Breaking Local News
Drivers may find delays this weekend in Charleston on the Interstate 64 bridge. The West Virginia Division of Highways says in a news release that it's rehabilitating 19 bridges along I-64, beginning with the Fort Hill Bridge in Charleston and ending where the Brooks Street on-ramp enters the interstate. There will be lane closures this weekend, and more in April. Construction will last until October.
U.S. Census figures show counties in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle continue to bulk up on population gains. Berkeley and Jefferson counties posted the greatest population increases from 2013 to 2014. Their combined gain of 2,565 residents was more than the other 53 counties combined. Overall, 16 counties gained population and 39 counties lost residents. Census estimates show the state lost nearly 3,300 residents last year. Berkeley County had the single-largest gain of 1,813 residents and Monongalia County had the second-largest increase of 1,246 residents.
Kanawha County's loss of 1,171 residents was the highest in the state but it remains the most populous county. Clay County had the highest percentage loss of residents at 2.8 percent.
A West Virginia group wants to bring a 2016 presidential debate to the Mountain State. The group includes West Virginia and West Virginia State universities, which would host the debate at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston. Other members are the state, the city of Charleston and the law firm Steptoe and Johnson. The application was submitted this week, which is the first step, and then the logistics would be worked out.
It's time for spring cleanups around the Kanawha Valley. The Kanawha County Commission is having the first of three spring cleanups from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Elkview Middle School. If you've got old appliances, car batteries, or computers you can drop them off there. No chemicals or propane tanks though. Other spring cleanups will happen April 11 in South Charleston and April 18 in Cabin Creek.
Drivers in Cross Lanes could get a break from congestion with a new transportation plan. Planners are working with engineering consultants to figure out how to keep traffic from getting so backed up for those who drive through Cross Lanes every day, and they'll take information from a public hearing this week to come up with a plan. Another hearing is planned this summer where the drat proposals will be presented.
A giant metal paint can that has been a part of the commercial landscape in South Charleston since 1963 is coming down. On Friday, crews will remove the local landmark. The paint can was added to the former Evans Lumber Co. building when paint was a big part of the business. The Charleston Gazette says the building and an adjacent property were sold in 2012 amid competition from big box retailers. But the paint can lived on.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens was born the same year the paint can went up. He calls it part of South Charleston's history. The building is now home to a pipe company. The owner intends to transform the can into a giant water pipe and remounting it on the roof.
Yeager Airport has hired an appraiser to gather information as the airport moves toward buying the land around the recent landslide, and expedite damage settlements. The appraiser is contacting people who live in the area to get permission to inspect and appraise the property, according to a news release from the airport. Settlement offers could range from money to fix property and recover expenses to full property buyouts, based on what the owners want. Properties in the runway protection zone are eligible to be purchased by the Federal Aviation Administration. Local real estate brokers would handle the transactions.
The governor is getting into March Madness. WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has a friendly wager going with Kentucky governor Steve Beshear on Thursday night's Sweet 16 matchup between the Mountaineers and Wildcats. If West Virginia wins, Governor Tomblin gets a selection of Kentucky bourbons, and if Kentucky wins, Governor Beshear gets some of West Virginia's best pepperoni rolls and other Mountain State favorites. Kentucky is the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed. The attorneys general for each state are also doing their own neighborly wager. A country ham and a hand-blown glass piece are at stake.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed next year's state budget after reducing about $11 million set aside for a variety of grants and programs. The vetoes Tuesday made it possible to take only about $15 million from state reserves in a difficult budget year. The budget passed by the Republican-led Legislature depended on about $23 million from the Rainy Day Fund. Tomblin reduced 46 line items. They include millions of dollars in combined reductions from state higher education, the state police forensics lab, free health clinics, vehicle purchasing, the veterans cemetery and other spending. Tomblin's vetoes also take $2 million from capital outlay and maintenance, reducing the fund to $250,000. He called the reductions to various grants and services difficult, but necessary. The next budget year starts in July.
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in a mine safety case. Blankenship entered his plea on Tuesday at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Beckley. The hearing was based on a new, superseding indictment handed up earlier this month. Blankenship also pleaded not guilty during his first arraignment in November. He is charged with conspiring to violate safety standards, falsifying coal dust samples and defrauding federal financial regulators related to Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men in 2010. It was the deadliest U.S. coal mine accident in four decades. Blankenship could face up to three decades in prison, if convicted.