Breaking Local News
A racial slur spray-painted inside the West Virginia State University Capital Center Theater is being investigated by federal authorities. The Charleston Gazette reports that police received a report of the graffiti over the weekend. They forwarded the case to the FBI for investigation as a possible hate crime. West Virginia State is a historically black university. It acquired the downtown Charleston theater in the 1990s and it has classrooms inside now and serves as the venue for student performances and the West Virginia International Film Festival. Theater employees had the graffiti covered on Monday.
Gas prices in West Virginia went up a nickel a gallon since last week. AAA East Central reports that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.66 this week. That's 2 cents cheaper than the national average. Motorists across West Virginia are finding a wide range of pump prices. They range from a low of $3.61 in Morgantown to a high of $3.73 in Martinsburg. Charleston drivers are paying $3.69 on average, according to Gasbuddy.com.
Two West Virginia-based Boy Scouts of America councils are planning to merge. Members of the Huntington-based Tri-State Area Council and the Charleston-based Buckskin Council will vote on whether to approve the merger on May 29. The Herald-Dispatch reports the Huntington Council's fundraising has declined and the merger will provide scouts with more opportunities, and more resources will be available for camp improvements and maintenance. The new council would begin operations July 1, if the merger is approved by the councils' members and the national organization.
More arrests at the Charleston Transit Mall. Four people were arrested last night after the 4th raid in 4 weeks as part of a crackdown by Charleston Police. Some have been arrested for active warrants, and other charges include trespassing and simple possession. About 40 people have been arrested in all.
Putnam County commissioners want to team up with the city of Hurricane and file a lawsuit to get a chemical out of the Hurricane landfill. The suit is expected to be filed by the end of the week against Waste Management, and asks it to remove MCHM from the landfill. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection allowed the landfill to accept wastewater from Freedom Industries after the January 9th chemical spill, then neighbors complained about the licorice smell. The landfill eventually stopped accepting the chemical, but getting the existing chemical out could be a challenge and could run into the millions of dollars.
West Virginia State University in Institute is among the schools getting STEM grants. WVU and Marshall will also share in a $2.5 million grant to attract, retain and graduate underrepresented students in so-called STEM studies. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all fields of study that have lagged when it comes to minority student representation. The five-year grant is from the National Science Foundation. It establishes a nine-university alliance to achieve the goal of attracting more minority students into STEM studies. The grant will fund programs and initiatives at member institutions to increase diversity in STEM fields.
Sen. Manchin is urging the mining industry to speak out about coal's role in providing affordable, reliable power to the country. Sen. Manchin spoke at the National Western Mining Conference in Denver yesterday, and said although he agrees with Republicans that the Obama administration is waging a war on coal, Manchin said he won't consider switching parties to give the GOP control of the Senate this year.
The Higher Education Policy Commission will meet April 25 at Fairmont State University to vote on a new contract for West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee. The commission approved Gee's appointment as the university's permanent president on March 10. Gee was named interim president after Jim Clements left for Clemson in November.
Federal prosecutors say a 49-year-old Barboursville man has been indicted on charges he threatened to kill U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Steven Anthony Major was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in Charleston. He is accused of making four separate threats to kill Manchin from March 17 through March 20 to the Charleston and Washington, D.C. offices. The government says Major identified himself and also made violent threats against Manchin family members. Major faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on each count.
West Virginia's public schools will get free computer operating system upgrades for five years under a new agreement with Microsoft. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that schools will enter the agreement with Microsoft on July 1. Under the agreement, schools can upgrade their computers' operating systems without cost if the hardware can handle the upgrade. Many school computers still use the 12-year-old Windows XP system. Microsoft ended support for Windows XP last week. The company said it will continue to provide anti-malware related updates through July 14, 2015. Department of Education chief technology officer Sterling Beane says he hopes the department's security safeguards and Microsoft's security updates will provide sufficient protection until schools complete upgrading to newer systems.