Breaking Local News

Leaders Pick Ahead Of Next Legislative Session

Republican lawmakers have chosen a new West Virginia Senate president and House of Delegates speaker. The West Virginia Republican Party says Mercer County Sen. Bill Cole was named as Senate president and lieutenant governor during a caucus of GOP senators on Sunday. House Republicans named Kanawha County Delegate Tim Armstead as House speaker during their caucus.In January, Republicans will hold majorities in both the House and the Senate for the first time in eight decades following the November general election. Armstead previously served as House minority leader.

Five Killed In Crash Near Ripley

West Virginia State Police say five people were killed in a multiple-vehicle crash on Interstate 77 near Ripley over the weekend. The crash occurred when an SUV heading north - apparently toward Wheeling and the State football championship game - went out of control, sped through a cable median and into the southbound lanes. The SUV was broadsided by a southbound pickup truck and caught fire. Powers says all five victims were in the SUV. They are identified as: 46-year old Vivian Easton...15-year old Devon Easton Badger, 48-year old Walter Taylor, 14-year old Tahj Claiborne and 50-year old Wallace Worrell.

Package Thief Turns Herself In

More now on a story from earlier in the week...A Cross Lanes woman has been charged with stealing Christmas packages and a wreath in an incident that was captured on surveillance video. 63-year-old Deborah R. Davis was arraigned this week on attempted burglary and petit larceny charges after police said she took items from the front porch of a home in Cross Lanes on Sunday. The homeowner posted the surveillance video on his Facebook page on Tuesday. Kanawha County Sheriff's Office spokesman Cpl. Brian Humphreys says Davis came forward Wednesday and told police she was the person in the video. Davis is being held in the South Central Regional Jail.

Money Coming to Help School Cafeterias Serve Local Food

The West Virginia Department of Education will receive $100,000 to help effectively move food from local farms to school cafeterias. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Program. The Department of Education's Office of Child Nutrition and the West Virginia Farm to School Community Development Group will develop a distribution network that enables farmers to provide schools with an outlet to buy local products at an affordable cost.

DMV Leader is Stepping Down

Acting West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale is stepping down at the end of the year after 32 years working for the DMV in different capacities. He has served as acting commissioner since January 2013 and his retirement is effective Dec. 31. Dale tells The Charleston Gazette he plans to look for a job in the private sector. Last month, the DMV received a national award for beginning a program that allows people to renew vehicle registrations online. Customers also can search for license plate information, check the status of their driver's licenses and pay license reinstatement fees online.

Clay Center Has A New CEO

There's a new leader at the Clay Center. Al Najjar was picked as the new president and CEO Thursday. The Charleston Gazette reports Najjar is the former leader of the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa, Florida, and was attracted to the Clay Center for the way it appreciates how the sciences, performing arts, and visual arts are combined. His first day is March 1st.

Charleston Police Investigate Possible Kidnapping

A 20-year old woman in Charleston may have been kidnapped last night, and Charleston Police are investigating. Officers say the women told someone at the Jet Stop Marathon Gas Station in the 800 block of Greenbrier Street that she'd been kidnapped, and then a man came out of the store and drove off with her in the car. It was a newer model brown or copper colored sedan with license plates IOU 660. The driver is described as 5'7" tall white male. He was wearing a black ball cap, a blue button-up shirt and black dress pants. Charleston police are checking surveillance video and sending out national alerts. If you have information, call 911.

Former Massey CEO Wants Trial Date Changed

Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wants his trial delayed. He's facing criminal charges that he conspired to violate mine safety rules and hamper federal safety enforcement at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, after a 2010 explosion killed 29 workers. Blankenship's trial is scheduled to start January 26th, but his lawyer has filed a motion to vacate the trial date, reset deadlines for pretrial motions, and set a scheduling conference. Earlier this week, The Charleston Gazette and other news organizations filed a motion seeking to intervene and ask the judge to remove the gag order in place. Blankenship has pleaded not guilty and is out of jail on bond.

Invasive Species DNA Found in Kanawha River

Water samples taken from the Ohio and Kanawha rivers have tested positive for Asian carp environmental DNA, which is genetic material released into the environment by an organism. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources says the test results aren't proof of the invasive species' presence in the rivers. The DNA could have been transported by boats, birds or other means. The DNR said Wednesday in a news release that fisheries biologists collected the samples in July from two Ohio River navigational pools in Hancock, Ohio and Brooke counties, and from the Kanawha River in Putnam and Kanawha counties. Samples also were collected from the Little Kanawha River in Wood and Wirt counties.

Arch Coal Continues Appeals Over Strip Mine Permit

Arch Coal is continuing to fight a 2011 veto of a West Virginia strip mining permit. Late last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Arch's Mingo Logan Coal Co. subsidiary filed an appeal notice for the Spruce No. 1 mine case. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency retroactively vetoed the mine's permit, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued four years earlier. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson later ruled the agency overstepped its authority. In April 2013, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled EPA acted within its authority. The court denied St. Louis-based Arch's motion to rehear the case in July 2013. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arch's appeal to reinstate the Logan County mine's permit.

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