Breaking Local News
The Appalachian Children's Chorus has launched a new group in Putnam County and plans to establish two more in Kanawha and Raleigh County. The Putnam County choir held its first practice last week. Appalachian Children's Chorus founding and artistic director Selina Midkiff tells The Charleston Gazette says that the nonprofit plans to start a group in Raleigh County in January. Midkiff says the Charleston-based chorus also hopes to form a new Kanawha County group for special needs students. The chorus's other groups are in Kanawha, Mason and Logan counties.
Testimony got going Monday at a hearing over a petition that was filed to remove Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants from office. The hearing is expected to continue today and could wrap up this afternoon. Between 10 and 20 witnesses will testify by the time it's all done. The Kanawha County Commission filed the petition and cited irreparable financial harm for having to pay special prosecutors while Plants' case is pending. Plants has been charged with domestic battery and violating a protective order. After the testimony wraps up, the three judge panel will make a recommendation this fall to the Supreme Court, and they'll make a decision about Plants' job status.
The person who was killed in an ATV accident over the weekend in Mason County has been identified. The Sheriff's Office says 70-year old Juanita Sue Wilson, 70 of Frazier's Bottom, was driving the all terrain vehcile and was hit by a vehicle on Aston Upland Road Saturday morning. She died at the scene, and the accident is still under investigation.
Drivers don't expect to see cinder blocks in the road, and those caused some serious problems Saturday night. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is investigating the accidents - there were at least 10 vehicles who hit the cinder blocks - on Interstate 77 around 8 p.m. Saturday. No one was hurt, but the damage included flat tires, leaks in fluid lines and bent wheels. The cinder blocks were in both the northbound and southbound lanes between mile markers 96 and 97. The investigation is on to determine how the cinder blocks got there.
Police are investigating after a badly decomposed body was found in an abandoned home in Dunbar. Police were called for a welfare check after a tip came in that something wasn't right at the building that sits off Myers Avenue in between 19th and 20th streets. There was an odor, and the windows were covered with flies. The body was so badly decomposed that police don't yet know the age, race, or gender. They'll do an autopsy this week, and if they can't figure out the identity, the body will be sent to the Smithsonian Institute for a forensic investigation.
State figures show that nearly a third of West Virginia's public school students were truant during the 2013-2014 academic year. According to Department of Education data, 58 percent of McDowell County's students were marked as truant. That was the highest rate in the state. Jefferson County had the lowest rate, 7 percent. The statewide rate was about 31 percent. Students are marked as truant if they miss at least five days of class without an excuse. McDowell County Superintendent Nelson Spencer tells The Sunday Gazette-Mail that truancy cases are a byproduct of poverty and drug abuse, and "graduation coaches" have been hired to work with at-risk students in high schools.
Robberies over the weekend have some neighborhoods on edge. Saturday morning around 4:30 a 7-11 store in South Charleston was robbed, and Saturday evening someone held up a Rich Oil gas station in Sissonville. Then on Sunday somebody tried to rob a retail store in Kanawha City. Police are still looking for the suspects, and anyone with information is asked to call with tips.
Nine health care centers in southern West Virginia are sharing in more than $2.2 million in federal funding. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall announced the funding Thursday and said it's aimed at increasing access to quality care in the region. Health centers receiving the funding are in Princeton, Camden-on-Gauley, Beckley, Hamlin, Scarbro, Rainelle, Gary, Huntington and Williamson. Funding ranges from $187,000 to $406,000. The awards are through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Charleston Police Department unveiled a memorial for fallen officers last night. The Wall of Honor pays tribute to all Charleston police officers who have died in the line of duty, including Charleston patrol officer Jerry A. Jones, who was killed in the line of duty on September 13th, 2009.
Are pregnant women heeding the warning not to smoke? It turns out, more than 25 percent of pregnant women in West Virginia from 2008 to 2011 said they smoked during their pregnancy. Federal data and a state health organization say pregnant West Virginia women continue to smoke at the highest recorded rates in the nation. West Virginia Kids Count released the data this week, which shows that every year but one from 2000 to 2011, more than a quarter of West Virginia mothers surveyed said they smoked in the last three months of their pregnancy.