10 July 2009

West Virginian in Line for Obama Post

Spencer native Debbie Hersman awaits a U.S. Senate vote after President Obama nominated her to head the National Transportation Safety Board, "the agency that investigates civil transportation accidents," the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

"Since President Bush nominated her to the board in 2004, Hersman has been the member on scene at 16 major transportation accidents," the article said, adding that "the wife and mother of three is certified to drive motorcycles and commercial vehicles, including school buses and large trucks."

The Price of Drugs in W.Va.

West Virginia spent $333 million last year on drug- and alcohol-related crimes, "from initial police investigations all the way through parole," The Associated Press reports.

AP's Tom Breen highlights a new study from the state's Prevention Resource Center, which tracked costs from the 2005 through 2008 fiscal years for Gov. Joe Manchin's Partnership to Promote Community Well-Being.

"Based on those numbers, the report estimates West Virginia will be spending nearly $500 million on crimes linked to drugs and alcohol by the 2017 fiscal year," Breen writes. "The new report comes a week after another Manchin-appointed body made recommendations about reducing overcrowding in the state's 14 prisons and 10 regional jails."

09 July 2009

Road and Bridges in W.Va.

A report released this week and reviewed by The Associated Press concludes that "West Virginia will need to find nearly $5 billion over the next 10 years to maintain roads and bridges that are already 'among the deadliest in the nation.'"

AP's Tom Breen offers the highlights of the latest study from TRIP, a transportation research group.

"The report found that 8 percent of the state's roads are in poor condition, and another 29 percent are in mediocre condition," Breen writes. "On top of that, 15 percent of bridges 20 feet or longer are classed as 'structurally deficient' and another 22 percent are 'functionally obsolete.'"

Capito Tops W.Va. Delegation for Privately Funded Trips

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and her office accepted more private funds for travel between 2005 and 2008 than the rest of the state's congressional delegation combined, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

The article cites a Wall Street Journal review of records amassed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

It lists an adjusted price tag of $16,940 for seven trips by Capito or her staff. Her office disputes an eighth trip, priced at $4,001.

"Following her are the Democrats: Rep. Nick Rahall, seven trips at $5,415; Sen. Robert Byrd, five trips, $7,101; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, one trip, $3,228; and Rep. Alan Mollohan, one trip, $133," the article said.

The article notes that "West Virginia's congressional delegation is nowhere near the top of Capitol Hill's frequent flyers."

Obama Nominates Berger for Federal Bench

President Barack Obama has nominated Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger for the U.S. District Court bench, The Associated Press reports.

Berger would succeed Judge David Faber in the state's southern federal court district.

"She has served as a circuit judge for 15 years," AP reports. "She also has served as an assistant prosecutor in Kanawha County and with the U.S. Attorney’s Office."

U.S. Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., had recommended Berger for the judgeship in January.

Belated Quote of the Day

"When you call the governor up at 7:15 in the morning and get him out of bed [to ask for a helicopter] - it's pretty neat."

-- Len Rogers, president of the West Virginia Soccer Association, to The Charleston Gazette about enlisting Gov. Joe Manchin to order an Air National Guard Black Hawk chopper to blow water on a rain-soaked soccer tournament field.

The Charleston Daily Mail later quoted a $22,466 price tag for the sortie, meant to aid the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships. "It was the first time the Region 1 championships have been held in West Virginia," that article noted.