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Blazing New Trails: Transforming Former Coal Mines into Outdoor Oases

first_imgKyle Hill could look at any number of things at the former surface mine on Dale Ridge: the scrubby hillside, the retention ponds built to catch runoff, the crumbling highwall sending truck-sized boulders careening to the mine floor. Instead, when he visits this site in Virginia’s Wise County, Hill sees opportunity—and ducks.“See down there?” Hill asks, aiming his binoculars at a clump of cattails framing a nearby wetland. “That place was just full of ducks last week.”An avid outdoorsman, Hill is a native of Coeburn, a town built around the coal industry in this corner of southwest Virginia. As a student at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Hill has been taking a different look at the many former surface mines that dot the central Appalachian landscape, wondering how they can support populations of game species like waterfowl.While using old mines as a catalyst for wildlife conservation might seem odd, Hill’s approach isn’t happening in a vacuum. A host of efforts is taking a renewed look at former minelands as a linchpin in diversifying Appalachia’s outdoor economy.As many as 1,800 square miles of central Appalachia have been touched by surface mining, a practice where coal is reached by removing the rocks above it rather than using a shaft to reach it underground. This approach has far-reaching impacts, including leaching metal-laden runoff into waterways and eradicating headwater streams and forests. A 2016 study by researchers at Duke University even found that surface mining has altered Appalachian topography, dropping the average slope of mined areas in the mountains by forty percent.While the environmental and social concerns of mining have been well-advertised, surface mines can become forgotten by the public eye once coal extraction has ceased. “The environmental community has done a really good job of communicating how destructive mining is—and for good reason, I think,” says Adam Wells, new economy program manager for Appalachian Voices. “However, it’s not that cut and dry.”Wells stresses that the coal economy’s collapse has opened the door to novel discussions about economic alternatives, including those based around former mines. New funding opportunities have also become available for developing abandoned mineland (AML) features, closed before the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. “That funding could really serve as a catalyst to get some innovative economic development projects going that right now are just good ideas,” Wells says.In 2016, Appalachian Voices and partners released a report identifying 14 AML sites in southwest Virginia that could support projects from solar farms to community parks and trail systems. Their work marks a shift in our collective philosophy of how to deal with former mines, viewing them as less of a permanent liability and more as an opportunity for growth.One of the sites identified in Appalachian Voices’ report is the Norton Riverwalk, a planned trail along the Guest River that will link downtown Norton, Va. to neighborhoods on the city’s eastern end. The project would rehabilitate a decommissioned coal loading site and connect it to a popular multiuse path running along a former mine highwall, which was transformed into a gateway for the city in 2014.Norton’s City Manager, Fred Ramey, believes that the Riverwalk is “perfect” for creating dual environmental and community benefits. “It’s a win-win scenario that will remediate environmental concerns, transform portions of the area into outdoor classrooms, and provide more recreational opportunities,” Ramey says.Nearby, the town of Haysi, Va., is creating a multiuse trail to connect its downtown to Breaks Interstate Park. A nearby coal waste site presents the opportunity for creating a park that would include a put-in for boaters on the Russell Fork.The town of St. Paul, Va.—which hosts a 100-mile trail system built partially on a former surface mine that caters to both ATVs and non-motorized users—has become a model for revitalizing coal economies. Private investment poured into town following the trail system’s 2013 opening, with new businesses catering to visitors and a $7.3 million project renovating a downtown building into a boutique hotel that will open this year.Redeveloping former mines is slow work, and each site comes with a unique set of complex—and expensive—environmental issues. “It’s not hard to look at a reclaimed mountaintop removal site and envision a field of solar panels,” Wells says, “but it’s a little trickier to think about smaller-scale ways to turn these liabilities into assets.” Regardless, a former mine can still hold surprises.Earlier this year, I accompanied Kyle Hill to the mine on Dale Ridge. We arrived just in time to flush a pair of wood ducks that had arrived for the season in one of the mine’s settling ponds. Hill has inventoried almost 15 waterfowl species there this year, including several not previously recorded in this corner of the state.It can be daunting to imagine the site being a haven for birdwatchers or outdoor enthusiasts, but as we stood in the middle of the mine, the ducks caught our eye. Instead of leaving, they flew in a long arc around the fringes of the mine and settled back in the pond once we’d moved on. For them, this was already home.last_img read more

Union College rude over request for photo

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionMy wife recently inquired from Union College whether it would be OK for our family to use their beautiful campus as a backdrop for a family photo session on Nov. 19. My wife called security and two individuals assured her that it shouldn’t be a problem, but one of them gave her the contact information of an individual to contact to be sure.This individual rudely told my wife that the policy is to request and submit a permit application with a $35 fee to do this. This is absurd, and on principle I refuse to pay this, especially in the demeaning way it was demanded, rather than requested in a nice manner. My family and I have always supported this school, certainly financially, since my son is an alumni — his degree had cost plenty.I know of several people who have used the Nott Memorial and Jackson Gardens and other scenic photo spots on this historic campus as photo backdrops. To my knowledge, they did this without even extending the courtesy that my wife did — without issue or permits. Recently, my wife and I walked the campus to select our favorite spots. We saw security twice, we were taking pictures, all we got was a friendly wave from the security guard.I just hope that this so-called policy, and more importantly, the rude behavior of this individual, is not what Union College has become. We will not use their beautiful grounds for our photo day, nor will we ever financially support this college.Bob VielkindScotiaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more

Rupiah falls 1.35% as investors raise concern over BI’s independence

first_imgAccording to the draft, the government and the central bank should establish a “monetary council” that includes members of the Financial System Stability Committee (KSSK) to lead and direct monetary policy and operations.“Since the central bank implemented its inflation-targeting policy in 2006, inflation has remained generally low and supports economic growth, because there is stability,” Anthony went on to say. “This is now being threatened as investors are worried BI will no longer be prudent.”Although the inclusion of additional stakeholders is not unusual and could support consensus-based policy decisions and add a layer of oversight, the proposed amendment is a departure from the normal construct of monetary practice, said Moody’s Investors Service vice president Anushka Shah.“However, the dominant role proposed for representatives of the Ministry of Finance poses the risk that the central bank’s independence will be compromised and that it will no longer be completely insulated from political interference,” she told The Jakarta Post, adding that the rating agency would monitor how the central bank would prioritize its new mandates if “conflicts between these multiple objectives arise.”“We will consider all of these factors in our overall assessment of institutional strength,” she added. The rupiah exchange rate fell significantly on Wednesday as investors worry about the independence of Bank Indonesia (BI) following a proposed bill that would give the government the authority to intervene in monetary policymaking.The rupiah depreciated by more than 1.5 percent to Rp 14,815 per United States dollar earlier on Wednesday, before rebounding to Rp 14,771 by 2:30 p.m. Jakarta time following reports on the central bank bill, which would revise Law No. 23/1999 on Bank Indonesia.“The rupiah is the victim of a harsh bill that could curtail the central bank’s independence,” said Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia economist Anthony Kevin on Wednesday, adding that the central bank’s hard-earned prudent reputation was at stake. Topics :center_img The rupiah has depreciated by 6.38 percent since the beginning of the year, slowly reducing its loss from nearly 20 percent in March and April, when the coronavirus pandemic-induced volatility hit the country’s financial market.The central bank has intervened in the spot market to reduce volatility, according to BI head of monetary management Nanang Hendarsah, Reuters reported.A panel of experts advising the House of Representatives recommended the bill, which obliges the central bank to greater efforts in boosting economic growth, supporting employment and supervising banks.The bill will revise regulations underpinning the central bank’s independence by involving the government in monetary policymaking by allowing the finance minister or other economic ministers to attend monetary policy meetings and cast votes.last_img read more

Heathrow Express passes delivery milestone

first_imgJUNE 23 saw the first Heathrow Express Class 332 EMU built by Siemens and CAF handed over to airport operator BAA plc at a ceremony at the new HEx Old Oak Common Train Care facility in west London. BAA Chief Executive Sir John Egan received a three-car set from his Siemens plc counterpart Jürgen Gehrels. Further deliveries will bring the fleet up to 14 four-car units (RG 1.97 p27).With the ’15min every 15min’ service from London Paddington to Heathrow Central not due to start until June 1998, BAA plans to launch an interim ’FastTrain’ operation this autumn, providing an integrated rail/road service using a temporary station at Heathrow Junction. Passengers will transfer, with assistance for heavy luggage, to road coaches for the onward journey to the airport terminals using a dedicated bus lane along the M4 motorway spur. The journey will take 30min, with trains running at 15min intervals. The Railtrack safety case approval process for the Class 332s is expected to be completed by early October, ready for the start of FastTrain services.The fleet will be maintained by Siemens Transportation Systems under a 9-year contract. Technical support will be provided by Interfleet Technology Ltd, which advised BAA on the procurement process.BAA is due to make an announcement within the next few weeks about its proposed second airport service, linking Heathrow to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link terminus at St Pancras. Planned to open in 1999 or 2000 following upgrading and electrification of an existing Railtrack orbital route through northwest London, this would require about 12 extra trains to the same design. oCAPTION: The interior design of the Heathrow Express EMUs was developed for BAA by Design Trianglelast_img read more

PBSO: Fired Employee Makes Hoax Active Gunman 911 Call to Local Business

first_imgLaw enforcement officers say a local business fell victim to a hoax active gunman situation last week.With their guns drawn and SWAT gear on, and helicopter and drones flying overhead, the officers entered a Palm Springs business last Thursday prepared to confront what they had been told was a deadly active gunman scenario.Rhonda Oliva, officer manager for Beacon Irrigation and Lighting, says 28-year-old Jeremy Riley had been fired from the business about 30 minutes before the call was made, for showing up to work about an hour late for his second day on the job.He apparently made the hoax 911 call shortly afterward.Deputies arrested Riley that day and charged him with giving a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner.A judge also ordered that he undergo a mental-health evaluation and be held in the Palm Beach County Jail without the possibility of being released on bond.Riley was arrested at his home near the business, according to sheriff’s authorities.Oliva says, “We give them all applause and kudos. We wanted this guy caught and put in jail because it was just obviously wrong. Everyone’s preparing for a hurricane. … That’s the last thing we needed.”She adds that Riley did not appear focused during his first day of work, “but there was nothing that jumped out that said run the other way.” In addition, his background check and references came back clean.According to Oliva, Riley spent his first day working on pools. Another employee called and told her that Riley apparently did not have lunch money, so she had someone pay for his meal. She also paid Riley for the full workday on the spot, to allow him to cover his phone bill.However, Riley showed up late for work the next day, prompting the supervisor to fire him.Within 30 minutes of his termination, 911 dispatchers received the following call:“Yes, I worked at Beacon Irrigation and Lighting and there’s a guy here with a gun.“He’s shooting people, please!”The call then disconnected.As deputies approached the business, they spoke with employees at a neighboring office who alleged that they had heard a gunshot nearby about five minutes earlier. When deputies determined the area was safe, they listened to a voice message that Riley had left on the company’s phone. In it, he says, “I promise you guys will regret it,” he reportedly said in reference to his termination. “Save this phone call. You can use it as evidence. “Karma is a (expletive).” Records show that Riley’s phone was pinging nearby, which indicates that he was probably still in the immediate area as the deputies surrounded the business.“It was horrific,” Oliva says. She adds, “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”last_img read more

Police detain possible immigrant boat landing near Palm Beach

first_imgThe Palm Beach police department responded to the area of Bahama Lane on Saturday morning after receiving a report of a possible immigrant boat landing.Police say 9 immigrants were detained and turned over to U.S. Border Patrol agents.last_img

VIDEO: Crowd at Ellsworth-MDI volleyball game sings National Anthem

first_imgELLSWORTH — When the sound system malfunctioned before the Ellsworth vs. Mount Desert Island high school volleyball game Tuesday night, the crowd jumped in to sing the National Anthem.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textlast_img

Making a Message From VAR Mess

first_imgControversies have always been part of the sport but it became global conversation when 400 million television viewers were left arguing whether England’s Wembley Goal against West Germany in 1966 World Cup final crossed the line or not. England was on the receiving end exactly 20 years and six World Cups after Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God goal” caused another round of debate.There were other pockets of controversial decisions that turned the tide for teams across different competitions but international football then led by Sepp Blatter, was reluctant to introduce the use of technology. Blatter had cautioned against the game losing its human angle and suffering interruptions (which could kill the flow of association football) like other sports that had adopted such technologies. In addition, there were fears that those watching on television would be having a different experience than those on the stands since those at home had opportunities for instant replays. Those sentiments had chimed with me.Despite the outrage caused by William Gallas’ extra time goal that was aided by Thierry Henry handling the ball twice that qualified France for 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland, it was Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany that gave a seismic shift to the argument. In that particular 2010 incident, there were repeated replays showing the ball clearly crossing the goal line and bouncing off the goalpost into the field of play on the giant screens in the Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein aligning the shock of those watching at home or other electronic devices and those on the terraces. That was what ushered in the widely accepted electronically aided goal line technology. But the controversies remained because as much as goals are the most important part of football, events leading to a goal are equally as important. Pressure continued to mount for the use of a form of video assistance as is done in sports like cricket, tennis, rugby and in American major leagues. But conservative purists like me had gone to town too early contending that those sports could accommodate such technological inclusions since they had natural stoppages, unlike free flowing football. And coming from Africa, I feared this hi-tech incorporation would transform football from being a world sport to an elitist one. This would involve buying expensive equipment poor nations are unable to afford, thereby creating unequal divides on how the game is played, officiated and watched. It would further cut the pie poorer countries get from the soccer economy as hosting showpiece events become more difficult as standards rapidly move upwards.But the earth moves and waits for no man plus the fact that viewership is getting younger and more digital. So it was all a matter of time that VAR was added into the laws of the game in 2018 as a match official who reviews decisions made by the centre referee.However, it is not yet kumbaya as the controversies appears not to have gone away and so one can understand why Ceferin is worried.First is that VAR is not yet universal. Some leagues and tournaments make use of it while some don’t. Some even use it at different stages of certain competitions or for different games making it not only haphazard but a tad unfair. For standardization of the game, I suggest the governing body outlines and insists on the competitions it must be used and downgrade or refuse to sanction the ones that don’t.Another thing is the use of the VAR itself. While some station a monitor by the touchline for the centre referee to review and adjudicate as seen in the last World Cup in Russia, others like the English Premiership don’t have pitch side displays making referees surrender decisions to some unseen operators “upstairs”.If I were to choose, I’ll rather the pitch side monitor for the referee to review personally and make his decisions. The referee must not lose the sovereignty to make decisions to some machine. After all, it is video ASSISTANT referee and its decisions should be subject to the referee like his other flagged assistants on the touchline.Besides additional clarification from the governing body to save the football fraternity the numbers of contradicting interpretations of the VAR rule, the frequency of its use is also of concern. The way it is being applied at the moment, every grey goal could lead to one or any contentious call on the attention of VAR. I think calling for the VAR for every such incidence has defeated the “minimal interference, maximum benefit” philosophy that initiated it. Now a goal is scored, and players tamper their celebrations while spectators hold their excitement in wait for the confirmation of the goal by the VAR especially in cases where the centre ref himself wait some other to decide for him.The goal of VAR is to make the most accurate of decisions; however we should be careful not to have a football recession where excitement is suffocated out of the game. Ironically, controversies have helped sustain the interest in the game over the decades.Football should take cues from track and field that applies technology but remains intolerant with false starts and also counts down on runways for jumps and throws or basketball that uses the shot clock. The frequent resort to VAR can be limited to one per half for each team instead of making matches stretch beyond 100 minutes when one adds injury time because of VAR references. By this I mean, when a team is dissatisfied with a call or an oversight, it has only one opportunity in a half to ask the referee to refer to the VAR or the technologically measured offside that is also rendering linesmen obsolete. That is how tennis applies the hawk eye.I believe this way; football will not lose the human element that comes with its own exciting flavour since it is not a video game.Okunfolami wrote from LagosShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Ayodele Okunfolami contends that video assistant referee is more or less killing the excitement in footballWhile speaking with British tabloid, Daily Mirror, earlier this month, the president of the Union of European Football Associations, Aleksander Ceferin, branded the Video Assistant Referee as “a mess”. He even went as far as sarcastically saying that, “If you have a long nose, you are in an offside position these days” in expressing his frustrations with the use of technology in football.The demands for the use of technology to resolve some controversial decisions in football was increasing as the fan base expanded along with technological advancements.last_img read more

Experts question legality, but students will still work for free

first_imgDespite questions about the fairness and legality of unpaid internships, students shouldn’t expect to find any more paid internships this summer than in previous years.Many companies that are trying to maximize production while minimizing costs are placing increased responsibility in interns’ hands. And with a 10.4 percent national unemployment rate, young people eager to gain access to careers are willing to work for free.According to USC Career Planning & Placement Center Executive Director Eileen Kohan, about 60 percent of the university’s students hold an internship sometime during their USC career.“The feedback we are getting from employers is that having work experience is more important than grade-point average,” she said.But for students from low-income families, taking unpaid work often means trading an opportunity to earn money for the possibility of better earnings later. And now, in a time when unpaid internship opportunities are booming, some are questioning whether organizations are taking advantage of ambitious students as a way to deal with their economic woes.A 1947 Supreme Court decision outlined six factors for determining if an internship results in a relationship that would require the intern to be paid minimum wage and be entitled to overtime pay and regular breaks.An intern who pushes wheelchairs at a hospital could be replacing a nurse’s job, according to Kerry Fields, a professor at the Marshall School of Business and an expert in business ethics and corporate responsibility. If the intern meets professionals, gets exposure to the hospital environment and receives an education about how to treat disabled people, however, the internship appears to mainly benefit the student. It’s training that can be carried into many different future settings.Fields said legal unpaid internships should be geared toward training and not assuming an employee’s regular duties, though the company might generate some collateral benefit.“Where unscrupulous employers take advantage is having you do work activities that have a benefit primarily to them,” Fields said. “Having you file papers so the employer saves costs of hiring a file clerk is illegal.”Instead, Fields said interns should be cycled through the roles of several full-time employees. Still, he said the standard for being paid is subjective because one has to define an experience’s value.The U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that unpaid internships should be extensions of academic programs under close observation and should not replace regular jobs.To make unpaid internships seem more beneficial to students, companies often require students to receive academic credit. This is not legally necessary, however.“The law doesn’t absolutely require it, even though it is packaged that way,” Fields said. “Credit gives employers some validity and assurance to hide behind.”USC allows students to earn credit through various internship courses from one to eight units. Interns put off by USC’s $1,300-per-unit price can receive less expensive credit from institutions such as community colleges. During the summer, USC provides scholarships to help subsidize the cost of these courses.The Dream Dollars Program provides $1,200 stipends for students who receive unpaid internships with non-profit or government organizations. The Scheyer Family Scholarship provides $2,500 to unpaid interns majoring in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. Applications for both programs are due Friday.“We are very conscious of the fact that money does cause a barrier, but students can use the career center to help find foundations and other ways to get past this,” Kohan said.A number of students, however, take unpaid internships without ever registering to receive class credit.Liz Trawick, a senior majoring in psychology, is working as an unpaid intern for a city councilman, though she has not registered for a class to receive credit.“I’m doing a lot of work, but the city has no money, so that’s probably why I’m not getting paid,” she said. “As a student, it’s reasonable not to be paid, but not being a student and not finding anything paid is unreasonable.”Juhae Lee, a freshman majoring in industrial and systems engineering, has an unpaid internship with a public relations firm for which he is mainly doing graphic designing. Lee also does not receive academic credit for his internship.“It’s benefitting me more than the firm, though, because before I just had Photoshop, but they have pushed me to learn how to use it, and now I’m solid with it,” he said.Drew Holly, a senior majoring in music industry, held an internship with a recording company and took two four-unit internship courses through USC.“I learned a lot even though I was only really setting up equipment and helping with recording, and the class was hardly a class,” he said.Students have different feelings as to whether they should be paid.Kyle Manis, a sophomore majoring in business administration, had a paid internship with Verizon but is now seeking an unpaid Congressional internship.“It’s not as much about getting paid as it is about learning, because the pay is really just a bonus,” he said.For Lee, the costs of traveling to the Beverly Hills firm are adding up, and he said he thinks he should be compensated for work that the company takes credit for.“It’s not just like I’m getting coffee for them,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to pay for or buy your way into the opportunity to show off your skills, but what can you do about it?”In California, any employee can file a complaint with the state labor department about unfair treatment of interns, but it is mainly the intern’s decision to allege he is being taken advantage of. Because students and employees fear being blacklisted as troublemakers in their industry, the burden of enforcement falls to the government.Fields said students simply need to be better educated about the laws, and the federal department of labor has vowed to increase outreach with students and colleges.last_img read more

Borrisokane Community College are camogie champions

first_imgPhoto © Tipp FM Borrisokane Community College are Munster schools camogie Junior B champions. In the Munster schools Camogie Junior C Final played today in Dungourney Cork the Tipp representatives Cashel Community School were beaten  1-6 to St Marys Midleton 3-13.Meanwhile, the field in The Ragg will undergo a pitch inspection at 9am before tomorrows senior league clash against Offaly.center_img The beat St Marys Nenagh 5-5 to 3-6 today at Dolla and are through to the All Ireland Semi final.last_img