Breaking Local News

Kanawha County Mine Fatality Investigated

A mine fatality is under investigaton today after a worker died at an eastern Kanawha County mine Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the West Virginia Miners, Health, Safety and Training said the incident occurred at the Blue Creek Prep Plant near Malden. The accident involved a hydraulic cylinder, and witnesses reported seeing the hydraulic jack explode about 4:30pm on a belt press. One minor injury was also reported. Midland Trail Energy's Blue Creek preparation plant is owned by Patriot Coal. A federal investigator has come to start piecing together exactly what happened.

Bridge Work Begins

The first section of the St. Albans-Nitro Bridge came down early Tuesday afternoon. Construction is expected to last about a year and it will widen the bridge to three lanes. There will also be a new deck on top of the existing bridge when the project is finished. The R.J. “Dick” Henderson Bridge gets its new look for about $24 million. Meanwhile, drivers between St. Albans and Nitro are finding new routes, with construction not finished until 2014.

Kidnapping Charges Filed in Roane County

Two men are facing charges after allegedly forcing a woman into their SUV in Roane County. 28-year old Rodney Workman, and 31-year old Timothy Drake were arrested at a home in Clendenin late Monday on kidnapping, domestic assault and domestic battery charges. Workman apparently kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and got help from Drake. West Virginia State police say Roane County authorities had information that Workman had made threats to kill the woman. She was able to escape the kidnapping when the SUV they were in was forced to slow down.

DHHR Lawyer Fired

Another lawyer has been fired at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources after a contract dispute. General Counsel Jennifer Taylor says she was notified of the termination Monday. She was involved in a contract bidding dispute and objected to the way a six-figure advertising contract was handled, and was then reassigned after objecting. Former DHHR Assistant Secretary John Law and Deputy Secretary Susan Perry were also reassigned. Law was fired last month. Last week, Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants said an investigation arising from the dispute found signs of policy violations and bad judgment but no criminal intent. He said no criminal charges would be filed. Whistleblower lawsuits filed against the DHHR by Taylor and Perry are pending.

Army Deserter Arrested

Kanawha County sheriff's deputies got a tip on Monday about a man who allegedly deserted from the U.S. Army. Capt. Sean Crosier says the tip came in that 35-year old Matthew Jack Kirk was staying at his parents' home on Long Branch Road in Charleston. Deputies went to the home and took Kirk into custody without incident, Crosier said. Kirk was taken to the South Central Regional Jail and then picked up by Army Officials.

Sen. Rockefeller Reflects on Children's Insurance Program

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller reflected Monday on the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program, saying it is one of his proudest fights. Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the program's reauthorization by Congress. Rockefeller wrote the legislation in 1997 that eventually created the program, which provides health insurance for children who are uninsured. Rockefeller said 40,000 children in West Virginia and 8 million nationwide are now covered by the program.

Clendenin Man Arrested for Indecent Exposure

A Clendenin man is facing charges for indecent exposure. West Virginia State police have been investigating for several months, according to the criminal complaint. Michael Meadows is accused of displaying pornographic images to a child, and faces a criminal charge for that plus indecent exposure. The Charleston Gazette reports the father of a 9-year-old girl contacted State Police last May, after learning Meadows may have exposed himself to his daughter. During an interview with state police, the girl said Meadows allegedly exposed himself to her on several occasions and once showed her pornographic pictures on his iPhone, according to the complaint. Meadows faces up to a year in jail on the indecent exposure charge and up to five years in prison on the charge of displaying obscene material to a minor.

UC Enrollment Grows

Taking over Mountain State University seems to have had an impact on the University of Charleston. The school announced recently it has its highest enrollment in almost three decades. There are about 1,300 students are taking classes at the main campus, plus the new satellite campuses known now as UC Beckley and UC-Martinsburg. There are also about 500 students taking classes online. School officials said they hope to see enrollment at the school's new Beckley campus double over the next year or so.

Benefits Kick in For Former State Schools Superintendent

Former state schools superintendent Jorea Marple has begun receiving retirement benefits from the state. The Charleston Daily Mail reports Marple and her husband, former state attorney general Darrell McGraw, applied for benefits for their years of public service, and together will receive more than $180,000 a year in pensions. The newspaper obtained the figures from the Consolidated Public Retirement Board through a Freedom of Information Act request. Marple's salary as superintendent was $167,000 a year. No lawsuit has been filed yet, but Marple's attorneys told the state Board of Education that she plans to sue over her firing. A letter sent to the board in late December provided the 30-day advance notice required by law before a state agency or official can be sued.

Restaurants Get New Inspection System

Your favorite Charleston restaurant will have a new color-coded system for food inspections. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department unveiled its new rating system on Friday that swaps the old grading system for new colors and words like "fair" and "excellent. And restaurants have to post their rating near the front entrance so the public can see it walking in. And starting Thursday, the ratings will be posted online. It may take a year for all of the restaurants in Charleston to be inspected.

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