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Kanawha County magistrate Carol Fouty was absent from the Judicial Hearing Board meeting Wednesday, but an agreement was presented on her behalf that promises she will not seek public office in November, and she'll reimburse the state for the costs associated with its investigation into her misconduct, which will total near $6300. The letter presented by her attorney also says she would resign from office, which she did last week. The agreement must be accepted by the board and then by the Supreme Court.
The state Election Commission on Wednesday set an emergency meeting date for Aug. 15, thinking that the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee will submit a request to replace former magistrate Carol Fouty on the November ballot. August 20th is the deadline for vacancies to be filled on the general election ballot. Fouty, who has been suspended without pay since April after the Judicial Investigation Commission charged her with violating the magistrate's ethics code. She resigned last Friday, and her attorney submitted an agreement to the Judicial Hearing Board yesterday that states she'll not seek election this fall.
Raleigh County Commission candidate John Wooten withdrew his candidacy after receiving an advisory opinion from the State Bar that he couldn't practice criminal defense law in the county if he won the election. Since the county controls the budget for the prosecuting attorney's office, there would be a conflict of interest. Wednesday the state Elections Commission voted to allow the Democratic Executive Committee to replace Wooton on the ballot, but the commission also wants the circumstances reviewed in this case, and past and current office holders.
On the heals of the news that West Virginia state agencies will have to cut their budgets by 7. 5 percent, comes the report that increasing Medicaid costs at the top budget challenge facing many states. West Virginia and 22 other states say rising Medicaid costs will be their biggest challenge moving forward. The outlook is part of the National Conference of State Legislatures' new update on state budgets. West Virginia's medicaid costs are expected to shoot up by $80 million in the current budget year as federal matching funds are reduced.
Representatives from the University of Charleston are in Beckley this week to help Mountain State University students with enrollment. UC is taking over Mountain State's campuses in Martinsburg and Beckley so students can still complete their degrees. Mountain State officially loses accreditation December 31. Registrations fairs and information sessions happening today and tomorrow at Van Dyke Hall on the Beckley campus, including information on admissions, financial aid and registration.
Department heads at West Virginia State Agencies are dealing with the news that they've got to cut spending by 7.5 percent for the fiscal year that begins next July. This comes because of slow growth in state tax collections and rising Medicaid costs, not to mention a sluggish coal mining industry. A significant funding gap is expected, and there may be as much as $100 million in cuts across the board. Governor Tomblin's administration is deciding now whether West Virginia should expand Medicaid coverage to families with incomes of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is part of the new federal healthcare package.
Putnam County school board members learned this week that a new program aimed at keeping ninth graders from dropping out of school appears to be working. The board heard from Superintendent Chuck Hatfield, who said just seven ninth graders dropped out during the last school year, compared with 37 two years earlier. Innovation Zone funding aids the dropout prevention programs.
Bluefield State College has a new President. Marsha Krotseng comes to the school from North Dakota, where she was vice chancellor of strategic planning and executive director of the College Technical Education Council at the North Dakota University System. Former Bluefield State President Albert Walker has moved on to become President at Harris-Stowe State University in Missouri. Krotseng is the first female president at Bluefield State, and will start her new job as early as September.
An accident Monday night left a 40-year-old clinging to life, and he was pronounced dead by the time he arrived at St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington. The single-vehicle crash on Route 3 in Hamlin. State police said Leeroy Allen Halstead was a passenger, and was trapped in his vehicle and had to be cut out before the ambulance could take him to the hospital. The driver of the vehicle was not hurt.
Kanawha County is diving deeper into an effort to save the recycling program. A new task force will study the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority's finances, and then the goal will be to come up with a plan to keep recycling going. Five months ago the Solid Waste Authority's governing board voted to shut down the Slack Street Recycling Center in Charleston over safety issues. That has since re-opened as a drop off point. Between five and ten members will be chosen for the task force, and they'll aim to come up with a new plan for the county's recycling efforts within 45 days.