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Rick Steelhammer

Staff writer
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In wake of deliberate German Airbus crash, FAA still has no formal mental exam for U.S. airline pilots

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While the poor mental health of a co-pilot is suspected as the cause of the deadly Germanwings Airbus 320 crash in the French Alps last month, and pilot mental health issues are believed to have played roles in six other...

Thinking of orange foods and recycled beer

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The Food Police took down a major offender last week when they convinced the folks who run Kraft it was in their best interest to stop using artificial dyes to give their best-selling, blue-boxed macaroni and cheese prod...

Retired coal miner blazes trail in Slingshot

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Kenny Williams may not seem like the most likely guy in the Charleston area to be the first to own a Polaris Slingshot, the sleek new futuristic-looking three-wheeled roadster that a Car and Driver reviewer described as ...

Forest Service OKs pipeline survey through Mon Forest

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A permit to survey a 17.1-mile section of the Monongahela National Forest in Randolph and Pocahontas counties for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

The year-long sur...

Girl Scouts to hold July Jamboree at the Summit

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Girl Scouts from across the nation are being invited to take part in a five-day Girl Scout Jamboree this summer at Fayette County’s Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the site of 2013’s National ...

Fayette County stand now part of Old-Growth Forest Network

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THURMOND — With less than 1 percent of the forests encountered by settlers in the Eastern United States escaping the ax and saw in the centuries that followed their arrival, a mo...

Parkersburg woman is state’s last daughter of the Civil War

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PARKERSBURG -- Rachel Perine now wishes she had paid more attention to her father’s accounts of military life.

“He was a great talker, and people -- older people especially -- seemed interested in wha...

Chester not bagging it with teapot repairs

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Chester, West Virginia’s northernmost city, is anxious to spout off about its unique, homespun tourist attraction, The World’s Largest Teapot. A recently launched clean-up and renovation project should keep...

Celebrate Appalachian spring with nature hikes

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For Southern West Virginia residents hankering to get outside and smell the flowers, the New River Gorge National River and nearby state parks and state forests are offering a abundance of wildflower and nature-themed hi...

Kids learn skills ranging from outdoor cooking to robotics at Kanawha County 4-H Camp

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Now in its 100th year, the 4-H camping program continues to fulfill its original mission of providing kids with a safe, fun outdoor setting where they can develop hands-on life skills and make long-lasting friendships.

Some thoughts on death and taxes

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In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes, Benjamin Franklin famously observed back in 1789.

That certainty is striking home on a personal level as I pound out these words, having ret...

Third defendant in St. Albans murder pleads guilty

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The fate of a St. Albans woman lies in the hands of Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom after she gave up her right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Friday.

Jessica May Wilson, 29, was char...

Nonprofit group raising funds toward W.Va. mountain purchase

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A Potomac River conservation group has raised 94 percent of the $3.2 million needed to buy a 1,700-acre section of Hampshire County’s White Horse Mountain for use as a public hunting and fishing area, instead of a...

Irked by lagging insurers, Yeager Airport settling landslide claims itself

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Frustrated with the failure of insurance carriers to begin processing claims or offering settlements to those whose property was damaged or destroyed in the March 12 runway safety zone slope failure, Yeager Airportȁ...

West Virginia Railroad Museum on track for April 18 grand opening

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ELKINS -- Without the arrival of the railroad, the coal and timber industries would never have rapidly become the powerful economic forces they came to be in West Virginia.

Yeager investigates possible fraud related to landslide outreach

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Yeager Airport Police and Kanawha County sheriff’s investigators are looking into several instances of alleged fraud and other criminal activity by those who received help from the airport following the March 12 l...

New River Gorge trail tops USA Today list

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The New River Gorge National River’s Endless Wall Trail has been chosen the nation’s best national park hike in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice contest.

The 2.4-mile trail passes through a h...

Top O Rock, Alexander Creel Tavern, named to statewide Buildings at Risk Register

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Top O Rock, Charleston’s glassy, modernist, six-story hillside residential masterpiece, is one of the first two properties to be listed on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia’s new Buildings at Risk ...

McDowell coal company store being resurrected as museum

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KIMBALL, W.Va. — A $1.5 million restoration project underway in Kimball could keep the Houston Coal Company Store — perhaps the best preserved of more than 100 company sto...

Yeager spends $1 million so far on slide remediation

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As Yeager Airport surpassed the $1 million mark on Wednesday in covering expenses related to the March 12 collapse of a fill area off its main runway’s safety overrun area, forensic engineers are expected to begin...

County, Yeager hire appraisers to expedite damage settlements from landslide

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Charleston real estate appraiser and former mayor Jay Goldman of Jay Goldman and Associates has been hired by the Kanawha County Commission to provide free home appraisals to Keystone Drive residents whose property was d...

Cross Lanes traffic topic of Tuesday meeting

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A meeting designed to let the public voice concerns and suggestions regarding traffic issues in the Cross Lanes area will take place Tuesday, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Tyler Mountain Volunteer Fire Department’s communi...

Public invited to snakes’ weekly dinner at Pipestem’s Nature Center

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PIPESTEM — Old Man, the resident black rat snake at Pipestem Resort State Park’s Nature Center, didn’t live to be 30-some years old and reach seven feet in length b...

Most Keystone Drive residents cleared to return to their homes

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Occupants of all but 10 Keystone Drive homes who evacuated their stream-side neighborhood on Friday after a landslide from neighboring Yeager Airport’s safety overrun area partially blocked Elk Two-Mile Creek were...

Keystone church members pick through ruins

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A carved wooden plaque listing the Ten Commandments, hymnals, items of furniture and an electronic mixing board for a sound system were among seemingly undamaged items congregation members pluc...

State director named for Nature Conservancy’s West Virginia chapter

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Thomas Minney of Elkins, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Central Appalachians program for the past eight years, has been named the Conservancy’s West Virginia state director.

The 44-year-old Gilm...

Rainy forecast increases worry over Yeager landslide, blocked creek

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With landslide debris partially blocking Elk Two-Mile Creek and a storm front carrying up to 2 inches of rain bearing down from the west, the few remaining residents of Keystone Drive who had not already evacuated their ...

Yeager Airport landslide gets worse, closes Keystone Drive

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Most Keystone Drive residents evacuated their homes Thursday, after a slip near the end of Yeager Airport’s safety-overrun area became a landslide, shearing off a section of fill that tumbled ...

Minor river flooding continues across the state

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Although sunshine prevailed across much of West Virginia on Thursday, high water from recent rain and snowmelt continued to pose problems for people living at scattered locations along the Ohio, Greenbrier, Tygart Valley...

Slip at Yeager’s runway safety zone prompts evacuation of two homes, church

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Officials at Yeager Airport say a slip that has developed at the end of the safety overrun area bordering the Charleston-facing end of Yeager Airport’s main runway poses no threat to air operations, but they have ...

Steelhammer: Is the time right to dock Old Hickory?

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As much as I can get attached to the look and feel of one or more $20 bills taking up space in my pocket, I’m not sentimental about the guy whose image appears on the face of the folding money.

In fact, I&#x...

Russian satellite support, wave search move Green Bank toward independence

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While the staff of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank can detect no sign of the National Science Foundation changing its plan to drop the Pocahontas County research facility’s primary research ...

Beckley downtown historic district tops state Endangered Properties List

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Beckley’s Courthouse Square Historic District, an eight-block downtown business district that has lost 22 of its 100 buildings to demolition and historically inappropriate renovations in the past 20 years, is in d...

Flooding expected as new storm brings rain, warmer temperatures

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The presence of accumulated snow along with a forecast of widespread rain and warmer temperatures are likely to cause flooding in much of the state this week.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Mond...

Low-fare Spirit service to resume at Yeager

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More West Virginians than ever are expected to be boarding Spirit Airlines, the no-frills low-cost carrier with the “you get what you pay for” business model, after it resumes its nonstop seasonal service t...