Breaking Local News
The West Virginia Veterans Memorial is undergoing about $1 million worth of repairs and restoration. The oval monument at the Capitol Complex was closed for Memorial Day because of the construction. The project is expected to be completed in time for Veterans Day in November. Department of Administration spokesman Tony O'Leary tells the Charleston Daily Mail that the work includes stone and bronze restoration, waterproofing, masonry and plumbing repair, and lighting replacement. An architectural and engineering review conducted in 2013 found electrical and drainage issues, cracked paving stones and failing joints.
West Virginia schools are set to get millions to fund construction projects. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says the West Virginia School Building Authority successfully sold $26 million in revenue bonds that will fund $30 million in school construction projects. The bonds are the first sold by the state since legislation dedicated additional lottery revenues to support school building projects, and just last month the state provided more than $43 million in funds that will result in more than $89 million being invested into schools when combined with local funding.
This issue of guns being allowed in recreations centers and other places where kids might be around, continues to draw attention. And lawsuits. The Citizens Defense League and the city of Charleston are suing each other over the legislation that allows concealed weapons on municipal property. The city of Charleston filed suit against the Citizens Defense League to ask for clarification on issues that came up after the state legislature passed the law. Court documents show the Citizens Defense League sued back. Both are pending.
A plea deal was reached in the Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants battery case, but there is some concern that the deal isn't legal. Sid Bell is a former McDowell County Prosecutor and is the special prosecutor, and he's filed a motion asking the agreement reached Wednesday to be altered or put aside. The charges would be dropped if Plants meets certain conditions for one year under the deal. He's charged with domestic battery of his 11-year-old son, for what he says was discipline. At issue, is whether pre-trial agreements can happen in domestic violence, and usually intervention programs are required.
Sen. Joe Manchin is celebrating the signing of a bill to honor the nation's elite fighter pilots. He was one of the lead sponosors of the the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act that will award a Congressional Gold Medal to all American Fighter Aces. The pilots are only credited if they have destroyed five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat.
West Virginia University is creating a model to determine the probability of coal mine fires and explosions. The university's Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is creating the model. The 15-month study will also delve into the roles of moisture and rock and coal dust. The Alpha Foundation awarded the project a $150,000 grant. After buying Massey Energy, who owned the Upper Big Branch coal mine where 29 men died in a 2010 explosion, Alpha agreed to form the foundation and fund $48 million in mine safety projects.
Several West Virginia attractions are participating in the National Endowment for the Arts initiative to offer free admission to active-duty military members and their families. The Blue Star Museums program includes more than 2,000 museums across the country offering the deal starting next week through Labor Day. Next Tuesday, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences will begin offering free gallery admission to military families. Several other attractions around the state are participating.
The state Public Service Commission has opened an investigation into West Virginia American Water's response to the Jan. 9 chemical spill in Charleston. The PSC says the focus of its investigation will be on whether the company's reaction to the spill and presence of the coal-cleaning agent MCHM was "unreasonable or inadequate." Among other things, the PSC has ordered the company to provide an account of actions it took starting when it became aware of the spill. The commission says drinking water standards, which fall under the jurisdiction of the state Bureau for Public Health, won't be debated. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for early October. Company spokeswoman Laura Jordan says it will cooperate with the investigation.
Heading into a big travel weekend, gas prices are steady for drivers in West Virginia. We're paying an average of $3.76 for a gallon of gas and AAA East Central says that's the same price as last week and is 15 cents higher than the same week a year ago. Prices range from $3.74 in Charleston and Weirton to $3.81 in Wheeling. Nationally, gas prices average $3.64 per gallon.
A Putnam County standoff ended peacefully, but it wasn't without some tense moments. The nine-hour standoff led to the arrest of 55-year old Ricky Reynolds, who surrendered after law officers used several tactics including tear gas to urge him out of the home. Reynolds is from Scott Depot and faces several charges including fleeing, assault on a police officer and obstructing a police officer, according to a news release from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. Reynolds was involved in several hit-and-run accidents Wednesday evening in the Scott Depot area, and was arrested early Thursday morning.