Sunday, February 20, 2011


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...2-21-'11

Former coal miner Sam Hall sued a Massey Energy subsidiary in December, alleging he had faced harassment at work because he is gay. Hall, a 28 year old who worked five years in southern West Virginia coal mines, is pushing for state legislation to protect West Virginians from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. He's set to appear Monday at a Capitol news conference with the group Fairness West Virginia to endorse two bills (SB226 and HB2045) that would add sexual orientation to the state's existing civil-rights laws, which already cover race, gender, religion and other characteristics. The legislation is meant to prevent discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants.

Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks is calling on southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky businesses to stop selling synthetic marijuana and cocaine. Synthetic marijuana products such as K2 are marketed as herbal incense, while synthetic cocaine is sold as "bath salts." Emergency responders in Kanawha County say abuse of K2 is rising, with 911 officials getting one or two calls per week from people who have smoked K2.   

Kanawha County sheriff's deputies are looking for Jim Matatall, 41, of Pratt, who has been missing from his family since the week of February 6th. Matatall was last seen on the parking lot of the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro on February 11th, and his credit card was used at a gas station in Winfield on the same day. Matatall drives a 2005 Ford Windstar van with a Texas license plate reading CH4N172, with an Intech Communications decal on the door. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective J.A. Ratliff at 304-357-0169.

A vehicle accident Friday night in the area of Elk River Road South in Big Chimney, in Kanawha County, left  Brandon Bradshaw dead and sent two others to CAMC General Hospital.

West Virginia lawmakers are gearing up this week to review wide-ranging rules for Marcellus shale natural gas drilling. Legislation up for review covers everything from buffer zones around gas wells to the process for appealing regulator actions. The bill also sets $10,000 permit fees, proposes annual charges for water storage ponds, and would increase existing fines for environmental violations. The trickiest part of the proposal may be provisions that would compel unwilling mineral owners to sign off on drilling operations.

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