Breaking Local News
Fracking will be allowed in parts of the 1.1-million-acre George Washington National Forest. The US Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest. A representative with the Ag Department says fracking is already allowed at other national forests throughout the country, and the forest service didn't want to change the policy.
A lawsuit against former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury is scheduled to go to trial today. Robert Woodruff's federal lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment. Thornsbury was indicted last year on charges of trying to frame Woodruff for several crimes. The charges were later dismissed in exchange for Thornsbury's guilty plea in a separate case involving a scheme to protect the late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Thornsbury is serving a 50-month sentence in a federal prison in Florida. The Charleston Gazette reports Thornsbury has been taken to the South Central Regional Jail and that settlement talks are continuing. A lawsuit filed against Thornsbury by Woodruff's wife is pending in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
A proposed restoration of West Virginia's elk population is drawing support from the public. The Division of Natural Resources held the first of a series of public meetings on the plan last week at Chief Logan State Park. DNR wildlife chief Curtis Taylor tells The Register-Herald that the meeting drew about 175 people from 15 counties. He says the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of the project. West Virginia's last native elk was killed around 1875. Taylor says the state hopes to bring elk from nieghboring Kentucky to restore the state's herd. He says some elk already are crossing the border. Most are young males that return to Kentucky if they can't find food or companionship.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will conduct physical agility tests next month for natural resources police officer candidates. The DNR says applicants should report to the lobby of the South Charleston Community Center either on Dec. 5 at 8 a.m. or Dec. 6 at 9 a.m. Walk-on candidates will be accepted. The three-part test includes a 37.5-yard swim, push-ups and sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. Candidates also must pass a written examination. The written examination will be administered at the DNR's headquarters by the West Virginia Department of Personnel after the physicial agility test.
A new bus service between Charleston and Morgantown is becoming a popular choice for travelers. Cindy Fish with the state Division of Transit says ridership on the I-Ride 79 bus service is growing daily. In October, 763 passengers, or about 25 per day, rode the buses. Fish tells The State Journal that the bus service is seeing a lot of repeat business. The Division of Public Transit launched the I-Ride 79 service on July 1. The service includes stops in Clendenin, Flatwoods, Weston, Clarksburg and Fairmont. Baron Bus Lines operates the buses for the state. Barons vice president John Goebel tells the newspaper that the service attracts a diverse group of riders, including college students and senior citizens.
A second enrollment period has started for coverage under West Virginia's health insurance exchange. Sign-up events were held across the state Saturday for the state-sponsored marketplace. The enrollment period runs through Feb. 15. According to federal government figures, West Virginia had the lowest percent of enrollees between the ages of 18 and 34 during the round of signups from October 2013 to March. The Affordable Care Act prohibits denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is warning about a phone scam, where someone claims you've missed jury duty and there's a warrant out for your arrest. The Putnam County Sheriff's office has received complaints about the harassing calls in the past week, and says if you get a call like that don't give the person any credit card information. The caller may demand that you put money onto a reloadable credit card...likely $4500 for the bond. Most of the numbers showing up on caller ID have a 304 area code, and could even show a judge or prosecutor's name. Call police if you get one of those calls, and don't give out personal info.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's mother, Freda Mae Tomblin, has died. She was 80. The governor said Sunday in a news release that his mother died Saturday surrounded by family and friends. She was a resident of Chapmanville, and Evans Funeral Home in Chapmanville is in charge of arrangements.
The Department of Environmental Protection is proposing a deal with Freedom Industries that it hopes will lead to a “voluntary” toxic cleanup program. The proposal could reduce the amount of contaminated material that Freedom Industries has to remove from the site of January’s Elk River chemical spill. The DEP released a copy of the consent order Thursday, and it would be subject to a public comment period before final approval. Under the agreement, Freedom would be eligible to apply for the DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program that could reduce the scope of the cleanup. The agreement gives Freedom 15 days to submit either an application to the voluntary cleanup program or submit a separate cleanup plan.
Some heavy equipment was removed this week from Kanawha County’s Slack Street recycling center. The Charleston Gazette reports the equipment that was removed is owned by George Hunyadi, who took over operation of the recycling center last year under a lease agreement with the Solid Waste Authority. The Solid Waste Authority voted recently to end the deal after Hunyadi was having trouble keeping the recycling center afloat. There is still a good deal of unprocessed recyclable material at the Slack Street center, and much of it is going to the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority’s recycling facility in Beckley.