Breaking Local News

Kessler's Office Reviews Natural Gas Rates

Senate President Jeff Kessler's office is looking into the state Public Service Commission's decision to approve higher natural gas prices. Kessler tells The Parkersburg News and Sentinel that he'll review rate increases for Mountaineer Gas and Peoples Gas customers. The Public Service Commission announced the rate hikes in a news release last week. They take effect Nov. 1. The commission says Hope Gas customers will see a rate decrease, however. Mountaineer Gas says it will make no profit off the increased purchase price. Since there is ample supply of natural gas, Kessler questioned how the increases make sense under the basic law of supply and demand. Officials say gas rates have dropped for eight straight years.

Governor Appoints Director of Policy

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has named a new director of policy for the governor’s office. It's Lawrence J. Malone, and the Governor says his first day will be Oct. 27. Malone has operated his own communications and marking consulting firm, Malone Consulting Services. Other positions he's held include communications director for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, along with work in healthcare and technology.

Capito Not Exptected At Friday's Debate

Republican Shelley Moore Capito won't attend a West Virginia Public Broadcasting debate Friday. Democrat Natalie Tennant, Libertarian John Buckley, Bob Henry Baber of the Mountain Party and Phil Hudok of the Constitution Party will participate. Capito's campaign said the congresswoman will be on her previously scheduled bus tour. Capito and Tennant, West Virginia's secretary of state, debated last Tuesday in Charleston. Third-party candidates weren't involved. Since Capito won't be at the Friday event, it's unlikely Capito and Tennant will debate again before the November 4th election. They are seeking retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat.

HazMat Crews Called to Yeager Airport

Two health-related Incidents at Yeager Airport late Wednesday led to HazMat crews being called out to decontaminate. Several workers have been exposed to some type of unknown substance in the first incident, and in the other several people had been taken off of a plane for an unrelated health concern. An unclaimed bag had an unknown substance in it, and two workers were taken to CAMC General.

Ethics Commission Looks for New Leader

More than a dozen people have applied to become the next executive director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission. Commissioner Betty Ireland is chairwoman of the commission's personnel committee. She tells The Charleston Gazette that the committee is interviewing 15 applicants from a wide range of legal backgrounds. State law requires the executive director to be a lawyer and a member of the West Virginia bar for at least five years. The commission fired former executive director Joan Parker on June 5. Charleston attorney Rebecca Stepto has been serving as interim executive director.

Trout Stocking Begins

Streams and lakes across West Virginia will be stocked with about 42,000 pounds of trout during the next two weeks. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources began its fall trout stockings on Tuesday. Trout stockings will continue next week. Nine lakes and 25 streams will be stocked. Wildlife resources chief Curtis Taylor says in a news release that information about trout stockings will be posted first on the DNR's Facebook page at 2:30 p.m. each day. The information will be posted on the DNR's website, www.wvdnr.gov , and on the Fishing Hotline, 304-558-3399, an hour later.

New Mingo County Judge To Be Sworn in Soon

An Oct. 27 swearing-in ceremony is set for Mingo County's new family court judge. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Sabrina L. Deskins to the position last month, and the swearing-in ceremony will be held at noon on Oct. 27 in the main courtroom of the Mingo County Courthouse in Williamson. Deskins will complete the remainder of Miki Thompson's term. Gov. Tomblin appointed Thompson in July to replace former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury. Thornsbury resigned and pleaded guilty in October 2013 to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a corruption probe.

Tips Wanted in Missing Dunbar Man's Case

A Dunbar man reported missing last week still has not been found. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and Kanawha Bureau of Investigation are investigating the disappearance of Daryl Smith of Dunbar, who has actually been missing since October 1st. Cpl B.D Humphreys says cases like this are investigated as homicides until the facts prove otherwise, and this disappearance is considered suspicious. Detectives have strong leads in the case and have executed several search warrants. Forensic evidence is being examined and tested, but if you have tips you're asked to call 304-357-0169 or submit a tip at www.kanawhasheriff.us.

Grant Funds Available For Local Groups

The group African American Philanthropy in Action formed a little over a year ago, made up of lawyers, businessmen, entrepreneurs and community leaders who pool donations together and decide together where the funds will be put to best use. The Charleston Gazette says less than a year after it began fundraising, AAPA has accrued more than $16,000 That's an amount that would normally take two or three years to raise for similar groups. The AAPA plans to give a $5,000 grant to a local nonprofit group, and they're taking applications until Nov. 1. To apply, visit www.tgkvf.org.

Double Jeopardy? Case Will Be Heard Today in Appeals Court

A man who was retried and found guilty of murder in his girlfriend's shooting death after an appellate court threw out his original conviction will argue in court today that because of double jeopardy protections, he should be freed. Robert Frazier was tried in 2010 on charges that he murdered his live-in girlfriend, Kathryn Smith, at their home near Huntington. Frazier claimed innocence, arguing that he and Smith had been fighting, that Smith aimed a shotgun at him, and that she was accidentally shot in the face when he tried to wrestle the weapon from her. His murder conviction was overturned in 2010 and retried in 2013, and convicted again. Today in West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals, Frazier - represented by Kanawha County Deputy Public Defender Crystal L. Walden - will argue that the retrial amounted to double jeopardy and that his second conviction should also be overturned. The double jeopardy principal prevents defendants from being tried for the same crime twice.

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