Breaking Local News
The nation's largest miners' union said a proposed settlement with Patriot Coal would restore most wage cuts the company had sought as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Members of the United Mine Workers of America heard details this week about the settlement reached last week with St. Louis-based Patriot. Some 1,800 current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky will be eligible to cast a ballot today during the ratification vote. The union said the proposed settlement includes restoration of all but $1 per hour in wage cuts. Wages would increase annually by 50 cents an hour starting in January 2015, monthly premiums for health care benefits would be eliminated, pension benefits for thousands of current retirees would be maintained and current active UMW members would continue earning pension credit.
Energy analysts are saying natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale is rising at a rate faster than most predicted. Production in West Virginia and Pennsylvania is up about 50 percent compared to last year. One Bentek Energy analyst told the Associate Press that gas is actually starting to displace" production from the Gulf of Mexico in places. Marcellus gas is supplying the Pennsylvania and Northeast markets, and it's grown to be the nation's most productive gas field.
An anonymous tip from someone in Kanawha County came in to state police, and it led to the arrest of four people on meth related charges. Troopers arrested 34-year old Ronald Dodrill, 39-year old James Young, 40-year old Carrie Cremeans, and 36-year old Susan Williams at a home on Williams Street in Cedar Grove, after finding what they called a shake and bake meth lab in the backyard of the home. Dodrill is also facing obstruction charges for trying to run from troopers when they got to the home. All four were taken to South Central Regional Jail.
Airgas has officially appealed the citations we told you about earlier this week. Federal investigators have cited the Airgas plant in Putnam County for six safety violations stemming from an investigation into a May explosion at the site near Poca. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration classified four of the citations as serious and carry proposed fines of $19,000. Putnam County authorities have said the May 13 explosion involved about 50 tanks of acetylene that were at Airgas waiting to be refilled. Two workers were injured. The appeals of the citations are pending.
Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury is charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury after he tried to frame a romantic rival for crimes and that didn't work. And Thursday evening the state Supreme Court of Appeals announced that they voted to suspend Judge Thornsbury without pay. His law license is also suspended. Two other judges have been tapped to cover his case load, starting this morning.
A fight between two brothers in Putnam County leaves one brother facing a murder charge. Police say 36-year old Michael Facemyre was stabbed several times in the arm and torso by his younger brother Jonathan at a home in Scott Depot. Michael didn't survive the wounds, and now 25-year old Jonathan has been charged with first degree murder. The criminal complaint says the mens' sister called 911 and screaming could be heard in the background. At one point a man was overheard saying, "How do you like that?" Jonathan Facemyre's arraignment happened Wednesday, and a preliminary hearing will happen in the next week or so.
Two operators of Ms Sylvia's Sandwich Shop on West Washington Street have been arrested a second time. Rodney Armstrong and Emma Laughlin were arrested by Charleston police Sunday for manufacturing and selling alcohol without a license, and arrested Wednesday for allegedly violating conditions of their bond. Police arrested the two in the stairwell of the Kanawha County Courthouse parking garage Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union's West Virginia chapter has filed a lawsuit that alleges that a correctional officer at the Beckley Correctional Center told other officers and inmates that one prisoner had HIV. The inmate was harassed by the officers and other inmates. The ACLU filed the lawsuit earlier this month in Kanawha County Circuit Court on behalf of the inmate, and told the Charleston Gazette the Division of Corrections doesn't have effective policies to ensure that inmates' medical information is kept private. Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein says all employees are adequately trained regarding confidentiality matters.
The man who fired shots at his home and with police in the South Hills area Monday is out of the hospital, and went straight to court. Mark Bramble appeared Wednesday in Kanawha County Magistrate Court and was arrainged on charges of attempted murder and wanton endangerment. Charleston Police say Bramble started firing a gun from inside his home , and they say when officers arrived he intentionally started shooting at police. After being treated for self inflicted gunshot wounds and released from the hospital, he was arraigned and sent to jail.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded more than $1 million to West Virginia to help the state recover from fierce summer storms in 2012, specifically those that came in June of last year and wrecked havoc. A derecho on June 29th, and the storms that followed, left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state. U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall announced the funding this week, and highlighted the operations center that provided support to local emergency operations and state agencies that lost electricity and water.