Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To the quiet joy of Christmas Eve, whether it be during a candle-lit church service or an evening gathered with family at home; the reason for the season is most clear tonight.

DOWN: To census estimates that show West Virginia has lost 10,000 residents over the past year. In fact, while the nation’s population grew by 1 percent last year, the Mountain State lost more people than all but one other state, Illinois. Census officials attribute the population loss largely to the downturn in the coal industry.

UP: To the return of an elk herd to West Virginia for the first time in nearly 150 years. On land where coal was once mined, there are now 24 elk who could draw tourists. “There’s thousands of acres here that’s been restored,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. “To have the elk population here for people to come and enjoy, I think it’s putting the land to good use.”

UP: To Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., being appointed to the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations, joining Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on the committee, and giving the Mountain State a considerable amount of influence over federal discretionary spending.