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The Bridge Day Commission has decided to require BASE jumpers, rappellers and vendors to undergo finger scans. The commission voted unanimously this week to require the scans, saying they're less intrusive than the festival's current background checks. Several jumpers criticized the requirement during the meeting's public comment segment saying it was insulting. Alan Lewis of Tennessee is organizing an alternative event in Twin Falls, Idaho, which he says is more friendly for jumpers. BASE stands for building, antenna, span and Earth, the fixed objects from which jumpers leap with a parachute.
Former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern faces a new federal fraud charge. A federal grand jury in Beckley handed up a superseding indictment this week against Southern and three other former Freedom executives. The indictment charges Southern with a new count of fraud by interstate commercial carrier, alleging that he sent a $6.5 million personal check to an insurance company to be deposited in an annuity account as part of a bankruptcy fraud scheme. The alleged scheme included attempting to protect some assets from possible verdicts and judgments stemming from the January 2014 chemical spill.
After months of trying to figure out what to do with it, city leaders may tear down the Slack Street Recycling Center. The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority would replace it with a new building on the same site, according to the Charleston Gazette. A year and a half ago, the Solid Waste Authority entered into a lease agreement with a local businessman to run the recycling center, but he abandoned it last year. The Solid Waste Authority has been talking about how to finance a new building, with loans mostly, and they've agreed on a list of equipment they’ll need to replace to get the recycling program up and running again. They may ask for help from the Kanawha County Commission.
West Virginia’s top health official, Dr. Rahul Gupta, says flu season may have already peaked, but warns to stay away from emergency rooms unless it’s absolutely necessary, since that can make someone without the flu sicker. WCHS TV reports Gupta's concern that there are 200 upper respiratory tract viruses floating around, and the flu shot hasn't been all that effective. For those under 18, the flu vaccine is working just 26 percent of the time. For adults 18-49, it drops to just 12 percent. For those over 50, the most vulnerable group, its only 14 percent effective. Flu season runs through March.
The Republican-run state Senate has passed a repeal of an energy portfolio. The Senate voted 33-0 Wednesday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. One senator was absent. The portfolio requires generating 25 percent of electricity with renewable or alternative power sources by 2025. The House expects its repeal vote today.
A community group is trying to give new life to Clendenin’s historic Roxy Theater. It's been closed for 15 years and was built around 1930. Now a revitalization group that was instrumental in getting federal funding to renovate the old Clendenin High School building, is also working on fixing up the theater, according to the Charleston Gazette. The group will use a $75,000 grant to begin restoration of the old theater’s interior, and has spent six figures completely replacing the roof and a crumbling back wall. They're raising more money for more renovations, and will pursue another grant to finish it out.
Thomas Health System president and CEO Stephen P. Dexter is stepping down after 21 years of service. Dexter plans to retire July 31 after 21 years of service, but will remain with the health system as a senior executive through January 2017. Executive vice president and chief operation officer Dan Lauffer has been named to succeed Dexter. Thomas Health System operates Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston.
A 33-year-old Cumberland, Maryland, man accused in the killing of a West Virginia University student will undergo a psychiatric review, according to the Dominion Post. The review was ordered Tuesday after Robert Hernandez Jr.'s attorney told a judge Hernandez said he wanted to die. Hernandez' first-degree murder trial in the fatal stabbing of Devante Waites last August was to begin next week but a defense attorney said he wanted an exam to make sure Hernandez's mental state wouldn't affect his defense or whether the court could accept a plea.
A Democrat has refiled a proposal banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation in West Virginia, despite its veto last year. Fayette County Del. David Perry reintroduced the bill that Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed last time around. It bans abortions after 20 weeks, except for expectant women in medical emergencies. Tomblin said Tuesday he'll likely veto the bill again:
A simple majority of lawmakers is needed to overturn policy bill vetoes.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has approved raises for high-ranking staff members, after some attorneys left his office for the Legislature. Morrisey appointed Misha Tseytlin as general counsel after Dan Greear left to work for the House speaker. Tseytlin is a former deputy attorney general. The promotion comes with a $6,500 raise for Tseytlin, increasing the position's compensation to $103,000, according to a memo obtained by The Charleston Gazette. Morrisey also promoted Paul Anthony Martin to senior deputy attorney general. The former Texas lawyer was hired by Morrisey in 2013. Martin's promotion came with a $3,000 pay hike. He now makes $111,500 a year.