Government

Heavy rainfall over the past few days has lead to road closures in many areas around the state, including roads in Berkeley, Braxton, Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Mason, Putnam, Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Wayne, Roane, Wood, Harrison, Marion, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, Upshur, Randolph, Nicholas counties.

Update: Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:55 a.m.

The country’s largest organization of wartime veterans, the American Legion will host a town hall meeting in Huntington tonight.

Members of the American Legion’s System Worth Savings Task Force plan to listen to concerns of veteran’s about the care they receive at the VA Medical Center in Huntington. Periodically the team visits VA Medical Centers is different regions of the country to evaluate the care being given, part of each trip includes a sit down with veterans from the area and specifically ones who have received care at the VA.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

A Fairmont attorney is days away from making judicial history in West Virginia.

prweb.com

With the opening of an envelope and the reading of a few numbers, the state Purchasing Office completed a bid opening Thursday for the Division of Corrections.

The request for proposals, known as an RFP in government jargon, asked national companies or state corrections departments to bid on sending West Virginia inmates to their out-of-state facilities in the hopes of curbing the state over crowding problem.

Ashton Marra

Open enrollment for Medicare ends Saturday, Dec. 7, and Kimberly Riddle with the WV Senior Medicare Patrol said that means an influx of scams directed toward seniors.

Whether they receive phones calls asking for personal information for fake Obamacare cards or banking information to bill them for their new Medicaid cards, Riddle said it’s important for seniors to know these are fraudulent calls and to report them.

Ashton Marra

After a lawsuit criticizing the Salem Industrial Home for Youth last year, the home was ordered closed and its juvenile residents transferred to other facilities throughout the state.

But that wasn’t the end for the Harrison County location. The Division of Corrections has worked over several months to transition the facility and its counselors from one for youth to one that now focuses on the rehabilitation of adult males.

Ashton Marra

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin were joined by hundreds of West Virginians at the Capitol complex to celebrate their annual holiday gathering, 'Joyful Night.'

The evening was full of musical performances, a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," and the lightning of not one, but two Christmas trees.

Performances included:

Ex-Mingo Magistrate Pleads Guilty to Vote Charge

Dec 2, 2013
WOWK

A former Mingo County magistrate has pleaded guilty to illegally registering a felon to vote in the 2012 primary election.

Dallas Toler entered his plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. He's scheduled to be sentenced March 10, 2014.
 
Toler was accused of knowing in April 2012 that a person known to the U.S. attorney's office was on probation for a felony at the time the voter registration application was submitted.

Four More Charged in Steubenville Rape Case

Nov 25, 2013
Cleveland.com

A school superintendent and three more people have been charged by a grand jury that investigated whether other laws were broken in the rape of a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last year in eastern Ohio.

Pahz/Flickr

The holiday season is often thought of as a time for giving, but state officials want West Virginians to be cautious as they choose who to donate to this year.

To protect yourself and your family from scams, the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office is urging you to ask questions of solicitors calling your home, research each organization before you decide to give and report any charity you believe may be fraudulent.

The office advises using the "BEWARE" method as warning signs for potentially fraudulent charities:

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

The state Supreme Court has upheld a judge's approval of Monsanto Co.'s massive settlement with thousands of West Virginia residents.
 
     In a 4-1 decision Friday, the court affirmed a January ruling approving the class-action settlement of a lawsuit alleging that the Nitro community was contaminated with dioxin from the former Monsanto chemical plant. The plaintiffs said Monsanto polluted their community by burning waste from production of the defoliant Agent Orange.
 

WV State Troopers, WV State Police
Suzanne Higgins / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia State Police say they've arrested dozens of people in southern West Virginia on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine during targeted efforts in the past month.

Since October 26 state troopers in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, and Braxton counties found 2 meth labs, arrested 14 people and seized a little over $1000.

This resulted in 28 felonies and 2 misdemeanor charges.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The forum started with opening remarks from State Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley) and Del. Tiffany Lawrence (D-Jefferson). Participants then watched part of the PBS film Poor Kids and a short preview of a film about child poverty in the state being produced by West Virginia PBS.

They then met in smaller groups to talk about how poverty affects children academically and socially, stereotypes associated with being poor, what resources are available in the community and what can be done to prevent families from becoming poor.

Ashton Marra

Governor Tomblin made his third major jobs announcement in two weeks Tuesday in Charleston. A supplier for the steel industry, the newest company locating in West Virginia will not just create jobs, but also heavily rely on coal to do it.

“Today, 60 more West Virginians will have good paying jobs and the coal industry will have a new customer,” Tomblin said.

He made the announcement surrounded by executives from Carbonyx International USA and representatives of the state Department of Commerce.

Govenor Earl Ray Tomblin speaks to a crowd in Charleston about Medicaid
Ashton Marra

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling announced today that a second round of 61,000 auto-enrollment letters have been mailed to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients and parents of children covered by Medicaid notifying them that they may automatically qualify for health insurance coverage.
 

To date, the DHHR has determined that 58,390 consumers are eligible for Medicaid expansion

Governor's Office / wv.gov

West Virginia's annual Joyful Night celebration is set for Dec. 3.
 
     Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the holiday event at the State Capitol Complex is free and open to the public.
 
     Activities begin at the North Plaza with music by two high school bands. Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin will then light a tree donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Fisher of Charleston, followed by a performance by a children's chorus.
 

Ashton Marra

Legislators got their first look at a bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in the state during interim meetings in Charleston. A controversial proposal, lawmakers are taking their time scrutinizing the legislation before they even decide to present it to the full legislature for consideration when they convene for the 2014 Regular Session in January.

The comprehensive bill is a compilation of medical marijuana laws from multiple other states and sets forth these five provisions:

1. Creation of a Patient Registry

@Sen_JoeManchin / Twitter

"All we do is work, work, work."

That's the message from Sophia Mullins, first grader at Gauley River Grade School. She wrote to Senator Joe Manchin asking him for help:

Dear Sir,
 
My name is Sophia Mullins. I live in Craigsville, West Virginia. I am in the first grade at Gauley River Grade School. All we do is work, work, work. I need a break. Can you please help?
 
Thanks,
Sophia

Ashton Marra

In his first press conference as Speaker of the state House of Delegates, Speaker Tim Miley announced the intended formation of a new committee in his chamber, the committee on small business, entrepreneurship and economic development.

The committee will be separated from the one already in existence in the House which is focused on the energy industry and labor. Miley said this new committee is important because small businesses are the backbone of future economic growth in the state.

Ashton Marra

The state superintendent said enrollment numbers in public schools statewide are down and the Department of Education is now left trying to figure out where those students have gone.

Superintendent Dr. James Phares reported to a Joint Committee on Education, student enrollment has decreased by more than 1,200 student since last year.

Harrison County led the enrollment decrease losing 283 in the last five years.

CBP / Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Center near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., will soon add new buildings.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $51.7 million contract to construct 250 room student dormitories and a student center.

In a news release Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said the addition of dorms will turn the facility into a full service campus, and will save the government money for training and travel expenses.

Ashton Marra

More than 42,000 West Virginians are employed by the manufacturing industry and state lawmakers were told that number is expected to grow in the coming years, but industry leaders say the state needs to focus on educating those workers now.

President of the West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Karen Price said the problem with the state’s manufacturing industry is not a job shortage, but a labor shortage.

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

A former Mingo County prosecutor has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.
 
     Michael Sparks entered the plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. He faces a year in prison when he's sentenced Feb. 24.
 
     Sparks resigned in October after being charged in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs.
 
     Crum was shot to death in April in an unrelated attack as he ate lunch in his vehicle.  
 

Ashton Marra

A law signed by Governor Tomblin in April is already having its intended effect of decreasing the state’s prison population. Legislators meeting this week in Charleston got an update on how Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison reform bill, is doing.

State lawmakers are presented with projections all the time. The projected annual revenue, for example, is constantly talked about within the corridors of the Capitol because in recent years, those projections have shown major declines in funds.

National Weather Service

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 9:30

Here's a roundup of tweets from local and regional authorities, including emergency services and the National Weather Service:

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 9:14 p.m.

In addition to a wind advisory in effect for most of the state, a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for the western portion of West Virginia.  The National Weather Service in Charleston reports this watch is in effect until 1 a.m. Monday.

Cecelia Mason

The West Virginia Board of Education is pledging not to share students' personal information with anyone outside the system.
 
     The move was codified with a resolution passed at the board's regular meeting this week and will eventually become policy.
 
     The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the action was taken in large part to appease those are concerned with West Virginia's adoption of the national Common Core standards for education.
 

West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy

 

About half of the West Virginians who've applied for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act are eligible for government insurance programs.

Figures released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services show 7,096 West Virginians applied for health coverage through the federal government's website from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2. Of that total, about 3,100 were eligible for coverage either through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

whitehouse.gov

A federal judge has dismissed charges against a West Virginia man accused of sending a threatening letter to President Barack Obama.
 
     A U.S. Secret Service forensic handwriting analysis showed that 20-year-old Ryan Kirker of McMechen didn't write the letter.
 
     According to court records, the letter sent to the White House in April was filled with profanity and racial slurs.
 
     A federal grand jury charged Kirker in June with threatening the president.
 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

A new report says the Legislature should change the way fiscal notes are prepared for legislation.
 
     The report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says fiscal notes are generally inaccurate, often biased, inconsistent and lacking in details.
 
     Fiscal notes are estimates of the costs of legislation. They are prepared by the state agencies that the legislation would affect.
 

Ashton Marra

An Italian based automotive parts manufacturer announced plans to more than double the work force of their West Virginia location. Sogefi USA will add 250 jobs to their Wayne County plant as they create a new line of parts for General Motors vehicles.

“Today, thanks to our collaborative efforts and hard work, 250 West Virginians can look forward to good paying new jobs,” Governor Tomblin said as he made the announcement at Sogefi USA’s manufacturing plant in Wayne County Tuesday morning.

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