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Two Cities Aim to Reduce Blight

South Charleston and Dunbar have won state approval to proceed with plans to reduce blight. The West Virginia Home Rule Board this week approved the cities' request to allow them to issue citations on the spot for code violations, rather than taking violators to municipal court. The move will allow the cities to address problems such as trash, high grass and dilapidated buildings. South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens tells WSAZ-TV that his city's goal is to get property owners to fix the problems, not to fine them. But if a problem persists, he says the city will take action. City councils in each city will have to approve ordinances allowing on-site citations before they can be issued

Abortion Bill Vetoed, Lawmakers Could Override Today or Thursday

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has again vetoed a bill banning abortion 20 weeks after conception, citing constitutionality concerns. Lawmakers only need a simple majority to overturn policy vetoes, and Republicans now control the state legislature. Governor Tomblin nixed the bill Tuesday, saying he urged lawmakers to find a compromise and stressed his anti-abortion stances. The bill provides some exemptions for women in medical emergencies, but not for rape and incest. Proponents have cited moral grounds. Opponents say it's unconstitutional and intrusive into doctor-patient relationships. Both bills resemble a law struck down in Arizona in 2013 that the U.S. Supreme Court later decided not to reconsider.

Marshall's Search for a New President Continues

A search firm is coming to Marshall University to gather information about what students, faculty and others want to see in their next university president. The consultants are scheduled to hold meetings again today, through Wednesday in Huntington. Their feedback will be given to the university's search committee. An open forum for faculty will be held today at the Memorial Student Center. Students, staff and other interested parties also are invited to attend.

Public Hearings Set to Discuss Hunting Regulations

You've got the chance this month to review and comment on the state's proposed new hunting, trapping and fishing regulations. The Division of Natural Resources has scheduled 12 public meetings across the state on the regulations. They include 2015 regulations for white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and boar, proposed 2016-2017 general hunting and trapping regulations and proposed 2016 fishing regulations. The DNR says the public meetings also will provide information on the state's new electronic licensing and game check system. Public meetings will be held March 16 in Fairmont, Princeton, Martinsburg, Milton, Flatwoods and Harrisville. On March 17, public meetings are scheduled in Glen Dale, Moorefield, Elkins, Fayetteville, Logan and Parkersburg.

Several to be Honored Today for Black History Month

March is Black History Month and Charleston Police have announced plans to honor five people to celebrate. Chief Brent Webster will be giving the “Charleston Finest” award to lawyer Teresa Chisolm, U.S. Marshal John Foster, Denise Foster, the Rev. Ronald English and the late Sgt. Harvey Bush in a ceremony this morning at Charleston City Hall in the council chambers. Anyone can attend.

Common Core Standards Debated in Senate Committee

The West Virginia Senate education committee on Monday heard opinions on Common Core standards, and most who shared thoughts seemed to agree there is room for improvement. Many leaders in education want to keep some form of Common Core, and some parents and lawmakers want to move in another direction. State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano want to give the new standards more time rather than eliminate them now. After the House passed a bill over the weekend departing from Common Core standards, the Senate bill continues moving at the committee level.

Common Core Repeal is in the Works

A bill repealing Common Core has made it out of a House Committee. The House Education Committee moved the bill to the full House, and several supporters of the repeal rallied outside the Capitol on Wednesday. The Charleston Gazette reports educators spent countless hours developing the Common Core lessons to teach the math and English/language arts standards, which are based on the national Common Core blueprint and were only fully implemented in the Mountain State this school year. And the cost for developing them was around $42 million. Students are being tested based on the Common Core standards this spring, while legislation that could change that makes its way through the state house.

AG's Office Warns of IRS Scam

The attorney general's office is warning West Virginians to beware of callers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his office has been flooded with calls from people who have received voicemails from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller demands a call back to discuss a tax matter.
Morrisey says this week alone his office has received more than 150 calls about the scam. He urged residents to resist the come on. Morrisey says the IRS never calls a taxpayer to demand payment.

Mountain State Students Can Apply for Settlement Funds

A three-judge panel says former students of Mountain State University are entitled to an $11.3 million payout. The mass litigation panel met in Charleston on Thursday to approve the proposed settlement after students argued that Mountain State did not provide them with an education worthy of the tuition they paid. The private university closed after it lost its accreditation in 2012 because of leadership, organizational and integrity issues.
Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro was the lead lawyer for the students. He said notices were sent out to more than 10,000 former students to make claims for the settlement, but barely more than 1,000 have responded. The deadline is Sunday.

Rail Open Again After Train Derailment

A rail line where an oil train derailed has reopened in southern West Virginia. Crews restored the tracks and reopened the line Thursday afternoon, but cleanup activities continue at the site in Mount Carbon. Investigators have not determined what caused 27 cars of the 109-car CSX train to go off the tracks during a Feb. 16 snowstorm. The overturned cars have been relocated to a rail yard. A statement says about 172,000 gallons of crude oil recovered from the tank cars will be transferred to other tank cars to be taken other places. And about 97,000 gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered from containment trenches near the Kanawha River.

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