Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginai, on enterovirus:
State Health Department officials announced last Friday that at least one case of the enterovirus D68 has been diagnosed in Raleigh County, joining Greenbrier and four other counties in logging cases of the respiratory disease.
Cases came to the forefront in several Midwestern states in August, leaving many to wonder when it would strike here.
Well, here it is, and we are putting forth a call to action from parents, teachers and health care workers to help ensure it doesn't become an epidemic.
According to a fact sheet from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, enterovirus D68 is a less common one of more than 100 subtypes of the common enterovirus.
It was first identified in 1962, has been rarely reported since then in the U.S. Consequently, it is less studied and the ways that it spreads are not as well understood as other enteroviruses.
Nevertheless, health officials believe it likely spreads much the same way as other cold and flu viruses — from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches surfaces.
During this transitional season from summer to fall, many of us, especially children, are beset by allergies and colds. Flu season is bearing down on us, as well.
With this unfamiliar illness having invaded our area, we must promise our kids and ourselves that we will be hyper-vigilant when anyone shows any sign of a respiratory illness.
Yes, it probably is just a cold, but why take the chance? If the symptoms — difficulty breathing, cough, new onset of wheezing, fever or rapid heart rate — persist, a visit to the doctor, express clinic or ER is in order.
Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on West Virginia University President:
In his first State of the University address on Monday, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee unveiled a new program. He also wants to expand enrollment to 40,000 students, up from 33,000.
These are ambitious plans for the state's flagship university. That's encouraging.
Gee recruited former Gov. Gaston Caperton to head a new Center for Big Ideas. It will cover many areas including energy, health care, politics and policy.
Those subjects are as West Virginian as ramps in the spring and ginseng in the fall.
"It is time we reposition West Virginia University as a thought leader," Gee told the university community.
Gee also promised to cut back on the bureaucracy.
"I say it is time to toss out the rulebook," Gee said. "Higher education is buried beneath a bastion of bureaucracy and it is time to dig ourselves out."
He cited as an example having to take a driver's test when he returned as college president.
Gee asked why. They told him everyone new to WVU has to take one.
"Guess what? No more driver's test," Gee said.
WVU faces some challenges. In the last two years, the state has cut its support of WVU by $42 million.
WVU's ability to attract the best students gives the state the opportunity to keep those students once they graduate. In fact, colleges can serve as economic incubators.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin were doctoral candidates doing research work at Stanford when they developed the search system that became the foundation of Google.
Who knows what this Center for Big Ideas may lead to.
Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on state's economy:
More than 30 groups and individuals had a chance last Friday to showcase their creations at a special event highlighting the innovation of people from West Virginia and neighboring states. They all, no doubt, participated with the dream that the products they created may someday become items that will catch hold and be useful for a segment of consumers.
But getting from creation of an idea into the marketplace can be a challenging quest. That underscores the importance of developing a culture in West Virginia that breeds and nurtures entrepreneurship.
The event last Friday was the inaugural West Virginia Makes Festival at the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing in Huntington. The festival was the result of a design challenge put forth by RCBI, the City of Huntington, Marshall University and Advantage Valley regional development group. The entries ranged from a marble-flinging Lego catapult put together by a pair of pre-teen boys, to a system that prevents deep venous thrombosis to a machine that works as a 3-D printer, CNC mill and laser engraver.
The festival was held as part of RCBI's observance of National Manufacturing Day, an appropriate combination in light of the organizers' desire to promote innovation and bring ideas into fruition in the marketplace. Both are important factors in West Virginia, where the economy falls short in diversification and the state is considered only mediocre in helping small businesses get started and flourish. Promoting the development of new products in a variety of fields and disciplines is essential if the state's economy is to become stronger. The same is true for helping innovators transform their ideas into realities that will lead to manufacturing, whether on a large or small scale.
RCBI is well-established in helping people develop ideas into potentially viable products, by making available the use of the latest technology for shaping designs and models of products. In addition, it offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to use advanced equipment that they could otherwise not afford until better established.
But the state needs to continue its efforts to help these budding businesses succeed. In its latest Small Business Survival Index, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ranks West Virginia only 32nd among all states for its policy climate in regard to supporting entrepreneurship. Among the shortcomings were the tax structure. In addition, many business people cite the level of regulation as a detriment.
The state's legislature has begun to pay closer attention to issues affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs, establishing a special committee last year that conducted a "listening tour" around the state. Let's hope that translates into concrete action in next year's legislative session.
Encouraging innovation through such events as the West Virginia Makes Festival and supplying innovators with strong support can do much to strengthen the state's economy.