Around the State

W.Va. aims to fight diabetes with ‘lifestyle coaching’

CHARLESTON – West Virginia will launch a national program for the hundreds of thousands of people at risk of developing diabetes, with a focus on intensive lifestyle coaching.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is a yearlong program for those at high risk and those diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Participants will work with a lifestyle coach in a group setting to achieve weight loss and physical activity goals.

Gina Wood, director of diabetes control and prevention for the state Bureau for Public Health, said employees and volunteers with 13 organizations across the state have already completed training to become effective coaches.

It’s unclear, however, when the programs will officially launch and how many people are likely to participate initially.

Diabetes can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

Already, some 466,000 West Virginians – 26 percent of the state’s population – have early stages of Type 2 diabetes. Tens of thousands are believe to be undiagnosed.

West Virginia has a higher prevalence of diabetes than the rest of the nation. In 2010, nearly 12 percent had diabetes. Wood says the disease could cost the state an estimated $3 billion by 2025.


Another ‘Buckwild’ arrest: Another cast member of MTV’s reality show “Buckwild” is in trouble with the law.

Michael Douglas Burford was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated driving under the influence, according to an official at the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston.

Burford, known as “Bluefoot’’ on the show, said on Twitter Saturday he let many people down and takes full responsibility for his actions.

Also last week, cast member Salwa Amin was arrested on charges with intent to deliver a controlled substance at a Summersville residence. A search found oxycodone pills, heroin and $3,000 in cash.


Brothers fighting Morgantown: An ex-chairman of the state Republican Party and his three brothers will appeal a federal judge’s decision dismissing their lawsuit against the city of Morgantown.

Kris Warner and brothers Ben, Monty and Mac sued a former city manager and fire chief, along with code enforcement officers and fire marshals in 2010.

They say a years-long pattern of intimidation led to the collapse of their businesses.

They argued the city was unfair in its enforcement, issued vague and arbitrary citations, and delivered unreasonable remediation orders.

U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley ruled recently that the Warners may not have liked the city’s style, but its actions didn’t constitute outrageous conduct.

Kris Warner said he plans to go to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.


Clarity on drug testing rules: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is proposing changing state law to make it clear that police officers can test drivers for drugs just as they test them for alcohol.

The legislation would explicitly permit officers to test for drugs. The current law outlines only that authorities have the right to test for alcohol. While law enforcement authorities welcome the proposal, they say that proving a driver is impaired by drugs remains difficult.

When people are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, they usually are taken to a station or a precinct for further testing. If they have been drinking and fail a chemical breath test, the case is usually pretty straightforward. But if they are on drugs and pass a breath test – which tests only for alcohol – it becomes difficult to prove that they are impaired.

According to federal figures, one in 10 adults in West Virginia has a drug problem, and that state has the nation’s highest rate of drug overdoses.


Singing a new tune: Alderson-Broaddus College will debut its marching band and develop a fight song to coincide with the start of football as a full-fledged sport this fall.

Logan Lindsey, director of athletic bands, says he’s actively recruiting students to play in a “fun, creative and high-energy atmosphere.’’

Lindsey is writing the music for the fight song. Later this semester the Philippi school will host a contest to give students the chance to write the lyrics, then vote on their favorite choice.

The football team will play its first home game as a member of Division II on Sept. 7. The team competed as a club sport in 2012.


Hospital construction: WVU Hospitals will build a $52 million outpatient center at the University Town Centre near Morgantown, a project that CEO Bruce McClymonds said will meet growing demand for clinic visits.

The 109,000-square-foot building will include 127 exam rooms. It will house as many as 10 clinics, including family and behavioral medicine, neurology, cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.

The project is also expected to create about 800 jobs, when combined with plans to expand the tower at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

By the time construction of the WVU Healthcare Outpatient Center is done in 2016, McClymonds said, a proposed new interchange off Interstate 79 should also be a reality.


Gas worker killed: State regulators say a worker was killed Friday in an explosion at an EQT natural gas well pad in rural Taylor County.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said the victim was working alone at the time.

The man was attempting to transfer briny wastewater from a tank into a truck, she said. What sparked the explosion is unclear and will be the focus of the state’s investigation, already under way.

Drillers inject massive volumes of water, sand and chemicals to hydraulically fracture, or frack, the rock in which gas deposits are trapped. The gas then flows up for collection, as does the brine. The DEP says some of the chemicals in the brine could be flammable.


AG challenging feds: West Virginia’s attorney general is joining other states that are challenging a section of federal bankruptcy law.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has also filed a friend of the court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging New York’s tough new gun law.

The bankruptcy challenge involves the Dodd-Frank Act. A section of the law allows the federal government to decide which of a bankrupt company’s creditors to bail out.

Morrisey said West Virginia holds investments in many institutions that could be covered by the so-called bail-out provision.

Morrisey also has announced West Virginia is joining 19 other states to challenge a section of the New York gun law that requires residents to show a particular need before they can obtain a concealed weapons permit.

In other Morrisey news, his solicitor general is taking a new title until he gets his West Virginia law license.

A former D.C. lawyer, Elbert Lin for now holds the title senior assistant to the attorney general. Morrisey’s office reports Lin is “in the process of applying’’ for a West Virginia license. Lin makes $132,000 a year.


Ending blight: Bluefield officials are preparing to tear down more dilapidated structures.

Six buildings will meet the wrecking ball this week, if the weather is favorable.

The demolitions are part of an ongoing effort to rid the city of blighted property. City manager Jim Ferguson said about 400 structures have been demolished since 2004. Another 100 will be torn down by the end of 2014.


Mining post for Manchin: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will head a subcommittee that oversees national mining policy and mining education and research.

The West Virginia Democrat announced his appointment Friday to the Senate energy subcommittee.

Besides national mining policy, the subcommittee on public lands, forests and mining has oversight over federal mineral leasing, lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, and the establishment of wildlife refuges on public lands and wilderness designations.


Bridge over the river Kanawha: The 79-year-old bridge connecting Nitro and St. Albans will go out with a bang.

Division of Highways officials said the piecemeal manner in which they had started to dismantle the span wasn’t working. Crews began cutting sections of the Dick Henderson Bridge and lowering them onto a barge to be shipped to a Kokosing company scrapyard last week. But officials say the remaining pieces are too heavy.

Officials now plan to shoot explosives onto the remaining portions and blast them apart – the St. Albans portion at 10 a.m. on March 1 and the Nitro side at 8 a.m. on March 8.


More woes for mom of vanished tot: The mother of a 3-year-old girl who vanished without a trace in September 2011 won’t regain custody of her other six children when she gets out of prison later this month.

The state Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a Lewis County judge’s order terminating Lena Lunsford’s parental rights. It was a decision backed by West Virginia child-welfare workers and the unidentified father of one of Lunsford’s children.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons website shows Lunsford is set to be released Feb. 26 from a facility in Baltimore, where she’s been serving an eight-month sentence for welfare fraud.

– Compiled by Christine Miller Ford with information from The Associated Press

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