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Buffalo workers not eligible for offer

Toyota has offered early retirement incentives to about 2,000 of its U.S. employees, but none of the workers at Toyota's engine and transmission plant qualify, spokeswoman Sandy Maynard said.

"I think you have to have 22 years with the company to qualify," Maynard said.

None of the 1,200 employees at Buffalo have more than about 16 years of service with the automaker, she said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Toyota workers who take early retirement "could get a lump-sum payment equal to two weeks of pay for every year of service, up to a maximum of 25 years, plus eight weeks additional pay. In return, the workers would agree to leave on a schedule instead of leaving all at once."

Most of the employees who qualify work at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., assembly plant, which has 6,000 to 7,000 workers, the Journal said.

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Over the years some people have suggested a skyway be built between the Marriott and the Charleston Town Center so pedestrians could avoid dodging Lee Street East traffic.

Tom Gilkeson, Forest City Enterprises' vice president of retail operations, said the company is not planning to do that project.

"If we could have our wishes and could fulfill them, I could see doing that," he said. "But it takes a lot of effort and expense and it's not on our radar."

Forest City owns half of the mall and manages it. Last year it sold the Marriott for $25.5 million to Inland American Lodging Advisor.

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On the topic of dodging traffic: It would be nice if safety could be improved for employees who must cross busy MacCorkle Avenue Southeast near Highland Hospital in Kanawha City.

The hospital is on the north side of the street. Its parking lot is on the south side.

MacCorkle is U.S. 61 so the city is powerless to make changes.

Division of Highways spokesman Brent Walker said he didn't immediately know whether the division has had conversations with Highland executives.

Walker pointed out that there is no stoplight at the crossing. "The fact of the matter is, without a traffic signal I don't know what effect a crosswalk would have, unless they might have a crossing guard there at certain hours. We'd certainly sit down with them and look to see if there's anything we could do to help provide some measure of safety."

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My nephew said that on a recent night flight from Seattle to Minneapolis, the pilot banked the plane over North Dakota and asked the passengers to look below.

In the past, North Dakota was pitch black at night. Now it glows with thousands of lights. The pilot said it's a telltale sign of the shale oil and gas boom.


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