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Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has announced a temporary hiring freeze that will be in effect for the rest of the budget year. The freeze affects all agencies within the Executive Branch and will be in effect through June 30th. This comes after the State's General Revenue tax collections were $35 million below budget forecast through January, and collections are not expected to pick up much in the coming months. Tuesday's order applies to jobs and vacancies funded by general revenue, and not to those that rely on special revenues like license fees. The governor said he would allow exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but any hiring would have to be approved by him. The governor also ruled out layoffs or furloughs.
Tenth graders are being encouraged to sign up for this summer's West Virginia Science Camp. One 10th grader from each of West Virginia's 55 counties will be selected to go to the camp from July 15th through 23rd at Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley. It's sponsored by the state Department of Education and the National Youth Science Foundation,. High schools have to turn in the names of student nominees by April 17. County superintendents will then select one student to attend the camp and up to nine alternates.
State police say a man who escaped from a Charleston work release program has been recaptured. West Virginia State Police caught up with Donald Toler in Boone County Tuesday night and he's back in the Southwestern Regional Jail. Toler also had six felony warrants against him for possession of pseudoephedrine.
Ivy’s Video Parlor on West Washington Street in Cross Lanes was robbed Sunday night by a female suspect, whom employees said played a game for several minutes, then ordered a Mountain Dew. When she went to the restroom she came back with a black handgun by her side and demanded employees tell her how to open the cash register. Then she made of with an undisclosed amount of money. A warrant has been issued for 31 year old Kimberly Ann West, also known as Kimberly Ann Vest. Deputies say she has ties to Cross Lanes area but is believed to have fled West Virginia for her home state of Ohio.
Sheriff's deputies had a busy night Sunday, with three gaming parlors robbed in western Kanawha and Putnam counties within a few hours time. Deputies say a white male suspect went into Kelly’s Café on MacCorkle Avenue in Jefferson with a gun and demanded money, and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. That was shortly after midnight Monday morning. Then at 2:20am, Nitro Police found a suspect matching the robber's description at Wal-Mart at Nitro Place. 31-year old Justin Lee Brafford was found with a large sum of money, a semi-automatic pistol and camouflage clothing, according to Captain Sean Crosier. He was arrested and charged with 1st Degree Armed Robbery. Deputies are still working to see if he's connected to the other robberies.
Department of Highway workers ask for patience this month as they work on the Dunbar toll bridge. Drivers who move from South Charleston to Dunbar over the Kanawha River, should know it may not be a quick and easy trip. Through the end of March, one lane of the Dunbar Toll Bridge will be shut down from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from dawn to dusk on Saturday and Sunday for federally mandated inspections. Traffic is already heavier on the Dunbar bridge because of the demolition of the bridge that used to connect Nitro to St. Albans.
A West Virginia Senate committee advanced a bill Monday that would raise the minimum coverage that auto insurers have to provide. Under current law, auto insurance must provide a minimum of $40,000 to cover all bodily injuries and $10,000 to cover property damage. The bill originally wanted to raise those minimums to $100,000 for injuries and $25,000 for property. The version that emerged from the committee Monday raised the minimums to $50,000 for injuries and $25,000 for property. Opponents say the changes would result in higher premiums and more uninsured drivers. Supporters say the current limits are 34 years old and have not been adjusted for inflation.
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Board of Trustees announced this week it's releasing grant money totalling over $694.000. A news release from the Foundation said is focusing on a "Community Wealth Creation" framework and measuring success. The seven forms of community wealth are: intellectual, individual, social, natural, built, political and financial," and with that in mind grants were awarded to 41 different organizations in Kanawha, Putnam, Clay, Fayette, Lincoln, and Boone counties, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Arts Council of the Kanawha Valley, Charleston Civic Chorus, Charleston Ballet Inc, and Charleston East End Main Street.
An armed robbery in eastern Kanawha County is under investigation. Police say Saturday at 2:15am an armed man held up the Go-Mart on Route 60 in Cedar Grove and got away with cigarettes. So far no arrests, but Cedar Grove Police are searching for the man and following up on leads.
The Boy Scouts will discuss the gay ban this week. Boy Scouts of America leaders, parents and scouts in West Virginia plan to meet Tuesday to talk about the impact of ending the BSA's ban on gay leaders and scouts. The Charleston Gazette reports the meeting will include donors too. This comes after national scouting leaders asked local chapters to discuss the change. A decision is expected in May.