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THE Sistersville Tank Works in Tyler County was established in 1894 and made boilers and pressure valves for the oil and gas industry.

But it has always changed with the times.

In 1923, the tank works was among the first custom fabricators in the nation to get American Society of Mechanical Engineers code approval, the better to serve the booming steamboat business.

In World War II, the company made decking for landing craft and casings for blockbuster bombs.

In 1984, with the company near closure, longtime bookkeeper Janet Wells purchased the business, which built itself a new future.

Earlier this summer, representatives of the Sistersville Tank Works went on a Department of Commerce trip to Seoul in South Korea and Taipei in Taiwan.

The Parkersburg News & Sentinel reported this week that after much preliminary work and a fiveday on-site inspection by Korean officials, the 115year-old custom vessel fabrication company received the Korean Gas Safety Certification. It is only the second U.S. company to do so.

This opens the door for Sistersville Tank Works to make equipment intended for South Korea - as it already does for customers in France, England, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada and Japan.

If every company in America worked that way, the nation wouldn't have an economic problem.

 

WEST VIRGINIA, which cannot afford the Medicaid program it already has, announced recently that it will take $24 million from the federal government so it can pay family doctors as much as Medicare does so they will agree to serve 91,000 additional Medicaid recipients when the Democrats' health care plan kicks in.

It sounds like progress, but it might not be.

Low reimbursement rates for Medicare patients have caused an increasing number of physicians to opt out of that program.

Melinda Beck of The Wall Street Journal reported this week that only 81 percent of the nation's family doctors accepted new Medicare patients last year.

"Some experts attribute the rise in defections to Medicare payment rates that haven't kept pace with inflation and the threat of more cuts to come," she wrote.

"Some doctors say Medicare's reimbursement rates - as low as $58 for a 15-minute office visit - force them to see 30 or more patients a day to make ends meet."

So West Virginia used borrowed federal money to raise grossly inadequate reimbursement rates for doctors who treat Medicaid patients to rates that physicians say are inadequate to cover the costs of serving Medicare patients.

 

ORGANIZERS of the August 14-17 Upper Kanawha Valley Homecoming Festival are sponsoring a timed coal-shoveling contest - an authentic cultural event if there ever was one.

For $10, entrants can remind themselves and everyone else how hard everybody's grandpa worked in the coal mines to support their wives and children in coal camps.

First-prize winner of the homecoming contest will get $500 in cash. Second and third-place finishers get cash prizes, too. Call 304 595-5991 for information.

Want to get a feel of the backbreaking labor that put your family on the road to a better tomorrow? This is how to do it.


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