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Last year was a good year for the West Virginia Lottery, ending with an $81 million surplus. Lottery officials have said as Ohio adds casinos, ticket sales in West Virginia are impacted. Pennsylvania race tracks and plans for a new large casino in Maryland may also have an impact. The lottery plans to come up with new ways to promote West Virginia's own casinos in the coming years.
Police are still investigating after a weekend drowning in the Kanawha River. 47-year old David Jones of Powellton went missing Saturday evening at the Kanawha Falls in the area of Boonesboro Road, according to the Fayette County sheriff. Jones was reportedly swimming across the river with a friend and didn't make it across. The incident is under investigation by the Fayette County Sheriff's Office and by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
New data from energy industry experts and the federal government bodes well for the Marcellus Shale. Four years ago the Marcellus Shale under West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio was just starting to gain attention, and now the new data says it's about to become the most productive natural gas field in the United States. Last month, the combined output from Pennsylvania and West Virginia wells was about 7.4 billion cubic feet per day, according to an analyst at Bentek Energy. That's more than double the numbers from last April and shows no signs of slowing down.
A Charleston firm is going to lead a study of all 55 courthouses in West Virginia in the coming months. Silling Associates of Charleston has been awarded at $600,000 contract by the WV Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. The study is meant to analyze the condition and needs of each courthouse, and make recommendations for improvements, including cost estimates. Right now, Silling is in the process of asking each courthouse for records, including insurance and fire marshal reports, blueprints, and lists of past projects and thsoe that are in the works.
It's come to a strike for United Steel workers. Union workers at Constellium Rolled Products had closed door meetings Friday and held more talks Saturday, but could not reach an agreement on a new contract with the company. Workers will picket at the plant today, and throughout Ravenswood.
The workers have said their main concern is healthcare benefits.
Kanawha County magistrate Carol Fouty has resigned, effective immediately, and she has sent a letter to West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tenant to ask that her name to be removed from the November ballot. Fouty has a hearing set for this Wednesday in front of a judicial hearing board, accused of showing favoritism in certain cases while serving as Kanawha County magistrate.
West Virginia State Police confiscated plants from a multi-million dollar marijana field Friday in Kanawha County. Aerial teams found the marijuana field, acting on tips from those who lived in the area. The aerial teams then contacted officers on the ground, who confiscated 1,700 plants at a value of about $2,500 per plant. The total value of the discovery was around $4.2 million. There have been no arrests.
When the Mountain State University Board of Trustees fired President Charles Polk in January, there was a public promise to investigate how he had used the school's two airplanes. The Charleston Gazette had reported that Polk had made hundreds of flights that appeared to have purpose related to the university, and the Gazette now reports MSU's trustees have not launched an investigation. Of 1400 flights over the past ten years, 1100 of those came from the Beckley campus. Polk maintains the flights did have a university purpose. After losing accreditation, MSU will shut down on Dec. 31,and the University of Charleston will take over the school's Beckley and Martinsburg campuses.
Investigators have released more about the escape attempt last month at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex. Three men serving time for murder stuffed blankets and pillows into their beds to make it look like they were sleeping, and those doing head counts the night of July 17 were fooled. That's created an effort to reinforce prison policy to ensure that correctional officers see inmates physically before counting them. A later headcount showed the inmates missing, and they were discovered outside on the facitlity grounds a few minutes later. The internal investigation is almost complete, and may raise more questions about prison overcrowding and adequate staffing.
A man has pleaded guilty to charges that he distributed cocaine in the Charleston area. The US Attorney's office says 33-year old Richard Lamar Banks admitted to distributing cocaine in February of this year on two different occasions through an associate. Banks faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced Nov. 7.