21 April 2010

After Upper Big Branch (Updated)

The West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is expected to propose several regulatory changes in the wake of the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, The Associated Press reports.

"Panel members say they hope to release proposed changes for mine rescue and ventilation of coal conveyer belts for public comment Wednesday," the article said. "They're also considering requiring mines to do more to control explosive levels of coal dust and to maintain methane detectors more often."

Update: The board sent out several proposed rules for public comment, including one that would require barometers at mine sites and another calling for regular checks of methane gas monitors. AP has details.

Racing to the Top

The state Board of Education has responded to Gov. Joe Manchin's challenge to improve West Virginia's shot at federal Race to the Top funding.

But Manchin is seeking more details about the board's proposals before he decides what to include in the upcoming special session on the topic, The Associated Press reports.

"He's pleased with what he's hearing," spokesman Matt Turner told AP. "But he wants more on what they're prepared to move forward with. What came out this morning didn't offer enough in the way of details."

Superintendent Steve Paine noted that four of the board's five high-priority proposals were considered in some form by lawmakers during the recent regular session, but did not pass.

"Paine said the board's overall goal is to bolster the state's second bid at the federal funding, while also advancing its recently launched Global 21 learning plan," the article said. "Paine also noted that the proposals came after focus groups, online surveys and interviews with every group involved in West Virginia schools: from students, teachers and principals to parents, legislators and the business community."

The Charleston Gazette
reported earlier on the proposals, as did the Charleston Daily Mail.

19 April 2010

Obama, Biden Coming to West Virginia

The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to attend Sunday's memorial for the coal miners killed in April 5's explosion at Upper Big Branch.

Gov. Joe Manchin had earlier announced the Beckley event, and said both he and first lady Gayle Manchin would be at the afternoon public ceremony.

"President Obama will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences to the loved ones they left behind," the White House said in a release.