Breaking Local News

PSC Chair Removes Himself From Chemical Spill Investigation

The state Public Service Commission's chairman has removed himself from an investigation into a water company's response to a January chemical spill. The Charleston Gazette reports PSC Chairman Mike Albert cited his previous work as an attorney representing West Virginia American Water in stepping down from the spill investigation. Albert says he wants to avoid a disruption and distraction in the investigation.

Jury Trial Still Pending For Plants

It's not clear yet when a trial might happen for Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants. He wants a jury trial on two misdemeanor charges, but for now he's entered into and completed the first class of an eight-month batterer's intervention program in Putnam County. A special prosecutor wants him to first complete the program first, and Plants wants a trial because there's no guarantee charges will be dropped after he does it. WCHS TV reports Plants is scheduled to go before a three-judge panel next month in an effort by the Kanawha County Commission to have him removed from office.

Funding Denied For Putnam County Bridge; Other Options Considered

Hurricane is entertaining its options to replace a bridge at Hurricane City Park, after the Putnam County Commission denied a funding request that would have provided enough money for it. The city requested $25,000 in funding that would have likely come from tax-increment financing, which allows government entities to fund economic development projects, according to the Charleston Gazette. The agencies use the projected increase in property taxes that occurs because of the improvements to the district. In the end though, the commission said no. The bridge project would replace a single-lane bridge at the entrance of the Hurricane City Park, adjacent to Route 34. There have been concerns over the bridge's safety. The city hasn't given up, and is tossing around other ideas about how to fund it.

Gambling Revenues Up, But Impacted By Competition

Gambling at The Greenbrier gave the West Virginia Lottery's revenue a boost in July. The Charleston Gazette says the resort's table game revenue increased 148 percent to $457,715. Video lottery revenue rose 32 percent to $429,575. That helped lift the Lottery's overall revenue to $101 million, up from less than $100 million in June. July revenue though was down about 4 percent compared to July 2013. Lottery Director John Musgrave says competition from casinos in neighboring states continues to affect the state's four racetrack casinos. Racetrack table game revenues dropped by $639,000 to about $4 million.

Settlement Announced After Dupont Leak

A $1.275 million settlement has been reached after the chemical company Dupont allegedly released hazardous materials that were a threat to the Kanawha River. And one worker died after exposure to a leak of toxic gas. The EPA and the Department of Justice announced the settlement Wednesday, after the leak in May 2006 and January 2010 at the Dupont Belle location, according to a news release from the EPA. DuPont will pay the penalty and will take steps to make sure procedures are correct and comply with government regulations. DuPont estimates that it has spent more than $6 million to comply so far.

Some Lawmakers Call For Delay in Storage Tank Inspections

State House and Senate leaders want the governor to call a special session to over the above-ground storage tank law. WCHS TV reports House Speaker Tim Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler asked Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to call the session during next month's interim meetings. They are slated for Sept. 8-10. The two lawmakers said the Jan. 1 deadline for above ground storage tank inspections in the law is unattainable.

Warrant Issued In Rand Robbery

A warrant has been issued after a Rand robbery. The Kanawha County Sheriff's office has issued the warrant for 26-year old Christopher D. Carey (A.K.A. “Snacks) of Rand. He is charged with one count of armed robbery and three counts of wanton endangerment in connection with Monday morning’s robbery in Rand, and is accused of shooting at the victim after he only handed over a small amount of cash. Anyone with information on Carey is asked to call 304-357-0169 or submit a tip at www.kanawhasheriff.us.

School Start Times Could Change

Might middle school and high school students be starting the school day later? A new report released this week said students should not be expected in class any earlier than 8:30 a.m. if teachers are to get peak mental capacity out of them. The Charleston Gazette reports 43 percent of public high schools across the country start class before 8 a.m., including most schools in West Virginia. Kanawha County high schools start around 7:30 a.m., South Charleston High School starts at 7:11 a.m. and St. Albans High starts at 7:50 a.m. Most middle schools in Kanawha County start class around 8:30 a.m. The American Academy of Pediatrics says pushing back school start times is the key to avoiding major problems associated with sleep deprivation. There is no statewide policy in West Virginia governing when school starts and ends, for now anyway.

FEMA Reimburses Several Agencies After Chemical Spill

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed $1.4 million to local and state governments, hospitals and some non-profit groups for costs related to January's chemical spill in Charleston. The Charleston Daily Mail reports FEMA assistance has been awarded to 35 entities in Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln and Putnam counties totaling more than $1 million. In addition, the National Guard is among six state agencies awarded more than $420,000. Another dozen requests for assistance are pending. In April, FEMA approved Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's request to allow first responders, public agencies in the nine affected counties, and certain nonprofit groups to apply for grants to recoup costs incurred in the days after the Jan. 9 spill.

Kanawha County School Employees Face Criminal Charges

Four people who worked at Riverside High School were arrested Tuesday night for allegedly stealing thousands in food and supplies from the school system, according to West Virginia State police. Chief custodian Linda Oda, custodian Tommy Osborne, cafeteria manager Debra Stump and head cook Christine Buckley have each been charged with fraudulent schemes, conspiracy and embezzlement . Investigators think they had been stealing food and cleaning supplies for several years, and that added up to thousands of dollars in a hit to taxpayers. The four were suspended from the district without pay last week.

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