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WEST Virginians owe a huge thank-you to Schlumberger Limited, the world's largest oilfield services. The company,, headquartered in Houston, gave nearly $18 million worth of grants for geology and geophysics software to West Virginia University.

Schlumberger made its first in-kind software donation to WVU in 2007.

The gift boosts the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, and is a reminder of the importance of choosing a college major wisely.

Starting salaries for petroleum engineers average $98,000 a year, according to PayScale. That easily tops the 130 majors listed.

That level of pay is more than 50 percent larger than aerospace engineering, which was No. 2 on the list. Math and engineering majors dominate the top salaries.

That reflects the supply and demand for petroleum engineers. Consider that a word to the wise.

Schlumberger's investment means more WVU

students will be able to get a top-notch education in petroleum engineering.

With the activity in the Marcellus shale and Utica shale formations, they may stand a better chance of remaining in West Virginia after graduation — thanks to Schlumberger.


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THE city of Wheeling has come up with a new housing development plan: Encourage residential use of empty downtown buildings.

Unfortunately, the cost of renovations exceeds the expected rents.

Accordingly, the city's Historic Landmarks

Commission is looking for a way to have taxpayers subsidize the renovations through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

Why is "federal" money always the first response to every civic problem?  If living in downtown Wheeling makes sense, some businessman or woman will figure a way to make a buck on this.

Many things would be nice for society. But the

nation is living on its credit card.

The federal debt has been nearly 10 percent of the national economy under President Obama.

Americans have to stop looking to Washington for help. That's the only way to save the nation.

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THE decline of the coal industry and the rise

in abuse of prescription painkillers have made

impoverished McDowell County miserable.

Officials are trying to fix the drug problem.

The county expects to open its first Suboxone

clinic next month to help treat addicts, said Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell, who is also the county manager.

"We will probably be at peak capacity on the initial day of the program," Moore told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

"It is encouraging to see people want to use this. I think we will have more requests for service than we have capacity."

It's sad that it has come to this. It is great that there are people who are sticking it out and fighting the good fight for McDowell.


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OFFICIALS in Maryland are fighting to stop the planned relocation of 450 jobs from a federal office in Hyattsville, Md., to Parkersburg. The plan was announced in August.

The transfer now may be delayed until 2019.

So it has come to this. States no longer compete for factories and other private-sector jobs but for

federal ones. That is how large the federal government has grown in recent years.

Even more alarming is that the jobs are with the Bureau of Public Debt.

The nation's annual deficit has quadrupled since Democrats took over Congress in 2007 — continuing even under a Republican House.

The nation cannot spend its way to prosperity, and states cannot build strong economies just by fighting each other for federal jobs.

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WEST Virginia University's reputation has been marred by couch-burning after football victories.

This year's version of the Mountaineers kept the

celebrations down to seven. 

But as bad as things are in Morgantown, the French have an even worse tradition — burning cars.

On New Year's Eve, vandals torched 1,193 empty, parked cars in France, according to that nation's

Interior Ministry. Civil unrest led to the torching of 8,973 cars in 2005.

The French tradition does not justify stupidity in Morgantown. But things could be worse — a lot worse.



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