Breaking Local News
The Kanawha County school board is facing a lawsuit from three students who claimed they were victims of sexual molestation and the board didn't protect them. The students accuse their JROTC instructor, Edwin Smuda of the sexual misconduct and filed three separate lawsuits. Smuda arrived at South Charleston High School in the late 1990's, but it was much later that he was arrested on sexual abuse charges, and committed suicide after resigning from the high school. WSAZ TV reports the victims claim the school board knew or should have known about the incidents and did nothing to protect the students or investigate. The board did suspend Smuda at one point.
Here's a headline we haven't heard in awhile. Gas prices have dropped. Gasoline prices are down 6 cents on average this week in West Virginia, according to AAA East Central. The agency said motorists are paying about $3.81 per gallon now, which is within one penny of what gas prices were a year ago in the state. Prices currently range from $3.72 in Bridgeport and Clarksburg to $3.89 in Martinsburg. Gas buddy.com says Charleston is right in the middle at about $3.75. Nitro and St. Albans are slightly lower. Nationally, gas prices average $3.74.
Charleston police are still combing over surveillance video, trying to identify members of a crowd who stood and watched a man get beaten with bricks Monday evening. Police say 21-year old Brandon Coltey was beaten along Laidley Street at the entrance to Transit Mall, and surveillance video shows two or three people carrying out the assault, but a larger crowd stood and watched. Coltey was robbed after the beating too. Anyone with information is asked to call Charleston police. Coltey is in the hospital in critical condition.
Former West Virginia Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple's lawsuit over her firing will be heard in federal court. Marple sued the state Board of Education in Kanawha County Circuit Court in February, and the Associated Press reports that the case has been moved to U.S. District Court. The state board requested the transfer. In a filing last week, the board argued that Marple claims her rights were violated under the U.S. Constitution. Marple's lawsuit alleges that she was denied due process when she was abruptly fired last November and says the dismissal's handling wrongly damaged her reputation.
Neighbors reported a red car driving through a Charleston neighborhood Sunday night with the driver waving a pistol at them. A deputy went to 201 Fern Ridge Drive and found 29-year old William James Shaw who lived on that street, but he denied having weapons in the car. He did admit to having marijuana under the driver’s seat. A police K-9 found almost two ounces of marijuana, scales and other paraphernalia used in drug sells. Street value of the marijuana is around $500, deputies say. Shaw was arrested and charged with one count of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver. Deputies never found a gun.
The calendar has turned over to March and spring is not far off, but snow is in the forecast, proving we're not done with winter just yet. Meteorologists say the Charleston area could get 1 inch to 3 inches of snow. A winter storm watch is in effect from Nicholas County east, but conditions should dry up by Thursday.
More than $2.4 million in federal funds have been approved to help the West Virginia Division of Highways continue clearing debris from roads left by superstorm Sandy. U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall announced the funding Friday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is looking for landowners who want to help with a bird conservation plan. The agency says three to five acres or more which are bordered by about 75 percent forestland at elevations of 2,000 to 3,200 feet are ideal for the conservation program. It aims to keep the golden-winged warbler off the endangered species list. Applications are due at local NRCS field offices by April 1, with contracts awarded by June 30.
Dunbar police have stepped up patrols after several recent apartment burglaries. The Roxalana Hills apartment complex has been targeted several times in recent months, and The Oaks complex across the street has also been hit once. Apartment managers are offering a $500 reward for any clues.
A former Massey official has entered his plea. David Hughart is the former leader of Massey's Green Valley Group, and pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges that he conspired to warn of the arrival of federal mine inspectors and to violate mine safety laws. Hughart faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced June 25.