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Weather topped February news

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

Weather topped the news in February, as late-winter rainstorms led to the evacuation of several communities when creeks swelled out of their banks on Feb. 18.

Red Cross workers set up emergency shelters in Salem and Shinnston, two of the hardest hit areas. Wallace, Seminole and Wyatt also were evacuated and a number of area roads were closed because of the high water.

The water continued to rise into Feb. 19 and 20, causing Gov. Cecil Underwood to declare a state of emergency in 10 counties, including Harrison.

About one week after completing a merger with Consolidated Natural Gas Co., Dominion Resources Inc., announced it was considering closing the Clarksburg call center. Dominion officials told the center's 42 employees they were studying the move on Feb. 2.

A week later, the company announced it would cut selected CNG jobs. On Feb. 8, officials said the cuts would come during the next several months and that most would be in the Pittsburgh office. The move was part of corporate restructuring due to be completed by April 1.

Another Harrison County company also announced job cuts in February. On Feb. 21, UCAR Carbon Co., in Anmoore, said that its own corporate restructuring would result in a workforce reduction of about one-third during the next year.

The firm decided to eliminate production of part of its graphite specialty business, officials said. The move was an attempt to streamline the operation.

Not long after the Dominion merger was closed, another business with offices in Clarksburg was affected by a buyout. The purchase of One Valley Bank by BB&T was announced Feb. 7. Company officials said the $1.2 billion deal would result in a few job reductions.

Uncertainty also surrounded the Northrop Grumman plant at Benedum Airport early in the new year. On Feb. 15, Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. announced an agreement to purchase the Benedum plant.

All Northrop Grumman employees were to be offered jobs when Aurora took control. The plant employed 96 full-time workers at the time.

One Clarksburg company announced an expansion on Feb. 7. InfoCision Management Corp. announced it would hire an additional 150 people at their call center on West Main Street.

Company officials cited the high quality of the area's workforce as one reason for the expansion.

Other top stories of February were:

n A fire in downtown Grafton gutted a building on Feb. 7. One woman received burns in the early-morning fire in the building that housed Angie's Dance Academy and two apartments on Main Street.

n Clarksburg police arrested three Pennsylvania residents in a multi-state check cashing scheme on Feb. 7. They were apprehended when one of the trio attempted to cash an allegedly bogus check at a downtown bank.

n The United Way of Harrison County exceeded its fundraising goal for the 1999-2000 campaign. The organization raised $722,490, nearly $3,000 more than its goal.

n Taylor County Superintendent of Schools Kermit "Butch" Bias announced his retirement the week of Feb. 7 after 34 years in education. His retirement was to become effective May 26.

n Clarksburg got a new police chief on Feb. 15. John Walker was sworn in during a ceremony at city hall. The former head of investigations is a 23-year veteran of the Clarksburg police force.

n Voters in Lewis County renewed their school excess levy on Feb. 19. It passed by a 4-1 margin. The levy has been in existence since it was first approved in 1954.

n Contractors were given permission to resume work on a 5.5-mile section of Corridor H on Feb. 24. That followed a federal judge's approval of an agreement resolving a lawsuit over the four-lane highway's construction. The road will stretch from Elkins toward the Virginia border.

n The Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department continued its search for a new home. With an eviction deadline from the courthouse looming, department officials toured several possible sites in late February.

n Three people, including an exchange student, were killed in a canoe accident at Highland Dam on Feb. 27.

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at pdarst@exponent-telegram.com.

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