Breaking Local News

Traffic Lights To Sync Up In Charleston

Your drive through Charleston might get a little smoother, with better timing of traffic lights over the next few weeks. Traffic engineers have been working on intersections like Virginia and Quarrier Streets, which have been problematic. The city, along with the state Division of Highways replaced over 50 traffic signals this year, and the Charleston Gazette reports engineers are working to sync up the lights to make traffic flow more smoothly. The total cost of replacing the lights ran about $4.5 million.

West Virginians Continue To Sign Up For Health Insurance

Federal officials say more than 12,000 West Virginians have enrolled or re-enrolled in plans sold through the health insurance marketplace. That's through the first month of open enrollment, Dec. 15. The numbers don't include automatic re-enrollment by about 19,860 West Virginians who had signed up in the last full enrollment period. Officials say 85 percent of those who selected plans during the month were eligible for federal tax credits to help them pay for coverage. The open enrollment period ends Feb. 15.

Southern Doesn't Want Assets Seized

A former executive facing charges relating to a January chemical spill is opposing prosecutors' push to seize his house, car and cash. In a motion Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, lawyers for ex-Freedom Industries President Gary Southern say his assets neither helped commit nor were derived from his criminal allegations. Prosecutors want his Florida home seized, along with a 2012 Bentley car and almost $8 million. Southern's motion says the government already took some assets, including his Bentley. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the reasons for the forfeiture are legally sound. Southern faces fraud charges related to Freedom's bankruptcy case, and other charges related to pollution.

Couple Waives Hearing

A Charleston couple is accused of letting their kids live in poor conditions, and they face felony neglect charges. WCHS TV reports that police allegedly found bedding covered in dog feces and guns and knives that the kids could access in Taylor and Bonnie Ornbraun's home. Child Protective services says the guns have been removed and mattresses replaced, and the home has passed three inspections. The Ornbrauns waived their preliminary hearing Monday and more court dates are pending.

Lawyers Move From AG's Office To Legislature

The West Virginia Attorney General's Office has lost three top staff members to the Legislature. The Charleston Gazette reports that senior deputy attorney general Marty Wright has accepted a job as the House Judiciary Committee's head lawyer. Senior deputy attorney general Richie Heath is now chief counsel to incoming Senate President Bill Cole. Senior deputy attorney general Tracy Webb has accepted a job as head lawyer of the House Government Organization Committee. The positions came open after Republicans won control of the Legislature for the first time in more than eight decades.

Murder Suspect Sought After Two People Are Shot

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is investigating a shooting on Greenwood Avenue in Mink Shoals. It happened Monday, and neighbors there said a man walked to their door with multiple gunshot wounds, covered in blood. He said he and his mother had been shot next door. Cpl B-D Humphreys with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says the 17-year old male victim was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment to life threatening injuries. His mother was killed. A relative of the victims, Glenn Skidmore, is the suspect in the shooting and a warrant is out for his arrest. Skidmore is 40 years old, 6’3” tall, 240 pounds, and may be driving or using a white colored 2001 Chevrolet Tracker with WV license plate 6HK502. Anyone with information is asked to dial 911 or call 304-357-0169. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Christmas Tree Recycling Event Set For Saturday

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Natural Resources are gearing up for their 10th annual Christmas tree recycling event. The event is set for Jan. 3 at the Capitol Market in downtown Charleston. Christmas trees will be used to improve fish habitats across the state, as they have in years past. To be accepted, all decorations must be removed from the trees, including ornaments, tinsel and stands.

Bridge Day Participants Face New Requirements

Expect something new next year at the annual Bridge Day. Rappellers, BASE jumpers and vendors that are part of Bridge Day events will have to undergo fingerprint scans. Bridge Day Commission chair Sharon Cruikshank tells The Charleston Gazette that the scans are less intrusive than routine background checks. Fingerprints will be checked against a terrorism watch list. They won't be saved. BASE jumpers from around the world flock to the New River Gorge Bridge on the third Saturday of every October for Bridge Day. Bridge Day organizers began requiring background checks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses Go Electronic

Traditional hunting and fishing licenses are becoming less traditional in West Virginia. The licenses used to be printed on thin cardstock with colorful stamps, but starting on Thursday those will be replaced by computer-generated electronic licenses. The Charleston Gazette reports for the past year, DNR officials have worked with JMT Technology, a Sparks, Maryland-based engineering group, to create a unified system for the licenses. Under the new system, hunters will be allowed to check animals in by making a phone call or by going online, and it will be a more streamlined way for the agency to keep track of big game kills.

Dupont Faces Lawsuits

Dozens of West Virginia residents have filed lawsuits against chemical company DuPont for contaminating drinking water. The lawsuits filed Friday allege that the company discharged the chemical C8 into waters surrounding its Washington Works Plant near Parkersburg. Kathy Brown is a Charleston lawyer representing the plaintiffs, and says the lawsuits stem from a 2005 class-action settlement. A science panel found links between C8 and six medical ailments including testicular and kidney cancers.

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