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Cleaning of 1st Street underpass to restrict traffic

Aug. 06, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Cleaning of 1st Street underpass to restrict traffic

HUNTINGTON -- Vehicular lanes and sidewalks of the 1st Street underpass in Huntington will be restricted to traffic and pedestrians this week as contractors clean the underpass.

The cleaning will be conducted from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, through Saturday, Aug. 10. The underpass will remain open, but lanes will need to be closed one at a time for cleaning. Motorists are advised to use caution.

Fisherman's body pulled from Fishtrap Lake

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- Rescuers have recovered the body of a Shelbiana fisherman from Fishtrap Lake in Pike County.

The body of 51-year-old Tim Newsome was found shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday.

One of Newsome's friends, Bill Adkins, told WYMT-TV in Hazard that Newsome was competing in an all-night fishing tournament when other participants found his boat still in gear and running in circles. Adkins said the lake was very foggy Saturday night.

Chief Glen Adkins of Millard Fire and Rescue said Newsome's body was found about 25 feet from the bank and within 75 feet from where his boat was found.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating. Friends said Newsome was not wearing a life jacket.

DOH struggles to find workers

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. -- Hiring and keeping employees is a struggle for the West Virginia Division of Highways, which is trying to fill hundreds of vacant positions across the state.

Low pay is a factor in high turnover at the DOH, which has about 600 vacancies, DOH spokeswoman Carrie Bly said.

"We have a lot of people retiring, and you're going to have people coming and going. It's hard work, and the pay can be a turnoff for people. The pay has been a battle and always will be a battle," Bly told the Exponent Telegram.

Bly said the agency would like to pay its employees more, but the funds are not there.

"We don't have enough for road projects," she said. "We have been strapped for funding for years. That's why we have the Blue Ribbon Commission."

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways, created by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, is holding public hearings across the state to gather citizen input on ways to fund road projects.

Bridgeport-based District 4 has the most vacancies, 67. Bly said that the other nine districts have been 40 and 50 vacancies.

District 4 manager Greg Phillips said that many of his district's vacancies are truck driving positions, which are difficult to fill drivers can earn more money working in the oil and gas industry.

"They start them out $6 to $8 more an hour than we pay," said Phillips, whose district encompasses 6,000 miles of road in six counties. "It's hard for the Division of Highways to compete with that.

"We recently sent out 39 interview letters, and we didn't get a call back," he said.

Despite the difficulties in recruiting and keeping workers, the state is keeping up with road maintenance, said Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker.

"While we're low, we've been able to get done what we need to do, but it does require a little extra work on behalf of some people," Walker said.

About 830 temporary workers have been hired statewide for the summer. But most are interns who do office work, Bly said.

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