Breaking Local News
Girl Scouts had quite the opportunity Thursday, to hear First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin speak. The First Lady was part of a panel at the Girl Scout Volunteer Resource Center in West Charleston, joined on the panel Joyce McConnell, Dean of WVU College of Law, and Marlene Pierson-Jolliffe, CEO for the State Fair of West Virginia. All of the women spoke about things women can do to be effective leaders.
The cost of college is going up next year. West Virginia University's Board of Governors has approved an 8 percent tuition increase for in-state students. Tuition for out-of-state students will increase by 4 percent. The increases were approved at the board's meeting Thursday at Jackson's Mill in Weston. In-state students will pay $6,960 in tuition per year. Out-of-state tuition will rise to $20,424 per year. Board members also boosted need-based scholarship aid by $1.5 million and approved a $980 million budget for the next fiscal year.
The West Virginia Ethics Commission won't act yet on whether or not lawmakers can spend taxpayer dollars on mailings. Costs have gone up in the past year with increased mailings, especially from the House of Delegates, and whether than decide right now what to do about it, the ethics commissions tabled their decision, wanting to do more research first. The Ethics Commission also voted Thursday to fire its executive director, and gave no reason for her termination.
The 911 call reporting an infant's death has been released as invesigators continue to try to learn more about how the baby died. The baby was found dead two weeks ago in a car seat in Kanawha City, and officers have said there were multiple skull fractures and blood coming from his nose and ears. WCHS TV reports a hammer was discovered at the home. 27-year old Robert Jeremy Smith told officers he dropped the 5-week old boy, and the 911 call reports the same thing. Police want to know why Smith waiting over 24 hours to report the death. The investigation continues.
High water was reported in several places with Wednesday's storms. South Charleston, and St. Albans were two spots that saw too much rain to soak it all up. There are also reports of downed trees and power outages. American Electric Power said at one point there were more than 600 without power in Kanawha County, and a hundred or so in Mingo, Putnam, and Lincoln Counties.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says someone spotted Charles “Ricky” Lewis at Charleston Town Center Mall yesterday, and approached an off-duty deputy about it. The person remembered seeing Lewis on television the previous night. The deputy found Lewis and arrested him, and he's been charged with three counts of violation of a protective order (misdemeanors), sexual assault in the first degree (felony), and sexual abuse by a parent/guardian (felony). Magistrate Joe Shelton set a bond of $100,000.00 cash, and Lewis was taken to South Central Regional Jail in lieu of bail.
A judge won't let Freedom Industries reimburse its legal team for sending multiple lawyers to hearings or for travel costs. Judge Ronald Pearson denied several Freedom Industries requests to pay law firms for work during bankruptcy proceedings. Pearson objected to firms overstaffing meetings and hearings, charging full rates for travel and asking for excessive reimbursement. The court granted some requests, but denied thousands of dollars in fees and requested more information on hundreds of thousands more.
More than 20 West Virginia cities want to be part of the home rule program. Monday was the deadline for cities to submit applications, and sixteen cities will be chosen to join the program's four existing participants. The Home Rule Board will interview representatives from each of the 23 new applicants. The Charleston Daily Mail says the board will meet June 13 by telephone to discuss where and when interviews will be conducted. The program shifts power from the state to the local level. It began as a five-year pilot in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling.
Kanawha County Commissioners met in a special meeting Tuesday morning to talk about the Mark Plants case and the controversy surrounding it. Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper spent some of the time asking questions about the finances, and said the legal mess is costing the county (and therefore the taxpayers) about $35,000 a month. There are still questions about where to get the money for the bills -- from the general and non-traditional funds, the prosecutor’s drug forfeiture account, or some combination of those. Commissioners have another meeting planned for June 12th, and they'll ask Plants or a representative from his office to attend, to directly address some of the issues.
The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles says some changes in laws will affect motorists starting this week. One new law allows DUI offenders to get on the ignition interlock program immediately if they do not request a hearing. The DMV says this will protect other motorists while expediting the offender's rehabilitation. Starting Thursday, people requesting an optional ID labeled as "For Federal Identification" will pay an additional $10 fee. Other new statutes will make changes to the upcoming electronic insurance verification process and allow motorcyclists to install certain types of auxiliary white and amber colored lights to make their bikes more visible.