Tuesday, May 31, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-1-'11
- The West Virginia Supreme Court released an order Tuesday denying a request for a preliminary injunction by Massey shareholders seeking to block the proposed buyout of Massey Energy by Alpha Natural Resources. The order states the Court does not have jurisdiction to award an injunction in this matter. The case has not gone through a circuit court from which it could be appealed to the Supreme Court. The order clears the way for a shareholder vote on the buyout that is scheduled for Wednesday. The High Court says the information contained in the court filing should be made public.
- Federal regulators say they issued 255 citations for violations found during special inspections at 15 U.S. mines in April. The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday inspectors found 161 violations at eight coal mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and three other states. The remaining 94 citations were issued to non-coal operations in seven states. One of the inspections occurred at Massey's Randolph Mine. MSHA disclosed May 6th that the inspection resulted in 25 citations, including 20 that required miners to be withdrawn until problems were fixed. MSHA has issued more than 5,000 citations during special inspections that began after 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine.
- Rose Mary Brunetti Tennant, the mother of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, died Tuesday at the age of 79 following a short illness. Tennant, the mother of seven, was a native of Harrison County and a longtime school teacher.
- Denise Briscoe, 38, of Buffalo, in Putnam County, was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony embezzlement after allegedly stealing more than $50,000 from the Goodwill Retail Store in Teays Valley from January 2009 until February. Briscoe worked as the manager of the Goodwill store in the Putnam Village Shopping Center from 2003 until February when she left the company after Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley received two anonymous letters stating that Briscoe was stealing money and merchandise from the store. Briscoe told detectives during a May 13th interview she falsified sales reports and that she was stealing money, but she didn't know how much money she'd taken from the company.
- Nancy Bowen Kerr, 58, a former Kanawha County Schools transportation director, has pleaded guilty to embezzlement involving a scheme to enrich herself by overpaying employees. Kerr was accused of doctoring payroll records at the Elkview bus terminal to cover money she was owed for Mary Kay cosmetics. She was indicted by a grand jury in October. Several bus drivers and aides were also involved in the scheme, but no criminal charges have been filed against them. Some of those employees were accused of selling Mary Kay cosmetics while on the clock for the school system. The school board has recovered about $20,000 of the $70,000 erroneously paid to those employees in overtime.
- Joe C. Ferrell, a former West Virginia legislator from Logan County, is set to be sentenced Wednesday, but he has petitioned for probation and home confinement. Ferrell pleaded guilty in October, admitting that video poker machines he provided to a Kentucky tobacco store operated illegally, and that he failed to relay taxes owed for employees after paying them in cash. As part of the gambling-related racketeering count, Ferrell also said he bribed a West Virginia Lottery investigator. Ferrell served seven terms in the House of Delegates between 1983 and 2006, but, in 1992, he was convicted for illegal campaign spending. Defense lawyer Ben Bailey of Charleston says Ferrell, who is now facing up to 3 years and 4 months, suffers from at least 19 serious medical conditions, which "result in severe chronic pain, loss of mobility, and an impairment of virtually every aspect of his life." Bailey argues that, with medical expenses over the next three years at $248,000, home confinement would best serve justice while ensuring Ferrell's access to his small team of health care providers.
- Emergency crews treated more than 100 children who were verging on heat exhaustion while sitting in the sizzling heat at Appalachian Power Park Tuesday afternoon while attending the West Virginia Power baseball game. At least three children were taken to the hospital and treated for heat exhaustion, and a 9 year old girl was hospitalized after a baseball struck her in the shoulder blades. Emergency officials were prepared for a hot game and had already set up several cooling stations around the ball field.
- The American Electric Power Foundation presented a $25,000 grant check to Habitat for Humanity of West Virginia Tuesday morning. The money was awarded to the nonprofit's state support organization to help affiliates in providing Energy Star rated homes for Habitat partner families.
- In a scheduled press conference Tuesday, police and state officials said manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs cannot circumvent a newly enacted state law banning the products by adding certain chemicals to alter the drugs' makeup. Officials explained that any derivative or analogue of the illegal products are also prohibited in West Virginia. In an attempt to get around the recently passed House Bill 2505, which specifically outlaws most of the products, manufacturers have recently been adding chemicals like fluoride to alter the drugs, which usually take the form of incense or bath salts. However, the bill also outlines a process to prevent the sale or consumption of drugs that produce the same effect but have a slightly changed chemical formula. Cabell County Senator Evan Jenkins says the broad language in the bill was needed, because the Legislature could have never put in statute every possible, conceivable formula of the drugs.
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