Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 20, 1976 · Page 12
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June 20, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 12

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 20, 1976
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Page 12
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Dam Failures A Possibility, DNR Study Says Sheltered These four majorettes from McKinley Junior High School took refuge under an umbrella Saturday when it rained on the parade at the opening of the St. Albans Town Fair. Staff photographer Leo Chabot grabbed this shot as the parade passed him. Striking a Balance Between Clean Air, Healthy Economy Again Point of Conflict By Herb Little Associated Press A hearing here next month will again dramatize a problem that probably never will be solved to everybody's satisfaction- striking a balance between the sometimes conflicting needs for clean air and for a healthy economy. |f lineups were printed, they probably would show electric utilities and coal companies on one side, environmentalists on the other, and the West Virginia Air Pollution Control Commission (APCC) taking hits from both sides as its familiar station in the middle. The APCC holds a lot of public hearings spotlighting the clean air-vs.-jobs issue one way or another. That the session set for July 20 will be more than routine is shown by the fact it is to be held in the House of Delegates chamber at the State Capitol instead of the regular APCC hearing room, far smaller. K AT ISSUE WILL BE APCC-proposed changes that somewhat relax the commission's Regulation 10. It limits amounts of sulfur oxides that may be emitted from industrial stacks. Economic interests most directly con- Statehouse Note LITTLE Okay 9 Have a 4 Yahoo' Always on Sunday ByB.S.Palausky Yahoo. There, that's for West Virginia s birthday. Hang in there . . . And, that's for all of you fathers, straight from the heart of this here orphan. Plenty of things to celebrate this week. For instance, I didn't realize until not too long ago that I had enlisted in the Army Air Corps on the very anniversary of Custer's last stand-June 25. There just might be some significance to that. Incidentally, if I had managed to hang in there with the service, I'd be retiring this week with a big fat 30 years completed. Ah me K WHILE WE ARE in the celebrating mood, we could maybe celebrate maybe two or three confetti's worth about my being right about Our Governor. You know, about the West Virginia University presidency. I pointed out a couple of weeks ago how he'd probably emerge as a candidate for the job. I also mentioned that it wouldn't hurt his chances if he had that $14 million bundle for repairing the WVU football field under his arm during the candidacy. Naturally, we are being treated to a little whiff of mystery or something along with the candidacy . . . Why, my goodness to gracious, golly, gee whiz and all, no one even seems to know who threw up his name for consideration, etc. . I'd rule out Mrs. Our Governor right off the bat. Surely Our Governor wouldn't try- to pull that one on us How about the still unevplained Amos Jones? That name came up in the recent trial. On the back of a check. No one has been able to learn anything about Amos Jones. If he'd have written the nominating letter, he might have inadvertently put on his return address and a whole new can cf worms would hit the fan. I guess we can try to forget him ... Forget me, too. I'm willing to take a lie detector test now. Also forget the people at the Daily Mail The last time I was at Our Governor's office, it was just about up to here in state policemen. Tsk, tsk, tsk and tsk. Figuring that the boodle has maybe just been misplaced. I kind of thought I'd pitch in and help look for it the next time I was up that way-like maybe for the grand opening of the Science and Culture Center. Then I learned that it is to be by invitation only. I guess that lets' me out. That's too bad. BARNACLE RICHIE the Robb, mayor of South Charleston, and the rest of that gang had better start going for at least a truce in the hospital squabble. The way it is going now, they're going to need maybe a whole extra hospital just to hold the wounded. You all remember Richie. He's the guy that when something goes against him, draws back and intones, "That's another barnacle on my ship of state." Personally, I think he should be talking about a canoe. I also think that most of his trouble stems from being the most illustrious graduate of the Al Poe School of Mayoring. One of his most recent barnacles stems to be thriving. I refer to the three-day suspension given Dan O'Connor. He's the policeman who nearly scragged himself in Texas several weeks ago while helping people during a combination highway accident and ammonia explosion. Of course, a department rule was broken (O'Connor called in sick to get an extra day's travel time), but in light of the heroism involved, I think a chewing out would probably have been a bit more just than a loss of pay. A FOOT-IN-MOUTH thing I got into last week was caught by A.R. Atkinson of Seth. He says that if I had been paying attention I'd have known that the West Virginia Turnpike Commission not only buys and maintains the patrol cars for the road, but also reimburses the state for state police cerned are coal mines in northern West Virginia, where the coal is more sulfurous than in the southern part of the state, and West Virginia electric generating plants, which have to pay more for coal if they can't get it close at hand. Higher costs for coal ultimately mean higher bills for utility customers. Of course, the customers want clean air, too. APCC Director Carl Beard fully expects environmentalists to argue at the hearing against any easing of the sulfur limits, while utilities and coal companies contend the proposal doesn't ease them enough. "The commission has tried to f i n d a middle ground and I think it has made a fair proposal," Beard said. There are two sets of emission limits- primary limits in effect now and more stringent secondary limits scheduled to take effect in 1978. Mainly, the pending proposal would eliminate the secondary limits on sulfur and let the primary standards continue to govern through 1978 and beyond. »· ALSO INVOLVED ARE at Beard calls "some minor mechanical adjustments" in primary limits, although he concedes "someone else might not think they're minor." These changes are in the direction of making the limits a bit more stringent. President Edwin K. Wiles of the West Virginia Coal Assn. said; "We certainly endorse the relaxation to the point that has been proposed." Still under discussion, he said, is whether to press for more relief than the commission has proposed. Wiping out secondary limits that are two years away doesn't offer present help to northern West Virginia coal producers who are hard put to stay in the utility market under the existing primary standards, Wiles said. For some time, the APCC has been under pressure from, among others, numerous legislators to re-examine its regulations. Critics have said over and over, to the point of wide acceptance, that West Virginia's pollution control standards are more stringent than the federal government's and those of neighboring states. To which Beard says, as far as sulfur emission limits is concerned, "all this propaganda about us being more stringent is a bunch of baloney and just not true." For one thing, Beard says, the federal government sets no emission limits, so how could West Virginia's be more stringent than theirs He says the federal Environmental Protection Agency simply approves control plans, including emission limits, proposed by the states. . "WE CAN'T CHANGE the state plan without federal approval," he said. Yes, says Wiles, but the West Virginia commission has proposed and obtained EPA approval of some regulations more stringent than those submitted by neighboring states and approved by the EPA. But Beard said that in comparison with Pennsylvania, for instance, West Virginia's sulfur limits are tighter in some areas of the state and more lenient in others. And he says Ohio will be much tighter than West Virginia on sulfur oxide emissions by power plants if new regulations Ohio has proposed go into effect. The EPA has held hearings on the Ohio regulations, but they are not yet in force. Beard said the only respect in which West Virginia is tougher in general than neighboring states is in' particulate flyash emission limits for electric utilities, and those are not involved in the July hearing. He added "there is good reason" for the state's tough flyash limits. He said there is question, even with the present limits, of their continued EPA acceptance as to the Kanawha Valley and Upper Ohio Valley. A real danger of dam failures exists in West Virginia, according to a report released today by the coal refuse and dam control section of the State Department of Natural Resources. It is only a matter of time until degradation of structures or a major storm produces a catastrophe, the report stated, adding that there is no way of foretelling when or where such a catastrophe will occur. JACK SPADARO, chief of the coal refuse and dam section, said recent dam failures in North Carolina and Idaho illustrate the continuing problem of dam safety in the United States. "The possibility does exist that a similar disaster could occur in West Virginia unless an adequately funded dam safety program is implemented and continued," he asserted. Spadaro said the coal refuse and dam section, an outgrowth of 1972 and 1973 legislation which created the Coal Refuse Disposal Control and the Dam Control acts, has never been adequately funded. He pointed out the section currently employs only 11 technical personnel and cannot perform all functions required of it with a staff this size. Spadaro pointed out the section has requested additional funds "which would provide the minimum staff and facilities for carrying out the applicable laws. It is recommended that these additional funds be provided as soon as possible." He added that no funds have been provided for carrying out immediate action in emergency conditions, as the DNR director is charged with doing under the acts. Spadaro urged the creation of such a fund. "Lastly," Spadaro continued, "the director cannot call for others to upgrade dams without taking action on the dams owned or operated by the department. It is recommended that funds be provided for the engineering evaluation of all stale owned or operated dams." He estimated this would require about $500,000 if performed by the coal refuse and dam section. He said f i n a n c i a l assistance may be forthcoming from federal funds under the National Dam Safety Law, and that West Virginia should act quickly with a thorough engineering appraisal of all dams to take advantage of federal funds when they are available. THE KNOWN imminent hazards among coal refuse impoundments have been eliminated or reduced, according to the report, but the over-all problem remains. It said about 1.400 dams and refuse piles exist which must be evaluated, and that many are known to exhibit problems such as seepage, leakage, i n a d e q u a t e spillways, etc. The degree of hazard to the public due to these structures cannot be assessed until Sunday Gazette arleston, W.Va Mail Second Front ·June 20, 1976 Section B, Page ife I 1 detailed engineering investigations and analyses are made, according to the report! It said the probability of a failure or a major storm increases daily. The DNR owns or operates approximately 40 dams, and some of these, according to the dam control section, are in poor condition. The water level of one of these was recently lowered as an emergency measure, and similar action is contemplated at other DNR dams. Dam control believes several DNR dams will require significant remedial measures, and that the cost of this could exceed $10 million. Of approximately 600 other dams around the state which require stability, hydrological and hydraulic analyses, most appear to be inadequately designed or maintained, according to the report. It said many of them should be evaluated and report repaired before problems arise which would necessitate draining or before a failure occurs, SPADARO SAID the coal refuse and dam section must give particular attention to the following items: ·-Review of engineering plans for the construction of new structures or the modification of existing structures. "-Regular inspection of existing structures and structures under construction, and inspection of proposed sites. ··Coordination with owners and/or their engineers in order to promote understanding of requirements under the laws. ·-Training of personnel. He said well over 100 sets of plans for new structures or modifications to existing structures are received each year, and each must be reviewed carefully. There are over 1,400 situs requiring periodic inspection. Spadaro added, and meetings and phone conversations with owners and engineers "consume considerable time." The time required for proper performance of this work exceeds the man hours available with the present staff. Spadaro contended. Old 4 Dodge City of East,' Thurmond, Comes Full Circle By Jennifer Kerr THURMOND, W.Va. ( A P ) - This for- business has risen in its place, mer "Dodge City of the East," after years of neglect, has come full circle. The Dun Glen Hotel, where a 14-year poker game and general bawdy activity took place early in this century, burned in 1930 but a bustling Whitewater rafting tour Thevare'too"busy r goi'ng around looking for salaries, a I Dlace to eat and (b) something to . He's right. Also, I never knew that ii up (contest attached, of course). \ I am ashamed about it all, especially .n So, there you are Our Governor fans, another lusty, tense Our Governor mystery. If you'd just let up on tfie yawning a bit. I'll tell you who did it. It was someone with something to do with Marshall University, that's who. Did you have any doubts? *· HERE'S A QUICKIE Our Governor- ernor mystery. . On Friday, Our Governor said ne searched THE desk drawer and could find only $1.50. v That's truly amaz^g. that I've been tangling with the turnpike since just before the first drop of concrete was poured. Somehow this new knowlege makes me feel better. Not much, a little. Meanwhile, I can just envision the next commission dinner meeting in Paris, France. They are having chocolate-coated truffles strewri over roast duck pressed between sizzling chicken breasts and there is a motion on the floor. I lose out again. It looks like I'll never own a doggie-bag with a Pyris label. Charles Connor Elected Press Group Head BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Charles Connor, managing editor of the Charleston Daily Mail, was elected president of the West Virginia Association Press Assn. The group met Friday and Saturdaj here. Connor succeeds Ernile Hodel, editor o he Beckley Post-Herald. Chosen vice president was Carl Miller news editor of the Huntington Advertiser succeeding Tom Briley, editor of th Wheeling Intelligencer. Richard Buholz, chief of the Charleston AP bureau, was elected secretary-treasur er. Louis D. Boccardi, assistant genera manager and executive editor of the AP was the luncheon speaker Saturday. U.S. Coal Production Plummets My Thr ritwriructl Vrt 1 ** National coal production plummeted d u r i n g the first week in June, but remained slightly ahead of last year's figures. The total production of bituminous coal and lignite for the week that ended June 5 was estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Mines as ! 1,350,000 tons. That was a decrease of 2,680,000 tons, or 19 per cent, from figures for the week before. Production during the corresponding week of 1975 was 13,845,000 tons. Production for the year, through June 5, was 288,700,000 tons. That was 3 per cent more than the 280,280,000 tons mined through June 7, 1975. Here are estimated weekly production totals, in thousands of tons, for Eastern states during the weeks of May 29, 1976; May 22,1976; and May 31,1975, respectively: Ala 492 499 394 111 1,224 1,293 1,054 Ind 485 510 418 Ky 2,722 2,750 2,441 Md 77 105 60 Ohio 1,042 1,096 784 Pa 1,824 1,868 1,327 Tenn 234 186 152 Va 956 797 538 W V a 2,312 2,262 1,933 The National Bank of Thurmond failed in 1932 - but now Erskine and Jackie Pugh run the Bankers Club, a most unusual hotel and restaurant, in the original stone and brick building. "Well, you didn't expect a Holiday Inn," Mrs. Pugh said she overheard one visitor exclaim. "I really think they're surprised when they come in here," she said, taking time last week from making fresh strawberry ice cream. "This is just like finding a palace in the wilderness." FINDING THE Bankers Club is often the hardest part. Thurmond, a Chesapeake Ohio Railroad center that declined in population from 1,000 to 86 when nearby coal mines failed, had no roads leading to it until the 1920s. It is now reached by a narrow road twisting through the Fayette County hollows. The"road ends abruptly at Thurmond's edge To the right is the Dun Glen Grocery and Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited. Straight ahead is a railroad bridge over the tumbling New River with a narrow wooden afterthought tacked onto one side for cars. Across that is the railroad yard a n d , down and across the tracks, a narrow sidewalk past some shells of buildings. At the end is the four-story Bankers Club, facing Thurmond's "Main Street." the railroad tracks. Until two years ago, the Bankers Club was also an abandoned shell and the Pughs were running the Dun Glen Grocery, as they had for 41 years. Jon Dragen's Wildwater firm was bringing adventure lovers from all over the East to Thurmond and the Pughs saw there was no place for them to stay or eat. They sold the grocery to Wildwater guide Al Whitt and restored the old bank, opening it in 1974. The past two years, they employed managers. "This year, I'm doing it myself." said Mrs. Pugh proudly. They have 16 modest hotel rooms and serve breakfast and dinner. Diners come from surrounding towns, also, to eat the steaks, seafood, fresh vegetables and baked goods. "I do everything," she said. "There isn't any other way hut to start from the beginning." THE PUGHS said their visitors, many of whom come from big cities, are impressed by the friendliness in West Virginia and the beauty of the New River Gorge. Visitors arrive aloof, but are on a first- name basis by the time they leave, they said. "I t h i n k it's the quiet and peace. Of course, the railroad is noisy, but people like the trains." she said. The Pughs kept as much of the old bank decor as possible in the homey, compact dining room In the center is a marble stand that once held deposit slips in the m i n i n g - r a i l r o a d halcyon days and now hold travel brochures symbolizing Thurmond's new trend. Pictures of the town in its heyday hang on the pillars and walls. Mrs. Pugh also has a display of old checks from 1913. "Last summer, some Huntington people came in and as they started to go out, one woman looked at the checks and said, 'There's one of Aunt Stella's old checks'," Mrs. Pugh said. Aunt Stella would never recognize her old bank - or Thurmond. School Plans Reunion MEADOW BRIDGE-The Meadow Bridge High School Alumni Assn. will hold its annual get-together at the school July

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