The Voice of West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County commissioners are advancing a plan to enact subdivision regulations.
The policies will be designed to guarantee safe and adequate streets, utilities, and drainage. Developers use the standards to construct developments that conform to county regulations.
Variances are still possible for areas where terrain or circumstances make compliance too costly or not practical.
“Patterns for roads in Monongalia County are struggling under the load of new development, which is a good thing, but we’ve also identified that infrastructure is inadequate,” said Andrew Gast-Bray, the Monongalia County director of planning. “We’ve been struggling with stormwater issues and washouts.”
Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said the standard rules will be good for development.
“For all of those developers that do it correctly and then hear concerns from those who don’t follow the rules,” he said. “This way, everyone will be treated equally and everyone knows the form.”
Beginning in October, the commission is planning to hold public meetings with the goal of drafting a final plan by the end of November. If adopted, the rules could take effect in March 2020.
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FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Twenty-five employees of the Fairmont Regional Medical Center learned Wednesday they were laid off from the facility.
The news came without warning. An official told WBOY-TV the positions were all administrative.
Fairmont Regional Medical Center is owned by Alecto Healthcare Services, the parent company of the Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and the East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Ohio Valley Medical Center shut down earlier this month.
Alecto purchased Fairmont General Hospital in June 2014; the name was changed to the Fairmont Regional Medical Center in September that year.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There does not seem to be an immediate end to the abnormally dry forecast and warm temperatures seen in southern West Virginia over the past few weeks.
A high-pressure system is continuing to bring the conditions in the mid to upper 80s through the end of the workweek.
“Much of southern West Virginia is listed as abnormally dry,” Simone Lewis, National Weather Service Charleston meteorologist told MetroNews. “There is a moderate drought across the very southern portion such as McDowell and Wyoming counties.”
The first chance of precipitation comes early next week with a cold front but Lewis said she would not expect much.
“There’s a cold front that is going to come in around Tuesday and Wednesday,” she said. “That is going to bring some participation to us but that is going to be pretty short-lived.”
The cooler mornings expected next week could help with the delay of fall foliage across the state. Fall begins on the calendar September 21 but Lewis said the conditions have affected the leaves changing colors.
“That does stress out the vegetation and I know that’s why a lot of the trees in the area are losing leaves,” Lewis said. “If you notice a lot of them are turning brown and just falling off.”
This is what happens after weeks of hot and dry wx with some cool mornings sprinkled in: Some yellowing/browning of foliage along with some premature turning of a few varieties of red maple. #wvwx #kywx #ohwx pic.twitter.com/v7JobPFL15
— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) September 16, 2019
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The switches have been flipped and the array of over 1,700 solar panels at Yeager Airport are running.
The multi-million project officially came to an end on Wednesday as airport officials, local leaders and the community gathered on top of Parking Garage A where the panels sit for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The 1,701 panels sitting on top of the long-term parking garage will be used to power all parking facilities at the airport. The solar panels’ power will be collected on the utility meter and then transferred to the power used on the terminal.
Mike McKechine is the President of Mountain View Solar, the company whose panels were used, and said at the ceremony that the panels will pay for themselves.
“The utility bill that you pay, provides power for the next month and month after that,” he said. “If you invest in the infrastructure that produces its own power, that monthly expense turns into an asset. That’s the quickest, easiest way to look at solar.”
$3.5 million in funding for the project came from a federal grant through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), nearly 90-percent. The other 10-percent of funding for the project came from state funding.
The project originated more than three years ago but was put on hold due to funding and other issues, according to former Yeager Airport Director Terry Sayre.
Dan Hill with Dan Hill Construction said the project was scheduled to be done earlier in the summer but they ran into issues as well with the FAA.
“Since we are at an airport and very close to the airport runway, all of these designs have to be approved by them and it takes time,” Hill told MetroNews.
“Believe it or not, they shut down the government when we were at the peak of our decision making so it delayed us a little while.”
The project will also add electric vehicle charging stations to the 2nd floor of Parking Garage A in the coming months.
The panels are expected to bring cost savings to the airport of more than $50,000 per year.
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BECKLEY, W.Va. — An alleged drug-running operation spanning nearly the entire length of the continental United States was shut down Wednesday when law enforcement from multiple agencies conducted a sting operation dubbed “Operation Shutdown Corner.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced the arrests of 17 suspects and the seizure of what he described as large quantities of controlled substances, along with illegally possessed firearms and cash.
“From San Diego to West Virginia, today’s operation shut down a major drug trafficking organization. Over 200 law enforcement agents from more than five states were involved in this operation,” said Stuart. “As a result of these indictments and arrests, West Virginia communities and West Virginia families are safer today than they were yesterday. We continue with a sense of urgency to take down and remove those who cause only harm and despair in the interests of greed.”
According to Stuart, a long-term investigation revealed that a stream of packages containing methamphetamine and heroin were being shipped from San Diego, California to Raleigh County and the surrounding area, using common carriers, such as the U.S. Postal Service and UPS.
During Wednesday’s press conference at the Robert C. Bryd United States Court House and Federal Building in Beckley, Stuart said he personally was disturbed by the fact that seven children were living in one of the houses in Raleigh County allegedly being used to store a portion of the drugs arriving from California.
“The conditions these children were living in, they break your heart, and it raises the question: if children are raised in this type of environment, lack of role models, total filth, absolute squalor, how is it that these children are going to rise up to be citizens who are involved in our community, who can be change agents, who can be champions in our community? It was shocking, the conditions these kids were living in,” he said.
The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and included the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Marshals Service, the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, which is made up of law enforcement officers from the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, the Beckley Police Department, West Virginia State Police, the Central West Virginia Drug Task Force and the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.
In addition to Raleigh County, arrests were made in Fayette and Mercer Counties. One suspect was arrested in San Diego. The identities of the suspects, all of whom are in federal custody, were not disclosed.
Stuart said the investigation is ongoing and could result in additional federal and state charges in the future.
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GAMES TO WATCH
No. 1 Fairmont Senior (3-0) at No. 2 Bridgeport (3-0)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Last week: Both teams won convincingly over previously unbeaten opponents. The Polar Bears topped North Marion, 39-6. Bridgeport got by Liberty Harrison, 35-7.
Why it’s important: It’s a matchup of Class AA state championship contenders and the winner enhances its chances of staying at home through the semifinals in the postseason. One of these two teams has played in the Class AA title game each of the last six seasons. The contest will be shown live on the MetroNews channel.
Who to watch for Fairmont Senior: Quarterback Gage Michael threw three touchdown passes to Kayson Nealy in last week’s win over the Huskies. Against the Tribe, the Polar Bears will need to stop the run, meaning their front seven will need to be on top of its game. Defensive lineman Zach Frazier leads the group up front.
Who to watch for Bridgeport: The Indians will look to control the click and possess the ball to keep it away from Fairmont Senior. For that plan to be effective, BHS will need a strong showing from its offensive line, as well as quarterback Devin Vandergrift and fullback Trey Pancake. Pancake and fellow linebacker Carson Winkie are pivotal to the team’s success on defense.
No. 14 Nicholas County (2-1) at Lincoln (2-1)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week: The Grizzlies suffered their first regular season loss since 2017 against Wyoming East, 22-18. Lincoln got past Grafton, 18-10.
Why it’s important: With the margin for error small in Class AA, a loss in this one is costly. The Grizzlies want to show they can respond from last week’s setback, while the Cougars have a chance to pick up a win that would build confidence and likely pay off in a big way down the line.
Who to watch for Nicholas County: Wideout Luke LeRose is an explosive playmaker on the perimeter and hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback Timmy Baker in last week’s loss. Baker, however, suffered an injury in the second quarter and never returned. His status is important as the Grizzlies try to get back on track.
Who to watch for Lincoln: After allowing 62 points in a Week 2 loss to Fairmont Senior, the Lincoln defense responded and held Grafton to 84 yards a week ago. Tailback Colten Hovermale is the focal point of the offense and rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Bearcats.
No. 5 University (2-1) at No. 7 Wheeling Park (2-1)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week: Both teams bounced back from their first loss to climb back over the .500 mark. University defeated Brooke, 39-15, while Wheeling Park got by Hedgesville, 43-26.
Why it’s important: The winner will feel good about its chances of making the playoffs, while the loser falls back to .500. That both teams are in the top 10 of the first WVSSAC playoff ratings only increases the importance of this Ohio Valley Athletic Conference matchup.
Who to watch for University: The Hawks outscored Brooke, 26-0, in the second half last week to pull away. Logan Raber rushed for 220 yards against Brooke, while quarterback Joseph McBee threw for 127 yards and one touchdown and rushed for an additional 55 yards and four scores.
Who to watch for Wheeling Park: Quarterback Alex Dunlevy has experience and talent. In last week’s victory over the Eagles, Dunlevy threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 48 yards and two scores. Shaheed Jackson caught a pair of TDs and finished with four receptions for 70 yards.
Other games: Valley Wetzel (0-2) at Clay-Battelle (1-1); East Fairmont (1-2) at Braxton County (0-3); Class AA No. 10 North Marion (2-1) at Elkins (0-3); Philip Barbour (0-3) at Liberty Harrison (2-1); Hedgesville (0-3) at Morgantown (0-3); Class AA No. 14 Robert C. Byrd (2-1) at Preston (3-1); Class A No. 15 Trinity (2-1) at Marylan School for the Deaf (3-0)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sen. Mitch Carmichael wants to renew the push to dry up dog racing in West Virginia, but it’s not yet clear if the rest of the legislative pack is with him.
“This is an industry that has come and gone. It makes no sense for the taxpayers of this state to continue to subsidize what amounts in my view to an inhumane activity. It just boggles the mind,” Carmichael, R-Jackson, said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
That word “subsidy” is a major bone of contention.
Money is collected from the state’s casinos, flows through state Lottery and then goes back into greyhound breeder’s fund and purses for races.
Opponents call that a subsidy. Supporters say it’s a financial transfer with the state in the middle.
The Legislature voted to end the practice in 2017 when the state was in a budget crisis. The $14 million the state handles for greyhound racing was one of many pieces of the budget puzzle.
Office of the Governor
Gov. Jim Justice vetoed the bill, traveling to Wheeling, where the racing that takes place at Wheeling Island is considered a significant local economic driver.
“Greyhounds are born runners, and I hope to keep them running in West Virginia for a very long time,” Justice said then.
Carmichael this week wrote an op-ed for West Virginia newspapers, kicking up the greyhound racing debate yet again.
He argued not only against the state passing along the money to support greyhound racing but also took note of injuries to the dogs.
“Is this where you want to spend $14 million of taxpayer money? I would much rather put it toward health or education,” he said. “That money could be used for anything else the elected leaders of West Virginia want to use it for.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 18, 2019
His position drew fire from Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, who represents the Wheeling area.
“I think it’s clear he’s clueless on the greyhound industry,” Fluharty said. “It’s truly amazing our Senate president is vocally supportive of killing 1,700 jobs in the Northern Panhandle.”
The 1,700 jobs was part of a study cited during the last go-round for this debate. It includes both direct and indirect employment related to dog racing.
“Typically, the Senate president should be pushing to add 1,700 jobs to a struggling economy, not taking away,” Fluharty said. “Usually we’d be throwing a ticker tape parade if he passed legislation to add jobs.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 18, 2019
In 20017, the House of Delegates passed the greyhound racing bill 56-44 while the Senate passed the bill 19-15.
Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, questions whether a similar bill would still have the same support. Butler last year announced plans to run for Senate in the district that Carmichael currently represents.
“I don’t think the votes are there in the House to stop funding for greyhound breeding anymore,” Butler said. “Therefore it is ‘safe’ for Carmichael to propose eliminating it now.”
His premise was based on support last year for a bill that restored $11 million in funding to racetrack purse funds.
“The only reason I say we probably would not have the votes is because we just passed the new subsidy,” said Butler, who argued at the time that the state has greater financial priorities such as education. “It would be odd for a large majority to switch positions now I think.”
Senator Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, said he’ll part ways with Carmichael on this one. Weld said the jobs related to racing are important to the district he represents.
“We went through this in 2107, and I made it well known then,” Weld said in a telephone interview. “I was opposed to any effort that would hurt the employees of this industry, that would hurt the City of Wheeling through the loss of revenue from the industry.”
Weld contended that the financial arrangement does not represent a subsidy: “It’s money that the greyhound track receives from revenues created at the casino through their gaming.
“For some reason whenever this relationship was established in code, the money went rom the casino to the state who then handed it to the industry,” Weld said. “I’m not sure why the state was ever put in place as a middle man.”
He objected to diverting the money to the state’s General Fund, rather than having a specific plan for its use.
“So if it’s revenue generated by the casino wouldn’t it then be proper to give it to the casino? What are we using this money for that’s revenue generated at the casino? Are we going to use it to assist the city of Wheeling or other municipalities located in Ohio County?” Weld asked.
“Are we just doing a money grab here or are we going to leave that money in the locality it’s generated in?”
The post Carmichael wants to end financial support for W.Va. greyhound racing appeared first on WV MetroNews.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Along with the rest of the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia released its full schedule for the 2019-20 men’s basketball season on Wednesday.
The Mountaineers open their conference schedule at the league’s toughest venue. West Virginia starts Big 12 play at Kansas on Jan. 4. That game, along with the Jayhawks’ return trip to Morgantown on Feb. 12, is being streamed via the league’s new Big 12 Now online partnership with ESPN.
The Big 12 regular season concludes with a home game against Baylor on March 7.
WVU will host Duquesne in a charity exhibition at the Coliseum before opening the regular season against Akron on Nov. 8. West Virginia has seven home games on this year’s non-conference schedule, including one against Missouri in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Jan. 25.
The Mountaineers are participating in this year’s Cancun Challenge, which includes a pair of on-campus games against Northern Colorado and Boston University before the competition moves to Mexico Thanksgiving week. West Virginia will face Northern Iowa in its first game in Cancun, then take on either South Carolina or Wichita State.
This year’s version of the Backyard Brawl will be hosted by Pitt on Nov. 15.
The Mountaineers return to their old Big East tournament stomping grounds with a visit to St. John’s on Dec. 7. West Virginia will also meet Ohio State in Cleveland’s recently rechristened Rocket Mortgage Arena on Dec. 29.
“We played the 11th-toughest schedule in the country last season, and this year will be no different,” coach Bob Huggins said in WVU’s official release. “We like having 10 games at home on weekends, having three road contests within a short drive of Morgantown, traveling to Cancun over the Thanksgiving break, playing again at Madison Square Garden and having two Saturday-Monday road games in the league to help our travel some. We know Mountaineer Nation will continue to show up and support us no matter when and where we play.”
West Virginia enters the season looking to bounce back from one of the few losing years in Huggins’ coaching tenure. The Mountaineers finished 15-21 in a tumultuous 2018-19 campaign, the program’s first losing season since Huggins’ first year at the helm.
With a rebuilt roster featuring 5-star freshman Oscar Tshibewe and returners Derek Culver, Jordan McCabe and Emmitt Matthews, the Mountaineers will look to return to the NCAA tournament.
2019-20 WVU Men’s Basketball Schedule
Day Date Opponent Location TV Time
Fri Nov. 1 Duquesne (charity exhibition) Morgantown AT&T SportsNet 7 p.m.
Fri Nov. 8 Akron Morgantown AT&T SportsNet 7:00 p.m.
Fri Nov. 15 at Pitt Pittsburgh, Pa. TBD TBD
Mon Nov. 18 Northern Colorado % Morgantown AT&T SportsNet 7:00 p.m.
Fri Nov. 22 Boston University % Morgantown Nexstar 7:00 p.m.
Tues Nov. 26 vs. Northern Iowa + Riviera Maya, Mexico CBS Sports Network 8:30 p.m.
Wed Nov. 27 vs. South Carolina or Wichita State + Riviera Maya, Mexico CBS Sports Network 6/8:30 p.m.
Sun Dec. 1 Rhode Island Morgantown AT&T SportsNet 2 p.m.
Sat Dec. 7 at St. John’s ^ New York, N.Y. FS1 Noon
Thurs Dec. 12 Austin Peay Morgantown Nexstar 7 p.m.
Sat Dec. 14 Nicholls Morgantown AT&T SportsNet 2 p.m.
Sat Dec. 21 vs. Youngstown State $ Youngstown, Ohio TBD TBD
Sun Dec. 29 vs. Ohio State ! Cleveland, Ohio FS1 Noon
Sat Jan. 4 at Kansas * Lawrence, Kan. Big 12 Now/ESPN+ 4 or 8 p.m.
Mon Jan. 6 at Oklahoma State * Stillwater, Okla. ESPN2 9 p.m.
Sat Jan. 11 Texas Tech * Morgantown ESPN/2/U 6 p.m.
Tues Jan. 14 TCU * Morgantown ESPNU 9 p.m.
Sat Jan. 18 at Kansas State * Manhattan, Kan. ESPNU 2 p.m.
Mon Jan. 20 Texas * Morgantown ESPNU 7 p.m.
Sat Jan. 25 Missouri # Morgantown ESPN/2/U Noon
Wed Jan. 29 at Texas Tech * Lubbock, Texas Big 12 Now/ESPN + TBD
Sat Feb. 1 Kansas State * Morgantown ESPN/2/U 2 p.m.
Wed Feb. 5 Iowa State * Morgantown ESPN2/U 7 p.m.
Sat Feb. 8 at Oklahoma * Norman, Okla. ESPNU 2 p.m.
Wed Feb. 12 Kansas * Morgantown Big 12 Now/ESPN + 7 p.m.
Sat Feb. 15 at Baylor * Waco, Texas Big 12 Now/ESPN + 4 p.m.
Tues Feb. 18 Oklahoma State * Morgantown ESPN/2/U 7 p.m.
Sat Feb. 22 at TCU * Fort Worth, Texas ESPN/2/U 2 p.m.
Mon Feb. 24 at Texas * Austin, Texas ESPNU 7 p.m.
Sat Feb. 29 Oklahoma * Morgantown ESPN2/U 4 p.m.
Tues Mar. 3 at Iowa State * Ames, Iowa ESPN2/U 9 p.m.
Sat Mar. 7 Baylor * Morgantown Big 12 Now/ESPN+ 1 p.m.
Wed-Sat Mar. 11-14 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Kansas City, Mo. ESPN/2/U TBD
% Cancun Challenge, Morgantown, W.Va.
+ Cancun Challenge, Riviera Maya, Mexico
^ Big 12/BIG EAST Scheduling Alliance at Madison Square Garden
$ Covelli Centre, Youngstown, Ohio
! Cleveland Classic at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland, Ohio
# Big 12/SEC Challenge
* Big 12 Conference Game
– ALL DATES AND TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE FOR TELEVISION
– All Times Eastern
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After more than 12 years with Yeager Airport, Terry Sayre has retired from his position as airport director.
Sayre announced his retirement on Wednesday in front of the airport’s board before the board approved Nick Keller as new airport director. Keller had previously been assistant airport director.
“I can’t say enough about the board, the people that have worked for me,” Sayre said to the media. “Everybody is super up here, I appreciate all of them. I couldn’t’ have asked for a better staff.
“Nick is a young guy and has a ton of energy, dedication, and duty. He’s an excellent manager.”
Sayre will be leaving the airport on Dec. 31 but Keller takes over the position immediately. James Mason and Dominique Ranieri will be working as assistant directors.
On July 22, 2015, Sayre was voted in as airport director from an assistant director position and has since then changed the entire complexion of the airport. He said he has been most proud of leaving the airport in a better place.
He noted major construction projects completed under his watch such as the solar project which was completed on Wednesday, the 5-end runway rebuild, the General Aviation roadway, and the deal with Marshall University for a School of Aviation.
Sayre was presented with a Distinguished West Virginian award by Gov. Jim Justice’s office in front of the board on Wednesday.
Keller, who has been an assistant director under Sayre since August 2015, said he has learned a lot from his leadership.
“I have learned how to be a great leader, also how to be a mentor to others,” Keller said. “If anybody is successful in business, you need a mentor and have to have a team.”
Keller began working at Yeager Airport as an Intern and Special Assistant to the Airport Director in May 2005. He began working for the Airport full-time in May 2007 after graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership & Supervision.
Keller went on to earn a master’s degree from Purdue University in Aviation Management, calling the position he earned on Wednesday the perfect one for him.
He said he has some goals laid out for the future of the airport.
“Make sure the airport is financially stable but also to help the economy,” Keller said. “How can we use the airport to be an economic engine for Kanawha County and to bring more jobs in here?”
As for Sayre, who began a distinguished law enforcement career in Charleston in 1972 before getting to the airport in May 2007, he said it’s family time.
“My grandson has already had two tee-ball games in Florida. I have to go down there and check that out because I am a baseball fanatic. My son is down there with his wife too.”
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SPENCER, W.Va. — It’s been a rough week for Roane County High School Coach Paul Burdette. He’s had to perform his most difficult coaching job ever by trying to find a way forward for his young men who are stricken with grief after the loss of one of their own.
A day after senior wide receiver Alex Miller collapsed on the sideline and died Burdette called his team back together. He wanted nobody alone with so much raw emotion and pain.
“It was so hard to walk back into the locker room knowing there was an empty locker and an empty chair. But we had an amazing meeting and just being together, talking, laughing, and crying together was amazing,” said Burdette.
The meeting concluded with his team walking out of the field house to find the darkened Roane County Stadium ringed by hundreds of community members holding candles and remembering Miller’s life. The difficult healing process had begun. Tuesday, the support poured in from all over the state with simple tributes of people wearing the school colors of maroon and white.
“I must have had 40 or 50 pictures sent to me personally and looking across the social media outlets the overwhelming show of respect and support for our community and for Alex’s family was unreal. It was absolutely humbling,” he said.
Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the West Virginia SSAC said Tuesday’s outpouring was pure West Virginia at its best.
“One thing about West Virginia that sets us apart is we really care about each other. If you looked on social media, there were hundreds of schools doing things,” he said.
The next step for Burdette and his team will be Saturday’s funeral which promises to be a massive affair. It will be a fitting tribute to a young man who touched so many lives.
“He had been in our weight program since he was in sixth grade. He loved his brothers on the football team. He loved his coaches. He loved football,” Burdette said. “If you had to coach him and he was doing something that needed to change, his response was always, ‘Yes sir.’ It was never anything other than that.”
Roane County fortunately had an open date this week. But, Burdette knows next week, will be another step in the healing process as he brings his team back to practice.
“Just like Alex would have wanted us to do and just like Alex would have done if he was here, we’ll start focusing on Braxton County and getting back to what we do,” he said. “I don’t want them to misinterpret that. I want them to understand they need to get back to living life each day, just like Alex would have done. But that doesn’t mean they need to forget Alex or leave him behind.”
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