Tuesday, February 22, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...2-23-'11
- West Virginia State troopers responded to a shooting which happened early Tuesday morning near Iaeger in McDowell County. Michael "Chad" Franklin, 24, of Iager was pronounced dead at Welch Community Hospital after being involved in a struggle for a pistol with another individual on Sandy Huff Branch Road near Iager. State Police say the pistol accidentally discharged and struck Franklin.
- Police have made a third arrest in connection with the January 30th murder of Jason Horne which occurred in Godby Heights in Logan County. Horne was fatally shot in the head. Ronald Wade Bentley, 39, of Chapmanville, has been arrested for being an accessory to murder after the fact. Chad Williams was arrested earlier this month and charged with first-degree murder. Darren Midkiff is accused of withholding information from troopers about where Williams was hiding.
- Edward "EB" Crawford, a Huntington man charged with the September 2009 shooting death of Toney Johnson, has been on home confinement while awaiting trial on charges of murder, possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver and wanton endangerment. During a hearing in Cabell County Circuit Court Tuesday, Judge Paul Farrell ordered Crawford stay in jail as the result of a home conferment violation in January that returned him to jail. It was the third such violation in the past six months. Crawford’s trial could start in July.
- Randall Noble, 37, of St. Albans, was under evaluation at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital on Tuesday after police say he blew off part of a finger while trying to check a .40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol to see if it was loaded. Lt. Sean Crosier of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department says, "Treat all firearms as if they are loaded. Always keep them pointed in a safe direction, with your finger off the trigger. Don't put your finger over the barrel."
- Michael Joseph Smith, 28, and Robbyn Ashley Smith, 27, of Milton, were pulled over Sunday night because of window tint. During a search of the vehicle, several boxes of pseudoephedrine, a drug used in many cold medicines and a common ingredient for cooking methamphetamine were uncovered. A search of the couple's residence revealed more methamphetamine-related items and ingredients, along with 20 marijuana seeds. Both were charged with felony operation of a clandestine drug lab.
- State Police say, on Saturday, 29 year old Edward Robinson of South Charleston was walking along Jefferson Road in South Charleston when he was hit by a car. Robinson was taken initially to Thomas Memorial Hospital, but due to the severity of his injuries, he was transferred to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital where he died.
- Huntington Police, 28 year old Eric Bias, also known as "China," around 1:00 A.M. Tuesday morning and charged him with felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, fleeing and obstruction. Bias also had an outstanding warrant for 1st degree robbery. Officers has attempted to approach Bias on 16th Street and Doulton Avenue, but he led them on a short foot chase before they caught up with him and found he possessed 19.3 grams of marijuana wrapped in individual baggies.
- The House Health and Human Resources Committee voted 13-10 Tuesday to pass a bill that would raise state cigarette taxes from 55 cents per pack to $1.55 per pack. It also would raise taxes on smokeless tobacco from 7 percent to 50 percent of wholesale price. During the committee meeting, lawmakers got sidetracked on the issue of whether to test welfare recipients for illegal drugs. The amendment offered by Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, had little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled committee. The amendment failed 9-14.
- Senator Joe Manchin's office announced Tuesday his staff is planning a one-week blitz of constituent meetings across West Virginia. The staff will travel to more than 80 places around the state to meet with West Virginians to allow people to discuss their ideas, priorities and concerns. Manchin is currently on a Senate fact-finding trip to the Middle East and says he won't be attending the meetings.
- Dozens of parents and teachers showed their support for West Hamlin Elementary School teacher Tawanna Holten Monday night at a Lincoln County Board of Education meeting. She was suspended for 20 days for duct-taping a 2nd grader to his locker, something some students and parents say was done as a joke. Holten is expected to return to teaching at the school the second week of March.
- Officials with the West Virginia Racing Commission say they're deeply concerned about the number of injuries over the past six years at Mardi Gras racetrack in Nitro. From the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, more than 3,200 injuries were reported. At least 152 dogs suffered injuries that were so severe they had to be euthanized, while at least seven died as a result of illnesses contracted in the kennels. Injuries have dropped over the past two years, and Dan Adkins, who serves as the president of Hartman Tyner, the company that owns the track, has said repeatedly that the health and safety of the dogs at Mardi Gras is his No. 1 concern. Michael Markarian, chief operating officer with the Humane Society, says greyhound racing is declining in popularity across the nation and should be brought to an end.
- Bidders have claimed all 1,500 limited video lottery licenses available in the West Virginia Lottery Commission’s second round of bid openings, while up to 995 10-year licenses will be available for the final round of bid openings on June 10th. Winning bids during last week’s second round ranged from $15,003 to $8,717 per license. Existing video lottery licenses will expire June 30th, and the new licenses go into effect July 1st. The Legislature authorized the machines in 2001 at the urging of then-Governor Bob Wise, who said it would eliminate thousands of illegal gambling machines across the state.
- Under a measure passed Tuesday, electronic raffle machines could make a limited return to West Virginia. The House Judiciary Committee has endorsed a measure allowing up to five devices at a given location. But any machine must be registered with the state tax commissioner, who oversees raffle and bingo games. A law enacted last year outlawed the sort of video-enhanced raffle devices seized in a Harrison County raid after tax officials said they were too much like casino-style poker machines. Fraternal and veterans groups that offer raffle games for charity allege the law has been unfairly applied. The pending bill would allow machines that aren't played but instead dispense predetermined tickets.
- Most West Virginia fire departments are volunteer, and up to $3 million a year would help them pay workers’ compensation premium increases. West Virginia’s volunteer fire departments are turning to state lawmakers for help with insurance and recruitment. A House bill introduced this week would tap liquor revenues to provide $5 million a year for the departments. If available funds can’t cover all the increases, departments would get money based on hardship. Remaining money would help departments find and keep firefighters. These incentives could include academic scholarships and length of service awards. Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed a total $5 million for volunteer departments this year and next.
- The state Senate Transportation Committee originated a bill Tuesday that would raise various fees for things like annual vehicle registration, five-year driver's licenses and title transfers, some of which have been the same since the early 1950s. Officials with the state Division of Motor Vehicles say the stagnant state Road Fund would get an additional $40 million a year for road repairs. Those who own cars and trucks weighing up to 4,000 pounds would pay $40 per year while those owning vehicles weighing more than 4,000 pounds would pay $60 per year for registration. State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox says the $40 million boost would help the Road Fund which now is about $113 million. He says the money would be used to repair secondary roads and small bridges.
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