Chemical Leak
2:59 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Prosecuters Say Ex-Freedom Industries President A Flight Risk

Gary Southern
Credit WOWK

Federal prosecutors want a former executive charged in a January chemical spill on home confinement with electronic monitoring.

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Interstate Widening
9:18 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Widening of I-64 in Huntington to be Complete By Spring

Credit CZmarlin / wikimedia Commons

A widening of Interstate 64 in Huntington to six lanes will be completed next spring.

The $18 million project included replacing an overpass and widening about 4 miles of the in

  terstate in both directions from the 29th Street exit to the Hal Greer Boulevard exit.

Division of Highways spokeswoman Carrie Bly and district engineer Chris Collins tell The Herald-Dispatch the project is "substantially complete." Crews still need to lay a final layer of asphalt and install guardrails.

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Mine Explosion Investigation
12:11 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Blankenship Wants Case Moved

Credit Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A former Massey Energy CEO wants his criminal case moved and Jan. 26 trial delayed one year.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger heard requests Wednesday in Beckley in Don Blankenship's case.

Blankenship's attorney said he couldn't get a fair trial in southern West Virginia because of bad publicity.

Also Wednesday, Berger heard news organizations argue against a gag order, which they want dropped or modified.

The order restricts parties or victims from discussing the case with reporters or releasing court documents.

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Vienna Annexation
10:58 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Vienna to Annex former Johns Manville Plant Site

Credit SieBot / wikimedia Commons

Vienna officials plan to clean up a former Johns Manville plant site and redevelop it.

The Wood County Commission approved the city's petition to annex the property this week.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp says the city has applied for grants totaling about $400,000 to clean up the property.

Rapp says the city plans to convert part of the property to green space for public use, including walking and biking trails. City officials hope to attract new development to the industrial section.

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Charles Town
10:52 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Charles Town to Acquire Portion of Charles Washington Estate

Credit Fæ / wikimedia Commons

Charles Town plans to acquire 10 acres surrounding city founder Charles Washington's home, Happy Retreat.

The Journal reports that City Council approved a contract this week with the Friends of Happy Retreat. Under the contract, the city will pay $350,000 for the land and the nonprofit will pay $425,000 for the house and the remaining 2.2 acres.

Friends of Happy Retreat president Walter Washington says the transaction will give the public ongoing access to the estate.

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Conflict of Interest
11:11 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Ex-Freedom President says Prosecutor Should Be Disqualified

Credit WOWK

The former president of Freedom Industries says U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office shouldn't prosecute criminal charges against him because its members were victims of the company's chemical spill.

Gary Southern's lawyers filed a motion Monday seeking the disqualification of Goodwin and his office's agents and investigators. The motion says they have a conflict of interest.

According to the motion, each charge against Southern is related to the January chemical spill that left 300,000 people without drinking water.

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Abuse Investigation
10:01 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Four Charged for Failing to Report Abuse at Center

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council

Four people face charges stemming from an investigation of abuse allegations at a center for developmentally disabled adults and children in Romney.

Hampshire County Magistrate Ron DiColia says Jennifer Flores of Romney and Augusta residents Joseph Moreland Jr., Denny Timbrook and Katrina Phillips are each charged with failure to report abuse or neglect. The charge is a misdemeanor.

DiColia said Tuesday that all three remain free on bond.

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Embezzlement Sentence
9:13 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Former Salem Official Loses Bid for Reconsideration of Sentence

A former Salem official has lost a bid to serve his embezzlement sentence under house arrest.

David Wayne Mayle is serving one to 10 years in prison. His attorney, Rocco Mazzei, had filed a motion in November asking a judge to consider house arrest.

The Exponent Telegram reports that Harrison County Circuit Judge John Lewis Marks Jr. denied the motion on Monday. Marks says in his order that the sentence is appropriate.

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2:55 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Lawmakers Prepare to Craft Boy Scout Legislation

Raleigh County Airport Manager Tom Cochran addressed those gathered at the public forum in the Fayette County Courthouse.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance traveled to Fayetteville Monday evening to hear from area residents about their concerns about the financial implications of a newly approved Constitutional Amendment.

The amendment, which was approved in November by West Virginia voters with 62 percent of the vote, will allow the Boy Scouts of America to lease their Summit Bechtel Reserve to private organizations while maintaining their property tax exemption. 

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WV Legislature
2:30 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

WVOASIS Being Tested for Security Weaknesses

Jason Pizatella, Acting Secretary of the Department of Administration, updated lawmakers on the OASIS project in the House Chamber.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers were updated today on the security measures the state is taking to protect employee information in the OASIS system. 

WVOASIS stands for Our Advanced Solution with Integrated Systems. The computer software system is designed to integrate all functions of state government into one and has been rolled out in phases since 2013.

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Natural Gas
10:14 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

Industry Backed Bill Could Force Mineral Owners to Sell

President of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association Kevin Ellis presented the bill to lawmakers during a November interim meeting.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As lawmakers return to town this week for their final interim session of 2014, they'll learn more about a practice in the natural gas industry companies want them to approve through legislation: forced pooling.

Kevin Ellis, president of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, explained to lawmakers during a November meeting, when companies prepare to drill a well they create a giant rectangle of land parcels and then negotiate with each mineral owner within that rectangle for their gas rights.

By pooling these owners together, companies can drill a well and then pay out mineral owners proportionally by land acreage for the gas produced.

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5:00 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Buck Kills During W.Va. Deer Season Down

Credit Scott Baue / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Hunters killed nearly 37,280 bucks during West Virginia's two-week firearm season. That's down 34 percent from the 56,523 bucks killed in the 2013 season.

Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro said Friday that bad weather and an excellent acorn crop this fall contributed to lower hunter success.

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Economic Development
11:14 am
Fri December 12, 2014

W.Va. Coalfields Panel Grants $20k for Trail Project

Senate President Jeff Kessler created the SCORE program in October.
Credit West Virginia Legislature

A state Senate panel seeking to revitalize the struggling southern coalfields has awarded a $20,000 grant to a trail project.

At a Thursday meeting in Princeton, Senate President Jeff Kessler and task force members gave the grant to the Piney Creek Trail Committee.

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10:44 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Report: W.Va. Lax on Tobacco Prevention Funding

A group of public health organizations say West Virginia isn't spending enough money on programs to prevent tobacco use.

According to a report, states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the national tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. But they'll spend less than 2 percent of it on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

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10:37 am
Fri December 12, 2014

W.Va. Officials: Water Regulations Hard to Enforce

Credit Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia environmental officials say the state lacks a strong program to deter falsification of coal company water samples.

The Charleston Gazette reports that Department of Environmental Protection officials made that observation Thursday at a regulatory board hearing. The state Environmental Quality Board did not rule on an appeal by Appalachian Laboratories Inc., which lost its Clean Water Act certification after an employee pleaded guilty to falsifying water quality samples.

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10:34 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Former Superintendent Case Heading to W.Va. Supreme Court


A legal battle over the firing of West Virginia's school superintendent is heading to the state's highest court.

A Kanawha County circuit judge last month refused to dismiss former superintendent Jorea Marple's lawsuit. The Charleston Gazette reports that the West Virginia Board of Education is appealing that ruling to the state Supreme Court.

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Public Education
6:40 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

W.Va. Board OKs Plan for More Flexible School Days

West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin
Credit West Virginia Department of Education

Members of the state Board of Education have approved a pilot program that will give school districts more flexibility in planning their instructional days.

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6:36 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

W.Va. Checks Tobacco Sales to Minors

Credit Oxfordian Kissuth / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia officials say retailers continue to ensure they're not selling tobacco to minors.

An annual statewide survey indicates that 87.8 percent of retailers inspected did not sell tobacco products to youth under the age of 18 during 2014.

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5:04 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Judge Orders Hearing on Motion to Lift Gag Order

Credit Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

The judge in Don Blankenship's case has scheduled a hearing after the former Massey CEO responded Thursday to a request by several news outlets to lift a gag order.  

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger issued the order Thursday evening scheduling a hearing on the motion to lift the gag order.

That motion was filed by the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, The Charleston Gazette, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio Nov. 14.

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Justice Reform
2:07 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Reducing Truancy Top Concern of Juvenile Justice Study

From right to left, West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin, Court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury, Justice Menis Ketchum and Chief Justice Robin Davis at the event announcing the task force's recommendations.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Tomblin's Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice released its final report Thursday which includes some 20 recommendations on how to reduce the state's incarcerated youth population. The report focuses heavily on preventative measures to deal with status offenders, or juveniles who commit offenses that would not be considered crimes for an adult. 

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