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Retired W. Virginia judge asks for impeachment trial delay

The Free Press WV

A retired West Virginia Supreme Court justice has asked her impeachment trial be delayed until after the November election.

West Virginia Senate is scheduled to hold an impeachment trial for retired Justice Robin Davis on October 29. The election is November 06.

Davis faces four articles of impeachment. The allegations include approving the overpayment of senior status judges, signing off on more than $500,000 in office renovations and failing to properly oversee the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for Davis say it is more likely for politics to play a role in the outcome of the trial if it is held prior to the election. Half of the Senate’s 34 seats are on the ballot.

Justice Margaret Workman has also requested a delay. Her trial begins October 15.

West Virginia agency seeks comment on historic preservation

The Free Press WV

The public is being asked for comments on West Virginia’s current historic preservation comprehensive plan and ideas for continued efforts through 2024.

The West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office will conduct at least eight meetings across the state to collect public comment.

The agency says information from the meetings and surveys will be used to draft a new comprehensive plan.

The plan is expected to be finalized and approved by the National Park Service by July.

The plan is reviewed, revised and updated every five years.

A questionnaire is available at 304.558.0240.

Meetings are scheduled from October 04 through November 19 in Wheeling, Charles Town, Huntington, Buckhannon, Morgantown, Bluefield, Bath and Lewisburg.

Ex-West Virginia justice blames impeachment on gender bias

The Free Press WV

An impeached former West Virginia Supreme Court justice has filed a federal lawsuit accusing elected officials of gender bias and other violations.

Former Justice Robin Davis’ 40-page lawsuit filed Wednesday said she would not have been impeached “had she not been a woman.” It seeks to halt her upcoming impeachment trial in the state Senate.

The lawsuit names Gov. Jim Justice and multiple legislators as defendants.

The impeachments stemmed from questions involving renovations to the justices’ offices. Those questions evolved into accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. Democratic lawmakers, who hold minorities in the House and Senate, have characterized the impeachments as an unprecedented power grab by the GOP.

Justice Menis Ketchum, a Democrat, resigned before the Republican-led House of Delegates voted to impeach the remaining four justices. Davis, also a Democrat, then resigned in time to trigger an election for the remainder of her term. She and three others await Senate trials starting next month: Allen Loughry, who is suspended, and Margaret Workman and Beth Walker.

The lawsuit says the impeachments enabled the governor to replace elected justices “with Republican men and create a ‘conservative court’ for years to come.” U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and former House Speaker Tim Armstead have been appointed as interim justices until a Nov. 6 special election.

Davis’ lawsuit also alleges the House violated the constitutional separation of powers by adopting the “invalid” and “unsupported” impeachment articles. It says a Judiciary Investigation Commission previously dismissed code of judicial conduct complaints against her, Workman and Walker.

Davis was impeached for $500,000 in office renovations, mostly for construction costs. There also was $28,000 spent for rugs, $23,000 in design services and an $8,100 desk chair.

Davis and others also were impeached for their roles in allowing senior status judges to be paid higher than allowed wages and for abusing their authority for failing to control office expenses and not maintaining policies over matters such as state vehicles, working lunches and the use of office computers at home.

Meanwhile, Workman has asked the state Supreme Court to halt her upcoming Senate trial. A panel of temporary justices has been appointed to hear the case.

The governor’s office declined comment on Davis’ lawsuit. Republican Delegates Michael Folk and Pat McGeehan say Workman and Davis are trying to obstruct the Legislature’s impeachment duty.

Developers Say Mountain Valley Pipeline To Now Cost $4.6B

The Free Press WV

Developers of a natural gas pipeline set to run through West Virginia and Virginia say the project’s cost has risen from $3.7 billion to $4.6 billion.

Mountain Valley Pipeline developers released the revised cost estimate Monday.

A Mountain Valley statement says about half of the increase is due to a construction lull last month.

That pause was due a federal appeals court invalidating two permits and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordering work halted.

Mountain Valley says the remaining cost increase is due to “extraordinary rainfall events,” hurricane prep and “unanticipated construction costs overruns.”

The project has been in the works since 2014 when Mountain Valley estimated its cost at $3 to $3.5 billion. It hopes to finish the project by the fourth quarter of 2019.

US Attorney sues West Virginia hemp farm

The Free Press WV

A U.S. attorney and his office have sued a West Virginia hemp farm for violating the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart and his office are suing Matthew Mallory of CAMO Hemp WV, and Gary Kale of Grassy Run Farms.

The lawsuit says the respondents purchased hemp seeds in Kentucky and brought them over the West Virginia’s state line. It says a state pilot program only allows hemp producers to obtain seeds internationally, via the state Department of Agriculture.

Norman Bailey, chief of staff to the state agriculture commissioner, says state laws and regulations are silent as to the source of seeds for participation in the program. He says the department is monitoring the situation and hasn’t yet decided whether to intervene.

Supplies given to students in West Virginia’s poorest county

The Free Press WV

Public schools in West Virginia’s poorest county will receive clothing and other supplies as part of a project aimed at helping children and their families.

The American Federation of Teachers unveiled one of the Essentials for Kid Care Closets at Mount View High School in Welch.

The AFT is sponsoring a Care Closet at a cost of about $11,000 for each of McDowell County’s 10 schools. A union release says closets are stocked with a variety of clothing, personal-care items and school supplies.

AFT President Randi Weingarten says children “shouldn’t have to go without a warm coat or blanket during the winter months or hygiene products because they can’t afford them.”

AFT has spearheaded Reconnecting McDowell, a public-private partnership aimed at improving quality of life in the county.

West Virginians rehearse for play thousands of miles apart

The Free Press WV

By the end of “The Last Five Years,” which finished recently at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, the audience has witnessed the destruction and birth of a young couple’s marriage, which somehow seems new, even though the breakup happened in the very first scene of the musical.

Told in two intertwining parts with just two actors, “The Last Five Years” works through the life of a relationship from opposite ends. Cathy begins at their relationship’s grieving, bitter final moments and works her way back toward their first day together, while her husband, Jamie, starts at the starry-eyed beginning when the couple was freshly in love.

It’s a two-person production but is almost two, one-person shows sandwiched together.

Norma Perone, who plays Cathy, explained, “We’re never really in a scene together, interacting, until their wedding day.”

This made it easier to rehearse, given that both stars and the show’s director were separated by thousands of miles and an ocean.

Perone was in Morgantown. Her co-star, Daniel Stevens, who plays Jamie, makes his home in Los Angeles. Their director, Jen Coles, lives in England.

Through much of preproduction, the two actors rehearsed separately and alone. Perone said they would sometimes send each other videos of scenes. They would talk with their director online.

“We had meetings over Skype,” she said.

With just a couple of weeks to go, Stevens and Perone met in New York with the director and their rehearsal pianist.

They rehearsed together for the first time and then spent time going around the city, posing for couples photos taken by Coles to use for posters, flyers and other promotional material back in West Virginia.

Then they took a train from New York back to Morgantown, where they spent an intensive week rehearsing for the two-weekend run in a small, black box theater inside the Monongalia Arts Center on High Street.

Perone said the show was a kind of gift to Morgantown, a way for two native West Virginians, WVU grads and equity actors to give back to the local theater scene.

It’s also a show with a mission — to help Perone return home to England.

The 26-year-old grew up in Morgantown, where she was a fixture of the local theater scene for years. It was something she was good at early on.

“You’ll hear this from other theater people, too,” Perone said. “I don’t know how to do anything else. It’s not just what I do. It’s a kind of lifestyle. It’s a life.”

The actress said she got started in musical theater because of her parents.

“They were always playing cast recordings and things like that around the house,” Perone said and then joked, “I don’t think that they expected for any of this to go this way. I have to wonder if they wouldn’t have done that if they’d known what would happen.”

They loved theater, but they weren’t actors, she said. They’re psychologists.

Perone said her first production was only barely memorable.

It was a school show. Perone was 6-years-old. She played a robin.

“I remember I had a costume made out of paper bags,” she said. “I remember coloring the red part with markers took a really long time.”

The actress remained interested in theater and was cast in small parts for different productions up until her freshman year in high school, when she landed the role of the secretly pregnant Lady Larkin in “Once Upon a Mattress.”

It was a big role for a freshman.

“And I had all of these upperclassmen who were really angry with me that I got such a good part,” he said.

But the role opened Perone’s eyes.

“It was the first time I was given some positive feedback about my performance,” she said. “Up until then, in other shows I’d always been part of the ensemble and given small things to do.

“This was the first time I realized that I might have some ability.”

Perone threw herself into high school theater and even became Drama Club president before deciding to study acting at West Virginia University.

She chose the school in her hometown partly because of finances. Scholarships and in-state tuition made staying in state attractive, but Perone said WVU has an underrated theater program.

“You can get really solid training here,” she said. “You can learn acting here.”

Perone did.

While studying at WVU, she had some money to study abroad. Perone said she chose England because English was the only language she spoke.

Over one summer, she spent several weeks at the Royal Central School of Speech and Theatre in London. It made such an impression she returned to London for grad school after she earned her degree at WVU in 2014.

“When I went back to do my master’s, I managed to get a visa to stay and work for a couple of years,” Perone said. “I absolutely fell in love with the place.”

It became a life.

She got an agent and has gone to auditions, which have been a struggle. London is full of good actors.

“My agent puts me up for anything that asks for an American accent,” Perone said.

The Brits, however, tend to prefer their own, homegrown versions of the American accent. Fake American beats out the real thing time after time, she said, not that anyone would be surprised.

Hollywood regularly casts English actors to play Americans in major roles.

Henry Cavill, who played Superman in “Man of Steel,” ″Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” is from the Channel Islands and lives in London.

Christian Bale, who played Batman in three movies, is from Wales and was raised in southern England.

Georgia Sheriff Rick Grimes on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is played by Andrew Lincoln, from London.

While in England, she and a classmate began making comedy/musical YouTube videos, which led to forming a video production and theater company.

“We do live shows and do some short films,” she said. “I was really excited about that.”

Along with her production company, Perone also taught acting. She said she helped other actors prepare for auditions and worked on developing acting tools with teenagers.

Several months ago, Perone’s work visa expired. She said she reapplied for a “talent” visa, but was rejected on a technicality.

“The funny thing about that visa is that you have to prove on paper that you’re talented.” She laughed and said, “You need letters of recommendation, reviews of your work, anything that helps show that you have something to offer.”

While Perone has been home in Morgantown, she’s remained active, doing shows with West Virginia Public Theatre, working with some of her former professors and even checking off items on her personal, theatrical “to do” list, including “The Last Five Years.”

“It’s a beautiful show,” she said.

It’s also a show the actress had been part of before.

Almost 10 years ago, Perone was a junior in high school and was brought on to work backstage for the show as a dresser.

Stevens, then a senior at WVU, was starring in “The Last Five Years” as his senior project.

“That’s where I discovered the show,” Perone said. “Whenever I think of this show, it’s always Daniel’s voice I hear.”

Perone found Stevens on Facebook, saw that he was living and working in Los Angeles as an actor, teacher and director.

Nervously, she sent him a message; asked if he’d be interested in reprising his senior year role in Perone’s show.

“I was terrified,” she said.

Two minutes later, Stevens replied, “Yes.”

The first weekend of “The Last Five Years” went well. The show nearly sold out the first night and did well on a rainy Saturday night in Morgantown, when the Mountaineers were playing a home game just a few blocks from the theater.

Saturday night, Stevens and Perone delivered engaging and earnest performances in an intimate, if bare-boned theater space. They were warmly received, regardless of the cool weather outside.

Perone described her time back in Morgantown and working with West Virginia Public Theatre as a nice homecoming, but she really can’t stay.

Perone plans to reapply for the visa over the next couple of weeks. Getting back to London is more than just getting back to her theater company and to teaching in England. Over the last five years, she’s built a life there.

Leaving that now seems impossible.

“I’d be walking away from my entire life,” she said.

Stand-Ins To Decide Who Sits on West Virginia Supreme Court

The Free Press WV

A group of judicial stand-ins representing West Virginia’s Supreme Court was hearing challenges Monday, September 24, to GOP Governor Jim Justice’s appointments of two Republican politicians to replace two departed justices.

Democrats have called the impeachments that imploded the state’s highest court an unprecedented power grab by the West Virginia GOP. One of the petitions being heard on Monday says the choice of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and ex-House speaker Tim Armstead violates “the clear will of the voters” who elected Democrats to their spots on the bench.

Justice appointed Jenkins and Armstead — who resigned as speaker of the House of Delegates in anticipation of his move to the court — to serve until a Nov. 6 special election in which both men are candidates.

Also on the November ballot is attorney William Schwartz, whose petition seeks to stop Jenkins and Armstead from temporarily serving on the court. His petition also accuses Jenkins of being ineligible because he hasn’t actively practiced law recently. The state constitution requires justices to be admitted to practice law for at least 10 years prior to their election.

Jenkins and Schwartz are seeking to serve the remainder of retired Justice Robin Davis’ term through 2024, while Armstead hopes to finish the term of retired Justice Menis Ketchum through 2020. Both Davis and Ketchum were elected as Democrats.

Ketchum resigned before the Republican-led House voted to impeach the remaining four justices. Davis then resigned in time to trigger an election for the remainder of her term. The others await Senate impeachment trials next month, including Allen Loughry, who is suspended, and Margaret Workman and Beth Walker, who recused themselves from hearing these petitions. Temporary Chief Justice Paul T. Farrell then appointed four circuit judges to hear the challenges.

According to Schwartz’s petition, Jenkins voluntarily placed his West Virginia law license on inactive status in 2014 after he was elected to the U.S. House. But Jenkins said he’s been admitted to practice law in the state for more than three decades. According to the bylaws of the State Bar, an inactive status means members are admitted to practice law but aren’t taking clients or providing legal counseling.

Noting Schwartz’s candidacy for the same seat in November, Jenkins said the petitions “are simply an effort to cover up for the outrageous spending and misuse of taxpayer money we’re all mad as heck about and to score political points for another candidate’s own campaign simply trying to get his name in the news.”

Armstead said the challenge to his appointment is “legally unfounded.”

The impeachment case involves spending on renovations to the justices’ offices that raised questions about corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty.

West Virginia editorial roundup

The Free Press WV

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

———

September 17

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on a lawsuit over where the governor lives:

West Virginia’s state Constitution states that the governor is supposed to live in the capital city, Charleston. Gov. Jim Justice lives in Lewisburg and has no plan to move.

Justice insists he is in touch with state government adequately and does not need to live in the governor’s mansion.

But this summer, House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, filed a lawsuit over the issue. He says Justice should be compelled to live in Charleston.

Last week, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King dismissed the lawsuit — not on its merits or lack thereof, but because of a technicality. Sponaugle did not comply with state law requiring that Justice be notified of the lawsuit at least 30 days before it was filed.

Sponaugle should refile the action. It is a matter that needs to be decided in court because it has ramifications far beyond Justice and his current term in office.

West Virginia’s Constitution states the governor and five other executive branch officers “shall reside at the seat of government during their terms of office .“

Either the state constitution means what its wording says, or not. And either the courts will require adherence to the constitution, or they will not.

If not, the possibilities for mischief in all three branches of state government are endless.

Sponaugle should ensure the notification requirement is met, then try again.


———

September 16

The Register-Herald of Beckley on economic data:

... As lawmakers prepare the legislative agenda for 2019, we would advise that they pay less attention to the economic bluster of certain - but not all - Republican Party leaders, the governor and the state’s Chamber of Commerce and lend an ear to cries for help out here in the real world, out here where there has been a growing and troubling economic trend that seems to have been buried beneath the hype that says our state’s economy is doing wonderfully well.

According to Census data released this past week, more West Virginians lived in poverty in 2017 than in 2016. And that just doesn’t jibe with the messaging from the Capitol.

We know that the powers that be are excited about the most recent data set - those monthly numbers that show state revenue collections ahead of budget. Reports say personal income tax collections are up. Consumer sales are powering ahead. Construction work, brought to you by the Roads to Prosperity program, is strong.

Taken at face value, employment numbers, too, offer optimism. The state’s jobless rate is 5.3 percent and there were 5,000 more jobs this past year than the year prior.

How is it then that an estimated 336,301 West Virginians were living in poverty in 2017? That equates to a 19.1 percent poverty rate - 20 percent here in the Beckley Metro reporting area. By comparison, the U.S. poverty rate was 12.7 percent.

We would cast a suspicious eye at anyone who claimed the state has broken through economically, especially since the West Virginia poverty rate has not declined since the end of the Great Recession.

Especially heartbreaking is this: West Virginia’s child poverty rate was 25.5 percent in 2017 - a rate on the rise. In real numbers, an estimated 91,734 children lived in poverty in 2017, the fourth highest child poverty rate among the 50 states.

We think Sean O’Leary with the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy has it right: “The Census data shows the reality and economic hardships of everyday West Virginians are being ignored as state policymakers claim a West Virginia economic turnaround. West Virginia’s economic growth since the Great Recession has not been balanced, and the average West Virginian family is not better off.“

Poverty is pernicious and a troublesome condition to shake. Its grinding societal effects are generational and remain a more serious problem for the state’s black population (a 31.7 percent rate in 2017) and women (20.9 percent rate).

We know the way out is through education but we will never find that road if we don’t first accept the fact that our economic malaise reaches beyond the freshest set of sterile state data that does not attempt to measure just how conditions are playing out here on the ground.

We hope that our elected officials drill down on those data sets and reveal an honest story of our economy. Without that, we will not be able to devise strategies - legislative and otherwise - to address our economic ills.


———

September 17

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register on obesity:

Here in West Virginia, our local and state governments seem to jump through most of the hoops regarding how well healthy eating habits are encouraged and assisted.

Healthy food financing initiatives? Check.

Physical education at all public school levels? Check.

Requirements for early childhood education facilities to limit the time youngsters spend in front of computer screens? Check.

The list goes on, to a total of 24 criteria checked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a respected organization conducting health research. West Virginia was positive in 18 of the categories.

Yet our state has the highest level of adult obesity in the nation, according to the foundation. Here, 38.1 percent of adults are obese. That compares to 22.6 percent in Colorado, which had the best showing in a recent report.

...

For more details on the study, visit the foundation’s website: stateofobesity.org.

Obesity is far more than an appearance concern. People who are overweight suffer from a variety of health challenges that could be lessened by losing a few pounds.

Among troubling aspects of the study is that in both our states, adult obesity is growing worse. Just 10 years ago, the percentage of obese West Virginians was a full 7 points lower. In Ohio, it was 5.2 points lower.

Some Americans rely on government to solve our problems. Yet the foundation study indicates that while actions such as increasing access to healthy foods and encouraging exercise can help, they are far from a panacea.

Again, West Virginia is involved in 18 of the 24 government initiatives checked by the foundation — but we have the worst obesity problem in the nation. What to do about it?

Clearly, do not look to your city building, county commission, state or federal government to slim us down. Healthy eating and exercising are personal behaviors. They can be encouraged, but not mandated, by the government.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, then, is up to us as individuals. The answer to the problem can be found by looking down at your dinner plate and in the closet at those underused tennis shoes.

Free medical clinic planned next month in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

A free medical clinic for West Virginians in need is set for next month.

The clinic will be held October 20 and 21 at the Bible Center School in Charleston.

It is being hosted by Charleston-based West Virginia Health Right, which provides free medical, dental and vision health services.

Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit group based in Rockford, Tennessee, will run the clinic.

Organizers say the school’s parking lot will open at midnight each day and tickets will be distributed beginning at 3 a.m.

Remote Area Medical says in a news release vision and dental professionals are needed to volunteer at the clinic.

Online:  www.ramusa.org

High school senior channels energy into video game creation

The Free Press WV

What can often be seen as a time-passer or hobby has grown into a passion and an artistic and creative outlet for Conner Rush.

The Fairmont Senior High School junior has already developed two video games of his own, distributed them professionally and started his own company to work under as a creator.

And it all started with a PlayStation 2.

“When I was 11 or 12, my dad had a PlayStation 2,” Rush said. “Maybe it was something about how there were realistic people in this game, but I didn’t know how they got there or what made them work. That made me interested in how they worked and why they were there.”

Rush’s intrigue with video games and interactive stories started for him as a kid, but it was when he was about 14 years old when he would first dive into coding for himself, in order to complete a class project.

“It’s called ’Into the Unknown,’” Rush said. “Looking back it’s not my best work, but I’m happy I made it, it was definitely a learning process and the story leads into the next game.”

And thus, FYRE Games was born.

FYRE Games, which stands for Fairmont Youth Reinventing Entertainment, is Rush’s own company, which he uses to develop, create and distribute games he creates. After his first game, Rush got to work on his follow up, and two years later, “Welcome to the Dreamscape,” has finally been released.

“You, as a character, have gone through this traumatic event in your past that was so bad that you can’t remember it,” Rush said. “You want to try to remember that to cope with it, so you go to this experimental therapy clinic, and they put you to sleep and they analyze your dreams with computers, and through that, they try to put together your past.”

Rush distributes his games online, mainly through services like Steam and itch.io, and he said reception so far has been positive.

Inspired by the games of his childhood, such as “Uncharted” and “The Last of Us,” Rush described the game as a story-driven puzzle adventure, where the player must solve a mystery about the character they control.

“It’s a first-person story-driven puzzle game,” Rush said. “So far the games I make are all very narrative-driven. I’m huge into story, single-player experiences — things you can go through with a start and an end.”

Rush learned to code over the course of several years, slowly developing his skills until he was able to competently recognize patterns and data over the screen.

“It was a very very slow process,” Rush said. “Over the course of seven or eight years, I taught myself. I basically Googled the best software for making games. A few came up, I picked one and I rolled with it and used the community to teach me how to program, how to code.”

While he does just about all the design and coding on his own, other products also go into the creation of a game, such as music and art, some of which he outsources to other creators. The amount of work that goes into the creation of a video game can be more than what some would imagine, as Rush explained.

“I am a one-man studio,” Rush said. “I do outsource some things but not much. A few pieces of music aren’t mine originally, a few pieces of drawn art aren’t mine originally, I have friends come in to help me record stuff, draw stuff where I normally wouldn’t be able to.”

Seeing the success of his games, the only others potentially matching Rush’s excitement are his own parents, who are happy to see him progress in a field he finds fascination in.

“I’m beyond proud of him,” Brooke Stark, Rush’s mother and a teacher at FSHS, said. “He’s a perfectionist, he puts a lot of this on himself. He tries to make himself succeed, so I’m happy that he’s finding some success in what he likes to do.”

Stark commented on Rush’s other extra-curricular activities, saying that he can be found running for the school’s track team, marching in the Polar Bear Band and playing guitar and bass when he is not gaming or coding.

He still points a lot of focus on his company, however, and has been improving on that side as well, according to Stark.

“He has other creative outlets as well, he writes songs and he’s active in the marching band,” Stark said. “Now he’s starting to get more into the marketing aspect, like trademarking his company name and copyrighting his game. He’s going to things like Pop Con to get the word out there. He tries to promote himself on Youtube and taking on the business aspect of it as well now.”

Rush is currently working on another project, which he said he is keeping under wraps for now. With a few years of high school left, Rush is contemplating his future, thinking about the prospects of business and college.

Whatever he decides, he plans to continue working on FYRE Games and even expanding it into a more inclusive and productive studio.

“For one, college is the big one, deciding where I want to go, what I want to go for,” Rush said. “I’m working towards expanding FYRE Games. I want to expand this into something where kids who don’t have the opportunities like I did can learn.”

For more information on Rush and his company, visit his website at www.fyregames.com.

Ex-school counselor accused of changing daughter’s grades

The Free Press WV

A former high school counselor in West Virginia is charged with using a school computer program to inflate grades in order to obtain college scholarships for her daughter.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart says in a news release a federal grand jury in Beckley indicted 49-year-old Mellissa Krystynak of Stuart, Florida, on six counts of mail fraud.

The statement says Krystynak was a counselor from 2011 until 2017 at Greenbrier West High School, where two of her children also attended.

The indictment says she used her administrative access to change more than 35 of her daughters’ grades.

It says one daughter was awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships during her senior year based on applications containing fraudulent report cards and transcripts.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Krystynak has an attorney.

High schoolers sent home after fly larvae found near kitchen

The Free Press WV

Fly larvae found near a West Virginia high school’s kitchen have led officials to send students home.

Monongalia County Schools Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico tsays the larvae were discovered Wednesday morning at Morgantown High School and the students were sent home before lunch.

Talerico says although no larvae were found inside the kitchen or in any food, they were discovered in the garbage area outside and near the doorway to the kitchen.

She says students were sent home because they would not get a meal as school officials decided not to prepare lunch.

The deputy superintendent says pest management came to deal with the larvae and the cooks and custodians thoroughly cleaned the area. She says the school is working to get a new trash compacting dumpster.

WV Receives $1 Million From Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Free Press WV

West Virginia is receiving $1 million from the federal government for state parks and outdoor recreation projects.

The award from the Land and Water Conservation Fund is part of a $100 million distribution to all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The funds come from non-taxpayer dollars from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service.

The Interior Department says in the news release that Congress established the fund in the mid-1960s to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources.

The program has wide bipartisan support, however the law that authorizes it is set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress passes new legislation.

Work on pipeline in West Virginia county halted by judge

The Free Press WV

Work being done on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in a West Virginia county will be halted as a judge has ordered a temporary stay.

Summers and Monroe counties Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons issued the stay over construction in Summers County.

It will specifically stop work on property where the pipeline will enter the Greenbrier River in Pence Springs.

Ashby Berkley, the Greenbrier River Watershed Association and other petitioners brought the motion after neighbors told Berkley workers started removing trees on his land last week.

Their attorney Kevin Thompson argued the state Environmental Protection department permit for the crossing is not in compliance with the Natural Streams Preservation Act.

Attorney Robert McLusky represented pipeline interests arguing a stay would create a lengthy delay in construction.

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