- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

May 18

The Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginia, on debates:

Last week’s primary has set the stage for an intriguing fall election, with competitive races shaping up from the very top of the ballot to the bottom.

While we are disappointed by yet another low turnout by voters - 19 percent - we still remain optimistic because of the quality of the candidates who entered the field and those who survived the primary culling process.

In two races at the top of the heap - Rep. Nick Rahall against state Sen. Evan Jenkins, and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito against Secretary of State Natalie Tennant - we think debates are in order.

Much of what we have learned about the candidates so far has come from out-of-state, national political reporters, or out-of-state attack ads aired on West Virginia television stations.

At present, Democrats hold the Senate with 53 members, while Republicans have 45 members. Two in the Senate are independents.

In the House, it is the Republican Party with a majority, 233-199.

That may be a crucial issue in Washington, but we think obsessing about who controls Congress detracts from discussions about our needs here in southern West Virginia.

This is why we look forward to debates among the candidates here. These debates will not be focused on the extraneous issue of whether Democrats or Republicans will hold the U.S. House or Senate, but on the issues important to southern West Virginia.

We want the candidates to concentrate on our issues, and give us answers to questions asked by West Virginians.

We think the candidates need to debate in southern West Virginia as well. To our mind, debates in Huntington and Beckley make sense for both the Senate and the 3rd Congressional District candidates, since both cities are within the boundaries of the 3rd District.

We also look forward to the debates because we think slickly produced television attack ads don’t tell us enough about the candidates who are seeking to represent us. They may well be effective with voters, but we want to hear what the candidates stand for, not why they think their opponent is vulnerable.

When it comes to debates, talk is not cheap. It is necessary.




May 16

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on mine’s safety record:

The investigation into the deaths of two miners this week in a West Virginia underground coal mine is just beginning, so the specific cause is not yet known.

However, it is known that the two miners were working in a mine with one of the worst safety records in the country, according to federal officials. Its case further illustrates the shortcomings of regulations for reducing the hazards in an inherently dangerous occupation.

The site of the fatal accident was the Brody No. 1, a mine owned by a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Patriot Coal and located near Wharton in Boone County. The company said the workers were killed during a severe coal burst as they were doing retreat mining, a method that involves yanking supporting pillars of coal from inside the mine and letting the roof collapse as miners and equipment work their way out. In light of other serious mine accidents that have occurred during retreat mining, regulators may want to take a close look as to whether the technique should be allowed in the future.

But the larger issue has to do with the mine’s safety record and what regulators are allowed to do — or not do — about it. Last fall, Brody No. 1’s record of 253 serious health and safety violations during the previous year caused safety regulators to label it a “pattern violator.” That designation is reserved for the industry’s worst offenders.

In its annual report from last December, Patriot Coal blamed the previous owner of the mine. But accepting that at face value is difficult to do. Patriot’s subsidiary purchased the mine Dec. 31, 2012, according to The Associated Press, but the mine was cited for 192 safety violations from April 1, 2013, to March 31 of this year. Thirty-three of the citations were for high or reckless disregard for miners’ health and safety.

The company also said in its annual report that it is “vigorously contesting” the designation.

It’s time for Congress to let irresponsible mine operators know that rampant violations of safety laws will no longer be tolerated. Essentially, enforcement of safety laws must be strengthened to the point that mine owners have no doubt they will be shut down if they are not safety conscious. Unfortunately, that’s not the case now.




May 17

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on Cal Bailey:

Credit the 2014 West Virginia State University baseball team members for sending their coach out in style.

Cal Bailey coached his 1,594th and final game as the head coach of W.Va. State’s baseball program. The players came through with a victory, number 1,063 in Bailey’s 37-year coaching career. It just happened to be the championship game for the new Mountain East Athletic Conference.

Over the years, Bailey has also coached his State team to 15 conference championships and two trips to the NCAA Division II World Series. He was named West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year eight times, North Atlantic Region Coach of the Year twice and the state of West Virginia’s Coach of the Year once.

“Not only has he taught a lot of guys baseball, he’s taught a lot of guys how to be good people,” St. Albans High School Baseball Coach and former student Rick Witman told the Daily Mail’s Michael Dailey last summer.

By one estimate, 82 of Bailey’s former players are now coaches at the professional, collegiate, high school or middle school level.

“That’s the ultimate compliment to a coach,” said Whitman. “When you coach people and they want to go on and do what you did for them. That speaks volumes for what he has accomplished over there.”

During his career, Bailey could have moved up the coaching ladder to more prestigious college or professional jobs, but he chose to stay at his alma mater.

West Virginia State University and the hundreds of young men he coached are better due to the contributions of legendary baseball coach Cal Bailey.





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