Wednesday, June 22, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-23-'11
- “Ladies and gentleman, Pat Sajak and Vanna White” is one of the most famous lines on television. Jim Thornton, the new voice on Wheel of Fortune, grew up in Huntington, graduated from Huntington High School and spent some time at Marshall University before moving to southern California. Thornton got his foot in the door in radio. Now more than 20 years later, he's working side-by-side with Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
- Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputies had to capture an alligator in Scott Depot Tuesday after motorists reported seeing the animal on Teays Valley Road, causing problems for several drivers. The alligator is about 3-feet long. No one was injured, but one motorist had to swerve to avoid hitting the alligator, and two other drivers ended up in a nearby ditch.
- Huntington Police are investigating a stabbing death which occurred Tuesday night. Police say Joshua Porter, 25, went to a home on 10th St. West to confront a man about a woman with whom both were having a relationship. Police say witnesses at the scene saw Porter try to get the unnamed resident out of his home to fight. During an altercation, Porter was stabbed in the lower chest. He was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where he later died.
- Neil Hasen, 31, of Alkol, in Lincoln County, was sentenced Tuesday to three years probation and six months of community confinement for lying on an on-shift examination form. Hasen admitted to signing a form in February 2009 that indicated pre-shift and on-shift mine examinations had been properly completed when he was not authorized to do so. Hasen was working as an assistant foreman at the Broad Run Mine in Mason County when he used another foreman's number to certify that examinations had been completed. Hasen admitted to using an unauthorized foreman number more than two dozen times, violating the federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
- Luke W. Pugh, 49, of Jane Lew, a former employee of Carter Roag Coal Co., Inc., at the Pleasant Hill Mine in Randolph County, has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release after pleading guilty on March 8th to one count of making false statements, representations, and certifications in MSHA documents. Pugh admitted that on 387 occasions from June 18, 2007 to April 28, 2009, he knowingly and falsely stated and certified in a report that he was certified by the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Education to conduct pre-shift and/or on-shift safety examinations when he knew he had never been certified.
- Chad J. Ferrell, 40, of Nettie, a former employee of Brooks Run Mining Company at the Poplar Ridge No. 1 Deep Mine in Webster County, has been sentenced to five years probation with the first year to be served in home detention. Ferrell entered a guilty plea on March 8th to one count of making false statements, representations, and certifications in MSHA documents. Ferrell admitted that on 489 occasions from September 15, 2008, to June 5, 2009, he knowingly and falsely stated and certified in a report filed and required to be maintained that he was certified by the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Education to conduct safety examinations, when he knew he had never been certified.
- House of Delegates Speaker Rick Thompson has appointed five members to serve on a Marcellus Shale committee that will look at possible regulations for natural gas drilling. Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier, Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, and Bill Anderson, R-Wood, will serve on the committee that will be chaired by Tim Manchin, D-Marion. Last week, acting Senate President Jeff Kessler appointed five senators to the 10-member committee. Thompson says the House has been very deliberative in working on guidelines for the relationship between oil and gas extractors and the owners of surface rights and mineral interests that protects the environment and ensures proper labor practices, and the Select Committee will continue that effort in preparation for a special session which will likely come in early August. It's unclear whether Marcellus regulations will be a part of that session.
- Two Buckhannon men were sentenced in United States District Court in Elkins on counterfeiting charges. Gary W. Moran II, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison to be followed by three years supervised release, while William B. Hitt II, age 41, was sentenced to one year in prison to be followed by three years supervised release and was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $3,000. Moran and Hitt entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiring to counterfeit money from July 2009 to August 2009 in Upshur County and Lewis County. Moran and Hitt will self-report to designated federal institutions.
- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has threatened to cut funding to the Charleston Area Alliance if the economic development group approves a proposed $10,000 salary hike for President and CEO Matt Ballard. The Alliance's executive committee recently discussed increasing Ballard's pay from $112,000 to $122,000 a year. Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy, who serves on the Alliance's executive committee, says Ballard deserves a salary hike since he has received only one pay increase, from $105,000 to $112,000, during the past six years and done an excellent job. The Charleston Area Alliance is expected to finalize Ballard's $10,000 pay raise by July 1st.
- Charleston City Council has set a hearing date for July 21st to allow members to examine evidence, hear from witnesses and decide what will happen with an election challenge filed by failed mayoral candidate Janet "JT" Thompson who claims the city and county committed several election law violations during the May 17th municipal election. Mayor Danny Jones beat Thompson by a 70 to 30 percent margin. Thompson filed numerous motions asking Kanawha County Circuit Court to take up the matter, but Kanawha County Judge Jim Stucky dismissed that request at a Tuesday morning hearing. During the July 21st hearing, Jones and Thompson will represent themselves and will make arguments in front of council members. The deadline for subpoena requests is July 13th, and a decision on the issue will come on or before August 25th.
- Putnam County Sheriff Mark Smith says it was welcomed news that his county has been added to a list of High Intensity Drug Traffic Areas. The sheriff says that designation has been obvious to him ever since he was elected sheriff. Smith says Putnam County is nearly the halfway point on a lot of drug routes. Dealers use I-64 and U.S. Route 35 for a lot of the transport of drugs from Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus to points south in Atlanta and Florida, and trafficking between Charleston and Huntington splits his county. In recent months, Putnam County deputies have been strong partners with the Metro Drug Unit from Kanawha County. The partnership has funneled some drug funding into the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, but Smith says the new HIDA designation will open the stream of federal dollars for many more efforts. He says the funds will allow extra overtime for drug interdiction on the highways and marijuana eradication.
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