Thursday, February 17, 2011
EKB Capsuke News...West Virginia...2-18-'11
- Judge Harry L. Kirkpatrick III, has ruled that a medical monitoring lawsuit claiming hundreds of children were exposed to coal dust from a Massey Energy Co. coal silo can go to trial March 14th. Williamson attorney Kevin Thompson is suing Massey and its Goals Coal Co. subsidiary over long-term exposure from a silo located about 235 feet from Marsh Fork Elementary School near Sundial. Thompson alleges the exposure put children at risk for asthma and other lung ailments. Massey attorneys Jon Anderson and Dan Stickler argued Thompson has failed to present evidence to justify the demand for a medical monitoring program, and no one has been sick at the school. They argue Thompson is trying to create a problem using "scientific mumbo-jumbo.'' Thompson says he's seeking monitoring of diseases that have yet to develop.
- Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation Thursday ordering that all U.S. and state flags be lowered half-staff in honor of Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, 24, of Bridgeport, who was killed in the line of duty while he and others were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the home of Charles Smith in Elkins on Wednesday. Smith was armed with both a .45-caliber handgun and a shotgun, began shooting when they entered his home, causing them to return fire, killing Smith. Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal, 42 year old Alex Neville, was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, but he is expected to recover. Deputy Marshal Fred Frederick was treated at Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins and released.
- The case against 58 year old Robert Norris, Jr., a North Carolina man indicted in Putnam County for having two wives, is setto go to trial on February 28th. He is charged with bigamy. Prosecutors made a plea offer in a hearing Thursday morning but Norris declined. If convicted, Norris could spend up to five years in prison.
- Emergency crews located Charles Hamm and John Wendell Thursday morning after they wrecked their ATV Wednesday evening and were unable to find their way out of the woods. The two were lost in the woods between Hospital Hill and Paint Creek Road just outside of Crown Hill of eastern Kanawha County.
- More than 100 people appeared in the House chamber Thursday asking lawmakers for tougher regulations on Marcellus shale drilling by the oil and gas industries. Some landowners want stronger environmental regulations to protect water supplies, while others want assurances that road damage by trucks hauling gas away from drill sites would be repaired using the companies' money. Others wanted their property rights preserved if drillers exercised their mineral rights to drill for gas through their land. And there were complaints of not enough inspectors to make sure drilling companies were playing by the rules. Proponents warned that too much regulation could stifle what could be a huge economic boon for West Virginia.
- Saint Albans got a new police chief Thursday as Harry "Brent" Coates was sworn in by Mayor Dick Callaway. Coates, a West Virginia native, began his law enforcement career in South Charleston in 1980. Coates left the department in 1983 and began a 27 year career with the Florida Highway Patrol, where he rose to the rank of major and was Director of the Florida Highway Patrol Academy before he retired in January to take the Saint Albans job. He plans to meet with each officer individually to address their concerns, needs and ideas for the future of the department, and he's planning to meet with civic and city leaders as well as citizens to hear what they have to say.
- The 10th juvenile drug court in West Virginia has officially opened in Putnam County. The court will start with five candidates who, for up to 18 months, will receive counseling, drug testing and treatment that also involve the candidate's family. Candidates will meet with the judge every week for so many months. Then they meet with the court every two weeks, while they earn incentives and rewards. They also incur punishment if they don't comply with the term of the drug court.
- The office of Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced Thursday that it has heard reports of random phone calls from someone claiming to be an employee of Charleston Area Medical Center, looking for personal information. CAMC had already notified the patients whose information was made public because of an Internet security breach. McGraw's office is asking anyone who receives a suspicious call to call his office at 1-800-368-8808.
- The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee passed legislation Thursday that would raise tobacco taxes from $0.55 per pack of cigarettes to $1.55 per pack and raise taxes on other tobacco products from 7 percent of the wholesale price to 50 percent. Lawmakers amended the bill so tax proceeds would be distributed to a number of programs, including Medicaid, West Virginia University and health benefits for retired state employees. Additional revenues would be split up, with 30 percent going to oral health improvement programs, 30 percent to substance abuse and prevention, 24 percent to in-home elderly care and 16 percent for early childhood development programming. One senator the amendment didn't win over was Senator Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, who said it punishes working people and would drive customers in border counties to other states.
- By a vote of 92-5, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved legislation Thursday that would outlaw texting while driving, but without the ability by law enforcement officers to pull over drivers for violating the ban. Drivers would be penalized $50 the first time they broke the law, $100 the second time and $200 for any violations after that. The proposed law is a secondary offense, meaning drivers would only be cited if an officer pulled them over for another offense, such as speeding. And no points would be added to their drivers' records.
- The Charleston office of GAI Consultants, an archeological consulting firm, has been hired to monitor the disturbance and removal of earth from the construction site of a new consolidated state office building in downtown Logan, where a Native American burial was found January 31st. The five-story, 54,000 square foot building is expected to be complete early next year and provide office space for the state Department of Revenue, Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Rehabilitative Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and Workforce West Virginia.
- Cardiovascular disease effects an estimated 81 million adults a year nationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four deaths in West Virginia are due to heart disease. West Virginia Health Right has received a three-year grant worth $556,957 to fund a healthy heart program for its 34-county coverage area. The grant, from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular Health, will provide $186,907 during the first year for Health Right’s Pathways to Cardiovascular Health. The Connections program was launched last year with the mission of improving cardiovascular health,
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