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FestivALL is coming up quickly, and is expected to draw big crowds again this year. The festivities start in October, but yesterday Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and Mountain Stage Producer Larry Groce announced some of the events. This year there will be a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Charleston Ballet. Not to mention the pumpkin carving contest and the always popular Carriage Trail Leaf Walk. FestivALL runs from October 24th through 26th, and gets started on the 24th with local restaurants showing off their wares with Taste of Fall. For more, go to http://www.festivallcharleston.com/
After a badly decomposed body was found in Dunbar, concerns are being raised about abandoned properties there. Sometimes there are unmowed lawns and other eyesores. There are some working to have abandoned properties torn down, and in other cases the city is taking landlords to court. Dunbar Police are waiting on autopsy and toxicology results for the body that was discovered on Myers Avenue last week.
Kanawha County Republicans have filed a challenge with the West Virginia Supreme Court to fill an empty House of Delegates ballot slot. Marie Sprouse-McDavid and the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee filed the challenge Monday. It targets Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Election Commission members. Last month, the Election Commission denied Republicans' request to fill a 35th District ballot vacancy left by GOP Del. Suzette Raines' withdrawal last month. Sprouse-McDavid would run instead. Raines said she needed time to heal after her mother's death in March and the end of her engagement. She's completing her term. A legal complaint by state Democrats alleged Raines doesn't live where she claims. It said she didn't file or sign certain paperwork. Commissioners said Raines' extenuating circumstances didn't suffice under election law.
The Appalachian Children's Chorus has launched a new group in Putnam County and plans to establish two more in Kanawha and Raleigh County. The Putnam County choir held its first practice last week. Appalachian Children's Chorus founding and artistic director Selina Midkiff tells The Charleston Gazette says that the nonprofit plans to start a group in Raleigh County in January. Midkiff says the Charleston-based chorus also hopes to form a new Kanawha County group for special needs students. The chorus's other groups are in Kanawha, Mason and Logan counties.
Testimony got going Monday at a hearing over a petition that was filed to remove Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants from office. The hearing is expected to continue today and could wrap up this afternoon. Between 10 and 20 witnesses will testify by the time it's all done. The Kanawha County Commission filed the petition and cited irreparable financial harm for having to pay special prosecutors while Plants' case is pending. Plants has been charged with domestic battery and violating a protective order. After the testimony wraps up, the three judge panel will make a recommendation this fall to the Supreme Court, and they'll make a decision about Plants' job status.
The person who was killed in an ATV accident over the weekend in Mason County has been identified. The Sheriff's Office says 70-year old Juanita Sue Wilson, 70 of Frazier's Bottom, was driving the all terrain vehcile and was hit by a vehicle on Aston Upland Road Saturday morning. She died at the scene, and the accident is still under investigation.
Drivers don't expect to see cinder blocks in the road, and those caused some serious problems Saturday night. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is investigating the accidents - there were at least 10 vehicles who hit the cinder blocks - on Interstate 77 around 8 p.m. Saturday. No one was hurt, but the damage included flat tires, leaks in fluid lines and bent wheels. The cinder blocks were in both the northbound and southbound lanes between mile markers 96 and 97. The investigation is on to determine how the cinder blocks got there.
Police are investigating after a badly decomposed body was found in an abandoned home in Dunbar. Police were called for a welfare check after a tip came in that something wasn't right at the building that sits off Myers Avenue in between 19th and 20th streets. There was an odor, and the windows were covered with flies. The body was so badly decomposed that police don't yet know the age, race, or gender. They'll do an autopsy this week, and if they can't figure out the identity, the body will be sent to the Smithsonian Institute for a forensic investigation.
State figures show that nearly a third of West Virginia's public school students were truant during the 2013-2014 academic year. According to Department of Education data, 58 percent of McDowell County's students were marked as truant. That was the highest rate in the state. Jefferson County had the lowest rate, 7 percent. The statewide rate was about 31 percent. Students are marked as truant if they miss at least five days of class without an excuse. McDowell County Superintendent Nelson Spencer tells The Sunday Gazette-Mail that truancy cases are a byproduct of poverty and drug abuse, and "graduation coaches" have been hired to work with at-risk students in high schools.
Robberies over the weekend have some neighborhoods on edge. Saturday morning around 4:30 a 7-11 store in South Charleston was robbed, and Saturday evening someone held up a Rich Oil gas station in Sissonville. Then on Sunday somebody tried to rob a retail store in Kanawha City. Police are still looking for the suspects, and anyone with information is asked to call with tips.