Breaking Local News
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded more than $1 million to West Virginia to help the state recover from fierce summer storms in 2012, specifically those that came in June of last year and wrecked havoc. A derecho on June 29th, and the storms that followed, left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state. U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall announced the funding this week, and highlighted the operations center that provided support to local emergency operations and state agencies that lost electricity and water.
A West Virginia Attorney General's Office lawyer remains hospitalized after undergoing surgery for what the police chief describes as self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster told the Charleston Daily Mail he doesn't know how long Mark Bramble would be in the hospital. The chief says charges will be brought once he's released. Bramble was taken into custody more than two hours after the standoff began Monday in the city's South Hills neighborhood. He remained hospitalized Tuesday. Bramble was an assistant attorney general for the attorney general's employment programs division. He was hired in June 2012 and had turned in his resignation notice last Thursday. The resignation is effective later this month.
A man is accused of buying prescription drugs in California, and Charleston police made the arrest. 36-year old Bryan Lee Staley is from Huntington, and was arrested for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. A detective found Staley in possession of a valid prescription of 60 milligrams of oxycontin and 30 milligrams of roxicotin, but learned he had taken a woman's credit card to pay for it. He gave her some of the drugs in return.
Airgas is contesting, but an OSHA investigation has led to six citations. The investigation into a May explosion that burned two workers at the Airgas plant near Poca turned up four serious violations, and six all together. Workers were taken to the hospital for burn-related injuries. OSHA is proposing $19,000 in penalties for the violations.
Some resolution for those with eyes on the coal industry. The United Mine Workers of America announced Monday that the union reached a settlement with Patriot Coal. The UMWA said in a news release that the agreement came with new terms and conditions of employment and after several weeks of negotiations, they have something that can be taken to the membership for ratification. The union said it was able to restore, or at least improve upon things like wages, health care benefits, paid time off, and pensions. The vote is set to happen Aug. 16.
West Virginia Capitol police are investigating the vandalism of a stuffed bear that sits outside the Attorney General's Office. Attorney general spokeswoman Beth Ryan says that someone cut off part of the bear's left paw. Ryan says a receptionist noticed the damage last Tuesday and filed a report with Capitol police. She says there aren't any security cameras monitoring the hallway outside the office. It's not a small crime, since state law prohibits possessing a bear or bear parts unless the animal was killed during hunting season and registered with the Division of Natural Resources. DNR training officer Lt. Tim Coleman says there's no expiration date on possession of bear parts, so the law would apply to a bear that's been stuffed.
The man found with a gun on school property last year with a gun has entered his plea. 52-year Russell Elswick of Clendenin pleaded no contest Monday morning in Kanawha County Circuit Court, after being charged with possessing a gun on school property and making terroristic threats. The terrorism charges were dropped. Elswick will face 2 to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in the coming weeks. The incident happened at Herbert Hoover High School in November 2012.
The federal Department of Transportation is planning to audit bridges across the country, after a request by West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall over safety concerns. Bridges have been a focus for Rahall. Earlier this year, he introduced the SAFE Bridges Act aimed at helping states address a $121 billion backlog of deficient bridges, hoping something can be done not only about safety, but to improve the economics of it. Without sturdy bridges, goods and services can't get from one place to the next. The SAFE Bridges Act would send $57.8 million to West Virginia over two years.
New data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration shows the state lost about 125 mining jobs in the second quarter this year. The good news? Over the same period in 2011, the industry was down by over 2400 jobs, so the drastic job losses seem to be lessening. Energy experts say cheap natural gas and competition from other coal basins are contributing factors.
Several students have filed suit against Mountain State University after the school lost accreditation, and court dates are pending this month. The federal lawsuit filed by more than a dozen Mountain State University nursing students, and even though it's a federal suit, the case was sent to Jefferson County Circuit Court earlier this month after the students amended the lawsuit. The students claim the school just wanted increase enrollment so the school could bring in more federal student loan and grant money. This case will be part of mass litigation now and other lawsuits, and the court dates are coming later in August.