- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Sept. 28

The Inter-Mountain, Elkins, West Virginia, on obesity and disease in W. Va.:

West Virginia’s obesity rate is one of the highest in the nation. We, along with Arkansas and Mississippi, have a population in which more than 35 percent are obese - not just a little overweight, but obese.

That is bad news, but it is nothing we have not been hearing for many years.

West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling explained that obesity and tobacco use continue to be the leading causes of the chronic diseases that plague the Mountain State. And both are, for the most part, entirely preventable.

Why, then, do we as West Virginians have such a hard time eating a little healthier, moving a little more, and avoiding tobacco use?

Is it an education problem? An attitude problem? A cultural problem? An economic problem?

Politicians who believe the best solution to any problem is to throw more money at it will say we simply do not have enough funding for programs that would solve the problem.

Other solutions cannot be neglected. For example, Bowling said “DHHR is working with communities, health care systems, and decision-makers to develop initiatives improving access to physical activity and nutritious options.”

Want access to physical activity? Open your front door. Go for a walk. Get a dog and take it for a walk. Use a push mower instead of a tractor. Put down the remote or video game controller and run around the house with the kids, instead.

Want access to physical activity and nutritious food? Plant a garden next spring.

Yes, all of those ideas take effort, time and planning. Staying healthy takes effort, time and planning.

No one else can do the work for you, no matter how much of your money they spend.




Sept. 24

West Virginia Journal on university researchers’ emissions race making the state proud

Many Mountain State residents have a high opinion of West Virginia University, without realizing fully how justified we are in that attitude. This week we were reminded our state university is in some ways a world-class institution.

News about Volkswagen’s cheating on emissions testing made headlines across the globe. The company got caught lying about emissions from about 482,000 vehicles sold in the United States.

WVU researchers caught the company.

As we reported, the International Council on Clean Transportation had questions about emissions from Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. Officials at the ICCT wanted reliable testing to determine whether their suspicions were warranted.

So the ICCT turned to WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions. Technicians from there took equipment to California, tested the vehicles in question - and blew the lid off an international scandal.

Think about that: A highly technical, sensitive project needed to be undertaken. ICCT officials could have selected another research organization for the work - but they chose WVU. That is an impressive testament to the quality and level of scientific inquiry at our state university.

It is not the only reason to feel good about what is happening at WVU. The institution already is classified as a “research university,” and is doing very good work - with international ramifications - in many areas, including energy.

Improving the university’s research profile is part of WVU’s strategic plan. Clearly, implementation of that is going well.

But our university does many other things well. It is unsurpassed as a health care resource in our state. Outreach programs in every county benefit many Mountain State families.

And yes, WVU is a leader in higher education, too - with something of an international reputation. The Morgantown institution is thought of highly enough overseas that this year’s student body includes about 2,000 people from 102 countries other than the United States.

Recognizing the level of excellence achieved in many ways at WVU is more than patting ourselves indirectly on the back, however. It also is a reminder of the university’s importance to our state - and the potential for WVU, if sustained by West Virginians, to be a key to unlocking a brighter future for Mountain State residents.

If you doubt the impact WVU can have, ask Martin Winterkorn - who resigned as CEO of Volkswagen AG on Wednesday.




Sept. 28

Exponent (West Virginia) Telegram on improving school bus safety:

A recent story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail was a sad reminder that some motorists are just plain stupid. And it’s the kind of stupidity that can get people killed.

The paper reported that since the school year began in Kanawha County in mid-August, as many as six motorists have hit new stop sign extensions on county school buses. Cabell County reports one instance of a driver hitting the arm.

Kanawha, Cabell and Greenbrier counties are participating in a pilot program in which stop sign arms have been installed on buses that extend across the adjacent lane. The six-foot arms are designed to keep vehicles from passing the bus when it is stopped and unloading students.

Kanawha County officials say the arms have reduced the number of instances of illegal passing of school buses by half compared to last year. That’s the good news.

“I think they’re effective. I think they’ve been very good for community awareness, and I think they’re something we’ll work with in the coming years to see how they fit in our operation,” said Brette Fraley, Kanawha County Schools executive transportation director.

Still, some motorists fail to get the message.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an average of 11 students under the age of 19 die each year in school bus-related accidents. Many of them are struck by motorists as they step off the bus. According to the NHTSA, more students are killed getting on or off the buses than riding in them.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services reports that on a single day this year, more than 78,000 vehicles illegally passed school buses in 26 states, including West Virginia. That’s just for one day.

But, the extended arms that are being tested now appear to have cut down on such illegal activity. The extensions seem to be an added layer of protection for our children.

The state Department of Education plans to allow all counties in West Virginia to purchase the school bus extensions. They are almost $1,000 per bus, but that seems to be money well spent.

We hope Harrison and other counties in North Central West Virginia consider adding the extensions to their school buses.

While we can’t stop every stupid driver, apparently the devices seem to be a beneficial tool for school systems to protect children getting off the buses.



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