Breaking Local News
Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Jay Rockefeller, both of West Virginia, and Senator Barbara Boxer of California introduced legislation Tuesday in Washington aimed at keeping water supplies safe. The Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act includes what the lawmakers call common sense measures like inspections, and outlines ways to make the country prepared for future chemical incidents or emergencies. A news release says the bill would require routine inspections of above-ground storage tanks and allow states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting applications for the 2014 West Virginia Make It Shine Statewide Cleanup. The DEP and the state Division of Highways are sponsoring the event that will be held during the first two weeks of April. Applications for the cleanup will be accepted until Feb. 28. The program will provide materials, waste hauling and landfill fees to community groups volunteering to conduct litter cleanups on state streams or public lands, including parks, playgrounds, school grounds and illegal dumps. Last year, more than 6,000 volunteers removed nearly 220 tons of litter and more than 1,500 tires.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has been closely watching the situation after the January 9th chemical spill and water crisis, and says those responsible should face criminal charges. Brokovich appeared on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," and called the Freedom Industries chemical spill a "crime." Brokovich is back tonight for a town hall meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Clay Center in Charleston.
The United Way of Central West Virginia has raised more than $70,000 to help workers affected by a chemical spill. The organization established an emergency fund following the spill in Charleston for workers who lost wages or had work hours reduced. The fund will provide up to $200 to help pay utility bills. United Way of Central West Virginia director John Ballengee tells the Charleston Gazette that workers in all nine counties affected by the Jan. 9 spill can apply for utility assistance. The aid will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can find out more at the United Way's website, www.unitedwaycwv.org .
Add another hour to the amount to school that students in Kanawha County have to make up. Schools in the county released an hour early on Monday because of the weather. Students missed more than a week of school because of the January 9th chemical spill that led to the water emergency, and then had two more snow days on top of that. All early release days are now full school days, and all scheduled teacher work days are now instruction days. The school board will have to deicde how to make up the rest of the missed days.
Methamphetamine lab seizures jumped 85 percent in West Virginia in 2013. A West Virginia State Police report said authorities seized 533 meth labs last year, compared to 288 in 2012. The report said police found meth labs in 45 of West Virginia's 55 counties. Kanawha County led the state with 159 meth lab seizures, followed by 36 in Wood County and 28 in Putnam County. Wood County Del. John Ellem told the Charleston Gazette that he supports legislation that would require a prescription for cold medications containing pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in making meth. Cabell County Del. Kelli Sobonya opposes the legislation. She said it won't reduce meth use or meth deaths.
A former corrections officer has pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance. James Howard Butcher worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Beckley and pleaded guilty Monday to delivering a controlled substance, while other charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. His arrest came last August after an investigation by the Central West Virginia drug task force and West Virginia State police turned up prescription pills, firearms and cash. Butcher's girlfriend was also arrested and charged in the case. Sentencing is coming for Butcher on March 10th.
All 100 seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates will be on the ballot in 2014, along with half of the state Senate. Candidates have been filing the paperwork at the Secretary of State's Office. Make sure you're registered to vote by the April 22 deadline. Early voting runs from April 30 through May 10 and the primary election is set for May 13.
Minimum wage workers in West Virginia will have a few more dollars in their pocket if a new bill becomes law. A new bill would raise the current minimum wage by a dollar over the next year. The boost would come in phases, with the first increase from $7.25 to $7.85 by July 1st, and then another step increase to $8.25 in July 2015. The bill is in the committee on industry and labor right now.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has order Freedom Industries to begin the process of removing all above-ground storage tanks from its Charleston operation. A statement released Saturday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office says Freedom Industries must start the dismantling process by March 15. The facility currently has 17 tanks. The company has already been ordered to remove almost 1 million gallons of chemicals from the plant.