Breaking Local News

CERT Group's Formation On Hold

Plans for a new community service group in Fayette County are on hold after allegations of inappropriate activity surfaced. WCHS TV reports the group calling itself the Fayette County Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT was asking for donations as it took shape. After investigating, it came to light that no such group had been licensed as a nonprofit organization by the secretary of state’s office. A group of students at local high schools apparently started it and had no ill intent, but they didn't go through the proper channels to make it happen. They'll have to be affiliated with the Fayette County Office of Emergency Services, maintain a liability insurance policy, be registered with the secretary of state as a nonprofit organization, file reports on fundraising and receive training. No charges have been filed.

Teachers Have Help With Earth Day Lesson Plans

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is encouraging teachers across the State to use the opportunity of Earth Day on April 22, to talk to students about the importance of taking care of the earth by conserving energy, water and the other natural resources we depend on in our daily lives. To start the discussion, they've developed and collected lesson plans for students in kindergarten through high school. Those plans can be found on the Public Service Commission’s website:
The lesson plans include conservation tips, science experiments, art projects, group activities, discussion topics and many other useful tools for teachers.

Woman Pleads Guilty to St. Albans Stabbing

A woman has pleaded guilty in the stabbing death of a St. Albans resident.
The Charleston Gazette reports 29-year-old Jessica M. Wilson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Friday. She faces up to life in prison at a hearing May 7. Nancy Burdette Lynch was killed during a robbery at her home in January 2014. Wilson testified that a co-defendant, Timothy Paul Shafter, did the stabbing. Shafer, who previously pleaded guilty to murder, had said Wilson stabbed the victim. Shafer is serving life without parole. A third defendant, Megan Marie Hughes of St. Albans, was sentenced to 15 years for burglary and five years for being an accessory after the fact to murder

Decision To Move Blankenship Trial is On Hold

A federal judge won't decide whether to move former coal baron Don Blankenship's criminal trial until after potential jurors are questioned in Beckley. Blankenship has asked for a change of venue, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial in southern West Virginia because of prejudicial news coverage. The former Massey Energy CEO was charged with conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine after a blast killed 29 men in 2010. It was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said in Friday's order that Blankenship's motion will be put on hold until after questioning of potential jurors is completed. That process is set to begin July 9. The trial is scheduled for July 13.

Charleston Building Struggles Financially

Charleston's 22-story Laidley Tower has been placed into federal receivership. U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston ordered the move earlier this month after Wells Fargo Bank filed a civil lawsuit after the office building's owners defaulted on a $25 million loan taken out in 2007. Tenants were notified Thursday that Johnston appointed property management firm Colliers International to oversee Laidley Tower's finances, tenants and bank accounts. Two dozen separate entities jointly own the building. Wells Fargo said the owners failed to make a January loan payment, and the bank requested the remaining principal balance of $24.2 million be paid in full. Laidley Tower has seen a drop-off in tenants in recent years. Patriot Coal moved about 100 employees from Laidley Tower to Putnam County last year.

Woman Enters Plea in Stabbing Case

Patricia Miller is accused of stabbing her roomate to death in Charleston's East End last October, and pleaded not guilty Thursday. Miller is facing a second-degree murder charge for allegedly stabbing her roommate Victoria Summers to death with a steak knife along Nancy Street. Miller's bond was set at $35,000, and WCHS TV reports her trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 20.

Students Can Draw Own Conclusions on Climate Change

The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to allow classroom debate on climate change. Two months after citizens bombarded the board with comments at a public hearing, the board voted 6-2 Thursday to approve the proposal. It is effective for the 2016-17 school year. In January, the board scrapped changes it made to teaching requirements for education science standards. Those changes had been suggested by board member Wade Linger. Linger had said he didn't believe it was a "foregone conclusion" that the climate is in fact changing. The board then placed the proposal with its original language intact for a 30-day public comment period. The students will be allowed to use scientific models to draw their own conclusions about climate change.

Dunbar Man Arrested For Incident Involving his Sister

Zachary Keith Thomas of Dunbar was arrested in South Charleston this week and charged with kidnapping, robbery, and assault. This comes after an incident in Dunbar on April 6. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office said Thomas went to his sister's house in Dunbar and demanded money, which led to an argument. During the argument Mr. Thomas bound his sister's hands and feet in the basement of the house, hurt her, brandished a gun, and continued to make demands. He left with her debit card and cell phone. She suffered minor injuries which were treated at an area hospital. Thomas is now in South Central Regional Jail with no bond.

Woman Fraudulently Gets Money After Yeager Landslide

A Charleston woman is accused of accpeting money she wasn't entitled to. Lindsay Marie Meadows said she lived on Keystone Drive and she's accused of taking money from Yeager Airport for housing and temporary relief after the major landslide. The airport made arrangements to help several people who had been displaced by the landslide, and Meadows applied and got a check for $1500 and a room at the Red Roof Inn, according to the criminal complaint. WCHS TV reports police went to the home that Meadows claimed she lived at on Keystone Drive and found that it was boarded up and falling apart, and neighbors said no one has lived in the house for years. She's facing a felony charge.

Waiver Request Denied

The state Board of Education has denied a request by counties to waive attendance restrictions so they can meet the mandated 180 instructional days this school year. The board rejected the requests Wednesday at a meeting in Charleston, citing state code that requires 180 separate days of education. School board President Gayle Manchin tells WCHS-TV it's important for students to receive the required amount of instructional time. The board approved a waiver process last month aimed at giving county schools flexibility in making up instructional days canceled because of weather. The policy allows counties to seek waivers to use bank time to meet the 180-day equivalent. Bank time is minutes that counties can accrue each day by exceeding the minimum state-required classroom time.

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