Halloween in Glenville, WV
Halloween in Glenville, WV
West Virginia Elementary School Fights Bed Bugs
In a move to keep bed bugs out of classrooms, a Charleston elementary school has banished book bags in favor of sealed plastic bags.
When students arrive at Chamberlain Elementary School on Monday, they’ll put their coats and their books in 10-gallon plastic bags. They’ll zip up their bags and stow them in their lockers.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Principal Phoebe McCloud said a bed bug was first found last month, prompting the building’s closing for treatment. Then another insect was discovered the following week, and one was seen in the school this week.
McCloud described the bed bug sightings as a “community problem.“
Terry Hollandsworth is the maintenance director of Kanawha County Schools. He says the bugs are hitching a ride on someone entering the school building.
State police make sex crimes arrest
SUTTON, WV — The West Virginia State Police Crimes against Children Unit arrested a Braxton County man on sex-related charges.
Matthew Allen Kestner, 24, of Sutton, allegedly sexually abused a girl in his family, a state police news release said.
Kestner is charged with first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse.
He’s in the Central Regional Jail on $100,000 bail.
Overdue jail fees could force a showdown in State Supreme Court between Webster County and Regional Jail Authorities
CHARLESTON, WV — A financial dispute between the Regional Jail Authority and Webster County could go in front of the Supreme Court.
The dispute? Webster County has a litany of overdue payments that they owe on per-diem fees to house inmates.
The petition filed Thursday requests Webster County to begin paying down the $1.3 million they owe the Regional Jail Authorities for the housing of inmates.
“We’ve tried to avoid going to court on this, but it seems inevitable that we need the Supreme Court’s help in reminding, at least this county, that these are bills that must be paid,” Assistant Secretary Lawrence Messina of the WV Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said.
Messina said Webster County isn’t alone. Nicholas County also had an overdue bill, but Messina said they were a prime example of how to properly handle the situation, and that there debts to the RJA will be gone by the end of the year.
“We point out that there are some other counties that are behind, but others have a shown a willingness to work with us to resolve these debts,” he said.
According to Messina, Webster County’s debt to the RJA is the “lion’s share” of what is owed across the state.
“They have not produced the needed result, and that is a time-table or a game plan for resolving their debt,” Messina said. “And unfortunately it’s the largest of the debts that we have from among the counties.”
The regional jails rely on per-diem inmate fees instead of state tax money from the general fund, and Messina said that this is an issue of public safety.
“They rely on these per diem inmate fees, and the other counties are abiding by the law–paying what they owe, being responsible,” he said. “And they may face an increase because the operational funds are direly needed.”
Messina said there are other counties dealing with economic hardships from coal severance loss, but are still finding a way to pay their bills.
“Coal counties are paying their bills–are finding a way to pay these bills that must be paid,” he said.
Messina would like to see a negotiated payment plan with Webster County as an end result to the problem.
The Webster County Commission did not immediately return a call for comment.
State officials pushing flu shots
CHARLESTON, WV — The state Department of Health and Human Resources and the state Department of Education will begin pushing flu shots at a news conference scheduled Monday morning in Charleston.
DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling, State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta and state School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano will talk about the ‘Flu Season – Get Vaccinated Campaign.’
The 9:30 a.m. event will take place at Piedmont Elementary School.
United Hospital Center holds 16th annual Celebration of Life for cancer survivors
BRIDGEPORT, WV — Those who have survived cancer were celebrated during the 16th annual Celebration of Life at the Bridgeport Conference Center on Sunday.
Cancer survivors gather at the Bridgeport Conference Center for the 16th annual Celebration of Life
The event, put on by the Cecil B. Highland, Jr. and Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center, allows cancer survivors, their family member and friends, along with physicians, nurses, social workers and other cancer caregivers at UHC to raise awareness about the struggles that come with battling cancer.
“It’s important to really recognize there are 13 million people that are in the same situation across the United States, and by 2024, it’s expected to be 19 million people,” said Linda Care, director of cancer services with UHC. “Really, the take-home message is that there is clearly life after cancer.”
Sunday’s festivities provide an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, which Dortha Parson, a Clarksburg resident who survived lymphoma in 1999 and breast cancer last year, said is an important part of moving on with life.
“It’s getting so now with the new medications and everything, that’s bringing us through more now than it was before.”
Knowing that, she believes they can reach out to others and let them know that a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the end.
“And that’s a blessing because I know when I got it in ’99, I thought ‘Oh my Lord, I’m going to die.’ But I came through and then when [the breast cancer diagnosis] came up, I just thought ‘Well, another cancer. It’ll go by.’ They really have to think positive on it.”
To help those in attendance Sunday stay positive as they go forth, UHC brought in keynote speaker Jim Donovan, former multi-platinum recording artist from the band Rusted Root and current Chairman of Fine Arts at Saint Francis University.
Donovan has presented at hundreds of events across the country and Europe where he has advocated for the use of music as a way to lead healthy, productive and social lives.
“What I do is take anybody, especially people that have never considered making music before, and give them a way into the process that’s very simple. That involves rhythm, sometimes it involves the rhythm that’s in language and giving people permission to be expressive without the worry of being perfect.”
After 25 years of leadership, teaching and performance experience, he believes music making is an important part of recovery and survivorship for anyone who’s gone through health issues, a process that can be lonely.
“We’re involved in very focused action together,” he said. “Through that action we see and hear and feel a result that is very joyful. And the hope is that when they leave, they walk out smiling and feeling better than when they arrived.”
More on Donovan’s work, including research and free instructional videos, can be found at drumcircleleadership.com.
Sunday’s event is not the only outreach UHC has for cancer survivors, as Carte explained they try to have as many opportunities to let survivors know of resources.
An upcoming event available at the hospital will be “It’s All About You,” a chance to connect patients directly with the services available to them.
“We have dietitians there talking about good nutrition, pharmacists to answer any questions about their medication, we talk about education programs, we instill the importance of cancer screening even after the diagnosis,” Carte said.
Rising Tech Star Finds Herself in the Hot Seat
A 31-year-old tech billionaire and Stanford dropout has gone from gracing the covers of magazines to defending her revolutionary blood-testing company against charges that its work is inaccurate and misleading, the New York Times reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos 12 years ago because she had a fear of needles. The company sought to use new technology to perform more than 200 types of blood tests using only finger pricks. But last week the Journal published two stories calling out Theranos for performing only one test—for herpes—with blood from finger pricks and using traditional blood draws and technology for everything else. It also cited former employees who claimed Theranos diluted its tiny blood draws to make them work with traditional technology, leading to greater risks of errors.
Holmes addressed those claims onstage during a Journal-sponsored tech conference Wednesday, the Times reports. “We know the integrity of what we’ve done,” she told the audience. According to the Journal, Holmes claimed the company is in a “pause period” with its unique blood-testing technology while it awaits FDA approval. She denied any faults with performance or accuracy. Business Insider reports Theranos issued a full rebuttal of the Journal‘s claims Thursday. The rebuttal questions the motivations of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote the original articles, as well as his anonymous sources. “From his very first interactions with Theranos, the reporter made abundantly clear that he considered Theranos to be a target to be taken down,“ the rebuttal states. But, as the Times notes, the Journal isn’t Holmes’ only trouble; a few other prominent people have also raised questions about Theranos tests.
In-Car Infotainment Distracts You for Up to 27 Seconds
Think it’s safe to use a voice-activated in-car system to call your friend Dave or play the new Taylor Swift single? Think again. In two studies published Thursday, researchers found it can take nearly half a minute to regain full focus on the road after giving voice commands to in-car “infotainment” systems or smartphones, according to a University of Utah press release. “They are very distracting, very error prone, and very frustrating to use,“ lead researcher David Strayer says. “Far too many people are dying because of distraction on the roadway, and putting another source of distraction at the fingertips of drivers is not a good idea.“ The New York Times reports the studies looked at more than 300 drivers behind the wheels of 10 new vehicles.
According to the University of Utah, drivers remained distracted for between 15 and 27 seconds after issuing voice commands to dial phone numbers, send texts, change music, and more. Researchers say that’s “a surprisingly long time,“ and CBS News points out 27 seconds is enough time for someone driving 25mph to travel the length of three football fields before fully returning his attention to the road. Safety advocates say carmakers are pushing voice-activated systems because they’re profitable, not because they’re actually safe to use while driving, the Times reports. According to the University of Utah, more than 3,000 people died due to driver distraction in 2013. “We now are trying to entertain the driver rather than keep the driver’s attention on the road,“ one researcher says.
Texas town tries to corral emus on the loose
AUSTIN, TEXAS—Police in Round Rock tried for hours on Thursday to corral four emus on the loose that have been roaming through a residential area in the Austin, Texas, suburb and evading capture, a spokeswoman said.
“It has been one of those days,“ Round Rock police spokeswoman Angelique Myers said.
The owner apparently has been identified but police are still not sure how the emus made their way to streets in the city of about 110,000 people, she said.
“These animals are considered feral fowl. If you see an emu, do not feed it or try to contain it. These animals can be very dangerous. They are considered wildlife and should be left alone,“ Round Rock police wrote on their Facebook page.
Police have set up roadblocks to corral the animals, or steer them away from places where people are.
Documents: Arizona Tried to Illegally Import Execution Drug
Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug, but federal agents stopped the shipment at the Phoenix airport, according to documents obtained by the AP. Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by FDA-approved companies, the documents said. When the drugs arrived via British Airways at the Phoenix International Airport in July, they were seized by federal officials and have not been released, according to the documents. “The department is contesting FDA’s legal authority to continue to withhold the state’s execution chemicals,“ a state corrections department spokesperson says.
Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain execution chemicals for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental. States have had to change drug combinations or, in some cases, put executions on hold while they look for other options. The documents don’t reveal what country or company Arizona tried to import the drugs from. Both Nebraska and Ohio have also tried to obtain lethal-injection drugs from overseas. Executions have been put on hold in Arizona following the drawn-out death of Joseph Rudolph Wood in 2014. The state has said it doesn’t plan on seeking death warrants for inmates until it resolves a lawsuit originally filed by Wood and others seeking information about the drugs used in executions.
Teen Brothers Charged With Pimping Underage Girls
Teen brothers are facing a litany of charges after being accused of running an underage prostitution ring out of their mother’s house in Spokane, Washington, KHQ reports. Police started their investigation after 17-year-old Thaishaun Hunter was arrested in February in connection with a drive-by shooting outside a grocery store, according to KXLY. KHQ reports police tapped the phones in the juvenile detention center to follow up on a tip and overheard Thaishaun allegedly instructing his 15-year-old brother Dionte how to run a prostitution ring using his girlfriends, one of whom had a child with Thaishaun. According to KXLY, the brothers would allegedly force the girls—some as young as 14—to advertise themselves for $400 “dates” on Backpage.com.
KHQ reports police set up a fake date with some of the girls, who confessed to everything. One girl tells police they gave a quarter of the money to the brothers’ mother, who was using it to save up for Thaishaun’s bail. The sheriff’s office believes Dionte attacked and robbed a john and beat up one of the girls while running the prostitution ring. They also reportedly found nude photos of underage girls on his phone. Not including the prostitution-related charges brought against him Thursday, Dionte has had six felony charges against him this year, according to KXLY. His teachers describe him as “remarkably intelligent,“ despite the fact that he was allegedly caught extorting money from fellow students. Both Thaishaun and Dionte are being charged as adults.
Woman Dies After Riding Disney’s Space Mountain
Records show that a woman died after riding Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain this past summer. Pamela Lynn Haynes’ death was included in a quarterly report theme parks are required to submit to the state. The report was made public this week. The Orlando Sentinel reports that 55-year-old Pamela Lynn Haynes of Kingsport, Tennessee, lost consciousness after getting off the Florida ride in July. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. The Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner’s Office reports that Haynes died of cardiopulmonary arrest and septic shock. A doctor said she had a history of high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Ronald McDonald Statue’s Feet, Head Cut Off
Vandals have burned, decapitated, and cut the feet off a smiling Ronald McDonald statue that sat outside a Ronald McDonald House in Vermont. The statue had occupied a bench outside the Burlington home for years, welcoming sick children and families who need to be close to the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital. Executive Director Kristine Bickford tells New England Cable News that volunteers moved the statue’s remains into storage because children were upset by seeing it.
She says that over the course of three nights, vandals burned the statue’s face, took off its head, and sawed off its feet. The head was discovered dumped near the city’s waterfront. Bickford estimates it will cost $7,500 to buy a new statue. She says the new statue will be kept indoors. She filed a police report, but because the vandals struck at night and there are no surveillance cameras, she says police won’t have much to go on. “Isn’t this sad?“ she says. “The kids were traumatized.“
Kids’ Health Clinic Renamed After Krispy Kreme Doughnut Binge
In the grand tradition of Jobing.com Arena and the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the University of North Carolina’s NC Children’s Specialty Clinic was just rebranded as the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic, Gawker reports. The website points out the irony: “A place that’s designed to increase health will bear the trademark of a company that profits from destroying health.“ A clinic spokesperson tells Gawker that some people may see the new name and think they “sold out” to a company that makes a killing on unhealthy foods, but that criticism is overblown because the name isn’t technically connected to the doughnut chain itself. According to a UNC press release, the children’s specialty clinic was actually named after the Krispy Kreme Challenge—an event wherein participants eat 12 doughnuts while running five miles in an hour that was started by NC State students on a dare in 2004.
The clinic spokesperson tells Gawker that Krispy Kreme has no involvement in the challenge or connection to the clinic’s renaming. “We’re disappointed that a small minority of people have jumped to that conclusion,“ the spokesperson says. “They couldn’t be more wrong.“ The Krispy Kreme Challenge is run by students and has raised nearly $1 million for the clinic—which treats feeding and swallowing issues and consults on diabetes—since 2006 and plans to raise another million by 2020, according to the press release. “Anyone worried about the future of this country should spend just 30 or 40 minutes with these remarkable students,“ the clinic’s chief physician tells WRAL. “I come away impressed after every interaction.”
What Became of Boy Who Shot His Sister in 1989 Accident
When Larry Smith’s father gave him a .38 revolver in late spring of 1989, he took it apart and stored it in his closet. A few weeks later, when he thought he saw someone trying to enter his fenced yard, he grabbed the gun before he went outside. He didn’t return it to the closet, but stashed it in the bottom of his top dresser drawer. The next morning, his 10-year-old son Sean went looking for the Nintendo games his mother had hidden and found the revolver instead. He picked it up, waved it around, pointed it at a window, and just as his frightened 8-year-old sister Erin ran out of the room, pulled the trigger. The bullet entered her heart. He held her, trying to staunch the blood, and watched her eyes roll back. ‘'Please don’t die. Please, God. Please, don’t be dead,“ Sean said in a 911 call, recounts the New York Times. By the time paramedics arrived, she was.
Thirty years later, the Trace reports, Sean is finally pulling his life together. But from the moment he held his dead sister, through his desperate 911 call being played over and over as a public service announcement, through drug use and then abuse, the birth of a son, relapse, and a failed marriage, Sean says he has struggled with guilt. The shooting, by the way, was the first in a bloody week in Florida history that saw four more children accidentally shot across the state, with all but one of them dying. The state legislature, already adjourned for the year, went into special session just to pass a law making it illegal to leave a gun unsecured. (No charges were brought against Larry or Sean.) Now 28 states have similar laws on the books, and Florida, whose law came first and is among the most restrictive, has seen a 51% drop in unintentional shooting deaths of children. Sean, meanwhile, says he’s finally forgiven himself. Read the full piece here.
Corrupt Jade Trade Turns Burma Into ‘Hell on Earth’
The jade trade in Burma “may well be the biggest natural resource heist in modern history,“ according to a report published Friday by an international anti-corruption organization. That organization, Global Witness, puts the value of the jade produced in 2014 in Burma at at least $31 billion—more than half of the country’s GDP, the New York Times reports. Unfortunately, very little of that money ends up in the hands of Burma citizens, who are some of the poorest in the world. According to the ABC, Global Witness states 50% to 80% of Burma’s jade is smuggled out of the country and into China, where the Times reports the growing middle class has a high desire for it.
According to the Times, Global Witness claims the profits from the jade trade work their way through fake companies with fake owners to the pockets of military leaders, politicians, and the family of the country’s former dictator, whose sons control two mining companies. Burma’s military also owns two companies and uses the profits to battle rebel groups fighting for independence and control of the jade supply. Global Witness states jade mining is leading to wars, heroin abuse, prostitution, and rising HIV rates. According to the ABC, one local calls her jade-rich state “hell on Earth.“ The Times reports Global Witness wants Obama to work with Burma to change the jade trade so its profits actually improve the lives of its citizens.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV - As West Virginia’s hunters take to the field, they gain more than just an enjoyable day with family and friends. Many will successfully harvest a deer and fill their freezer with an ample amount of “heart-healthy” venison (deer meat).
“Venison is an excellent alternative to beef for those concerned with healthier choices in their diet,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section (DNR). “Venison is a good source of protein for many West Virginia families and has fewer calories and less fat than an equivalent serving of beef.”
After the harvest, hunters can ensure their selected venison cuts will be the best quality and flavor if they take a few simple steps in caring for their game. Meat should not be exposed to excessive dirt or moisture and should be cooled as quickly as possible to avoid spoilage.
Hunters are not the only West Virginians who benefit from deer harvested in the state. Over the past two decades, the DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program. Since its inception in 1992, generous hunters and financial contributors have enabled the processing of this highly nutritious meat which has provided more than 1.1 million meals for needy West Virginia families. Visit www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm for information about Hunters Helping the Hungry.
For more information about the HHH program or West Virginia’s various deer hunting seasons and regulations, consult the 2015-2016 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at all DNR offices and license agents or visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is now accepting nominations for its 2016 National Small Business Week Awards, including Small Business Person of the Year. Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses.
“National Small Business Week is an opportunity to celebrate the impact these entrepreneurial spirits have on their communities and this nation’s economy,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho, who serves as one of several competition judges for her region. “Small businesses are our real economic engines, and I look forward to seeing a strong competitive field again this year.”
The website awards.sba.gov provides details and the form for submitting a nomination. A change for this year is a more streamlined and simplified form.
SBA Awards given in celebration of National Small Business Week, May 02-06, include the following: Small Business Person of the Year (one for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam); Exporter of the Year; Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery; Federal Procurement Awards; Judy C. Raskind Lender of the Year; Small Business Investment Company of the Year; and Awards to SBA Resource Partners.
Nominations must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. EST, Monday, Jan. 11. In addition to the website, nominations can also be sent directly to an SBA District Office. Details for district offices can be found at sba.gov/wv.
In addition to SBA’s National Small Business Week Awards nominations, SBA’s West Virginia District Office is seeking district level nominations for the following awards: Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Encore Entrepreneur of the Year; Family-Owned Small Business of the Year; Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year; Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year; Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year; and Small Business Champion of the Year.
All district level nominations must be submitted/ postmarked by Monday, January 11, 2016. District level awards must be sent directly to SBA’s West Virginia District Office.
For information on district level awards visit sba.gov/wv or contact Nikki Bowmar at or 304.623.7445.
The Mountain Music Trail gains attention on a national stage
ELKINS, WV — The sound of traditional Appalachian music with a folksy string sound accompanied by traditional old world varied dance stylings filled the halls throughout the Madden Student Center on the Davis & Elkins College campus.
Adam Harris, executive producer of Mountain Stage, “the home of live music on public radio,“ introduced D&E’s Appalachian Ensemble performing music and dance on October 14. The performance introduced the audience to the traditional Appalachian sounds represented throughout the Mountain Music Trail, running the length of Route 219 through five counties from Tucker County to Monroe County.
The ensemble is made up of 14 students from all over the country, along with one Canadian, who were specifically recruited by D&E to be a part of this dance and music ensemble due to each performer’s unique talents in this very folksy and traditional form of art.
“The hope is that it is kind of bridging the gap between Augusta and D&E College and representing Appalachian music and dance, but also in different forms of traditional American vernacular dance,“ Becky Hill, the dance director, said of Appalachian Ensemble.
Following the mperformance was a presentation of a very brief teaser clip of a soon-to-be-released compilation of several videos that Mountain Stage, a radio program based out of Charleston and carried on 150 stations nationwide, in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Tourism filmed throughout the spring and summer in several different locations along the Mountain Music Trail.
Vasilia Scouras, the associate producer of Mountain Stage, spearheaded the project, taking two videographers from the public television studio in Morgantown, spending at least three days in every county along the trail. These counties include Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe counties. They shot various events and locations of interest emphasizing music with the purpose of compiling the multitude of video into a digital map representative of all five counties.
Harris said the digital map will include “sound clips of artists in each region, also camp sites, hotels, restaurants and the different attractions along the trail. So if they are looking to plan a visit they can go right there and browse through.
“Basically, they can plan a trip with inputs of that map,“ Harris said, explaining the purpose is to help the Mountain Music Trail develop more tools to promote itself.
Mountain Stage is presenting the premier events in all five counties, culminating with the Governor’s Conference on Tourism scheduled for October 25-28, before unveiling the map and all five county’s videos to the public on the website www.mountainmusictrail.com.
West Virginia group outlines measures to aid racing industry
CHARLESTON, WV — A group of stakeholders is outlining a series of measures it says will aid West Virginia’s struggling greyhound and thoroughbred racing industry.
A report recently presented to the West Virginia Racing Commission includes a number of recommendations to support the industry, including allowing advanced deposit wagering so people in West Virginia can place wagers online or over the phone.
The group also wants the state to restore purse and breed development percentages to their levels before recent cuts and to allow for more flexibility in setting racing calendars.
The report was crafted by 20 representatives of the racing industry.
Carey Theil, executor director of Grey2K USA, a national group that opposes greyhound racing, says the report is “truly jaw dropping.“
Alpha Natural Resources to sell at least 16 closed mines
BECKLEY, WV — Alpha Natural Resources is planning to sell at least 16 shuttered coal mines in four states.
The Bristol, Virginia-based company that’s going through bankruptcy proceedings said in court documents that January 20, 2016 is the target date for bids.
The mines that will be put up for sale are located in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, but the company did not specify which mines that would be.
Citing “adverse market conditions,“ Alpha said earlier this month that it plans to idle two mines in Raleigh County by November 30. It’s unclear whether the 79-person operation at the Edwight Surface Mine and 13-person operation at the Independence Coal Co.‘s Tunnel Mine will be among those put up for sale.
Wheeling team wins Pumpkin Drop competition
MORGANTOWN, WV - A team from Wheeling Catholic Central High School won the annual Pumpkin Drop competition at West Virginia University.
Seventy-five of more than 300 pumpkins survived Friday’s 11-story drop from atop the university’s engineering building, but the Wheeling team’s aim was the most accurate. Its pumpkin landed 3 feet 7 inches from the target - good for the $100 first prize.
Second place was claimed by Triadelphia Area Rapid Descent Impact Solutions. Third went to a team from South Middle School in Morgantown.
The competition aims to teach engineering concepts by designing an enclosure to protect the pumpkin from damage when dropped from the roof of the building.
Alderson Broaddus president resigning effective December 18
PHILIPPI, WV - Richard Creehan is stepping down as president of Alderson Broaddus University.
Creehan informed the campus community and the Board of Trustees of his decision Friday. His resignation is effective December 18.
Creehan has served as president since June 1, 2011. Before joining Alderson Broaddus, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Adrian College in Michigan.
During his time at Alderson Broaddus, enrollment has grown from 500 to 1,201.
Creehan said that as the university enters the second phase of a strategic plan that will require some financial restructuring, “it is time to hand over the reins to someone new with a different perspective and skill set.“
Vehicular Homicide Suspect: Evidence Was 1 Minute Late
A Pennsylvania woman is fighting to exclude blood-alcohol evidence in her drunken vehicular homicide case by arguing the sample was drawn one minute too late. The Bradford Era reports police acknowledge a phlebotomist drew 22-year-old Kaitlyn Crosby’s blood sample two hours and one minute after state troopers responded to the December 14 accident. Defense attorney Gary Knaresboro says the law requires blood to be drawn within two hours. Crosby, of Austin, is charged with killing one pedestrian, 62-year-old David Croyle, and maiming another while driving drunk in Shippen Township, Cameron County. The most serious charge she faces, vehicular homicide while driving drunk, carries a mandatory three- to six-year prison sentence. Prosecutors want a judge to allow the evidence, given the limited access to medical facilities in the rural area.
FCC Votes to Stop Phone Providers From Gouging Inmates
Phone calls can cost inmates and their families up to $14 a minute, NBC News reports. But that changed Thursday when the FCC voted 3-2 to cap the rates and fees phone providers can charge for service in US prisons and jails, according to the Huffington Post. “Voting to endorse today’s reforms will eliminate the most egregious case of market failure I have ever seen in my 17 years as a state and federal regulator,“ FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn says. NBC reports the FCC started looking at the issue in 2013 because of a Washington DC grandmother who was spending $1,000 a year to talk to her incarcerated grandson. Ulandis Forte says his grandmother sometimes had to decide between paying for her medication and talking to him, but he credits her calls with enabling him to turn his life around after his release.
The move, which caps rates at 11 cents per minute for prisons and 14 to 22 cents per minute for jails and limits fees, was supported by 26 civil and human rights groups, HuffPo reports. “Studies show keeping communication in between families members and incarcerated loved ones reduces recidivism, and that helps us all,“ one supporter tells NBC. Rate caps were strongly opposed by the phone providers—who call the vote a “business-ending event” and are threatening legal action—and the National Sheriffs’ Association—which says it may have to eliminate inmates’ access to phones now, HuffPo reports. Under the old system, prisons and jails received what have been called “kickbacks” in return for giving contracts to phone providers. In its vote, the FCC “strongly encouraged” ending that practice.
Home Finally Sells, Despite Booby Trap Warning
Two New Hampshire properties finally sold at auction, despite the fact that they may be booby-trapped. The Christian Science Monitor has the backstory: A 6,000-square-foot house on a 100-acre property, plus a nearby dental office, were owned by Ed and Elaine Brown, who were convicted of tax evasion but managed to fend off federal agents during a nine-month standoff that finally ended with their arrests in 2007. During that standoff, they amassed an arsenal of weapons and explosives and claimed their compound was booby-trapped. There was an auction last year, but federal agents couldn’t guarantee the property was booby-trap-free, and no one bought either property. At that time, the compound was listed with a starting bid of $250,000; this time around, the minimum bid was slashed in half. A businessman, James Hollander, ultimately paid $205,000 for it, plus $415,000 for the dental office.
Authorities had been worried the properties might once again fail to sell; an IRS liquidation specialist told WMUR last week, “They can’t guarantee that they have found everything, but they have done a good-faith search over and over again.“ The station reports that investigators did actually find explosive devices, and that a warning was included in the notice of sale. But WCVB reported Thursday that “the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been ... deemed free of improvised explosive devices.“ The former presence of booby traps isn’t the only interesting thing about the compound: There’s a turret with a tower that offers a 360-degree view of the property; a hidden door that leads to an underground bunker and an escape route to the outside via manhole; and, as the house was built over an existing house, in one section you can see that a floor was built atop the old house’s roof.
Human Leg Stolen in Los Angeles
Talk about a story with legs. News outlets are really running with it—but that’s what happens when weird crimes are afoot. My News LA reports an investigation is ongoing after a human leg was stolen out of a vehicle belonging to a nonprofit that donates organs and tissue early Monday in downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office, which partners with nonprofit One Legacy, says it’s distressed about the disappearance of the leg, which has yet to turn up.
According to the Los Angeles Times, One Legacy employees picked up the donated leg from the coroner’s office around 3am Monday, then went to get something to eat. When the employees left the restaurant and returned to the vehicle, the leg was gone. The limb had been wrapped in plastic and left in a cooler, and the coroner’s office believes whoever stole it was unaware of what it was. In addition to the missing appendage, the coroner’s office is also trying to figure out who leaked information about the theft to the media. In conclusion: One Legacy? More like No Leg-acy, am I right?
In Unusual Move, Jared Fogle Pays Victims Before Sentencing
In a move that US Attorney Steven DeBrota says he has only seen once before in his 25 years of dealing with child porn cases, prison-bound former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle has paid restitution to most of his victims before sentencing. DeBrota tells the AP that $100,000 checks from Fogle have been delivered to 10 victims or their parents in recent weeks. He says the money is intended for health care and counseling and will help the victims “go on with their lives and put them where they should have been had none of this happened.“ DeBrota says so far, three adults and seven minors have received checks and that the other four victims should have their money by the time Fogle is sentenced next month.
Fogle will be going to prison no matter how much he pays out: Under a plea deal, the prosecutors say they’ll seek no more than 12 1/2 years in prison—and Fogle will not ask for a sentence of less than five years. Fogle’s lawyer says he “fully recognizes that such monetary contribution will not undo the harm he has caused” but hopes it can help “these individuals as they try to move forward with their lives,“ the New York Daily News reports. Seattle attorney Carol Hepburn, who has helped child porn victims seek restitution, tells the AP that Fogle’s ability to pay large amounts of compensation shouldn’t affect his sentence, and she hopes “justice is equal for those who have money as well as those who don’t.“
1 Killed, 3 Hurt in Tennessee State U Shooting
One man was killed and three women were wounded in an on-campus shooting stemming from a fight over a dice game on the campus of Tennessee State University in Nashville, police said Friday. The 19-year-old who died in the Thursday night shooting wasn’t enrolled at the school, police spokesman Don Aaron says. It wasn’t known whether the shooter, who fled the scene and is still at large, was a student. The shooting occurred in a courtyard around 10:50pm. Witnesses said an argument over the dice game boiled over into a fistfight when “suddenly shots were fired,“ Aaron says.
Three female students whom Aaron describes as “innocent passers-by” were struck during the shooting. One was grazed and didn’t require medical attention, while two others were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with injuries. One had been released by Friday morning, while the other is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, Aaron says. “This was an isolated shooting incident in a courtyard,“ he says. “There were never, we believe, any other students in danger in dormitories or elsewhere on campus.“ Police did not yet have a description of the suspect and couldn’t say whether an exchange of gunfire occurred until the evidence is analyzed.
Teen Girl Faces Charges in Baby Carrot Assault
A 14-year-old girl could be charged with assault and battery after throwing a baby carrot at a teacher at Virginia’s Moody Middle School, WTVR reports. It’s an outcome the girl’s mother, Karrie May, is having a hard time wrapping her head around. “I don’t even know how to combat the stupidity,“ May tells WTVR. Aliya May was reportedly in the hallway at school when she decided to throw a carrot at a former teacher as a joke. She tells WTVR she never thought the carrot would actually hit the teacher. But it did—right in the forehead.
It’s been a month since the incident, and Aliya is still out of school on suspension, WTVR reports. Regardless of what happens with the potential assault charge, Karrie says the punishment has already been too severe. She says a few days of detention makes more sense for such a minor incident. “This goes way beyond that,“ she tells WTVR. “We have to go to court.“
Couple Says Rare Identical Triplets Are ‘Blessing’
What Kristen and Thomas Hewitt assumed was one baby turned out to be a Costco three-pack of identical boys, the Baltimore Sun reports. Thomas says it was “pure joy and shock” during the first sonogram, according to CNN. The rare identical triplets were delivered October 6 at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Maryland.The couple’s doctor says he hasn’t seen the birth of identical triplets in more than 30 years of working at the hospital, the Sun reports. Out of 3.9 million US births every year, only 4,300 are sets of triplets. And only 10% of those are identical. “We take the triplets as not only a blessing, but also a challenge that we’re most certainly up for,“ CNN quotes Kristen.
Little Thomas, Finnegan, and Oliver were born six weeks early and spent two weeks in intensive care, the Sun reports. The trio didn’t even weight 12 pounds put together when they were born. But according to CNN, their doctor says they are in “excellent condition.“ Now the Hewitts are faced with the reality of raising three identical boys. “We want to run things like a small army and be really regimented,“ Thomas tells the Sun. “In reality, it’ll be more like a pirate ship complete with mutinies.“ Until the babies are old enough for unique haircuts, the couple says they’ll be telling them apart by color-coded clothes and strings on their wrists and ankles. CBS News reports the Hewitts will be writing a blog to document their rare triplet adventure.
Rarest Nazi Enigma Machine Sells for Record $365K
The M4 is the rarest of the already rare Nazi Enigma machines, which could help explain why a working model just sold for a record $365,000 at an auction Wednesday in New York. The Guardian reports the 70-year-old encryption machine was purchased by an anonymous private collector. “The Enigma machine is an exceptional encryption device, one of the most sophisticated and complicated of its type,” a specialist at Bonhams auction house tells the Guardian. According to Gizmodo, the M4 was introduced in February 1942 and played a big part in the Battle of the Atlantic. It was called the Shark-key by US codebreakers and remained unbroken for nearly a year.
Of the 50 Enigma machines currently in museums, only seven are M4s, the Guardian reports. The M4s were used exclusively on German U-boats, 70% of which sank toward the end of WWII, accounting for the machine’s rarity. In addition, Nazi captains were told to break their Enigma machines when captured, according to Gizmodo.
Infamous $750 Pill Is Undercut by $1 Alternative
Martin Shkreli has been hemming and hawing about dropping the price of his company’s toxoplasmosis drug since he raised it 5,000% in August, but it may be a moot point: A San Diego drug compounding company is now offering its own version of pyrimethamine for $1 a pill, a far cry from the $750 a pill Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals has been charging for Daraprim, the San Diego Tribune reports. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals also plans on taking on other companies “jacking the price up” on meds in niche markets with little or no competition, Imprimis CEO Mark Baum tells the AP. “While we respect Turing’s right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications such as Daraprim,“ Baum says in a press release.
The Imprimis version of pyrimethamine is combined with leucovorin, a type of folic acid cancer patients take to alleviate chemo’s effects, the Tribune notes. There’s one caveat, per Baum: The drug’s combined form doesn’t have FDA approval (which can take years), though the individual ingredients do. As such, the only way the formulation can be legally obtained is via a doctor’s prescription for the compound, per Reuters. By avoiding the long FDA approval process—and the millions of dollars that would need to go into that—Imprimis can keep costs low and actually turn a “significant profit,“ the Tribune adds. The company’s new Imprimis Cares division will oversee the generic drugs it creates, Baum says, adding, “This is the tip of the iceberg.“
New Russian military might on full display in Syria
HEMEIMEEM AIRBASE, Syria — Sleek combat jets loaded with precision bunker-buster bombs roar into the skies as soldiers in desert-style uniforms march past rows of neat housing at this Russian military base at one of Syria’s largest airports.
The air campaign in Syria, Russia’s first military action outside the former Soviet Union since the war in Afghanistan, shows a revamped Russian military, which sharply differs in both capability and mindset from the old, Soviet-style force.
It is capable of quickly projecting power far from Russian borders, widely uses drones and precision weapons, and cares about soldiers’ comfort.
The thunder of Syria’s civil war couldn’t be heard at Hemeimeem, located in the coastal province of Latakia, which has largely been spared the chaos and destruction of more than 4 1/2 years of fighting in Syria.
A small group of journalists visiting the base this week could see a dozen Su-24 bombers taking off into the night with a deafening roar, piercing the darkness with scarlet flames from their engines.
Such missions were impossible just a few years ago, when the Russian air force had few planes capable of hitting targets at night.
As part of President Vladimir Putin’s sweeping military modernization program, the air force received hundreds of new and modernized aircraft, all equipped with state-of-the art electronics on a par with U.S. and NATO jets.
“All aircraft here at the base are equipped with targeting systems that allow hitting targets with pinpoint precision,“ said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov.
He dismissed Syrian opposition claims that the Russian airstrikes killed civilians as “sheer nonsense,“ saying the aircraft have hit ammunition depots, bunkers and other targets away from populated areas. The ministry has released cockpit video to support its claims, just as the Pentagon did during the two Gulf wars.
The precision strikes differ sharply from Russian operations to quash two separatist insurrections in Chechnya, where the Russian military indiscriminately used obsolete, inaccurate weapons, reducing the Chechen capital of Grozny to rubble.
Latakia, the heartland of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Alawite minority, offers the Russian military a safe environment — and a warm welcome from people blaring car horns and chanting “Thanks!“ in Russian.
At a refugee camp in Latakia, which houses several thousand mostly Alawite refugees from other provinces in Syria, smiling kids shouted: “Thank you, Putin!“
Warmly greeted by the locals and at a safe distance from the front lines, Russian soldiers at the base look calm and relaxed.
Still, Russian military police manning checkpoints with Syrian security forces thoroughly check incoming vehicles, special forces guard key facilities and Mi-24 helicopter gunships sweep around the base on regular patrols looking for any suspicious activity. Pantsyr air defense systems are deployed at the edge of the airfield, completing the security bubble.
Soldiers at the base are visibly proud of their crisp new uniforms and comfortable sand-colored high boots, a stark contrast with the drab Soviet-style military attire worn until recently.
Air force support crew attaching heavy bombs and missiles under the warplanes’ wings wear shorts and white sports shoes for comfort in very un-Russian temperatures of nearly 30 Celsius (mid-80s Fahrenheit).
On a typical day, each jet flies several sorties during the day and at night.
Konashenkov shrugged off U.S. criticism that Russia was targeting moderate rebel groups fighting Assad instead of focusing on Islamic State militants, the main goal declared by the Kremlin. He argued it doesn’t matter which of the myriad militant groups owns facilities making suicide belts and rigging trucks with explosives for suicide missions, which the Russian warplanes target.
In another break with the old Russian military tradition, the planners of the Hemeimeem base took care of the troops, a marked departure from Soviet-style neglect of soldiers’ comfort.
The neat rows of housing units, each holding from two to eight men depending on rank, are equipped with air conditioning, a must in the scorching heat, and there are plenty of wash cabins available.
A field kitchen and a canteen look immaculately clean, a sight to shock anyone familiar with crude ways of the old-style Russian military.
At the base’s water treatment unit, Lt.-Col. Alexander Yevdokimov spoke enthusiastically about a multilayer filter system that purifies Syrian tap water to the highest drinking standard and prevents any threat of chemical or bacteriological contamination.
“Please try it, it tastes really good!“ he told reporters.
The base bakes its own bread and cooks prepare no-frills but filling Russian dishes. An army store offers souvenirs, cosmetics and clothing, and smiling attendants at a nearby coffee shop sell candies, cookies and ice cream delivered from Russia.
Konashenkov, a veteran of the war in Chechnya and other post-Soviet conflicts, is keen to highlight the progress the military has made.
“Remember Chechnya, where everything was covered in dirt?“ he asks, pointing at the base’s freshly paved grounds that help keep uniforms and housing units clean.
Officers at the base say its comfortable layout and logistics reflect the personal touch of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is widely popular in the ranks, unlike his predecessor, Anatoly Serdyukov.
Serdyukov, who was ordered by Putin to streamline the bloated and under-funded military after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, conducted painful cuts of the officer corps and made other radical changes, but was eventually sacked amid growling in the ranks.
The military welcomed the appointment of Shoigu, who had served as Russia’s emergencies minister for two decades and won a reputation as one of the few Russian officials who could actually get things done.
A latecomer to Putin’s inner circle, Shoigu has developed strong personal ties with the president. They have gone fishing together and the defense minister now seems to be one of the few officials whom Putin particularly trusts.
Spending on the military increased under Shoigu’s leadership, financing hundreds of new aircraft and missiles and the commissioning of numerous other new weapons.
The armed forces have held a series of massive exercises, engaging hundreds of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft across vast areas from the Baltics to the Pacific and from the Caspian Sea to the Arctic.
The drills paid off when Putin moved to annex Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. Within hours, waves of Russian transport planes airlifted special forces that quickly blocked Ukrainian troops at their bases without firing a shot. The swift operation took the West by surprise.
Unlike the past, when the military’s post-Soviet meltdown forced the Kremlin to rely increasingly on nuclear weapons, it has grown more confident about its conventional forces.
The rapid deployment of a sizable expeditionary force by sea and air, an air campaign in which dozens of jets relentlessly pounded targets round the clock for weeks and the launching of long-range cruise missiles from the Caspian were intended to send a clear message: Russia’s military could rival U.S. operational capability.
Putin has pointed at the launch of 26 cruise missiles from Russian navy ships in the Caspian at targets in Syria 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away as a signal to the U.S. that Russia can pack a similar punch.
Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, shrugged off the Pentagon’s claim that four of the missiles crashed in Iran.
“All those targets (in Syria) must have exploded all by themselves then!“ he said with a sardonic smile, insisting that every Russian missile hit its target.
Charleston, WV – As part of its Excellent Educators for All initiative—designed to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education—the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) today announced the approval of West Virginia’s plan to ensure equitable access to excellent educators.
West Virginia’s Educator Equity Plan (Equity Plan) was submitted to the USDE June 1, 2015. The plan details West Virginia’s approach to improving access to excellent educators for West Virginia’s most disadvantaged youth and identifies one of the primary equity gaps as the high number of ineffective teachers within high-poverty high schools.
West Virginia recognizes the importance of having highly effective teachers within every classroom in the state, and the plan outlines a comprehensive approach to strengthening and maintaining teacher and principal effectiveness, with an emphasis on schools with the greatest need. Specifically, West Virginia has highlighted an ongoing comprehensive plan to address equity in its neediest district, McDowell County.
“We are committed to improving student outcomes across the state by expanding access to excellent teaching for all students,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. “Every student is entitled to a world-class education regardless of their background.”
To address this equity gap, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is working to implement a multifaceted action plan which will both enhance statewide individual professional learning and build teacher leadership capacity within schools. The intent is to decrease the number of ineffective teachers in all schools, but most importantly in high-poverty high schools.
WVDE is working with external entities to embed a personalized learning platform into the existing online educator evaluation system. Once completed, educators statewide will have immediate access to professional learning opportunities, not only aligned to the state’s professional teaching standards, but also aligned to areas of need identified by the educator and their evaluator through the online evaluation system. Additionally, WVDE is collaborating with external partners to incorporate a plan which incentivizes effective teaching.
“We knew a successful plan for teacher and leader equity could not be developed in isolation,” said Dr. Monica Beane, Executive Director of the Office of Educator Effectiveness. “The plan’s success will depend heavily on the long-term involvement of stakeholders and our collective commitment to implementation.”
The Equity Plan was finalized after incorporating peer review feedback from several stakeholder groups. Among these stakeholders are parents, community groups, teachers, representatives from higher education, school boards, civil rights and the business community.
In addition to West Virginia, USDE approved plans in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Those states are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to excellent educators by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local needs. Each of these states and the District of Columbia engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans not only include strategies that will be effective in eliminating identified equity gaps, but also to ensure that these strategies are meaningful for the students, teachers, and communities in which they will be implemented.
In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced a comprehensive Excellent Educators for All Initiative. As part of this initiative, states were asked to create new, comprehensive plans that put in place locally-developed solutions to ensure every student has equal access to effective educators. These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted their plans for review by the Department.
West Virginia’s plan in its entirety can be found online at http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/data/documents/WVDEEquityPlanSeptember2015.pdf
GLENVILLE, WV - Glenville State College voice performance and music education major Curtis Sutphin will be performing his senior recital on Saturday, October 24 in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium from 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Sutphin is from Van (Boone County), West Virginia and will be performing songs in English, French, German, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian; all in various styles from classical to musical theatre.
“I know I made the right decision to come to Glenville because I have grown so much as a musician and person. Every teacher I have had here has made an impact in my life. The faculty and staff are all amazing and helpful and always go out of their way to help a student. This place is a great start to my adult life and I wouldn’t go back and change any of it,” said Sutphin.
For more information call 304.462.6340.
FRENCH CREEK, WV – Donations of harvested deer and financial donations are being accepted for the West Virginia Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) program, sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). HHH provides low-fat, low-cholesterol meat to needy families around the state through the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank.
Hunters can donate legally harvested deer by delivering the deer to the nearest participating meat processor. A list of processors is available at www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/HHH.shtm. Venison is deboned, ground and frozen in two-pound packages. The food banks pick up the venison and distribute it to more than 500 food programs throughout West Virginia.
“We need donations of not only deer, but also money,” said Tyler Evans of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. “Federal law prevents the use of hunting license fees to offset the processing and distribution costs, so DNR requires financial assistance to manage this charitable program.”
The West Virginia Council of Churches has established “Share the Harvest Sunday” to raise awareness of the program and funds to support it. Sunday, November 01, has been designated as the day when members of each participating church will be asked to donate $1, $5, or whatever they can, to HHH.
Each tax-deductible donation, whether direct or through church, will help feed someone less fortunate. Checks should be made out to: Hunters Helping the Hungry, 163 Wildlife Road, French Creek, WV 26218.
Since its inception in 1992, HHH has provided 892,637 pounds of venison for more than 1.2 million family-style meals at a total cost of $1,225,974. Processing costs are $1.45 per pound, with the average deer producing 35.5 pounds of ground venison.
For information about HHH, Share the Harvest Sunday, or general questions about the program, please contact Tyler Evans or Judy Channell with DNR at 304.924.6211 or email or j .
Reminder: Hunters should get their permanent DNR ID number prior to the hunting seasons at wvhunt.com, a DNR office or at any license agent, so they will be ready to check in their animal with the new electronic game checking system.
CHARLESTON, WV - The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will induct two new members into the West Virginia Marching Band Directors Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 24. The induction will take place during the awards ceremony at the fourth annual West Virginia Marching Band Invitational at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field, which begins at 9 p.m.
Honorees include Greg James, director of the Richwood High School marching band, and Timothy James, director of the Cabell Midland High School marching band.
Greg James has been teaching in public schools in West Virginia for almost 40 years and has served as the band director at Richwood High School for 31 years. James graduated from Glenville State College in 1976 and began his career as a music teacher for Nicholas County Schools, traveling to elementary schools throughout the county. During this time, James served as an instructor with the Richwood High School Band. In 1984 he became the band director. “The Lumberjack Express,” as the Richwood marching band is known, has grown exponentially under James’ leadership, averaging 130 members each year. With a total school population of 400, about one-third of the students at Richwood High School participate in the marching band. His bands have performed at prestigious events throughout the United States and Canada including the Gator Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls and the Indianapolis 500. They also have been selected by four governors to perform on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol for the annual “Joyful Night” tree lighting ceremony. James has implemented financial assistance programs and fundraisers throughout the years to make sure every student who wants to participate in the marching band has an instrument and can attend the yearly trips. His bands have won many awards and competitions locally and nationally and continue to excel under his leadership.
Timothy James received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Glenville State College in 1979 and earned his master’s degree from Marshall University in 1983. He studied dance, voice and musical theater at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1984. James has been teaching for 33 years both in and out of Cabell County, including stops at Huntington High School, Guyan Valley High School, James Monroe High School and Enslow Middle School. Under his leadership, his marching bands have consistently received superior and excellent ratings. Over the years, they have won more than 1,100 awards, including 33 marching band and show choir Grand Champion awards. He is currently the band director at Cabell Midland High School, a position he has held since 2011. Before he became director, James served as assistant director for the marching band under Director Rhonda Smalley. Since he became director four years ago, the Marching Knights have been four-time Marshall University Tri-State Band Festival Grand Champion, three-time West Virginia Invitational Grand Champion, won more than 15 grand championships, Honor Band at the Strawberry Festival and received superior ratings at numerous band festivals.
“I am so pleased to induct Greg James and Timothy James into the West Virginia Marching Band Directors Hall of Fame. Together they have spent more than 70 years inspiring young students with a love of music and teaching spectacular performance skills that the audience can celebrate and enjoy,” said West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith.
Sutton is now one of six cities statewide to have passed a measure prohibiting discrimination
SUTTON, WV — The Sutton City Council voted and passed a measure Thursday to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Now that marriage equality is the law of the land in the Mountain State, LGBT West Virginians can be legally ‘married on Sunday and fired on Monday’ simply because of who they are,” said Andrew Schneider, the Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia. “Because the West Virginia State Legislature has failed to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s Human Rights Law, city and town ordinances are the only means local communities have to protect their LGBT citizens from discrimination.”
Sutton is now one of six West Virginia cities to have passed such a measure. No such provisions exist on a state level.
Fairness West Virginia has been working with local businesses, religious communities and local leaders since 2009 pushing nondiscrimination policies.
The help line, 844-HELP4WV: WV substance abuse help line receives hundreds of calls in just one month
CHARLESTON, WV — In just one month West Virginia’s new substance abuse hotline has received nearly 300 calls from people seeking help.
The 24/7 help line, which can be reached at 844-HELP4WV, was unveiled last month by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The purpose of the line is to offer help, not only to those struggling with substance abuse, but also to offer assistance to their families and loved ones.
“You’ve got a counselor on there that is trained that will stay on the line with you that will hook you up with a counselor with one of the new services facilities we’ve got around the state. They’ll get you an appointment, they’ll call up and make sure you got transportation,” said Tomblin on MetroNews “Talkline.”
The state continues to fight the war on drugs and Tomblin said this call line was a good initiative to bring to West Virginia.
“What came out of that was the need for services in local communities and basically, first of all, the Legislature was very good at getting somewhere around $29 million dollars, but we’re able to establish these kind of centers,” he said.
First Choice Health systems, in partnership with the state DHHR, is the company that runs the call line.
High School assault leads to arrest
MARTINSBURG, WV — A student at Martinsburg High School faces charges after allegedly assaulting a female classmate this week.
The assault happened on Monday and a Youtube video of the incident was uploaded the following day, leading to the arrest of the male student, police said.
The student who filmed the assault will also face disciplinary action.
In the video other students can be heard pleading for the boy to stop, but no one steps in.
Martinsburg High School Principal Trent Sherman says the boy arrested in the assault could face expulsion.
Sherman is encouraging students to respond to such situations by calling for help through the school’s emergency system.
Marijuana found in high school locker
SPRING MILLS, WV — A juvenile faces drug distribution and possession charges after marijuana was found in the boys’ team locker room at Spring Mills High School this week.
The K-9 section of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department completed a school wide drug sweep at the school’s request.
K-9 Renzo delivered “a positive indicator” of a drug scent to the dog’s handler during a sweep of school hallways and common areas, which led to a search of the locker.
The boy faces charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance on school property.
DEA Special Agent Mark Simala pulled the man out of a burning vehicle along I-79 last year
WHEELING, WV — DEA Special Agent Mark Simala was honored this week by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the 63rd Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony for his bravery in saving the life of a Morgantown man last year.
Attorney General Lynch presented Simala, who is the Commander of the Hancock, Brooke, Weirton Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, with the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Heroism in recognition of his acts to aid citizens in danger.
On November 19, 2014, Simala was traveling to Clarksburg to complete his quarterly firearms qualification when he came upon a four vehicle accident along Interstate 79.
Without regard for his personal safety, Simala took action and rescued an unconscious victim, John Robert Phillips, from his burning vehicle shortly before it became engulfed in flames.
Had Simala not acted, Phillips undoubtedly would have perished inside the burning vehicle.
Phillips is said to be doing well and recovering from his injuries.
During the incident, Simala suffered burns to his outer clothing, smoke inhalation as well as several small but treatable cuts to his right hand.
“Special Agent Simala’s heroic efforts grabbed the attention of the Attorney General and she recognized him this week for his bravery, composure, and strength of character,” said United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II. “Mark carries these qualities with him at all times, whether he is investigating drug dealers or saving the life of a stranger on the side of the highway.”
Simala joined the DEA as a Special Agent in 1996, was assigned to the Hancock, Brooke, Weirton Drug and Violent Crime Task Force in 1999 and was selected as the Task Force Commander in 2010.
States reliant on fossil fuels sue over new clean air rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. — States and industry groups dependent on fossil fuels began filing court challenges Friday to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A flurry of lawsuits was expected at U.S. Court of Appeals as the Environmental Protection Agency published its final version of the new regulations. All but two of the 24 states filing challenges are led by Republicans. They deride the plan as an “unlawful power grab by Washington bureaucrats” that will kill coal mining jobs and drive up electricity costs.
“The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation’s history,“ said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, among those leading the challenges. “I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions.“
The Obama administration and environmental groups counter that the rules are needed to cut carbon emissions while curbing the worst impacts of climate change and sea-level rise. They also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.
The new rules would require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.
“We expect polluters and their allies to throw everything they’ve got at the Clean Power Plan, and we expect them to fail,“ said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, among those defending the law. “The Clean Power Plan is based on a law passed by Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court, and demanded by the American people.“
The EPA says it has authority to enact the plan under the Clean Air Act. At issue are dueling provisions added to the law by the House and Senate in 1990. The EPA says it wins under the Senate language, but opponents argue that the House version should prevail.
“EPA claims to have sweeping power to enact such regulations based on a rarely used provision of the Clean Air Act, but such legal authority simply does not exist,“ Morrisey said.
EPA already regulates other power-plant pollutants under a different section of the Clean Air Act, and the opponents claim the law prohibits “double regulation.“
Morrisey said he will seek a stay barring the plan from taking effect while the court challenges proceed, a question that will likely be up to the Supreme Court.
The states challenging the plan in court are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin.
Members of Congress from coal-mining states also said Friday they will introduce new legislation aimed at blocking the EPA from enforcing the plan.
On the other side, 15 states and the District of Columbia say they are backing the Obama administration and will begin working to comply with the new rules.
Under the Clean Air Act, certain challenges to agency rules skip the federal district court and go directly to the appeals court in Washington, D.C.
Fog temporarily grounds hot air balloons in West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, WV — Weather has temporarily grounded a hot air ballooning event in Morgantown.
Fog blanketed the area early Friday, delaying the flight of several balloons. An organizer said low visibility made it impossible for the balloons to take flight.
The event, “Balloons Over Morgantown,“ is now scheduled to take flight later Friday, weather permitting.
West Virginia-Virginia natural gas pipeline before FERC
RICHMOND, VA — The backers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a formal application Friday with federal regulators to build a 300-mile natural gas pipeline from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County in Southside, Virginia.
The filing by energy companies behind the $3.2 million project comes a little over a month after Dominion Resources Inc. filed its application for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. That $5 billion project would total more than 500 miles, also originating in West Virginia and dipping into Virginia and North Carolina.
Both pipelines are intended to deliver natural gas from drilling fields in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing has made accessible vast, deep deposits of natural gas embedded in shale in the Marcellus and Utica deposits.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners and affiliates of NextEra Energy Inc. Dominion is partnering with Duke Energy and other energy companies.
Both pipelines have stirred opposition among landowners along the proposed route of the pipeline, spawning protests and lawsuits.
In its filing with FERC, Mountain Valley said it has considered more than 1,000 miles of alternatives and adjustments and made “numerous minor” changes at the behest of property owners. It also cited changes in the route to avoid environmentally sensitive or scenic areas, such as a crossing along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The filing also touted the economic impact of the pipeline and the support of governors in Virginia and West Virginia.
It proposed a 2016 construction start with the pipeline delivering energy by late 2018.
FERC confirmed the filing and will establish a 30-day period for comments.
Key Government Witness Continues Testimony
A key government witness continued testifying that his old boss, ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, was a micromanager who prioritized profits over safety leading up to a deadly 2010 mine explosion.
Ex-Performance Coal President Christopher Blanchard returned to the stand Friday in Charleston. Performance Coal was the Massey subsidiary overseeing Upper Big Branch Mine.
Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety at Upper Big Branch, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.
Blanchard has an immunity agreement with the government. Several Massey officials have been convicted in a wider investigation.
Prosecutors played phone calls where Blankenship even criticized how Blanchard held his phone, and pushed him to squeeze out a few million more dollars, without mentioning safety problems.
Man Runs Over Teen, Tweets Photo of Body
The last time Connie Coles saw her youngest son alive was Sunday night, when she sent him out to buy a loaf of bread. Trevius Williams, 16, was hit and killed by a car 10 minutes later, and Coles says she’s horrified not just by the death, but by the fact that the driver apparently tweeted a photo of her son’s corpse soon afterward, with the words “I just killed a man,“ the Florida Times-Union reports. Police in Jacksonville, Fla., have identified the driver as 19-year-old Keenan Slaughter and they say posting the photograph wasn’t illegal. Slaughter remained at the scene of the crash and cooperated with investigators, police say.
Coles tells First Coast News that her niece told her about the photo being posted and shared online. “Who does that? You have to be some kind of monster,“ she says. She adds she can’t believe Slaughter wasn’t tested for drugs or alcohol, since hours before the crash, he allegedly tweeted a rap lyric about drinking so much “lean I feel like I’m off a NyQuil.“ Lean is a “homemade cocktail of promethazine with codeine,“ according to the New York Daily News. “I’m angry because detectives told me that there’s no alcohol or drugs involved,“ Coles tells First Coast News. “Well, how would you know if he wasn’t tested?“ Police say Slaughter did not appear intoxicated and the investigation is ongoing.
Teen Recounts Deadly Church Beating
His voice barely audible in court, 17-year-old Christopher Leonard gave his first public account Wednesday of the violence last week that sent him to the hospital and killed his 19-year-old brother Lucas. He testified that after an eight-hour Sunday service October 11, pastor Tiffanie Irwin asked the Leonard family and some others to stay behind for a meeting, “to talk about what we had done. Lucas and I.“ When the answers didn’t come, the beatings began. Over what Christopher Leonard estimated was six or more hours, he was pummeled with fists and whipped with a 4-foot, folded electrical cord on the back and elsewhere, he said. He suffered injuries to his torso and genitals. Later, he said, he rushed over to Lucas on the floor in the sanctuary and discovered he wasn’t breathing.
Six people have been arrested, including the brothers’ parents and half sister. Testifying at a hearing for the half sister, Christopher didn’t explain what the brothers were being punished for, and the judge stopped him from disclosing what questions they were asked. Outside court, authorities have said the beating erupted during “spiritual counseling” over Lucas’ desire to leave Word of Life Christian Church, a small, secretive, and highly regimented congregation in upstate New York. The teens’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, are charged with manslaughter. The half sister, 33-year-old Sarah Ferguson, and three other church members are charged with assault.
Suspect in Road Rage Killing of 4-Year-Old Confesses
Police in Albuquerque, NM, charged a man with murder Wednesday night in the road-rage killing of a 4-year-old girl, who was shot in the back seat of her father’s truck after he picked her up from school—a death that horrified the public. Police say Tony Torrez, 32, was arrested Wednesday and is also charged with a series of weapons violations in the death of Lilly Garcia. The announcement came a few hours after police said a person of interest had been taken into custody in Tuesday’s shooting on an Albuquerque freeway. Lilly was riding in the back seat with her 7-year-old brother when someone in a Toyota opened fire on the family as they traveled down the city’s main east-west freeway.
The father told authorities that he was trying to exit I-40 when a car forced him out of his lane, according to a police statement. “The two drivers exchanged words when Torrez pulled out a gun and shot,“ the statement said. “Lilly was hit at least once in the head.“ Police say an anonymous caller provided the name of a possible suspect, and with that information and tips from the community, detectives were able to find the suspect, detaining him without incident. “This evening, Torrez confessed to investigators he was responsible for the murder,“ the police statement said. Earlier, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said officers “have not stopped or slept” in their search for the suspect and his vehicle.
Cyclists Fighting Stop Signs in San Francisco
How would you feel about being able to legally roll through a stop sign while riding a bike? Your answer to that question probably depends on whether you’re a cyclist or a driver. The New York Times reports San Francisco is considering a controversial ordinance that would allow bicycles to treat all stop signs like yield signs, meaning they don’t have to stop if no other traffic is present. The ordinance, which should be voted on in the coming months, is seen as another skirmish in the ongoing war between cars, bicycles, and pedestrians in the swelling metropolis. “It feels like the Wild West because there are so many people in the city right now,“ one pro-bike activist tells the Times.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the ordinance has the support of a majority of city supervisors, but the mayor has promised to veto it. “New laws should enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts,“ the mayor says. However, Idaho has had a similar law since 1982 and has found it improves things for both cyclists and drivers with few accidents and even fewer complaints. “It’s not something people here even talk about,“ a Boise bicycle officer tells the Chronicle. The so-called “Idaho stop” is also legal in parts of Colorado, but that’s it, according to the Times. Similar bills recently failed to get support in Oregon, Arizona, and Montana. But people on both sides of the issue agree something needs to be done to ease traffic conflicts in San Francisco, where there are an estimated 70,000 and growing bike trips every weekday.
‘Miracle Church’ Targeted in St. Louis’ 7th Arson
A church considered to be the first miracle west of the Mississippi River became the seventh to be targeted by a suspected arsonist in St. Louis early Thursday. Like other arson cases since October 08, the front exterior doors of the rectory of the Shrine of St. Joseph were set on fire using a small amount of accelerant, reports NBC News. Unlike the other cases, however, the Catholic church was mostly frequented by white people, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police earlier suggested the possibility of a hate crime, since all the churches targeted were predominantly black churches.
Built in 1843, the Shrine of St. Joseph is sometimes called the “Miracle Church.“ After a sick immigrant was reportedly healed by a relic belonging to future saint Peter Claver, the Vatican labeled it a miracle in 1843. Authorities say the latest fire, which was quickly extinguished, hasn’t given them any clues as to a motive or suspect, but they hope a $9,000 reward will help lead to an arrest soon. “If you have observed anyone who has recently expressed anger or frustration with our religious community or with these particular churches, we ask that you contact us,“ authorities say.
‘Cupcake Burglar’ Busted Thanks to Frosting
A home burglary in Alpena, Mich., was solved pretty quickly, thanks to some literal icing. Cops say a woman broke into a home early Sunday, knocking over a tray of cupcakes and other items before she fled when the homeowner confronted her, Michigan Live reports. Police found the suspect a few blocks away from the burglarized home, “highly intoxicated and [with] cupcake frosting and cake all over her torso and legs,“ per the police report. She was booked into Alpena County Jail on charges of unlawful entry and malicious destruction of property.
Inmates Get Unreal Punishment for Rap Video
A “music video“ filmed at South Carolina’s Kershaw Correctional Institution made inmates famous on the Internet last year. They’re now paying the price, big time. Public documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show seven inmates were handed a combined 20 years in solitary confinement for the clip, which shows inmates rapping, beatboxing, and dancing in a cell. Filmed in 2014 and posted to WorldStarHipHop.com, the video became a key part of their sentencing, as prison officials pointed out the use of gang signs, a cellphone to film the clip, and social media to make it public, the New York Daily News reports. The inmates also lost visitation hours and other privileges. “South Carolina becomes the poster child for abuse of solitary confinement” with the move, says Dave Maass, an investigative researcher with the EEF.
The digital rights group has set its sights on the state before: Back in February, the EFF found the South Carolina Department of Corrections doled out stints in solitary confinement to hundreds of inmates caught using Facebook—including 37 years to an inmate who posted to the site 38 times, though such punishments are often shortened, per Buzzfeed. The SCDC’s director said severe punishments for the use of contraband cellphones and social media were warranted, noting a corrections officer “was shot six times in his home due to an attempted contract killing via a contraband cellphone.“ Still, the SCDC in February revised its policy, saying it wouldn’t let an inmate stay in solitary for more than 60 days. In explaining the length of the latest punishments, a rep says they are justified because the inmates “are gang members and a continued threat to safety.“
Biloxi Running ‘Debtors Prison From the Dark Ages’: ACLU
Debtors prisons are supposedly a thing of the distant past—except in Biloxi, Miss. That’s according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the city, its police department, the courts, and a private probation company, alleging these agencies have conspired to threaten poor residents into paying up to avoid jail time, the Guardian reports. Despite a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that imprisoning someone because they can’t pay fines violates the 14th Amendment, the lawsuit documents 415 such people in Biloxi who were thrown behind bars between September 2014 and March. A lawyer for the ACLU, which filed the suit, says locals were “arrested at traffic stops and in their homes, taken to jail, and subjected to a jailhouse shakedown,“ calling it “a debtors’ prison from the Dark Ages.“ One notable case: a 51-year-old jailed a month for misdemeanors mainly related to his homelessness.
An NPR probe found all 50 states are engaging in such practices (and more and more lawsuits are being filed), but Biloxi takes issue. “We believe the ACLU is mistaken about the process in Biloxi,“ the city noted in a statement, though it says it hasn’t yet seen the lawsuit. “The court has used community service in cases where defendants are unable to pay their fines.“ The lead plaintiff, Qumotria Kennedy, is a 36-year-old single mom who makes $9,000 a year as a cleaner. She was a passenger when her friend was pulled over in July for running a stop sign. Police ran Kennedy’s name, and she was arrested and jailed due to $1,000 in unpaid court fines and late fees. She spent five days and nights in a holding cell and lost her job; the fees are now $1,251. “The probation person told me if I don’t pay it, I will be arrested again sooner or later,“ she tells the Guardian. “I don’t believe this is right. I just hope other people in the world don’t get treated like I have.“
Cops: Upset Neighbor Sent ‘Tasty Children’ Threats
There are ways to deal with kids in the neighborhood you might find annoying, and this is most definitely not one of them: Police in Minnesota say a woman mailed an anonymous letter to the parents of two young kids nearby saying, “The children look delicious. May I have a taste?“ reports CBS Minnesota. Later came the magazine subscriptions addressed to “tasty children.“ The angry parents posted about it on a community Faceboook page, and Champlin police soon arrested Carrie Pernula, 38, who faces charges of making terroristic threats and stalking. She told police the two elementary school kids were noisy and repeatedly putting things on her porch.
Driver’s Alleged Crime: Drinking Coffee
There’s a good chance you broke the law on your way to work today—at least in the eyes of Minnesota police. The offense: drinking coffee while driving. Lindsey Krieger tells KMSP she was “dumbfounded” when an officer told her she’d been pulled over for the apparent crime in St. Paul on Wednesday. “It’s against the law to drink coffee while you’re driving,‘“ she quotes the officer as telling her. As it turns out, the cop let her off with a warning for the coffee but gave her a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt (which Krieger says she unbuckled only after being pulled over).
So was the officer right? Well, “kind of,“ a post at Munchies explains, because drinking coffee would fall under rules against distracted driving. A St. Paul police rep says drivers can be ticketed for basically any act that takes their attention from the road, and coffee clearly seems to qualify: The NHTSA recently concluded that drivers who eat and drive increase their risk of an accident by 80%, and it ranked coffee as the most dangerous product to consume behind the wheel. Krieger, meanwhile, plans to fight the ticket—and keep sipping coffee in her car.
Instead of Tickets, Cops Give Dad a Much-Needed Gift
When police officer Justin Gower pulled a truck over Saturday in Cedar Park, Texas, for a faulty light, he wasn’t prepared for what he found: three girls, ages 1, 3, and 4, in the back, none in car seats, KVUE reports. “I was upset because it’s extremely dangerous,“ he tells KXAN. “I have kids and I know how fragile they are, especially how young these kids were.“ His colleague, Cale Hawkins, had stopped this same dad before earlier in the month and knew the dad was having financial troubles. “To issue them three citations for each child would just devastate them,“ Gower says.
So they hatched a different plan: They both came up with some cash, and Gower talked to the dad while Hawkins snuck off to Walmart, where he bought three pink car seats for the three girls for about $145, thanks to a discount the manager gave him, per KVUE. They even helped put the car seats in for the dad, who tells the station, “It was nothing short of a miracle. It was something that was really needed. The officers have been a blessing.“ An added bonus: When other Cedar Park officers heard about their act of kindness, they pitched in as well.