Breaking Local News
An audit of the West Virginia Tax Department has found that the state is owed more than $715 million in taxes. The legislative audit released Tuesday says that out of $715.7 million, $298.3 million owed in about 139,000 tax accounts is collectable. The totals are as of December 2013. The largest bucket of collectable taxes the state hasn't received was $104.7 million in personal income tax. The second was $83.9 million in sales tax. The audit says the department lacks adequate policies and procedures to ensure taxes are collected. Tax Commissioner Mark Matkovich said the owed taxes include accounts that skew the numbers, like dead taxpayers. The Tax Department responded saying it would look for ways to improve.
A Berkeley County man and his son face charges of plotting to burn a state lawmaker's house. The Herald Mail in Maryland says that Darryl Edmond Palmer and Matthew Brian Palmer have each been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree arson after conspiring to burn Delegate Stephen Skinner's home in retaliation for a lawsuit he filed against them over a consumer issue. More court dates for the Palmers are pending.
A dive team spent part of Tuesday afternoon searching for a man who had been swimming near the Dunbar Toll Bridge when he disappeared. Witnesses reported seeing the man in his twenties jump in and start swimming across the river from Dunbar to South Charleston, but went under water about halfway across and never resurfaced. The search teams had planned to comb the water again last night, but decided to wait to see if a body surfaces today.
Someone stole electronics from Target, and it's not just an isolated incident. South Charleston police are asking for the public's help in finding two men who have swiped thousands of dollars worth of electronics from Target in South Charleston, and another Target location in Barboursville. So far the two men have stolen four televisions and other smaller electronics. The two are usually driving a silver Jeep Liberty with West Virginia plates and the driver usually parks in the fire lane for a quick getaway. South Charleston police are also working to see if the two have burglarized othe stores.
A West Virginia Board of Pharmacy committee has identified 176 patients who could be "doctor shopping" for prescription drugs. These patients have received pain medication prescriptions from at least 13 doctors over the past 12 months. The committee recently warned medical professionals across the state that their patients could be "doctor shoppers." More than 2,500 letters were sent to medical professionals urging them to check a multistate database to see whether their patients have obtained prescriptions from other medical professionals, according to the Charleston Gazette. Police are also investigating to see if there is a legitimate reason for the prescriptions.
West Virginia University has eliminated more than 100 positions as it addresses budget cuts. The Dominion Post reports that 68 vacant positions have been eliminated. Forty-three positions were eliminated when workers either retired or resigned. Another 13.5 positions were part of a reduction in the workforce. Several departments have been combined, restructured or eliminated. The university has seen about $20 million in budget cuts in the past couple of fiscal years.
The company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply in January will staff the site around the clock to prevent further spills during cleanup. After spilling stormwater into the Elk River twice last week, Freedom Industries told the Department of Environmental Protection it would keep contractors at its Charleston site 24 hours a day. Regulators said Thursday's spill sent a small amount of water into the river. A 50-minute overflow occurred Friday during a thunderstorm. Initial violations include allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet and not implementing an approved sump management plan, per state orders. In both spills, West Virginia American Water said it detected no traces of the chemical in treated and untreated water at its treatment plant. The state agency is reviewing Freedom's response plan.
Patriot Coal is relocating its West Virginia office in Charleston to Scott Depot in Putnam County. Patriot spokeswoman Janine Orf says the St. Louis-based coal company plans to make the switch in late summer or early fall. The Charleston office has about 100 employees.The company has 10 active mining complexes, with eight in West Virginia and two in western Kentucky. Patriot employs about 4,000 people across the whole company.
West Virginia University is launching the Center on Research and Violence in Morgantown. The school says the center will aim to learn more about violence and limit its effects. It will earn grants to work on government and nonprofit projects, host conferences with leading speakers on violence and interact with communities across West Virginia and the nation.
An anonymous tip helped deputies find a suspect accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was jogging on a popular trail in Fayette County Saturday evening. The woman told police she was jogging on the Rails to Trails exercise area in Oak HIll when a man attacked her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area, tied her up, and sexually assaulted her. There are reports he planned to return to kill her, but somehow she got free and ran to a nearby house for help. The anonymous tip led officers to the Briarwood Trailer Park, where 47-year old Thomas Gene Carter Jr. was arrested.