There is no explanation. Even the recruiter doesn’t know what is happening,“ he said.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, more than 100,000 immigrants have been naturalized through military service. Turning away immigrants, who make up more than 13 percent of the U.S. population, will dry up a reliable recruiting pool at a time the Army, desperate to reach quotas, is enlisting some men and women with weak qualifications, Stock said.

Moreover, as U.S. law says permanent residents are permitted to enlist, the new policy may violate treaties with the independent island nations of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Those citizens have a legal right to enlist, said Stock, who is an immigration attorney.

First reported by Mic, the policy change immediately sparked panic among recruits confused by the barrage of new regulations. The same was true for recruiters. A Facebook information page used by thousands of current and potential recruits featured a post Tuesday with multiple recruiters giving contradictory and inaccurate assessments of the directive.

The program Stock created in 2009, called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, traded fast-tracked citizenship to immigrants who possess valuable skills that are in short supply among U.S-born service members - Arabic and Chinese fluency or expertise in trauma surgery, for instance. More than 10,400 troops joined this way before the program was shuttered in late-2016 amid security concerns and complaints that enhanced background checks started by the Obama administration overwhelmed resources.

As The Washington Post first reported in June, 1,000 foreign-born recruits awaiting orders had lost their legal immigration status as a result. At the time, the Pentagon said any cancellation of enlistment contracts could expose immigrants to deportation.

In response, lawmakers pledged to block that decision. Some recruits fled the country, and last month, the Army killed contracts for hundreds of immigrants - in many cases prematurely and without warning.

The MAVNI program’s suspension was a factor in the Army’s failure to meet its goal of bringing in 14,400 reservists this year, Stock said. There was a shortfall of more than 1,000 recruits, Army officials said. The Pentagon estimated 2,400 had passed previous security check benchmarks and were waiting to train when officials recommended canceling the bulk of those contracts.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that he believes the MAVNI program can be saved, but he stressed the need to harden the military from “espionage potential” among immigrants.

The Pentagon has not disclosed any examples of legitimate threats stemming from immigrant recruits.

International News

The Free Press WV

►  Spain ready to revoke Catalan autonomy amid independence bid

Spain’s government on Thursday set in motion plans to take away Catalonia’s local powers after its defiant regional president refused to give up his demands for Catalan independence.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont sent a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy just minutes before a deadline set by the central government for him to backtrack on his calls for secession. Puigdemont didn’t give in, but instead threatened to go ahead with a unilateral proclamation of independence if the government refuses to negotiate.

“If the State Government persists in blocking dialogue and the repression continues, the Parliament of Catalonia will proceed, if deemed appropriate, to vote on the formal declaration of independence,” Puigdemont’s letter said, in an English translation provided by the Catalan regional government.

Spain’s government responded by calling a special Cabinet session for Saturday in which it would trigger the process to activate Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution. That article allows for central authorities to take over all or some of the powers of any of the country’s 17 autonomous regions, including Catalonia.

The Cabinet meeting will “approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards,” the statement said.

The constitutional law has never been used in the four decades since democracy was restored at the end of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Spain’s government needs to outline what are the exact measures it wants to apply in Catalonia and submit them for a vote in Spain’s Senate.

The ruling Popular Party’s majority in the top chamber would be enough to approve the measure, but Rajoy has held discussions with opposition leaders to rally further support.

The main opposition Socialist party backed Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s moves but wants the Article 155 measures to be limited in scope and time.

Abroad, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his recent support for Rajoy, saying at a European Union summit in Brussels that it would be “marked by a message of unity around member states amid the crises they could face, unity around Spain.”

Puigdemont addressed the regional parliament on October 10, saying he had the mandate under a banned October 1 referendum to declare independence from Spain. But he immediately suspended the implementation of the secession proclamation and called for talks with Spain and international mediators.

Spain’s government responded by setting two deadlines for Puigdemont — a Monday one for him to say a simple “yes” or “no” to whether he indeed had declared independence or not, and a second one for Thursday morning for him to fall in line with Spain’s laws.

Spain’s government says that Puigdemont hasn’t offered any clarity in his replies.

Catalans would consider the application of Article 155 an “invasion” of the region’s self-government, while Spain’s central authorities have portrayed it as an undesired move, yet a necessary one, to restore legality after Puigdemont’s government pushed ahead with a banned referendum that violated the country’s constitution.

More than 40 percent of Catalonia’s 5.5 million eligible voters cast ballots in the illegal October 1 referendum as police used violence to try to enforce a court order to stop it from going ahead. Opponents boycotted the vote.

Catalan officials say that hundreds of people were injured in police violence, while Spanish authorities say hundreds of police officers were also hurt and the use of force was proportional to the resistance they met.

The separatists declared an overwhelming victory despite the boycott by opponents, who said it was illegal and lacked basic guarantees such as an independent electoral board.

Spain’s government had said it would be willing to hold off on applying Article 155 if the Catalan separatist leader were to call a snap regional election. But Catalan officials have ruled that out.

The Catalan government’s international affairs director, Raul Romeva, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that Catalonia’s banned secession referendum gave the region’s separatist government a mandate to declare independence from Spain.

Andrew Dowling, an expert in Catalan history at Cardiff University in Wales, said that any declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament would be symbolic without border and institutional control and no international support.

Such a declaration “will see the fracture between hardliners and the pragmatic people in Catalonia who are already seeing an economic fallout,” Dowling said.

More than 700 companies, including Catalan banks, multinationals and mid-size businesses, have moved their registered addresses out of the troubled region because of concerns about the region’s legal status, according to Spain’s Association of Commercial Registers. While it doesn’t affect jobs, the firms could delay investments if the standoff continues.

Civil society groups who have drawn hundreds of thousands to the streets in peaceful pro-independence demonstrations over the past few years are calling for new protests Thursday at the gates of the central government’s office in Barcelona and a bigger march later this week.

►  China’s conflicted goals: Freer markets, more party control

China’s ruling Communist Party is expanding its role in business even as it promises freer markets and support for entrepreneurs on the eve of President Xi Jinping’s second five-year term as leader.

Party officials are tightening their control over state-owned enterprises and want a voice in how some foreign companies are run. State companies that dominate energy and other fields are being made even bigger through mergers. Some are forming ties with private sector success stories such as tech giants Alibaba and Tencent to draw on their skills.

Beijing’s conflicting goals are raising concerns that leaders might put off changes needed to reinvigorate a cooling economy that faces surging debt and trade tensions with Washington and Europe.

“There is no grand vision. There are parallel goals that are competing with each other,” said Andrew Polk, an economist at Trivium/China, a research firm in Beijing. “We are not sure which ones are going to win out at a given moment.”

No major policy changes are expected out of the twice-a-decade party congress that is due to re-appoint Xi as general secretary. The party also will name a Standing Committee, the country’s ruling inner circle of power, in preparation for installing a new government in early 2018.

The impact of those choices, by creating jobs and business opportunities or dragging on economic activity, will take time to filter down to ordinary Chinese.

At the opening of the congress Wednesday, Xi repeated official promises to support entrepreneurs and give market forces a “decisive role” but affirmed the dominance of state-owned industry.

“There must be no irresolution about working to consolidate and develop the public sector,” said Xi in a nationally televised address.

Data released Thursday showed economic growth stayed relatively stable in the quarter ending in September, buoyed by strength in consumer spending and exports. Output rose 6.8 percent, down marginally from the previous quarter’s 6.9 percent.

Investors are watching the congress for signs of where the party wants to go and how fast. A key indicator will be which posts go to Xi allies seen as reformers with the personal authority to overcome opposition from party or state industry factions that might lose influence.

One closely watched figure is Wang Qishan, a vice premier and respected problem-solver who oversaw China’s response to SARS and at age 69 is obliged by party tradition to leave the seven-person Standing Committee. If he stays in a leadership post, analysts say that would suggest Xi wants his help to carry out painful changes.

Reform advocates complain that since Xi took power in 2012, the leadership has dragged its feet on fulfilling promises to tackle debt that has soared to dangerous levels, curb the dominance of state industry and give a bigger role to entrepreneurs who create China’s new jobs and wealth.

Instead, Xi focused on an anti-corruption campaign and tightened political control, detained activist lawyers and stepped up internet censorship.

Foreign industry groups complain China is moving too slowly on promises to shrink state-owned steel and aluminum producers they accuse of threatening jobs by flooding global markets with low-cost exports.

“Generally speaking, there has been no major progress in economic reform,” said Sheng Hong, director of the Unirule Institute, an independent economic research group in Beijing.

Regulators closed Unirule’s website and social media accounts in a crackdown in January on liberal voices.

The party’s internal conflict is reflected in a 2013 declaration that promised for the first time to give market forces the “decisive role” but also vowed the party would intensify its control of state industry. Private sector analysts say this appears to be aimed at rooting out corruption and waste.

This year, some foreign companies say the party, which already has cells in all enterprises and controls agencies that regulate them, is trying to expand its authority further by asking for a formal voice in commercial decisions.

Some 32 mainland companies with shares traded in Hong Kong have proposed changes to their legal structure to make the party an adviser to their board. Financial commentators complain this might hurt shareholders.

“This is potentially a huge problem,” said the German ambassador to China, Michael Clauss. “Many foreign companies are very alarmed.”

Foreign companies already are frustrated by rules that give them little access to industries such as finance and technology, plans they say might limit their role in promising fields such as electric cars. That pessimism helped lead to a 1.2 percent decline in investment into China in the first seven months of this year, breaking a series of annual double-digit gains.

A business leader in Wenzhou, a southeastern city known as a hotbed of private sector activity, welcomed Xi’s pledge to do more to help entrepreneurs.

“If private enterprises succeed, China’s economy succeeds,” said Zhou Dewen, president of the city’s Association for Promotion of Development of Small and Medium-sized Companies.

Beijing is pushing entrepreneurs to support state-owned enterprises, or SOEs.

The party pledged in a September 25 declaration to promote “entrepreneurial spirit” while also urging entrepreneurs to learn “socialist core values.”

In August, one of the country’s three major state-owned phone carriers, China Unicom Ltd., sold an $11.7 billion stake to private investors including Alibaba Group, the biggest global e-commerce company by sales volume; Tencent Holdings Ltd., which operates the popular WeChat social media platform, and internet search giant Baidu Inc. There was no indication they would get any voice in management.

In September, Tencent paid $366 million for 5 percent of state-owned investment bank China International Capital Corp. CICC gets access to Tencent’s marketing and other skills, but the private company gained no management control.

Other state companies have announced similar plans to bring in private shareholders.

Meanwhile, authorities are discussing taking a direct state ownership stake in Alibaba and Tencent, The Wall Street Journal reported this month, citing unidentified sources.

“Supposed reforms in state-own companies such as ‘mixed ownership’ can never be called a reform,” said Sheng. “Setting up party committees in companies not only is not a reform, but is a step backward.”

In August, the government announced the merger of Shenhua Group, the world’s biggest coal producer, and Guodian Group, a major power supplier, to form the world’s biggest utility by assets.

“They are being quite clear that they want bigger, bolder, better SOEs, with not just state but party leadership,” said Polk.

The pressure for action is building.

Economic growth has been propped up this year by a lending boom and government stimulus, but that sets back official efforts to build a consumer-driven economy.

Forecasters expect growth to cool as regulators tighten lending controls to rein in debt that has risen to the equivalent of 260 percent of annual economic output — unusually high for a developing country.

“Strains within the country’s banking sector are already glaringly evident,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report.

►  Russian opposition divided over TV host’s presidential bid

A presidential bid by a celebrity Russian TV host drew conflicting reaction from the country’s beleaguered opposition Thursday, with some accusing her of playing into the Kremlin’s hands and others welcoming her move.

Though President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin has encouraged Ksenia Sobchak to run, some opposition figures say her move would allow the government to counter voter apathy and at the same time sow discord in opposition ranks.

The 35-year old Sobchak announced her intention to run in the March 2018 election Wednesday, saying the country has grown tired of stagnation and needs change.

She is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the reformist St. Petersburg mayor in the early 1990s. President Vladimir Putin once worked as her father’s deputy.

Sobchak, who joined anti-Kremlin protests in 2011-2012, said she had warned the president of her intention during a recent meeting, adding that Putin didn’t seem to like it.

Putin hasn’t yet said whether he would seek re-election, but he’s widely expected to run and is poised to convincingly see off the same set of lackluster veterans of past campaigns.

One of them, liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky, warned that Sobchak would play a role similar to billionaire tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who challenged Putin in the 2012 election, casting himself as a representative of Russian liberal circles. Putin won with nearly 64 percent of the vote, while Prokhorov polled 8 percent.

“It’s the same trap, shall we walk into it again?” he tweeted.

Liberal politician Dmitry Gudkov sounded more positive, saying that if Sobchak runs a real campaign critical of the Kremlin, it could help encourage political competition and draw young voters to the polls.

Russia’s most popular opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, who is serving a 20-day jail term for organizing an unsanctioned protest, hasn’t commented on Sobchak’s declaration.

When rumors about Sobchak’s presidential ambitions first circulated last month, Navalny, warned her on YouTube that she would only serve the Kremlin’s goals by joining the campaign.

“They need a cartoonish liberal candidate at a time when they don’t want to allow me to enter the race,” Navalny said.

Navalny has declared his intention to run, even though a criminal conviction that he calls politically motivated, bars him from running. The 41-year-old anti-corruption crusader has organized a grassroots campaign to support his bid and staged several waves of protests this year to raise pressure on the Kremlin to let him join the race.

Sobchak has rejected Navalny’s criticism, saying she would push for his registration and could even withdraw her candidacy in his favor if he’s allowed to run.

She cast herself as a “candidate against all,” trying to tap public resentment with the nation’s tightly-controlled and corrupt political system.

“It’s our peaceful and legitimate way to say: Enough, guys, we really had enough of you all!” she said in a YouTube video.

Pundits saw the slogan as a smart move to reach the apathetic voters tired of the same familiar faces on the nation’s political scene.

Sobchak, who first became known as a socialite and a fashion icon before she launched her successful TV career as a reality show host, has been frequently described as Russia’s version of Paris Hilton in the past.

Unlike her pushy TV persona, Sobchak sought to sound calm and compromising while declaring her bid.

And in contrast with Navalny who encouraged his supporters to take to the streets in defiance of official bans, Sobchak appealed to those who shun unsanctioned protests and want peaceful change.

“I’m against revolution,” she said in her manifesto.

“But I’m a good mediator and organizer. I’m a woman, and I don’t have that horrible masculine ego that always prevents politicians from reaching accord and makes force an option of choice for solving any problem.”

Governor Justice Announces Passage of Six Bills during Special Session of West Virginia Legislature

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice announced the West Virginia Legislature has passed six bills he had presented during a special session that concluded late Tuesday.

“It is gratifying to know that our lawmakers have come together to enact laws that will continue to move West Virginia forward,” said Governor Justice. “During the last few months as I’ve traveled across the state and listened to our citizens, these pieces of legislation were critical for us to do the will of the people-which is to put West Virginians back to work as quickly as possible, to take care of our Veterans and to provide incentives to those who will preserve and redevelop our historical areas.”

Lawmakers passed legislation presented by the Governor that:

  • Strengthens enforcement of the West Virginia Jobs Act by requiring employers to hire at least 75% of its employees from West Virginia and enhances civil penalties.
  • Shortens the time period for hiring personnel for the Division of Highways and Tax Division.
  • Permits the sharing of information between the Division of Highways and Tax Division to ensure compliance with all state laws.
  • Exempts military retirement income from personal income tax.
  • Increases tax credits for rehabilitation of certified historic structures.
  • Approved technical corrections to State Court of Claims payments.

National Forest and Wildlife Management Area Roads in WV Open to Hunters with Disabilities

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For more than 20 years, a unique program developed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Forest Service has increased accessibility of public lands for hunters with physical challenges who possess a Class Q/QQ special hunting permit.

“Thanks to our partnerships with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and the Monongahela National Forest, we’ve been able to provide some excellent hunting opportunities to sportsmen and women with disabilities,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “There are also many state-owned wildlife management areas that have designated roads for Class Q/QQ hunter access.”

Class Q (resident) and QQ (non-resident) special hunting permits are issued by the DNR to applicants who are permanently disabled in their lower extremities, as certified by a licensed physician. Applications may be obtained at any DNR office or license agent. Successful permittees will be issued a wallet-sized permit card. This card must be presented in person at the appropriate National Forest or DNR district office to receive a letter of authorization and a gate key to use designated Class Q/QQ roads.

Class Q/QQ hunter access roads are generally kept locked to ensure hunting opportunities along these roads are most readily available to hunters with disabilities. While behind gates, Class Q/QQ hunters must obey all National Forest and/or state WMA rules and all state hunting regulations. All appropriate documentation, licenses, and stamps must be in the hunter’s possession while he or she is hunting. Nonresident hunters are reminded that they must have a National Forest Stamp (Class I) to hunt on U.S. Forest Service lands in West Virginia.

When hunting within a designated area, Class Q/QQ hunters may hunt from a stationary motor vehicle with the engine turned off. The permittee may be accompanied by no more than one assistant at least 16 years of age inside the vehicle. The assistant may not hunt while assisting the Class Q/QQ permit holder.

According to Paul Johansen, the Class Q/QQ program has been very well received by hunters with disabilities in West Virginia.

“We’re proud of the successes we’ve had with this program, but we’re always looking for ways to improve it and increase participation,” he said. “There’s a growing body of scientific knowledge that demonstrates spending time outdoors is beneficial to mental and physical wellness. I’d like to encourage hunters with physical challenges to look into the Class Q/QQ program as a great opportunity to get out and experience West Virginia’s rich natural resources and hunting heritage.”

The West Virginia DNR and the U.S. Forest Service are committed to providing quality hunting opportunities for all outdoorspeople in good legal standing regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age or level of physical ability.

For more information regarding access to National Forest or state Wildlife Management Area Class Q/QQ hunting areas and directions to the areas, contact the appropriate U.S. Forest Service Ranger District or WV DNR District office listed below. Information is also available on the DNR website ( and the DNR Hunting Map tool under the “Hunting” menu.

Class Q/QQ Roads on National Forest Lands:

Monongahela National Forest

Cheat/Potomac Ranger District, Parsons, WV(304.478.3251)

Goodwin Run (Forest Road 933), Tucker County

Brushy Fork (Forest Road 973), Tucker County

Five Lick (Forest Road 153/153A), Randolph County

Back Ridge (Forest Road 814), Pendleton County

Greenbrier Ranger District, Bartow, WV(304.456.3335)

Little Beech Mountain (Forest Road 385, 183B), Randolph County

Span Oak (Forest Road 224), Pocahontas County

Gauley Ranger District, Richwood, WV(304.846.2695)

Frosty Gap (Forest Road 731), Pocahontas County

Buckeye Branch (Forest Road 273), Webster County

Marlinton/White Sulphur Ranger District, Marlinton, WV(304.799.4334)

Crooked Fork (Forest Road 251), Pocahontas County

Marlin Mountain (Forest Road 300), Pocahontas County

Panther Ridge (Forest Road 298), Greenbrier County

Bear Track (Forest Road 882), Greenbrier County

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

North River Ranger District, Harrisonburg, VA (540.432.0187)

Dry River Hollow (Forest Road 151H), Pendleton County

Class Q/QQ Roads on DNR Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

DNR District 1, Farmington, WV(304.825.6787)

Hillcrest WMA, Hancock County - 2,212 acres

Lewis Wetzel WMA, Wetzel County – 14,023 acres

Little Indian Creek WMA, Monongalia County - 1,083 acres

DNR District 2, Romney, WV(304.822.3551)

Sleepy Creek WMA, Morgan/Berkeley counties - 22,347 acres

DNR District 3, French Creek, WV (304.924.6211)

Burnsville Lake WMA, Braxton County - 12,579 acres

Elk River WMA, Braxton County - 18,396 acres

Stonewall Jackson Lake WMA, Lewis County - 18,289 acres

DNR District 4, Beckley, WV(304.256.6947)

Bluestone Lake WMA, Summers County – 17,744 acres

DNR District 5, Alum Creek, WV(304.756.1023)

McClintic WMA, Mason County - 3,655 acres

Green Bottom WMA*, Cabell County - 1,101 acres

Beech Fork Lake WMA*, Cabell County - 7,531

DNR District 6, Parkersburg, WV(304.420.4550)

Hughes River WMA, Ritchie County - 10,278 acres

*WMA has Class Q/QQ-accessible hunting area only – no gated road.

Gilmer County Clerk: Notice to Creditors and Beneficiaries




The administration of the estates(s) of the following deceased is pending before the Clerk of the County Commission of Gilmer County, 10 Howard Street, Glenville WV 26351.

The names and addresses of the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney are set forth below.

Notice is hereby given that the estate(s) of the following has been opened for probate.  Any interested person objecting to the validity of the will, the qualifications of the personal representative or the venue or jurisdiction of the court, shall file notice of an objection with the County Commission within ninety days after the date of the first publication or within 30 days of service of notice, whichever is later.  If an objection is not timely filed, the objection is forever barred.

All persons having claims against the estate(s) of the said following deceased, whether due or not, are notified to exhibit their claims, with the voucher thereof, legally verified, to the undersigned, at the County Clerk’s Office on or before December 18, 2017  otherwise they may by law be excluded from all benefit of said estate(s).  All beneficiaries of said estate(s) may appear on or before said day to examine said claims and otherwise protect their interests.

Claims against the estate must be filed in accordance with West Virginia Code 44-1-14a.


Lorous I. Roberts Angela Isenhart 510 Jackson Street
Glenville WV 26351
Flora B. Putnam Lester Joe Putnam 307 East Main Street, Glenville, WV 26351
Stephen L. Putnam 22991 US Hwy 195S, Ireland, WV 26376

Clerk of Gilmer County Commission
Jean Butcher
10 Howard Street
Glenville, WV 26351

The date of the first publication of this Notice is : October 19, 2017

WV Receives More Than $230K in Specialty Crop Block Grants

The Free Press WV

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the awarding of 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grants to West Virginia.

Twelve out of 31 projects submitted from West Virginia were selected to share $230,000 in funding.

The purpose of the program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.“

Grant recipients have three years to plan, implement and gather data on their respective projects.

The federal agency handed out a total of $60.5 million to 678 projects across the United States and its territories for 2017.

For a complete list of West Virginia’s 2017 SCBG recipients, Click HERE .

Information on the 2018 SCBG process should be available by December 01.

Call 304.558.2210 or email to be placed on our grant opportunity list for upcoming notifications.


The Free Press WV

  • The Justice League:  A growing number of NBA stars and coaches are raising their voices about the most pressing social issues of the day. How did an organization that once punished players for political activism become the wokest sports league in America?  ESQUIRE

  • Federal Judge Blocks Most of Trump’s Latest Travel Ban:  The third time wasn’t charmed. A U.S. district court in Hawaii has put a hold on most of President Trump’s third attempted travel ban. The latest try, which added some restrictions against citizens of two non-Muslim-majority countries, “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” according to Judge Derrick Watson, who was also responsible for blocking the last ban attempt. Rules prohibiting North Koreans and certain Venezuelan officials, plus stricter scrutiny for Iraqis, were upheld and take effect today. The Justice Department is expected to appeal.  Politico

  • Another federal judge, in Maryland, also enjoined the ban.  Twitter

  • Bad start for the ban.  Lawfare

  • Trump Under Fire for Comments to Soldier’s Widow:  “He knew what he signed up for.” Those were Trump’s words to Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger two weeks ago. During Trump’s five-minute call to Johnson, he admitted that “it hurts anyway” — but his comments have been criticized for insensitivity. Meanwhile, after his false assertion that President Obama didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers, Trump suggested reporters ask his chief of staff, General John Kelly, whose son was killed in action, if Obama called him.  Slate

  • Trump Allegedly Told an Army Widow That Her Husband “Knew What He Signed Up For”  The president should not make these calls.  ESQUIRE

  • When the “court of last resort” gets its facts wrong.  U.S. Supreme Court justices are not immune to including “alternative facts” in their judicial decisions to the great consternation of the litigants who argue before them. It’s happened in several big criminal justice cases. In 2013, in a unanimous ruling, Justice Elena Kagan cited false facts about false drug positives. And in both 2002 and 2008 Justice Anthony Kennedy used erroneous information in cases about sex offenders and the death penalty.    ProPublica

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