Breaking Local News
Nitro residents have a new way to stay connected. Police briefed the city council this week on a new text-alert system that sends updates about everything from emergency alerts to local community events. Nitro Police are coordinating with St. Albans police on the same alert system for what they call "geographically specific" emergencies. Everyone hopes there's not a next time, but if the June 29 storms and power outages happen again the new system would provide a way to stay updated. Text "nitrowvpd" to 888777 to get signed up.
State lawmakers are talking about the Abandoned Land Mine Trust fund, and the cap that Congress implemented recently. More than 20 other states are affected by the cap and will lose federal money that they've become accustomed to, West Virginia included. The new bill limits total annual AML payments to certified states or Indian tribes to no more than $15 million. According to the Interstate Mining Compact Commission, funding will have to be forfeited by uncertified coal-producing states. West Virgnia stands to lost $102 million. Wyoming stands to lose the most, at $700 million over 10 years.
Bad enough that the recent storms plunged much of eastern Kanawha County into darkness. Now, State Troopers have busted what they saw was a major theft ring that took advantage of people whose power was out. Investigators say Kristina Griggs, Dustin Lycan and Griggs' 17-year-old son stole more than ten thousand dollars were of items from homes, stores, storage facilities and gas stations in Kanawha and Fayette Counties while the juice was off. Everything from guns to power tools to cigarettes and condoms. Even a generator and a tanning bed were allegedly stolen.
High-speed internet service may be coming to rural West Virginia. It's been four years and one-point-seven million dollars in consultants' fees since the Legislature approved a five-million-dollar plan that would deploy high-speed internet in many rural areas of the state. Now, the Broadband Deployment Council is urging local entities to apply for some of the three-point-three million dollars in grant money that it will pay out to get those services up and running. If enough interest is shown, the Council says it will ask lawmakers for five million a year in rural broadband funding.
Police are still looking for the person who fired shots Monday on Charleston's west side. It happened just after 2pm in the 900 block of Central Avenue, and the window in a car was shattered. No one was hurt, and no arrests have been made so far.
49-year old Gary Lomax of St. Albans had been scheduled to go on trial this week on charges that he defrauded senior citizens, but the trial has been postponed. Lomas has been held at South Central Regional Jail since his arrest last November and has had his bond lowered once from $250,000 to $100,000. His court appointed attorney asked for another reduction, but the judge refuesed. Lomax operated Lomax Heating and Cooling, and the Attorney General's office received several complaints that he took money from homeowners without doing the work. The new trial is set for September 24.
Swimmers haven't had the best of luck this summer in terms of the number of pools that have been open, but things have improved this week. Power was knocked out after the June 29 storm and kept the Cato Park swimming pool closed, but Mayor Danny Jones announced Tuesday it has opened again. That means all city pools except North Charleston are now open. Cato, King Center, Kanawha City and Vandalia are all ready for swimmers.
FEMA continues to assess damage in Kanawha County from the June 29 storms. Last week the preliminary damage assessments were conducted for roads, bridges, and public facilities. This week, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Fayette counties are among the 13 having damage surveyed to determine whether Governor Tomblin will request federal disaster assistance or not.
A Charleston doctor has lost his home to a fire. Dr. Joe Matusic is a Charleston pediatrician who lives in Putnam County. The fire was initially put out quickly and was contained primarily to the basement, and firefighters report checking for other hot spots with thermal cameras before they left and again later on Sunday. Monday, firefighters were called back to find flames shooting through the roof and that fire gutted the home. The first fire was ruled electrical in nature, and Putnam County investigators say the second was not a rekindling of the first. For now, the fire has been ruled suspicious and the state fire marshal's office has joined the investigation.
Police are looking for 32-year old Marcus Keener of Charleston, related to a shooting at a home in the 1500 block of 2nd Avenue early Saturday morning. The house took the bullets, and there were children inside the home at the time. Police describe Keener as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 160 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. Anyone who knows where he is should call police.