Breaking Local News

Visitation Revoked For Mark Plants and Kids

Mark Plants has had his visitation with his children temporarily suspended. A family law judge in Huntington made the ruling, and that means Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants' won't have his normal visitation with his children, and the domestic violence protection order has been extended until Dec. 16th. Plants is charged with domestic battery for hitting his son with a belt and with violating a domestic violence protection order filed by his ex-wife. This is part of an ongoing case with several impacts. Kanawha County commissioners are looking into ways to have Plants removed from his job. A three-judge panel will hear the removal proceedings Sept. 22 and 23 in Charleston.

Dog Tracks Report Financial Trouble

Thoroughbred and greyhound breeders say that budget cuts to state racing subsidies are hurting the industry. The Charleston Gazette says the two groups made their cases to a legislative committee this week. Most recently, the state chopped racing subsidies for the current budget year by 10 percent. Mardi Gras racetrack in Charleston showed purses for greyhound racing dropped from $98,000 for the first week of Sept. 2010 to $61,700 this year.
West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association President Sam Burdette said three of 17 kennels at Mardi Gras made enough to cover expenses last week.

Ex-Murray Energy Employee Sues Over Campaign Contributions

A lawsuit by a former Murray Energy worker says she was fired for not making campaign contributions to preferred political candidates. The Charleston Gazette reported the lawsuit was filed Sept. 4 in Monongalia County Circuit Court and seeks damages, back pay, reinstatement to her position and legal fees and costs. In the lawsuit, Jean Cochenour says she received written requests from CEO Bob Murray to donate to specific candidates. The letters asked for specific donation amounts. She was fired in May from her job as a prep plant foreman at a mine in Marion County. The company says Cochenour failed to perform her job and that's why she was fired.

Smoking Ban Considered in Brooke County

Another West Virginia locality is considering going smoke free. The latest is Brooke County, which will take up the proposed smoking ban at a hearing in early October. The move comes weeks after Hancock County went that route, according to The State Journal. Health Department administrator Karen McClain says officials are weighing a ban in all enclosed public places as well as outdoor places like fairs, festivals and playgrounds. A public hearing has been set for Oct. 6.

Investigation Continues After St. Albans Body Found

Police are investigating after a body was found in St. Albans City Park Tuesday, and the preliminary autopsy results point to homicide. St. Albans Police have identified the victim as 20-year old Micah Burdette of St. Albans, and his body was found by a hiker late Tuesday. The final autposy results haven't been released yet. Anyone with tips should call 727-2251 or email crimetips@saintalbanspolice.com. The investigation is ongoing.

Capitol Complex Renovations Are Back On

State officials have revived a project to renovate Building 3 at the Capitol Complex. The renovation was put on the back burner after a bid opening in 2011 came in more than $6 million over the project's $27 million budget. The Department of Administration began a redesign of the project in January. Administration Secretary Ross Taylor says the project should go out to bid early next year and be completed in late 2016. The Charleston Gazette says Taylor gave an update on the project Tuesday to an interim legislative committee.

Drivers Work Around Issues Tuesday Afternoon

Two problems forced street closures Tuesday afternoon. In St. Albans it was a water main break that had drivers rerouted. It happened Tuesday afternoon at Second and Main streets, and Second Street between Kanawha Terrace and Sixth Avenue were closed for several hours. In Dunbar, it was a gas line rupture that had traffic diverted for a time. The Dunbar Fire Department said a 4-inch line on Dunbar Avenue across from First Avenue was hit Tuesday afternoon by an excavator, and it has been repaired.

Coal Layoffs Could Be Coming This Fall

Patriot Coal is warning hundreds of miners at its southern West Virginia operations they could be laid off. The company is based in St. Louis, and says federally required warning notices were issued Tuesday to 360 workers at its Corridor G mining complex near Danville. Patriot spokeswoman Janine Orf said the warnings do not necessarily mean all 360 will be laid off at the end of the 60-day period. Previous layoffs in Danville have already reduced the Patriot workforce there by nearly 100. The company said in a statement that increasing federal regulations, mild summer weather and low natural gas prices have slashed thermal coal prices, in some cases below operating costs at Appalachian mines. The Danville mining complex produced 2.3 million tons of thermal coal in 2013.

More Vehicle Inspections Are Coming

The West Virginia Public Service Commission plans to increase commercial vehicle inspections on roads considered as high crash areas. The PSC said Tuesday that the one-year enforcement effort will be funded with a $180,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Commissioner Ryan Palmer says in a news release that the grant will give PSC officers more hours on the road. Among the targeted roads....the West Virginia Turnpike. Inspections also will increase statewide on roads affected by Marcellus Shale drilling traffic. The enforcement effort will run through September 2015.

Tuition Assistance Offered at Many WV Businesses

An audit has found that 70 percent of West Virginia state agencies offer employees tuition assistance for post-secondary education. Legislative auditor Aaron Allred wrote that 80 agencies help pay for schooling or reduced tuition rates. Sixty agencies require submitting a formal, written plan to the IRS about how the programs should work. Two were not able to produce their plans. The audit was released to a legislative committee Tuesday. The report reacts to a May audit of former Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office that found the office reimbursed more than $54,000 for employee education without paying appropriate federal taxes. It also discovered the office had no written program plans.

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