Monday, February 28, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-1-'11
- Frank Buckles, the last surviving World War I veteran in the US, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, in Jefferson County, West Virginia, at the age of 110. Buckles, born February 1, 1901 in Harrison County, Missouri, enlisted in the military at the age of 16 years old, after lying about his age to be admitted. During World War I, Buckles served in England and France where he served as an ambulance driver, though he did not see combat. In 1940, he accepted a job working in the Philippines. Japan invaded in 1941, during World War II, and Buckles spent three-and-a-half years as a civilian prisoner of war in Japanese prison camps before being rescued by the 11th Airborne in 1945. He and his wife moved to Gap View Farm, near Charles Town, West Virginia in 1954 because his ancestor had settled in the area in 1732. Buckles was an advocate for a national memorial for World War I in Washington, DC. In December 2009, he was asked to testify before a Senate committee on the need for a national memorial in Washington. Buckles drove a farm tractor until he was 103 and lived by a steady and firm work ethic. He never had the outlook of, 'Oh, I'm 110 and I'm going to die soon."
- Monday, Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, of Clear Fork, chief of security at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch Mine and at least two other Massey operations, was arrested at his home after a federal grand jury indicted him last week on charges of making false statements to federal agents and obstructing a federal investigation of the April 5, 2010 explosion at Massey's UBB. Stover is accused of making "materially false statements" to an FBI special agent and a special investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration who were looking into allegations that UBB security guards told mine workers when MSHA inspectors arrived. Stover allegedly denied the practice existed and told the agents he would have fired anybody who did so. The indictment states Stover instructed UBB security guards to tell mine personnel when MSHA inspectors arrived. The indictment also alleges Stover caused a person to dispose of thousands of pages of security related documents stored in a Massey building near the mine in an attempt to slow the federal investigation. Stover is scheduled to be arraigned March 15th in Beckley. Massey Energy’s General Counsel Shane Harvey said Monday afternoon the company notified the U.S. Attorney’s office within hours of learning documents had been disposed of, and Massey took immediate steps to recover documents and turn them over to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
- The Walmart off Corridor G in South Charleston was evacuated just before 9:00 A.M. Monday after high winds tore loose five heating and air conditioning units on the store's roof and caused a natural gas leak inside the building. During the storm, the National Weather Service clocked winds at 64 miles per hour at Yeager Airport, while minor damage was reported across Kanawha County, most of the damage amounting to trees and downed lines. The store re-opened Monday afternoon. Students at Bonham Elementary School in Sissonville were moved to Sissonville High School because of rising water. School systems in Calhoun and Roane counties dismissed classes early because of the threat of flooding. In Brooke County, a worker was briefly trapped when a security trailer was blown over at a gas drilling site. About 14,000 West Virginians were without electricity Monday afternoon after storms and high winds tore through the state at about 8:30 A.M., the combination leaving about 20,000 without electricity.
- Euseph K. Shehab, 35, of Ansted, has been charged with unlawful wounding and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Fayette County 911 operators received a call Sunday evening saying a 25 year old female had sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in the Shawver Bridge Road area of Hico. The female was transported to Summersville Memorial Hospital before a Health Net helicopter flew her to Charleston Area Medical Center. An investigation revealed the gunshot was not self-inflicted but was the result of an accidental shooting.
- Jeanie Marie Woods, 27, of Clendenin, was arrested after wrecking her car on Leatherwood Road in Clendenin with her two children inside. Kanawha County Deputy M.S. Sims administered a field sobriety test, which she failed. A Breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol level of almost .15 percent, nearly double the legal limit. Woods was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, child endangerment and no proof of insurance.
- Monday, the House of Delegates voted unanimously to pass legislation changing the way West Virginia counties share severance tax revenue from coalbed methane production. West Virginia counties share a portion of the state's severance tax on coal, gas and other natural resources. The measure would allocate more money to counties that produce small amounts of coalbed methane if the state's distribution formula would give them less than non-producing counties. Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White says that situation is unfair.
- George Willoghby, a worker at the Huntington City Garage, was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital where he remains in the burn unit in critical condition after being injured in a flash fire at the garage just after noon Monday. Mark Ziegler, an employee at the city garage, says he heard what sounded like a bomb before he rushed inside the garage, finding Willoughby engulfed in flames. He and other workers used fire extinguishers to put out the flames.
- West Virginia State Police say Jared Devin Wade Anthony, 18, of Ripley, shot Larry Fields, 19, of Ripley, in the head with a pellet rifle during a party Sunday afternoon at a home in Evans in Jackson County. Fields was taken to Jackson General Hospital but was later flown to Charleston Area Medical Center where he is listed in critical condition.
- Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises announced Monday that a subsidiary had completed the sale of the Charleston Marriott Town Center to an entity of Inland American Real Estate Trust, Inc. for $25.5 million. Forest City will continue to own and operate the 897,000-square-foot hotel. Marriott has a long-term management agreement for the hotel and has approved the transition in ownership. Forest City owns and operates Charleston Town Center Mall. Inland American's properties include the Shops at Sherman Plaza, in Evanston, Ill., The Market at Hilliard, in Hilliard, Ohio, Bridgeside Point office center in Pittsburgh, and other Marriott locations.
- Under a bill that cleared the state Senate Monday, parents or individuals who adopt children under 18 from outside their families would be eligible for bigger tax breaks. Senators voted unanimously to raise the state's non-family tax credit from $2,000 per child to $4,000. The credit may be spread out over three years. The State Tax Department estimates passage of the bill will cost the state $250,000 in lost tax revenue during the coming fiscal year.
- Allegheny Energy and Appalachian Power announced Monday they are suspending work on the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH project. In 2007, PJM, the operator of the transmission grid for West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, decided there was a need to expand transmission service to keep up with consumer demand for electricity. But Jeri Matheney with Appalachian Power says things have changed, and, with the recession, growth has been a lot slower than originally anticipated. Monday, Appalachian Power and Allegheny Energy asked the state Public Service Commission as well as the commissions in Virginia and Maryland to withdraw their proposal. The $2.1 billion project would have stretched from the John Amos Power Plant in Putnam County east 275 miles into Maryland. The 765-kilovolt line was projected to increase transmission capability by 65 percent.
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