Breaking Local News

Red Cross Gets New Leader

The American Red Cross has hired an executive director for its newly formed southeast West Virginia chapter. Stephanie Meadows will be responsible for day-to-day management, fundraising, and promotion for the Beckley-based chapter. The chapter covers 11 counties. Meadows is a Concord University graduate with 15 years of experience at nonprofit organizations. She began her career with the Red Cross in October 2011 as a development coordinator. She also has worked with fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, the Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation and the March of Dimes.

Plea Hearings Set for Former Freedom Executives

Plea hearings are set for next month for Freedom Industries and two former executives on charges stemming from a massive chemical spill in Charleston. U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston on Friday scheduled separate March 16 hearings for ex-Freedom owners Charles Herzing and William Tis. A March 23 hearing was scheduled for the company. In addition, plea hearings were set March 18 for Freedom environmental consultant Robert Reynolds and tank farm plant manager Michael Burdette. All are charged with federal Clean Water Act violations and are expected to plead guilty. Ex-Freedom owner Dennis Farrell and former President Gary Southern face trial this fall on charges related to the spill. Southern also faces charges related to Freedom's bankruptcy.

Health Officials Oppose Pipeline

The Board of Health in West Virginia's Monroe County is taking a stand against the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run from northwestern West Virginia to southwest Virginia. In an open letter, the county's health officer says the proposed natural gas pipeline poses a "significant and substantial risk" to residents. Dr. J. Travis Hansbarger notes that the pipeline would pass close to a public school and a long-term care center. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that the letter cites as a primary concern the potential for groundwater contamination during the pipeline's construction. The pipeline still needs regulatory approval.

Roads Hazardous Over The Weekend, and More Winter Is On the Way

The weekend weather was a challenge to deal with for drivers in Kanawha County. The sheriff's office says between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, deputies responded to 45 accidents without injuries and 24 with injuries, just in Kanawha County alone. Temperatures today are still expected to be below freezing with precipitation likely.

WV Hospital Okayed for Ebola Testing

Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, said in a press release that West Virginia continues to be prepared in case Ebola testing is needed. Ruby Memorial in Morgantown has been designated as an Ebola Treatment Center by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with that distinction it becomes one of 55 of those centers in the country, and the first one in West Virginia. The Charleston Gazette reports the CDC has also validated the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Laboratory Services as capable of performing Ebola testing.

Riverside High Open Today After Threat

A shooting threat Wednesday night shut down Riverside High School on Thursday. The threat was a phone call and directed toward some of the students. The Charleston Gazette reports at least five students were threatened, and the principal became concerned and got police involved. The Kanwaha County Sheriff's office is reviewing leads now and the investigation is ongoing. School will be on today at Riverside High, and there will be sheriff's deputies on hand as a precaustion, but it's not believed that there's any imminent threat.

Marshall Lays Groundwork for Finding New President

Marshall University has established a game plan for the selection of its 37th president. The university's board of governors met this week to outline the process of finding a successor to Stephen J. Kopp, who died in December. The board's 16 members will comprise a search committee chaired by its chairman, Michael G. Sellards. The board also selected a private company, AGB Search Inc., to help. The board said it hopes to select a new president by the fall semester.

State Board Wants Decrease in Standardized Testing

The West Virginia Department of Education wants less standardized testing. The board met Thursday, and is moving toward recommending allowing schools to eliminate social studies standardized testing in all grades, and asking that science testing be limited to grades four, six and 10, instead of grades three through 11. The Charleston Gazette reports the department also will recommend that county school boards be allowed to choose between continuing to offer the “integrated” high school math courses of Math I, II and III, or go back to the traditional classes of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. The recommendations mark a departure from Common Core standards.

Local Court to Get Small Renovation

Upgrades are planned at Kanawha County Family Court. Commissioners have agree to accept bids to replace the carpet in the hallways and common areas, as well as in the judges' offices. The Charleston Gazette reports that will cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Leak Investigated at Belle Chemical Plant

West Virginia environmental workers responded to a formaldehyde leak at a chemical plant in Belle. Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelly Gillenwater says a team was dispatched to monitor the area around the DuPont plant after Wednesday's incident, and tells the Charleston Gazette the leak occurred when DuPont employees turned on a piece of equipment that had been shut down for maintenance. The equipment malfunctioned, causing the formaldehyde to vaporize as it was released at a pump. There were no injuries.

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