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This Hour: Latest West Virginia news, sports, business and entertainment

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TOURISM COMMISSIONER

W.Va. tourism commissioner retiring

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Betty Carver is retiring after a 37-year career working for the state.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says in a news release the Belle native's retirement is effective May 31.

She filled a variety of tourism positions with the state, including bureau chief, deputy commissioner and community relations director.

She also worked as director of scheduling and advance for former Gov. Gaston Caperton, special assistant to the attorney general and appointments coordinator for former Gov. Jay Rockefeller, now a U.S. senator.

Under her leadership, travel and tourism revenue topped $5 billion in 2012.

Carver helped bring more than 500 tourism operators, travel journalists and tourism professionals to Charleston in February for the Travel South USA Domestic Showcase.

GAS DRILLING-FRACK CHEMICALS

Major oil & gas firm to list drilling chemicals

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A major supplier to the oil and gas industry says it will begin disclosing 100 percent of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid, with no exemptions for trade secrets. The move by Baker Hughes of Houston is a major shift; it's unclear if other firms will follow suit.

Environmental and health groups have criticized the industry for not disclosing all of the chemicals used in drilling.

A statement on the Baker Hughes website says company officials believe it is possible to disclose all of the ingredients without compromising proprietary formulas. A spokeswoman couldn't immediately say when the new policy will begin.

Jerry Baker of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission in Oklahoma City says he doesn't know of any other major supplier that has made a similar pledge.

COAL GRANTS

WVa to receive $5.6M from feds for laid-off miners

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia is receiving an additional $5.6 million in federal grants to help coal workers affected by mine closures and layoffs.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday that WorkForce West Virginia will receive National Emergency grants through December 2016 for displaced miners. The state received $1.8 million in 2012.

Tomblin says the Department of Labor assistance will provide re-employment services and job training for 700 mine workers.

West Virginia is the No. 2 coal producer and leads the nation in coal jobs. In recent years, coal has endured thousands of layoffs nationally.

This week, Patriot Coal announced potential layoffs of at least 100 employees combined at two West Virginia locations. Patriot employs 450 workers at its Wells complex and 397 workers at its Corridor G complex near Danville.

STEM COUNCIL

W.Va. governor sets up STEM council

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is assembling a council of education and industry leaders to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities in West Virginia.

The panel formed Thursday aims to spur growth in STEM degree graduates over the next decade. Tomblin said an education push will prepare for projects like a proposed ethane cracker plant in Wood County. The initiative could require thousands of qualified workers.

The council includes a variety of state education and economic development officials, along with representatives from oil and gas, petrochemical, technology, manufacturing, logistics, aerospace and chemical industries.

Improved K-12 instruction, post-secondary education and training, and enhanced energy and natural gas programs are among the group's goals.

The council will submit findings and recommendations to the governor by Dec. 1.

EX-PRISON WORKER PLEA

Ex-Alderson prison worker admits to sex charge

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - A former worker at the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson has pleaded guilty to charges that he touched a female inmate's breasts.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says 48-year-old Jeffrey S. Walton of Ronceverte was acting as the inmate's work supervisor when the incident occurred last year.

Walton pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley to abusive sexual contact with a female federal inmate.

Sentencing is set for July 31. Walton faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

NEW RIVER GORGE FIRE

New River Gorge fire 90 percent contained

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. (AP) - Firefighting crews have contained 90 percent of a fire that's burning in the New River Gorge National River.

Park ranger Leah Perkowski-Sisk says the fire in the Endless Wall area of the gorge is expected to be fully contained Friday. The Endless Wall trail remains closed to public use.

Crews monitored hot spots and continued mop-up work on Thursday.

The fire was reported on Sunday and has burned about 130 acres.

Perkowsi-Sisk says the fire was caused by human activity and remains under investigation.

PROSECUTOR-ABUSE CHARGE

Kanawha prosecutor barred from child abuse cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Special prosecutors have been installed to handle child abuse cases in Kanawha County.

The action comes after Circuit Judge Duke Bloom disqualified prosecutor Mark Plants and his staff from handling such cases. Bloom swore in special prosecutors Thursday morning.

Plants is charged with domestic battery for allegedly hitting one of his sons more than 10 times with a leather belt. He has argued in court papers that he was acting within a constitutionally protected right to protect his child.

In Wednesday's order, Bloom bars Plants and his office from handling cases involving crimes of violence by a parent or guardian, abuse and neglect cases, and violations of domestic violence protection orders.

The West Virginia Supreme Court has set a May 5 hearing on whether to suspend Plants' law license.

CONVICTIONS REINSTATED

W.Va. court reinstates man's murder convictions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court has reinstated a man's first-degree murder convictions for the 1982 slayings of two people in Marion County.

The court ruled that the Ohio County Circuit Court erred when it granted Philip Reese Bush a new trial last year.

Bush was convicted in 1983 of killing Charles Dale Goff and Kathleen Jane Williams. His trial was moved to Ohio County because of pretrial publicity.

Bush's appeal argued that one of the trial court's jury instructions denied him due process.

A memorandum of decision issued Wednesday by the Supreme Court says there was no deprivation of due process.

Bush is serving two life sentences. He's also a co-defendant in a separate Marion County case involving the slayings of three people in 1974.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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