Breaking Local News
The Nicholas County Commission created a $60,000-per-year county manager position at its meeting on Aug. 6th, and the Charleston Gazette reports that was without mentioning the position on its posted agenda or conducting a search. The county insists it was on the agenda, just not "explicit," according to the paper. The backlash caused the commission to rescind the position six days later and take the job from Roger Beverage, who had already been hired. At a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 20, creating a county manager position will be on the agenda, and the position could be created once again.
The National Park Service is seeking public comment on proposed fees for a new campground in West Virginia. The Meadow Creek Campground is expected to open along the banks of the New River Gorge National River early next summer. The campground will offer electric hookups at all campsites and water hookups at some. It also will feature a public boat launch and an amphitheater. Proposed campsite fees are $18 per night for walk-in tent-only sites with electricity, $24 for drive-in car sites with electricity, and $28 for drive-in RV sites with electricity and water. Comments can be submitted online at www.nps.gov/neri through Sept. 15.
Union workers have the new contract they had been fighting for for months. United Mine Workers of America members ratified the contract with Patriot Coal Friday, after the union reached a deal with the company a few days earlier. Fifteen percent of union members were opposed to the new contract, while 85 percent were in favor. UMWA representatives said the settlement restores many benefits to retirees and makes significant improvements in terms and conditions of employment following a federal Bankruptcy Judge's order from last May.
A shooting Charleston's West Side is under investigation. It happened on Saturday and shook the neighborhood. A woman was hit in the arm in a drive-by shooting in the 1500 block of Second Avenue, and she is expected to be ok. Police think she was a bystander and not a target, and they are following up on leads and they are looking for 25-year old Jamar Adams. Anybody with information is asked to call 911.
A Mingo County Commissioner is facing extortion charges after being accused of misusing his position to buy tires from a county supplier at a reduced price. Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden is accused of demanding that Appalachian Tire sell him tires for his personal vehicle at a discounted price reserved for government vehicles. The court indictment now made public, says Baisden threatened to cut off the store's agreement with the county if he didn't get the discount. It happened in 2009, and Baisden was arrested Thursday by US Marshals and made his first court appearance that afternoon. This is part of a larger, ongoing corruption investigation, and there could be other arrests.
The nation's largest miners' union said a proposed settlement with Patriot Coal would restore most wage cuts the company had sought as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Members of the United Mine Workers of America heard details this week about the settlement reached last week with St. Louis-based Patriot. Some 1,800 current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky will be eligible to cast a ballot today during the ratification vote. The union said the proposed settlement includes restoration of all but $1 per hour in wage cuts. Wages would increase annually by 50 cents an hour starting in January 2015, monthly premiums for health care benefits would be eliminated, pension benefits for thousands of current retirees would be maintained and current active UMW members would continue earning pension credit.
Energy analysts are saying natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale is rising at a rate faster than most predicted. Production in West Virginia and Pennsylvania is up about 50 percent compared to last year. One Bentek Energy analyst told the Associate Press that gas is actually starting to displace" production from the Gulf of Mexico in places. Marcellus gas is supplying the Pennsylvania and Northeast markets, and it's grown to be the nation's most productive gas field.
An anonymous tip from someone in Kanawha County came in to state police, and it led to the arrest of four people on meth related charges. Troopers arrested 34-year old Ronald Dodrill, 39-year old James Young, 40-year old Carrie Cremeans, and 36-year old Susan Williams at a home on Williams Street in Cedar Grove, after finding what they called a shake and bake meth lab in the backyard of the home. Dodrill is also facing obstruction charges for trying to run from troopers when they got to the home. All four were taken to South Central Regional Jail.
Airgas has officially appealed the citations we told you about earlier this week. Federal investigators have cited the Airgas plant in Putnam County for six safety violations stemming from an investigation into a May explosion at the site near Poca. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration classified four of the citations as serious and carry proposed fines of $19,000. Putnam County authorities have said the May 13 explosion involved about 50 tanks of acetylene that were at Airgas waiting to be refilled. Two workers were injured. The appeals of the citations are pending.
Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury is charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury after he tried to frame a romantic rival for crimes and that didn't work. And Thursday evening the state Supreme Court of Appeals announced that they voted to suspend Judge Thornsbury without pay. His law license is also suspended. Two other judges have been tapped to cover his case load, starting this morning.