Breaking Local News

Beckley Theater Sees Financial Improvement

An area theater is out of debt and is starting to raise money for the 2013 season. Theatre West Virginia in Beckley closed its doors nearly a year ago amid financial troubles, and it was announced this week that the debt has been erased. General Manager Gayle Bowling told the Register-Herald that the theater has secured a line of credit to pay expenses until it receives $265,000 in state funding. But another $80,000 is needed to cover expenses beyond the state funding. The annual membership campaign starts in February, and the theater is seeking grants in the meantime.

Man Dies After Hurricane Police Chase

A police chase in Hurricane Thursday left one person dead. Hurricane police pursued a driver that was suspected of taking items from a local store, and the chase reached speeds of 100 MPH in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 before the driver tried to exit the interstate and crashed into a semi that was parked at the Hurricane rest stop. The man died in the accident. Investigators say he was a fugitive wanted on unrelated bank robbery charges.

Flu Shots Encouraged

If you haven't received your flu shot yet, it's not too late. Flu typically peaks in January and February, but can run from October to March. With the mild weather lately it may not feel like flu season, but Kanawha County has had an influenza outbreak this week. Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, told the Charleston Gazette, there was an outbreak reported by a day care center, and the number of flu cases across West Virginia continues to rise. This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get vaccinated.

Former Putnman County janitor sentenced to jail

A former Putnam County Schools janitor has been sentenced to jail. 47-year old Michael Timothy Crist was given the maximum sentence Thursday for sexually abusing a teenage family member, after a deal with prosecutors. Crist pleaded guilty in August to sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or person of trust and child abuse resulting in bodily injury. Five other charges were dropped in the plea deal. Crist was sentenced to 10 to 25 years for the sexual abuse charge and one to five years for the child abuse charge.

Metro 911 may come under Sheriff's Dept.

The Kanawha County Metro 911 Executive Board will likely vote today on a proposal to transfer oversight of the Metro 911 Center to the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department. Johnny Rutherford is the Metro 911 director, and he's leaving in January to serve as Kanawha County Sheriff after winning the November election. To transfer oversight, it's a matter of working out an intergovernmental agreement. The 911 Center is also getting a new computer dispatch system and telephone system.

Pain Clinic's seized funds are disputed

$88,000 was seized after a raid on a West Virginia pain clinic, and a doctor is saying that seizure was unjust. Dr. Katherine Hoover has petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following a federal judge's ruling allowing prosecutors to keep the seized funds. Cash and assets were seized as part of a March 2010 raid of the Mountain Medical Care Center and related properties. The Mingo County clinic has been closed since the raid, and investigators say the pain clinic recklessly provided pain drug prescriptions to thousands of people. Hoover has not been charged. Another clinic physician, Dr. William Ryckman, pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement Administration registration number and was sentenced to six months in prison.

November on Record as a Dry Month

After precipitation from Superstorm Sandy in late October, the National Weather Service says November was dry. In fact, November precipitation levels in several West Virginia cities are among the lowest on record for the month. Beckley received less than an inch of precipitation, in fact 0.68 inches. That's slightly above a record 0.66 inches in November 2001. Charleston received just over an inch, but the 1.05 inches of precipitation was the seventh lowest level for November. The record is 0.45 inches in 1904. The weather service says normal November precipitation is 3 to 3.5 inches.

Lawyers on Leave are Back at Work

Two lawyers who were put on leave over a contract dispute are back in the office. The Associated Press reports that attorneys Susan Perry and Jennifer Taylor had been on paid administrative leave since July when they clashed with others at the department over the awarding of a six-figure advertising contract. Perry and Taylor filed whistleblower lawsuits in October. Perry and Taylor have now been assigned to the Department of Health and Human Resources offices at the Diamond Building in downtown Charleston.

Train Victim Identified

The investigation continues after a woman was hit and killed by a train this week in Logan County. Police say 29-year-old Shannon Marie Blankenship was hit by a CSX train while crossing the tracks near Commerce Park in Chapmanville. Police told media outlets in Chapmanville that Blankenship was taken to Logan Regional Hospital, where she later died.

Nitro Votes to Accept Suit Settlement

The Nitro City Council has accepted the terms to settle a lawsuit between the city and building inspector Sandra Saunders. The vote to accept came Tuesday night after Saunders had filed a complaint with the WV Human Rights Commission alleging pay disparity and sexual harassment in 2011. The Gazette reports the pay disparity compaint was settled, but there has been no comment on the status of the sexual harassment complaint.

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