Breaking Local News
The West Virginia Division of Highways is developing a plan to improve employees' pay. Deputy Commissioner John McBrayer says the agency isn't changing its pay scale, but the Charleston Gazette reports the plan will improve the way employees move up the pay scale and will affect all of the DOH's 3,000 hourly workers, including mechanics, snow plow drivers and equipment operators. DOH spokesman Brent Walker says transportation workers haven't had opportunities for merit raises since 2007. He says the new plan will help the agency retain good workers.
A former Mingo County commissioner who pleaded guilty to extortion wants his prison sentence vacated. The Charleston Gazette reports David Baisden is asking a federal judge to throw out the 20 month prison sentence he was given in January. A court filing says he thought he would get probation instead of time in prison after he pleaded guilty. He says in the filing he doesn't believe his lawyer argued the sentencing correctly. Baisden admitted to demanding Appalachian Tire sell him tires for his personal vehicle at a discounted price only available for government vehicles. When the company refused, Baisden steered the county's contract to a different company. Baisden also agreed to pay restitution, but argues now that he shouldn't have to.
A Kanawha County cruiser on its way to another call crashed into a townhouse Sunday night on Greenbrier Street. It happened at Hemingway Place and a 61-year-old woman was inside the townhouse who became trapped with the accident. The officer was also trapped, and both had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. The Charleston police department is investigating the accident.
Seven West Virginia locations have been nominated to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to a Federal Register notice, Charleston's East End Historic District is already listed on the historic register, but its administrators are applying for a boundary increase. In Randolph County, the Beverly Historic District in Beverly has been nominated. The register is accepting written comments about the significance of these properties until Dec. 10.
Ski and snowboard season is getting underway in West Virginia. Snowshoe Mountain opened Wednesday. Winterplace will offer three days of alpine skiing starting today, then will officially open full time on Dec. 12, along with Timberline. Canaan Valley opens Saturday. West Virginia Ski Areas Association spokesman Joe Stevens says snow already has fallen in the mountains, where temperatures have been cold enough for man-made snowmaking as well. He says that means excellent season-opening conditions. The ski and snowboard season traditionally runs from Thanksgiving through early April.
A Putnam County store operator has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the state to settle a price-gouging complaint after the January water crisis. Under the terms of the agreement released Tuesday by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Mid Valley Mart LLC says it will comply with state consumer protection laws. In exchange, a Putnam County Circuit Court complaint will be dismissed. According to the agreement, store manager Achraf Assi admitted raising the price of some water products after a chemical spill forced a tap water ban in nine counties. Morrisey alleged Mid Valley Mart more than doubled prices for one-gallon water jugs at two Hurricane stores. It's illegal in West Virginia to raise prices on essential products and services by more than 10 percent in a state of emergency.
Deer hunters aren't the only hunters heading to the woods in West Virginia this week. A bear season without dogs runs concurrent with the buck-firearm season. The bear season began Monday and continues through Dec. 6 in all or parts of 28 counties. Division of Natural Resources Black Bear Project leader Colin Carpenter says counties that are open for bear hunting during the buck-firearm season are above their management objective. The number of bears needs to be reduced to achieve this goal. Carpenter says in a news release that the concurrent season is an opportunity for hunters who haven't hunted bears.
The weather may cause travel delays today, with rain and heavy snow expected for much of the East Coast and the Appalachians. West Virginia may escape the major snow accumulations, but meteorologists do expect snow in the higher elevations, and you'll see it in spots if you travel outside the state. Crissy Gray, Triple A Charleston District manager, says if you're traveling make sure you're prepared for weather-related situations:
Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year for the West Virginia Turnpike, and Sunday is expected to be THE heaviest travel day of the year.
West Virginia University's board has scheduled a special meeting to discuss the possible purchase of Mountain State University's campus in Beckley. The meeting is set for Dec. 5 in Morgantown and the possible purchase is the only item on the agenda. This comes after the two schools entered into an exclusive agreement to evaluate the possible purchase. The agreement allows WVU to explore the private Beckley-based school's facilities, location, academic programs, student services, learning opportunities and other areas. Mountain State closed after it lost its accreditations in 2012 and then the University of Charleston took over Mountain State's campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg so students could complete their degrees. UC plans to move out of the Beckley facilities at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.
Federal authorities have seized nearly $28,000 from an allegedly illegal gambling operation in Martinsburg. The complaint says Big Bucks Bingo operated a charitable bingo license for FOP Lodge 83, which represents police in Morgan, Jefferson, and Berkeley Counties. The FOP lodge had its nonprofit status revoked in 2010, the complaint says, which rendered Big Bucks' charitable operation illegal. The complaint says the FBI seized cash from Big Bucks Bingo in June. It says the proprietors of Big Bucks Bingo failed to inform the FOP that their nonprofit status had been revoked.