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2014 will mark the first time West Virginia has hosted the annual Travel South Showcase. Charleston will welcome the conference Feb. 23-26, 2014 at the Charleston Civic Center. Governer Earl Ray Tomblin says in a statement that the event will boost tourism, and he's "confident our hospitality will lead to further tourism investments." Southern tourism organizations will meet at the conference to connect with tour operators who focus on developing Southern tours.
Kanawha County is one of several counties in West Virginia still under a state of emergency after Superstorm Sandy. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared the State of Emergency ahead of the storm for 55 counties, and he has extended the emergency declaration through December 21 for 22 of them. He says in a news release that the counties need more time and help to recover from the storm. Counties still under the State of Emergency include Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas, Raleigh, Randolph, and Wyoming.
On a big day of eating on Thursday, more than 500 gathered to fight hunger. Runners and walkers took part in the 2nd annual Union Mission Drumstick Dash Thursday with the proceeds to purchase food for Christmas baskets that are given out to more than 20,000 families statewide. The course took runners through Kanawha City, between the University of Charleston and Charleston Memorial Hospital. Runners brought canned food items as donations before the run/walk.
A Charleston teenager is seeking a lesser prison sentence. 17-year old Thomas Mallo is just a few weeks away from his 18th birthday and has to start serving a 40-year prison sentence then. Mallo was convicted of killing an elderly neighbor and has been held at the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem since he pleaded guilty in 2010 to second-degree murder. Mallo was 14 when 80-year-old Phyllis Jean Phares died in 2009. Prosecutors say he stabbed her to death. Kanawha County Chief Public Defender George Castelle plans to ask a judge to reduce the sentence. Kanawha County attorneys are expected to oppose the move.
Charleston police continue to investigate the death of 39-year old Clinton Green, also known as "Blue." Green's body was found early Wednesday in the middle of the road with multiple gunshot wounds. Detectives say they have strong leads in the case, and think Green may have known the suspect. There's no reason for the neighborhood to believe it was a random crime. Green's body was found at 924 Main Street in Charleston around 2am Wednesday, after green walked home from a nearby bar. Court records show past drug convictions and prison time for Green, along with assault, domestic battery, and burglaries. Police have declined to give a motive in the shooting.
A West Virginia man freed last year after serving 15 years in prison for the rape of a 5-year-old girl has had his sentenced reversed. A decision by Putnam County circuit judge O.C. Spaulding set Joseph Lavigne Jr. free, but the state Supreme Court reversed the decision and sent Lavigne back to prison to finish his sentence. Lavigne was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.
A new lease would turn Charleston's Slack Street recycling center over to West Virginia Recycling Services. There was no decision this week, but the final details could be worked out at a December 4th meeting of the Kanawha Solid Waste Authority. As the deal stands now, the authority would take $5.50 from every ton of recycling that makes its way through the center. The building that houses the Slack Street recycling center is more than one hundred years old, and was closed last March when combustible dust was found, among other structural issues. From a public drop off site, the recyclables are currently hauled off to Raleigh and Jackson counties for processing.
Gasoline prices have dropped a bit more in West Virginia over the past week. AAA East Central says the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in the state is $3.53. That's less than a half-cent lower than a week ago and 12 cents higher than a year ago. Prices range from $3.75 in Martinsburg to $3.31 in Parkersburg. In Charleston, prices are averaging in the $3.50's, right around the state average. Nationally, gas prices average $3.41 this week.
Another new development in the firing or state superintendent Jorea Marple. A public interest group filed a lawsuit Wednesday with the State Supreme Court essentially asking for the firing to be voided. The suit alleges that the state Board of Education and its president, Wade Linger, violated open meetings laws by firing Marple November 15, by neglecting to list any discussion of her termination on the Nov. 15 agenda. The West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act requires state agencies to provide proper notice and purpose of public meetings, the action states.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources estimates about 330,000 people are expected to hunt deer this season. The gun season just got underway Monday and the two-week season runs throught December 1. Last year the agency says hunters bagged more than 60,000 bucks which was a 38 percent increase over the previous year. The harvest this year is expected to be about the same if not better.