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More than 20 West Virginia cities want to be part of the home rule program. Monday was the deadline for cities to submit applications, and sixteen cities will be chosen to join the program's four existing participants. The Home Rule Board will interview representatives from each of the 23 new applicants. The Charleston Daily Mail says the board will meet June 13 by telephone to discuss where and when interviews will be conducted. The program shifts power from the state to the local level. It began as a five-year pilot in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling.
Kanawha County Commissioners met in a special meeting Tuesday morning to talk about the Mark Plants case and the controversy surrounding it. Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper spent some of the time asking questions about the finances, and said the legal mess is costing the county (and therefore the taxpayers) about $35,000 a month. There are still questions about where to get the money for the bills -- from the general and non-traditional funds, the prosecutor’s drug forfeiture account, or some combination of those. Commissioners have another meeting planned for June 12th, and they'll ask Plants or a representative from his office to attend, to directly address some of the issues.
The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles says some changes in laws will affect motorists starting this week. One new law allows DUI offenders to get on the ignition interlock program immediately if they do not request a hearing. The DMV says this will protect other motorists while expediting the offender's rehabilitation. Starting Thursday, people requesting an optional ID labeled as "For Federal Identification" will pay an additional $10 fee. Other new statutes will make changes to the upcoming electronic insurance verification process and allow motorcyclists to install certain types of auxiliary white and amber colored lights to make their bikes more visible.
Nicholas County has a murder under investigation that was reported early Tuesday in the Birch River Area. The Nicholas County Sheriff's Office says deputies found 39-year old James Lewis Frame of Birch River, lying on the ground unresponsive when they arrived on the scene, and he was late pronounced dead at the Summersville Regional Medical Center. Deputies think the suspect is 26-year old Kristopher James Love, and he was arrested yesteday without incident.
There is a date now for the closing of the the Rite Aid warehouse in Rock Branch in Putnam County. The closure was announced in April, which was a surprise to the 200 or so that work there, and a deal has been in the works to facilitate the closing. WCHS TV reports the workers are mostly happy with it. After negotiating with the union, the deal was struck to close the warehouse on November 4th, 2017. The deal includes a severance and benefits package, and 94 percent of the workers agreed to it.
Eight McDowell County employees have been laid off as the county struggles to plug a budget hole. The layoffs include Delegate Clif Moore, who is an assistant county administrator. Moore tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that seven employees were laid off Friday. His layoff is effect June 13 so he can continue working with county administrator Jennifer Wimmer to balance the budget. Moore says a recent decline in coal mining has hurt the county's tax revenues. Wimmer says the County Commission also is trying to collect more than $2 million in unpaid taxes. Moore says the County Commission employs about 220 people.
As we've reported, West Virginia has had it's share of lottery millionaires so far this year. Nine Powerball tickets worth at least $1 million have been sold in West Virginia this year. The latest winner stepped forward last week. In a state with a population of 1.8 million, that equates to one winning ticket for every 200,000 residents. According to the Multi-State Lottery Association, West Virginia leads the nation in per-capita ticket sales matching five of the six Powerball numbers. Only four other states have come close: New York, Florida, California, and Pennsylvania. California is the king of grand-prize winners this year, having sold two of the four Powerball tickets matching all six numbers. The others were in Florida and Missouri.
The city of Dunbar is reacting to a new state gun law. Dunbar is repealing its old gun law regulations to comply. The city of Charleston has notably taken issue with the state law, that allows those with concealed carry permits to take guns onto properties like rec centers where children might be around. The law doesn't go into effect until July 1.
South Charleston Police have a man in custody and they think that will cut down on the number of car break-ins. Several break-ins were reported in May in South Hills and South Charleston, and the investigation led detectives to Michael Bevis. He was tracked to Morgantown, and officers arrested him there on Friday. In addition to the thefts, police say he's accused of using stolen credit cards.
Frontier Communications and a union have extended their contract for another month while negotiations continue for workers in West Virginia. Frontier says a contract extension that was set to expire Saturday will now run through June 28. It's the sixth contract extension since negotiations between the company and the Communications Workers of America began last June. The contract originally was scheduled to expire last August. It covers 1,550 workers in West Virginia.