Breaking Local News

Staffing Shortage At Medical Examiner's Office Backlogs Autopsies

Law enforcement officials say understaffing is delaying autopsy reports from the West Virginia Medical Examiner's Office. The Charleston Gazette reports that three of the office's six medical examiner's positions are vacant and that can delay cases. Regional Jail Authority director Joe DeLong also is concerned. In cases involving inmate deaths, DeLong says there's only so much that corrections officials can do until they have records from the Medical Examiner's Office. Staff members try to prioritize autopsies with law enforcement, but administrators say the workload is staggering. No word on when the positions might be filled.

MCHM Toxicity Study Results Released

A new study shows the MCHM that spilled into the Elk River in January could be more toxic than a previous test indicated. University of South Alabama researcher Andrew Whelton released findings Thursday from crude MCHM toxicity tests on freshwater fleas. Results indicate it takes much less exposure for the chemical to be toxic to fleas than a 1998 study showed. Eastman Chemical, crude MCHM's manufacturer, conducted the older study. Whelton unsuccessfully tried to replicate Eastman's results three times. He said the tests are far removed from directly applying to human exposure. Whelton used a $70,000 National Science Foundation grant for that project and others. He led separate spill research for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration.

Fire Departments Share Grant Money

Local fire departments are sharing more than $10,000 from West Virginia American Water to buy gear and training materials. The company said fire departments in Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Mercer and Webster counties were chosen to receive the grants. Recipients will use funds to purchase emergency gear, life-saving equipment, and training materials. West Virginia American Water is the largest water utility in the state.

Police Look For Woman Who Promised Sex To Robbery Victim

South Charleston police are looking for a woman wanted in a robbery that involved a promise of sex to the victim. Investigators said 19-year old Cortney Cain agreed on a social networking site to meet the victim and have sex June 16th. 20-year old Brandon G. Bandy and 22-year old Zachary Harrison face robbery charges, and are accused of attacking the victim from behind when he showed up to meet Cain. Police said they stole his cell phone, watch and pocketknife. The accomplices told police this wasn't the first time, and that Cain had instigated this at least 25 times already. More charges could be pending.

Mansion on Capitol Grounds To Be Restored

The state is moving forward with a project to renovate a historic mansion on the West Virginia Capitol grounds. Holly Grove Mansion has been vacant since the Bureau of Senior Services moved its offices to the Charleston Town Center Mall in October 2004. This week the Capitol Building Commission approved an architectural firm's plans to renovate the 2,300-square-foot mansion, with plans including stabilizing the building, restoring the exterior and interior to their original appearance and making the first floor accessible. The mansion was built in 1815 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Logan Man Pleads Guilty in Kickback Scheme

US Attorney Booth Goodwin's office says a Logan man is facing up to five years in prison over a kickback scheme. Alvis Porter of Holden admitted to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks to the general manager of Arch Coal’s Mountain Laurel mining complex in Logan County, and pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to collect, account for and pay federal employment taxes. Porter owned and operated a company called Quality Oil, Inc., which did construction work at the Mountain Laurel complex. Porter entered Thursday’s guilty plea in federal court in Charleston, and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 16th.

State Police Cruiser Could Be Voted Number One

One thing about West Virginia State police cruisers....they look like West Virginia with the blue body and gold top. Now you have the chance to vote and help make the state's police cruiser the best-looking in the nation. The West Virginia state police car is in a close race with Ohio to have the top spot with voters on the American Association of State Troopers Facebook page. Lt. Michael Baylous, spokesman for the West Virginia State Police, told WCHS TV that the winner of the contest will have its cruiser displayed in the newsletter of the American Association of State Troopers, which would be good publicity and a good recruitment tool. Voting continues until July 15.

State Gets Money For Recreation Areas

West Virginia is sharing part of more than $43 million in federal funds to help states with parks, outdoor recreation and conservation projects. The U.S. Department of Interior said West Virginia is getting more than $463,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to go for things like baseball fields and community green spaces. It also allows states and local governments provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources, expand the interpretation of historic and cultural sites, and conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation.

St. Albans Woman Pleads Guilty in Stabbing Death

A woman has pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of a St. Albans woman. 28-year old Megan Marie Hughes pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact after being charged in the January death of 66-year old Nancy Lynch. Timothy Shafer and Jessica May Wilson are charged with murder, burglary, robbery and grand larceny. Shafer goes to trial Monday and Wilson's is delayed. Hughes will be sentenced August 14th and faces 1 to 15 years in prison on burglary charges, because she went back to the home to steal things while the body was still in the home over a 2-week period. She faces 1 to 5 years on the accessory after the fact to murder charge.

Freedom Industries To Begin Tear-Down

After running into asbestos problems, Freedom Industries plans to start dismantling its tanks Monday. The company has delayed the teardown multiple times. Freedom stalled its start last weekend because of asbestos issues in tank gaskets and elsewhere. Freedom is under state orders to demolish its Charleston site, where a leaky tank contaminated the water source downstream. A spokesperson said the site should be cleared out in three or four weeks, but the company is proceeding slowly and carefully. Freedom then must remediate the chemical damage done to the site.

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