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Charleston firefighters are investigating another suspicious fire. A vacant West Side home burned Saturday night, and investigators say the fire started in the basement of the home at 2609 7th Avenue. Nobody was hurt, and firefighters were able to knock the flames down before they spread to other nearby houses. Investigators think the fire is arson and somebody has set the home on fire before. This is added to a list of suspicious fires on the West Side in the past few weeks.
Charleston police are still investigating a suspicious package sent to the mayor's home Friday morning. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones received a dead pigeon, gift wrapped at the end of his driveway about 8 a.m. Friday and a threatening note to the mayor was attached. Charleston police say in a news release they are processing the evidence and want anybody with information on the package to call the Charleston Police Department.
A new fire station in Sissonville is open now. It's named after longtime chief Thomas K. Johnson who was with the fire department in some capacity from 1961 to 2011 and then retired. Two years ago, the fire station burned to the ground, and this weekend's ribbon cutting marked a moment of victory for firefighters who not only lost their place of employment with the fire, but also the history of the building. Station 26 is up and running now, rebuilt largely with FEMA assistance and public donations. The fire station had been running out of Charleston Auto.
A Kanawha County jury on Friday found that three members of the West Side's Bob Burdette Center board violated a sexual orientation discrimination policy. The jury concluded that the board did not appoint a woman to head the nonprofit afterschool program because they'd discovered she is a lesbian through her Facebook page. Jessica Hudson had accepted the job offer and quit another job when the offer from the Bob Burdette Center was rescinded. No money was awarded in the trial.
Efforts are increasing to boost recylcing in West Virginia. The state is awarding nearly $1.5 million in recycling assistance grants to 32 agencies, including solid waste authorities, private industries and counties. The money will help buy vehicles as well as educational material to assist recycling programs. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says the recycling assistance grants are generated through a $1 assessment on every ton of solid waste disposed at state landfills.
A former West Virginia pharmacist has been sentenced to six months in federal prison, along with one year of supervised release and a $5,000 fine. 77-year old James P. Wooley pleaded guilty in February, essentially admitting that he new certain prescriptions for controlled substances were not valid. Wooley was the owner and operator of Stronsnider Drug Store Inc., which did business as SAV-RITE Pharmacy in two locations near Kermit in Mingo County. Others have also been sentenced to prison time as part of the investigation.
A Charleston man shot an intruder of the weekend. Kanawha County Metro 911 dispatchers said West Side homeowner Jack Boggess called to report a half-naked man sitting at his kitchen table Saturday around 3am. After kicking his way in through the back door, 33-year old Darin Lanning is accused of taking off some clothing and opening the refrigerator door. That's what woke Boggess up. Boggess says Lanning made a threatening move toward him and that's when the shot was fired. Boggess held Lanning at gunpoint until police arrived. Lanning reportedly thought he was in Hurricane at a friend's house. Earlier on Saturday, Lanning had been arrested by Hurricane police and sent to an alcohol treatment facility in Charleston.
Putnam County schools are getting a financial boost. The West Virginia Department of Education approved a $300,000 grant this week that will allow Putnam County Schools to hire someone to help at-risk students choose a career path. The grant application was denied earlier this year, but was approved this week after more money became available. Innovation zone grants allow schools to try out new, research-based strategies to improve student learning.
The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to fire State Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. There was no specific reason given for the termination. And right after the termination, Board of Education members Jenny Phillips and Priscilla Haden announced their plans for resignation. Marple's termination is effective yesterday, and Deputy Superintendent Chuck Heinlein will manage the department for now.
St. Louis-based Patriot Coal is phasing out mountaintop removal and other forms of strip mining. There is currently a strip mining machine in use along the Boone-Lincoln County line, and the company says phasing out processes like these are in the best interests of the company and the communities where it operates. In a court settlement, Patriot agreed with citizen groups that it won't seek new permits for large-scale surface-mining operations. Some smaller mining projects will continue, but when leases expire, eventually all strip mining will stop.