Breaking Local News
A former coal company executive is seeking the dismissal of charges stemming from a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 workers in West Virginia. Former Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship also wants U.S. District Judge Irene Berger disqualified from hearing his case. The Charleston Gazette reports that Blankenship's lawyers filed a dozen motions to dismiss on Friday, along with the disqualification motion and other documents. Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County. He also is charged with lying to federal financial regulators about safety measures in the deadly explosion. Blankenship's trial is set for April 20.
The West Virginia Democratic Party has picked Belinda Biafore as its chair. Biafore replaces Larry Puccio who resigned as chairman last month to run U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's political action committee. Biafore has served as vice chair of the party since 2004 and has been a workforce in the organization for over thirty years.
A public screening will be held for a film that was shot in southern West Virginia. The screening of "Little Accidents" will take place at the Marquee Cinemas in Beckley tonight.
The film stars Elizabeth Banks and premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, about a small mining town devastated by a fatal accident, and three people who are drawn together after a teenage boy goes missing. Most of the filming took place in Raleigh County. Other scenes were done in Greenbrier, Kanawha and Wyoming counties. Private screenings also are planned in Beckley tonight and in Charleston on Saturday.
West Virginia has had lots of luck lately with million dollar lotto winners, and you might be trying your luck with a little larger jackpot this weekend. The estimated prize for the Powerball jackpot for Saturday's drawing is about $360 million, according to the powerball.com website. The cash value is $220.5 million. It was in mid-January that five employees with the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority won a total of $1 million in the Mega Millions game. After taxes, each member of the group pocketed about $137,000.
A musical tribute is scheduled March 7 at Tamarack for Little Jimmy Dickens, the late Grand Old Opry legend who was raised in Bolt. Tamarack's Kelly Elkins says musicians will perform songs from Dickens' songbook. Dickens performed on the Opry almost continuously since 1948. He became an Opry member in 1948 and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. He died last month.
A Bluefield man is scheduled to stand trial in March on charges of killing his infant son after a judge rejected a plea deal. Cassidy Byrd is charged with second-degree murder and death of a child by a parent by child abuse. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that a Mercer County Circuit Court Judge rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors. The judge said a jury should decide Cassidy's fate because of the case's serious nature. Under the plea deal, the state would have dismissed the murder charge. The 24-year-old Cassidy would have been allowed to plead guilty to death by a parent or guardian. Byrd's son, Ethan Byrd, died on April 5, 2014. Police have said an autopsy showed the baby died of head injuries.
Mon Power and Potomac Edison say West Virginia regulators have approved a rate case settlement that will result in a rate increase for customers. The case involved the recovery of expenses from two weather events in 2012, increased costs at coal-fired power plants and improvements to enhance power reliability. The settlement approved by the Public Service Commission results in the recovery of about $63 million in additional revenues.
The PSC also issued a separate order regarding an annual fuel rate adjustment settlement filed in December 2014. Reflecting both rate changes, typical Mon Power and Potomac Edison residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month can expect their bills to increase by about eight dollars starting Feb. 25.
A man is wanted after a robbery on the West Side early Wednesday. Charleston police say a 19-year old man was robbed at gunpoint at a house in the 1200 block of Stuart Street about 12:30 a.m. after going there to buy an Xbox game system. A man pulled a gun on the victim once he was inside, and got about seventy dollars from him. The suspect is described as a black man about 6'2" and weighing about 190 pounds. Anyone with tips should call the Charleston Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.
Seven people were arrested Wednesday in Rand in a warrant sweep. Cpl B-D Humphreys says warrants for grand larceny, accessory to burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, domestic battery, battery, and destruction of property offenses were served. More warrant sweeps are planned, and tips on finding those with active warrants can be submitted at www.kanawhasheriff.us.
A Princeton man faces bribery and other charges stemming from a state Medicaid investigation. James Cecil Nance is accused of directing and allowing employees of Life Ambulance to provide advanced life support services and bill Medicaid after the company ceased to have ambulances licensed for these services. Nance is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with bribery, false claims, conspiracy and criminal penalties. He was Life Ambulance's director of operations, which was part of First Med EMS and shut down in December 2013. Nance was arrested last week.