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WEST Virginia has not been part of a colony for 237 years. But single party dominance of the political landscape for 82 years has created an atmosphere akin to that.

Crooked politicians particularly hold southern West Virginia hostage. The recent indictment of a Democratic circuit judge and a Democratic county commissioner in Mingo County follow convictions of a host of officials in Lincoln and Logan counties.

As praiseworthy as the efforts by federal prosecutors may be, the ultimate cure for this cancer on the state is in the hands of voters. Democratic Party control of this state has retarded its economic growth and festooned West Virginia with officials who are so secure in their jobs that they know they can get away with just about anything.

What is needed is a legitimate, working, two-party system. One prominent Democrat, Evan Jenkins, recently switched parties to provide a two-party battle in the District 3 U.S. House race. Maybe some more Republicans will come out of the closet to challenge the Democratic party stronghold.

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THE West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had good news for legislators. A departmental study found no indications of a public health emergency or threat, based on air

quality monitoring data from hydraulic fracking.

While drillers must be careful and conscientious of the environment, the burden of proof that fracking causes major pollution is on its opponents, who have shown little, if any, evidence so far.

The natural gas extracted from the Marcellus shale formation plays too big a role toward American

energy independence to be thwarted by hysteria and junk science.

However, the public should have little tolerance for cowboy operations that run roughshod over the

environment. The state and industry should make sure that the land is protected.

In the meantime, drill baby, drill.

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GETTING high school students prepared for college is a challenge in West Virginia, one that Buffalo High School in Putnam County is rising to meet.

Buffalo High School is one of 12 in the state to

offer College Summit, a program by a national non-profit group that helps prepare students for college through a one hour-a-week course.

"We're excited to be partnering with Buffalo High School this year," said Jon Charles, executive director of College Summit West Virginia, in a news release.

"This school has made great strides to enhance the quality of education in our state, and it's only fitting that they now incorporate a college and career readiness program into their mix."

If successful, other schools should consider the program for adoption next year.

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THE West Virginia Economic Development

Authority approved nearly $10 million in bond allocations for two tax-exempt projects.

The first was $5 million for the Windsor Manor Project in Wheeling which will pay for the acquisition and rehabilitation of a 109-unit residential

facility.

The other was a $4.8 million project for a 150-unit rental facility in Beckley.

Both projects are by tax-exempt groups that build "affordable housing."

What gives? Is subsidized housing the only growth industry in the state? Can the authority not find any projects that will bring in industries that will generate taxes?

If not, perhaps the authority should pack it in.

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DUNBAR City Council took a step toward moving that municipality into the 21st

century.

City Council approved a $14,790 appropriation to

allow Walter Drake Company to go through each city ordinance to weed out redundant or outdated laws that are on the books.

The city's laws also will be posted on the city's web site and upgraded every six to eight months.

Every lawmaking or rule-making body should do the same, particularly when it comes to cleaning up old laws that need no longer be on the books.


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