Breaking Local News
Questions are being raised about how funds have been handled at West Virginia State University. An audit found a shortage of more than $260,000, and it's gotten the attention of lawmakers. The report was shared with legislative leaders this week, and shows things like overcharges for parking fines, questionable practices at the campus bookstore, and missing funds. The reports also reveals more than a hundred students were allowed to remain enrolled three years ago after failing to pay tuition. No word yet how the issues will be dealth with, but the school president, Brian Hemphill, told lawmakers the school is taking the results of the audit very seriously.
The West Virginia Sheriff's Association is backing a constitutional amendment that would lift term limits for sheriffs. West Virginia is one of only three states in the country that still imposes term limits on sheriffs, and the only other elected official in West Virnginia with term limits is the governor. The Sheriff's Association says sheriffs are kept in check with yearly audits and a civil service code. Voters will decide on November 6th whether to keep term limits for sheriffs or get rid of them. Voting yes on Amendment One removes the term limits.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Kanawha County commissioners are doing their part to raise awareness in honor of former county employee, Peggy Poe, who is a breast cancer survivor. County Commissioners placed a wreath with a pink ribbon outside the courthouse this week and reminded women early detection is the key. Commissioners provide free mammograms and prostate exams to full-time county employees each January.
Putnam County family court judge William Watkins is filed his reponse Wednesday to charges filed against him six weeks ago. In the papers, Watkins admits shouting and using profanity in the courtroom, but he doesn't think that's a violation of the state's Judicial Code of Conduct. In his response to five filed complaints, Watkins denies that he has failed to uphold the high standards of conduct and integrity required of judges. He asks the state Judicial Hearing Board to dismiss the charges against him. They'll consider his case November 27.
The international economics and regulatory consulting firm known as The Brattle Group has released a new report on the coal industry. The 13-page report was issued last week, and expects more coal-fired power plants to close in the next four-year period, but it won't be because of more strict environmental rules. Lower-priced natural gas is the predicted cause, or in other words, market conditions. Some have blamed the coal industries woes solely on federal regulations, but the Brattle Group disagrees.
More new developments with Century Aluminum. The company announced Tuesday that they would not be able to restart their Ravenswood plant even after the special rate was granted by the PSC last week. With the rate came an assumption of risk that Century determined wouldn't be of their best interest long-term. Now Century Aluminum has requested more time to file a motion asking the Public Service Commission to reconsider its rate decision. Century has asked that the original deadline of October 15 be extended to November 1.
Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh is facing ethics allegations, accused of receiving more than $12,000 worth of ownership interests in companies if he would provide those companies city contracts and free use of city resources. A hearing date has been set now for January 28, according to the Register-Herald. The West Virginia Ethics Commission filed the civil charges in March after its Probable Cause Review Board determined there was sufficient evidence that there was an ethics violation. Pugh has denied the allegations.
Century Aluminum has announced it won't restart its Ravenswood plant. Century Aluminum earlier had said it would restart the plant if the Public Service Commission approved a special electricty rate which they did, but the PSC also said there was a certain amount of assumption of risk that went along with it, and Century said in a statement yesterday that the PSC's ruling "is not sufficient for a smelter restart. PSC said in its ruling any risk that the company won't pay enough for its power would have to be assumed by the company, not other Appalachian Power customers.
Two people are facing meth charges after police raided a camper on Jordan Creek Road in Elkview Monday night. Detectives reported a strong odor of methamphetamine and searched the camper. They found meth making materials, and a bag of the finished product. April Holmes and John Wyne were arrested.
A legislative audit report released Tuesday says the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management needs to do a better job of meeting performance goals. Auditors briefed lawmakers Tuesday morning on the finding that while the agency has done a good job of stating its goals for disaster response and emergency management, it's not tracking whether or not it's achieving those goals. Auditors recommended the agency come up with new performance measures that it can adequately track. The state Division of Homeland Security responded, saying it's hard to provide concrete performance measures for things like disaster response.