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The city of Charleston wants fewer vacant properties, since many say those empty homes and buildings drag down property values and annoy neighbors. Charleston City Council members are considering an ordinance the may require the owners of vacant properties to register those sites with the city and pay steep fees. It's not a done deal yet. The Charleston Gazette reports the City Planning Director will make changes in the draft ordinance before the task force meets next month.
Sunday marked the anniversary of a deadly fire that broke out at a home on Arlington Avenue in Charlesont and killed nine people, including seven children. The fire killed Lisa Carter, her boyfriend Alex Seals from Pittsburgh, and seven children who belonged to the couple and Carter's sister. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be released for what has been called the deadliest fire in Charleston history.
Judge Duke Bloom has been stern when it comes to truancy, and more parents appeared in court this week. Seven Kanawha County women were sentenced to 90 days of probation on truancy charges, as they appeared before judge Bloom in Kanawha County Circuit Court. They also were fined $50, ordered to pay $161 in court costs and given five days of community service. Judge Bloom told the women that another unexcused absence could mean a possible jail sentence of 20 days. The children's unexcused absences from school ranged from 13 to 41 days. Six other parents facing first-offense truancy charges did not show up in court and the judge ordered their arrests.
Don't forget about the inspections at the Dunbar Toll Bridge. The inspections are federally mandated, and that's going to mean traffic schedule changes this weekend in Dunbar, and those changes will linger for the next week. Traffic will be impacted with lane reductions during the day, and crews will close the bridge completely while the inspections are done at night. That means tomorrow/Saturday, and Sunday, one lane of the bridge will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. And next week, the bridge will be closed from 10 p.m. Sunday night until 6 a.m. Monday. That night-closure schedule will run through Friday, March 29.
Kanawha County is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to West Virginia's healthiest states. A new report this week from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute says Mongolia County is the healthiest, and McDowell County is the least healthy. The rankings are based on factors including obesity, smoking, and high school graduation rates, among other things. Kanawha County ranks #37, and Putnam County ranks 9th of 55 counties.
A pedestrian ended up with scrapes on the back of his legs after being hit by a vehicle Thursday morning at a Kanawha County Go Mart, and the man told a deputy that his girlfriend, Leslie Ann Dent, tried to take his car while he was at the store and he tried to stop her. Deputies caught up with her and learned she had an active warrant and her driver's license was suspended for nine unpaid citations. She was arrested and charged with driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, failure to report a crash, and domestic battery.
Police are still gathering all the facts after a possible threat to safety at the University of Charleston's Kanawha City campus on Wedensday. The campus returned to normal after a few mintues, but students were asked to stay in place for a short time while officers responded and gave the all clear. UC President Ed Welch told the media the situation was under control within a few minutes, and more will be released as it becomes available.
We told you earlier this week about the arrest of 31-year old Justin Brafford of Hurricane, after robbing a gaming parlor. Now he's been connected to other crimes. St. Albans police have charged Brafford with grand larceny after they were led to the conclusion that he robbed Lewie's Gaming Parlor on Route 60 last Friday. Brafford has also been connected to the robbery of Kelley's Kafe in Jefferson and Texas Jim's video lottery parlor in Teays Valley. And police have linked Brafford to thefts in Huntington too.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting registrations now for the upcoming Adopt-A-Highway Spring Statewide Cleanup. The deadline to register is April 12th and the event takes place April 27th. Individuals and groups can get involved, as long as the actual volunteers are at least 12 years old. The cleanup can involve almost any road maintained by the state. Private roads and interstate highways cannot be adopted. The Adopt-A-Highway program provides garbage bags, work gloves and safety vests to volunteers, and then the state hauls off the trash. Last spring more than 5,500 volunteers cleared trash from more than 1,500 miles of West Virginia roadways.
Students at the University of Charleston can rest assured that tuition won't creep up next year. UC announced a tuition freeze for the 2013-14 school year Tuesday, which keeps the cost for undergraduates at $19,500. And the pay-per-credit cost structure will stay in effect at UC-Beckley and UC-Martinsburg locations. UC President Ed Welch said in a news release it's the school's goal to keep college affordable, and they want to show students and their families that earning a degree at UC is financially possible. The school says its rates or tuition and fees are more than five thousand dollars below the national average for private universities in the US.