Breaking Local News
The ill effects continue after an illegal tree harvest at Coonskin Park....David Bowen with Russell Trucking was recently found not guilty of stealing timber, but yesterday there were calls for the director of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission to step down. Jeff Hutchinson was criticized for not doing something to stop the cutting of trees. There were also concerns raised about the $250,000 in legal fees spend and then getting a not guilty verdict for the logger. WCHS TV reports board members will try to obtain transcripts between Hutchinson and Bowen to figure out what went wrong and where they'll go from here.
Colleges in West Virginia continue to face budget cuts and deal with the ramifications of less funding. The Charleston Gazette reported that about 13 West Virginia University employees have been fired as part of a reduction in force for this budget year. WVU spokesman John Bolt says more than 100 positions have been left vacant, and departments have been restructured. Marshall University spokeswoman Ginny Painter says about three dozen positions have been eliminated through attrition, but there have been no layoffs. West Virginia State University has fired 10 employees and eliminated 15 already vacant positions. Also, WVU-Tech and Shepherd University officials have chosen to not fill some positions.
Charleston police have made an arrest connected to two burglaries...one at a home on Sheridan Circle last Wednesday, and another from a home on Lower Donnelly Road on Sunday. 24-year old Jordan Dickens of Charleston is charged with two counts of burglary, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. Items stolen included jewelry, electronics, an X-box One, and video games. Dickens sold the stolen items at Gamestop in the Charleston Towncenter Mall, and the serial number that was matched at Leads Online, and jewelry was matched there as well.
Ginseng diggers are heading to West Virginia's forests as the season for harvesting the plant opens. West Virginia's ginseng season began Monday and runs through Nov. 30. Ginseng dealer Dave Cook tells The Charleston Gazette that he expects a good harvest this year, based on this summer's climate and the success of last year's season. Ginseng diggers have until March 31 to sell the roots to a registered ginseng dealer in state. March 31 also is the deadline for diggers who don't sale their ginseng to obtain a weight receipt from the West Virginia Division of Forestry. The receipt allows diggers to possess ginseng from April 1 through Aug. 31.
We're going on a week now, and a young mother of four is still missing. 26-year old Ashley NIcole Toler of Boone County was last seen Friday, August 22nd. Troopers say she left the house that morning to catch the bus to school where she was working on her GED, and she hasn't been seen since. Her grandmother dropped her off, and she reportedly told her boyfriend and childen she'd see them that night. Her children are age 8 and under. Anyone with information on where Toler may be should call the WVSP Boone County detachment at (304) 369-7800.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones wants to focus on other things, and thinks it's time to move on from a case where the son of a state Supreme Court justice was accused of beating up his sister and leaving her in a ditch. The mayor said earlier this week he wanted prosecutors to look into it further even though charges had been dropped because it didn't seem typical, but later came back and said the Kanawha County prosecutor’s office has the jurisdiction to decide. Edward Gardner had been facing a malicious wounding charge, but that was dropped for lack of supportive evidence. Last month in Nitro, Gardner was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana and will be in Kanawha Magistrate Court in that case Sept. 30.
Six community health groups in West Virginia will receive nearly $1.5 million in federal funding to support facility improvements for patient-centered medical homes. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the funding this week through the Affordable Care Act. The grant recipients include Womencare in Scott Depot and the Lincoln County Primary Care Center and Huntington-based Valley Health Systems. Nationally, more than $35 million was awarded to 147 health centers in 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The state Public Service Commission's chairman has removed himself from an investigation into a water company's response to a January chemical spill. The Charleston Gazette reports PSC Chairman Mike Albert cited his previous work as an attorney representing West Virginia American Water in stepping down from the spill investigation. Albert says he wants to avoid a disruption and distraction in the investigation.
It's not clear yet when a trial might happen for Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants. He wants a jury trial on two misdemeanor charges, but for now he's entered into and completed the first class of an eight-month batterer's intervention program in Putnam County. A special prosecutor wants him to first complete the program first, and Plants wants a trial because there's no guarantee charges will be dropped after he does it. WCHS TV reports Plants is scheduled to go before a three-judge panel next month in an effort by the Kanawha County Commission to have him removed from office.
Hurricane is entertaining its options to replace a bridge at Hurricane City Park, after the Putnam County Commission denied a funding request that would have provided enough money for it. The city requested $25,000 in funding that would have likely come from tax-increment financing, which allows government entities to fund economic development projects, according to the Charleston Gazette. The agencies use the projected increase in property taxes that occurs because of the improvements to the district. In the end though, the commission said no. The bridge project would replace a single-lane bridge at the entrance of the Hurricane City Park, adjacent to Route 34. There have been concerns over the bridge's safety. The city hasn't given up, and is tossing around other ideas about how to fund it.