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The American Lung Association has removed the Charleston area from its list of the 25 worst U.S. metropolitan areas for year-round particle pollution. The association's annual State of the Air report released Wednesday shows the five-county area's short-term particle pollution levels dropped significantly since the 2012 report. The Charleston area ranked 17th worst in the nation last year for year-round particle pollution. The association also examined ozone levels. It found that Kanawha County had a total of eight days of high ozone levels, three more than in the previous report. But American Lung Association Mid-Atlantic CEO Deb Brown says Charleston's area quality is cleaner than when the first State of the Air report was released 14 years ago.
Two more University of Charleston basketball players are facing charges, connected with a robbery that happened downtown early Sunday morning on Virginia Street. Charleston Police arrested 20-year old Terrell Lipkins Tuesday night and charged him with two counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of fraud by use of a controlled access device. Charleston police say two other players - Robbie Dreher and Quincy Washington -- will be charged with first degree robbery too, for the attack on Andrew Rude and Patrick Morrison early Sunday. UC President Ed Welch says disciplinary action has been taken:
The two victims were injured in the attack where cash and a credit card were stolen. Then the men used the stolen credit card at a 7-Eleven.
A man was sentenced to more than two years in prison Tuesday on charges related to prescription pain killers. US Attorney Booth Goodwin says 40-year-old Thomas Henry Banks, Jr. of South Charleston, also known as “Fat Cat,” man possessed thousands of dollars in cash, hundreds of powerful prescription painkillers, and a loaded firearm inside a toddler’s bed at his home. Banks pleaded guilty in June 2012 to possession with intent to distribute prescription pain killers. Goodwin says this case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.
Students at West Virginia State University are getting an up close look this week at the inner workings of the state Supreme Court. Justices are hearing four cases this week at the Institute campus, in the James C. Wilson University Union. The proceedings are open to the public. Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin says in a news release that the justices have been looking forward to hearing cases outside the court's chamber at the Capitol.
The governor has a new Chief of Staff. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's chief of staff, Rob Alsop, will leave the position this spring, and the governor said in a news release that Revenue Secretary Charlie Lorensen will take over the job in June. Alsop has served as chief of staff since November 2010. He previously served as chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Carte Goodwin and as deputy counsel and revenue secretary for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin during Manchin's first term as governor. Lorensen has served as revenue secretary since January 2011.
A woman accused of reckless driving Monday didn't stop for police and they gave chase. The woman eventually rolled her vehicle, but didn't need medical treatment, and was taken into custody. Shayside Road was closed for a time in St. Albans while police investigated the crash.
The California man who allegedly tried to extort $13 million from a West Virginia coal executive is expected to enter a plea in two weeks. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger has scheduled a May 9 hearing in Beckley for aspiring actor Vivek Shah after having a recent motion to postpone the trial denied. Shah has gone through several attorneys since he was arrested last year, after being charged with threatening to kill relatives of Christopher Cline, owner of Foresight Reserves coal company, if Cline refused to pay the $13 million. Prosecutors say Shah targeted four other wealthy victims from Connecticut, Illinois, Texas and Florida, but they haven't identified them.
Charleston Town Center will host a lunch on Wednesday that doesn't happen every day. A news release from the mall says the 15th Annual Elephant Brunch is set for noon Wednesday, and they'll have five elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus eating on a virtual buffet of food. This event has drawn thousands of spectators in the past, who want to see the Asian elephants feasting on fresh fruits and vegetables and 25 whole loaves of wheat bread from Panera Bread. The event will happen, weather permitting, and the mall’s Clendenin Street entrance.
A meeting coming up Thursday will likely hold the fate of a 1-year-old outdoor food ordinance. A planning committee meets Thursday to discuss whether to vote down changes to the ordinance, or move forward with them. The changes include shortening the space for outdoor dining areas so streets are more pedestrian friendly and better for those with a disability. Fencing would have to become more uniform too, and smoking would be prohibited in outdoor dining areas. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at the City Service Center, that's 915 Quarrier St. in Charleston.
Charleston's West Side was able to rest a little easier on Sunday, after two people were shot at a 7-Eleven on Washington Street Saturday morning. Police said Antonio Collins shot two men in the head after one of them bumped into him inside the store and they argued. Collins is seen on surveillance video chasing the man's friend to the back of the store and shooting him too. Both men ended up in the hospital in critical condition. Collins was tracked to Columbus, Ohio Saturday night and arrested there.