Thursday, March 10, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-11-'11
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said Thursday an autopsy identified the body found near a cotton field in south Georgia Wednesday as 85 year old Gladis Russell of Bellefontaine, Ohio. Russell was identified using dental records provided by the Logan County Sheriff's Office in Ohio. The body of her husband, 84 year old Richard Russell, was found in late February in Tennessee. Samuel K. Littleton II told police he left Gladis Russell's body in a "white, glowing field" off a side road along Interstate 75 as he drove to Florida.
- St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corp. says it's temporarily closed a West Virginia mine to deal with flooding in a sealed, mined-out area. Patriot reported the problem in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday. The company says it got everyone out of its River Edge underground mine Monday after an employee found excess water behind seals after heavy rain. Patriot says it notified the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, which cited the company for having an imminent danger citation. Patriot plans to contest the citation and hopes to resume production next week.
- World War I veteran Frank Buckles will be buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery. Buckles' daughter, Susannah Flanagan, wanted her father, the last of the so-called Doughboys, to lie in repose in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, but Congress failed to approve that plan. Politicians remain divided over how to best honor Buckles and the 4.7 million other Americans who served in World War I. The last person to lie in the Capitol rotunda was President Gerald Ford. The honor is reserved mostly for elected and military officials, but others have included civil rights activist Rosa Parks and unknown soldiers from both World Wars and the Korean War. Thursday, Jonathan Sandys, a great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, issued a statement calling on Congress to allow the use of the rotunda. He urged the public to join him in insisting that Buckles be afforded the honor "beginning this Sunday, as a mark of respect and as a representation of thanks to his entire generation from a grateful nation." President Barack Obama has ordered that U.S. flags on official buildings be lowered to half-staff on the day Buckles is buried.
- A bill that would require a prescription for medicines containing meth-making ingredients failed to pass the full Senate Thursday afternoon. The bill, which was introduced in the House January 31st, and passed the House last week, received a 16-16 vote in the Senate, with two members absent, so there was no majority to pass it. The state currently requires anyone who wants to purchase medicines with meth-making ingredients to show identification. Pharmacists must keep logs of how often those medicines are purchased, and more than 3 packages in a 30-day period is a crime. Drug makers argued the bill would inconvenience law-abiding citizens and increase health care costs.
- Acting on a tip, Huntington Police officers went to an apartment complex on Jefferson Avenue just after 3:00 A.M. Thursday morning where they arrested 33 year old Benjamin Vanover of Proctorville, Ohio. Vanover, who initially lied about who he was when questioned, is a fugitive from justice out of Lawrence County, Ohio. On December 29th, Vanover pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges. He was ordered to report to jail on January 19th, but failed to show up.
- State police are investigating the disappearance of a box of fentanyl patches, a painkiller intended for cancer patients, from the Marshall County Sheriff's Office. The drugs went missing from Chief Deputy Kevin Cecil's office at the end of January while Cecil was out of the office. Sheriff John Gruzinksas says the drugs, which were part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's take back initiative, had been turned over to his office which planned to turn the drugs over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
- After learning Director Pat Brown has been "double-dipping" for more than eight years, Mayor Danny Jones says he might appoint a City Council member, or even himself, to the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority board. Brown, a Democratic candidate for an at-large seat on City Council, says he plans to retire from his job at CURA by July 1st. Brown has been working through an employment agency on an hourly basis since November 2002, earning $93,000 a year through United Talent while drawing about $2,250 a month through the Public Employees Retirement System. Brown says he officially retired November 1, 2002, and was rehired the same day. Brown says all CURA board members, even those appointed after November 2002, know about the arrangement. The CURA board announced Wednesday it hired a new director, Jim Edwards of Sunshine, Florida, who will start April 18th.
- Thursday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Jay Smithers as the new superintendent of the West Virginia State Police. Smithers, head of the state Division of Protective Services, which provides security at the state Capitol, replaces Col. Timothy Pack, who was appointed by former Governor Joe Manchin in 2008. Smithers is a former state trooper. He retired from the department in 1998 with 25 years of service. Smithers has been with the Division of Protective Services since 1998 and has been director of the agency since at least 2003. Before heading protective services, Smithers was captain of the West Virginia Turnpike Division.
- As part of a yearlong probe, federal authorities have charged nine people in connection with a black market tobacco operation involving nearly 3.5 million contraband cigarettes. According to two recent indictments, 90 percent of the cigarettes came through a former Huntington business called Smokin' Aces. Half of the shipments went to six locations in Huntington and Lesage, while the remainder went to unknown addresses. The investigation also targeted illicit drugs and firearms. Eight of the suspects have been arrested.
- For the second year in a row, the Nursing Care Facility at St. Joseph's Hospital has been named the "Best in the State of West Virginia" by U.S. News and World Report. The ranking is based on a variety of important issues from nurse and patient staffing ratios to quality of medical care and performance in health inspections.
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