Monday, June 13, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-14-'11
- Eric Counts, 23, of Sissonville, was sentenced Monday to 25 to 100 years in prison for raping an 11 year old family member. Counts asked for home confinement to stay with his father who has terminal cancer, but Judge Jim Stucky denied the request. Counts faces another 25 years of court supervision when he finishes the 25 to 100 year sentence. Counts is planning to appeal his convictions.
- Samuel Garwood, a man suspected of robbing two area banks appeared in court before Judge King Monday as a fugitive from justice from South Carolina where he is also suspected of being involved in bank robberies. Garwood, who was arrested in Cross Lanes earlier this month, will be turned over to federal custody.
- Fayette County Sheriff's Department Captain Jim Sizemore says toxicology test results received recently taken from the body of 27 year old Stacey Nicole Wilson of Victor, in Fayette County, show she did not die of a drug overdose. Wilson's body was found in the Gauley River near Jodie on April 23rd, one day after she called her parents and told them her car was stuck in a large mud hole and she didn't know where she was. Investigators say the mud hole is some distance from where her body was found floating in the Gauley. A previous autopsy ruled out both blunt force trauma and drowning as possible causes of death.
- To settle a lawsuit over a tree-sitting protest in 2010, anti-mining activists have agreed to stop trespassing on West Virginia coal mine sites formerly owned by Massey Energy. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger issued a permanent injunction Monday which bars five defendants from protesting at former Massey operations in 23 counties, among other things. Massey sued after protesters climbed trees and refused to come down for up to nine days at its Beetree surface mine in January 2010. Lawyer Thomas Rist says he's also trying to settle cases stemming from protests in Boone and Raleigh counties. The mines are now owned by Alpha Natural Resources, which bought Massey June 1st.
- The United Mine Workers has reached a tentative deal with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association on a new 5 1/2-year contract. Members of about 125 locals will vote on the deal Friday, June 17th, after being briefed Wednesday. United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts says the deal covers key issues including pensions, health care and wages. The union typically uses the Bituminous Coal Operators contract for a model in negotiations with non-member coal companies. The association represents primarily Canonsburg, Pa.-based Consol Energy's unionized subsidiaries.
- There is only one more new episode left of SPIKE TV's COAL, a reality television show focused on a McDowell County coal mine. The last of the ten episode series COAL, which premiered in March, will air at 8:00 P.M. next Sunday, but Cobalt Coal Company CEO Mike Crowder says there is talk of a second season. Crowder says the experience that has put he and his 40 employees on the small screen, along with their struggles with the day to day operations of a coal mine, have now shown the entire country it's a tough industry that takes tough people who face a lot of challenges, and, when you go through the battle together, you tend to have more passion.
- Kanawha County Board of Education President Pete Thaw says a proposal was introduced last week to start school on August 9th in 2013, the earliest he's ever seen. Schools generally start somewhere around the third or fourth week of August, and Thaw says he expects some members of the public to be upset about the date. Thaw says schools could be unbearable during August heat. The end date of the proposed calender falls on May 16th, which Thaw says is likely a good idea. The current calendar keeps students in classes for up to three weeks after the WESTEST. Thaw says that practice should end. The board will discuss the calender again at its regular meeting in July, and Thaw says they definitely want input from the public.
- The Kanawha County Commission says its decision to outsource drug testing for county employees will save $100,000. Commission President Kent Carper says there will be drug testing, but it will be done by a private company. Carper says the county was prohibited from testing certain people, meaning the operations was not money efficient. Carper says, if they had been able to drug test people on probation, federal employees and others, the program would have worked and paid for itself and actually could have made money. Carper says the best thing for the county to do is hire a private firm to conduct drug testing, but the policy change does not mean the county will go soft on drug use in the county.
- The Internal Revenue Service announced Monday that 1,989 non-profit organizations in West Virginia have automatically lost their tax-exempt status after failing to file legally required annual reports for three years in a row, from 2007 to 2009. Steps are in place for any existing organizations to apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status, but the IRS says the vast majority of the named organizations across the country are probably defunct. The Pension Protection Act Congress passed in 2006 requires most tax-exempt organizations to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS. Small organizations only had to file for the first time in 2007. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says, the IRS mailed more than 1 million notices to organizations that had not filed and last year published a list of at-risk groups, as well as giving smaller organizations an extra five months to file, but there may be some legitimate organizations, especially very small ones, that were unaware of their new filing requirement.
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