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Saturday's Great Kanawha River Cleanup was dampened by rain, and only a few hardy volunteers took part. The rain had stopped by 9 a.m. when the cleanup began, but it still impacted the volunteer turnout. Close to two hudred volunteers signed up this year, but a fraction of that actually came to pick up litter along the river at Gauley Bridge. The boat docks at St. Albans, Daniel Boone Park, and Campbells Creek in Kanawha County also saw a little sprucing up.
The West Virginia Board of Education has thrown its support behind new vaccine requirements. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources sent down the requirements and a court case is pending that challenges whether the new vaccine rules are legal. The state board of education has filed an official court document supporting the vaccines that require seventh-graders to show proof they are immunized against meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Incoming 12th-graders have to show proof they received booster doses after age 16.
Conventions are good for local economies, and Charleston will have two big ones in the coming years. City officials have announced Charleston will host a pair of military conventions in 2014 and 2017. Mayor Danny Jones, along with the Convention and Visitors Bureau announced this week the two conventions combined are expected to have more than a $3.1 million economic impact. The 2014 National Marine Corps convention will bring about a thousand people, and in 2017, the Enlisted Association of National Guard of the US is expected to draw about 1800 with their conference.
The ball is in Constellium's court now. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said this week that a revised offer has been sent to Constellium Rolled Products trying to end the month-long strike at the Ravenswood plant. The governor was part of a meeting this week that brought both sides together, and the governor says he's optimistic both sides will keep working to hammer out a deal. The strike afffects nearly 700 union workers. Constellium makes high-quality aluminum used for airplanes and vehicles.
A Putnam County Family Court Judge is facing charges as a result of a state investigation into his conduct during hearings. There are claims judge William Watkins has shouted and used profanity. Two charges were filed last month by the state judicial commission, which alleged Watkins didn't enter domestic violence orders into the state's tracking system, and that he failed to rule on motions even after circuit judges told him to.. Five new charges were filed this week and Watkins has 30 days to respond. There are reports that an overwhelming case load has played a role.
The Kanawha County sheriff's office has released more information on a pair of incidents that occurred on a school bus last week. The father of a 13-year old girl reported that a group of boys groped, fondled and forced his daughter into a sexually explicit situation on the bus, and he said it happened twice on consecutive days while his daughter rode to Elkview Middle School. Detectives say in another incident, a 12-year old boy exposed his penis in an attempt to force another 12-year old boy to perform sexual acts on him. The 12-year old accused has been sent to the Tiger Morton Juvenile Detention Center and faces three counts of first degree sexual abuse. Another 16-year old boy faces two counts of first degree sexual abuse, along with 18-year old Matthew Cavalier. Since Cavalier is not a minor, he's been sent to South Central Regional Jail.
25-year old Vivek Shah of West Hollywood, California is accused of threatening to kill relatives if a West Virginia coal executive didn't pay $13 million. He was indicted last month and arraigned this week, after allegedly threatening to kill relatives of Christopher Cline, who owns Foresight Reserves. Pretrial motions are due October 1, and the trial will happen October 29. Cline is the only one who has been named so far, but court documents show other millionaires were also targeted. Those victims aren't likely to be identified. Shah is charged with four counts of interfering with interstate commerce and using interstate commerce to threaten extortion.
A St. Albans man has been charged with grand larceny after being caught stealing money from a store safe on Tuesday. 33-year old Daniel Holt told store staff at the Dollar General on Kanawha Terrace that he was only kidding, according to police, and asked employees not to report it. Holt was arrested later at his home and charged with grand larceny.
There's one less Starbucks in Charleston right now. The Starbucks in Charleston Town Center is closed for renovations now and won't open again until sometime next week. This is part of the overhaul happening now at Town Center mall, which started in mid-May and will bring a $7 million makeover to the interior. Demolition at center court and the debris left there has led to the closure of the coffee shop. There are no other store closings that we know of. The entire renovation project at the mall should be finished in November, before the Christmas shopping season.
Rhonda Stewart was convicted of murder two years ago in the death of her husband, Sammy Stewart, who was shot and killed at CAMC Memorial. A jury convicted Rhonda Stewart in 2009, but her attorneys filed an appeal with the Supreme Court and won. They claimed Sammy abused her for years, and that wasn't discussed in the original trial. A new trial was scheduled for October 9 this year, but her attorneys asked for a delay, waiting on forensics evidence. Stewart will be back in court next Thursday, September 13 to have a new trial date scheduled.