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The Roman Catholic bishop of West Virginia wrote in an email to supporters Monday that he is grateful that two men have come forward to defend him against allegations that he sexually abused one of them in the 1970s, and that their assertions provide proof that he's innocent. In an email to clergy, parishioners and employees of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Michael Bransfield said he has never abused anyone. The letter also was posted on the diocese website. It comes after allegations surfaced during a recently completed Philadelphia priest-abuse trial in which a witness testified that a priest who abused him told him that Bransfield was sexually involved with a young teen. The alleged victim and another man told The Philadelphia Inquirer in a story published Sunday that the allegations were false. Bransfield remains under investigation for another claim, which he denies.
An arrest has been made in connection with a several arson fires in Nicholas county. 21 year old Austin Cox faces dozens of felony charges in connection with the fires that occured from January until this month. Although police don't believe anyone else was involved, they say the investigation is continuning. Without going into specifics, Nicholas County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Paul O' Dell says it took countless man hours to tie Cox to the fires as they uncovered new leads in as the investigation went on.
The first drowning in nearly a decade occured over the weekend at a lake in Beech Fork State Park. We now know it was Evan Ferguson who rescuers say swam outside of the roped off area, went under water and never came back up. Lavalette divers were able to recover the 21 year old's body Monday morning.
As the investingation into the circumstances surrounding the death of 3 year old girl from Jackson County continues, child neglect charges are expected to be filed against her foster parents sometime this week. Jackson Sheriff's deputies say, "Jasmine" was left in the SuV for three hours before they noticed she was missing and when they found her she was dead. It happened Sunday when the family got back from church and everyone got out of the vehicle. The toddler apparently fell asleep in her car seat in the third row of the suv and they didn't realize she was still in the car.
The Lincoln County Commission will meet this morning and are expected to accept the resignation of Commissioner Thomas Ramey, Jr. and come up wtiha plan to pick his replacement. He resigned from his seat late Monday afternoon. He is expected to plead guilty to charges that The U.S. Attorney's Office says Ramey lied to FBI agents during an investigation into voter fraud. He has a federal court hearing on August 8th. Ramey's seat will be on the November ballot. Both the Democratic and Republican parties will meet to nominate candidates for that race.
Mountain State University is cutting its workforce in half in the wake of losing its accreditation. The private Beckley-based university says in a news release that affected employees were notified of the reduction Monday. Their last day of employment is Sept. 21. The university-wide cuts include administrative, faculty and staff positions. Mountain State didn't say how many jobs are being cut. The school has campuses in Beckley, Martinsburg, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Interim President Richard E. Sours says in the release that the school has set up a career center to help workers losing their jobs. Earlier this month, the regional Higher Learning Commission withdrew Mountain State's accreditation, citing leadership, organizational and integrity issues. The decision is effective Aug. 27 but Mountain State plans to appea.
We now know it may have been a case of human error that resulted in the recent unsuccessful escape at West Virginia's maximum security prison by three convicted murderers. Prisoners William Keith "Bobby" Lowe, Daniel Smith and Stephen Wilson weren't in their units at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex when the night head count was taken earlier this month. An official investigation is still underway. The three never made it outside the facility but did clear at least one interior fence and ran from officers before being captured. All of this happens at a time that statewide inmate crowding in a major concern as is trying to keep enough guards on staff.
The US Department of Transportation announced 787 million dollars in federal grants nationwide thru it's 2012 State of Good Repair program. Two area Authorities were in on some of that money to pay for improvements. The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority received $2 million to retire outdated vehicles and update its fleet. and the Tri State Transit Authority will receive 320thousand dollars to build an addition to its administrative and maintenance office in Huntington.
As many especially those in rural areas of West Virginia continue to clean storm debris instead of having trees and limbs carted away, they are instead burning them. That has officials in Kanawha county concerned. The little bit of rain that happened over the weekend is still not enough to make it safe and precautions must taken when burning brush and debris. State officials lifted a burn ban on July 14 because of the recent rains and to give people in unincorporated areas a way to dispose of the debris. Officials say remember if a fire gets out of control, that person is responsible for any damages that may occur. Besides being a safety hazard, brush fires can spread pollution.
Firefighters continue to investigate several weekend fires. Two were reported around 12:30 Saturday morning. One at a house on 9th Avenue in Huntington the other in Jackson County Ohio at a vacant trailer on Oakland Road. Another fire was reported Friday night in Kanawha on Holstein Drive. There were no reports of any injuries in any of the fires and investigators are still trying to determine a cause of each blaze.