Breaking Local News

Ratification Vote Coming Up for UMWA

Some resolution for those with eyes on the coal industry. The United Mine Workers of America announced Monday that the union reached a settlement with Patriot Coal. The UMWA said in a news release that the agreement came with new terms and conditions of employment and after several weeks of negotiations, they have something that can be taken to the membership for ratification. The union said it was able to restore, or at least improve upon things like wages, health care benefits, paid time off, and pensions. The vote is set to happen Aug. 16.

Bear Paw Vandalized at State Capitol

West Virginia Capitol police are investigating the vandalism of a stuffed bear that sits outside the Attorney General's Office. Attorney general spokeswoman Beth Ryan says that someone cut off part of the bear's left paw. Ryan says a receptionist noticed the damage last Tuesday and filed a report with Capitol police. She says there aren't any security cameras monitoring the hallway outside the office. It's not a small crime, since state law prohibits possessing a bear or bear parts unless the animal was killed during hunting season and registered with the Division of Natural Resources. DNR training officer Lt. Tim Coleman says there's no expiration date on possession of bear parts, so the law would apply to a bear that's been stuffed.

Terrorism Charges Dropped, Others Stick for Elswick

The man found with a gun on school property last year with a gun has entered his plea. 52-year Russell Elswick of Clendenin pleaded no contest Monday morning in Kanawha County Circuit Court, after being charged with possessing a gun on school property and making terroristic threats. The terrorism charges were dropped. Elswick will face 2 to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in the coming weeks. The incident happened at Herbert Hoover High School in November 2012.

Bridges a Top Cause for Rep. Nick Rahall

The federal Department of Transportation is planning to audit bridges across the country, after a request by West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall over safety concerns. Bridges have been a focus for Rahall. Earlier this year, he introduced the SAFE Bridges Act aimed at helping states address a $121 billion backlog of deficient bridges, hoping something can be done not only about safety, but to improve the economics of it. Without sturdy bridges, goods and services can't get from one place to the next. The SAFE Bridges Act would send $57.8 million to West Virginia over two years.

Coal Job Losses May be Leveling Off

New data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration shows the state lost about 125 mining jobs in the second quarter this year. The good news? Over the same period in 2011, the industry was down by over 2400 jobs, so the drastic job losses seem to be lessening. Energy experts say cheap natural gas and competition from other coal basins are contributing factors.

Lawsuits by Mountain State Students Progress

Several students have filed suit against Mountain State University after the school lost accreditation, and court dates are pending this month. The federal lawsuit filed by more than a dozen Mountain State University nursing students, and even though it's a federal suit, the case was sent to Jefferson County Circuit Court earlier this month after the students amended the lawsuit. The students claim the school just wanted increase enrollment so the school could bring in more federal student loan and grant money. This case will be part of mass litigation now and other lawsuits, and the court dates are coming later in August.

Owners of Ms Sylvia's Sandwich Shop Face Charges

It was last month that a man was shot at Ms Sylvia's Sandwich Shop and Polo Social Club in North Charleston, and after that the two managers were charged with illegally selling alcohol. Now a police raid has the sandwich shop in trouble again. In a raid early Sunday morning police found found alcohol, guns, drugs and thousands of dollars in cash and four people were taken into custody, including the two managers, who were charged with illegally selling alcohol. The two others face obstruction charges.

Putnam County Wreck Highlights Safety Concerns

A stretch of road in Putnam County that has seen a string of accidents recently saw another one yesterday. Emergency dispatchers said a semi truck with a box trailer overturned near the Buffalo Bridge along U.S. 35, and the same area near where a tractor-trailer overturned and spilled a disinfectant chemical in May. The driver of the truck that overturned Tuesday wasn't hurt.

Students Get High Tech

As is happening across the country, students are becoming more high tech in area classrooms. All public school students in Raleigh County will use iPads in the classroom when the new academic year begins. The school system will assign iPad2s to every student in grades two through 12. Kindergarten and first-grade students will share an iPad Mini with one fellow student. Superintendent Jim Brown tells The Register-Herald that school officials plan to phase in electronic editions of textbooks over the next five years. The agreement with Apple will cost the county about $7 million, but the district expects to save money in the long run.

Coal Layoffs In the Works

Independence Coal Company is in the process of shutting down its entire Allegiance, Cook and Justice No. 1 mines in Seth, and the layoffs began this week. The Spartan Mining Company is also closing its Liberty Processing Plant in Madison, after workers were notified in June of the coming cuts. Alpha Natural Resources owns both companies, and has said in the past it will do what it has to do in the current market conditions.

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