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Charleston Town Center has announced plans to give the shopping center a facelift, at least on the Court Street side. The goal is to match the rest of the renovations that took place last year. So the concrete on Court Street, from JC Penney to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, will be replaced, at a cost of about $800,000. You'll notice new landscaping, lights, and ramps too. The inside of the mall was renovated last year at a cost of about $7 million, and this new project will help it all match. The latest project should be finished by the Christmas shopping season.
The court house became a bit tense on Wednesday when an inmate refused to go to court and had to be restrained in a special chair and wheeled into the South Central Regional Jail video room. Lamont Harris then had to face the judge on TV. Harris was also removed from the courtroom in May because of a similar incident. The trial had been scheduled to start Monday, but has been moved to Sept. 21 to allow time for a psychiatric evaluation. He's facing charges related to a Dunbar shooting in 2011, and is already in jail on a federal gun charge.
A demolition crew started the task Wednesday of taking down the old Poca Middle School. Once the demolition is finished in about three weeks, that space will be used as a drop-off spot for buses. The newly completed Poca Middle School is combined with the elementary school and already sits not far from the old one. The Poca Middle School was a high school when it opened in 1926, and it became a middle school in the 1970s.
Charleston's zoning board decided Thursday at its meeting to tear down the former American Legion building in North Charleston. It's an old white building with a brown storefront that shows its age, in the 1700 block of 7th Avenue. After it's demolished, Charleston Replacement Housing plans to build three new small apartment buildings in that spot.
They decided to fix those historic signs. At issue at yesterday's zoning board meeting, were the signs outside the Firestone Tire store on Washington Street, Budget Tapes & Records on MacCorkle Avenue and Fountain Hobby store on Washington Street. Even if the signs were taken down to be restored, current zoning laws says the signs cannot go back up without a variance from the board of zoning appeals. At Thursday's hearing, zoning board members unanimously approved zoning variances to allow old neon signs at Fountain Hobby Shop and the downtown Firestone store to be taken down, fixed and remounted. A hearing involving the Budget Tapes and Records sign is coming up later this month.
There may be a break in Logan County arson cases. Federal and state investigators were in Logan County Thursday executing a search warrant at a downtown building, and WCHS TV reports Federal agents, State Police and fire marshals were seen carrying several cardboard boxes out of the building on Dingess Street. The building is owned by individuals who state police think are connected to several arsons in the Logan area.
Fayette County deputies this week made a big drug bust, and are still looking for others in connection with it. Fifteen people were detained after a large amount of pills were found, along with marijuana and heroin. In addition to the Fayette County Sheriff's office, the drug task force, Oak Hill police, and US Marshals were involved in the investigation. They're still looking for at least ten people who might be connected.
A state official says many of West Virginia's aging watershed dams don't meet current design standards and need repairs. West Virginia Conservation Agency executive director Brian Farkas says his agency doesn't have the resources to address the issue. There are 170 watershed dams in the state. Farkas says about 100 of them don't meet current design standards. Farkas says no state dams are in danger of failing, but engineers need to review the dams to determine repair costs.
Charleson may lose some of its well-known signs over zoning regulations. At issue are signs outside the Firestone Tire store on Washington Street, Budget Tapes & Records on MacCorkle Avenue and Fountain Hobby store on Washington Street. Those have been up for nearly a half century, and are in need of restoration, but the business owners don't want to lose them. Store owners are expected to argue their case at a zoning meeting this morning. Even if they take the signs down to be restored, current zoning laws says the signs cannot go back up without a variance from the board of zoning appeals.
Charleston Area Medical Center is getting a new HealthNet helicopter. The board agreed Wednesday to make the $3.5 million purchase to replace a 13-year-old aircraft. With the new chopper the idea is to improve capabilities with new technologies, and even to fly in bad weather. HealthNet is a joint operation of CAMC, WVU Healthcare and Cabell Huntington Hospital, and the Charleston Gazette reports the three combined will make a decision on what to do with the old helicopter. It's possible it could be sold, or used as a backup. CAMC is also refinancing the debt on its other helicopter to take advantage of low interest rates.