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2017 1210 christmasparade


Many shop to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday

HUNTINGTON — Despite the rainy and chilly conditions, many families and individuals were spotted shopping and eating at downtown Huntington small businesses on Saturday.

“I love shopping on Small Business Saturday, so the rain isn’t a factor for me,” said Amy Pinson, of Huntington. “They have some really great deals, and it feels good to support my locally owned and operated small businesses.”

Pinson said she started at Heritage Station in the 200 block of 11th Street before hitting several other shops on 3rd Avenue.

“I plan on hitting 4th Avenue and then maybe heading over to Ashland to shop in their downtown district,” she said.

The Red Caboose at Heritage Station kicked off its holiday shopping season with its Small Business Saturday Artisan Market.

“Small Business Saturday is a great way for our Tri-State community to discover and support our local artisans,” said Raine Klover, manager of The Red Caboose. “We’re excited to showcase our popup artists who are all creating right here in Huntington.”

The Red Caboose is one of Huntington’s premier artisan centers and gift shops that specialize in locally made artisan goods. At the event, shoppers were able to meet local artisans, enter to win handcrafted prizes, and shop for local-interest books, specialty food items, home goods and one-of-a-kind works of art.

“We have had lots of people coming in, and it’s been a great morning so far,” Klover said. “Buying from a local artist is an amazing thing for both the customer and for the artist.”

Small Business Saturday began 10 years ago to help the American consumer “connect the dots” between their purchases and the well-being of their community. It was created to raise awareness of the importance of small businesses, and the event falls on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.

According to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WVSBDC), small businesses contribute to the economic vitality of their local communities.

In West Virginia, 98% of the businesses in the state are considered small. Their small-business enterprises employ 49.2% of the private workforce in the state, according to the WVSBDC.

The organization estimates that out of $100, roughly $68 remains local when spent with a small local business, compared to only $48 when spent with a national chain.

Authorities hopeful second generation of interstate cable barriers will further improve safety

HUNTINGTON — As Interstate 64’s cable barrier system upgrade and expansion project through Cabell and Wayne counties nears completion, officials are hoping the “new generation” of barriers will help protect commuter lives even further.

Brian Keith Paul is a name that might sound familiar to many who travel the interstate daily. He is memorialized with a sign on the I-64 bridge just west of the Huntington Mall. The honor was posthumously bestowed upon him by the West Virginia Legislature after he lost his battle with cancer.

Paul was the man whose efforts led to the placement of cable barriers along the stretch of the interstate following a series of deadly crossover crashes. As an owner of a towing business in Barboursville, he noticed a pattern of the crossover crashes and believed a median barrier of some type was needed to save lives.

In 2001 and 2002, prior to the barriers, 11 crashes resulting in 15 deaths occurred in the 28-mile stretch of roadway in Cabell and Wayne counties. Cable barriers first started being installed in Cabell County in 2002 in the 9-mile stretch of interstate between 29th Street and West Huntington. The installation proved effective and the number of interstate fatalities dropped.

By the end of 2007, cable barriers sporadically separated 13 miles between the 29th Street and Milton exits.

As of 2019, years after Paul’s advocacy, the barriers now stretch into West Virginia from Kentucky, through all of Cabell County, into Putnam County and beyond, and are getting an upgrade to improve safety even further.

Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, who has spent a lifetime in law enforcement, reminisced of the days when he could drive over the center median to catch speeders traveling in the opposite direction when he was a state trooper. While that isn’t possible anymore for law enforcement, it’s worth it, he said.

“You can’t do that now, but the safety side of this, and how many lives these cables have saved, far outweighs anything else,” he said. “As you travel the interstate, you see it standing up; you see it torn down. You just realize every time you see it torn down it probably stopped a head-on collision that probably (could have) killed somebody.”

Prior to the current project, the barriers had nearly covered all of Cabell County, but a small stretch from Milton to Hurricane and beyond did not have any median barrier protection. The need for the expansion was noticed during public outcry after a 2017 car crash left two young children dead and their mother, Siera Lenise Burgess, in prison for intoxicated driving causing their deaths.

According to Chris Collins, a construction engineer with the West Virginia Department of Transportation District 2, the project is expected to cost $6.5 million. The barriers are up, but some guardrails need to be installed, as well as grading and seeding in the medians. Weather dependent, the project could be completed by the end of the year.

Existing cable barriers in Cabell and Wayne counties were also replaced with the new technology, except in locations where a concrete barrier is in place or where future construction is expected, such as a lane expansion project between the 29th Street and mall exits in Cabell County.

Each original barrier consists of three strands of cable supported by individual steel posts, but the new barriers are taller and consist of four strands of cable.

They are engineered to withstand a vehicle traveling at the posted speed limit. Most vehicle crashes only damage the posts. The barrier posts are designed to break when hit, causing the cables to flex and absorb the force of the car and its movement.

Collins said the new technology places the barriers closer to the inner shoulders, instead of closer to the center of the median, and are made so that repairs can be make quicker. Building the barriers on a concrete line helps make that possible, he said.

“This new system will allow it to be repaired a lot faster,” he said. “The post will just be removed and then the new post will be stuck into the concrete strip. If there is an accident in an area, we would be able to have it installed and working properly quickly.”

New, thicker and stronger guardrails have also gone up around overpass bridges along the interstate. That’s already lessened the blow of one major crash in Kenova, he said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on all of its roadways — not just I-64 — from 2004-08, Cabell County saw a total of 69 fatalities, an average of 17.25 per year. From 2014-18, there were 62, an average of 15.5 per year.

Both Collins and Zerkle agreed the barriers were not 100% foolproof, but noted that the barriers have a great impact in making the roadways safer.

There have been at least two reports since 2017 of cars going over the barriers and crashing in the opposite lanes, usually caused by speed or West Virginia’s hilly roads.

Zerkle also said reducing the amount of force in a crash is important, which means keeping cars on the same side of the road of the direction they are going is important. A car hitting one going in the same direction has less force than two cars traveling 70 mph in different directions.

“You are talking about a lot of force. As long as we can keep you going in the same direction, it will be better. After you go into the opposite direction, it’s hard to survive,” he said. “There will be rare occasions when they come through and cross into the other side, but that’s rare. I think you will see less of that with the (new generation of barriers).”

People against the barriers say they are dangerous to those who crash their vehicles, especially motorcyclists.

Zerkle believes the barrier upgrade will help solve some of the issues.

Collins said versus building concrete barriers along the interstate, cable barriers are more cost efficient, even with the cost of upkeep.

Merry Clickmas: Black Friday online sales hit record $7.4B

NEW YORK — This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, as fewer people hit the stores and shoppers rang up $7.4 billion in transactions from their phones, computers and tablets.

That’s just behind the $7.9 billion haul of last year’s Cyber Monday, which holds the one-day record for online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Adobe measures sales at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.

Adobe expects online sales to jump to another record this Cyber Monday with an estimated total of $9.4 billion. Much of the shopping is happening on people’s phones, which accounted for 39% of all online sales Friday and 61% of online traffic.

Shoppers have been looking for “Frozen 2” toys in particular. Other top purchases included sports video games and Apple laptops.

All the online shopping may have helped thin the crowd at malls on Black Friday.

Traffic at stores fell 2.1% on Black Friday from a year ago, according to preliminary figures from RetailNext. It tracks in-store activity at tens of thousands of locations, including specialty apparel retailers, big-box stores and mall-based stores. The drop in traffic helped lead to a 1.6% dip in sales.

Online and in-store shopping aren’t always completely separate, though. Many people buy things online, only to head to the store to pick them up. Such sales surged 43.2% on Black Friday from a year ago, according to Adobe.

This holiday shopping season may be the most harried in years because it’s the shortest since 2013. Thanksgiving this year fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be.

Much is riding on the success of the holiday season’s sales. The U.S. economy is still growing steadily, but gains have slowed since its sizzling start to the year. Economists say strong spending by households is helping to bolster growth and make up for weak confidence among businesses given all the uncertainties about the U.S.-China trade war and other factors.