Breaking Local News
First the loss of accreditation, and now a class action lawsuit has been filed against Mountain State University. The revoked accreditation makes students' degrees worthless, and now three students are suing the school, former President Charles Polk, and the Board of Trustees. Papers were filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, and the students are seeking class action status, meaning others could join. The plaintiffs say the suit should cover anyone enrolled since 2008. Mountain State is appealing the loss of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission.
The state Board of Education voted this week to give the Lincoln County school system preliminary full accreditation status. Up next for the school system, a full audit this fall and if that goes okay Lincoln County would regain full control of its schools. The state took over in 2000 over the state of disrepair of the buildings, illegal hiring practices and low student test scores. In December 2010, the state returned control of most of the system's operations to Lincoln County, and full accreditation would be the next step.
Any damages from the June 29 storms that haven't yet been reported should be reported to emergency managers. FEMA has been in the area assessing damage this week, and the information they collect along with reports gathered by local emergency management officials will go into a report for the governor. That will be used to formally request public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox has estimated the cost of cleaning up the highways alone is near $14 million. The state is looking to recover most of the costs for repairs.
25-year old Ethan Chic Colbert awaits sentencing after being convicted this week of child neglect in the death of 11-year old Jahlil Clemments. The boy ran into traffic and was struck by a car, as he tried to get help for his mother, who was allegedly being beaten on the side of the road by Chic Colbert. The judge this week threw out the more serious murder and kidnapping charges, saying there wasn't enough evidence to support them, but the child neglect charges remained. Sentencing is next month, and Chic Colbert could get seven to thirty-one years behind bars.
Accused Kanawha County sniper Shawn Lester is facing a new charge. Lester was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on a drug charge for distributing cocaine and oxycodone between 2005 and 2011 near Sissonville. Lester also faces a federal gun possession charge and has entered a guilty plea for that. He awaits a September sentencing. The federal charges are separate from the state charges related to the murders of Jeannie Patton, Okey Meadows Jr., and Gary Carrier in 2003. The trial on the state charges is scheduled to start later this month and last into August or September.
A low-cost housing project in Charleston gets the green light. The new project will have fewer townhouses than some traditional housing projects, as a way to make life more comfortable for those who live there and deter crime. The Municipal Planning Commission unanimously approved the project Wednesday. Construction will start this fall on Charleston's West side and will take about a year.
Appalachian Power estimates electricity should be restored to almost all Appalachian Power customers by the end of Thursday. Most customers who still have no electricity are mostly in heavily damaged parts of the state or remote areas. There are still 2200 without power in Kanawha County, according to numbers from Appalachian Power last night at 9pm. Lincoln County has had power fully restored. A few hundred customers remain without power in Roane, Wayne, and Putnam Counties.
Charleston Town Center Mall is in the midst of extensive renovations now, with the total cost about $7 million. The front courts of the major department stores are being renovated, new carpet and tile floors are going in, and center court is being expanded. The mall will also have a new tech bar with multiple outlets for plugging in laptops and mobile devices. More of the plans were unveiled yesterday at a Charleston Urban Renewal Authority meeting. The work should be finished in time for the beginning of the holiday shopping season this fall.
If the power is out you can't get online or make phone calls, and two companies are giving customers who lost power with the recent storms a break. Frontier Communications and Suddenlink Communications have announced customers who lost phone, cable and Internet services with the storms won't have to pay for the time they went without those services. The West Virginia Public Service Commission said customers' bills would be prorated. Suddenlink had 55,000 in Boone, Kanawha and Putnam counties without service after the storm.
A man is dead after a shooting in Rand last night. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department says the man died at the hospital, and the suspected shooter is still on the run. The shooting happened just before 1 a.m. in the 100 block of Emory Ave. in Rand.