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Officials with the former Mountain State University are shifting their attention to a lawsuit against an accrediting body. The Register-Herald says Mountain State officials wanted to ensure the campus was in good hands before focusing on the lawsuit. Last week, West Virginia University announced that it plans to buy Mountain State's campus in Beckley. Mountain State's federal lawsuit alleges that the Higher Learning Commission didn't follow its policies, rules and practices when it withdrew the university's primary accreditation in June 2012. In court filings, the commission says Mountain State failed to assert sufficient facts to maintain a majority of its claims.
The number of murders in Charleston increased from 2013 to 2014. Charleston police investigated seven homicides in 2014 after reporting only one the year before. The Charleston Gazette reports the 2014 number is slightly higher than the 10-year average of five homicides in the capital city from 2004 to 2013. Police Lt. Steve Cooper says the public shouldn't interpret the increase as a sign of an upward trend in violence because the numbers tend to fluctuate - from last year's single homicide to a peak of 10 in 2010. He said six of the seven cases last year involved drugs, and police made arrests in all of the homicides.
Jesse Doyle of Akron, Ohio was arrested yesterday after allegedly stealing a car parked at the CVS in Kanawha City. The 93-year-old woman inside the car fought back, but he eventually took her on a ride that led to a high speed chase across three counties. Doyle let the woman out of the car before taking off on Interstate-64 west. Police from Charleston, Putnam County, Huntington, and Cabell County were all part of the pursuit, and then Doyle eventually crashed in Huntington near the 29th Street exit. Now he's at the Western Regional jail with a $20,000 bond, facing charges in multiple counties.
Filing for an upcoming election in South Charleston starts in ten days. South Charleston will elect a mayor, municipal judge, and city clerk this spring, along with all eight ward seats. Incumbent mayor Frank Mullens is running for re-election, and former mayor Richie Robb has also announced intentions to run. If you're in South Charleston and interested in running, filing begins on January 12th and runs though January 23rd. South Charleston’s primary election is set for April 18th, and the general election will be June 6th.
Overall it was a relatively uneventful New Year's Eve, where traffic problems are concerned. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says it had a full shift of Deputy Sheriffs answering 911 calls and others on directed patrols looking for drunk and impaired drivers. The directed patrols were funded by the Governor's Highway Safety Program. Cpl B-D Humphreys says three drivers were arrested for driving under the influence. Two were arrested near Saint Albans. One was related to alcohol, the other was under the influence of marijuana. A third driver was arrested in Elkview following his single-vehicle crash.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has named Robert A. Fala as director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Fala is replacing Frank Jezioro (JEZ'-uh-roh) who retired Wednesday after service as the DNR's director since 2005. Over the past three years, Fala served as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was appointed to serve on the DNR's Natural Resource Commission in August. He's also worked for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Roland Stafford was found murdered three days before Christmas in Mingo County, and now arrests have been made in his death. Stafford's body was found in his home in Taylorsville two weeks ago, and West Virginia State Police had been looking for Stafford’s truck. It was found abandoned in Tazewell County, Virginia on New year's Eve. And there, Billy Eugene Mitchem and his girlfriend Melissa Cochran were arrested and charged with grand larceny. Other charges are possible, and other people could be arrested too. For now, Mitchem is a suspect in the murder. There are reports the murder was drug related.
State regulators have fined the city of Logan more than $81,000 for wastewater violations.
The violations include a discharge of sewage from a manhole that continued for four months.
Other violations include exceeding average monthly discharge limits for nitrogen and other pollutants in 2012, and failing to maintain and properly operate wastewater facilities. The fine is part of a consent order issued by the Department of Environmental Protection that also requires Logan to submit a plan saying how they'll correct the issues.
Starting today, the lowest-paid workers in West Virginia will get a raise. The Mountain State's minimum wage is going up by 75 cents to $8 per hour today, January 1. It's the state's first minimum wage boost since 2008. And there will be another increase again in January 2016 to $8.75. In a May special session, the final version of the two-year wage increase passed the state House unanimously. There was one dissenting vote in the Senate. The legislation also revises maximum hour and overtime compensation standards. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 88,000 West Virginians will get a raise because of the increase today.
If you've got the flu on this New Year's Day, you're not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that as of Tuesday, West Virginia is in the midst of a flu epidemic, and it's about two months ahead of the normal flu season. Flu cases usually peak in January or February, but the number of patients going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms has gone from 1.7 percent of the population to 6.4 percent, according to the Charleston Gazette. Along with the flu vaccine, washing hands and staying away from flu carriers are the best preventatives.