Government

Community Engagement
6:45 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

“Fairmont 101”: Learning Basics of Local Government

Credit Sarah Lowther Hensley

Operating a city is a complicated business. Cities provide a variety of services from public safety and road repair to clean water and public parks. There are multiple departments, a mish-mash of funding streams, and oodles of state and federal regulations to observe. The City of Fairmont, West Virginia has launched an interactive program to make sure its citizens understand the city’s role and responsibilities and its processes for serving the public: “Fairmont 101”.

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Politics
3:36 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

West Virginia Democrats Want GOP Candidates Off Ballot

Del. Suzette Raines
Credit West Virginia Legislature

  West Virginia Democrats say Republican state Del. Suzette Raines doesn't live where she claims and shouldn't be on the November ballot.

They also want GOP House of Delegates hopeful Melissa Lewis off the ballot.

The state Democratic Executive Committee filed complaints Monday in Kanawha and Preston circuit courts.

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Government
11:26 am
Mon July 21, 2014

W.Va. Veterans Clinic with Air Concerns Tentatively Set to Reopen

Credit U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  A Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic closed because of air concerns is expected to reopen next month.

The Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Maxwelton was closed June 6 after several employees became ill.

Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center spokeswoman Debbie Voloski tells The Register-Herald that the clinic is tentatively scheduled to reopen Aug. 1.

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Government Billing
9:50 am
Mon July 21, 2014

W.Va. Treasurer Helps Localities Manage Finances

Treasurer John Perdue
Credit West Virginia State Treasurer's Office

  An online billing program offered by the West Virginia Treasurer's Office is making it easier for local governments to manage their finances.

Treasurer John Perdue says the LGov program helps local governments process their bills. He tells the Charleston Gazette that the program reduces paperwork and gets money into the system faster.

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Annexation
5:00 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Beckley Plans to Nearly Double in Size

Focus area of new annexation project
Credit William Kelly

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story quoted Sheila Bailey with Songer Insurance in Beckley as saying fire insurance rates would rise because of annexation. Bayley says fire insurance rates should actually go down for homeowners involved in the annexation proposal. With annexation, residents will have service from a full time fire department. Neighborhoods currently without reasonable access to fire hydrants can have higher rates but the city has the funds to install hydrants in those areas should they be annexed.  

 

Beckley is currently the eighth largest city in West Virginia. If things go the way some plan, it could soon become the third.

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Lawsuit
1:52 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

$2.9 Million Settlement Proposed for Chemical Spill Cases

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  At least $2.9 million could fuel studies in a proposed settlement between West Virginia businesses and residents and the company that contaminated their water supply.

The deal between lawyers for Freedom Industries and businesses and people who sued Freedom was filed Friday in Charleston federal court. It needs approval in both U.S. district and bankruptcy court.

The agreement would settle 24 lawsuits against Freedom. Many businesses sued to recoup profits they lost while shuttered for days. A January tap-water ban affected 300,000 people.

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Rural Infrastructure
5:14 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

W.Va. Rural Roads Continue to Crumble, Highway Workers Face Possible Lay-Offs

Credit Sarah Lowther Hensley / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More research has surfaced indicating the abysmal state of rural infrastructure these days, especially in West Virginia, and shortfalls in federal funding for highway maintenance could make the problem worse as well as leave many road workers filing for unemployment.

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Wildlife
10:57 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Board to Revise List of W.Va. Dangerous Animals

Credit FlickreviewR / flickr

  A board asked to produce a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia plans to amend an earlier list after receiving public comments.

The original list developed by the Wild and Dangerous Animal Board includes chimpanzees, crocodiles, giraffes, elephants, piranha, and several types of pythons. But it also includes some types of birds, turtles, tetra fish and geckos.

The Charleston Gazette reports the board Thursday decided to have a subcommittee work on a compromise.

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News
9:43 am
Fri July 18, 2014

W.Va. Environmental Regulators Order Surface Mine to Stop Work

Blast warning signs are posted throughout the forest on sites near Middle Lick Mountain.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 West Virginia environmental officials have ordered a new surface coal mining operation near Kanawha State Forest to halt mining.

The stop-work order is from the Department of Environmental Protection. Inspectors issued an "imminent harm cessation order" when they found cracks in a barrier intended to contain runoff in a sediment-control ditch.

It's also meant to prevent dirt and mud from the site from entering a nearby creek.

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Around the Nation
4:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Months From Water Crisis, Leaking W.Va. Tanks Are Demolished

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:40 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

At the beginning of the year, residents of Charleston, West Virginia smelled a licorice odor in their water. It turned out a chemical used in coal production had leaked out of a nearby storage tank, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 people. This week, tanks at the center of this crisis are being demolished. But as Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports, that doesn't necessarily bring closure.

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Investigation
2:38 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

The Five Things You Need to Know About the CSB's Preliminary Investigation at Freedom Industries

Johnnie Banks presented the Chemical Safety Board's preliminary findings on the Freedom Industries spill Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Investigators from the U. S. Chemical Safety Board presented preliminary findings Wednesday from their investigation into the January chemical leak at Freedom Industries in Charleston.

Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained the process they’ve gone through collecting evidence and information and said they will soon begin to analyze that data to put together a final report and recommendations.

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Chemical Spill
5:06 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Tank Demolition Underway at Freedom Site

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Demolition has started on at the site of a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated public drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians.

Independence Excavating began the demolition process Tuesday by knocking down a brick wall, tearing out piping, and removing materials connected to the tanks. Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch says the first cuts to the tanks will come Wednesday.

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News
11:51 am
Tue July 15, 2014

MSHA, Widows Agree to Settle Mine Fire Lawsuit

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit over the deaths of two miners in a 2006 fire at an underground coal mine in West Virginia.

Under the proposed settlement, MSHA also agreed to develop a training course at the National Mine Safety and Health Academy near Beckley on preventing fires at underground coal and non-metal mines.

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Law & Order
11:29 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Two Plead Guilty in Arch Coal Kickback Scheme

Two men each face up to five years in prison after admitting that they lied to investigators about a kickback scheme at a coal mine.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says 53-year-old Ronald Barnette of Holden and 62-year-old Gary Griffith of Oceana both pleaded guilty Monday to making a materially false statement in a federal matter.

Barnette's company, Mining Repair Specialist, Inc., did equipment rebuild work at Arch Coal's Mountain Laurel mining complex in Logan County. He admitted that he lied about paying kickbacks to Mountain Laurel's general manager.

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Environment
10:45 am
Tue July 15, 2014

State Investigates Sheen on Monongahela River in Fairmont

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

  State environmental regulators are investigating a sheen on the Monongahela River in Fairmont.

The Department of Environmental Protection tells media outlets that the substance appeared to be petroleum based.

The DEP says the substance won't affect Fairmont's water supply. The city's water intake is upstream on the Tygart Valley River.

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Infrastructure
9:08 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Congressional Stalemate May Cause Construction Delays for W.Va. Roads

From left to right, West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, Congressman Nick Rahall, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sat at a table with Senator Rockefeller, Congressman Nick Rahall and West Virginia DOT Secretary Paul Mattox in the main hall of the state Culture Center in Charleston.

He came to West Virginia to talk about infrastructure and the funding it will take to fix an aging system not just in West Virginia, but across the country. That funding, though, as Foxx said, is stuck in Washington.

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Election 2014
8:50 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Ryan, Warren Campaign in W.Va. For Senate Candidates

Natalie Tennant and Sen. Elizabeth Warren take the stage at a rally in Shepherdstown.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two major Congressional players made stops in West Virginia Monday to rally around their respective party’s candidate for Senate.

The atmosphere in Shepherdstown was upbeat, in a word, at current Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s rally as supporters chanted and cheered for the Democratic candidate. Tennant was joined by veteran Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In the days leading up to the rally, Tennant’s Republican opponent bashed her for teaming up with an anti-coal Senator whose agenda the state GOP says hurts West Virginia.

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Environment
5:53 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

DEP Approves Stormwater Management Plan for Freedom Tank Demolition

Credit AP

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a stormwater management plan for the demolition of the Charleston Freedom Industries site. The tanks there were involved in the contamination of the drinking water for some 300,000 West Virginians in January.

According to the plan approved Monday, Freedom Industries contractors will place liners over the footprint of the tanks to prevent stormwater from unintentionally entering the ground.

Contractors will also halt the demolition process if more than two inches of rain falls within a six-hour period.

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Mountaintop Removal
10:16 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

New Coalition Battles Mine Site Near State Forest

Kanawha County resident Doug Woods points out Middle Lick Mountain just over his shoulder, a site that has been approved for mountaintop removal mining near the Kanawha State Forest.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 7 miles outside of Charleston sits 9,300 acres of protected land. The Kanawha State Forest is home to hiking and biking trails, campsites and a shooting range, but just a few hundred acres away, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a mountain top removal mine site.

The Kanawha State Forest Coalition, a group of concerned Kanawha County residents, formed to fight the site and get the administration to withdraw the permit, saving hundreds of plant and animal species on Middle Lick Mountain where mining is set to begin.

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LGBT
4:50 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

Transgender Women Claim Mistreatment at W.Va. DMVs

Credit West Virginia Department of Transportation

 Two transgender women say they were ordered to remove their makeup, jewelry and wigs at West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles offices if they wanted new driver's license photos.

Trudy Kitzmiller says employees at offices in Martinsburg belittled her, calling her a genderless "it." Kristen Skinner described similar treatment in Charles Town.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund last month wrote state transportation officials to ask for new photos for the women. The letter said denying them a new photo would violate constitutional free speech rights.

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