Breaking Local News
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.
A 9/11 survivor is speaking in Charleston today. Michael Hingson survived the terrorist attacks and he's a NY Times bestselling author who wrote about his experience. The book is called "Thunder Dog: A Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero." The Hingson will give public talks today at 3 p.m. Monday and again from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Culture Center. Hingson and his guide dog made it down safely from floor 78 in Tower One. The event today is sponsored by the West Virginia Library Commission and the Department of Education and the Arts.
The Lincoln County Commission has picked a potential replacement for Thomas Ramey Jr., who resigned in July after being charged with lying to FBI agents during an investigation into voter fraud. Commissioners picked Michael Browning to fill Ramey's seat. If Browning accepts, he'll temporarily fill the post and voters will pick a permanent replacement on the November ballot. Ramey is expected to plead guilty to the charges at a hearing next Wednesday.
Gary Wayne Mullins was convicted earlier this year and has now been sentenced for bullying an elderly man out of thousands of dollars in a grocery store parking lot in Kanawha City. Mullins was sentenced to 25 years in prison on kidnapping charges. The sentence was 25 years less than what prosecutors had recommended. 84-year-old George Jacobs died less than 24 hours after testifying in Mullins' trial.
A Kanawha Circuit Court judge was traveling in North Carolina last month when she and her daughter were hit from behind by a swerving tractor-trailer. Judge Jennifer Bailey and her daughter were headed to a college orientation in South Carolina when the accident happened, and the two told the Daily Mail at first they thought they had escaped injury, but it was later after they got back to Charleston that they sought medical treatment. Judge Bailey is under doctor's orders now to rest and is off the bench for now. Another judge is handling her cases until she can return.
A provision inserted into the new federal healthcare law will mean rebates for thousands of West Virginians. Under the law, healthcare companies cannot spent more than twenty percent of revenues on administrative costs, and the difference must be rebated to customers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says most of the rebates will go people who buy their own health insurance. In West Virginia, more than sixteen thousand customers will share $2.7 million in rebates this year.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund announced a program that may result in more single-family homes being built. It's a reintroduced program that encourages builders and modular home dealerships to build and market the homes. Under the program, the fund agrees to buy qualifying homes from qualified builders at a percentage of a home's appraised value if the builder can't sell the home during a defined market period.
A Kanawha County Schools bus driver is in trouble with the law. 37-year old Samuel Larry Burkhamer of Elkview is behind bars after confessing to sexting with a young girl and viewing child porn. Burkhamer allegedly exchanged cell phone numbers with a 12-year-old girl and sent inappropriate messages earlier this year. Police records show Burkhamer confessed to sending the girl the texts and turning up child pornography on web searches. Burkhamer was a substitute bus driver who no longer has a job with the district.