Thursday, June 23, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-24-'11
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a 10:00 A.M. public briefing for next Wednesday, June 29th, to share information about the ongoing investigation into the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County that killed 29 coal miners. MSHA began its underground investigation June 29, 2010. MSHA Chief Joe Main says federal investigators have not completed the investigation, and there remains information that can't be shared with the public. A federal criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office is ongoing. The briefing will be held at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver and will be followed by a question and answer session for the public.
- Former Huntington Police Captain 81 year old Foster "Pete" Bowen appeared in Cabell County Circuit Court Thursday where he was sentenced to at least 302 years and no more than 590 years in prison. The sentence is a cumulative total for the 34 counts he was convicted on in April, including sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian. Eight men said, between 1981 and 2003, they were abused as young boys.
- John Martin of Beckley was arrested on 1st degree felony murder charges and delivery of a controlled substance Thursday. The murder charge stems from the overdose death of James Michael Martin, which occurred earlier this year. Police served a search warrant at Martin’s home on Edgewood Drive where they found Oxycodone, Methadone, and Xanax pills in addition to two handguns. Further charges of possession with intent to deliver are pending.
- Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib has upheld a 30-year prison sentence for Antonio Summers, who recently turned 18 years old. Summers was 17 when he was convicted of fatally shooting 14 year old Damion Blaney in front of Glenwood Elementary School on Charleston's West Side last April. Police say Summers got into an argument with another boy before puling out a gun and shooting, hitting Blaney. Summers pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
- The State Supreme Court of Appeals has unanimously rejected Elizabeth Dawn Thornton's appeal after she was found guilty of child neglect causing death in 2009, and sentenced to three to 15 years in prison. Her son, Constantine Alexander Washburn, died in May 2008 after arriving at a hospital with a fatal head injury. A medical examiner concluded he had been beaten. Thornton's parole hearing is scheduled for August 1st. The boy's father, Christopher Washburn, was convicted separately in the case and sentenced to three to 15 years in prison.
- About a dozen members of the Sierra Club gathered outside of Representative David McKinley's office in Morgantown Thursday to protest before going in and presenting a request to dispose of coal ash safely. Representative McKinley is trying to pass bill H.R. 2273 that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency for regulating coal ash. McKinley, who is in Washington, D.C., says, although they disagree on the issue of coal ash, he's glad they are engaging in the debate. McKinley says his legislation ensures the continued beneficial use of coal combustion residuals and actually strengthens state regulatory authority over these materials under the Solid Waste Disposal Act. The legislation would prevent the Obama administration’s attempt to reclassify these materials as a hazardous waste, a designation previous administrations have deemed inappropriate.
- Plaintiffs in several separate lawsuits filed Wednesday are hoping to stop Huntington from going froward with a new one percent sales and occupation tax set to take effect next Friday after the plan received approval from the state Home Rule Board. Those filing motions against the city include the Cabell County Commission, Bob Bailey, Tommie L. Kelley Sr., the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and Steel of West Virginia Inc. Several Steel of West Virginia workers rallied in front of City Hall Wednesday in protest of the plan. The lawsuits name the city and the Home Rule Board as defendants. More suits could be filed in the near future. If a court hearing is set for before July 1st, the plan will be delayed, otherwise, the taxes will be implemented as planned.
- Wednesday afternoon, retirees from Century Aluminum traveled to Charleston to talk with acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin about retirees losing their health coverage, something they say the company promised would never happen. Tomblin told them he will include their concerns in any meetings he has with Century Aluminum.
- The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bipartisan bill Wednesday aimed at “reining in the EPA’s overreach.” House Bill 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, introduced by Representatives Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and John Mica, R-Florida, will help speed up the permitting process for coal mines. Rahall says the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed new criteria for permits that have held up the process rather than paving the way toward balance. The bill is a reaction to the EPA’s controversial veto of a surface mine permit at Logan County’s Spruce Mine in January. The bill would place limits on the EPA’s ability to veto permits previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, as was the case in Logan County. It would also establish time limits for agency comments and reduce delays in the permitting process. Rahall says, when the EPA abuses its powers, the Congress has the constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on them, and this is clearly such a time.
- Charleston Police are investigating after someone fired shots through the door of a house on Richards St. on the city's east end about 3:45 A.M. Thursday morning. Charleston Police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton says two men knocked on the door of the house and asked for a person that didn't live at the home. The people who lived there told police a few minutes after they closed the front door, shooting started but no one was hurt.
- Daniel Allen Minesky, 22, was arrested just after 12:00 A.M. Thursday morning and charged with home invasion and attempted rape of a female in Beckley. Detectives say Minesky used a Taser on the victim. He was charged with malicious wounding, attempted first-degree sexual assault and burglary.
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