Breaking Local News

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.

New Drug Bill Advances

West Virginia lawmakers have approved a bill to let first responders, friends and family administer potentially life-saving medication to people overdosing on opioids, including heroin. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted 99-0 to open up access to opioid antagonists, which are usually injections. The Senate passed a similar bill without opposition earlier this month, and now the House and Senate need to make their versions of the bill match.

Plea Hearing Requested for Former Freedom Execs

Prosecutors are seeking plea hearings for Freedom Industries and two former owners facing charges related to last year's chemical spill. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip H. Wright filed motions Wednesday asking the court to schedule hearings for the company, Charles Herzing and William Tis. Wright also requested plea hearings for two lower-level employees. All the defendants are charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act. They are expected to plead guilty in the case. Former Freedom owner Dennis Farrell and former President Gary Southern also face charges related to the spill. In addition, Southern faces charges related to Freedom's bankruptcy.

Clendenin Robbery Linked To Another

The Clendenin 7-Eleven store on Spencer Road was robbed January 28th, and now deputies with the Kanawha County Sheriff's office have linked those robbers to another one that happened the same night in Clay County. BJ Bird and Isaiah Murphy have been arrested and charged with the robbery of the Clendenin store and the one in Big Otter. Both are from Clay County.

Abortion Ban Approved By House

West Virginia delegates approved a ban on abortions after 20 weeks conception Wednesday, similar to the one Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed last year over constitutionality concerns. Anti-abortion advocates rallied at the Capital yesterday as the House of Delegates approved the ban 87-12. Most Democrats sided with the Republican majority. The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks, with some exemptions for women in medical emergencies. Rape and incest aren't exempted, despite Democratic attempts to include them.

Arrest Made After Pastor's Death

Police have charged a woman with killing a pastor in his home. Nineteen-year-old Camille Brown of Beckley is being held without bond at the Southern Regional Jail. She was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder. Brown is accused of killing 68-year-old Ronald Browning on Saturday. Beckley police Detective Morgan Bragg says that Browning died from blunt force trauma to the neck and head. He says investigators believe Browning invited the suspect into his home because there was no sign of forced entry. So far no motive for the slaying. Police in nearby Mabscott charged Brown on Sunday with entering another home and disorderly conduct. It's unclear if Brown has an attorney. Browning was the pastor of Cool Ridge Community Church.

Geese and Duck Numbers Are Down This Winter

Fewer ducks and geese were counted during West Virginia's annual mid-winter waterfowl survey. State waterfowl biologist Mike Peters says the survey was conducted over two days in early January. The annual survey involves both ground and aerial observations of historically significant waterfowl areas in the state. Observers counted 7,844 ducks, down 11 percent from a year ago. The number of geese counted was 6,390, which is down 4 percent. Despite the decrease, Peters says duck numbers are 87 percent above the 10-year average while geese are up 20 percent over that period.

Former Freedom Execs Request Trial Delays

Four former executives of a West Virginia chemical company are asking a judge to delay their trials on charges stemming from a spill. Attorneys for former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and former owners Dennis Farrell, Charles Herzing and William Tis requested the delays in new motions, in which defense attorneys say they need more time to review a massive amount of files provided by prosecutors on flash drives. Each man is charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act. Southern also faces charges stemming from Freedom's bankruptcy. The trials are scheduled to begin March 10.

Stolen Camper Found near South Charleston

A camper was stolen from a campground in Jackson County awhile back, and Sunda the owner got a tip that it had been seen near South Charleston so he called the Kanawha County Sheriff's office. A Cpl and others spent hours watching the camper throughout the night until they saw signs someone was inside, and a canine partner was eventually called to help. It turns out Brian J. Wilson of Nitro and Ashley Lynn Keiffer of Poca were living in the camper. Wilson already had two warrants in Putnam County for robbery and night time burglary. He and Keiffer were arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The grand larceny investigation in Jackson County is on-going. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office at 304-357-0169 or submit a tip on our website at The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office can also be reached at 304-373-2290.

Summer 2014 Burglary Case Solved

There's been an arrest that dates back to August 26, 2014. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s office says it happened on Tangle Wood Road in Cross Lanes, and a neighbor spotted an open window on the back of her house and called 911. Jewelry had been stolen and deputies were able to get fingerprint evidence, which was sent to the West Virginia State Police Lab. When the print was compared to databases a match was found. The neighbor, 32-year old Mekell Hodges was arrested Monday and charged with burglary.

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