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The Charleston City Council on Monday night made some changes to the way elections will be carried out from now on in the city. The move combines city elections with county and state, which the city hopes will save money and increase voter turnout. Taxpayers pay up to an extra $100,000 per election currently, with the city on its own election cycle. The new ordinance will sync up the elections by 2018.
West Virginia's state park system is getting a closer look by state lawmakers. As they get set for the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers are looking at funding options for the upkeep of a network of 35 parks, seven forests, five wildlife management areas and two rail trails that attracted more than 6.6 million visits last year. West Virginia is one of just a few states that doesn't charge an entry fee, and some hope to keep that going. There is a fee for staying overnight at lodges and campsites. The review by lawmakers includes discussions about finding a revenue source for repair and maintenance work.
There are plans in Beckley to tear down a feed and hardware store that is on the National Register of Historic Places, and a McDonalds will go up in its place. The Charleston Gazette reports the owner decided to accept an offer to sell and move on. That means the Beckley Feed and Hardware building was built in 1935 will be torn down, and plans have already been approved by the Beckley Code Enforcement department. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, which was the first year it was eligible.
As expected, thousands turned out for Bridge Day over the weekend. The event featured hundreds of BASE jumpers on the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, and thousands of spectators turned out to watch them take the 876-foot plunge. It was an economic boost for many Fayette County businesses, especially those on Route 19 up to the bridge. That was the 34th year for the Bridge Day festival, and featured competitors from several countries and all but ten states in the US.
A recommendation from the Charleston City Council's committee on Urban Renewal is headed to the full council for approval. As they stand now, the plans would make part of the West Side and a section of downtown eligible for things like facade grants, tax incentives and streetscape overhauls. The Daily Mail reports the authority would have the power to acquire properties and promote them for development.
Charleston police an incident Saturday night in downtown Charleston was an accidental shooting. One woman was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries after a shooting in the 1300 block of Quarrier Street. Police think John Tucker accidentally fired his gun, and it went through the wall of his apartment and hit a neighbor. No charges have been filed against Tucker.
More now about an accident along Coal River Road Wednesday night. A vehicle went into the Coal River near the 6500 block in the Tornado area, and the Kanawha County sheriff's office says the 20-year old driver left the roadway and hit a tree, then went over the embankment and into the river. The driver kicked until she shattered the door’s window glass, then swam to the shore. She was treated at the hospital and is expected to be okay. Weather is believed to have been a factor in the crash. About ten minutes later a separate crash was reported in the Clendenin area along U.S. 119. The driver of a vehicle traveling north lost control of the vehicle and struck a southbound vehicle, and the driver of the southbound vehicle was killed. She has been identified as 53 year old Ramona Abbott of Walton. The accident is still under investigation.
The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission may pursue legal action against a man accused of abusing his cleanup priveleges at Coonskin Park after the derecho in the summer of 2012. The Daily Mail reports the commission will consider whether to file a civil lawsuit against Russell Trucking and its owner, David Bowen, at their November meeting. Russell Trucking is accused of pulling 337 trees out of Coonskin Park's shelter area and damaging more than 20 others. The initial authorization was to cut 30 trees. A little fact checking helped he Kanawha County Commission discover that some of the lumber removed as then sold to a sawmill for $66,000.
More on alleged corruption in Mingo County...a federal search warrant says Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was being investigated by the FBI for laundering money by arranging to buy campaign signs with cash he got from a doctor convicted to running a pill mill; that according to the Charleston Gazette. The amount of cash was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI was also investigating mail fraud allegations, and whether Crum sent in fake campaign disclosure forms by mail. There was also an investigation active over whether Crum possessed illegal drugs, and whether or not he was going to distribute them. Crum was shot and killed in his police cruiser in April, as he at lunch in the parking lot.
A former Charleston firefighter is facing charges. Charleston police arrested 34-year old Keith Linville Hawk of Elkview and charged him with domestic battery, according to the criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. Police say Hawk allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend and held her down at one point. There are previous battery charges against Hawk from two incidents earlier this year. Hawk was taken to the Western Regional Jail and bond is set at $25,000.