The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Mountaineer Opry House in Milton, W.Va.
West Virginia Division of Culture and History

The Mountaineer Opry House in Milton is set to close its doors permanently next month.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the new owner, medical provider Valley Health, will then take over the property. Eighty-three-year-old Larry Stephens has managed the bluegrass hotspot since 1991. He says the Opry House has to be off the property by June 19.

West Virginia's Bureau for Public Health has officially suspended the certification of a harm reduction program following concerns over its needle exchange component.

needle exchange sign
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

An audit requested by a West Virginia mayor who said a needle exchange program had caused an increase of dirty needles in public places has recommended the suspension of the program's certification.

West Virginia's secretary of state says more than 50,000 West Virginians have taken advantage of the early voting period this election cycle.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that as of early Friday, 50,225 ballots had been cast across West Virginia.

View of the Allegheny Front from Bear Rocks Preserve
Chad Matlick

A land donation will more than double the size of the Bear Rocks Preserve in West Virginia.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that near 2 square miles of land along the Allegheny Front, the eastern rim of the Dolly Sods plateau, has been donated to the Nature Conservancy of West Virginia. The gift was made possible through donations from the Ann C. and Robert O. Orders Jr. Family Foundation and Maryland resident Dan Montgomery.

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College located in Martinsburg, Berkeley County.
John Hale / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

All but one of West Virginia's public community and technical colleges are planning to increase tuition and fees for associate's degrees.

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission official Matt Turner tells The Charleston Gazette-Mail that the Community and Technical College System presumes the colleges have already approved the average increase of 2.6 percent. CTSC data shows the average yearly cost will increase to $4,040 next academic year.

Drugs, Drug abuse, Drug overdose, overdose
Pixabay

Cabell County is leading West Virginia in the number of fatal overdoses for the second year in a row.

Citing state data, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports 909 people died of drug overdoses in West Virginia in 2017, an increase from the previous record of 887, set in 2016. Overdose deaths seemed to slow during late 2017, though the state Health Statistics Center says that could be due to reporting delays.

Dominick Guzzo / Flickr

West Virginia's capital could soon be home to a spirited new attraction.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional use permit for a downtown microdistillery Thursday. Jeff Arthur's proposed Mountain State Distillery would allow visitors to witness the entire process of distilling alcoholic beverages, including whiskey, rum, vodka and moonshine.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail logo.
Twitter

The new owner of the Charleston Gazette-Mail says the newspaper's vice president of circulation is being promoted to publisher.

HD Media announced Thursday that 64-year-old Jim Heady would take over the role on April 1.

Brunch, Alcohol
MAT HAYWARD / Dollar Photo Club

A West Virginia distillery has been awarded a loan to buy more equipment and increase production of its distilled moonshine whiskey and flavored moonshine.

BotMultichillT / wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia fire department has been temporarily shut down over outdated equipment and inadequate staffing.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports state Fire Marshal spokesman Tim Rock says the Northfork Volunteer Fire Department voluntarily closed earlier this month following an investigation. Rock says the department has 180 days to correct the violations.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

Legendary Charleston Gazette Publisher Ned Chilton called it "sustained outrage." He said it wasn't enough to do a story or two about an injustice - it took in-depth coverage to fix a wrong.

But with the Gazette-Mail going bankrupt, supporters are concerned about that tradition of investigative reporting. How can we keep accountability journalism healthy and strong in West Virginia?

The owners of the Charleston Gazette-Mail agreed Monday to take the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to an announcement that was posted on the Gazette-Mail's website Monday afternoon. 

Wheeling Newspapers is currently the high bidder to assume ownership of the company. 

On The Legislature Today, we bring you another reporter roundtable revisiting the week that was and pondering the week to come. Host Andrea Lannom is joined by her statehouse colleagues Brad McElhinny of West Virginia MetroNews and making his first appearance on The Legislature Today, Ryan Quinn, education reporter for the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Tomwsulcer / Wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia public library system will soon limit the number of personal items patrons can bring into facilities.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that starting Feb. 1, the Kanawha County Public Library system will limit patrons to three bags and will ban wheeled devices with some exceptions, including wheelchairs and strollers.

Electron / Wikimedia Commons

The West Virginia Board of Education has agreed to reduce the credits required to graduate from the state's high schools from 24 to 22, allowing two fewer elective classes.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that change will apply in the next school year.

vote, voting, polls
Jeff Gentner / AP Photo

Starting this year, West Virginians must show identification before they can vote in an election.

A law passed by the Legislature last year took effect Monday. For any election, voters in West Virginia have to present a valid form of ID or have another registered voter vouch for them under oath.

Harrison County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

State officials are expressing hope that a trade dispute over Canadian aircraft won't affect hundreds of people working at the company's service center in West Virginia.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that about 400 people work at Bombardier's commercial aircraft service center in Bridgeport. The facility at North Central West Virginia Airport in October picked up 89 jobs from Bombardier's shuttered maintained operations in Georgia.

West Virginia Supreme Court chamber
West Virginia Judiciary

The chief justice of West Virginia's highest court has been parting with furniture this week.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that workers on Thursday took a desk from Justice Allen Loughry's Charleston home to a Supreme Court warehouse.

Wood County 911

A new lawsuit over the industrial fire that burned for a week in West Virginia targets the chemical manufacturer who sold products stored in the building.

Cecelia Mason

The former superintendent of West Virginia's state schools for blind and deaf students has filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse his firing.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

A United Nations expert on extreme poverty and human rights will visit West Virginia's capital city during a fact-finding trip to the United States.

Photo courtesy of Wood County 911

Three lawsuits seeking damages following the industrial warehouse fire that burned for a week in Parkersburg have been moved from state to federal court.

Prison Bars
Schavda / wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia city council has passed a bill allowing people to perform community service at nonprofit organizations and public entities in lieu of incarceration or paying fines to municipal court.

Gasoline, Gas, Fuel, Diesel
Pixabay

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority has authorized more than $29 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to a company planning to build a synthetic fuel plant.

Capitol
Kristi George / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Appalachian Power Co. is asking for a reduced property tax assessment in West Virginia for the 2018 tax year, citing a combination of a mild summer and winter that has hurt business.

Thomas Johnson, of Appalachian Power's parent company, told the state Board of Public Works on Thursday, "The utility business tends to be a weather business."

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A federal judge tells developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline he won't order all landowners in its West Virginia lawsuit to respond by Dec. 4 to motions for summary judgment for rights of way available under federal regulations.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A group of teachers, public employees and retirees in West Virginia is objecting to proposed health insurance benefits cuts.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the group expressed its concerns Wednesday evening to the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board at the last of five public hearings on the latest proposed cuts.

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Developers of a proposed natural gas pipeline are suing hundreds of landowners in two states to gain rights of way granted by federal regulations.

Mountain Valley Pipeline lawyers filed federal court complaints in Charleston, West Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia to obtain easements through eminent domain rights, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Thursday.

Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

Several West Virginia municipalities are suing The Joint Commission, claiming the Chicago-based health care accreditation group downplayed the dangers of prescription painkillers and helped fuel addictions.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the cities of Charleston, Huntington and Kenova and the town of Ceredo filed the class-action lawsuit Thursday in Charleston.

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