The weather is pretty much all anyone talks about these days.
March is supposed to come in like a lion and out like a lamb. For 2013, it’s a cold, damp, snowy lamb. But in just a few days, we’re on to April showers and then May flowers.
What we all should be talking about, when it comes to the weather at least, is the high-technological marvel that exists right here in Fairmont, W.Va., when it comes to weather prediction and its potential for growth. Who needs Punxsutawney Phil, who is currently wanted in at least one state for fraudulent weather prediction? We’ve got the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Weather Service right in our back yard.
And through new technology, right here in Fairmont, severe weather information will be put into the hands of meteorologists and the public more quickly. On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., came together with officials from NOAA and the National Weather Service to announce an expansion and plans to establish new operations in Fairmont to manage the next-generation weather satellites.
It’s the satellites that make it possible for the agency to make forecasts several days in advance. The global observer system will be greatly enhanced by the work that is currently going on with NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series (GOES-R). The Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont will become the backup hub for the data coming from both satellite systems.
“You have to get that data fast and you have to get it reliably,” said Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service. “It has to work every time.”
NOAA is upgrading its research computers, and the location in Fairmont will see the addition of three high-performance supercomputers, which will run numeric models in order to develop weather forecasts. Also, three new weather antennas will be constructed near the Research Center in Fairmont to communicate with NOAA’s geostationary weather satellites.
“This data is shared by all and used by all,” Rockefeller said. “This is deemed to be an excellent technologically-based center for advanced research and analysis, and that makes me happy.
“Now we’re going to have more accurate tools to be able to make this analysis,” he said. “It’s very good news for West Virginia. It’s very good news for this facility and for the whole northern West Virginia.”
We all know just how important weather forecasting is — and not of the groundhog variety. West Virginia was greatly impacted by historic weather events over the past year, including the severe flooding on Feb. 29, the derecho in June and Hurricane Sandy in October.
Fast and accurate information sent out to residents through alerts and weather forecasts simply saves lives. That’s the most important part of this expansion.
That it’s happening right here in Fairmont means more direct and indirect employment, the expansion of our fast-growing high-technology sector and a bigger reputation for being the kind of community that is capable of handling projects of this caliber.
Our forecast is for more and more growth in this area. And that is a great thing.
The weather is pretty much all anyone talks about these days.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region
Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.
COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community
There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.
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- Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated