Buy Local This Valentine’s Day: The Cupcakerie

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing your love for your significant other, family and friends; it’s also about showing love for your community. Purchasing local gifts are a great way to give back, and for Valentine’s Day, the Cupcakerie is the perfect local option for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Opened in September 2011, the Cupcakerie has the pleasure of being Morgantown’s only exclusively cupcake bakery. Owners Anna Carrier and Janet Williams are both West Virginia University alumnae and “townies,”and they love serving their community.

“We love the university students,” said Carrier, a WVU exercise physiology graduate. “We love meeting all the great people. That’s our favorite part.”

The Cupcakerie will be featuring a few specials this Valentine’s Day. Three cupcakes with a rose and Hershey Kisses all bundled up with a big ribbon only costs $15, while four mini cupcakes with all the additions only costs $10. Additionally, you can add the Hershey Kisses and rose to any other treat for $5.

Special Valentine’s flavors include Raspberry Kiss, Pretty in Pink, chocolate caramel and hot fudge among many others. Walk-ins are always welcome, or you may place your orders in advance or order delivery by checking out http://thecupcakerie.com.

Whether you’re shopping for a loved one or just treating yourself, the Cupcakerie is a delicious, local choice this Valentine’s Day.

Tonight, The High Street Hot Dog Man Could Be Forced to Move

So tonight Morgantown’s City Council votes on an amendment to current ordinances that will influence where our late-night food vendors place their carts. Check page 37 of this pdf. 

You’ve probably heard about this – “the petition to keep the Hot Dog Man on High Street?

Yeah, your concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Now City Council is attempting to push this law through at the end of Finals Week, right when there aren’t any students around to voice their opinions.

Tonight, if City Council passes this amendment to 905.02, no food vendors will be permitted on the sidewalk of the 300 block of High Street between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This only affects one single vendor, currently  – Joseph Byrd, or “The Birdman.” 

Watch the video below to learn his full story.

EDIT: I just spoke to several knowledgeable sources about this ordinance. There seems to be intense confusion. More than anything people need to understand this is not a personal attack on Birdman – it’s about safety. I’m told because Birdman is retreated into the enclave in front of CoolRidge, he’s not technically on the sidewalk and is exempt from this law. The building he’s in front of is owned by George Papandreas, a local business owner.

However, like I said, there’s a lot of confusion about this. It seems like everyone involved has a different understanding of the law and it’s stipulations, which is a problem in itself. I implore you – please come to this meeting tonight and be civil!

You have one last chance to have your voice heard. Go to the Morgantown City Council Meeting tonight at 7:00pm at 389 Spruce Street. There will be a public hearing on the law, and you will have an opportunity to speak.

Tonight I will be live-tweeting the meeting.

New Beginnings for the Morgantown Problems Blog

Dear readers,

We’ve hit the end of the school semester, so we wanted to write you a letter about Morgantown Problems, both to thank you for your support and to share our plans for the future. It’s been a heck of a ride, and it’s time to reflect on the past and our future.

First of all, thank you for reading. When we started this blog as a project for our mutual journalism class, none of us expected Morgantown Problems to become this popular. We never expected the kind of participation, discussion and traffic that’s made this blog relevant to the WVU community we care so much about. From writing about homelessness in town, the roundabout, or the new Panera, we’re looking to write about what you care about.

We owe everything to your return visits and your participation in the comments, so thank you. Keep posting and talking about what you want to see covered. Let us know how we’re doing.

It’s because of you that we’ve decided to continue posting to Morgantown Problems, even after our class has ended. We want to continue serving you and the community – it’s both our passion and our duty.

As a result of our newfound independence from grading requirements, we’ll probably abandon our typical daily posting schedules. However, you can look forward to more in-depth posts, commentary on an expanded amount of local topics, and more original analysis. Without deadlines or posting requirements we can expand to greater serve you, our readers. We may even bring in new writers to our community. If you’d like to participate, email Bryan at bryanbumgardner (at) gmail.com.

As we go forward, stay tuned for more great posts in the new year.

Happy Holidays!

– Bryan, Whitney, Karlea, Emily, and Maddi

Morgantown’s Comprehensive Plan: What’s in it for students?

Unknown to many residents of Morgantown, the city has a comprehensive plan that outlines the future of this great city. Although many have no idea of its existence, the plan states objectives and strategies for the next 10 years in Morgantown. Obviously, this is an important document.

The plan has to be updated (at least) every 10 years, and it just so happens that the document was finished this past June. Many of the items listed  in the plan greatly affect students, especially since they are half of the town’s population. Here’s some of the stuff you want to know:

  • There are plans to revitalize South High Street and University Avenue with mixed-use, but primarily residential buildings. As a mixed-use district, it will feature shops and restaurants on the ground floor with apartments on top, allowing students and other residents to have easy access to all of their needs. (page 44)
  • There are similar plans for Beechurst Avenue, which has already been apparent. The new (and awesome) apartment complex, Beech View Place is fully taking advantage of the mixed-use lifestyle. The ground level features a new (much needed) grocery store, CoGos, Mountaineer Hots (American-style food), a Greek gyro shop, a café, a butcher shop, a pizza place and a nail, tanning and hair salon. Again, this is a great place for students since they don’t have to drive all the way out to Kroger to go shopping. (page 45)
  • The Woodburn area will be revitalized, making it more pedestrian-friendly. This will include improved access to WVU’s campus and to downtown. The plan also states that there will be some mixed-use development, so students on and off campus can easily shop. (page 45)
  • An expansion of neighborhoods in WVU’s agricultural land, by the 705 (West Run, Suncrest Towne Centre area) is in the works. According to the plan, “Growth in this area should be accessed and supported by a new multi-modal transportation corridor connecting the University Avenue and Route 705 corridors.” (page 46)
  • The revitalization of Sunnyside has been pretty obvious. One thing the plan lists that will be great is more park and open space in the area. According to Sunnyside Up, they hope to expand the area to more than just college students, including  young professionals, university staff and families.” (page 47)
  • In general, the city hopes to increase sidewalks and street signage across Morgantown and Star City. (page 56) The city is also creating a Regional Bike Plan with a 10-year implementation plan with a connecting bike route network all across the city. (page 60)
  • The City of Morgantown’s plan outlines a plan to partner with WVU to improve traffic. This includes “developing a grade-separated pedestrian crossing at Grumbeins Island” (that area you never stop and look both ways in front of the ‘Lair), a connection from the Coliseum to the Evansdale campus (it’s about time!) and a proposed parking garage beside the Coliseum. (They also want to “lobby WVU to develop long-term storage parking for students who live on and off campus.”) (page 64)
  • According to EN 1.1 and 1.2,  the city hopes to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to strengthen air quality standards” and to “lobby state and federal environmental agencies to enhance the monitoring and enforcement of air quality standards.” (page 70) They also want to promote green building through a Green Building Program that utilizes techniques according to the LEED standards.
  • According to the Housing and Neighborhoods section, they want to form a task force of students to address property issues, and they want to conduct a student cleanup twice a year. To ensure the streets of Morgantown are as safe as possible, they also will require adequate  street lighting. (page 77)
  • Additionally, many students will love that the city wants to develop a plan to incentivize the development of affordable student housing. (page 78)

Though you may only live in Morgantown for four years, this plan is looking toward the future, taking into account the inevitable growth of a college city such as this. With an emphasis on mixed-use zoning, walkability and alternate forms of energy, Morgantown is making this one of the best college towns for future generations (and Mountaineers) to come.

DUI : Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Morgantown is famous for it’s alcohol consumption. You may have heard the popular phrase, “A drinking town with a football problem” used to describe it, and with the way our football season has been going, it’s pretty true. You may have also heard the phrase, “Win or lose, we still booze”—also true.

But, game day isn’t the only time students and residents binge drink. WVU has a reputation as the number one party school in the nation. The average student will spend an average of $900 per year on alcohol, that’s almost more than the cost of books for Fall and Spring semester.

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After conducting a survey in Morgantown, nearly 60 percent of respondents indicated that they have driving while under the influence of alcohol. This helps us understand why the DUI rate is so high.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Drive sober or get pulled over.” Why do people make such a big deal out of driving under the influence? Drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime and therefore is always relevant. An alcohol-related crash kills one person every 31 minutes and injures one person every two minutes. We know drinking and driving is wrong, yet many choose to do it anyway.

Don’t think it’s a problem at WVU? Wrong. In fact, just early Sunday morning,  WVU Football player Travis Bell was arrested for DUI. After conducting a survey of 45 students on their drinking and driving habits, nearly 56 percent of respondents admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Seventy percent of those respondents said they only allow themselves two drinks before driving home. The problem with this is that everyone has a different alcohol tolerance level.

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The majority of survey respondents report only drinking one or two alcoholic beverages before driving. However, two drinks for a smaller person could mean they’re above the legal limit.

Blood Alcohol Content percentages vary from state to state. Morgantown is a primarily a transient city–especially with the college students in and out each semester. In West Virginia, a blood alcohol content level of .02 percent if you’re under the age of 21, a BAC of .08 percent if you’re over the age of 21 or a commercial BAC of .04 percent could land you a DUI. A first offense could cause you jail time for up to six months or a fine from $100 to $1000 depending on your BAC or even a license suspension. Additionally, refusal to take a DUI chemical test results in an automatic license suspension. In the month of October alone, the City of Morgantown cited 29 DUIs. Since the beginning of November, WVU police have cited four DUIs. If you look through these reports you’ll find that DUI isn’t just a weekend problem. In October, there was a DUI reported on nearly every day of the week. 

One thing many people don’t realize is that just because you slept for a few hours doesn’t mean you’ll be sober when you wake up. You can still get pulled over for DUI the morning after a night of partying if you drive and  your BAC is too high.

According to the survey, students are trying to be safer. Nearly 45 percent of students said they make sure they have a designated driver before they go out. Additionally, five percent say they take a bus or a taxi, 28 percent say they walk, and six percent say they call someone. However, even with all of these alternatives, 11 percent of WVU students still say they choose to drive under the influence.There are now other alternatives offered at WVU. Dub V Safe Ride is trying to help solve the DUI problem here in Morgantown. The service offers drivers who ride a foldable scooter. When contacted via the Dub V Safe ride app, the driver rides the scooter to pick up the drunk student, folds up the scooter puts it in the trunk of the car, and drives the student and their car home safely. Then, the Dub V Safe Ride driver hops back on the scooter and goes to save the next drunk student. The program services all of Morgantown and its surrounding areas. You can even make reservations for long distance calls to Fairmont, Uniontown, and Washington, PA.

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There are many alternatives to drinking and driving.

Black Friday Cheat Sheet: Morgantown and Beyond

Black Friday can be a wild experience, but if you’re up for the task, it can be well worth it.

First you need to decide if Black Friday shopping is for you. (I mean really think it through.) If there isn’t a particular item you have in mind, it probably isn’t worth going. Black Friday isn’t the time to go browsing. However, if you have a plan, know what you’re going to buy and don’t eat too much turkey beforehand, you can master Black Friday. Here’s your cheat sheet:

The Morgantown Mall:

Select stores in the mall will be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This includes Aeropostale, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, PacSun, JC Penney, Elder-Beerman, Journeys, Spencer’s and Charlotte Russe among many others. Finish Line, Forever 21, Radio Shack and the GAP will be opening at midnight with Christopher and Banks, GNC and Francesca’s opening at 6 a.m. The rest of the mall will open at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. (Click here to read the full listing.) Plan accordingly!

University Town Center:

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Image from Target.com. This is the best price for the iPad Air, however, Walmart is having the best deal for the iPad Mini.

The Town Center holds many of the big-name department stores that will be having great deals on Black Friday. For example, Target is a major player on Black Friday. They even have a pre-Black Friday sale going on now. For the real deal though, check out their advertisement for Black Friday. Some of the best deals include a Nintendo 3DS for only $149.99, an iPad Air for $479 with a $100 Target gift card and an Xbox Kinect bundle for $189.99.

Walmart is another major Black Friday hub. If you’re wanting to get an iPad Mini, this is the best place to purchase it. They’re on sale for $299 and include a $100 Walmart gift card. Other great deals include a $29 HP printer and some great prices on TVs (see below). Walmart is having a special this Black Friday where you’re guaranteed certain items at the sale price so long as you pick up a wristband between the allotted time (which varies per product). Don’t forget, they’ll price match everything, too. (Pssst.. don’t forget there’s another Walmart in Morgantown! This one might be less busy.)

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Image from Walmart.com. Here are just a few of the great prices on TVs.

Best Buy is the third big one in the Town Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but there will be special doorbusters throughout the evening. Great deals include an Xbox 360 bundle worth $399.95 for only $189.99, discounted DVDs (between $1.99 and $9.99, originally $2.99 to $59.99) and $200 savings on HP Intel laptops. Keep in mind, though, you need to have a ticket for all doorbusters.

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Image from best buy.com. Save $200 on HP Intel laptops!

Unfortunately, Morgantown doesn’t have all the best deals. If you’re serious about savings, travel up to Pennsylvania to get great deals (and get out of paying sales tax on clothing!)

Tanger Outlets:

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Image form Tanger Outlets. Get 20 and 30 percent off when you download the savings card.

Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pa. is just a short drive from Morgantown. It opens at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Download the bonus card to save 20 percent from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., and save 30 percent from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Additionally, individual stores are having some great deals on their own, too! If you want to avoid the Black Friday rush, they’ll be having deals all weekend.

The Mall at Robinson:

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Image from the Mall at Robinson’s Facebook page.

Located in Robinson Town Center, Pa., the Mall at Robinson is a fairly short drive from Morgantown, too. The mall is hosting an event, Shop Like a Rockstar starting at midnight with gift card giveaways and freebies.

The mall includes a Macy’s, Banana Republic, Sears, (a really awesome) Forever 21, JC Penney and Buckle among many others.

With this guide, a little planning and a lot of patience, Black Friday can be a success. Good luck, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Black Friday: Is It Worth It?

America, is this really what we’ve come to in order to save a few bucks?

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Many people take to social media to share their feelings on Black Friday.

Black Friday has been around since the 1960s. The original term was coined to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Since then, people have taken the words Black Friday to mean, do all of your Christmas shopping in the same day and take no prisoners.

As a child, I was a religious Black Friday shopper with my mother. I’ve seen it all. I watched an elderly lady steal a Christmas tree from me at age eight. I watched one mom punch another mom over an original Furby. I’ve seen parents play tug of war with a Tickle Me Elmo, and I’ve encountered some really rude people. The one thing I remember thinking as a child is, “Am I crazy? Or are these people crazy?”

Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience was an adrenaline rush for sure, and I always got what went out for, because if you’re going to subject yourself to the madness, you might as well come out a champion. However, as I’ve got older, things are changing, and this “holiday” seems almost ridiculous.

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Stores say customer demand has pushed them to open on Thanksgiving evening, but many customers say differently.

Black Friday is no longer a Friday only event with stores opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving night. Workers have been asked to sacrifice their Thanksgiving, a holiday where we’re supposed to give thanks and celebrate what we have, for greedy shoppers trying to save an extra dollar. It’s a little ironic that we’re sacrificing a holiday that observes thankfulness for materialism. Stores say they’re opening on Thanksgiving due to consumer demand, but let’s be serious it’s more like consumer acceptance. The same amount of people showed up for Black Friday before it was Black Thursday.

What are a couple tips for staying safe?

Stake out the Merchandise in Advance.  Check out the merchandise in advance. Know what you want to get and where it will be located. Go to the store early, ask the attendants where the line for the product you want will be and station yourself there.

Take Backup. There are safety in numbers. Take a friend or family member shopping with you. Instead of using your cell phone to communicate, take two-way radios to stay in contact. Many stores have bad service. Plus with two of you, there’s more of a chance you’ll get what you want.

Be nice, there will be more sales. Tempers will be running high, especially if the person ahead of you takes the last TV or iPad. Remember, you’re shopping for an inanimate object. It’s not worth injuring someone over. Black Friday isn’t the only day there are sales; there will be discounts on popular items all the way through the end of the year.

Shoppers aren’t the only people who suffer consequences on Black Friday. You don’t have to be a shopper to experience the jungle. Workers are just as at risk as shoppers who put themselves in that situation. Christina Maust used to work at Sears in Morgantown. She says after working retail on Black Friday, she will never shop during the “holiday.”

“I worked for a major retail chain during college and my first black friday as a manager I came back from lunch to find my co-workers being screamed at by a customer,” explained Maust. “I took over and it turns out the lady’s husband had purchased a piece of jewelry during the deals that morning. I sold it to him and he was very aware of what he was buying but he just wanted to find something for his wife for Christmas and be done. When she found out that what he had purchased was gold plated and not solid gold she came back demanding not only to get her money back but to receive a several hundred dollar diamond and solid gold bracelet for just 90.00 because my lies and trickery misled her husband to buy something “fake”. I said no, and she threw the bracelet as well as a stack of flyers at me. Eventually the store manager got involved. She walked out with the several hundred dollar bracelet for the price she wanted and called me names I’ve never even heard before. I’ve never been so close to walking out of a job before. I even had other witnesses saying they could not believe what I was allowed to take and that not only was the customer not escorted out by security but got what she wanted in the end. I now refuse to shop/support black friday after being on the other end.”

So is Black Friday worth it?

Experts say to remember that cheap junk is often just that, junk. They also say to remember that time is money. Evaluate your efforts—the lost sleep, the long lines, how much you’re actually saving, and the cold weather. After that evaluation does it seem worth it? If so, go for it.

Boycotting Black Friday may or may not be the answer, but thinking about how your acting in the heat of the action is important. Is that five dollar cheaper crock pot really worth a trip to jail?

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The irony of Black Friday beginning on Thanksgiving is that it takes away the true meaning of the holiday.