Breaking Local News
Environmental groups and Pocahontas Land Corp. have settled a lawsuit over pollution at two former coal mines in Mingo County. Under a consent decree, Pocahontas agreed to apply for a permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that would cover discharges of pollutants from valley fills at the sites. The company also agreed to monitor selenium pollution and report the results twice a month. Pocahontas did not admit any liability. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy filed the lawsuit in 2013. The groups said discharges from the valley fills continued to pollute streams after the mines closed and regulators released their permits.
Jonathan Schrader of Elkins has pleaded guilty to possessing stolen explosives that authorities said he planned to use to blow up a federal courthouse. U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld says the C4 plastic explosives were discovered in February. According to a previous FBI affidavit, a witness told investigators Schrader had discussed detonating explosives in front of the Jennings Randolph Federal Center in Elkins and at the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins. Federal agents found the explosives in an outbuilding during a search. The affidavit says Schrader obtained the explosives from a juvenile who had stolen the material from his father's office. Schrader faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
West Virginia is making it easier for hunters and trappers to check in their game. A new electronic system allows hunters to check game in by phone or computers. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources says the system will take effect in time for the 2015 spring gobbler season, which begins April 27. The new system also will be available for the one-day youth hunter season on April 25. The DNR says hunters using the electronic system won't have to worry about finding an open check station if they hunt later in the day. Natural Resources director Bob Fala says hunters can still check in their game at one of about 180 official license agents in the state. But they don't have to bring the animal in with them.
An apartment building in a former Raleigh County coal camp has been saved from the wrecking ball. A coalition of preservation, development, community and government agencies are working to preserve the Helen Apartments in Helen. Raleigh County extension agent David Rotenizer tells The Register-Herald that the building had been marked for demolition as a dilapidated and abandoned structure. The County Commission agreed last December to pay back taxes on the property and transfer it to a local community group. This weekend, agencies and volunteers will remove trash from the building and secure the structure against further damage from rain, vandalism or vagrants until it can be restored.
Federal disaster loans are available for schools, homeless shelters and other nonprofit organizations in 29 West Virginia counties. The loans are being offered following a federal disaster declaration that made public assistance available to the counties for infrastructure and cleanup efforts. The U.S. Small Business Administration says nonprofits that don't provide critical services of a governmental nature may be eligible for the low-interest loans. The storm brought heavy snow and rain, knocked out power to more than 80,000 customers and causes flooding, landslides and mudslides.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed 32 bills passed by the Republican-led Legislature, the most by a West Virginia governor in decades. Tomblin finished deciding Friday on bills that passed during this year's 60-day legislative session. The vetoes killed bills letting people carry concealed handguns without permits, drink raw milk and write checks to the state to fill potholes outside their businesses. Tomblin nixed 17 bills because he disagreed with their policies. The other 15 were due to technical errors, including a bill that gave authority to a board that hasn't existed in 15 years. Lawmakers re-passed 12 of those bills before leaving town. The rest are dead until next year. Tomblin still found middle ground with lawmakers. He signed 243 bills, from legal reforms to help for craft brewers.
Robert W. Bennett has been named president and CEO of Patriot Coal. Bennett succeeds Bennett K. Hatfield, who resigned. The company is based in Scott Depot. Bennett has served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer since 2009. Patriot Coal has eight mining complexes in West Virginia and employs about 2,900 workers.
A 62-year-old West Virginia woman drowned after she was swept away by flood waters near her home in rural Wayne County. West Virginia State police identified the victim as Readith Hughes, and said she was attempting to go church Friday night despite flood waters outside her home. Hughes's body was recovered about one-quarter of a mile downstream from her home.
An accident Friday appears to be because a man fell asleep at the wheel. It was a roll-over crash at the 19 mile marker of I-79 in Clendenin. Sgt. B-D Humphreys with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says Kevin Foster was traveling south and fell asleep at the wheel, and the vehicle rolled over at least three times. There were eight people, two adults and six children, inside the vehicle. The children were in car seats and properly restrained, and suffered just minor injuries. Mrs. Foster was partially ejected from the crash and sustained critical injuries. All were taken to the hospital.
Saying no to raw milk is just one of a wave of recent vetoes made by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The Democrat nixed 10 bills Wednesday, including the proposal that would have let people drink raw milk through herd-sharing agreements. Another vetoed bill would have let home-schooled students get PROMISE scholarships without a general equivalency degree. Some vetoes were based on technical errors, including an anti-human trafficking bill. Another bill would have loosened reporting of instruction plans for home-schooled students, among other requirements. He disapproved of allowing four fewer in-school instructional days annually. A push to offer four days of early childhood education, instead of the current five, was nixed. Tomblin also declined to let the state's schools for the deaf and blind be eligible for School Building Authority money.