www.charlestondailymail.com Business http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Civic Center renovation concept features airy corridors, outdoor plaza http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141020/DM01/141029907 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141020/DM01/141029907 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:02:37 -0400 By Matt Murphy A renovated Charleston Civic Center could include new glassed-in corridors, an expanded convention center space and an outdoor plaza along the Elk River, according to concept renderings presented to city council's Finance Committee Monday night.

Produced by consultants Odell Associates, the renderings are meant to give the public an idea of what the Civic Center could resemble, or what the consultants "want this building to aspire to," said Odell architect Gaurav Gupte.

"This is a great concept," he said.

A final design by a to-be-determined design-build firm is expected by spring.

Odell will assist the city with the selection of the design-build firm and will oversee the construction process.

Reaction was positive from the roughly 50 council members and members of the public who witnessed the Odell presentation.

Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, an at-large Democrat who is also a Finance Committee member, had one of the biggest smiles of everyone gathered. She said she believes the renovations will help "make Charleston a destination."

"You're going to see a very attractive facility," she said.

Davis said a recurring theme during the planning process was considering "what needed to happen and what has to happen" to keep the Civic Center viable.

"The thought was, can we do this?" she said. "We can. You can't help but smile."

Regardless of the final design, the consultants said they want to ensure several key upgrades are made, including addition of more convention space; a better separation of the convention space and Coliseum; and incorporation of the Elk River into the design of the facility.

"The city really does not need to turn its back to the river," Gupte said.

Design would also allow the Civic Center to host two large events at once - one in the convention space and one in the Coliseum. Currently, some of the larger events require the use of both spaces, eliminating the possibility of scheduling simultaneous events.

Under the current proposal, the convention center space - the current Grand Hall - would be expanded by about 20,000 square feet toward the river and the area would get a new kitchen and meeting rooms.

The Coliseum would see new concession areas and restrooms and would get a glassed-in hallway along its length, allowing pedestrians from the Charleston Town Center Mall to be out of the elements.

Much of the building's infrastructure - like its heating and cooling system - will also be upgraded.

"We found so much of the building's systems that were substandard and needed to be replaced," Wooland said. "They can't be repaired. They need to be replaced."

Besides the artist renderings, Odell also briefed council on its research behind the design, including market assessments and comparison of convention centers in nearby cities. Odell also used internal Civic Center and Charleston Convention & Visitors' Bureau data.

"Meeting planners look at the quality of space as much as the quantity of space to determine whether to book your building," Odell architect Michael Wooland said.

Wooland said he believes the convention and visitors' bureau should expand its target market to a four-hour radius from Charleston, instead of the current three-hour radius.

"We found that Charleston is well positioned to compete with these neighboring towns," he said.

The renovations are being financed by revenue from a tax increment finance district downtown and a half-cent city sales tax.

Molgaard initially estimated the project would cost about $50 million, but offered a revised estimate of about $60 million Monday night.

"This is going to be a larger project and it will be dictated on many respects how much revenue we can bring in," he said.

Now that Odell has presented its initial recommendations, the consultants and the city will begin the search for a design-build team. Three finalists are expected to be identified by Dec. 19, and the winning firm will be tentatively be selected by March 23.

The three finalists will each receive a budgeted $100,000 as an honorarium, City Manager David Molgaard said.

Construction could begin as early as the spring of 2015 and if on schedule, will wrap up in late 2017.

The Civic Center will not close during construction.

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About 550 W.Va. coal miners failed drug tests http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141020/ARTICLE/141029938 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141020/ARTICLE/141029938 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:51:55 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - In the last two years, more than 550 West Virginia coal miners have temporarily lost their mining certifications because they failed a drug test.

State Office of Miner's Health, Safety and Training Eugene White released the numbers to a legislative panel Monday.

Over that timeframe, 79 mine workers were reinstated and 67 are currently in a treatment plan.

After not responding to temporary suspension letters at all, 269 miners are facing three-year suspensions.

White's report says prescription drugs are the main problem. Marijuana is second.

A wide-sweeping mine safety law that took effect in January 2013 requires coal mine operators and certain employers to screen for substance abuse.

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Helmick touts West Virginia's '$6-billion opportunity' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141019/DM01/141019121 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141019/DM01/141019121 Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:50:12 -0400

By GEORGE HOHMANN

FOR THE WVPA

HUTTONSVILLE - State Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick calls it "the $6 billion opportunity," referring to the fact that less than $1 billion of the $7.3 billion worth of food consumed annually by West Virginians is raised in the state.

Helmick is mobilizing the state Department of Agriculture to build - or rebuild - another industry in the state. His first step is encouraging West Virginia farmers to raise more food, and he's starting with potatoes.

Americans consume 128 pounds of potatoes per person annually. Potatoes are a $4.3 billion business in the United States.

But West Virginia produces so few potatoes it isn't even listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's production charts. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 342 West Virginia farms had a total of just 335 acres devoted to potato production. The state Department of Agriculture has 15 acres in potatoes and produces 250,000 to 300,000 pounds a year for use in state prisons and institutions.

Helmick says it wasn't always that way - in the 1920s and 1930s, West Virginians produced most of the food they consumed. He says as the state industrialized, it got away from farming, "... but agriculture is still here."

Helmick aims to revitalize West Virginia's potato-farming business by removing obstacles.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, he unveiled a potato-processing machine at the department's Huttonsville farm. The machine washes and dries potatoes, sorts them in three sizes and bags them. Department spokesman Butch Antolini figures the machine, at full speed, could process all of the state's potatoes in a day. Mike Teets, director of the department's Eastern Operations, bought the used machine in Canada for about $98,000. He figures it would cost $250,000 if bought new.

Helmick hopes West Virginia farmers will raise potatoes when they realize they don't have to buy such expensive equipment. They can use the state's machine for a small fee. The department also has acquired a potato digger to help with harvests.

The department is helping develop the state's agricultural business in other ways:

n Antolini said it contracted with Black Gold Farms of Grand Forks, N.D., to grow 14 varieties of potatoes on state property at Huttonsville and Lakin. Black Gold has harvested those crops and will soon report on which varieties grow best in the soil at those locations. The results will be shared with farmers around the state.

n Kirsten Rhodes, the department's special projects coordinator, has designed a logo dominated by a brown, lumpy, potato-like outline of the state. She hopes that when people see it they'll realize not all potatoes are from Idaho and will think, "Yes, there is a West Virginia potato."

Helmick's initiative seeks to buck a trend.

"Over the past decade, the potato industry has significantly consolidated growing operations," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "The Census of Agriculture reported 15,014 farms that produced potatoes in 2007, down from 51,500 farms reported in 1974. Because of large capital investments in equipment and storage facilities, farmers have sought to maximize production through larger operations."

Helmick and his staff are convinced there is a ready market for West Virginia-grown potatoes.

US Foods, a major food distributor, receives three railroad boxcars of potatoes from Idaho every week at its distribution center in Hurricane, Antolini said. "That's the equivalent of 10 tractor-trailer loads of potatoes - more than 400,000 pounds of potatoes they're purchasing from Idaho - and it takes eight days to get here," he said.

Another major buyer is the West Virginia Potato Chip Co., producer of Mister Bee-brand potato chips. At full capacity, the company can use 100,000 pounds of potatoes a week.

In a 2012 interview, the owners of the Parkersburg company said they were buying potatoes from Florida in the winter, Alabama and the Carolinas in the spring, and Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin in the summer.

Mister Bee's fryer already uses West Virginia-produced natural gas. Using Mountain State potatoes would allow Mister Bee to advertise that its potato chips are an all-West Virginia product, the owner said.

"We do have a sizable opportunity in West Virginia," Helmick told about 40 people who came to see the potato-processing machine in action. "We intend to take agriculture to the next level." He called the opportunity for West Virginians to grow the food consumed in the Mountain State "the greatest economic development project we have in West Virginia right now."

The Huttonsville potato-processing machine also can process carrots and onions. Antolini said plans are in the works to eventually buy and install a similar machine in the Huntington area.

Helmick said, "We've got to demonstrate that it can be done and I am confident once that takes place the private sector will take over."

The department plans to install a cannery in Tucker County next year, he said.

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Jared Hunt column: Shoppers plan to spend more on others http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141019/DM05/141019133 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141019/DM05/141019133 Sun, 19 Oct 2014 17:58:07 -0400 Holiday shoppers plan to splurge more on friends and family and less on themselves this year, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation.

The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, found that individuals celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah this year plan to spend an average of $804.42, up about 5 percent from last year's total of $767.27.

"Retailers have plenty of reasons to be optimistic this holiday season, and one of the most important pieces of evidence is the confidence holiday shoppers are exuding in their plans to spend on gifts for their loved ones," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the retail federation.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $459.87 buying gifts for family members this year, up 6.5 percent from the $432 they spent last year.

Family members aren't the only ones who'll receive more this year, either.

Shoppers plan to spend $80 on gifts for friends, up from $75 last year. Co-workers will get $26.23 worth of gifts, up from $24.52 last year. Other significant individuals in people's lives - including mail carriers, babysitters and pets - will get an average of $30.42 worth of gifts this year, up from $26.65 in 2013.

Meanwhile, the trend toward self-gifting, buying an item just to treat yourself, will decline this year following several years of gains. The survey found 56.9 percent of shoppers said they would take advantage of holiday sales to buy something for themselves, spending an average of $126.68 on those purchases. That's down from the $134.77 shoppers spent last year.

Spending on traditional holiday items, such as food and decorations, is expected to remain flat this year, however. Consumers plan to spend an average of $104.74 on food, on par with the $104.34 spent last year. They'll spend $53.68 on decorations (down 3 cents from the year before), $29.18 on greeting cards (up 4 cents) and $20.30 on flowers, poinsettias and potted plants (down $1.66).

While they plan to spend more, shoppers will also be hunting for bargains. The survey found that nearly three out of every four shoppers (74.7 percent) will be influenced by sales or discounts when deciding whether to shop at a particular store or online retailer.

"While not completely throwing caution to the wind, Americans' frugal spending habits will still be visible this holiday season as they continue to rely on discounts and sales and comparison shop," Shay said. "Consumers will put retailers to the test when it comes to the product mix and value companies can offer today's shopper who is focused on much more than just price."

Why are we even talking about all of this in October?

The NRF has found that four out of every 10 shoppers will have started holiday shopping before Halloween.

When asked what factors made them want to shop so early, 61.9 percent said it helps them spread out their spending, 51.7 percent said they like to avoid holiday crowds and 51 percent said it helps them avoid the stress of last-minute shopping.

As for those receiving gifts, 62 percent said what they want most is a gift card - something to keep in mind for those who do shop at the last minute and can't figure out what to get.

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Market turmoil: A gift for mortgage refinancers? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/ARTICLE/141019190 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/ARTICLE/141019190 Sat, 18 Oct 2014 10:38:54 -0400

By JOSH BOAK and ALEX VEIGA

AP Business Writers

A sudden plunge in mortgage rates this week raised an urgent question for millions of Americans:

Should I refinance my mortgage?

Across the country, homeowners and would-be homeowners eager for a bargain rate fired off inquiries to lenders.

The opportunity emerged from the tumult that seized financial markets and sent stock prices and bond yields tumbling. Rates on long-term mortgages tend to track the 10-year Treasury yield, which fell below 2 percent for the first time since May 2013.

Accordingly, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported, dipped below 4 percent to 3.97 percent - a tantalizing figure. As recently as January, the average was 4.53 percent.

Ultra-low rates do carry risks as well as opportunities. Charges and fees can shortchange refinancers who are focused only on the potential savings. And falling rates are often associated with the broader risk of an economic slowdown that could eventually reduce the income that some people have to pay their mortgages.

Yet the tempting possibility of locking in a sub-4 percent rate has a way of motivating people.

"It gets people excited," said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America. "It gets mortgage bankers excited. It gets prospective buyers excited."

The drop in rates could finally give homeowners like Issi and Amy Romem of Mountain View, California, the chance to refinance.

Amy Romem bought the condo at the peak of the housing boom for $400,000, using an adjustable-rate loan with an initial 5.875 percent rate that would reset after 10 years. The reset would amount to an extra $400 a month on the condo, which the couple now rents, Issi Romem said.

"Seeing rates go down even more is something I wasn't expecting," he said. "It reminds me that I need to do this now, before interest rates do go up."

Before this week, many bankers, lenders and borrowers had assumed that home loan rates would soon start rising closer to a two-decade average of 6 percent. That was based on expectations that the Federal Reserve would start raising its key short-term rate next year - a move that would likely lead to higher mortgage rates, too.

But that assumption fell suddenly into doubt as stocks plunged on Monday and Wednesday amid fears about global economic weaknesses, the spread of Ebola and the threat of the Islamic State militia group in the Middle East.

Seeking safety, investors poured money into U.S. Treasurys. Higher demand drives up prices for those government bonds and causes their yields to drop.

The yield on the 10-year note traded as low as 1.91 percent Wednesday before ending the day at 2.14 percent. A stock market rally on Friday helped lift the yield to 2.20 percent. That suggested that the moment to refinance might be fleeting.

"It's likely to be the last time we see these rates for a generation, if ever again," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com.

Even a slight drop in mortgage rates can translate into significant savings over the long run. For a median-priced home worth $221,000, a 0.5 percentage point decline in a mortgage rate would produce savings of $50 a month, according to a Bank of America analysis.

Still, it takes time for the savings to offset the costs of refinancing.

"There's no free lunch in this," noted Gary Kalman, executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending.

Lenders typically charge fees for paperwork on the loan and to pay for a home appraisal and title insurance, among other costs.

"You want to make sure the interest rate you're getting is dropping enough that it more than offsets whatever fees you may be paying," Kalman said.

Refinancing from a 5.5 percent rate - which some borrowers still have - to 4 percent would save $180 a month on a $200,000 mortgage. But the fees - averaging around $2,500 - mean it would take about 14 months to break even.

Research done this year by economists at the University of Chicago and Brigham Young University found that 20 percent of eligible households failed to refinance when rates first made doing so profitable in late 2010. They essentially cost themselves $11,500 in potential savings.

Those who missed those late rates last year now have a second chance.

"When you get these little boomlets like we see now, most of that is what drives refinancing activity," said Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans.

While applications for refinancing have been rising this week at Quicken, Walters added, it's unlikely that many would-be home buyers will be able to benefit. It can take buyers months to mobilize, because they need to first find a suitable house in the right neighborhood. That makes it hard for them to immediately snap into action when rates drop, though it might coax them into looking.

"It's a bonus if rates are lower," Walters said, "but it doesn't dictate the decision."

---

Boak reported from Washington, Veiga from Los Angeles.

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Thinner iPads, Mac updates introduced http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141017/ARTICLE/141019256 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141017/ARTICLE/141019256 Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:17:36 -0400

By ANICK JESDANUN

and BRANDON BAILEY

the associated press

CUPERTINO, Calif. - Apple unveiled a thinner iPad Thursday with a faster processor and a better camera as it tries to drive excitement for tablets amid slowing demand. The company also released an update to its Mac operating system and introduced a high-resolution iMac model that might appeal to heavy watchers of television over the Internet.

The new iPad Air 2, at a quarter of an inch "thin," also adds many of the features previously available on iPhones. That includes the ability to take burst shots and slow-motion video, and unlock the device with a fingerprint ID sensor instead of a passcode.

Meanwhile, Apple made its new Mac operating system, Yosemite, available as a free download starting Thursday. The new 27-inch iMac - which Apple is dubbing the "Retina 5K" model - went on sale Thursday as well.

The company also said Apple Pay, its new system for using iPhones to make credit and debit card payments at retail stores, will launch on Monday.

Much of the emphasis at Thursday's product-launch event centered on how Apple's devices work well together because the company makes both its hardware and software.

"They're designed to be incredible products individually but they're also designed to work together seamlessly," CEO Tim Cook said. "This is our vision of personal technology, and we are just getting started."

New iPads

It's been a year since Apple came out with a lighter, thinner full-size model called the iPad Air. Apple refreshed that with a device that is skinnier by 18 percent at 6.1 millimeters. The rear camera is boosted to 8 megapixels, matching what's found in iPhones. Previous iPads had a 5 megapixel camera.

The iPad Air 2 will start at $499. Apple also updated its iPad Mini device, with a starting price of $399. The new devices will begin shipping next week, with advance orders starting Friday.

Thursday's event comes as sales of Apple's iPads have dropped. Through the first half of this year, Apple had shipped 29.6 million iPads, a 13 percent drop from the same time last year. Apple plans to issue results for the latest quarter on Monday. Apple has been facing competition from cheaper tablets running Google's Android operating system. Google announced Wednesday that an 8.9-inch Nexus 9 tablet is coming next month at a starting price of $399, $100 less than the 9.7-inch iPad Air. It will run a new version of Android, dubbed Lollipop.

Besides competition, there's been an overall slowdown in tablet demand. This week, research firm Gartner projected worldwide shipments of 229 million tablets this year. Although that's up 11 percent compared with 2013, it's far less than the 55 percent growth seen last year and the more than doubling in sales in 2012.

Cook sought to address those concerns by pointing out that the 225 million iPads sold cumulatively since 2010 is more than any other product Apple has sold in the first four years after launch. He also said Apple sold more iPads in the past year than many manufacturers have for personal computers.

The step-up models of the new iPads will have double the storage of previous models. (Just like Apple's new iPhones). So the $599 iPad Air 2 will come with 64 gigabytes instead of 32 gigabytes, for instance. The $499 base model remains at 16 gigabytes.

Addressing competition from Android, Apple is also cutting the price of its 2012 iPad Mini model to $249. It had been selling for $299.

Mac update

The company unveiled new iMacs with a sharper display, following what Apple has already done on its mobile devices and MacBook laptops. The company says the new iMacs have seven times the pixels found on standard high-definition television sets. The new 27-inch iMacs have a starting price of $2,499. Apple will continue selling standard-screen models starting at $1,799 for 27 inches and $1,099 for 21.5 inches.

Apple also released its new Yosemite operating system for Macs as a free download. The Mac update includes aesthetic changes as well as new functionality, such as the ability to make phone calls with an iPhone nearby and a one-stop search tool for both locally stored documents and online resources.

Apple has been releasing Mac updates more frequently, in part to time them with annual changes to the iOS system for iPhones and iPads. Many of the new Mac features will complement what's found in iOS 8, including the ability to start tasks such as email on one device and finish on another.

During a demo, Apple executive Craig Federighi made a phone call to Stephen Colbert from his Mac and connected with the comedian. The call was actually being made through a nearby iPhone. Federighi also used Apple's upcoming Apple Watch as a remote control to control a Mac presentation being projected onto a big-screen set via Apple TV.

Apple Pay

Apple had already announced its new payments system, Apple Pay, but the iPhone feature wasn't made available right away. In announcing a Monday launch date, Cook said deals have been made with hundreds of additional banks since the service was announced last month. Cook also said additional merchants plan to accept Apple Pay by the end of the year.

With Apple Pay, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners will be able to make payments at brick-and-mortar stores by holding their phone near a card reader. The new iPhones have a wireless chip to transmit the information needed to complete the transaction. Owners of older models won't be able to use Apple Pay, even with the software update.

Consumers aren't likely to abandon plastic credit cards until a majority of retailers, especially smaller merchants, accept contactless payments such as Apple Pay. But Apple Pay may spur transactions over mobile Web browsers and apps this holiday season, since it lets consumers avoid typing in credit card information each time.

The new iPad Air 2 will be able to make browser transactions, but not payments at retail stores.

Apple Watch

Apple says it will release tools next month so that developers can begin making apps for the upcoming Apple Watch wearable device.

Rival smartwatches running Android have suffered from not having many useful apps from the start. Apple is hoping to have a strong app store in place when Apple Watch debuts next year.

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W.Va. litter control, solid waste conference set http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141017/ARTICLE/141019262 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141017/ARTICLE/141019262 Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:48:56 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A three-day conference is set to focus on recycling, re-use and sustainability.

Officials say the 2014 West Virginia Educational Conference on Litter Control and Solid Waste Management is scheduled to begin Sunday in Huntington.

The event is sponsored by the Association of West Virginia Solid Waste Authorities and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Officials say nearly 200 participants are expected to attend, including municipal, county and state officials, as well as representatives from West Virginia's county solid waste authorities.

Sessions are scheduled to include topics such as dealing with meth lab waste, legislation and community outreach programs.

Attendees also will hear from Black Dog Salvage. The Roanoke, Virginia-based architectural salvage warehouse has been featured on a television called "Salvage Dawgs."

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Chrysler recalls 907,000 cars, SUVs http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/ARTICLE/141019328 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/ARTICLE/141019328 Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:50:58 -0400

By TOM KRISHER

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - Nearly 907,000 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUVs and cars are being recalled for alternators that can fail and heated power mirror wiring that can short and cause minor fires.

The recalls, posted Thursday by U.S. safety regulators, push the total number of recalls so far this year 544, totaling a record of more than 52 million vehicles.

The largest of Thursday's recalls covers nearly 470,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler 300s, and Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Durangos from the 2011 through 2014 model years. The alternators can fail, causing the 3.6-liter V6 engines to stall unexpectedly.

The problem also can cause the electrical system to fail, as well as knock out power-assisted steering, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. It can even cause fire or smoke, according to documents Chrysler filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the problem in July, and Chrysler began its own probe in August. The company analyzed warranty complaints and alternators that had failed. The alternator generates electricity to recharge the battery and run other devices.

Chrysler investigators traced the problem to heat fatigue in an alternator diode. Chrysler said it received 322 complaints about the problem, while 55 people complained to NHTSA. The company said it knows of one crash related to the problem, but no injuries or fires.

The company will replace the alternators with upgraded versions for free. Owners will be notified in November. The company says customers who see warning lights or suspect a problem should contact their dealers.

The recall affects cars and SUVs sold mainly in the U.S. and Canada, but some were sold in Mexico and overseas markets.

The second recall covers almost 437,000 Jeep Wranglers from 2011 through 2013. Water can find its way into the heated power mirror wiring harness and cause corrosion. That can cause a short and could cause a minor fire and smoke, as well as cause loss of function of the mirror.

The problem was discovered in February after three Wranglers in Canada were damaged. Chrysler says it has 26 complaints about the problem, but it knows of no fires, crashes or injuries.

Dealers will move the wiring and install a protective shield to keep water out at no cost to owners, starting in December. Most of the Wranglers are in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, but more than 78,000 were sold overseas.

The total number of recalled vehicles already has shattered the full-year record of 30.8 million that was set in 2004. The number of auto recalls, however is not a record. That record, 684, was set in 2008, according to Stericycle, a firm that helps companies track and manage recalls.

General Motors' massive series of safety recalls totaling over 30 million vehicles is mainly responsible for the record vehicle total. GM did a companywide safety review after it botched the recall of 2.6 million older small cars with faulty ignition switches.

Automakers are recalling cars more quickly after GM was fined $35 million for its slow response to the ignition switch recall and Toyota paid a $1.2 billion penalty to settle a criminal charge that it hid safety information from NHTSA.

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Museum of Radio and Technology channels memories of a bygone era http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM01/141019339 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM01/141019339 Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:40:44 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith HUNTINGTON ­- Touring the Museum of Radio and Technology is like stepping back in time to the beginning of radio, television, and computers.

It opened in 1991 in the old Harveytown Elementary School, 1640 Florence Ave., on Huntington's West End and is touted as the largest radio museum in the nation and attracts visitors from throughout the world.

However, many locals are unaware of the rooms filled with history and treasures.

"We are trying to create a time capsule," said curator Geoff Bourne, who is aware of the historical significance of the collection as well as how much of it works.

The museum was once located on Charleston's West Side but outgrew its space. The old school offered a lot more space but the rooms are still filled with an impressive collection that spills out into the hallways. The building was purchased for $22,500 and grants were acquired over the years for fixing it up with things like a new roof as well as a new heating system.

Bourne said various groups as well as information technology students enjoy touring the facility, and yet many locals are not aware of its existence.

Organizers are hoping an event scheduled for Saturday will draw a large crowd.

The Museum of Radio and Technology will present the 24th annual Fall Radio Show beginning 9 a.m. Saturday and continuing throughout the afternoon. Whoever brings in the oldest radio to display will win $100 with the prize to be awarded at 1 p.m. Museum members are not eligible to win since the idea of the contest is to encourage visitors to enjoy the event and tour the facility.

Other events on Saturday include an antique electronics auction and an electronics flea market. Also, visitors will be able to see the museum's exhibits, including more than 400 antique radios, a wide variety of television sets, a radio broadcasting station, short wave radio receivers and transmitters, military communications displays, a room devoted to the history of the computer, a ham radio station, a CB radio exhibit and much more.

Bourne travels throughout the country, logging 4,000 to 5,000 miles a year, in search of more exhibits that tell the history of technology. Sometimes, the trips are made to pick up specific items that have been offered to the museum such as RCA Radiola in a large cabinet that cost $895 in 1927. The piece once belonged to the Wrigley family; yes, Bourne points out, the one with the chewing gum empire.

Among numerous interesting pieces - a 1931 Crosley grandfather clock radio, a radio built into a refrigerator in 1953 by Bernard F. Clark, a 1939 television camera used at the New York World's Fair, a 1923 bread board radio, an RCA record cutter, walkie talkies from World War II, a World War I telegraph system, a World War II Japanese field radio, and the first color camera from WSAZ.

There are also phonographs and vinyl records as well as shelves lined with tubes, components, batteries and various paraphernalia.

"We are in the process of beginning to teach classes here on basic radio repair and safety," Bourne said. "Some have grandma's old radio and it has lethal voltage."

There is a separate area where meetings are held for the Tri-State Amateur Radio Association. The room is filled with new and vintage stations.

After touring the facility, guest may want to stop by the museum's gift shop where items to be sold range from T-shirts and hats to books and vinyl records.

Also, stop by the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame with 175 people now included.

In addition to the special hours for the big event on Saturday, the museum is open every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is always free as a service to the community. For more information or group reservations, call 304-525-8890.

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

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Jared Hunt column: Highway bill could boost W.Va. economy http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM05/141019434 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM05/141019434 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:27:44 -0400 If Congress and the president could get their act together and pass a long-term transportation bill, it could create more than 2,700 jobs in West Virginia, according to a new report.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing partnered with Duke University's Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness to compile a report examining the economic effect of political dithering over a long-term U.S. transportation bill.

Congress last approved a long-term transportation infrastructure bill in 2005. After it expired, they passed nine short-term extensions before approving a two-year, $105 billion funding plan in 2012.

That two-year plan expired at the end of June, and instead of crafting a new plan, Congress approved just an $11 billion "patch" to the Highway Trust Fund in July.

These stop-gap measures have been a torment to state highways officials, who are already having to deal with a dwindling pool of dollars to build and maintain roads.

Bridge and road projects can take years of planning and construction, and officials need to have certainty about funding before taking on such an endeavor.

The report found the lack of certainty has taken a toll not only on project investments, but on the industries that rely on quality infrastructure to ship goods.

"A paucity of new investment and a piecemeal policy approach have led to severe consequences," the report said. "Our decaying infrastructure is creating a significant drag on the economy: 156,000 deficient bridges, an investment backlog of $85.9 billion for our nation's roads, and $200 billion annually in lost economic activity from inefficient rail transportation."

The report looked at the problem through the lens of international competitiveness and job creation.

It found the nation's old and broken transportation system makes the country more competitive than 15 of its major trading partners and makes manufacturers less efficient in getting goods to market.

It estimated the underinvestment in infrastructure has cost the U.S. more than 900,000 jobs, 97,000 of those being in the manufacturing sector.

"Congress' top priority should be closing the gap between our infrastructure needs and the investment required to reclaim lost competitiveness and put Americans back to work," said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. "This research shows the potential for federal infrastructure investments to boost jobs in every state and strengthen manufacturing."

Among the report's other key findings:

n A $1 investment in transportation infrastructure returns $3.54 in economic impact.

n Each $1 billion investment creates 21,671 jobs.

n The U.S. invests an average of $848 per person each year in its transportation system while the European Union invests $2,589 per person.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated it needs $114.2 billion a year to improve the nation's infrastructure and get it back to optimal shape.

The report found if lawmakers passed a long-term bill that boosted funding to that level, it would provide nearly 2.5 million jobs - nearly 909,000 more than what current funding provides - and result in more than $153.8 billion in labor income and $404 billion in total economic impact.

The report analyzed a state-by-state effect of this increased investment and found that this would support more than 7,467 West Virginia jobs, 2,741 more than what current funding supports. It would also boost the state's economy with an additional $365 million in total economic output.

With fears the state's economy is stagnating, that could be a much-needed shot in the arm.

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State unemployment stays at 6.6 percent in September http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM05/141019462 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM05/141019462 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:03:35 -0400 By Jared Hunt West Virginia's unemployment rate remained steady at 6.6 percent in September, maintaining an increase from the month before.

Workforce West Virginia reported Wednesday that the number of employed state residents declined by 1,800 during the month to 744,600. The number of unemployed residents increased 500 to 50,600 while 1,300 people dropped out of the labor force altogether.

The state's unemployment rate began the year at 5.9 percent, and data show employment grew during the first five months of the year. However, that trend has reversed itself during the summer. According to the data, the number of employed state residents has dropped by 11,100 since May.

The increase in the state's unemployment rate stands in contrast to the broader national trend. The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to 5.9 percent, its lowest level since July 2008.

Since October 2006, the state's unemployment rate had been consistently less than the national rate. However, that changed in June when the national rate fell below the state rate.

State Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts said he is worried the state's economy has stalled in recent months.

"As coal mining has reduced its number of employees and as manufacturing has failed to make a significant comeback in West Virginia, the economy has stagnated," Roberts said.

"I'm afraid that's the position we're in," he said. "That we have an economy that is not moving forward and not creating jobs."

While the unemployment data, which is derived from a survey of state residents, showed a further decline in employment last month, a separate survey of businesses showed a healthy gain in payrolls in September.

The so-called establishment survey found that non-farm payroll employment grew by 6,000 jobs last month. The bulk of those workers, 4,100, came in the government sector, with 3,100 joining the local government ranks and 1,000 being hired by the state. The increase likely represented teachers returning to work.

Meanwhile, the goods-producing sector saw a gain of just 300 workers for the month. The mining and logging sector saw payrolls increase by 400, but that was offset by a 400-worker decline in the construction sector; manufacturing payrolls increased by 300.

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

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Who's the best boss you ever had? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019469 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019469 Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400 By Shawnee Moran Today marks the 56th anniversary of National Boss Day, a day of observance and recognition for outstanding employers, which is acknowledged throughout the United States, England, Australia and South Africa.

In 1958, Patricia Bays Haroski registered this day with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to honor her father on his birthday. She believed he was an ideal boss and hoped this day of observance would help strengthen relationships between superiors and subordinates at work.

Today, National Boss Day is also a day to reflect on previous employers that made an impact on your life, inspired you and helped you grow.

Teddy Queen, owner of the Swiftwater Cafe and Swiftwater General Store in Charleston, said he owes his success as a small business owner to two past bosses - Randy Underwood and David Santee.

"The best boss I ever had, had to be Randy Underwood at the Rivermen, which is now known as Adventures on the Gorge. I've been a raft guide for 17 years and he was the river manager at that time," he said of his time at the Fayette County rafting company.

"He taught me how to learn the river and it's become a part of my life because of the restaurant and everything and I learned a lot from him. He was a really good teacher and made it fun, exciting and challenging, and he was the best boss."

Queen said he worked with Santee - who is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Equity Residential - in property management years ago in Atlanta.

He said Santee inspired him and helped him gain confidence to come back to Charleston and become a self-employed business owner.

One of the keys to being a successful boss, he said, is to know what the prime motivators are for your employees and cater to those needs whether it is money, flexibility or recognition.

Emily Bennington, career author and Founder of Awake Exec Conscious Career Design, said she owes her success to her first boss, Skip Lineberg.

"Having Skip as a boss profoundly affected who I became as a professional and the trajectory of my career as a result," she said. "I really would not be doing what I am doing now if it wasn't for him."

Bennington co-wrote "Effective Immediately: How To Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job" with Lineberg, and shortly after penned her own book "Who Says It's a Man's World: The Girls' Guide to Corporate Domination."

In addition, Bennington has led numerous training programs concerning mindful leadership and helps break down communication barriers that may arise in the workplace.

She said one of the best books she's read on management is "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink. According to the book, the three points employees are looking for in the workplace are Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose, or (MAP).

Bennington said she agrees with him on these points wholeheartedly, and said if a boss wants to be "outstanding" they need to incorporate these into the workplace.

She said appreciation has consistently ranked over money in terms of what employees value.

First Lady Joanne Jeager Tomblin, who is the president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, said it is important to get to know something about your employees in order to have their trust and respect.

She said people need to have compassion for their employees and know them by name in order to "know something about their lives and to understand them better."

Tomblin also said it is important to establish expectations about their job up front and to continue to be a role model for employees through behavior.

"One of the things I think is very important you have to empower the people that work for you to allow them to do their jobs and give them that opportunity," she said. "I also think you need to have high expectations of people that work for you, but on the other side of the coin you also have to have a lot of compassion for the people that work for you."

Small business owner and entrepreneur Nikki Bowman, founder of New South Media, said she has learned a lot from previous bosses.

"I have learned a lot from my bad bosses - I think I have learned more from having bad bosses than good ones," she said.

"I have definitely had jobs where I was micromanaged or belittled or not allowed to flourish in an environment, and I try really hard not to do that in our office here. I want all of our employees to grow personally and professionally."

Bowman said it is important for a boss to give praise to their employees when credit is due, lead by example and learn to delegate responsibility.

"As we've grown the company here it's been really important for me to delegate and give people more responsibilities," she said. "Otherwise we couldn't publish as many magazines as we do."

Don't worry if you missed the memo about National Boss Day.

Brenda Hopson, manager of Hallmark at the Charleston Town Center, said the store sells a variety of cards for National Boss Day and will continue to sell them throughout the week.

"I've been here 29 years and it's always been a good day and a good week for us," she said, adding people not only buy Boss Day cards, but also little gifts like candy, address books and other merchandise.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

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Huntington costume shop makes Halloween magic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019477 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019477 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:42:13 -0400 By Shawnee Moran HUNTINGTON - When Ken Fox and Ken Epperly first opened their costume and magic shop, Magic Makers, they had to create their own Halloween makeup kits to sell.

They would take individual colors - red, yellow, brown, green and blue - zip them into plastic baggies and sell them to customers.

Now, 35 years later, Epperly said the shop receives these kits in mass quantities from manufacturers to put on the shelves. He said these days more people are requesting special effects makeup like liquid latex, which creates a peeling skin illusion, and fake blood.

"You never know what somebody is going to ask for," said Epperly, 57. "We could write a book."

Fox said that's not the only thing that's changed since they first opened their doors. The owners have found over the years that fewer people are buying pre-packaged costumes to dress up.

"In the old days people had big costume parties where they would rent their country club and everybody would have to out-do each other ... that doesn't happen anymore," Fox, 62, said. "We were the thing when the Internet first started and now there's lots and lots of people."

In the past couple years, Epperly said it has become a trend for customers to come in and buy accessories - like an animal nose, a witch's hat, gloves or a tiara - to make their own costume rather than to purchase one.

He found that people want to customize their Halloween costumes to ensure their look is original. He said the shop never used to sell tops and bottoms, like corsets and crinoline skirts, but now the shop carries the pieces because of popular demand.

Fox and Epperly said these contributing factors make it increasingly more difficult to run their business with each passing year, which is part of the reason they are downsizing the store and planning to retire in the near future.

While Magic Makers provides more than 10,000 rental costumes of every time period on a year-round basis for events like theatrical productions, Fox said they make their bread and butter in October.

During this month, Magic Makers is in competition with seasonal pop-up retail chains like Spirit Halloween, which appears in eight locations in West Virginia, and larger corporations, like Target, that can afford to pay and produce a mass quantity of products.

Fox said people who order from these larger businesses are often unsatisfied with the quality of the product and the time it takes to be shipped to their house.

He said this could easily be remedied by renting costumes from their store where their focus isn't about mass-production, but on satisfying customers with a high-quality, one-of-a-kind product.

They offer rental costumes for every time in history, for every character imaginable from a saloon girl to the abominable snowman.

"We are competing with every single company in the world on the Internet ... but when you type in elf shoes Target comes up," Fox said. "You can't go to your local Target store and buy elf shoes. If you call Magic Makers, we have six different kinds of elf shoes in stock, ready to ship, and you get it the next day you ordered it."

Epperly, who works downstairs selling costumes, specialty makeup and accessories, said 90 percent of pre-packaged costumes are sold a week before Halloween.

While there are standard costumes he has sold since the store opened - like Spider-Man, Batman and Michael Myers - he said sometimes it is hard to tell what costume will be in demand until that last week.

He said it's too soon to be certain, but he thinks one of the most popular costumes for young girls will be Elsa and Anna from the highest-grossing animated film of all time, "Frozen."

But Fox said Magic Makers has learned from experience that not all popular films make good costumes, and sometimes the copyrights for the costumes aren't available in time for Halloween.

A couple of years ago, he said, Magic Makers stocked up on "Avatar" costumes.

"Everyone loved the movie, but nobody wanted to wear the blue, skin-tight suit with a tail sticking out the back and blue makeup," he said. "We gave those away and took them to a flea market and sold them for two and three dollars a piece and they were $40 costumes."

According to Fox, the store had a "record-breaking" Halloween in 2011, followed by two years of disappointing business, which he attributes to the government shutdown and presidential election.

He said two years ago when Magic Makers had mall stores open in Parkersburg and Ashland, there were 57 people on the payroll for October. Now, their store at 545 4th Ave. in Huntington is the only one that remains.

Fox said Magic Makers is selling their animal mascot and Halloween costumes, but keeping the theatrical and historical costumes in the hopes that someone in the area will buy them and give them to theater groups in Charleston and Huntington.

Fox said the shop owners don't know what is going to happen from year to year, but he is just glad they have had 33 good years of business.

"I have no regrets at all," Fox said. "I would start this all over again tomorrow, but I would have to specialize in something where there's a bigger demand or more select audience, because things change. And you have to adapt with the change."

Magic Makers is located at 545 4th Ave. in Huntington. For more information, visit www.magicmakers.com or contact them at 304-525-5333.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

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Delta brings paperless boarding to Yeager Airport http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019507 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM01/141019507 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:18:41 -0400 By Marcus Constantino Customers flying out of Charleston on Delta Airlines flights will have one less thing to worry about before heading to Yeager Airport.

The airport announced Wednesday that it is now accepting paperless boarding passes for Delta Airlines flights. Delta has four daily non-stop flights to Atlanta from Yeager Airport and two daily non-stop flights to Detroit from July to January.

Yeager marketing coordinator Anthony Gilmer said Delta began accepting the virtual passes, which may be downloaded to passengers' cell phones, about two weeks ago.

"Prior to your flight, you check in on your phone and your boarding pass is right there on your phone," Gilmer said. "If you don't have checked bags, which most business customers don't, you go straight to security, they scan your phone, and when it's time to board, they scan your phone right there at the gate and you get on board."

Delta is the second airline to offer the option of paperless boarding passes at Yeager Airport. United Airlines made the feature available at Yeager Airport with United's mobile phone app in 2013.

The new features come after Delta upgraded one of its planes that service Yeager Airport in September. A CRJ-900 plane replaced an older, twin-propeller plane that serviced a Delta Connection flight between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Yeager Airport. Delta also has a mainline route between Atlanta and Charleston serviced by an Airbus A319 plane. Both of those flights feature in-flight WiFi, business class seating and the availability of economy seating with extra legroom.

Gilmer said the new plane has been well-received by businesses travelers.

"People love being able to fly on a larger aircraft," Gilmer said. "Often times, the first class cabins on both flights go out full. The people are obviously benefiting and they do sell a lot of upgrades to the economy comfort seating. Most importantly, the booking and the ridership are strong on both flights, too."

Gilmer said customers will have to download Delta's mobile app to take advantage of Delta's e-boarding pass feature. The app is available to download on iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Windows phones.

Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcus.c@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.

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W.Va. cybersecurity session set for Wednesday http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019527 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019527 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:58:26 -0400

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Office of Technology is sponsoring an information security conference.

The free conference is scheduled Wednesday at the West Virginia Culture Center. The conference comes amid National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The conference will feature a special agent with the FBI, a representative from the cybersecurity sector of the Department of Homeland Security and a private sector security expert.

The topics will include cybersecurity threats and trends, risk management practices and avoiding security breaches.

The conference is free. To register, visit http://wv.gov/register

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W.Va. workshops planned for agritourism operators http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019529 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019529 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:53:40 -0400

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Department of Agriculture has scheduled a series of workshops for agritourism operators.

The daylong workshops are being offered in Morgantown, with the first scheduled for Nov. 1. Others are set for December, January and February. They will be held at the West Virginia University Agricultural Sciences building.

For operators in southern West Virginia, four classes are scheduled, with the first set for Nov. 8. They will be held at the Emma Byrd Higher Education Center in Beaver.

Online sessions will also be available starting next year.

The classes are funded through a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The workshops are intended to help agritourism operators navigate the risks associated with running their attractions.

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Apple, Facebook offer egg freezing for employees http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019534 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/ARTICLE/141019534 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:24:03 -0400

Jena McGregor

The Washington Post

Employees at Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Apple are not short on generous perks: extended family leave, sleek onsite medical centers for employees, free massages and candy shops.

And now, up to $20,000 in coverage for egg freezing for non-medical reasons, allowing women to potentially press the pause button on their fertility. NBC News is reporting that Apple will begin offering the perk to employees in January under its fertility benefit. Facebook began offering the coverage in early 2014 as part of its surrogacy benefit.

The two tech giants appear to be the first major companies to do so for non-medical reasons. In a sign of its rarity, neither the Society of Human Resources Management nor the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit that does research on workplace issues, have ever asked about egg freezing as a benefit in surveys.

While the perk might seem like just another weapon in what's been called the perks arms race of Silicon Valley, it could also resonate in particular with millennial employees who are getting married and having children later than ever before. And of course, it could have an outsized effect on the trajectory of women's careers.

Advocates of the increasingly popular practice say it gives women more choice and control, allowing them to potentially put off parenthood until it's the right time for them or their careers. NBC News reports a surge in interest since the "experimental" label on egg freezing was lifted two years ago. And Bloomberg Businessweek devoted an entire cover story to the issue in April called "Free Your Eggs, Free Your Career." The article cites an NYU doctor who says the procedure has gone from five percent of his clinic's practice five years ago - when it was mostly for medical reasons among, for example, cancer patients - to a third of it now, with most being non-medical.

Yet some experts on gender and work-life issues also see potential conflicts for companies that pay for egg freezing. Joan Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, calls it a laudable benefit as long as it's offered in the right context. "If women are asking for it, I think it makes sense to give it to them," she says. "But it shouldn't be a substitute for creating a workplace where motherhood is compatible with a high-powered career."

Facebook, for its part, subsidizes day care and gives moms and dads four months of paid leave. And Apple noted in a statement that it continues to expand its benefits for women and wants "to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families."

Still, the move could be a high risk if the coverage is offered somewhere that doesn't offer other family-friendly benefits. Or, it could send the wrong signal in a culture that already only rewards people who commit to putting work above all else, says Anne Weisberg, a senior vice president at the Families and Work Institute. "If those are the signals, people will read a policy like this not as 'We want to give people more options,' but as 'This is what we expect.' "

The news made Weisberg think of how much hasn't changed since she graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985. At the time, the female law partners she spoke with had all waited until they were partners to have children, only to discover it actually wasn't any easier to wait. "It was harder physically and harder professionally," they told her.

But at too many companies, Weisberg says, putting off children is still considered the way to go. "Most organizations are still clinging to that male lifecycle model where, if you can't have the pedal to the metal in your mid-30s to mid-40s, you're out of the game."

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Trump casinos seek OK to end union contract http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019564 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019564 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:01:19 -0400

By WAYNE PARRY

The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Delaware - The parent company of Atlantic City's struggling Taj Mahal casino has reworked its request for help from New Jersey's state government to keep the casino open.

William Hardie, a financial adviser to Trump Entertainment Resorts, testified Tuesday at the company's bankruptcy hearing that it wants $175 million in aid. It would take the form of tax exemptions - formally known as payments in lieu of taxes - and the receipt of two types of state economic development grants not normally available to casinos: the Economic Redevelopment Grant and the Urban Revitalization Grant.

New Jersey legislators would have to vote on whether to let casinos participate in the plans. Last week, State Senate President Steve Sweeney ruled out state financial aid for the Taj Mahal until its main lender, billionaire Carl Icahn, treats his employees better. Sweeney and others held a news conference to decry Icahn's role in Atlantic City, saying he seeks to profit from the vulnerability of people making $12.50 an hour. Icahn rejects the criticism and says he's willing to help keep the casino afloat.

Icahn's contribution of $100 million is a key component of the Taj Mahal's plan to stay open. Icahn would swap debt for ownership of the casino.

The company says it will close the Taj Mahal on Nov. 13 without union givebacks and substantial governmental aid from Atlantic City and New Jersey - both of whom have rejected the demands. The union has said it is willing to move all the casinos out of the National Retirement Fund and into a new, unspecified pension program, whose details remained sketchy.

Hardie said he contacted Jon Hanson, a confidante of Gov. Chris Christie who enlisted Hanson to formulate a plan to help Atlantic City through its current difficulties. The Taj Mahal would be the fifth of Atlantic City's 12 casinos to close this year.

Hardie said he laid out the new plan to Hanson, and while he did not get a commitment that aid would be forthcoming, Hardie said he believes the state would be more likely to consider it if U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross lets Trump Entertainment out of its union contract.

The company's original plan demanded major tax breaks from Atlantic City and the state - both of which rejected them.

If the judge rules against Trump Entertainment on Tuesday, the company is expected to quickly announce it will close the Taj Mahal. It was supposed to let the state Division of Gaming Enforcement know by Monday whether it is going to close the casino, but received an extension until Monday to see how the judge would rule.

About 3,000 employees would lose their jobs if the Taj Mahal closes, bringing the total so far this year to 11,000 newly unemployed Atlantic City casino workers.

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JPMorgan to work to combat cyberattacks http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019565 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019565 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:01:11 -0400

By STEVE ROTHWELL

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon says that more coordination between businesses and government is needed to combat the rising threat of cyberattacks.

New York-based JPMorgan said earlier this month that a breach of its computer systems this summer compromised customer information pertaining to roughly 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. Among the customer data stolen were names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

A growing number of financial firms and major retailers have revealed their customer's data has been stolen. Sears said Friday that a data breach at its Kmart stores that started last month may have compromised some customers' credit and debit cards, and Target and Home Depot have also been the victims of cyberattacks.

While Dimon said that the coordination between his bank, law enforcement agencies and other financial institutions has been good so far, it would likely need to improve as the threats escalate. Dimon said that JPMorgan had warned other banks about the attacks that it was experiencing to help them prevent breaches on their own systems.

"Cyber is a big deal," Dimon said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. "It's going to be an ongoing battle, and unfortunately battles will be lost."

JPMorgan is currently spending about $250 million a year on cyber security, and employs about 1,000 people in the area, according to Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake. The bank expects that those costs will rise next year and beyond as the attacks evolve and become more sophisticated.

Dimon was speaking on a conference call after the company reported its third-quarter earnings. He also told reporters that the prognosis on his health was "excellent" after he had undergone treatment for throat cancer. "I feel good and am happy that the treatments are over."

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Company brings games to life http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019566 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/ARTICLE/141019566 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:01:04 -0400

By SALIM ESSAID

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Mark Skwarek is surrounded by infiltrating militants in New York's Central Park. He shoots one, then hearing a noise from behind, spins to take down another. All of a sudden, everything flashes red. He realizes he's been hit. The words "Game Over" appear before his eyes.

Skwarek is indeed in Central Park. But he's wearing a new set of Epson Moverio B200 glasses that allow an entire world of virtual characters, objects and structures to overlay and interact with his real environment through so-called "augmented reality." Skwarek has raised over $30,000 on the group fundraising site Kickstarter to launch Semblance Augmented Reality (AR). His company aims to liberate video games from the TV and turn them into physical experiences. He's poised to release Semblance AR's first app for iOS and Android phones.

Augmented reality isn't new. But it's hitting the mainstream thanks to the rising popularity of wearable technology like fitness trackers, smart watches and glasses. GPS tracking, sensors and camera technology on mobile devices are finally strong enough and widely available. Video gamers are an obvious target group for use, but businesses too are finding that combining wearables with augmented reality could solve practical problems. For example, crews needing to repair a complex mud pump on an oil rig could simply activate step-by-step visual instructions right in front of their eyes, hands-free, and in real time.

Wearables will empower the deskless worker the same way computers and mobile devices have done for the office worker, says Brian Ballard, CEO and founder of augmented-reality software company APX Labs in Herndon, Virginia. Wearables like smart glasses can make employees a kind of "instant expert" by giving them access to information wherever they are in real time and save time and money that is usually spent on separate training.

"You're giving an entire new class of workforce - that could be five or 10 times of (the number of people) you have people sitting at a desk - access to information," says Ballard, who previously worked on augmented-reality product development for the military. "That's fundamentally revolutionary."

"The technology is here right now. It's just implementing them in a product, showing consumers that it has a value and can do things better than they were doing before," says consumer tech analyst Benjamin Arnold at the NPD Group. "That's where I see the tipping point coming."

Samsung plans to sell a $200 Gear VR headset as an attachable companion to its upcoming Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. The headset, which can give people an immersive experience with concerts, aerial footage and games, has sensors to gauge the head's position and to tell the phone which part of a 360-degree image to display. The VR was developed with Oculus, which Facebook Inc. bought for $2 billion this year. Gamers have been using motion detection systems such as Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox. And Apple Watch is coming out early next year, introducing even more consumers to wearables.

Battery life and Internet connectivity will need to be continually improved to make business use most efficient. But it won't be long before augmented reality becomes fully integrated into our lives and blurs the line between what's real and digital, says Ballard.

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