Breaking Local News
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed the budget. There were a few line item vetoes and reductions, and the Associated Press reports it's not immediately clear which spending items were deleted or lessened. The proposal passed by lawmakers last week would take $147.5 million from the state's $922 million Rainy Day Fund to cover a projected shortfall. Another bill that passed could ease the reserves sweep by $21 million. The budget includes $504 raises for public employees. It also accounts for $1,000 across-the-board raises for teachers and 2 percent raises for school service personnel, which were included in a separate bill.
Former McDowell prosecutor Sid Bell will serve as the special prosecutor in child abuse allegations against Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants. Bell was appointed this week by the State Supreme Court, and will meet with State Police next week to go over their findings in the investigation. The Daily Mail reports Bell was appointed to the post Friday after the state Prosecuting Attorney's Institute declined to appoint a special prosecutor. Bell will meet March 26th with state police to discuss the case.
The excess levy that failed before voters last November would have funded the school system and the Kanawha County libraries. The levy being proposed for this November, would only be for the library. A formal vote on whether to add the excess levy to the November ballot is coming up in April.
Kanawha County commissioners need more information before deciding what to do at the Prosecutor's Office. The Charleston Gazette reports commissioners will wait until the case is resolved to decide whether Plants may be asked to step aside, and said they have not discussed a petition for his removal. West Virginia State Police arrested Plants this week for allegedly violating a protective order granted to his ex-wife last month after she accused him of child abuse. Plants said he found his sons in an unattended vehicle outside a local pharmacy and stayed with them until his ex-wife, Allison Plants, came out of the pharmacy, and that's what led to his arrest.
The research group in charge of studying the January 9th chemical spill will release preliminary test results next week. Some reports have already been released, including the idea that the chemical or licorice smell, can be sensed at lower parts per billion levels than initially thought. Results coming next week will be from the initial tests done on pipes in homes after the Freedom Industries chemical leak. The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project has several more studies in the works, including possible reactions between the chemicals that leaked, and the chemicals used by the water company in the filitration system.
Christopher Linville is awaiting trial on charges of child neglect and possession of a stolen car. Linville was arrested after police say he jumped into a running car at a gas station on Washington Street East in Charleston two months ago. There was a 10-month-old boy in the back seat, and he was safely returned to his mother after the car was abandoned. Linville's trial has been set for April 14th, and he's been ordered to get a mental evaluation between now and then.
The Charleston City Council voted this week to make owners of vacant property register those properties with the city. Places that have been empty for more than six months will have to be registered, and if it's vacant for more than a year the property owner will have to pay a fee that will increase for each year it's vacant. The city's Strong Neighborhoods Task Force and council's Planning Committee both endorsed the ordinance before it was passed by the full council.
Kanawha County Deputies are still investigating the cause of an early morning accident Tuesday on Sissonville Drive. Deputies think a semi - tractor and trailer driven by 46-year old Jeffrey Perry of Alma, MI was traveling north on RT. 21 just outside the City Limits of Charleston and slowing to make a right hand turn, when an SUV driven by 78-year old David L. Keen of Charleston struck the trailer from behind. Keen's vehicle was totaled, and he was taken by ambulance to CAMC General Division. No citations yet, but the accident is still under investigation.
Dunbar has its new budget. City leaders this week approved the new 2014-2015 budget, and there isn't much variation from last year's $5.3 million budget. There is an $11,000 increase for the coming year, mostly for police services.
Watch out for checkpoints this Friday. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says from 9pm to 2am deputies, in conjunction with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, will be conducting a high visibility sobriety checkpoint on WV Route 25 near Institute. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office has a zero tolerance policy toward impaired driving in Kanawha County, and this is one of several checkpoints and targeted patrols throughout the year.