Breaking Local News
State lawmakers passed a new budget over the weekend which ends a week of closed-door negotiations among the House, Senate and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The negotiations end with a 2015 balanced budget, as the law requires. It takes $147.5 million from the state's $922 million Rainy Day Fund to cover a projected shortfall. The plan includes $1,000 across-the-board raises for teachers, 2 percent raises for school service personnel and $504 raises for public employees. Officials say starting teacher salaries need to be more competitive with West Virginia's neighboring states.
Some officials are putting an end to dumping the particular chemical at the center of the January 9th spill that impacted water supplies. Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said over the weekend that no more MCHM waste is being accepted into the city’s landfill. The mayor posted the news on his Facebook page, and said Waste Management made the decision after feeling public pressure. Hurricane and Putnam County will file an official injuntion to ban MCHM in the coming days.
An ethics complaint has been filed against Kanawha County Magistrate Ward Harshbarger. A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the complaint was filed in connection with an investigation into Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants over child abuse allegations made by Plants' ex-wife. There is a police investigation underway after Allison Plants said Mark Plants had disciplined their son "in an excessive manner." A final hearing on a protective order in effect has been set for 9:30 a.m. March 21 at the Cabell County Courthouse. The Charleston Gazette reports all seven Kanawha circuit judges have recused themselves.
The concealed weapons permit for a man whose company has been cleaning up the Freedom Industries site on the Elk River has been revoked. An article appeared this week in the Charleston Gazette that said Daniel Kessler was sentenced to a spousal abuse program after a 1995 assault conviction in Maryland. Diversified Services is the environmental company cleaning up the Freedom Industries storage area. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office revoked the concealed carry permit after ready the article and contacting Maryland authorities for more information about Kessler. They revoked the permit after learning Kessler didn't attend a spousal abuse program even though he was facing domestic violence charges.
A Kanawha County woman is facing charges related to child abuse. St. Albans police say 35-year old April McDaniel watched the child for a couple of weeks in November and December, and the child’s mother, who was in the hospital, noticed her son had bruises when she picked him up. WCHS TV reports a doctor diagnosed the abuse. McDaniel is being held at South Central Regional Jail.
The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council has awarded a $713,000 grant to improve and expand high-speed Internet to vacation homes and condos at Snowshoe Mountain resort. The final vote was divided 5 to 3 to allow Citynet to provide the service. Frontier Communications also has plans to bring broadband service to the area around Snowshoe, and the company already provides internet service to about 25 percent of the area. Citynet plans to install its system before the end of the year.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is urging federal officials to reconsider denying extra financial assistance after a January chemical spill. In a letter to federal emergency officials, Tomblin estimated a $61 million economic impact in the nine affected counties and a $72 million total impact. Restaurants lost profits while shuttered during the ban. The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Feb. 12 denied Tomblin's request for reimbursement for first responders, nonprofits and public agencies that assisted during the spill. FEMA said it determined additional assistance wasn't warranted because certain costs associated with response and recovery efforts weren't beyond the state and local governments' response and recovery capabilities.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is investigating an accident that happened Tuesday night near Cross Lanes. Cpl B-D Humphreys says a car headed east on I-64 went onto the right shoulder, high a guardrail, and went over an embankment, and the driver was trapped inside. The female driver was extracated by rescuers and taken to the hospital, and the investigation into the cause of the crash is still under investigation. Weather was not a factor.
Three Calhoun County school employees have gone to court over the county Board of Education's decision to cancel spring break. The Charleston Gazette reports each employee filed a lawsuit Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against the county board and the state Board of Education. March 17-March 21 was recently changed to regular school days, and some employees already had travel plans. Like other West Virginia counties, Calhoun County has lost instructional days this winter because of harsh weather. State Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares says the change was designed to benefit students.
St. Patrick's Day is coming up Monday, and it will be a big weekend ahead of that on The East End. There are many activities planned for Saturday with the 3rd Annual East End St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. There will be food, live music, and scores of people celebrating on The East End from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, according to information on Charleston East End Main Street’s website. There will be five East End pubs participating near the intersection of Washington Street East and Elizabeth Avenue from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and four more pubs at the corner of Leon Sullivan Way and Lee Street from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Last year, almost 700 people registered and crawled around the streets of the East End and more are expected this year.