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NOT all college degrees are created the same. Starting salaries for petroleum engineers average $98,000 a year, according to Sodahead, a news and commentary website.

But one does not need a four-year degree to make big bucks. Northern Community College in Wheeling and Pierpont Community and Technical College are teaming up to develop both a two-year associate

degree and a one-year certificate program in the field of petroleum technology.

Jobs in this field pay average salaries of $60,000 to $100,000 a year.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation gave the project a $250,000 grant, and the industry gave $70,000 in grants to help make the program possible.

West Virginia needs a trained work force to maximize the benefits of extracting natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation. This is a smart investment by the colleges, the industry and the foundation.

High school graduates of the Class of '13 should take advantage of this opportunity to make good money.


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IN an effort to increase attendance at sporting events, the Marshall County Board of Education urged athletic directors to slash ticket prices. 

Students and parents now pay $3 to $5 to sit in the stands. Prices would drop to $1 to $2.

"We are in economically challenging times," Superintendent Fred Renzella said. "It's prohibitive for

families, particularly if you have a child in more than one sport."

But athletic directors are hesitant. Charles Duckworth, athletic director of John Marshall High School, said it costs $48,000 a year to field a football team.

"I haven't raised ticket prices in eight years," Duckworth said. "However, the cost of everything else keeps going up and up."

But if cutting ticket prices in half triples attendance, revenues would soar.

Sports officials throughout the state should at least consider the idea.

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RYAN Kirker, 20, of 1515 Caldwell St., McMechen, faces serious federal charges after making threats to the president and his family in three letters in 2012.

Secret Service officials said in court documents that Kirker wrote a man named John. Kirker said he was wanted to meet "John" in Washington and

boasted that he has a "30.06 semi-automatic," the Secret Service said.

This recalls the arrest of Roger W. Deal of Ona in 2000 for allegedly threatening George W. Bush, who at the time was a candidate for president.

"I'm going home to warm up my gun," Deal said at the Huntington Mall. "I heard George W. Bush is coming to Huntington."

The God-given right of free speech does not cover such threats, which must be prosecuted as quickly and as fully as possible.

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BEETLES are invading three forests of West Virginia, threatening the state's population of black walnut trees. The beetles bring with them a fungus that leads to Thousand Cankers Disease, a disease once seen only west of the Mississippi.

There is no cure, but Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick said his department is quarantining infected trees, the TCD fungus, the walnut twig beetle in any life stage and any hardwood firewood from TCD-infected areas.

Such vigilance is appreciated.

West Virginians love their trees, and a threat to them is a threat to the full enjoyment of life.


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A board of judges at the dogtrack at Wheeling Island punished three men in separate cases for neglecting or abusing dogs.

James Grace and Christopher Bever lost their

operating permits and James Bloom's permit was suspended for six months.

That is all the information the West Virginia Racing Commission, which oversees dog and horse racing in the state, will release to the public. Jon Amores,

executive director of the commission, said he did not have further details, and that judges are not

supposed to talk about cases.

Whyever not?

The Legislature should take charge and order judges to forward the details of the allegations and findings, and to forward all of it to the commission as public information.

The government should not have secret panels. The dogs —and the public — deserve better.



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