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Endangered Fish in West Virginia Gets New Protection

More than 120 miles of river habitat for an endangered fish are now under federal protection in West Virginia. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the protection of the diamond darter's habitat this week, saying the "critical habitat'' designation covers 28 miles of the lower Elk River in Kanawha and Clay counties in West Virginia along with space in Kentucky. It requires federal agencies to ensure that federally funded or permitted activities will not harm darters or their habitat. The diamond darter was protected under the Endangered Species Act last month. The tiny fish was considered extinct until scientists rediscovered it in West Virginia in 1980. Fewer than 125 of them have been seen over the past 30 years.

Some Kanawha County Students File Suit

A 2014 trial date has been set in a lawsuit by three South Charleston High School students who claim Kanawha County education officials could have protected them from alleged sexual abuse by a former Junior ROTC instructor. A circuit judge on Tuesday set an April 28 trial date. The Charleston Gazette reported the students are suing the estate of Edwin Albert Smuda and the county Board of Education. The board denies the lawsuit's claims. According to the lawsuit, some students had stayed at Smuda's home and accompanied him on vacations, and parents had complained about Smuda's inappropriate behavior toward some of his male students. Smuda was charged in 2011 with molesting a teenager. Smuda was found hanged in an apparent suicide in New Jersey in July 2012.

DHHR May Consolidate

A consulting firm thinks the state Department of Health and Human Resources would be more efficient if it were split into two part. State lawmakers were told Tuesday that the study by Public Works LLC suggests the 5,700-employee department be restructured into divisions focusing on health care and human services. The Charleston Gazette says the current 36 boards and commissions could be merged into three primary commissions on healthy lifestyles, clinical medical care and payments for services. It recommends that the Office of Inspector General focus on Medicaid abuse and fraud.

Interim Mingo County Sheriff Resigns

The wife of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum took over as interim sheriff when her husband was killed earlier this year, and now she has resigned. In a letter to county commissioners she said she had mixed emotions about stepping down after four months. She said it's a big undertaking, and the sheriff's office needs a qualified person who can dedicate the time and attention it deserves. Crum recommended that Dave Rockel serve as sheriff, who was Sheriff Dugene Crum's task force commander and chief field deputy. Rosie Crum's resignation is effective September 4th

Contractor Begins Repairs at Coonskin Park

Kanawha County is going to give the contractor a chance to make repairs at Coonskin Park before any legal action is pursued. David R Bowen had an agreement to clean up damage from last year's derecho, but allegedly went beyond the scope of the agreement and now has to make good on the damage. He's also paving some sections torn up by logging equipment.

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Have More Options

Those with a valid concealed carry permit can legally carry handguns in three more states. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says Alabama, Georgia, and Colorado have passed reciprocity agreements, meaning West Virginia concealed carry permit holders can carry in those states. The toal number of states on the concealed carry list now has grown to 35, and West Virginia has reciprocity agreements with 27 of them.

Protestor Arrested Near Governor's Mansion

Police arrested a protestor Wednesday who is linked to the Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival Group, or RAMPS. David Baghdadi was arrested for trespassing and obstruction after he chained himself to a barrel of dirty water a few steps away from the governor's mansion at the State Capitol. The group says it was trying to draw attention to inadequate water supplies and poor water quality in places.

Nitro Meth Bust Leads to Two Arrests

Two people are facing charges after a meth bust in Nitro earlier this week. A tip came in about possible drug activity at an apartment complex on Tidd Lane, and after getting consent to search, officers found 25,000 grams of pseduphedrine, over an ounce of meth, $3,600 in cash, scales, meth making materials, several tv monitors and surveillance cameras. 37-year old Duane Dunlap and 35-year old Carole Anne Demersman were arrested on several drug-related charges, and also exposure of children to meth since there were two kids present under the age of 8.

City of Charleston Plans Family Events for Dogs

“Pamper Your Dog Day,” is coming up in September at North Charleston Dog Park at 2009 Seventh Ave. If you have a pet you'll be able to bring it out for a free wash and brush, and the toenails will be clipped too. You don't pay anything thanks to the city of Charleston Parks and Rec Department. They'll alos hold a “Dog Day on the Island” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at Magic Island. Local veterinarians and trainers will help with dog behavior and agility that day.

WV Lawmakers Ready to Learn from North Dakota on Gas Revenue

State lawmakers from West Virginia are coming to North Dakota to learn more about the state's savings account for oil and gas taxes. North Dakota's Legacy Fund gets 30 percent of the state's oil and gas tax collections. It topped $1.3 billion in assets last month. None of the money can be spent until 2017, and only then if the Legislature decides by a two-thirds vote to dip into the fund. West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler is leading the 17-member delegation as natural gas production increases here. Kessler wants lawmakers to set aside tax revenue similar to what is being done in North Dakota. About a dozen North Dakota lawmakers are slated to host the West Virginia delegation on Thursday in Bismarck.

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