Breaking Local News
Kanawha County officials are creating a computer program to catalog hazardous materials storage sites that could threaten the county's waterways. C.W. Sigman is the county's deputy emergency services director and tells the Charleston Gazette that emergency services and Metro 911 officials are developing the computerized tracking system, which County Commissioner Dave Hardy requested in the aftermath of the January Elk River chemical spill. Hardy says officials need to be proactive in finding facilities that store hazardous materials. Sigman says there are several hundred in Kanawha County. Sigman says five water plants provide drinking water to Kanawha residents, and all are supplied by rivers.
Charleston police have a teenager in custody related to several breakins over the past year. The 17-year old admitted to breaking into cars and buildings in the Abney Circle area of Charleston, according to police, and may be linked to breakins in other parts of the city. Investigators are looking at unsolved car burglary cases to see if the teen might be involved.
West Virginia has the highest percentage of flood insurance policies that will see premiums rise as part of the federal government's overhaul of a subsidy program, according to an analysis of government figures. In 2012, Congress enacted a law that redrew the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood zone maps and required about 1 million policyholders to begin paying rates based on the true risk of flooding at their properties. An Associated Press analysis of government data found that of the 21,000 West Virginia homes and businesses in the National Flood Insurance Program, 57 percent face premium increases. Those are the roughly 12,200 policyholders receiving subsidies in the state.
Thirteen people are facing charges after a sting operation at Charleston's Transit Mall. Charleston police conducted the sting Saturday night after pressure from citizens who complained about issues. Some of the charges were for outstanding felony warrants, some were for open container violations, and others for trespassing. Charleston police also conducted a sting last September in an effort to clean up the Transit Mall area.
A woman in Nicholas County says she was shot outside her home in Mt. Lookout Wednesday. Katie Brant says she heard a noise an went out to investigate, and she had a loaded revolver with her. A news release from the Nicholas County Sheriff's Office says Brant was confronted by a masked man, and he took control of the gun during a struggle. She was shot in the left, lower leg and the man fled. The Sheriff's Office is still investigating.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed the budget. There were a few line item vetoes and reductions, and the Associated Press reports it's not immediately clear which spending items were deleted or lessened. The proposal passed by lawmakers last week would take $147.5 million from the state's $922 million Rainy Day Fund to cover a projected shortfall. Another bill that passed could ease the reserves sweep by $21 million. The budget includes $504 raises for public employees. It also accounts for $1,000 across-the-board raises for teachers and 2 percent raises for school service personnel, which were included in a separate bill.
Former McDowell prosecutor Sid Bell will serve as the special prosecutor in child abuse allegations against Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants. Bell was appointed this week by the State Supreme Court, and will meet with State Police next week to go over their findings in the investigation. The Daily Mail reports Bell was appointed to the post Friday after the state Prosecuting Attorney's Institute declined to appoint a special prosecutor. Bell will meet March 26th with state police to discuss the case.
The excess levy that failed before voters last November would have funded the school system and the Kanawha County libraries. The levy being proposed for this November, would only be for the library. A formal vote on whether to add the excess levy to the November ballot is coming up in April.
Kanawha County commissioners need more information before deciding what to do at the Prosecutor's Office. The Charleston Gazette reports commissioners will wait until the case is resolved to decide whether Plants may be asked to step aside, and said they have not discussed a petition for his removal. West Virginia State Police arrested Plants this week for allegedly violating a protective order granted to his ex-wife last month after she accused him of child abuse. Plants said he found his sons in an unattended vehicle outside a local pharmacy and stayed with them until his ex-wife, Allison Plants, came out of the pharmacy, and that's what led to his arrest.
The research group in charge of studying the January 9th chemical spill will release preliminary test results next week. Some reports have already been released, including the idea that the chemical or licorice smell, can be sensed at lower parts per billion levels than initially thought. Results coming next week will be from the initial tests done on pipes in homes after the Freedom Industries chemical leak. The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project has several more studies in the works, including possible reactions between the chemicals that leaked, and the chemicals used by the water company in the filitration system.