Breaking Local News
An attorney whose group is challenging West Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages says she's encouraged by recent federal rulings overturning bans in Oklahoma and Utah. New York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia's Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment and filed suit in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple. The Lambda Legal attorney says she believes the Oklahoma and Utah rulings give the plaintiffs additional arguments to persuade the judge that West Virginia's ban is unconstitutional.
The area under the water use ban continues to shrink, with the bulk of the WV American Water map blue now instead of red. But there are still several thousand customers instructed not to use the water. The "do not use" water order been lifted for 1,800 customers in the Big Bottom, Bona Vista, Cemetery, Clover Hollow, Elk Two Mile, and Valley Grove areas. WVAW says this brings the total number of customers that can flush their systems and use the water to 71,000. For more information go to www.wsaz.com.
Area colleges are slowly getting back to normal after the chemical spill and water use ban. The University of Charleston says it plans to resume normal operations today, and residence halls just opened again last night. Orientation for new students will be held today at West Virginia State University, and the spring semester is scheduled to start next Tuesday in Institute.
The price of a gallon of gas in West Virginia has dropped by an average of a penny a gallon this week. AAA East Central says the state's average is $3.39. That's eight cents above the national average. This week's average price in the state is a nickel lower than a year ago. Across the state, prices range from a low of $3.29 a gallon in Huntington to a high of $3.55 a gallon in Martinsburg. Gasbuddy.com says gas prices in Charleston are holding steady at around $3.31 per gallon.
A man will spend time in prison for a beating that happened in downtown Charleston. Dana Lafond was in court Wednesday to be sentenced. Lafond pleaded guilty last year to unlawful wounding. Police say Dana Lafond and Brandon Douglas beat and robbed Brandon Coltey in the KRT Transit Mall in March 2013. Douglas has also entered a guilty plea. During Wednesday's hearing, Lafond was sentenced to one to five years in prison, with credit for the 10 months he's already served. For more Kanawha Valley news, go to www.wsaz.com.
Many agencies are investigating the chemical spill that led to the water use ban....U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says a House committee will hold a hearing in Charleston in the coming weeks. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will host the hearing to talk about the chemical used in coal processing that spilled last Thursday in the Elk River from a Freedom Industries facility in Charleston.
The “do not use” water order has been lifted for the Mount Alpha and Lower Donnally areas of Charleston, according to West Virginia American Water. This means the ban has now been lifted for about 57,000 customers. A temporary local 24/7 hotline has been established at 855-390-4569 for additional clarification, and an online map can be found on WV American Water's website. For more information, go to WSAZ.COM
Although thousands were able to get water in an orderly fashion during the water emergency, there were a few disorderly incidents. The Kanawha County Sheriff's office report one at the West Side Volunteer Fire Department on West Main Street near Saint Albans. They tell us a volunteer firefighter was struck by a passing vehicle driven by Charles Pauley of Saint Albans. The firefighter, Jonathan Boggs was directing traffic and Pauley didn't stop. Pauley hit Boggs' knee with the bumper of his vehicle. Pauley was cited for leaving the scene of a crash causing injury and reckless driving.
The Alcohol Beverage Control Administration met with the owner of Appetizer's bar in Cross Lanes this week to talk about an incident that happened in December. WSAZ.com reports the suspension was extended 10 days, and after that the restaurant will be able to sell beer and wine only. The downstairs of the establishment will remain closed. After six months, Appetizer's can file a petition to get its liquor license reinstated. The decision was made after the company came up with a plan that will improve safety, on the heels of a shooting on December 26 where dozens of shots were fired and one man was hit in the leg. No arrests have been made in the case. For more, go to www.wsaz.com.
Workers who've lost wages or had work hours reduced because of a chemical spill in Charleston are getting help from the United Way. The United Way of Central West Virginia has created an emergency fund to help workers whose employers closed because of a lack of clean water. The organization says in a news release that it's accepting donations for the emergency fund. The organization also will serve as a conduit for emergency assistance agencies to provide help.