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Fewer ducks and geese were counted during West Virginia's annual mid-winter waterfowl survey. State waterfowl biologist Mike Peters says the survey was conducted over two days in early January. The annual survey involves both ground and aerial observations of historically significant waterfowl areas in the state. Observers counted 7,844 ducks, down 11 percent from a year ago. The number of geese counted was 6,390, which is down 4 percent. Despite the decrease, Peters says duck numbers are 87 percent above the 10-year average while geese are up 20 percent over that period.
Four former executives of a West Virginia chemical company are asking a judge to delay their trials on charges stemming from a spill. Attorneys for former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and former owners Dennis Farrell, Charles Herzing and William Tis requested the delays in new motions, in which defense attorneys say they need more time to review a massive amount of files provided by prosecutors on flash drives. Each man is charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act. Southern also faces charges stemming from Freedom's bankruptcy. The trials are scheduled to begin March 10.
A camper was stolen from a campground in Jackson County awhile back, and Sunda the owner got a tip that it had been seen near South Charleston so he called the Kanawha County Sheriff's office. A Cpl and others spent hours watching the camper throughout the night until they saw signs someone was inside, and a canine partner was eventually called to help. It turns out Brian J. Wilson of Nitro and Ashley Lynn Keiffer of Poca were living in the camper. Wilson already had two warrants in Putnam County for robbery and night time burglary. He and Keiffer were arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. The grand larceny investigation in Jackson County is on-going. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office at 304-357-0169 or submit a tip on our website at www.kanawhasheriff.us. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office can also be reached at 304-373-2290.
There's been an arrest that dates back to August 26, 2014. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s office says it happened on Tangle Wood Road in Cross Lanes, and a neighbor spotted an open window on the back of her house and called 911. Jewelry had been stolen and deputies were able to get fingerprint evidence, which was sent to the West Virginia State Police Lab. When the print was compared to databases a match was found. The neighbor, 32-year old Mekell Hodges was arrested Monday and charged with burglary.
Representatives for retired state workers are in Charleston today to get the attention of state lawmakers. Ernie "Spud" Terry is the President of The Coalition of Retired Public Employees, and he says there are some key issues that retirees are interested in, but he's annoyed that certain segments of public retirees play by different sets of rules sometimes. At the top of the retirees list of things they would like to see addresssed, is an increase this year in the tax exemption on their pensions. As it stands now, only $2,000 is exempt from taxes, and then, even that exemption disappears when they turn 65. According to Terry, other groups have a higher threshold or in some cases, even a full exemption. The group is also looking for a cost of living adjustment or pension increase. A rally is planned for today at the capitol.
More now on a Beckley murder case...Beckley police are investigating the slaying of a pastor in his home. Investigators believe 68-year-old Ronald Browning was killed Saturday afternoon. Detectives think Browning was physically attacked with a weapon but there are very few details. The state medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy, and then more will be known about how Browning died. Police have identified a suspect, and right now the slaying appears to be random. Browning was pastor of Cool Ridge Community Church.
The University of Charleston's School of Pharmacy is no longer on probation. The university says the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's Board of Directors lifted the probation last week. The board restored the pharmacy program's full accreditation. The council had placed the pharmacy school on a two-year probationary status in July 2014. The council said the school was noncompliant with a standard requiring that an accredited school be headed by a dean, collaborate with the larger university, and be autonomous. University of Charleston President Edwin Welch says in a news release that the pharmacy school has upgraded policies, strengthened institutional relationships and added seven faculty and administrative members.
If your electric bill went up last year you weren't alone. In fact, anew study released by the West Virginia Public Service Commission says utility rates rose more than 3 percent last year. The study released Friday through the commission's consumer advocate division looked at rates charged to West Virginia residents for electricity, water and telephone services. The Charleston Gazette reports that average utility costs for all West Virginians rose from $280.62 a month in 2013 to $290.22 a month in 2014. Utility bills ranged from a low of $254 a month in Morgantown to $325 a month in Bluefield last year.
Charleston police are investigating a West Side shooting that happened early Sunday, and they're asking for the public's help in tracking down information and a suspect. There were bullet holes and shell casings in the apartment building in the 1200 block of Stuart Street after the shooting around 4am Sunday. A juvenile who was inside the apartment at the time has been uncooperative, according to WCHS TV, and police are asking for help. Anyone with information can make an anonymous tip.
Excess levies will continue in St. Albans and South Charleston after voters voiced their opinion over the weekend. In South Charleston, a whopping 95 percent of voters approved a levy that will continue to raise money for city services like police, fire, recreation, library and public works. It was almost unanimous in St. Albans over the weekend too. 97 percent of voters there approved a levy that’s been around since the 1950s, and supports the fire department.