Thursday, March 03, 2011
EKB Capsule News....West Virginia...3-4-'11
- Authorities have identified the man who died after he was driving a backhoe near Verner in Mingo County around 6:00 P.M. Wednesday when it went into the Guyandotte River as Opal Perry. Troopers say Perry was trapped in the water for nearly two hours. He was pronounced dead at Logan Regional Medical Center.
- Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered all United States and West Virginia flags at state facilities be lowered to half-staff through sunset the day Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Funeral arrangements for Buckles, who died Sunday at his home in Charles Town at age 110, are incomplete. President Barack Obama also has ordered that the day Buckles is buried that all U.S. flags on official buildings be lowered to half-staff. House Speaker John Boehner has denied a request that Buckles lay in state in Washington, D.C. before his burial. West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and John Rockefeller released statements Thursday asking Boehner to reconsider.
- A Kanawha County jury has ruled in favor former West Virginia State trooper Derek Snavely after Julie Fato accused him of forcing her to have sex. Fato filed a civil lawsuit against Snavely, saying a 2008 traffic stop ended with the two having sex. Fato claimed Snavely used his power and influence to make it happen. Snavely testified they had consensual sex, but he considered himself off duty at the time. Following the incident, Snavely resigned from the West Virginia State Police. He is now the Chief of Police in Hinton.
- Stewart Jordan and Rajion Mayo, both 18, were arraigned in Cabell County Circuit Court Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury last month with the shooting death of Mark Lowry. Police say Jordan and Mayo opened fire on Lowry while he sitting in his vehicle in an alley adjacent to the 1600 block of 11th Avenue on July 27th. Lowry’s wife and 19 year old step-son were also in the vehicle but not hurt. Mayo faces a three count indictment, including murder, along with one count of 1st degree robbery and one count of attempted 1st degree robbery in a pair of unrelated incidents. Jordan is charged with murder. They will be back in court March 31st.
- Thursday morning, Brian Confere, from Diamond, West Virginia, was sentenced to serve time at the Anthony Center in Greenbrier County after he pleaded guilty to 1st degree sexual abuse, admitting to sexually abused an 11 year old girl in eastern Kanawha County. Confere is also facing charges of child endangerment after being arrested in Boston in September 2009 after he allegedly tried to kidnap a 12 year old girl he met through an on-line vampire themed chat room.
- Thursday, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Chief Joe Main testified about coal mine issues in front of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections in Washington, D.C., telling Congress more laws need to be passed so MSHA can continue keeping miners safe. Main said MSHA needs to be able to crack down on companies with patterns of violations, and a bipartisan plan to support good operators would help to hold bad operators accountable. Main says he's concerned about off-shift conditions at some coal mines that could lead to explosions. He says he's willing to work with Congress on setting priorities.
- Cabell Huntington Hospital is informing former patients about possible overexposure to radiation that could have happened to those who underwent CT Angiography between October 9, 2009 and November 23, 2010. Hospital officials say, while potential side effects of the exposure may include temporary, localized hair loss and reddening of the scalp, there is no immediate danger to the health of any of these patients, but they're taking all necessary steps to prevent it from ever happening again.
- Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were making their rounds in Huntington Thursday while targeting the Fairfield West area. The criminal probe, involving numerous traffickers of stolen firearms and individuals who participated in illegal drug transactions in and around Huntington, began in April 2010, and has resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs with a street value of over $500,000 and more than 100 firearms. A total of 55 defendants have been charged with federal crimes. More than 200 federal, state and local agents took part in the firearms and narcotics take-down effort.
- Thursday, the House Constitutional Revision Committee passed a resolution that, if approved by the legislature and by the voters, would allow county sheriffs to serve more than two consecutive terms. Currently, the state Constitution limits sheriffs to two straight four-year terms. Several county sheriffs attended the committee meeting in support of the measure, which will require a two-thirds vote by each chamber and a majority approval from voters in the 2012 General Election to pass. In 1982, West Virginia voters voted down a similar proposed change in the Constitution.
- Retirees from Century Aluminum rallied at the state Capitol Thursday asking state lawmakers to back them in their efforts to have their health benefits reinstated. In 2009, Century closed its Jackson County plant due to a crash in the aluminum market during the recession. Last year the company announced they would no longer be able to provide retirees with health insurance even though those workers had paid into the plan for years. Marion County Delegate Mike Caputo, who was at the rally on behalf of the United Mine Workers, says the union is 100 percent behind the Century employees in their battle to regain their benefits. The United Steel Workers Union has filed a lawsuit against Century, but many retirees fear it may be tied up in court so long they won't be alive when it finally gets settled. They're hoping lawmakers will get behind them and put pressure on Century to hold up their end of the bargain.
- Division of Highways spokesman Brent Walker said Thursday that plans to complete the remaining 14.2 miles of U.S. 35 as a four-lane highway will probably be put on the shelf for the foreseeable future after the state Senate killed a bill that would have let the highway be financed as a toll road. Walker said the Division of Highways does not have other funding sources to cover the $187 million contract pending to complete the final stretch of the 33.88-mile highway in Putnam and Mason counties.
- Major insurers, clergy and advocates for people with disabilities are among those asking West Virginia lawmakers to enact a state-run health insurance exchange. Health professionals and AARP also supported a pending exchange bill Thursday at a House Judiciary Committee public hearing. West Virginia’s insurance commissioner proposes the state-run exchange which would allow individuals and small businesses to bargain together while buying coverage from private insurers. The bill passed the Senate on a party-line 27-6 vote. Exchanges are part of the federal health care overhaul, which Republicans oppose. Gray Marion, who lobbies for independent insurance agents, raised concerns about the bill Thursday while saying he wants the exchange closed if the overhaul is repealed.
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