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Senate President Jeff Kessler says he thinks he has the support of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and House Speaker Tim Miley to create a future fund for education and other needs, despite budget woes. Kessler says the plan would set aside a portion of the severance tax on the state's natural gas industry without imposing higher tax rates or affecting current government programs. The plan could infuse more money for future teacher pay raises, infrastructure and other needs. Kessler will push the plan in the upcoming legislative session, which starts tomorrow.
Dunbar police chief Earl Whittington has been police chief for 29 years, and announced his retirement during a City Council meeting Monday night. Meanwhile, Jesse Bailes was sworn in as the new police chief. Bailes is a 27-year veteran of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department. Bailes takes over for Whittington immediately. Whittington has accepted a position with the sheriff's department. For more news to to www.wsaz.com.
Your Christmas tree can continue to serve a useful purpose well after the lights and ornaments are gone. Instead of dragging that dried out pine to the curb for trash pick-up, many are recycling. Saturday, many dropped their trees off at the Capital Market in Charleston, and they'll be placed in lakes across West Virginia to improve fish habitats. Last year, close to 600 trees were collected, but the numbers aren't final yet this year. For more Charleston-Kanawha Valley News go to www.wsaz.com.
A man accused of delivering empty promises to student athletes is being investigated by South Charleston police. Officers say Daniel Hicks is accused of misleading people in a scheme that would have involved a basketball organization known as the West Virginia Angels. The victims are from throughout the United States. It was a similar story in 2011 when students from across the country came to South Charleston -- with the thought that they'd be attending a prep school. The FBI is still taking a closer look into the prep school incident from a few years ago. At that time, Hicks was charged with fraudulent schemes. For more Charleston Kanawha Valley News, go to www.wsaz.com.
A ceremony Friday evening honored a young girl recently killed in a tragic accident. 10-year old Payton Thomas died late last month when a friend accidentally shot her as the two were playing. The community gathered Friday to pay tribute at Ruffner Elementary School where Payton was a third-grader. Payton's parents said they're thankful for the support of the entire community. They also said they have set up a fund to help with expenses. Anyone can donate to the Payton Thomas Memorial Fund at the United Bank along Virginia Street East in Charleston.
Much of the country is in the deep freeze right now, and that record cold is impacting West Virginia. An arctic front is bringing below-zero temperatures and snow to parts of the state, and the National Weather Service says temperatures in northern West Virginia are expected to plunge to 10 to 15 degrees below zero Monday night. For the Charleston area, the National Weather Service says a winter weather advisory is in effect until 3pm today, with up to 3 inches snow accumulation, with the possibility of flash freezing tonight. NWS also issued a wind chill warning starting today at 4PM lasting till 3PM Tuesday. 15-25 MPH winds with gusts to 35 MPH are possible, creating a wind chill of -20 to -30.
Charges have been filed against a second person in connection with a shooting in downtown Charleston on New Year's Day. Police told WSAZ.com, they are charging Jamison Conrad with accessory after a malicious wounding. Police say Conrad was with Michael Underwood Wednesday morning on Virginia Street. Underwood got into a fight with John Scott, and that's when police say Underwood shot Scott. Police say Conrad is an attorney in Fayetteville. Charleston Mayor, Danny Jones is filing ethics charges against him with the West Virginia State Bar. For more, go to www.wsaz.com
West Virginia food banks are looking for some help after the holidays, and the 32nd annual United Food Operation food drive is kicking off this month. Donations have been down for many charitable organizations this year, and food banks are looking for private donations, and for sponsors to make tax deductible donations. UFO collects for food pantries and acts as a distribution center. It is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that collects food and funds to help stock community food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. Needed donations include nonperishable foods, cleaning supplies, diapers, infant formula, and baby food. For more information go to www.unitedfoodoperation.org or call 304-342-2023.
The speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates says evidence of mismanagement under the state Department of Agriculture's previous administration has been turned over to a federal prosecutor. Democrat Tim Miley of Harrison said Thursday that a preliminary legislative audit of the department's finances before Walt Helmick became commissioner found evidence of "troubling activities and management practices," including questionable accounting methods and expense reimbursements. Helmick requested the audit, which Miley said is standard practice when a new agency head takes over. Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler ordered the auditor to turn the findings over to the U.S. attorney's office, according to the Charleston Gazette.
A new study says West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of fatal all-terrain vehicle accidents. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the study released this week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at rider deaths on public roads from 2007 to 2011. In that time, 1,701 riders died in crashes on public roads throughout the nation. West Virginia ranked third in the number of deaths with 96. However, its death rate of 105 per 10 million people was the country's highest. Wyoming was a distant second with 70. State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous says the popularity of outdoor activities in West Virginia may be a reason for the high rate of ATV fatalities.