Breaking Local News
Attorneys for former executives charged in a chemical spill said in court that prosecutors should be recused. In Charleston federal court Wednesday, attorneys for ex-Freedom Industries officials Gary Southern and Dennis Farrell said some prosecutors have conflicts because they were victims of the January 2014 Freedom spill. Prosecutors said defendants had the law and facts wrong. Defense attorneys said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin is conflicted partly because his wife, Amy Shuler Goodwin, is state tourism commissioner and was Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokeswoman during the spill. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to pollution charges. Southern also pleaded not guilty to fraud in Freedom's bankruptcy case. Judge Thomas Johnston hopes to rule by a June 1 hearing.
Amid public pressure, state officials are scaling back proposed changes to a program that helps the disabled. The move comes after Delegate Patrick Lane, other lawmakers and the disabled community rallied against the original proposal, fearing planned restrictions would hinder ability to get care. The new proposal would limit respite care restrictions, allow flexibility in support services and allow maximum time in a facility-based program. The state Department of Health and Human Resources says the new proposal won't reduce direct medical services, only change caregiver benefits to align with other states. It says changes would help serve some of 1,000 waiting list patients. The program provides community-based services to about 4,500 intellectually and developmentally disabled people.
A body recovered Saturday night in Gallia County, Ohio has been identified as a West Virginia woman, who's been missing since February. The Kanawha County Sheriff's office confirms the body found belongs to Frances Wartenburg of St. Albans, West Virginia. She disappeared February 22, and was last seen leaving a birthday party in Jefferson. Wartenburg's body was badly decomposed and dental records were used to identify the body. The cause of Wartenburg's death is still under investigation.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other leaders gathered for a rundown on what the state is doing to develop its workforce. The Democratic governor's event took place at the Bridge Valley Community and Technical College's Advanced Technology Center Tuesday. Officials provided a review of state workforce development efforts, including new initiatives to meet the workforce's educational needs and the training needs of new and expanding West Virginia businesses. Speakers touted a variety of programs, including one that re-educates displaced coal miners and another that helps prepare troubled youth for careers and offer various apprenticeships.
A Logan County circuit judge and a Mingo County magistrate are retiring next month. The West Virginia Supreme Court announced the retirements of Circuit Judge Roger Perry and Magistrate Pam Newsome Monday. The court says the 65-year-old Perry cited health issues in a letter sent to Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin notifying them of his retirement. Tomblin will appoint Perry's replacement. Mingo County Circuit Judge Miki Thompson has appointed West Virginia State Police Sergeant Barry Marcum to replace Newsome. Both retirements are effective June 30th.
A former Barboursville pharmacy owner has pleaded guilty to avoiding federal cash reporting requirements. Kofi Agyekum faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing in August. The U.S. Attorney says the Agyekum made a series of cash deposits in amounts less than $10,000 to multiple accounts at banks in the Barboursville area. Federal law requires financial institutions to report cash transactions exceeding $10,000 to the federal government. Goodwin says Agyekum will forfeit more than $2 million to the government under a plea agreement, along with his Lexus and his home in Barboursville.
West Virginia State Police are investigating after two inmates fell ill at the Western Regional Jail last week. A Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman told WSAZ-TV that the inmates had an adverse reaction to an unknown substance and were hospitalized. So far, no word on what the substance was or how it got inside the Barboursville jail, but a spokesman says the facility has a zero tolerance policy for contraband. The jail ended contact visits in 2014 due to contraband concerns.
Kanawha County residents are taking their concerns over proposed cuts to programs for people with disabilities straight to the governor Tuesday morning. WCHS-TV reports a public meeting, scheduled by Kanawha County lawmaker Delegate Patrick Lane will discuss proposed changes to the Intellectual Developmental Disabilities waiver. Hundreds of West Virginia families marched to the Capitol in April to express their opposition to any changes to the program. Tuesday, they plan to hand a petition with thousands of signatures to Governor Tomblin.
One of the Silicon Valley's longest-serving CEO from West Virginia is stepping down. Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers of Charleston said he planned to step down in July after more than 20 years in charge. Chambers will become board chairman for the computer networking company and says he plans to devote the rest of his time to philanthropic efforts.
A new bill would allow Charleston to purchase a building that currently houses the Middle East Mart. The Charleston Gazette reports the city plans to put a K-9 police unit in the building. The bill puts a price tag of more than $85,000 on the property with $2,000 in moving expenses for the owner of the Middle East Mart.