www.charlestondailymail.com Business http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Social Security faces IT issues http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140725/ARTICLE/140729468 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140725/ARTICLE/140729468 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:39:01 -0400

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON - After spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will.

Six years ago, Social Security embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. But the project has been wracked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

Today, the project is still in the testing phase, and the agency can't say when it will be operational or how much it will cost.

In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process - delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system.

"The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns," said a report by McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm.

As a result, agency leaders have decided to "reset" the program in an effort to save it, the report said. As part of that effort, Social Security brought in the outside consultants from McKinsey to figure out what went wrong.

They found a massive technology initiative with no one in charge - no single person responsible for completing the project. They issued their report in June, though it was not publicly released.

As part of McKinsey's recommendations, acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin appointed Terrie Gruber to oversee the project last month. Gruber had been an assistant deputy commissioner.

"We asked for this, this independent look, and we weren't afraid to hear what the results are," Gruber said in an interview Wednesday. "We are absolutely committed to deliver this initiative and by implementing the recommendations we obtained independently, we think we have a very good prospect on doing just that."

The revelations come at an awkward time for Colvin. President Barack Obama nominated Colvin to a full six-year term in June, and she now faces confirmation by the Senate. Colvin was deputy commissioner for 3 1/2 years before becoming acting commissioner in February 2013.

The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Colvin for July 31.

The House Oversight Committee is also looking into the computer program, and whether Social Security officials tried to bury the McKinsey report. In a letter to Colvin on Wednesday, committee leaders requested all documents and communications about the computer project since March 1.

The letter was signed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight Committee, and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and James Lankford, R-Okla. They called the project "an IT boondoggle."

The troubled computer project is known as the Disability Case Processing System, or DCPS. It was supposed to replace 54 separate, antiquated computer systems used by state Social Security offices to process disability claims. As envisioned, workers across the country would be able to use the system to process claims and track them as benefits are awarded or denied and claims are appealed.

But as of April, the system couldn't even process all new claims, let alone accurately track them as they wound their way through the system, the report said. In all, more than 380 problems were still outstanding, and users hadn't even started testing the ability of the system to handle applications from children.

"The DCPS project is adrift, the scope of the project is ambiguous, the project has been poorly executed, and the project's development lacks leadership," the three lawmakers said in their letter to Colvin.

Maryland-based Lockheed Martin was selected in 2011 as the prime contractor on the project. At the time, the company valued the contract at up to $200 million, according to a press release.

McKinsey's report does not specifically fault Lockheed but raises the possibility of changing vendors and says Social Security officials need to better manage the project.

Gruber said Social Security will continue to work with Lockheed "to make sure that we are successful in the delivery of this program."

Steve Field, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, would only say that the company is committed to delivering the program.

Nearly 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security disability benefits. That's a 45 percent increase from a decade ago. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,146.

The report comes as the disability program edges toward the brink of insolvency. The trust fund that supports Social Security's disability program is projected to run out of money in 2016. At that point, the system will collect only enough money in payroll taxes to pay 80 percent of benefits, triggering an automatic 20 percent cut in benefits.

Congress could redirect money from Social Security's much bigger retirement program to shore up the disability program, as it did in 1994. But that would worsen the finances of the retirement program, which is facing its own long-term financial problems.

Social Security disability claims are first processed through a network of field offices and state agencies called Disability Determination Services. There are 54 of these offices, and they all use different computer systems, Gruber said.

If your claim is rejected, you can ask the state agency to reconsider. If your claim is rejected again, you can appeal to an administrative law judge, who is employed by the Social Security Administration.

It takes more than 100 days, on average, to processing initial applications, according to agency data. The average processing time for a hearing before an administrative law judge is more than 400 days.

The new processing system is supposed to help alleviate some of these delays.

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Jared Hunt column: 'Backpack Index' records jump in school costs http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729622 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729622 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:01:00 -0400 For parents, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

For students - not so much.

With school starting next month, the back-to-school shopping season is upon us. And while parents may be looking forward to sending their little angels back to classes on a daily basis, they might not like what they have to pay to get their kids ready to go.

Earlier this week, Huntington Bank released its eighth "Backpack Index," which measures the costs associated with sending K-12 students to school each year. That includes the costs of supplies like notebooks, folders and calculators, as well as field trip and school fees and the costs of participating in sports and band.

To parents' dismay, the index this year saw some of its biggest year-over-year cost increases in its eight-year history.

Parents of middle school children can expect to pay nearly 20 percent more for supplies and school costs this year, according to the index. Costs for elementary schoolchildren increased by 11 percent, while the cost for high school students increased by about 5 percent.

The increases in all three categories far outpaced the economy's overall 2.1 percent inflation increase, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, over the same time period. Meanwhile, parents' average hourly earnings rose just 2.05 percent over the same time, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"With the slow growth in wages, it is difficult for many families to meet the rising costs of sending children to school," said George Mokrzan, Huntington Bank's director of economics.

Huntington staff compile the list each year by obtaining classroom supply lists from a cross-section of schools throughout the six states it serves - West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky - and compiling these into one representative list of required supplies and fees.

The costs are then determined by selecting moderately priced items at online retailers.

The most expensive supply for high school and middle school students is a $129.99 TI-84 graphing calculator. The index noted more middle schools are requiring graphing calculators for students, since Algebra and other subjects are now being taught earlier in schools. That helped bump up costs for those students.

The most expensive fee came from a one-year music instrument rental (priced at $335-345). High school students also face costs from ACT, SAT and AP testing materials.

The average elementary school parent could expect to pay $642 for all of their child's supplies and fees, with costs increasing to $918 for middle school parents and topping out at $1,284 for parents of high schoolers.

Huntington said most of the general increases in the Backpack Index this year were the result of fee hikes for standardized testing as well as school fees for field trips and pay-to-play fees for sports. Parents of high and middle school students may also have to buy their children computer tablets, as more schools are now using those devices in the classroom.

Since the bank first introduced the index in 2007, costs have cumulatively increased 83 percent for elementary school students, 73 percent for middle school students and 44 percent for high school students.

Though there are increases this year, the bank said parents can take some steps to save money.

"We recommend that parents begin to take advantage of sales for classroom supplies and activities from now until September in order to save money," Mokrzan said.

The bank recommended starting early, shopping around, checking newspaper circulars for the best deals, try to recycle supplies bought in the past for older kids and ask neighbors and friends if they have old instruments or sports equipment they are no longer using.

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W.Va. workers' compensation rates to drop again http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729537 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729537 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:33:11 -0400 By Jared Hunt West Virginia employers are set to see their workers' compensation premiums drop by about $32 million in the coming year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday.

It will be employers' tenth consecutive reduction in workers' comp rates when it takes effect later this year.

Tomblin said the National Council on Compensation Insurance earlier this week filed a proposed reduction in workers' compensation loss cost rates - a key ingredient used to determine workers' compensation insurance premiums - with the Offices of the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner.

Loss cost rates are the portion of the workers' compensation premium that reflect the pure cost of workers compensation claims, including the cost of medical care, lost wages, and prescriptions. They do not include an insurance company's operating expenses, taxes and profit margins, which also affect rates.

The NCCI is West Virginia's rating and statistical agent that calculates and files the loss cost rates based on an actuarial analysis. The organization has proposed a 9.1 percent decrease in loss cost rates with the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner.

If approved by the Insurance Commissioner's office, the rate reduction, which would take effect Nov. 1, would result in about $32 million worth of savings and premium reductions for employers over the next year.

"We've worked hard in West Virginia to create a business climate that encourages companies to innovate, expand and create new jobs," Tomblin said in a press release. "With this rate reduction, our businesses are reaping the rewards of both lower taxes and lower workers' compensation insurance premiums. The new rates are an excellent sign that our state continues to move in the right direction for continued job growth."

In 2005, then-Gov. Joe Manchin successfully pushed through reform to privatize state's workers' compensation system. The state-owned monopoly that was the Workers' Compensation Commission became the private BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co. on Jan. 1, 2006.

"This rate reduction, and the related premium savings to employers, is a positive indication of the progress that has been made in our market," said state Insurance Commissioner Michael Riley.

Since the switch, workers' compensation loss costs rates have dropped 58.7 percent. That has resulted in more than $280 million in savings for West Virginia employers since the system was privatized, according to the governor's office.

Manchin, who has since been elected to the U.S. Senate, said privatizing workers' compensation was "one of my most rewarding achievements and impactful issues my administration addressed" when he was governor.

"West Virginia is reaping the fruits of our labor from the reforms of the state's workers' compensation program," said Manchin, D-W.Va.

"Now, our state has gotten its financial house in order, and we are living within our means, enjoying a steady revenue stream, and have once again become competitive in West Virginia and around the country," he said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

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WesBanco reports record earnings http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729515 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729515 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:14:43 -0400 Wheeling-based banking company WesBanco Inc. reported record quarterly earnings late Wednesday.

The multi-state bank holding company said it earned $18.9 million, or 64 cents a share, in the second quarter, up more than 10 percent from its earnings in the second quarter last year.

For the first six months of the year, the company earned $35.3 million, up from $33 million in the first half of last year.

The company's total assets have increased 3.2 percent, or $193 million, over the past year primarily due to loan growth. The bank said it issued $1.4 billion worth of loans in the last year.

The company said loan growth was driven by increased business activity in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, as well as additional lending personnel, focused marketing efforts and an expanded presence in urban markets.

"The second quarter was impressive and we are very pleased with the results," said Todd Clossin, WesBanco's president and CEO. "Expenses continue to be well managed as we stay disciplined and continue our focus on gaining efficiencies from our infrastructure investments. The management at WesBanco is a team that, while recognizing the successes of this quarter, is prepared to further improve the organization going forward."

With $6.3 billion in assets, WesBanco operates 119 branch locations and 106 ATMs in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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West Side business expo next week http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729516 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/DM05/140729516 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:14:34 -0400 Businesses on Charleston's West Side will come together for the third annual West Side Main Street Business Expo Thursday, Aug. 7, at Royal Automotive.

Area department and supply stores, restaurants and banks will be among those with displays at the expo, which is designed as a networking event for area residents and business leaders.

"The expo is a fantastic way to learn about the diverse range of businesses and nonprofit organizations on the West Side," said Stephanie Johnson, executive director of West Side Main Street. "We've had around 20 businesses attend in previous years and expect an even larger turnout this year."

West Side Main Street is a community revitalization affiliate program of the West Virginia State University Extension Service and the City of Charleston.

The expo costs $5 to attend and includes food and beverages catered by Best of Crete. Booths are available for businesses to exhibit at a cost of $50. Royal Automotive is located at 1901 Patrick St.

For more information, contact Stephanie Johnson at 304-941-4479 or director@westsidemainstreet.org.

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Dick's Sporting Goods lays off 478 golf pros http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/ARTICLE/140729514 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/ARTICLE/140729514 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:15:21 -0400 IMPERIAL, Pa. - The western Pennsylvania-based Dick's Sporting Goods chain has laid off 478 Professional Golfers' Association teaching pros months after the company reported that sales of golf gear are dwindling.

Dick's, based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Findlay Township, didn't immediately respond Thursday to the layoffs, which were announced by the PGA on Wednesday.

Dick's operates more than 500 stores nationwide, most under the Dick's name. Those stores sell golf equipment, as do 79 stores the chain operates under the Golf Galaxy name.

Earlier this year, Dick's announced it expected its year-end profits to drop about 10 percent because of reduced sales in golf equipment, which the company says was offsetting gains it made selling other sports gear.

The PGA says Dick's still employs PGA pros at its Golf Galaxy stores, but not at Dick's locations.

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US economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/ARTICLE/140729588 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140724/ARTICLE/140729588 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:33:10 -0400

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Out of a seemingly hollow recovery from the Great Recession, a more durable if still slow-growing U.S. economy has emerged.

That conclusion, one held by a growing number of economists, might surprise many people. After all, in the five years since the recession officially ended, Americans' pay has basically stagnated. Millions remain unemployed or have abandoned their job searches. Economic growth is merely plodding along.
Yet as the economy has slowly healed, analysts say it has replaced some critical weaknesses with newfound strengths. Among the trends:
- Fewer people are piling up credit card debt or taking on risky mortgages. This should make growth more sustainable and avoid a cycle of extreme booms and busts.
- Banks are more profitable and holding additional cash to help protect against a repeat of the 2008 market meltdown.
- More workers hold advanced degrees. Education typically leads to higher wages and greater job security, reducing the likelihood of unemployment.
- Inflation is under control. Runaway price increases would be destructive. Low inflation can lay a foundation for growth.
- Millions who have reached retirement age are staying on the job. This lessens the economic drag from retiring baby boomers and helps sustain consumer spending.
Over the long run, such trends could help produce a sturdier economy, one less prone to the kind of runaway growth that often ends in a steep and sudden slump.
The downside? At least in the short term, these same trends have prevented the economy from accelerating. When consumers borrow and spend less freely, for example, they restrain growth.
And when people seek to work longer or become more educated, often there aren't enough jobs for all of them, at least not right away. People with advanced degrees can often find lower-paying jobs that don't require much education. But when they do, they tend to push some people with only a high school education into unemployment.
One of the most striking trends in the recovery has been an aversion to personal debt. A typical U.S. household owes $7,122 in credit card debt, $1,618 less than at the start of the recession, according to analysis of New York Federal Reserve data by the firm Nerd Wallet. (After factoring in inflation, the balance is $2,900 lower.)
Kevin Quigley, a massage therapist, found that by the time the recession struck, his card balance had ballooned to as much as $35,000. The 33-year old from University City, Missouri ascribed that to "thinking that I needed a lot of things."
Beginning in 2010, he consolidated his card debt and reduced it by $300 a month until it disappeared.
"Peace of mind became more important to me than stuff," Quigley said.
Two primary factors explain the decline in card debt: Lending standards were tightened, and consumers "just kind of froze in place," said Jelena Ewart, general manager of credit cards and banking at Nerd Wallet.
The American Bankers Association says card debt as a share of people's income has reached its lowest level in more than a decade. People increasingly pay off balances each month. And just 2.44 percent of card accounts are delinquent, compared with the 15-year average of 3.82 percent.
Researchers at the Cleveland Fed found that after adjusting for inflation, debt from mortgage and auto loans remains below pre-recession levels. Applications for credit by "deep subprime" borrowers - those most at risk of defaulting - have dropped 36 percent from pre-recession highs.
Because people are taking on less debt, they're also spending less. That phenomenon has slowed growth because consumers fuel most of the U.S. economy.
Consumer spending has risen just 10.8 percent during the five-year recovery - the smallest increase among expansions in the last 55 years, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.
But after the frugality of the past half-decade, money that once went to repaying credit cards can now be spent in ways that boost growth.
"There are some families who can contemplate vacations for the first time in a while, who can contemplate replacing their jalopies," Tannenbaum said.
Declining debt loads have coincided with stronger cash buffers that banks have built up to protect against possible losses. More than 30 percent of banks were unprofitable in 2009, a share that sank to 7.28 percent through the first three months of 2014, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said she no longer sees a "systemic threat" from over-extended banks.
Inflation has also been running below the Fed's 2 percent target. Not only have consumers enjoyed relatively stable prices, but the Fed has been able to stimulate growth by holding interest rates down without risking any immediate threat of igniting inflation.
Americans have also used the recovery to return to school. The share of adults with advanced degrees jumped to 11.7 percent from 9.9 percent in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. During the recovery, the number of Americans with a college degree surpassed the number with only a high school diploma for the first time.
The unemployment rate for college graduates is 3.3 percent vs. 5.8 percent for high school graduates and 9.1 percent for high school dropouts. Someone with a master's degree earns on average $69,108 a year, more than double what someone with only a high school diploma earns.
Over time, more people with advanced degrees should put a greater percentage of Americans into better-paying skilled jobs. For now, though, some educated Americans have moved into jobs requiring only a high school degree and left many of those without degrees jobless. Just 54 percent of high school graduates are employed, compared with 60 percent before the recession.
A similar development has occurred as workers have delayed retirement. The proportion of Americans older than 65 who are working has risen to 22.7 percent from roughly 20 percent during the recession.
These older workers tend to be better educated, so they command higher pay than the broader population, Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has concluded. And by continuing to draw a paycheck, they pay taxes, which should ease the budgetary pressures on younger generations.
Still, the rising proportion of older workers has kept some younger workers from receiving promotions or being hired.
"For lot of folks in their 20s and 30s looking to get established in their careers, it does represent a hardship," Burtless said.
That hardship should gradually diminish on the strength of continued job growth. Employers have added more than 200,000 jobs a month for five straight months - the best such stretch since the late 1990s.
"If the economy gets close to its full employment potential, it's a great thing," Burtless said.

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Ashton Place Kroger renovation complete http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM05/140729623 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM05/140729623 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:08:50 -0400 By Jared Hunt CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After more than a year, the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Ashton Place Kroger is finally complete.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis joined Kroger Co. executives for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning to mark the completion of the nearly $13 million makeover of the South Hills store and tour some of its new features.

"It's unbelievable," Jones said of the renovation. "I haven't been in this store in quite some time and this is really upscale stuff. This is what the stores look like around the country. It's pretty incredible."

The remodeled store features expanded natural foods and organics, meat, seafood, dairy, deli and frozen foods sections along with a larger cheese shop and olive and sushi bars. Two chefs now prepare hot meals and a salad bar for lunch and dinner.

The ceiling has been raised and more than 100 skylights and LED-light fixtures added to make the store brighter and boost its energy efficiency.

The company spent $12.9 million to renovate the store. That included purchasing additional land from the city to expand from 53,000 to 70,000 square feet. The expansion created an additional 25 jobs at the location, boosting employment from 125 to 150 people.

Store manager Joe LaManca said the 65-week remodel and expansion project was a challenge for employees and customers.

"We stayed open the entire time, so it was a lot of work," LaManca said. "Our customers were great; they stuck with us the whole time to see the end product and then the rewards that came from that. And our employees were fantastic. They came in every day and things would be moved, so they had to do their jobs differently every day.

"We're just thrilled that it's complete," he said. "It looks great and now our customers can come in and get the best shopping experience they possibly can."

Davis said some of the concerns going into the project involved traffic control around the construction area and the noise it might create, because construction was mainly going to occur during the overnight hours. But she said the company was able to keep both factors under control during the renovation.

"I think what's incredibly unbelievable is that they did all this renovation and kept this store open," Davis said. "It's worked out well."

LaManca said the renovation was necessary to modernize the store and bring it more in line with what shoppers see in newer stores being built around the country.

"Ashton Place Kroger is 25 years old," he said. "In 1989 the original store was a big store, but it's not anymore."

He said in order to carry the items customers expect the store to carry and offer them the variety of departments and products customers deserve, the store needed to expand. The expanded departments now let the store provide new options that were previously unavailable.

Meat Manager Rodney Jones said the store now receives overnight fish shipments from either Hawaii or Seattle nearly every day of the week. Staff place daily orders with providers in both locations requesting particular types of fish for the market.

"They give us a call, we'll say what we want and they'll go out and catch it," Jones said. "Then they ship it to us overnight via UPS."

The store gets six different varieties of fish from Hawaii and five varieties from Seattle. On Wednesday morning, the store unpacked a shipment from Hawaii that included whole red parrotfish and mahi mahi that were waiting on ice for customers.

Rebecca Douglas, 72, said she's been driving more than 20 miles from her Sissonville home to the Ashton Place Kroger for more than 20 years to take advantage of the expanded selection the store has typically offered.

"I really love this store," Douglas said. "The thing I like about it most is you can almost always find what you're looking for, and if you can't, someone will come up and help you find it."

As she browsed the expanded produce section Wednesday, she said she's really enjoyed seeing the new products added to the store during the renovation.

"I've slowly watched the construction and it's just been amazing," she said. "It's wonderful, absolutely wonderful."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

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Hospital board talks building projects http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729646 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729646 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:36:32 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Slides displaying plans and progress on building projects at Charleston Area Medical Center show how patient care will continue to improve, said Dale Wood, chief quality officer.

Wood, who made the presentation on Wednesday morning during the regular meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees, discussed how the process will affect patients, visitors, parking and staff.

"It's like a bunch of dominoes to make things happen," he said.

While officials were already aware of the projects, Wood quickly went through a series of slides to update the board.

Construction at Memorial means losing parking spaces while large equipment is situated in the area through February of 2015. Additional staff will be on hand to guide people safely away from the construction zone. While parking near the work area will be lost for safety reasons, additional parking will be opened near the Heart and Vascular Center. Property purchased near Aladdin's Restaurant on Chesterfield Avenue will be available for staff parking with a shuttle service provided. Construction at Memorial will be done in stages with three new levels adding 109,830 square feet of space and 48 additional patient beds, including 16 for critical care and 32 for general medical care. There will also be space for adding another 48 beds when authorization and funding make that possible.

As CAMC continues to expand and offer additional services, temporary inconveniences will be compensated in terms of better patient care, he said.

The new CAMC Cancer Center is moving along as expected.

"We are on budget and on schedule," he said. "We plan to see patients in May."

David Ramsey, president and chief executive officer, said he was surprised with the building progress he saw on a recent tour of the Cancer Center.

University of Charleston President Ed Welch, who heads the quality committee, said advance directives and living wills become a challenge for hospital officials when family does not agree with a patient's wishes. However, the written decision of the patient must prevail in these instances, he said.

"We continue to work on that touchy, personal issue," he said.

He also suggested officials take a look at when a patient needs life prolonging therapy or palliative care. For example, it could be noted whether a patient was admitted through Hospice or traditional means in order to identify more quickly what kind of care may be needed.

He also mentioned a recent "miracle case" whereby a patient was admitted with numerous gunshot wounds, went home within a month, and continues therapy on an outpatient basis.

"It's phenomenal what CAMC can do to assist people," he said.

Larry Hudson, CAMC chief financial officer, said finances have improved for several reasons, including Medicaid revisions.

Gail Pitchford, CAMC foundation president, presented a strategic plan for continued fundraising. Last May, the foundation exceeded its $15 million fundraising goal for the new Cancer Center.

"With the Cancer Center under construction, donors who drive by can see that the money they give changes the delivery of health care in this community," she said. "One object of the campaign was not just to raise money but to raise awareness of the CAMC Foundation. We acquired 2,000 new donors as a result of the campaign. We've acquired new donors and we've got to keep them."

She called upon board members to make her aware of those who have influence in the community with talents for fundraising. The foundation is continuing to build its "grateful patients program."

Patients who thank health officials for excellent care often make donations, she said. When patients receive care there is a box to mark if they do not wish to receive information from the foundation. Otherwise, materials may be sent to them so they are aware of opportunities to donate. The foundation may have access to names and addresses for mailings while medical information remains confidential.

Pitchford also praised the generosity of employees who gave more than $500,000 toward the new Cancer Center.

Ramsey said Pitchford's leadership has been impressive.

"We are lucky to have Gail leading the foundation," he said. "She does a remarkable job."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

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Canceled Dirty Girl race in WV unlikely to provide refunds http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729703 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/DM01/140729703 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:39:04 -0400 By Whitney Burdette CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Despite a last-minute cancellation, women who registered to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, originally scheduled for Saturday at Cato Park, may not see a refund.

According to a post on the Dirty Girl Mud Run: Charleston, WV Facebook page, the company does not offer refunds "under any circumstances."

"We have a strict no refund policy and refunds will not be issued under any circumstances," according to the frequently asked questions section of the Dirty Girl website. "If you are simply unable to make it, you may opt to transfer your registration to another Dirty Girl event. Applicable fees will be charged."

But that doesn't sit well with some of the 2,500 women who registered for the event, or the community. Charleston law firm Preston & Solango has filed a class action lawsuit against race producers 100 LLC and Human Movement on behalf of participants who paid the entry fee. Participants who want to join the lawsuit can contact Preston & Salango at 304-342-0512.

Saturday's event would have been the second time the women-only mud obstacle course was held in Charleston. Last year's race took place at Coonskin Park, and many women, like Jamie Cox, were excited for this weekend's race.

"My friends and I were excited because we did it last year," said Cox, 27, of Charleston. "This is our second time. Just last week we went out and bought T-shirts and coordinated our outfits, so we invested more money in it that way."

Cox said she registered for this year's race in May, and her friends registered even earlier. She said they enjoyed last year's race, a mud obstacle course designed for women only and held in different cities across the country. Dirty Girl does allow participants to transfer their registration to a race in another city, but Cox said that's defeating the purpose of signing up for a race in her hometown.

"I don't think it would be acceptable if the company would issue a voucher for a race in a neighboring city," she said. "The whole point of signing up for a race in Charleston is because I live here."

The city was notified over the weekend of financial problems between the company that owns the race, 100 LLC, and Human Movement, which produces the race. The president of Human Movement, Jeff Suffolk, told the Daily Mail on Tuesday his company already had staff in Charleston preparing for the race. However, it is up to 100 LLC to fund the event.

"It's up to 100 LLC to pay their bills and make this happen," Suffolk told the Daily Mail. "We already have people there, we're ready to go. But nothing's paid for."

Rod Blackstone, the assistant to mayor Danny Jones, said 100 LLC failed to obtain bus service. Park Tours, which was to provide shuttle bus service for participants, had not been paid as of Tuesday evening. Blackstone said the company would not wait any longer for payment.

"Without shuttle bus service and with other significant uncertainty over other expenses related to the event, there is no way this event can proceed at Cato Park Saturday morning," Blackstone said.

Jones said the city did everything in its power to keep the event in Charleston. He blamed the cancellation entirely on 100 LLC, Human Movement and Dirty Girl.

"It's a shoestring operation that's basically dishonest," Jones said. "That's the way dishonest people operate. I would have probably done something just to make it work up at the golf course. They're way behind. They didn't pay the buses. That's $12,000. These people were just non-performers altogether."

Jones invited participants to attend other events scheduled for this weekend in Charleston, including a concert featuring Old Crow Medicine Show at Appalachian Power Park. The Clay Center, one of the sponsors of the show, is offering a $5 discount to those who registered for the Dirty Girl Mud Run through an online ticket promotion. Other concerts this weekend include Live on the Levee, Mountain Stage, a gardening workshop and free music event at Capitol Market and a Summer Fun Day at the Clay Center featuring music from the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Although the problem lies with the companies producing the race and not the city, Dirty Girl announced Wednesday morning it would not issue refunds. According to Dirty Girl's terms of service, refunds are not issued unless the event is canceled because of "emergency, severe weather or local or national disaster." But some registrants argue the event wasn't canceled for any of those stated reasons, so they're due a refund.

"I want my money back! They canceled, not me! This is no way to run a business! Dirty Girl Mud Run is a dirty company!" Shayla Hess Mynes posted to the Daily Mail's Facebook page.

Several other women said they planned to dispute the charge with their credit card or bank or contact the Consumer Protection Division of the West Virginia Attorney General's Office. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office had been "inundated" with calls related to the race.

"This is an issue that has come up very fast and a lot of people are calling our office," he said.

Morrisey couldn't confirm or deny the existence of any investigation, but did offer some tips to people who feel they've been ripped off by a fraudulent business.

"I think people should always do research online to determine if there have been any problematic practices in the past, that way they're less likely to get ripped off," he said. Consumers also can call the Consumer Protection Division and learn more about public information the office may have on a business.

"Once we receive a number of complaints, that information becomes public and we can talk with people about entities that have a bad track record," Morrisey said.

Several people already had filed complaints against Dirty Girl as of Wednesday morning, mostly using the division's new electronic filing option, which just went live last week. To file a complaint, call 1-800-368-8808 or use the online filing system at www.ago.wv.gov/Documents/general%20complaint.pdf.

Jama Jarrett, executive director of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office also has received several calls. She's urging participants to contact Human Movement or Dirty Girl directly, as the city did not collect any of the race fees and thus can't issue refunds.

"That's out of our control," she said. "We don't have the money and never collected the money so we can't give a refund. The best thing we can do is encourage them to get in touch with Dirty Girl and Human Movement."

Registration fees started at $65 for early registrants and increased incrementally to the current $95 fee. As of Wednesday morning, the Charleston group page was removed and the Dirty Girl site did not list a West Virginia event.

The nearest Dirty Girl Mud Runs are scheduled for Cleveland on Aug. 9 and the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area for Aug. 23.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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Coke's sales miss estimates as Diet Coke flags http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/ARTICLE/140729711 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140723/ARTICLE/140729711 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:04:33 -0400

ATLANTA (AP) - Coca-Cola Co. reported sales that fell short of Wall Street estimates on Tuesday as demand weakened for Diet Coke in North America.

Globally, the world's biggest beverage maker, said sales volume rose 3 percent in the second quarter, boosted by gains in places including China, India and the Middle East.

In its flagship North American market, however, sales volume was flat despite a significant increase in marketing around the World Cup. Sodas including Coke, Fanta and Sprite saw gains, but executives said Diet Coke declined in the neighborhood of the "mid-single digits." Diet Coke is the country's No. 2 soda, behind Coke and ahead of Pepsi.

Executives at Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have blamed a recent decline in diet sodas on concerns people have about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, as well as the broader movement toward food and drinks that are seen as being natural. As such, the beverage industry has been working behind the scenes to assure dietitians and others about the safety of such sweeteners.

"We do recognize we have more work to do here," CEO Muhtar Kent said in a call with analysts.

Coca-Cola also plans to eventually introduce a version of its namesake drink that's naturally sweetened with stevia in the U.S. The drink, Coca-Cola Life, has already hit shelves in other markets, including Argentina.

More broadly, Coca-Cola has been struggling to boost sales volume in developed markets where soda has been losing favor. To boost results, the company is cutting costs and introducing more profitable packages, like the mini-cans and smaller bottles. It's also putting greater focus on other drinks including premium bottled waters like Smartwater. But sodas still account for about three-quarters of Coca-Cola's total sales volume.

For the quarter, the Atlanta-based company said profit fell to $2.6 billion, or 58 cents per share, from $2.68 billion, or 59 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, it earned 64 cents per share, which was a penny more than analysts expected.

Revenue dropped 1.4 percent to $12.57 billion. Analysts expected $12.85 billion, according to Zacks.

Coca-Cola's stock was down 55 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $41.85.

Its shares have risen $1.09, or 2.6 percent, to $42.40 since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased 6.8 percent.

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AEP announces plans for dividend payout http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729745 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729745 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:07:13 -0400 American Electric Power Co., parent company of Appalachian Power, on Tuesday announced it plans to pay a 50-cent cash dividend to shareholders later this summer.

The company will pay the dividend Sept. 10 to all shareholders of record on Aug. 8. With more than 488 million shares outstanding, the dividend payout would be about $244 million.

It is the company's 417th consecutive quarterly dividend payment. AEP has paid a cash dividend every quarter since July 2010.

The company increased its quarterly dividend by a penny during the fourth quarter, increasing its total annual dividend payout from $1.95 to $2 a share.

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City reports profit dipped slightly in second quarter http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729746 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729746 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:07:00 -0400 City Holding Co., the parent company of City National Bank, said Tuesday its profit dipped slightly in the second quarter.

The company, headquartered in Charleston, reported total net income of $12.8 million, or 80 cents a share, in the recent quarter, down slightly from $13 million and 82 cents a share it earned in the second quarter last year.

City reported interest income of $29 million for the quarter, down $1.2 million from the $30.2 million in interest income it earned during the first quarter. The company said the decline was due to an expected decrease in accretion related to its recent acquisition of Virginia Savings and Community Bank.

City CEO Charles Hageboeck said the second-quarter results still continue a strong trend, placing the company among the top performing banks in the U.S.

"During 2014, asset quality has continued to improve, capital has increased, and dividends have increased," Hageboeck said. "Like most banks, however, we recognize that the economy remains stalled in a low-growth trajectory with many customers too uncertain about the future to buy homes or invest in growing their businesses."

City National Bank operates 82 branches across West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

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Natural gas chain opens new fueling station http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729747 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729747 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:06:52 -0400

The operator of Charleston's compressed natural gas vehicle filling station on Tuesday celebrated the opening of its sixth station.

IGS CNG Services has opened its latest CNG fueling station located near Youngstown, Ohio, along Interstate 80 in Girard. It is the sixth station the company has opened in the region in recent years.

The company already operates stations in Charleston, Bridgeport and Jane Lew in West Virginia, along with two others in Dublin and Orrville in Ohio. It plans to open additional stations in Dayton and Findlay, Ohio, in the near future.

IGS Energy president Scott White said the company hopes to develop a regional infrastructure that can serve businesses and individuals who choose to switch to natural gas-powered vehicles.

"Our plan responds to the emerging market demand for fast, convenient refueling of CNG vehicles," White said. "We want to create the opportunity to travel all over the region without a worry of whether you can find a location to fuel up with compressed natural gas."

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Silver Airways chosen for new Williamstown flights http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729810 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/DM05/140729810 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:34:16 -0400 WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Silver Airways will begin offering nonstop flights from Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport to Washington Dulles International Airport in October.

Mid-Ohio Valley manager Jeff McDougle tells media outlets that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved Silver Airways to provide the new service.

McDougle says the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Authority recommended Silver Airways to provide the flights.

He says Silver Airways will offer 12 nonstop roundtrip flights a week. Six other flights from the Williamstown airport will have stops at either the Morgantown or Clarksburg airports.

The new service begins Oct. 1.

Silver Airways will provide the service under the federally subsidized Essential Air Service Program. The program is designed to provide connecting service from secondary airports to larger hubs.

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McDonald's, KFC in China face new food scandal http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/ARTICLE/140729818 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140722/ARTICLE/140729818 Tue, 22 Jul 2014 06:34:51 -0400

By JOE McDONALD

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING (AP) - McDonald's and KFC in China faced a new food safety scare Monday after a Shanghai television station reported a supplier sold them expired beef and chicken.

The companies said they immediately stopped using meat from the supplier, Husi Food Co., Ltd. The Shanghai office of China's food and drug agency said it was investigating and told customers to suspend use of the supplier's products.

Dragon TV said Sunday that Husi, owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Illinois, repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. It said they were sold to McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.

The report added to a series of food safety scares in China that have battered public confidence in dairies, fast food outlets and other suppliers.

McDonald's Corp. and Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said they were conducting their own investigations.

"Food safety is a top priority for McDonald's," the company said on its microblog account. The company said it pursues "strict compliance" with consumer safety laws and regulations and has "zero tolerance for illegal behavior."

A third company, sandwich shop chain Dicos, said in a statement that it stopped using sausage patties supplied by Husi. Dicos is owned by Taiwan's Ting Hsin International Group, and the company website said it had 2,000 outlets in China as of September 2013.

The Shanghai office of the State Food and Drug Administration said it was working with police to investigate Husi.

"At present, the company has been sealed and suspect products seized," the agency said on its website.

McDonald's sealed 4,500 cases of beef, pork, chicken and other products supplied by Husi for investigation and Pizza Hut sealed 500 cases of seasoned beef, the city government said in a statement.

A woman who answered the phone at Husi's headquarters said no one was available to comment. The official Xinhua News Agency cited a company manager, Yang Liqun, who said Husi has a strict quality control system and will cooperate in the investigation.

The Communist Party secretary of Shanghai, Han Zheng, called for "severe punishment" of any wrongdoing, according to the city government statement.

McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, said it was suspending the distribution and sale of products from the plant in question.

"If confirmed, the practices outlined in the report are completely unacceptable to McDonald's," the company said in a statement.

Yum's KFC is China's biggest restaurant chain, with more than 4,000 outlets and plans to open 700 more this year. The company, based in Louisville, Kentucky, said in a statement that "food safety is the most important priority for us. We will not tolerate any violations of government laws and regulations from our suppliers."

The company was badly hurt after state television reported in December 2013 that some poultry suppliers violated rules on drug use in chickens. Yum said KFC sales in China plunged 37 percent the following month. KFC launched an effort to tighten control over product quality and eliminated more than 1,000 small poultry producers from its supply network.

In a string of product scandals over the past decade, infants, hospital patients and others have been killed by phony or adulterated milk powder, drugs and other goods.

Foreign fast food brands are seen as more reliable than Chinese competitors, though local brands have made big improvements in quality.

The high profile of foreign brands means any complaints involving them attract attention, while their status as foreign companies with less political influence means Chinese media can publicize their troubles more freely.

Scandal-weary consumers on Monday expressed mixed feelings.

Chen Lu, 24, an employee of an Internet company, was eating a chicken burger and fries at a McDonald's in central Shanghai that was half-empty at midday, a time when most restaurants are crowded.

"My boyfriend called and told me not to eat McDonald's one minute after I ordered this chicken hamburger, but what can I do? I've already ordered and I am in a hurry," she said.

"I am worried about my health," she said. "I will try to avoid it, at least for a while. I am pretty disappointed in this brand."

Another diner, Liu Kun, a 24-year-old student from Nanjing who was visiting Shanghai, said he was not concerned.

"The incident won't change me eating here," Liu said. "There have been negative reports all the time. McDonald and KFC are the leaders in the industry."

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Associated Press researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.

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Kroger completes Ashton Place renovation http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729844 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729844 Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:41:33 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kroger Co. plans to mark the completion of the nearly $13 million renovation of its Ashton Place store with a ribbon cutting ceremony this Wednesday morning.

The company bought the Ashton Place location it had been leasing in 2012 and spent $12.9 million to renovate and expand the store from 53,000 to 70,000 square feet.

The expansion also created 25 jobs, increasing the store's employment from 125 to 150 people.

"With the expanded space, we have created a new shopping experience that will appeal to our customers and enable them to find their favorite foods quickly and enjoy the additional items we now carry," said store manager Joe LaManca.

The remodeled store features expanded natural foods and organics, meat and seafood, dairy and frozen foods sections along with a larger cheese shop and olive bar. Two chefs now prepare hot meals and a salad bar for lunch and dinner.

The store has two additional registers and two more self-checkout areas to enable shoppers to purchase their groceries quickly. Basic items like milk, bread and snacks are now located in the front of the store to be more convenient for shoppers on the go.

"This store is a model for future stores," said Allison McGee, spokesperson for Kroger's Mid-Atlantic region. "This is our newest design, incorporating the latest in energy savings and environmental features."

Mayor Danny Jones, along with council members Jack Harrison and Mary Jean Davis, will be on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, which will take place at 10 a.m. at the store.

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Business people, Tuesday, July 22 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729845 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729845 Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:40:52 -0400 ACCOUNTING

n Gayle Mason has been elected 96th president of the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants for the 2014-2015 year. Mason, a sole practitioner in Lewisburg, was installed as president during the society's annual meeting at The Greenbrier last month.

Joining Mason on the society's executive committee are President-elect Brad Ritchie of Charleston; Secretary-Treasurer Virginia Slack of Elkview and Immediate Past President Christopher Nice of Charleston.

Directors for the coming year are Michael Costanzo, Christopher Deweese, Jack Felton, Cheryl McKinney, Randolph Preston, William Robinson III and Brian Wadsworth.

BANKING

n Tim Paxton has joined MVB Bank as senior vice president and commercial lender for MVB's south market.

Paxton has nearly two decades of commercial lending experience, most recently as senior vice president and senior commercial lender for United Bank in Charleston and Huntington. He has also held leadership positions with BB&T and One Valley Bank.

ENGINEERING

n Mark Isabell has joined the Charleston office of engineering and environmental consulting firm Potesta & Associates, Inc.

Isabell, a certified West Virginia and Virginia surface coal miner, received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. As a senior engineer, he brings nine years of mining industry experience with an emphasis in environmental compliance and permitting to Potesta.

HEALTH CARE

n Dr. Kyle Smith, a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist, has joined the Hoops Family Children's Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, specializing in providing anesthesia care for children undergoing surgery.

A native of Wayne County, Smith completed his fellowship training at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, his residency training at the University of Pittsburgh and earned his medical degree at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

n Anna Lewis has been promoted to human resources specialist at Frontier Communications' Charleston office, where she will be responsible for multiple human resources functions, including payroll and benefits for West Virginia employees.

Lewis, who started her career with the telephone company in 1975, starting as a directory assistance operator and working most recently as a human resources coordinator. A Montgomery native, she studied business management at West Virginia Tech and Strayer University.

n Tammy Shingleton has been promoted to area general manager for Frontier Communications' Parkersburg market, which includes Brooke, Calhoun, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Pleasants, Ritchie, Tyler, Wetzel, Wirt and Wood counties.

Shingleton began her telecommunications industry career in 1989 and has held several management positions. Before becoming general manager, she was the West Virginia Operations dispatch resource manager, leading a team that dispatches and completes West Virginia field installation and maintenance assignments for businesses and wholesale and residential customers.

Compiled by Jared Hunt

Email announcements regarding new hires, promotions, or awards at your business to business@dailymailwv.com. Attach headshots in JPEG format.

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Thrasher opens new office in Beckley http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729841 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729841 Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:43:17 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Bridgeport-based engineering firm The Thrasher Group Inc. has opened a new office near Beckley at the Raleigh County Airport Industrial Park.

The company said the new location will help accommodate its recent staff growth and the integration of Princeton engineering firm Pentree Inc. into the Thrasher network, as well as help support customer service operations throughout southern West Virginia.

"Much of our company's growth can be contributed to our clients and successful projects in this area of the state," said company founder and president Woody Thrasher. "This new full-service location will allow us to enhance our current business relationships and bring our team's expertise to other public and private clients in the region."

Thrasher now has seven full-service offices in five states and employs more than 350 people. Founded in 1983, the company offers civil engineering, surveying, architecture, landscape architecture, construction administration and materials testing capabilities to various clients in the energy, transportation, development and public infrastructure sectors.

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Huntington Bank earnings increase 9 percent http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729842 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140721/DM05/140729842 Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:42:59 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Huntington Bancshares Inc., parent company of Huntington Bank, on Friday reported a 9 percent increase in second quarter earnings.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company said it earned $165 million during the quarter, a $14 million increase compared to the same quarter last year and a 10 percent increase from its first quarter earnings this year. On a per-share basis, the company earned 19 cents a share, up 2 cents from second quarter last year.

"We are very pleased with our second quarter performance, which reflects our steadfast focus on executing our strategies," said Steve Steinour, Huntington's chairman, president and CEO. "We have been able to grow both total revenue and net interest income year over year."

Steinour said the company saw average loan growth of 9 percent during the recent quarter, which helped it overcome interest rate pressure from the low, flat yield curve.

"Average loans increased $3.7 billion from the second quarter of 2013, driven by growth in commercial and auto lending, reflecting heightened consumer and business confidence in the economy," Steinour said.

For the quarter, the company saw a 39 percent increase in automobile loans and 7 percent increases in both commercial and residential loans.

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