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First it was an audit, now it's a criminal investigation. The Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department brought in more than $4 million in 2009 and 2010 through bingos and raffles, and Kanawha County commissioners suspected something was up when the fire department wouldn't reveal much about their record keeping. WCHS TV reports Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants is leading what is now a criminal investigation. The fire department has already handed over its books.
Despite protests, MTV has renewed the show Buckwild for a second season. Season 1 followed a group of Sissonville teens, and a protest from dignitaries including Senator Joe Manchin worried that the adventures that included putting a swimming pool in the back of a pickup truck, would send the wrong image of West Virginia. No word yet when exactly MTV plans to film again in the area for season 2.
The victim in Wednesday's fatal mine explosion has been identified. 34-year old Brandon Townsend of Mingo County died after a hydraulic jack exploded on a belt press, and one other worker was injured. The US Mine Safety and Health Administration says this was the second coal-mining death so far this year, and the first in West Virginia. It happened at Patriot Coal subsidiary Midland Trail Energy's Five Mile Prep Plant in the Campbells Creek area of Kanawha County. State and federal officials are investigating.
A new program in Kanawha County schools will put sheriff's deputies in schools after county commissioners designated $30,000 for it. Starting next week, deputies will randomly visit each school to train staff and students on how to respond in an emergency.
As education uses more technology, it becomes increasingly important to stay up to date. Tuesday was Digital Learning Day across West Virginia, and across the US, and about 2 million students participated through a digital town hall meeting live-streamed into classrooms, and other technology sharing. And moving forward, teachers are encouraged to continue to make use of technology in classroooms. The website, www.digitallearningday.org gives examples of the ways teachers can digital technology incorporate into their lesson plans. West Virginia has a special connection to Digital Learning Day. It was inspired in part by Mountainview Elementary in Morgantown, which started a No Paper, No Pencil Challenge to get students accustomed to working with new technology. The organizing alliance for Digital Learning Day is led by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise.
No word yet on what exactly led to the firing, but the Kanawha County assistant prosector is without a job today. Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers was fired Tuesday, after working with Kanawha County prosecutor Mark Plants' since 1999. At one time Akers was his chief of staff. There are reports Plants will promote another assistant prosecutor to circuit courts and he'll also hire a new assistant prosecuting attorney. Akers is married to Charleston attorney J.B. Akers, and has three children - a 7 year old and two 5-year-old twins.
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.
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.
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.
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.