Monday, May 30, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-31-'11
- Monday, Huntington Police arrested Joshua Kevin Deel, 24, James D. Perry, 25, and David Deel, 28, all from Huntington, and charged them with felony counts of armed robbery. Police say, Thursday night, Joshua Deel held a knife to the throat of an employee at Java Joe's, while robbing the shop. David Deel and Perry pretended to be customers at the time of the robbery.
- Kanawha County Deputies have charged 37 year old James Slater with malicious wounding after he allegedly stabbed Arthur Burdette in the chest in the Sissonville area Saturday.
- The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is investigating a Memorial Day weekend drowning in the South Branch of the Potomac River near Springfield. The DNR, Springfield Valley volunteer firefighters, Springfield rescue squad and the Hampshire County Sheriff's Department responded to the accident which occurred about 8:00 A.M. Sunday near the Blue Beach Bridge.
- Kanawha County Judge Duke Bloom has awarded nearly $3 million to Billy J. Berkhouse, a man suffering permanent brain injuries after he was struck by a drunk driver while walking down Capitol Street on June 7, 2008. Police say Melissa Newman drove her vehicle onto the sidewalk and hit him. Newman had just left downtown nightclub Impulse, but had done her drinking earlier that night at the Charleston Moose Lodge. Berkhouse was taken to the hospital with injuries to his left leg, facial fractures and severe head injuries that left him in a coma for a short time after the accident. In 2009, Newman pleaded guilty to DUI causing injury, second offense DUI and driving without insurance and was sentenced to a year in prison and an additional year on home confinement. Bloom ordered the Moose Lodge's insurance provider, The Great American Insurance Co., to pay the settlement. Berkhouse's attorney Bobby Warner is still locked in a legal battle with other Moose Lodge insurers to determine whether Berkhouse is eligible for damages under additional policies. The additional damages could range as much as $5 million.
- West Virginia State Police Trooper P.T. Kelly is being assigned to the Kanawha County prosecutor's office. Kelly will work only on the agency's cases but will remain on the state's payroll. Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants says Kelly will be in charge of following up on state investigations in the county. Plants says some of those cases get overlooked because there are no state police detectives.
- Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, which hopes to buy Massey Energy Co. Wednesday, says the company has plans to deal with what's expected to be a sharp drop in Appalachian coal production. Crutchfield says the company is prepared to cope with a fall in coal production by carefully choosing its customers, selling premium coal to foreign steelmakers and eventually buying mines outside the United States. A vote is set for Wednesday by shareholders of both companies on whether to approve Alpha's purchase. If the deal goes ahead, the combined company and its 14,000 employees would have the bulk of its 110 mines in the Central Appalachia basin. The basin, which includes the coalfields of southern West Virginia, is expected to produce less and less coal each year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This year, the region is expected to produce 188 million tons a year. By 2015, the agency predicts the region will be producing only 112 million tons a year, a decline of 40 percent. Crutchfield says the combined company would be the third-largest metallurgical coal producer in the world, and he hopes to take advantage of increased demand by steelmakers abroad.
- In 2010, the Legislature approved a program that allows charitable organizations to request their own special plates, under the condition that they market it themselves and register 250 prepaid applicants. The Friends of Coal Association became the first nonprofit group to be approved for its own special license plates through the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. The special plates, such as breast-cancer awareness plates or NASCAR fan plates, generate about $1.2 million dollars in revenue, most of which goes to the State Road Fund. Mountain State University will be the next group to have custom plates generated, and Bethany College has begun the process of collecting its prepaid applicants.
- Construction is going as scheduled for the first state-run veterans cemetery, which is scheduled to open this December next to the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute. Construction on the Donel Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery began last October. Kinnard was a Vietnam veteran who retired from the Navy after 22 years of service during which he was awarded the Navy Cross, seven Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He died in February 2009 at the age of 72. A $14.1 million grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant program to develop a portion of the 354 acres of land donated by the Dow Chemical Corporation.
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