Breaking Local News
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is filing subpoenas over reported price hikes on water amid a ban on running water. Morrisey said his office received more than 150 calls and documented 74 reports of people selling water or other goods at higher prices. The office will follow up with letters and subpoenas. It's illegal in West Virginia to raise prices on essential products and services by more than 10 percent in a state of emergency. Maximum penalties include a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Morrisey says many reports were over doubled prices for packs of water bottles. The office heard one seller charged $50 for five gallons. The office began fielding complaints a day after last Thursday's chemical spill.
Although several thousand residents have been given the go-ahead to flush their systems and use their water, many are still without water. There are several distribution sites open Friday for those in need of water. In Kanawha County that includes the Belle VFD, Clendenin VFD, Crossings Mall - Elkview, Sissonville VFD, and Nitro Police Department.
Efforts are underway to revive Theatre West Virginia in Beckley. The efforts are being led by Scott Hill, director of the annual October Sky Rocket Boys Festival at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. Theatre West Virginia is an outdoor theater company that was founded in 1955 and ceased operations in September because of financial problems, but if all goes well Theatre West Virginia could be back performing by June.
An attorney whose group is challenging West Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages says she's encouraged by recent federal rulings overturning bans in Oklahoma and Utah. New York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia's Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment and filed suit in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple. The Lambda Legal attorney says she believes the Oklahoma and Utah rulings give the plaintiffs additional arguments to persuade the judge that West Virginia's ban is unconstitutional.
The area under the water use ban continues to shrink, with the bulk of the WV American Water map blue now instead of red. But there are still several thousand customers instructed not to use the water. The "do not use" water order been lifted for 1,800 customers in the Big Bottom, Bona Vista, Cemetery, Clover Hollow, Elk Two Mile, and Valley Grove areas. WVAW says this brings the total number of customers that can flush their systems and use the water to 71,000. For more information go to www.wsaz.com.
Area colleges are slowly getting back to normal after the chemical spill and water use ban. The University of Charleston says it plans to resume normal operations today, and residence halls just opened again last night. Orientation for new students will be held today at West Virginia State University, and the spring semester is scheduled to start next Tuesday in Institute.
The price of a gallon of gas in West Virginia has dropped by an average of a penny a gallon this week. AAA East Central says the state's average is $3.39. That's eight cents above the national average. This week's average price in the state is a nickel lower than a year ago. Across the state, prices range from a low of $3.29 a gallon in Huntington to a high of $3.55 a gallon in Martinsburg. Gasbuddy.com says gas prices in Charleston are holding steady at around $3.31 per gallon.
A man will spend time in prison for a beating that happened in downtown Charleston. Dana Lafond was in court Wednesday to be sentenced. Lafond pleaded guilty last year to unlawful wounding. Police say Dana Lafond and Brandon Douglas beat and robbed Brandon Coltey in the KRT Transit Mall in March 2013. Douglas has also entered a guilty plea. During Wednesday's hearing, Lafond was sentenced to one to five years in prison, with credit for the 10 months he's already served. For more Kanawha Valley news, go to www.wsaz.com.
Many agencies are investigating the chemical spill that led to the water use ban....U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says a House committee will hold a hearing in Charleston in the coming weeks. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will host the hearing to talk about the chemical used in coal processing that spilled last Thursday in the Elk River from a Freedom Industries facility in Charleston.
The “do not use” water order has been lifted for the Mount Alpha and Lower Donnally areas of Charleston, according to West Virginia American Water. This means the ban has now been lifted for about 57,000 customers. A temporary local 24/7 hotline has been established at 855-390-4569 for additional clarification, and an online map can be found on WV American Water's website. For more information, go to WSAZ.COM