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When you see construction workers, slow down. That's the message from West Virginia officials kicking of a campaign aimed at promoting work zone safety. The state Division of Highways launched the campaign Wednesday in Charleston, after more than 450 crashes in West Virginia work zones last year along with two fatalities. As the weather warms up, crews will be working on the state's roadways and bridges. The campaign encourages drivers to be aware of crews, slow down in work zones and not to be distracted while driving. Police also will be enforcing speed limits in work zones.
The West Virginia Supreme Court says a Kanawha County woman convicted in a truancy case can't be both fined and ordered to perform community service. The court says a Kanawha County judge also erred when he placed Beth Bennett on 90 days' probation. The High Court says there are two sentencing alternatives for first-offense truancy. They are a fine, or requiring the adult to accompany the child to school. The judge fined Bennett $50. The court says the fine wasn't suspended, so there's no basis for probation or community service. Bennett pleaded guilty in April 2013 after her child had five unexcused absences from school, and she'll be resentenced.
Recent violence led to a march Wednesday to call for an end to the shooting. The "Guns Down, Hands Up to Pray” march was organized by the mother of Tymel McKinney, the teenager who was shot to death while he was sitting on his front porch last week. Three people have been arrested in connection with his death and are awaiting more court dates. The march started at First Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Street on the East End and ended up at Haddad Riverfront Park for a rally.
Early voting is underway, ahead of the West Virginia primary. Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick says early voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and Saturday, May 10. You can vote at the Voter Registration Office at the corner of Court and Quarrier streets. Early voting runs until May 10.
The West Virginia School Building Authority has awarded more than $43 million for construction projects in seven counties. The grants approved Monday include more than $12 million for a new elementary school in Gilmer County. Mingo, Monongalia and Wayne counties each received more than $8 million for school projects, but the Wayne County grant is contingent on voters approving a bond. If the bond is approved on May 13, the county will receive another $10 million grant next year to put toward new schools and renovations.
The groundbreaking happened this week with the West Virginia National Guard. It's a new readiness facility that will be an updated, state-of-the-art building that will will cover over 45-thousand square feet within Logan and Mingo Counties, for classrooms and help the National Guard train for natural disasters. Congressman Nick Rahall helped secure the funding to move the project ahead. The Logan-Mingo Readiness Center should be finished in 2015.
Federal investigators say the operator of a Marshall County coal mine where a worker was killed didn't ensure that safe work procedures and policies were in place. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited McElroy Coal Co. for the accident that killed 62-year-old Roger R. King in October 2013. King was hit in the head by a roller and hook that was being used to pull a conveyor chain, and the agency says management failed to ensure that workers are in a safe location when tension is applied to cables.
More arrests at the Charleston Transit Mall as police continue to respond to neighbor complaints and get rid of crime. Another 3 people were arrested there Tuesday night, bringing the total of the last few weeks to 43. Charges range from trespassing, to open container violations and theft.
A nonprofit group is asking the Paint Creek community for help in creating an oral history of the waterway. The Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association plans to use the oral histories of residents and former residents to produce an online exhibit featuring their stories. The association also plans to create a digital driving tour of Paint Creek. Paint Creek runs from Tamarack in Beckley to Pratt. The 44-mile-long Paint Creek Scenic Byway runs adjacent to the creek. Native Americans once used Paint Creek to travel between settlements. In 1912, coal miners in Paint Creek and nearby Cabin Creek went on strike, sparking West Virginia's first mine war. The Register-Herald reports that the oral history project is funded by the National Coal Heritage Area and the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Deputies with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office were called out Monday morning to Ballard Road in the Alum Creek area after a woman called and reported she had been beaten by her husband. 41-year old James Belcher was seen fleeing with the couple's 2-year old daughter, and deputies there said he was traveling at a high rate of speed in a blue mini-van, and eventaully abandoned the van and ran into a wooded area with his daughter. Deputies found him, and he quickly surrendered. The mother, 30-year old Amanda Belcher is expected to be okay and has custody of the girl. James Belcher is being charged with DUI with a Minor in the Vehicle and Domestic Battery.