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General Assembly Will Address Deficits, Gambling, Fracking

While the state's projected structural deficit is around $383 million, State Senator George Edwards says legislators will want to cut at least $200 million during the upcoming General Assembly session. Senator Edwards says that transportation will be a big  issue, while Delegate Wendell Beitzel says Marcellus Shale "fracking" and unfunded state mandates to local municipalities will be debated. Delegate Kevin Kelly believes the Governor will push for a repeal of the death penalty. Members of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce heard from the Western Maryland delegation during a recent breakfast meeting.


West Virginia State Police Seek Suspect

The West Virginia State Police are looking for a man, who is accused of malicious assault, burglary, and terroristic threats. Thirty-seven year old Charles Frederick Muffley is nicknamed "Wiz," and has several tattoos on his neck, arms and back. He is 6-feet tall, and has brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Romney barrack of the West Virginia State Police at (304)-822-3561, or dial "911."


Maryland, County Release First School Progress Index Data

The Maryland State Department of Education unveiled the School Progress Index  late last week, a new accountability system designed to spur improvement in every school. The SPI assess each one of Maryland's 1400 schools on their individual school goals, rather than by an absolute measure. It takes progress into account, determined by its overall student performance, growth, closing of gaps between the highest and lowest student subgroups and preparation for college and careers. School progress Index information can be accessed at


December 8th Fire Appears to be Accidental

A fire that damaged a residential and commercial building on Broadway in Frostburg appears to be accidental. Six occupants were displaced by the fire, and two of those six were injured in the fire. The city of Frostburg inspected the building, at 14 to 18 Broadway last summer, and a working smoke detector was present in the apartment of Bernard and Christine Ferguson, who were hurt. However, fire investigators found no evidence of a smoke alarm in the Ferguson apartment, when it was inspected after the fire.


Keyser to Consider Playground Equipment

On the agenda for Keyser's City Council meeting on Wednesday is the Plan to purchase play equipment for a planned playground at West End Park. Other agenda items include approval of a resolution from the Governor's office for the Community Development Block Grant Program, the announcement of a Christmas Club program for city employees, and a proposed new hire in the police department.


Keyser Man Arrested in Domestic Incident

Twenty-eight year old Keyser resident Mark Combs was arrested on charges he allegedlly threatened a female victim with a handgun and assaulted her as she tried to leave a residence on First Street Sunday afternoon. The victim refused medical assistance at the scene, and Combs was charged with domestic assault and battery. Bond was set at $3800. He posted bond, and was later released. Two handguns were also seized from the residence.


Gas Prices Hit Low Point

By this week, the national average for a gallon of gas should fall below $3.28. The drop could be viewed as a gift for those hitting the road this holiday season. This is expected to be the busiest Christmas travel season in six years. Government estimates say that gas averaged $3.63 a gallon this year, 10-cents above the record set a year ago. Traditionally, Cumberland has been well above average, in the unenviable position of having the highest gas prices in the state.


West Virginia Introduces "511" Traveler Information System

The state of West Virginia has launched its new, free "511" Traveler Information System. West Virginia's "511" provides real-time traffic information, including congestion, crashes, construction, lane closures and other factors that affect travel. Motorists can receive real-time traffic updates 24-hours a day by calling "511" toll free or visiting The app is available for Android and iPhone devices, and uses the phone's speaker and GPS locaiton to provide audible travel advisories in the driver's vicinity.


Forfeitures, Penalties Part of $2 Billion HSBC Bank Settlement

Efforts of federal prosecutors and agents from Northern West Virginia helped in an investigation, which led to the forfeiture of a sizeable amount of money and other penalties for HSBC Bank. The banks have agreed to forfeit nearly $2 billion, including civil penalties. HSBC was charged with willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, willfully failing to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, among others. The banks have accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.


Miner's Body Recovered in Harrison County

The body of 58-year old Shinnston resident Markel Koon was recovered late last week, two weeks after an accident at a mine caused his death. Koon worked for CONSOL for nearly 38 years. His body was found in the cab of a submerged bulldozer at the Nolan Run slurry impoundment at the Robinson Run Preparation Plant. Two other mine employees were able to get to safety.

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