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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.

Lawmaker Refiles Challenge Over Governor’s Residence

The Free Press WV

A Democratic West Virginia lawmaker has refiled a legal challenge of Republican Governor Jim Justice’s residency.

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle of Pendleton filed a petition for writ of mandamus against Justice, asking the court to require the governor to live at the seat of government, as the West Virginia Constitution and state code require.

A West Virginia judge dismissed a previous petition filed by Sponaugle because he didn’t provide the state advanced notice of the lawsuit.

Justice has said several times that he does not live at the governor’s mansion in Charleston, but at his Lewisburg home in Greenbrier County.

An attorney for Justice has said the governor regularly uses the mansion and complies with the constitution.

Attorney Brian Abraham said the challenge is without merit and not grounded in fact.

Alert: Spike in IRS Scam Calls

The Free Press WV

There is spike in Internal Revenue Service scam calls, perhaps related to the upcoming October 15 filing deadline for those who sought an extension in April.

The scam typically starts with a phone call indicating the IRS will arrest the consumer if he or she refuses to follow instructions. Similar calls claim to represent the U.S. Treasury Department, legal affairs and other groups.

WV’s Consumer Protection Division has fielded hundreds of calls within the past week related to the IRS scam. That includes news of a couple of consumers losing money when they purchased gift cards to comply with the caller’s demands.

“Consumers must be cautious and cannot allow themselves to be intimidated,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Any such call is a scare tactic used by scammers in an attempt to squeeze money from consumers’ pockets.”

Targeted consumers typically are told they owe immediate payment. Threats of imminent arrest often follow when the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.

The IRS impostor will, at times, use common names. They also may claim to know the last four digits of the consumer’s Social Security number and pose as their own supervisor anytime the consumer asks for management.

Other characteristics to watch for include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Caller ID information to support their bogus representation
  • Use out-of-state telephone numbers
  • Use of automated calling machines
  • Use of fake government badge numbers and phony emails
  • Follow-up calls claiming to represent a different agency

The Attorney General strongly urges all consumers to ignore such calls, do not return voicemails and report any victimization to the U.S. Inspector General’s Office on Tax Administration via http://1.usa.gov/1ClYZbP or via email at or .

Questions also can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800.368.8808 statewide.

To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.

Hollywood costume designer remembers West Virginia roots

The Free Press WV

Despite years of designing clothing for the Hollywood elite, Matt Van Dyne is adamant: he never has forgotten his roots, and he never will.

Van Dyne will return to his native Pine Grove in Wetzel County for the Shortline Alumni banquet. He will serve as this year’s Honored Alumnus.

Van Dyne, a member of Valley High School’s Class of 1975, was bestowed the title of Honored Alumnus a little less than a year ago, just after the 2017 alumni festivities.

“I was really honored,” Van Dyne stated of the request.

Van Dyne has designed costumes and served as wardrobe and costume supervisor for a variety of Hollywood works, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, E! Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, CBS, ABC Television Network, CBS Sports, Miss Universe Pageant, Murphy Brown, Dreamworks, Ford Models Supermodel of the World, The Merv Griffin Show, Jeopardy, Entertainment Tonight, The Shield TV, and NBC Universal.

Growing up in rural Pine Grove, W.Va., he would sit in class and sketch. “I made really good grades,” he was quick to point out. However, he noted, “On the side, I’d be designing something or just creating something.”

Van Dyne realized he had discovered his dream after seeing a production of Godspell in Wheeling.

“I remember riding home on the bus that night, back to Pine Grove, and I think I said to my friend Sheila, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be a part of that world.’” Van Dyne attended West Virginia University. He had plans to be an Art major, “but then there was something about a class at the wrong time of day on a Friday.”

“I kind of spent the first semester in General Studies, and I was miserable,” Van Dyne said. Although he knew he wanted to be in Theater, he was afraid to speak up. It was not until his mother’s encouragement that Van Dyne officially decided to pursue Theater. He spoke to an adviser, who assured Van Dyne he would find him a spot in the program.

However, once in Theater, “I was a fish out of water. I didn’t start the first semester with those people, and they had already bonded.” However, “I continued through it, and I got my degree.′

From there, Van Dyne wanted something more. At that point, he met Albert Tucci. Tucci was ahead of the costume department.

Van Dyne approached Tucci with some of his sketches. Tucci’s reaction? “He said, ‘Well, why don’t I know about you?’”

“I started studying with him, and he is the person I would say was the most influential. He changed my life. He was so hard on me. Nothing I did was ever good enough, but it was a good thing! He was wanting more from me,” Van Dyne said.

Van Dyne said he designed a couple of productions while at WVU, which he received positive feedback for.

Tucci’s goal was for Van Dyne to be able to present his portfolio to anybody, “and get a job.”

Van Dyne chose to head to Los Angeles. He said he had always thought he would move to New York or Los Angeles, and since the recent winters had been so cold, he decided to pursue Los Angeles.

He used a connection from a student, who had given him the name of the head of Art and Advertising at Columbia Pictures. From that point, one connection — along with will and perseverance — led to another connection. Van Dyne’s biggest break, after a period out of work, was Entertainment Tonight.

Van Dyne had first found out the coveted position on the program was filled; however, that didn’t stop him. He called the associate producer of the show, who invited Van Dyne to show his portfolio. After seeing Van Dyne’s work, the producer noted “I did hire someone else, but I like your work better.” The work was only supposed to be temporary, but Van Dyne ended up staying for 10 years.

“Right before I left West Virginia, I watched Entertainment Tonight and thought, ‘This is new. This is different.’” Van Dyne reflected that 14 months later, he was working on the show as Costume Supervisor.

“From Entertainment Tonight I got other jobs,” he noted. This included the Merv Griffin show.

“I got to meet all these people that came through his show — actors and writers and politicians.” Van Dyne recollected one experience when he accidentally burned Gloria Steinem’s skirt. However, “She couldn’t have been sweeter!”

Other folks who stick out in his mind as being the kindest are Patty LaBelle and Placido Domingo.

Out of these experiences, opportunities grew. He worked with Pat Sajak on his television show in the late ’80s, and he also dressed sportscasters for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Of the latter, he went to New York City to pick out clothing and make wardrobe deals for the sportscasters.

“We had really high-end designers,” he noted. Other work included One on One with John Tesh, followed by Cheers, Murphy Brown, Passions, and The Shield — among other television shows.

During this time, Van Dyne heard about a new network called the WB, which would feature a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As odd as that may have sounded at the time, Van Dyne perhaps found his biggest work on the show. In its final season, Van Dyne worked as Costume Designer.

“That seems to live on and on,” Van Dyne said of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“I’m thrilled,” he said of its success.

“It is big in Europe, and kids over there have found me on Facebook. I designed a jacket for the finale that Sarah Michelle Gellar wore, and that seems to be the big, big thing to a lot of these fans.”

Van Dyne has been invited to speak as a celebrity guest at a Buffy Fan Meet in Paris this November. “I’m very honored to be included and grateful for their interest!” he stated.

“It’s just been kind of a crazy ride,” Van Dyne said of his work which has given him the opportunity to meet A-list stars such as Tom Cruise, George Clooney, and the now-late Whitney Houston.

“All of those people were still in the industry, and to me, they were icons that made me want to be in the business.”

“I always say if you can visualize it, I believe you can manifest it. I believe I lived a lot, not out of unhappiness. but I lived a lot in my imagination. You couldn’t make it real, so I did. You know, I haven’t done everything I want to do, but I’ve done enough. It brings me satisfaction being able to do what I’ve done. I’m grateful, so grateful to so many people.”

Currently, Van Dyne is working on some on-camera projects as an interviewer. Those projects are not yet made public.

Besides to keep trying, Van Dyne encourages authenticity.

“Be authentic. Just be yourself. There’s only one of you out there. Be yourself and be honest.”

“It’s been my experience that people want to help you then. They want to help you succeed.”

Teachers unions return to West Virginia Capitol for rally

The Free Press WV

Unions for teachers and school workers have held several rallies across West Virginia seeking to refocus attention toward state employees’ health insurance and issues they went on strike over in spring.

The groups met at one rally on Sunday in front of the state Capitol with Democratic legislators and candidates.

American Federation of Teachers West Virginia chapter President Christine Campbell encouraged the hundreds in attendance to consider who they vote for in November. Campbell says they need to vote out lawmakers who wanted teachers to return to work in February.

A petition asking a task force for a solution to reform the Public Employees Insurance Agency by November was also circulated for attendees to sign. The task force has until December’s interim legislative meetings to present a plan.

Single-speed mountain biker ‘knows it’s going to hurt’

The Free Press WV

Brandon Doerner isn’t your average, everyday mountain biker.

True, he spends a lot of his spare time pedaling a bike with flat handlebars and big, knobby tires along the dirt roads and forest trails of rural West Virginia. But that’s where the resemblance ends. No matter how steep the climb or speedy the descent, Doerner never shifts gears.

He can’t. He rides a single-speed mountain bike.

At its root, it’s a lot like the BMX and beach-cruiser bikes most people rode when they were growing up. If Doerner wants to go faster, he pedals faster. If he wants to go up a hill, he stands up in the pedals and stomps down on them.

Most modern bikes have 21- to 33-speed drivetrains that allow cyclists to cruise along flats effortlessly, and to climb steep slopes without frying their legs. Doerner has a bike like that, too, but he chooses not to use it.

“I started out (on a geared bike) in 1996, when I was in college,” he said. “I spent a couple of years having fun on it, and then I laid off from biking for a while. In 2009, I came back into the mountain biking world. A good friend, Wes McCoy, convinced me that I could develop my technical skills by riding a single-speed. I’ve been at it ever since.”

Doerner said that when he rode a geared bike, he spent too much time thinking about whether he should switch gears or not. Riding a single-speed freed him up from that.

“I was finally able to focus on how the bike handles, how it feels,” he said. “Without a doubt, it made me a better mountain biker. I got a lot stronger, and I was able to navigate tough terrain better than ever.”

He quickly discovered that single-speed riding forced him to modify his pedaling technique.

“I had to learn to punch a little harder just before I got to the base of a hill, and to flow a little better once I got on the hill,” he said. “I learned to find a little extra steam when I got close to the top of a climb. Sometimes it was hard to do. That’s when the mental aspect of it came in. I had to compete with myself to reach the top without having to walk the bike.”

Nine years of single-speed pedaling have made quite a difference. Doerner now flies up the same hills he used to struggle with. He swoops and glides over obstacles that once might have stopped him.

Doerner’s job as real-estate developer keeps him busy, but he carves out enough spare time to explore the roads and trails near his Hurricane home. A couple of weeks ago, he and some friends put together a day-long, 107-mile dirt ride that wound through western Cabell County and most of northern Putnam.

“There’s an abundance of good riding around here,” he said. “Eleanor Park is a great place to ride. So are Barboursville Park and Kanawha State Forest. When I can, I also like to branch out and do a little bushwhacking into places like the Cranberry Backcountry.”

Most mountain bikes have shock-absorbing forks on the front end. Doerner has a bike like that, too, but he spends most of his time on a Spot Honey Badger, a bike with a fully rigid frame and fat 29-inch tubeless tires.

“It’s made to take a beating,” Doerner said. “The frame’s geometry makes the bike a real climbing machine, and that has really helped me navigate the hills.”

To most people, the phrase “single-speed bike” means “cheap bike.” Doerner said that isn’t necessarily so.

“They can get expensive once you start to accessorize them,” he added. “You absolutely can put a lot of money into a single speed if you want to.”

Doerner has customized his single-speed with wider handlebars, a wider front tire, and heavy-duty, interchangeable cogs on the cranks and rear wheel. He switches the cogs to match the kind of terrain he plans to ride.

“I usually run a 32-tooth cog on the cranks and a 19-tooth on the back,” he said. “Right now, I’m experimenting with a 34-21 setup, which isn’t as fast on the top end but is a little easier to pedal uphill.”

Doerner isn’t alone in his fascination with single-speed riding.

“There aren’t many single-speed mountain bikers compared to the number of geared mountain bikers, but there is a great core group around here,” he said. “We have the guy that got me into it, Wes McCoy; Mike Boyes, who is kind of a single-speed icon around here; Dwayne Walters and Andy Cremeans down in Barboursville; and Andy Forron at New River Bikes.”

While Doerner has raced on his single-speed, he mostly concentrates on recreational riding and “adventure-bike” trips that combine riding with camping. Doing them on a single-speed bike, he said, is always a challenge.

“I often describe single-speed mountain biking as like being a boxer without gloves,” he continued. “You know it’s going to hurt, but the freedom makes it worth it.”

Drug summit to focus on awareness, response

The Free Press WV

West Virginia University’s Extension Service is holding a conference on substance misuse.

A statement from the school says meetings on Monday and Tuesday at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston will focus on raising awareness of the current state of the opioid crisis, highlighting strengths of current extension programs and creating a shared vision to respond to community needs.

Officials say the summit will allow faculty and staff from all over the state to share local efforts and partnerships that address substance misuse. The aim is to create a shared vision for a comprehensive response to West Virginia’s immediate and long-term needs as well as finding opportunities to grow through partnerships and identifying additional funding sources for programs.

Reminiscing over hot dogs in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Dave Joyce puts his hands over his eyes, squinting to recognize the woman approaching from the nearby parking lot.

“Hello,” she says, waving, as she walks down the sidewalk. “It’s a right nice day for a hot dog.”

It’s Ann Musser’s first time at Joyce’s Renick hot dog stand. Joyce has many regulars, but quite a few first-time customers, like Musser, who drop in when they see him set up in front of the old Renick Junior High School on U.S. 219.

“I had to go to Marlinton to pick up a U-Haul and I didn’t eat this morning,” Musser says, explaining her move from Renick back to her native Pineville later that day. “I’ve been going since 5:30 this morning and I saw that sign and thought, ‘It’s early but I could eat a hot dog.’ I’m hungry and the kids are, too, and I thought I was going to have to go home and cook and that’s too much.

“This is good.”

Joyce hands Musser her four hot dogs and a Coke and thanks her for “coming to Renick’s largest restaurant.”

It’s also Renick’s only “restaurant.”

. . .

This is Joyce’s 13th season selling hot dogs beneath the red and yellow umbrella attached to an authentic New York City Sabrett Hot Dog stand.

“I grew up on the Sabretts,” Joyce, a native of eastern Long Island, says of the brand of hot dogs readily found on NYC streets. “I get a lot of people who recognize the umbrella (and ask), ‘You got Sabretts?’”

And even though Joyce has to drive to Richmond to buy the all-beef hot dog on which he was raised, in addition to a cheaper $1 option, he most definitely offers authentic NYC hot dogs beneath his Sabretts umbrella.

“I get them for myself,” he says with a laugh. “I’ll just share them for $2 a piece. Unless you want the special. Then you can get two of them.”

Joyce just lives a few miles down the road — out in the country, he says — on the border of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.

He’s called the area home since 1978.

“I would go to Florida and I always wanted to go through the mountains, so one time, on my way back, I camped out here,” he says. “I decided I liked this place so I saved my money and moved back.”

Even after moving to Greenbrier County, Joyce continued to spend his winters in Florida then return to West Virginia where he has worked various odd jobs, including handyman work and running a pizza business.

But it was in 2004 that the idea to get an authentic NYC hot dog stand came about.

He says it was a simple idea.

“I just wanted to try it,” he says.

He bought the stand — which runs on propane and keeps condiments both hot and cold and boils hot dogs to the required temperature — new in 2005, but didn’t get the permit to open until 2006.

He started beside the now closed feed store on the other side of Renick before moving to the lawn/sidewalk area in front of the school.

And aside from a nearby garage, he says he’s the only business in town.

“It was a bustling town years ago before they closed the school,” he says of the Renick he remembers. “It had a couple of beer joints, a couple of stores, a feed store. Oh, all kinds of things. But it’s dead.

“Consolidation killed this ’burg.”

That was back in 1992.

“I remember going to the last football game,” he says. “I told everybody they just killed the town with that vote. That consolidation vote. They didn’t believe me. It took 20 years, but it killed it.”

Joyce hasn’t always been alone at his post at the old school.

“I used to have a partner over there,” he says, pointing to the parking lot, where a flea market was set up well before Joyce started his hot dog business. “But he died last December. It was always good to have ‘Dollar Don.’

“He was 84 so he had a pretty good run.”

. . .

Joyce’s day is a steady stream of honking cars and continued conversations.

“He is an iconic figure in the community, Dave the Hot Dog Man,” says Tim Hofmann, who lives across the street and comes over for a weekly hot dog, and near daily chat.

“I’m trying to cut back,” he says, patting his stomach.

Nate Williamson, who owns a garage a few minutes away but just outside of town limits, stops in with his wife, Leona.

“It’s great food and affordable,” he says. “It’s close to home and that’s very important because where are you going to go (to eat) unless you bring it? There isn’t anywhere else.

“And Dave’s a really good guy.”

The stand is only open April through September, Thursday through Saturday — weather and traffic plus Joyce’s own desire to continue trips to Florida determine that schedule.

He’s set up by 10 a.m. on those mornings, ready for any early customers who stop by, hoping to make $30 or $40 before his lunchtime “rush.”

“Right around lunchtime I’ll get the millworkers,” he says referring to the nearby Mountain Lumber Company. “They’ll make me sweat for about an hour, and it’s back to reading my book. So after they leave if I can get close to $100 and then if I make $30 or $40 that’s pretty much an average day.

“If I can get up to $150, I can say I made $90 and that’s profit.”

And right at lunch hour, things pick up.

“I come every Thursday and Friday,” millworker William Goins says. “It’s a hot meal. I get tired of sandwiches.”

Co-worker William Moore says he was told about the hot dog stand during his interview. The mill is just “2 minutes away,” he says, and as there are no other options, it’s a summertime selling point for dayshift employees.

“I referee football and I even stop by on my way to Marlinton every Saturday to get a hot dog,” he says. “They’re good.”

. . .

Joyce says he knows he would make more money if he set up somewhere else, but he’s happy where he is.

He likes the thought of water, though.

“I’d like to go down by the river,” he says, smiling. “Put a little fishing pole down there. Fish and sell hot dogs. That would be a good spot.”

He and his wife Janet have set up by invitation at the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, though.

But aside from events like that, he says the sidewalk in front of the old junior high, a spot for which he pays $50 a month and mows the grass, is good enough for him.

“It’s my occupation,” he says. “My wife thinks I have a job. That’s all that matters.”

And Joyce, who will be 65 his next birthday, but has no plans of filing for Social Security anytime soon, says in a few years he might turn the business over to his grandniece.

“I’m planning on doing it until I’m 70,” he says. “I’m not rich but I don’t need the money. It’s almost like a community service. At a dollar a hot dog, it takes a long time to get up to $100, as you can see by my line here. But right now I’ve had my wife fooled for 13 seasons.”

Library backs off refusal to carry Woodward book on Trump

The Free Press WV

Bob Woodward’s book about the Trump White House will be on the shelf of a West Virginia library after all.

The Morgan County Public Library in Berkeley Springs reversed a previous decision and will carry Woodward’s “Fear,” the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The book is Woodward’s account of a dysfunctional Trump White House.

Library trustees president Connie Perry said Friday that the library board did not know the library director had refused to accept a donated copy until the issue was raised in media reports.

“We have corrected that,” she said. “The book has been accepted — in fact, two of them.”

Perry said the library’s initial decision not to carry “Fear” became an issue in the town of about 600 people. Now, more people want to read it, she said.

“Our policy always has been that we accept books,” she said. “This just got blown out of proportion. It was an employee who ... wasn’t aware of what she should have done. She should have just said, ‘Thank you.’ The board has corrected that.”

President Donald Trump carried West Virginia by a landslide in 2016.

Before the reversal, Morgan County Public Library director Donna Crocker had confirmed earlier Friday that the library did not carry “Fear” but declined to answer questions about her decision.

“I don’t want to get in the middle of that,” Crocker said by phone. “We have other Trump books.”

Resident Rob Campbell thought he could help out his library by donating a copy of “Fear.”

He wrote a letter to the local newspaper, saying, “Recently I called to offer ‘Fear,’ the new Woodward book, but the library declined my offer saying they wouldn’t be putting books like that on the shelves anymore.”

He noted in his letter that he lives about a block from the library and is happy to share his copy with anyone else who wants to read “Fear.” ″I decided to be a library of one book,” he wrote.

West Virginia Resort Offers Shelter for Carolina Residents

The Free Press WV

A West Virginia resort is offering shelter for people who have had to leave their homes because of Hurricane Florence.

Oglebay Resort and Conference Center executive Herb Faulkenberry said people in West Virginia and other locations have also been through weather-related challenges.

He said it’s only natural that the resort offer space to those who have left their homes in the wake of the hurricane.

The resort said it is offering complimentary accommodations through September 20 to people affected by the hurricane with a North Carolina or South Carolina driver’s license and proof of residency.

Marketing Manager Lindsey McGlaughlin said those who want to take advantage of the offer should call 877.436.1797 to reserve lodging, based on availability.

More information is available online.

WV leads nation in obesity for second straight year

The Free Press WV

For the second year in a row, West Virginia leads the nation when it comes to its adult obesity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health released its 15th annual “State of Obesity” report, which finds the Mountain State’s obesity rate is 38.1 percent, an increase from 37.7 percent in the 2017 report.

The report shows obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in seven states: West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. States in the American South have some of the highest obesity rates in the country.

Colorado has the lowest obesity rate at 22.6 percent.

According to the report, 31 states had statistically significant increases in obesity rates between 2012 and 2017, with no reports of declining rates in the country.

Dr. Samuel Rossi, a bariatric surgeon at the Charleston Area Medical Center Weight Loss Center, said the increasing rates can be attributed to the lack of physical activity and diet mainly of fast food.

“We’re starting to see diabetes in kids. We see young adults such as 21, 22, 23-years-old that are put on blood pressure medication, and that’s unheard of years back. Adults that are in their early 30s are starting to have knee problems,” he said.

The report notes West Virginia also leads the nation when it comes to adult diabetes (15.2 percent) and hypertension (43.5 percent).

Rossi said an issue facing West Virginians is the lack of income for proper treatment, which is a common issue in rural areas.

“A lot of patients don’t have the access. They don’t have the means to get to providers, means to get to physical stuff, especially if you look at the median income,” he said. “They can’t afford all their medications. They can’t afford to go to all their doctor’s appointments.”

“I have patients tell me all the time it’s either gas and pay for food versus pay for medications,” he added.

Rossi said there should be a larger push in schools to teach children healthy lifestyle habits, as well as a period for physical activity.

Needle exchange in West Virginia has no plans to restart

The Free Press WV

A West Virginia needle exchange program has no plans to restart.

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department board President Brenda Isaac said the program won’t be reinstituted. The department suspended it in March after Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and first responders called for its closure over concerns about increased needle litter and other issues.

Isaac says the program won’t be reinstated no matter who’s elected Charleston’s mayor in November.

The department discontinued it in response to rules Charleston’s police chief announced with Jones, including requiring participants to show photo ID and limiting it to only Kanawha County residents.

Isaac says the department wants to work with city officials to address the serious drug problem that’s contributed to the spread of communicable diseases including an unprecedented hepatitis A outbreak.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over governor’s residence

The Free Press WV

A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Democratic state delegate against Republican Governor Jim Justice demanding that he live in the county where West Virginia’s capital city is located.

News outlets reported a judge threw out the suit on Monday because Assistant Minority Whip Isaac Sponaugle didn’t provide the state advanced notice of the lawsuit. Sponaugle says he plans to refile the petition.

Sponaugle submitted a writ of mandamus requesting Kanawha County Circuit Court order Justice to live in the county. Justice has said several times that he does not live at the governor’s mansion in Charleston, but at his Lewisburg home in Greenbrier County.

The state constitution requires the governor to live at the government’s seat. An attorney for Justice has said the governor complies with the constitution.

Defense Department workers plead guilty to embezzling plot

The Free Press WV

Two Defense Department employees have pleaded guilty to conspiring to embezzle government property in West Virginia.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of West Virginia says 35-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Shane Morgan with the West Virginia Army National Guard pleaded guilty Monday. Sixty-one-year-old retired Master Sgt. Russell Morgan also pleaded guilty to the charge.

A prosecutor’s office release says the men admitted taking at least 80 items owned by the U.S. government worth an estimated total of more than $80,000.

The thefts happened between August 2010 and October 2017 in Upshur County.

The release says the men had access to the property through their positions at the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office warehouse in Buckhannon.

They face up to five years’ incarceration and a fine.

Jackson General partners with WVU Health Systems

The Free Press WV

An agreement between Jackson General Hospital and WVU Health Systems could provide patients with additional resources, and not at the expense of changes to the Ripley facility’s staff.

The deal, which went into effect on Sept. 1, is another facility in WVU Health Systems’ network, including health centers in Morgantown and throughout the state.

“What that really does is allow the folks at Jackson General to start to have the expertise of WVU Medicine as they start to plan their future around information technology, additions or replacement of current facilities, recruitment of medical staff,” WVU Health Systems president Albert Wright said. “It allows us to work very closely together.”

Wright said this includes sharing information electronically and “filling holes;” communication between hospitals would mean easier referrals for patients, but Wright acknowledges some patients will want to keep their current doctors.

“Those obviously take precedent and usually are the first choice,” he said. “We don’t wish referrals to go in one specific direction, but usually if we do a good job, we’ll see an uptick from previous times.”

Wright also said he anticipates all of the medical staff will remain.

“We’ll work with the medical staff leaders and (Jackson General Hospital CEO) Stephanie McCoy and say, ‘Where are areas we can supplement and work together?‘” he said

As part of the agreement, McCoy is an employee of WVU Hospitals. According to Wright, no representative of the hospital system will serve on the Ripley facility’s board.

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