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Summer Music Festival brings jazz to downtown

HUNTINGTON — The sounds of jazz drifted through downtown as the Marshall University Jazz Studies program's second Huntington Summer Music Festival took place this weekend at Pullman Square.

The festival began Friday evening as the closing to the Jazz-MU-Tazz summer jazz camp at Marshall, when a band made up of the students who participated in the camp opened the festival.

In the days before their performance, part of the jazz camp students' activities was a master class with members of the Ben Paterson Trio, the headlining act for this year's festival. Ben Paterson was the winner of last year's inaugural Ellis Marsalis Jazz Piano Competition, which was part of the inaugural Huntington Summer Music Festival.

The piano competition, which last year involved around 160 jazz pianists from around the world, will take place every three years, while the festival will continue annually.

Marshall University Jazz Studies director Martin Saunders said the competition and festival bring in big names in jazz that Huntingtonians would otherwise have to travel hours to see.

"A lot of this is not only celebrating jazz and bringing it to our area, it's also kind of a gift from Marshall University to the community," Saunders said.

Other acts that performed were an ensemble of Marshall University music professors, Pete Mills & Pete McCann Quintet, the Reggie Watkins Quintet from Pittsburgh and the Jewel City Jazz Orchestra, which is comprised of local musicians from Charleston and Huntington. The jazz orchestra regularly plays one Monday a month at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews, a routine Saunders said will pick back up in the fall.

In the spirit of keeping the music alive in the region, Marshall jazz students helped set up an "instrument petting zoo," which gave kids the opportunity to interact with instruments they have only ever heard or seen played.

"They can actually get the chance to make a noise and hold one and really check it out ... in hopes that, again, we can continue to foster the music in the region," Saunders said.

The children had the opportunity to get their hands on a variety of percussion and brass instruments (sanitizer spray was available), hopefully inspiring a few budding musicians, and maybe a future Jazz-MU-Tazz student or even an Ellis Marsalis competition winner.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

New law a boon to home food businesses
Passage of 'cottage food' bill helps aid growing industry

HURRICANE, W.Va. — Jordan Dotson started her baked goods business, Sugar Momma Sweets in Hurricane, in 2016 after her son was born as a way to have some "me" time and to make a little extra money.

"Quickly, I realized if I wanted to continue this business, I needed to get a business license and rent a commercial kitchen," she said. "The problem was I didn't want to be away from my kids, so I would put them to bed at night and then go to the commercial kitchen at night to work."

She said that routine left her exhausted.

"I was quickly losing passion for making cookies," Dotson said. "I decided to change directions and take less custom

orders and instead teach others how to make cookies. I began teaching cookie decorating classes, which combined my love for baking and teaching. This allowed me to work from home and only go a few days to the kitchen for prep work before each class."

In March, though, the demands on Dotson and others in similar situations eased. That's when West Virginia became one of the most welcoming states in the nation for homemade or "cottage food" producers after Gov. Jim Justice signed into law a cottage food bill that allows the sale of these safe, shelf-stable goods out of homes, online or in retail shops. The new law went into effect June 5.

"I prayed long and hard for this cottage food bill to pass because I knew it would allow me to be home with my kids, while setting my own hours and still be 'legally baking/" Dotson said. "I was at a crossroads before this bill passed as to whether I should put a commercial kitchen in my own home or open up my own bakery — both of which I wasn't ready to commit to yet."

Before the law passed, West Virginians were limited to selling their cookies, jellies and breads at farmers markets and community events. With most farmers markets closed half of the year and events popping up sporadically, it was difficult for many producers to make a profit.

"Since we couldn't take custom orders from our home, my wife and I had to guess how much of what kind of goods we should make, package everything up, and drive to the market or event that was often miles away," said Eric Blend, owner of The Blended Homestead in Wheeling. "Depending on turnout, we had to turn customers away or throw out product."

Now, bakers, herb driers, honey makers and other cottage food producers can sell goods from their homes, take online orders and even have a spot in a retail shop — all throughout the year.

"Not only can I customize my goods for special occasions, I no longer have to miss out on the most profitable time of the year, which is the holiday season," said home baker Michelle Carpenter, of Weston.

"This is a great change for West Virginia small businesses and for American small business generally," said Institute for Justice (IJ) activism associate Melanie Benit. "Another state is realizing that over-regulation is harming everyday Americans and, by government loosening its grip, people are given the opportunity to try their hand at entrepreneurship."

As shown in the IJ report, Flour Power, allowing the sale of cottage foods, results in new jobs with flexible hours and few startup costs for the growing industry.

"This is especially helpful for women in rural areas," said IJ attorney Erica Smith. "Farmers and stay-at-home moms can bring in much-needed supplemental income for their families while providing local food options in areas that don't have many choices."

The law does not change what kinds of foods can be sold, and producers are still required to follow basic safety requirements like labeling the goods as homemade and listing the ingredients. The cottage food law specifically deals with homemade baked goods, makers of honey, jellies and jams or those who sell herbs. Meat and poultry do not fall under the new law.

"As more people start selling and purchasing these safe, local products, I see a bright and delicious future of food freedom for West Virginians," Benit said. "It will create new jobs with flexible hours and few startup costs. More food options will be available to isolated communities while providing cottage food producers with much needed supplemental income."

Dotson said now with the cottage food law, she wants to continue to teach others how to bake cookies so they can also start their own business from home.

"I've met so many mothers, teachers, military spouses who want to work from home and want to try to sell baked goods," she said. "This cottage food law has opened up so many doors for anyone who is looking to work from home."

Follow reporter Fred Pace at and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

Trump postpones immigration enforcement sweep

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday delayed a nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living in the United States illegally, including families, saying he would give lawmakers two weeks to work out solutions for the southern border.

The move came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump on Friday asking him to call off the raids. But three administration officials said scrapping the operation was not just about politics. They said Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaders had expressed serious concerns that officers' safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about private discussions.

"At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border," Trump wrote on Twitter. "If not, Deportations start!"

The operation, which sparked outrage and concern among immigrant advocates, had been expected to begin Sunday and would target people with final orders of removal, including families whose immigration cases had been fast-tracked by judges.

The cancellation was another sign of the Trump administration's difficulty managing the border crisis. The number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically under Trump, despite his tough rhetoric and hard-line policies. Balancing a White House eager to push major operational changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge for the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump gave the first public word of the planned sweep earlier last week, saying in a tweet that an operation was coming up and the agency would begin to remove "millions" of people who were in the United States illegally. Later, leaks to the media included sensitive law enforcement details, such as the day it was to begin, Sunday, plus specific cities and other operational details.

On Saturday, ICE spokeswoman Carol Danko criticized the leaks in context of their potential impact on ICE personnel, saying in a statement

that "any leaks telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers' safety in danger."

Pelosi called Trump on Friday night and the two spoke for about 12 minutes, according to a person familiar with the situation and not authorized to discuss it publicly. She asked him to call off the raids and he said he would consider the request, the person said.

It's unclear what else was said during the call. But in a statement Saturday before the president's decision was announced, Pelosi appealed to the same compassion Trump expressed in declining to strike Iran because of the potential for lost lives.

"The President spoke about the importance of avoiding the collateral damage of 150 lives in Iran. I would hope he would apply that same value to avoiding the collateral damage to tens of thousands of children who are frightened by his actions," she said.

She called the raids "heartless."

Pelosi responded to Trump's announcement with her own tweet, saying: "Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together."

Halting the flow of illegal immigration has been Trump's signature campaign issue, but Congress has been unable to push his proposals into law with resistance from both Democrats and Republicans. Bipartisan talks over the immigration system have started and stalled but are again underway among some in the Senate.

Lawmakers are considering whether to give $4.6 billion in emergency funding to help border agencies struggling to manage a growing number of migrants crossing the border. The measure passed a Senate committee on a 30-1 vote. But the House is considering its own measure. Funding is running out and Congress is trying to approve legislation before the House and Senate recess next week.

Earlier Saturday, Trump hinted the operation was still on, saying the people ICE was looking for "have already been ordered to be deported."