RESIDENTS across the eastern United States shivered early in the week, but long-time Charleston residents can remember a January when temperatures reached that level of cold not for just a few days, but for weeks.
The winter of 1976-1977 saw Gov. Jay Rockefeller take the oath of office on the Capitol steps in a 5 degree inauguration ceremony, temperatures in the single digits or below for days at a time, snowdrifts at eye level and the surfaces of the Elk and Kanawha rivers freezing completely, and staying that way for a month.
Natural gas shortages caused by the extended period of extreme cold shut down schools in the state on alternate weeks, because there wasn't enough fuel supply to keep the buildings heated.
There was no popular discussion of global warming then. In fact, Time magazine wrote about the polar vortex in a cover story titled "Another Ice Age?"
"Scientists have found other indications of global cooling," Time reported in 1974. "For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world."
Who knows when the polar vortex will make its next trip south?
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STEVE Roberts, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, said most of his group's members don't oppose Democratic Party efforts to impose a higher minimum wage of $8.25 an hour on employers in the state.
"The input we're getting from all around West Virginia is, for the most part, people seem to feel comfortable with a reasonable increase in the minimum wage," Roberts told Daily Mail Business Editor Jared Hunt.
"There are those who are saying, 'Well, our business is barely, barely making it and any increase in cost is going to have some impact on our ability to continue to employ people for the number of hours that we currently employ them,'" he said.
"But we are not finding any sort of large resistance to some sort of potential increase in the minimum wage."
If true, there is a simple way to raise the minimum wage without a legislative mandate; these businesses can voluntarily pay their employees $1 an hour more than the legal limit.