Breaking Local News
The West Virginia State Bar is helping sponsor a video contest for students about the U.S. Constitution. The contest is open to students in grades 6 through 12 who create and submit a three-minute video with the theme, "We the People: Freedom of Speech." First-place winners will receive $500 and will be invited to attend the State Bar's annual meeting on May 9 in Charleston. Entry applications and contest rules are available online at www.wvde.state.wv.us/wvstatebar. The deadline to submit entries is April 4.
The West Virginia Senate Education Committee is proposing a $1,000 pay raise for all teachers across the state. The bill originally proposed a 2 percent raisebut the committee opted for the across the board $1000 raise to give the boost more impact for teachers just starting out. The state is making a push to attract highly qualified teachers as others are nearing retirement. The minimum salary in West Virginia is currently $27,917. According to the West Virginia Education Association, the average teacher in the state makes about $45,000, which ranks West Virginia 48th in the country. The bill also makes it a goal to increase the state minimum salary for entry-level teachers to $43,000 by 2019. The bill has been passed to the finance committee.
The West Virginia Senate on Friday passed a bill to alleviate overcrowded jails through a pretrial release program. The bill would allow any county or municipality to establish and operate a community pretrial committee. The committee would recommend individuals who are being held in regional jails awaiting adjudication for supervised, pretrial release. The release program may also be used as an alternative sentencing. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.
A man is dead after fleeing from officers and jumping into the Big Coal River over the weekend. The Boone County Sheriff's Department says deputies went to a home in Bloomingrose on Friday night to arrest a man wanted for failing to appear in court on methamphetamine charges in West Virginia. He was also wanted on felony charges in Virginia. Two men actually jumped into the river, and one was found floating unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name will be released after identification by the Chief Medical Examiner's Office. The other man who jumped into the river was arrested.
Police are looking for a man and a woman who escaped Friday from the Charleston Work Release Center. A news release from the West Virginia Division of Corrections says 37-year old Kevin Leek, and 44-year old Brenda Williams, escaped Friday afternoon. Williams was serving time for fraud, forgery, and grand larceny. Leek was serving time for grand larceny, petit larceny, and breaking and entering. Anyone with information should contact the Charleston Work Release Center or call 911.
One person is dead after a traffic accident Saturday on Interstate 77. A section of roadway was closed for seven hours as crews cleared the scene and investigations reconstructed the accident. A tractor trailer rolled over and diesel fuel was spilled near exit 99.
More people are signing up for health insurance in West Virginia through the new marketplace. Enrollment in the state has jumped to nearly 8,000 people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says as of Feb. 1, 44 percent of those enrolled through the federal exchange in West Virginia were ages 55 to 64, 22 percent were ages 45 to 54 and 13 percent were ages 35 to 44. Nearly six in 10 of the state enrollees are female. Open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace and the state's expanded Medicaid program began Oct. 1 and will continue through March 31.
The University of Charleston plans to establish an associate degree nursing program at its Beckley campus in response to area demand for more nurses. The program would fill a void left by the closure of Mountain State University. The University of Charleston took over Mountain State's campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg on Jan. 1, 2013, after Mountain State lost its accreditation. The nursing program would require board approval.
Because of yesterday's weather, the trash pickup schedule in Charleston had to be adjusted. Thursday trash pickup routes will run today, and Friday routes will run on Saturday.
In-home water testing is underway in two Kanawha County homes, and eight other homes across the are impacted by the January 9th Freedom Industries chemical spill. The testing looks at drinking water quality including the odor, then in the next phase health-risks will be assessed with medical professionals. Results of the tests aren't available yet, but the testing has begun in Kanawha and Cabell Counties.