Wednesday, February 16, 2011
EKB Capsuke News...West Virginia...2-17-'11
- Alpha Natural Resources has filed a letter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, outlining step of its planned takeover of Massey Energy Co. Alpha Chief Executive Kevin Crutchfield and President Kurt Kost say Alpha and Massey officials met last week in West Virginia to begin the process of becoming better acquainted in an effort to ensure Alpha's business practices are in place at Massey operations when the purchase is expected to be completed later this year. Alpha has proposed purchasing Massey for $7.1 billion.
- About 8:30 A.M. Wednesday, Deputy U.S. Marshals were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on 50 year old Charles Smith at his house on Central Street in Elkins when Smith shot U.S. Deputy Marshal 24 year old Derek Hotsinpiller in the neck after they entered the home. A second deputy was shot in the shoulder with a shotgun, while a third deputy received facial injuries from shrapnel from the shotgun. A deputy marshal and a state trooper returned fire, killing Smith. Hotsinpiller and one of the deputies were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where they underwent surgery. Hotsinpiller died at the hospital. The third deputy was taken to Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins, where he was treated and released. Hotsinpiller was a 2005 graduate of Bridgeport High School and attended Fairmont State University.
- Police say 69 year old Jerry Lee Smith died Wednesday morning when he lost control of his vehicle and drove into a creek in Wyoming County. A neighbor found Smith and was able to get him out of the car before police arrived. Smith died at the scene.
- Authorities say 24 year old Matthew Pack, formerly from Charleston, was rock climbing on Friday evening at Mildred Falls in the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego, California when he got tangled in his climbing equipment, and, by the time rescue crews made it on the scene Saturday morning, Pack was motionless. Pack graduated from Charleston Catholic High School in 2005.
- Twenty-one year old Joshua Douglas Hatten of Huntington faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after being indicted on federal counterfeiting charges. Hatten is accused of making fake one hundred and twenty dollar bills in late October and early November of last year.
- Trial continued as former Ripley police officer Denver "Buddy" Thomas was in Jackson County Circuit Court Wednesday after being indicted in February 2010 on a felony charge of sexual abuse by a person of trust after being accused of sexually abusing a minor. The case claims Thomas raped a confidential informant at his house in 2008. Opening arguments started with the plaintiff stating Thomas provided alcohol nearly 10 times to his son and his friends at their house in Kenna. Thomas pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in March 2010. If found guilty, he faces 10 to 20 years in prison.
- In May 2010, South Charleston police responded to a call of a baby in cardiac arrest. The mother, Leslie Boggs, told police she was cleaning her house when she went to check on her 3-month-old daughter and found her unresponsive. The infant, Raynna Rea Boggs, was pronounced dead at Thomas Memorial Hospital. Boggs was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court Wednesday on charges of child neglect causing death. Police say she got drunk, passed out and rolled over her three month old baby girl, while in bed, resulting in the child's death. Thomas Myers, who was dating Boggs at the time, told police she had been drinking and doing drugs the same day the baby died. Boggs is being held in the South Central Regional jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond.
- Eighteen year old Telisa Renee McCauley has entered a guilty plea to first-degree robbery in connection with the beating and robbery of Robert Jeff Moore, a former statehouse employee. Moore was attacked and robbed at knifepoint on May 27th as he walked on Brawley Walkway in Charleston. Moore was kicked in the face and left lying in a pool of blood. His jaw and both eye sockets were broken and he was in a coma for 56 days. He spent several months in a brain trauma center and is currently living in an out-of-state assisted living facility. McCauley was sent to Anthony Correctional Center for an evaluation before being sentenced. Prosecutors say they will recommend 10 years in prison. McCauley has agreed to testify against Earl Moore, 42, of South Charleston and Whitney Sue Avery, 20, of Charleston, who are scheduled for trial March 14th.
- The West Virginia Attorney General's Office is dealing with a security breach of sensitive information of more than 3,600 patients at Charleston Area Medical Center who were part of a research group through CAMC's Health Education Research Institute. On February 8th, the Attorney General's Office got a call from Lorrie Lane, who works for People's Federal Credit Union in Nitro, giving them the heads up that information like names, addresses, social security numbers and dates of birth were available online without any password protection, making it possible for their identities to be stolen. CAMC has bought a premium credit monitoring service that, if consumers wish to have, will pay the cost of that service that will monitor their credit reports 24/7. It will also provide them 1 million dollars of identity theft protection.
- Mercer County Sheriff's deputies and U.S. Marshals are teaming up in their search for Ruby Velecia Davis, 40, and Nathan Thompson, 20, both of Brushfork. Both have multiple warrants for forging stolen credit cards. U.S. Marshals say Davis also failed to appear for a hearing in Mercer County circuit court after being indicted for distribution of narcotics and embezzlement. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Davis or Thompson, you are urged to contact the U.S. Marshals Service at 304-553-4718.
- Opponents and proponents of raising West Virginia's tobacco taxes squared off during a public hearing in the state House chamber Wednesday as public health advocates told state lawmakers that raising the state’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack would lead to more West Virginians giving up smoking. The proposed bill now before the state House of Delegates would raise taxes to $1.55 per pack and taxes on all other tobacco products from 7 percent of their wholesale price to 50 percent. Half of the money raised, up to $60 million, would be used for tobacco prevention while the other half would be used as lawmakers see fit. Speakers representing the tobacco and retail industries pointed out tobacco already is one of the most regulated products on the market, and the proposed increase would amount to a 100 percent increase on the cigarette tax and a 600 percent increase on smokeless tobacco, failing to create a level playing field for businesses.
- A proposed reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration approved by a U.S. House committee Monday could eliminate federal subsidies and commercial flights at four West Virginia airports and 110 airports nationwide. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 34-25 Wednesday to end the subsidies at airports in, among other places, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, Beckley and Morgantown. The proposal would still have to be passed by the full House of Representatives, reconciled with a Senate version and signed by President Obama.
- The Friends of Blair Mountain and others are planning a five-day march to draw attention to both the site of a historic labor battle and the practice of mountaintop-removal mining. The event is set to begin in Marmet June 6th. The group plans to march 10 miles a day, arriving in Blair on June 11th and making the final push to the mountain's crest. Blair Mountain was briefly added to the National Register of Historic Places, then removed when landowners complained. The event commemorates the 90th anniversary of the 1921 uprising by organizing coal miners. In 1921, 90 years ago, Blair Mountain was the site of a bloody struggle to unionize the state's southern coalfields.
- Kanawha County Commissioners are expressing concerns over pay raises Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants handed out to employees in his office in recent months. The issue prompted Commission President Kent Carper to call for a change in policy that would affect the budgeting process for all county-level elected officials. County Manager Jennifer Sayre says raises in the prosecutor's office have topped $70,000 since the beginning of the current fiscal year. Plants recently submitted a budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-2012 that calls for a reduction in spending of about 5 percent over the current fiscal year. He says his current budget reflects no increases over last year's. Commissioners have asked Circuit Clerk Cathy Gatson, Assessor Phyllis Gatson, Sheriff Mike Rutherford and County Clerk Vera McCormick all to do the same.
- The House of Delegates voted 97-3 Wednesday to pass a measure that would allow West Virginia seniors to claim a break on their property taxes. The measure aims to simplify four separate tax-credit programs by creating a single program. One credit in that program would help low-income residents when their property-tax bills exceed 4 percent of their gross household income. The current version helps an estimated 43,000 West Virginia taxpayers save $8.2 million annually. The new program would also include a second credit that provides an additional break of up to $1,000 for low-income seniors. Three Republicans opposed the bill. Supporters include AARP.
- The state Senate unanimously approved a measure Wednesday that would allow the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund to borrow from the state’s emergency reserves. The bill provides an alternative to raising taxes on employers or having to take out federal loans as 34 other states have done during the economic downturn. Proposed by acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the measure would allow West Virginia’s program to borrow from the state’s rainy-day fund whenever its balance dips below $20 million. The program would have 180 days to repay the loan. Russell Fry, acting executive director of WorkForce West Virginia which oversees the program, says benefits were provided to nearly 24,000 job seekers at the end of last month. He said its fund began this week with a $65.2 million balance. Agency officials forecast it could run dry briefly in March before scheduled revenues arrive to restore it to the black.
- Senators Robert Beach, Larry Edgell, Orphy Klempa and Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler have introduced a bill allowing free liquor samplings at approved locations. Under the new legislation, customers would be limited to one sample serving, on any day except Sundays. The bill states some liquor retail outlets will have the "ability to conduct responsible liquor sampling events." Violators would face criminal and civil penalties if they do not obey the rules set forth in the bill.
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