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It was a successful pilot program in Charleston, and now another city wants in on the act. Bluefield plans to apply to become a participant in the state's Municipal Home Rule program. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that the city Board of Directors voted Tuesday to begin the application process. The program shifts power from the state to the local level and gives cities a larger say in how they govern. It began as a five-year pilot in four cities. Last year, the Legislature continued the program until July 1, 2019, and allowed a total 20 municipalities to participate. June 1 is the deadline for municipalities to submit applications.
In a continuing effort to crack down on drunk drivers, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office is planning a sobriety checkpoint this week. Cpl. BD Humphreys says the sheriff's office, in conjunction with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program will be conducting a high visibility sobriety checkpoint on Friday from 9:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. in the 5400 block of Big Tyler Road, in Cross Laness. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office says it has a zero tolerance policy toward impaired driving and will continue to conduct the checkpoints.
A former Mingo County commissioner has been sentenced to more than a year in prison on a federal extortion charge. David Baisden received a 20-month sentence Wednesday after pleaning guilty in October to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate. Earlier this month, Baisden agreed to pay a total of $7,700 in restitution to Appalachian Tire and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Baisden's attorney had asked for probation. Federal prosecutors sought a prison term between two and two-and-a-half years. Baisden must turn himself at 2 p.m. April 4.
West Virginia State Police have identified the man who died in an officer-involved shooting Wednesday in Logan County. 42-year old Curley Spry of Harts Creek was reported to be suicidal and was a threat to his family. State police say he also pointed a handgun at troopers, and they responded to the threat by opening fire. The involved trooper was placed on critical incident leave.
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.