News

Legislature
4:38 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Bill on Local Smoking Restrictions is Rejected in the House

Friday in the Government Organization Committee's public hearing. Dozens of citizens attended.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It was Tobacco Free Day at the Legislature, Friday. Coincidentally, the Government Organization Committee held a public hearing about smoking. Currently, a county board of public health passes smoking regulations. House Bill 2208, in its introduced version, would make it so only members of the county commission elected by voters have the power to regulate public smoking.

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Rail Safety
10:45 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Rail Car Company Urges DOT to Finalize New Safety Rules

Credit The Greenbrier Companies

One of the companies that builds the type of rail tank car involved in Monday’s train derailment in Fayette County is urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to finalize new rules for modernizing those cars.

The Greenbrier Companies based in Lake Oswego, Oregon is one of five manufacturers in North America that produce freight-rail tank cars used for transporting Class I hazardous material such as the Bakken crude oil that spilled in Fayette County. The company also retrofits older tank cars to make them safer.

Their work comes at a point when the federal-level Department of Transportation is developing regulations for phasing out older tank cars and setting increased safety standards for new ones.

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Suspension Bridge
10:20 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Suspension Bridge in Wheeling Closed After Cable Snapped

Credit Magnus Manske / wikimedia Commons

Police in Wheeling say a suspension bridge has been closed after a cable snapped.

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was closed Friday morning. Media outlets report the cable was on a snapped power line near a jogging trail.

In 2013, the bridge was closed after a corroded cable on top of the span snapped on the downtown Wheeling side. The cable helps to keep the bridge from swaying.

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Train Derailment
10:16 am
Fri February 20, 2015

One Lane Reopens of Route 61 Near Train Derailment

Credit U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier

Authorities have partially reopened a stretch of road where an oil train derailed in southern West Virginia.

One lane of state Route 61 reopened Friday in Montgomery. It was blocked off after Monday's fiery crash in the nearby town of Mount Carbon.

About 225 people had been forced out from 100 homes along the road. It wasn't known whether the residents were being allowed back in their homes for good. A spokesman for multiple agencies responding to the crash didn't immediately return a telephone message Friday.

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West Virginia Morning
8:24 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Rail Cart Modernization Gets a Push

On this West Virginia Morning, One of the companies that make the train cars that derailed in Fayette County is pushing for modernization from the government, and we bring you up to date on a scaled-back version of the prevailing wage repeal that made it to the house yesterday.

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The Legislature Today
6:40 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Sen. Manchin Endorses Prevailing Wage Compromise

At the legislature today, Senators reconsider a vote that killed one of the Republican majority's legal reform bills. That bill now makes its way to the House and a special report on the state of water infrastructure in southern West Virginia on The Legislature Today.

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Legislature
6:00 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Sen. Joe Manchin Speaks at Public Hearing on Prevailing Wage Bill

House Government Organization Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 361.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senate Bill 361 made its way into the House Thursday. What had been a full repeal of the prevailing wage all together is now just a scale back. And this compromise received an endorsement from U. S. Senator Joe Manchin.

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Winter Weather
5:50 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

State Officials Urge West Virginians to Stay Out of the Cold

On Monday, snow closed businesses in downtown Charleston but temperatures dropped later in the week and state officials are warning residents to stay indoors.
Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State officials are urging West Virginians to take precautions against bitter cold weather.

Temperatures fell to record levels on Thursday morning in Bluefield and Lewisburg.

The National Weather Service says the low temperature in Bluefield was 4 degrees below zero. The previous record for Feb. 19 was 3 degrees in 1993.

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Government
5:46 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Kasich Visits W.Va. Touting Federal Balanced Budget Amendment

Credit Office of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich

  Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is urging West Virginia lawmakers to call for a constitutional convention to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

At the Charleston statehouse Thursday, the potential 2016 presidential hopeful touted the movement.

Thirty-four states would need to pass resolutions to hold the convention.

To approve an amendment, 38 states would need to ratify it.

Opponents warn a convention could result in unrestrained attempts to change the Constitution.

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Legislature
4:50 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Senators Approve Bill to Cap Punitive Damages After Failed Vote

Senators approved SB 421 after reconsidering their Wednesday vote and amending the bill.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators reconsidered a bill Thursday that previously would have capped the punitive damages awarded in a civil lawsuit and also give the state a portion of the award. Wednesday, two Republican Senators voted against the measure.

The bill as originally considered would have capped the punitive damages a jury could award at three times compensatory damages won in a case or $500,000, whichever is greater.

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Train Derailment
1:18 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

What We Know Three Days After the Fayette Co. Oil Train Derailment

Credit U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Angie Vallier

Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are on the scene of Monday's oil train derailment near Mount Carbon, W.Va. The incident sparked massive fireballs stretching hundreds of feet in the air. One home was destroyed in the incident and the homeowner was treated for smoke inhalation and then released. 

1. Some initial reports from the scene turned out to be incorrect.

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Coast Guard
11:49 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Man Charged with Faking Death to Desert Coast Guard

Credit http://www.uscg.mil/

A West Virginia man has been charged with faking his death to desert from the U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II says 33-year-old Larry C. Shelby of Martinsburg abandoned his vehicle and wrote suicide notes in 2013. Shelby then concealed his identity and isolated himself in a remote cabin.

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Elkins
10:02 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Elkins Man Charged in Courthouse Bomb Plot

An Elkins man faces an explosives charge stemming from an alleged plot to bomb a federal courthouse.

Thirty-year-old Jonathan Schrader is charged in a criminal complaint with possessing and storing stolen C4 plastic explosives. The FBI filed the complaint this week in U.S. District Court in Wheeling.

FBI special agent Lawrence Quigley says in an affidavit that a witness told investigators Schrader had discussed detonating plastic explosives in front of the Jennings Randolph Federal Center in Elkins.

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West Liberty
9:57 am
Thu February 19, 2015

West Liberty Committee to Discuss Complaint Against President

Credit http://westliberty.edu/

West Liberty University's Board of Governors is expected to meet soon to discuss its options regarding an ethics complaint against the school's president.

Media outlets report that the board's executive committee met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the complaint against West Liberty President Robin Capehart. Board chairman George Couch says the board's legal counsel gave the committee an update. He didn't provide details.

Couch says the full board likely will hold a special meeting in the next week to 10 days.

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Weather
9:32 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Safety Tips for Cold Weather

Credit Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  Bitterly cold temperatures and dangerously low wind chills are forecasted for throughout the state over the next 24 hours. West Virginians are urged to take precautions.
 
The severe winter conditions bring the threat of hypothermia and frostbite from prolonged exposure. Unsafe efforts to stay warm, meanwhile, can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
 
Experts advise the following:
 
·        Stay indoors during such extreme winter weather. When venturing outside, dress in layers and limit skin exposure.

 

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West Virginia Morning
8:37 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Senate Debate Flares Over Civil Lawsuits

With safe crude oil transportation on everyone’s minds, Dave Mistich sat down with Peter Goelz a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. We also take a look at some activity on the Senate floor that took place over a bill to cap damages for certain lawsuits.

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Legislature
6:59 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Senate Committee Advances Bill to Expand Broadband Access

Sen. Chris Walters.
Credit West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee took up a bill Wednesday that its sponsor says will create a government owned broadband interstate in West Virginia.

Senate Bill 459 calls on the state to invest $78 million in expanding broadband access to West Virginians. The money would pay for the installation of 2,600 miles of broadband fiber across West Virginia with an emphasis on expanding access in rural areas.

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Train Derailment
6:52 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Rail Cars Are Being Removed from Derailment Site

Credit Courtesy of Mike King

Multiple state and federal agencies have combined to establish a unified command in response to the West Virginia Train Derailment near Mount Carbon on the Kanawha River on Monday. 

Capt. Lee Boone, Federal On Scene Coordinator for the West Virginia Train Derailment said the top priorities for response personnel remain the safety of the community and responders, and mitigating the impact to the environment.

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The Legislature Today
6:32 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Legislature Considering Who Can Make Smoking Regulations

At the legislature today, there’s Senate action on a bill we learned about last night to invest 78 million dollars in broadband development.  And the House quietly passes a flurry of bills on the floor today ranging from early childhood education to rules for barbers and hair stylists.  We’ll talk with the Chair and Vice Chair of the House committee that oversees barbershops and hair salons, among other things, on The Legislature Today.

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Q&A
5:30 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Former NTSB Official: ‘Everybody’s Got To Do Better’ With Crude-By-Rail Transport

Peter Goelz, Senior Vice President at O’Neill and Associates, is also a former Managing Director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

After Monday's CSX train derailment in Fayette County, attention has turned to a national discussion regarding the safety of crude-by-rail transportation.

Peter Goelz is a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. His responsibilities at the NTSB included leading the day-to-day operations of the agency and serving as chief policy advisor to the chairman. He is now senior vice president of O'Nell and Associates, a firm offering government relations and communications services related to a variety of industries, including transportation.

You can stream audio of an interview with Goelz  or read highlights below:

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