Friday, April 29, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-30-'11
- Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman with the Mine Safety and Health Administration has confirmed that Massey Energy wants to abandon and seal up the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County where 29 miners were killed in an April 5, 2010 explosion. The mine has been under federal investigation since the disaster. Louviere says a meeting is scheduled for May 5th to discuss the closure. The meeting will include officials from Massey, MSHA, state leaders and the United Mine Workers of America. Louviere says it is unclear whether there are any legal issues with sealing the mine, since the explosion has civil and criminal cases pending against it.
- Mason County Sheriff's Department confirmed the state Medical Examiner has ruled Bill Mayes' death as suspicious. Mayes, 75, of Ashton, in Mason County, had been missing since April 12th. His body was found on April 22nd near his home.
- Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding has granted a new trial for Joseph Lavigne Jr., vacating a jury’s ruling in his 1996 conviction. Judge Spaulding ruled on the basis of inconsistent statements, circumstances surrounding the crime, deficiencies in the police investigation, erroneous jury instruction, allowing an incompetent witness to testify and limiting Lavigne to four character witnesses. Lavigne has been at Mount Olive Correctional Complex since the jury found him guilty of raping his 5 year old daughter outside their Hurricane home.
- State Police say Ronnie Britton II, 40, of Alum Creek, in Lincoln County, was armed with a shotgun when troopers arrived at his home Friday morning after receiving a complaint from volunteer firefighters. Troopers say they tried to talk Britton into dropping the gun, but he refused and came toward them in an "aggressive manner." Two troopers fired their weapons. Britton was taken by helicopter to Charleston Area Medical Center in critical condition after being shot three times. Britton was in the news earlier this week when the state Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals voted to suspend his four coal mining certificates for one year. State regulators say Britton falsified his credentials to work as a foreman.
- Brent Boggs, 53, of Ivydale, in Clay County, a man accused of a murder for hire scheme, was in court Thursday on charges he violated his home confinement by cutting off his electronic monitoring device. The Clay County Sheriff's Department says cutting off the device is a felony, but Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Dotson didn't present any evidence Thursday, causing the charge to be dismissed. Clay County Sheriff Randy Holcomb says, "When you cut the strap, that constitutes escape." However, Clay County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Dotson says it's not that clear cut. Dotson says, "being on home confinement in lieu of bond is not a custodial situation." Boggs had been sent to jail on half a million dollar bond, but was given home confinement after being accused of attempting to hire two undercover state troopers to kill Daniel Kessler, a former business associate in Kanawha County. According to police, in January, Boggs unknowingly offered two undercover West Virginia State Troopers cash and gifts to kill Kessler. Kessler says, "Brent Boggs offered these troopers money and a vehicle to cut my head off and bring it back in a five-gallon bucket." Kessler said, "I'll probably be on the news or in jail. Because I'll be the one who ends up shooting him. What other choice do I have?"
- Christian Bowles, the 19 year old accused of stealing ATVs in Sissonville in January, was sentenced to between six months and two years in the Anthony Center Friday. Bowles pleaded guilty in March to one felony and three misdemeanor charges of burglary of vehicles and outbuildings. Shoe prints in the snow in January along Poca River Road led police to Bowles and Shane Peck, who faces several criminal charges.
- Right now, the federal debt ceiling is set at $14.3 trillion. U.S. Treasury officials say the country is on track to reach that ceiling by the middle of May. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he is not going to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling next month unless such an increase comes with a clear long term plan for reducing the U.S. debt. Manchin says the government needs to get its financial house in order. He has signed on to support the American Prosperity Act, called CAP, along with a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require a balanced budget every year. Many Republicans are taking similar stands. Illinois Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. issued a statement saying the two measures "allow gutless politicians to sound tough on spending without proposing real solutions." The statement from Jackson continued, "I am afraid that Senator Manchin has bought hook, line and sinker, the Republican falsehood that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Buying into this fabrication implies that there is only one solution to this problem -- cut spending." In response, Senator Manchin said, "I'm just surprised that a Congressman from Chicago, Illinois named Jesse Jackson, Jr. would attack Joe Manchin, a freshman Senator, thinking that I, for some reason out of the clear blue sky picked something, and tried to use the fear factors, and that he would do that unsolicited."
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