Monday, May 02, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-3-'11
- Charleston-based Highland Hospital will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 10:00 A.M. Tuesday in Kanawha City for a 73,000-square-foot behavioral health facility. The four-story expansion will cost $29 million and include 98 beds. In 2008, a volatile bond market forced the nonprofit psychiatric hospital to delay its expansion plans.
- Sontez Lomax, 31, of Huntington, pleaded guilty Monday to distribution of cocaine base, admitting he met with an undercover ATF agent at Smokin’ Aces located in Huntington and told the agent he could provide cocaine at a price of $1,300 per ounce. Lomax also admitted he sold the agent two ounces of cocaine in exchange for $2,600. Lomax faces up to 20 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine when sentenced August 22nd.
- Joseph Duffield, 22, of Milton, was sentenced Monday to three years probation for using counterfeit currency at fast food restaurants on several occasions in the Milton and Barboursville areas. Duffield admitted he attempted to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at a McDonald’s restaurant in Huntington in February 2009 in an attempt to receive real money as change. Huntington Police say, when they searched Duffield’s car at the McDonald's, they found 33 more counterfeit $100 bills and one counterfeit $20 bill. Duffield was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
- Keival Kelly, 27, of Huntington was sentenced Monday to nearly 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in January to selling 2.65 grams of cocaine base to a confidential informant in September 2009.
- The trial for 39 year old Christopher Bowling of Daniels, in Raleigh County, began Monday morning. Bowling is charged with first-degree murder. Police say he shot his wife, Tresa, in the head on January 31, 2010 while she was sitting on a couch in their home following an argument. She later died at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is giving the coal industry more time to comment on proposed rules designed to better protect the nation's 73,000 miners from black lung disease. The comment period had been scheduled to end on Monday, but the agency extended the deadline for comments to May 31st. MSHA is holding four public hearings next month while taking comment on a proposal that would tighten requirements for examining work areas in underground coal mines. It's also taking testimony on new standards for determining whether mines are exhibiting a pattern of safety violations. MSHA says hearings are set for June 2nd in Denver, Colorado, June 7th in Charleston, West Virginia, June 9th in Birmingham, Alabama and June 15th in Arlington, Virginia.
- Massey Energy Co. says it lost $7.7 million, or 7 cents per share, in the first three months of 2011. Massey earned $33.6 million, or 39 cents per share, in first-quarter of 2010. Revenue rose to $949.8 million, compared with $688.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The latest results include Cumberland Resources, a company acquired in 2010. Massey has lost money for four consecutive quarters since the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.
- Michael Duane Lacy, a St. Albans man accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and impregnating her, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault Monday. Lacy admitted he had sex with the girl but says he was groggy from taking prescription drugs and thought he was having sex with his wife instead. Lacy was arrested In July 2010. He could be sentenced to 15 to 35 years in prison, plus up to an additional 50 years supervision upon release. He will be sentenced in July.
- William Rollyson of Braxton County has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse, admitting to molesting his then 8-year-old step granddaughter in 2007 in Kirby Hollow in Kanawha County. He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced in July.
- In the Governor's Reception Room in Charleston Monday, West Virginia's first lady Joanne Tomblin announced a new military initiative. The goal of the program, called "Serve West Virginia Military: Serving Those Who Serve Us" is to encourage people to lend support for members of our armed forces.
- Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey says commissioners had no choice but to join Steel of West Virginia and several other Cabell County businesses in a lawsuit to stop Huntington from implementing a 1 percent occupation tax. Bailey says over 300 county employees would be taxed, and they have no representation whatsoever, and that's very, very unconstitutional. The lawsuit centers on the Home Rule Board's decision in March to allow Huntington to enact the tax on July 1st as part of a five-year home rule pilot program the state Legislature approved in 2007. The city plans to eliminate its $3-per-week user fee and impose a 1 percent tax on anyone who works in Huntington, even if they live elsewhere. Bailey says the lawsuit will likely be filed June 1st.
- So far this budget year, revenue growth for the state of West Virginia is 8.5 percent and it appears the state will end the fiscal year, June 30th, at about $200 million above estimates in tax collections. Deputy State Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow says several timing issues put April's collections below estimates by nearly $9 million, but year-to-date collections exceed estimates by approximately $268 million. Personal income tax and sales tax collections were higher than expected last month, and Muchow believes that will increase for May. The state Road Fund is approximately $30 million more than last year because more people are buying more vehicles and the Privilege Tax is going to the Road Fund.
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