Sunday, June 05, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-6-'11
- William H. Tackett spent his first career in the U.S. military, including tours in Korea and one in Vietnam, earning two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. His second career as superintendent of the Williamson water and wastewater treatment plant afforded him an office overlooking the bridge than connects US 119 in Pike County to Second Street in Williamson. Wednesday, June 8th, Kentucky State Representative W. Keith Hall and Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick will join Tackett's widow, Rose Venturino Tackett, and other family members to name that bridge in memory of the Mingo County native who died in November 2007 of complications from exposure to Agent Orange. The ceremony will be held at 12 noon in council chambers at Williamson City Hall, located in the old train station on Fourth Avenue. Afterwards, family members will adjourn to the bridge site to unveil the signs and take photographs.
- More than 600 people are expected to begin a 50-mile march from Marmet to Blair Mountain Monday to protest mountaintop removal mining. The rally will begin at the baseball field in Marmet at 9:00 A.M. The five-day event comes close to the 90th anniversary of the historic Battle of Blair Mountain, where more than 10,000 union miners marched from Marmet to help organize non-union coal mines in Logan and Mingo counties. In 1921, the march from August 24th through September 4th, was the largest armed confrontation in United States labor history. The march is scheduled to end Saturday with a rally at the mountain on the Boone-Logan county line. By late Friday afternoon, 595 people had registered to participate. Massey Energy, which was just bought by Alpha Natural Resources, and Arch Coal have both expressed an interest in operating strip mines on Blair Mountain. In March 2009, the National Park Service added Blair Mountain Battlefield to its National Register of Historic Places. Nine months later, after pressure from coal companies on state agencies, Carol D. Shull, keeper of the National Register, removed Blair Mountain from the register.
- Friday, former Massey Energy Chairman Bobby R. Inman released the conclusions of the company's findings into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, reaffirming its earlier theory that a surge of natural gas, not coal dust, fueled the explosion last April that killed 29 miners. The findings of the Massey report, contradicting those of an investigation by J. Davitt MacAteer, was critical of the Mine Safety and Health Administration for its conduct in its own investigation into the accident. Inman said, "It is unacceptable to expect MSHA to act as the investigator, judge and jury when their direct actions or lack thereof may have contributed to accidents.” Inman wrote in his cover letter dated June 2nd, “It is not in the public’s best interest to have a federal agency, in effect, investigating itself. I strongly encourage members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider legislation that establishes an independent review committee or agency to investigate mine accidents.” MSHA has yet to release the findings of its investigation, but J. Davitt MacAteer, who was appointed by then-Governor Joe Manchin to conduct an independent investigation, released a report last month, saying Massey operated the mine in a reckless manner and was responsible for the buildup of coal dust that exploded.
- West Virginia State Police say Friday evening they were called to Thompson Branch Road in Lincoln County after an argument in which Rozella Moore allegedly pulled out a gun and shot her ex-boyfriend, Mark Thompson. Police say Thompson got in his car and drove off, but crashed on Big Harts Creek Road in Logan County. Troopers discovered Moore had shot Thompson in the abdomen with a 12 gauge shotgun. Thompson was taken to Logan General Hospital, while Moore was arrested on charges of wanton endangerment, malicious wounding, brandishing a firearm and domestic assault.
- Kenneth Casey Murdock, 22, of Poca has been charged with first degree robbery after he allegedly attempted to rob the Hometown Food Mart in Putnam County Saturday evening. Police say Murdock entered the store, put change on the counter and asked for cash. When the clerk started to give him cash, Murdock jumped on the counter, displaying a knife. Deputies say the clerk then pulled open the register but also pulled out a bat, and the struggle ended with the clerk knocking the knife out of Murdock's hands. After receiving a tip that Murdock was going to leave town and head to Ohio but was going to stop at the Speedway in Cross Lanes before he left, police staked out the Speedway and waited for him to arrive. Putnam County Sheriff detective Shawn Johnson says Murdock confessed to the crime.
- The WVU Board of Governors has voted 8-5 in favor to allow the athletic department to sell beer at home games beginning this fall. WVU Athletic Oliver Luck believes selling beer along with banning the pass-out policy at games will improve fan behavior at Milan Puskar Stadium. Luck says the beer will be sold in plastic containers, it will not be sold near the student section, only two beers will be sold per visit to the beer stand, and vendors will not be selling beer in the stands. WVU Police Chief Bobby Roberts and former Morgantown Police Chief Phil Scott support the change in policy. They say binge drinking and the pass-out issue at Mountaineer Field is the real problem. They believe allowing beer to be sold will help control the atmosphere. Luck says, although it will probably bring in at least a half-million dollars a year, the control issue and improving the atmosphere for fans are the bigger issues. The Board of Governors has instructed the athletic dept. to study the situation this fall and make a full report to the board at this time next year.
- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has ordered Myers Funeral Home in Elkview and its owner Frederick Arthur Myers Jr. to stop providing pre-need services because of its refusal to properly administer pre-need funds or submit required documentation, which violates the state’s Pre-need Act. Myers must relinquish all of its pre-need funeral contracts. The Pre-need Division of the Consumer Protection Division conducted an audit which disclosed the funeral home’s pre-need funds had not been deposited into a trust account or life insurance policy within 30 days of the receipt. Myers Funeral Home had lawsuits filed against it in 2004 and 2010 and Kanawha County Circuit Judge James C. Stucky ordered the business to comply with the Pre-need Act.
- Officials say states can expect to lose $11.4 billion in 2012 from Internet sales that go untaxed. West Virginia, which will miss $50.6 million in such potential revenues, is among 44 states that have crafted an agreement aiming to allow them to collect taxes on Internet sales, but they need the approval of Congress. Such groups as the National Governors Association argue that the situation amounts to an unfair subsidy of the Internet that penalizes traditional storefront retailers, but supporters say the revenues would allow West Virginia to abolish the food tax or provide similar relief to consumers and businesses.
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