Kansas entry named world’s best tap water

BERKELEY SPRINGS — A first-time entry from Emporia, Kan., came in tops among municipal water Saturday in the 23rd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting. Emporia’s water bested four previous gold medal winners at the competition.

“There were an amazing number of ties in the preliminaries,” said Arthur von Wiesenberger, the contest’s perennial watermaster. “That speaks to the impressively high caliber of the waters entered. This is the best year ever.”

Once again a Canadian water – Canadian Gold from Marchand, Manitoba — won best bottled still water in the world, finishing ahead of entries from New Zealand, Japan, Croatia, Chile, Thailand and elsewhere.

Touch Sparkling Mineral Water from Canada and Celvik Dobri Kiseljak from Bosnia tied for first place in the sparkling water division.

Judges sampled sips from dozens of finalists before naming the world’s best water Saturday night at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.

Judges sampled sips from dozens of finalists before naming the world’s best water Saturday night at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.

Rain Fresh Oxygen Purified from Garland, Texas, won the purified category.

The judges for the tasting included Spirit of Jefferson editor Rob Snyder and representatives from other regional, state and national media.

Von Wiesenberger, of Santa Barbara, Calif., instructed judges to look, sniff and taste each water under guidelines similar to those in a wine tasting. They rated waters on appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel and aftertaste.

Members of the public, not the media judges, selected the “Best Packaging” winner. Lumen, a product from Dallas, came in first.

More than 100 people, from Panhandle residents to visitors from as far away as New York, Kansas and Thailand, crowded the Berkeley Springs Inn-Best Western Conference Center Saturday night to learn which waters won.


TV actor dies: Actor Lou Myers, the native West Virginian best known for his role as an ornery restaurant owner on TV’s “A Different World,’’ has died.

The 76-year-old died Feb. 19 at Charleston Area Medical Center. A native of Chesapeake in eastern Kanawha County, Myers had been living in the Charleston area.

His TV credits included “NYPD Blue,” “E.R.” and “Touched by an Angel.” He also appeared in “Tin Cup,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and other films as well as on Broadway.

In 2005, the Appalachian Education Initiative listed Myers as one of 50 “Outstanding Creative Artists” from West Virginia and featured him in its coffee table book, “Art & Soul.”

“A Different World” debuted on NBC in 1987, a spinoff of “The Cosby Show.”

Natural gas switch urged: A new report says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin should quickly start switching at least one-fourth of West Virginia’s vehicle fleet to natural gas.

A task force study commissioned by the governor recommends converting nearly 2,000 vehicles within four years.

Thursday’s report says switching would cost between $8,000 for a sedan to $35,000 for a heavy-duty truck. But it also estimates recouping that investment and then saving up to $5,000 per vehicle within seven years. Those savings would come sooner if gas and diesel prices continue to rise.

Bus kills pedestrian: A Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation driver is on paid suspension after the bus he was driving hit and killed a pedestrian.

Police say the bus hit Joseph Bias, 40, around 5 a.m. Thursday as he stepped onto the street at an intersection in Charleston. He died at the scene.

The driver was placed on paid suspension while the accident is investigated.

No more library funding: The West Virginia Supreme Court says the Kanawha County school board is no longer forced to allocate part of its annual budget to fund the public library.

The court’s decision Friday ends a decade-long legal battle against being forced to give millions each year to the library.

Justices had originally ruled in the board’s favor in 2006 but stayed the decision to give the Legislature time to re-write a state mandate that school systems help fund public libraries in their counties.

The school board went to court again and in 2011, a lower court judge ruled the state mandate was unconstitutional. That’s the decision the State Supreme Court upheld on Friday.

School board funding amounts to nearly 40 percent of the library’s annual budget.


2 indicted in ’74 slayings: A grand jury has indicted a janitor from Florida and a West Virginia prison inmate on charges they killed three people at Fairmont’s Windmill Park in 1974.

Marion County grand jurors charged Eddie Jack Washington, 59, and Phillip Bush, 64, each with three counts of first-degree murder and a count of conspiracy.

Authorities say they’re responsible for the deaths of Lester Phillips, 20, his 19-year-old wife Wanda Jane Phillips, and Billy Ray Cobb, 27.

Washington was arrested earlier this month near his home in Tampa. He was being held at North Central Regional Jail.

Bush is in Mount Olive Correctional Complex, serving time on a 1983 first-degree murder charge in Ohio County.


Ex-PTA president pleads guilty: A former president of a Parent Teacher Association at an Elkins elementary school has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor embezzlement charge.

Sarah Jane Butcher, 35, received a six-month sentence that was suspended. She will serve one year of probation. She also paid $2,260 in restitution.

The Elkins resident was accused of writing checks from the Midland Elementary School PTA’s bank account to pay for personal items.

– Compiled from staff, wire reports

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