Local News – 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. A small aircraft flying from Luray, Virginia, to Fairmont made an emergency landing at the Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW) Sunday.
Airport Director Jonathan Vrabel said at 6:30 p.m., the pilot of the Cessna 172 reported engine and GPS issues that were being complicated by changing weather conditions. The pilot was able to land the aircraft with one passenger without incident.
The Morgantown Fire Department responded.
STAR CITY, W.Va. Police in Star City made an arrest and confiscated drugs and an AR-15 during an investigation into an unconscious man in a truck near University Commons on Sunday.
Officers said John Richie, 37, of Morgantown, was slumped over the steering wheel of a running vehicle and did not wake up until officers knocked on the window several times.
When John Richie, 37, of Morgantown, woke up, he exited the vehicle at the direction of the police so a search could be conducted. At that time, he advised the police that he had a loaded magazine in his pocket and there were outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Police said they found a white powdery substance and detained Richie in the police cruiser.
While interviewing Richie in the cruiser, police learned the registration on the vehicle had been stolen. Richie then told police, “there might be methamphetamine in the middle console and an AR-15 rifle in the back seat.”
In the vehicle, police said they also found two sets of scales and paraphernalia.
Police said a test confirmed the white substance contained fentanyl after a test was conducted.
Richie has been charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and receiving or transferring stolen property and is being held in North Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $60,000 bond.
FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Fairmont State University President Dr. Mike Davis has scheduled an “open Mike” event for Monday.
From 4 to 7 p.m., Dr. Davis will be at the College Lunch at 718 Locust Avenue to talk with community members, faculty, staff, and students.
The open forum provides the opportunity to talk informally with Dr. Davis about ideas, problems, or just to share an issue important to the community.
KINGWOOD, W.Va. Motorists are asked to expect delays in Preston County on County Route 26/23, Beech Run Road, from the junction of North Preston Highway to mile post 1, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday, September 25, 2023, through Friday, September 29, 2023, for paving and shoulder work.
Flaggers will maintain traffic through the work area, and delays are expected.
Officials said inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances could change the project schedule.
STAR CITY, W.Va. In Monongalia County, elected leaders are at an impasse with the West Virginia Department of Highways (DOH) on maintenance in right-of-way areas.
On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Star City Recorder Steve Blinko said DOH officials have not responded to multiple attempts to even discuss the issue, as weeds as tall as 36 inches in some areas are the first thing visitors see driving through or arriving in the area. The lack of communication has ignited frustrations among local leaders, according to Blinko.
“Every citizen in Monongalia County and across the state and country is asked to take care of their property,” Blinko said. “The state and the DOH are no different; they have to take care of their property, or we’re going to have to get our code enforcement involved.”
Included in the requests for action have been offers to help, but those offers have been rejected. A proposal from State Senator Mike Oliverio (R, Monongalia, 13) would allow the maintenance to be done with local forces in exchange for the dollars budgeted by the DOH for the work, however, that proposal was rejected as well.
“As local officials, we want to be positive, and we want to come to the table with solutions,” Blinko said. “But we also need to be firm and let the folks know we can no longer put up with this.”
Blinko said his concerns also come from his full-time job as a teacher and coach at Morgantown High School and other duties as a member of the Morgantown Area Partnership Board of Directors and member of the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board.
“Safety, first and foremost—for my students, for our pedestrians, for the bus drivers, for the regular commuters,” Blinko said. “These issues are about safety, not just aesthetics.”
Over the next 24 months, the DOH will administer about $100 million in major infrastructure improvements, and that number could grow to $250 million in the next five years. Blinko anticipates major issues if the DOH is unable to respond effectively to basic maintenance issues.
“Exit 155, the Star City exit, Chaplin Hill, Green Bag Road, new bridges to the Morgantown Industrial Park, Harmony Grove, and Holland Avenue—those are all over Monongalia County,” Blinko said. “We need to make sure we can cut grass and move snow this winter before we can really have great relationships on these major projects.”
During a recent joint meeting of the Monongalia County Commission and Morgantown City Council, multiple members of each body said multiple requests for information or a meeting had been rejected by the DOH. But officials plan to continue those efforts as well as engage with local state lawmakers to at least arrange a meeting.
“The county commissioners are working hard, city Morgantown officials are calling constantly, their legal teams are trying to figure out what they can do, and the Star City mayor is doing what she can do,” Blinko said. “We just don’t know what to do at this time.”
MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. One person was seriously hurt in a single vehicle crash in Monongalia County Friday morning.
Volunteer firefighters from Cheat Lake, Star City, and Brookhaven, along with state police and deputies from the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department, responded to a scene near Cheat and Tyrone-Avery Roads at 9:30 a.m.
First responders extricated the driver for treatment.
No names have been released.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) of Directors received an update on several projects, including the Source Water Protection Plan and renovation of MUB general offices in Morgantown.
At the Flegal Dam and Reservoir grass is growing and the work is substantially complete. General Manager Mike McNulty said some of the newly planted trees have died and will be replaced this fall.
“We’ve completed our reclamation plan we agreed to with BOPARC and the city of Morgantown regarding the road down into White Park, so it looks really nice.”
Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer, Rich Rogers, said they are partnering with the West Virginia Department of Highways (DOH) for improvements to the access road from the Upper Cobun Creek area to Kingwood Pike. That work includes widening, patching, and drainage work, and some of that work will take place this year.
“The snow is going to fly soon, so we’re probably pushing it,” Rogers said. “I think the culvert repairs will get done for sure, and I think some ditching and some of the work will get done, but whether or not the paving gets done, I sure hope so.”
On August 25, McNulty said the new MUB weather gauge system recorded 1 1/2 inches of rain in a 30-minute period. The system showed engineers where the greatest and most intense rainfall fell and where potential damage could be.
As a result, damage to the Baird Street Combined Sewer Box Restoration Project was discovered. The rain fell with such pressure that it forced the casting to separate from the drainage structure, allowing the water to infiltrate and damage the new asphalt. The project was very important because it stabilized the hillside and separated storm and sanitary sewers for new development.
“A sinkhole developed near the retaining wall, but the wall did not move; it’s in great shape and structurally sound,” McNulty said.
Baird Street repairs are expected to be completed in October.
McNulty also told the board that half of the rights-of-way needed for the Popenoe Run Drainage project have been secured, and consultants are working through stream permit comments provided by the Army Corps of Engineers.
“We were just talking to Damien (Director of Engineering & Public Works for the city of Morgantown) about flood plain permits, and I think those are about to be issued as well,” McNulty said. “So, I think everything is moving along nicely.”
Board members also heard an update on the source water protection plan from downstream strategies. The measure was passed into law following the Elk River chemical spill code that went into effect in 2014 to protect public water systems and wellheads.
PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. Multiple agencies responded to an apparent bomb threat at the Preston County Courthouse Friday morning.
According to Preston County 911, the Assessor’s Office, Preston County Health Department, Preston County Sheriff’s Tax Office, Preston County Clark’s Office, and the offices of the Preston County Commissioners are open Friday in the County Annex.
The Preston County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident.
No information has been released.
FAIRMONT, W.Va. A 43-year-old woman has been charged with child abuse after allegedly choking a teenager during an argument in Marion County.
On Sept. 15, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department initiated the investigation after receiving a report of possible abuse involving a 15-year-old child.
Deputies were able to see the bruises on the child’s neck from a photo provided by the person who made the report.
The child told deputies the injuries in the photo were caused by Amanda Beaven, 43, the night before. that she said were caused by Amanda Beaven, 43, the night before.
Beaven has been charged with child abuse and has been released on bail.
BRUCETON MILLS, W.Va. Members of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 420, representing workers at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Hazelton, rallied in Morgantown Friday, calling for changes to the hiring process and to bring attention to low staffing levels.
AFGE Local 420 President Justin Tarovisky said FCC Hazelton is short 80 officers, and the situation is unsafe for inmates, staff, and the communities that surround the facility.
“We need change! Not only for us and the safety and security of that prison, but for the outlying cities and counties in this area that we provide such a great service to the American public,” Tarovisky said. “These officers and this staff are some of the best in the country.”
Joe Rojas, a 29-year-old employee of the Bureau of Prisons, Southeast Regional Vice President of the Council of Prison Locals, and current federal employee at FCC Coleman in central Florida, traveled to Morgantown for the Friday informational picket. According to Rojas, FCC Coleman is one of the largest institutions in the country, and the problems are the same.
“This is why I’m here, because I know what they’re going through,” Rojas said. “What’s happening in Hazelton, what’s happening in Coleman is happening at Hazelton, and what’s happening at Hazelton is happening in California, Thompson, and all of our prisons—it’s a disgrace.”
Tarovisky said recently, 60 people applied for positions during a hiring fair, but none were brought back for additional interviews after the information was reviewed in the Bureau of Prisons office in Grand Prairie, Texas.
“Over 60 qualified applicants applied to work at Hazelton; however, the Grand Prairie, Texas administration, and managers out there have disqualified them for clerical errors in their resumes,” Tarovisky said.
Staffing levels are so low that overtime is no longer optional; it’s mandated for up to four days each week. Tarovisky said officers are told regularly not to leave the prison when their shift starts.
“We had an office worker just two weeks ago get into a car accident because he couldn’t see straight leaving after he was mandated four to five days a week,” Tarovisky said. “It has become a plague that is affecting our institution, and we are calling for change for Grand Prairie and this director to change the hiring requirements.”
There were three murders at FCC Hazelton in 2018 including notorious criminal Whitey Bulger. That’s when a new warden was hired, Bryan Antonelli. Antonelli was brought in and about 120 officers were hired, some using the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) process that Tarovisky said is no longer being used.
“We were telling you our staffing was low and bad things were going to happen, and what happened? Three homicides and Whitey Bulger,” Tarovisky said. “Again, because of staffing. It happened in Coleman, Florida, just two months ago with the gymnast Mr. Nassar, and he almost died.”
Lowering hiring standards is an option Tarovisky said other professional agencies are doing successfully, and the Bureau of Prisons should as well.
“Because it’s hard to fill positions, they dropped their requirements for officers to get hired for the Pennsylvania State Police,” Tarovisky said. “I have many friends that work for the Pennsylvania State Police, but now you don’t have to have educational requirements, and our requirements are getting worse.”
Rojas said, in addition to changes in hiring practices, pay for correctional officers should be reviewed. When he started 29 years ago, it was one of the highest-paying jobs, but the pay and benefits have eroded over his years of service.
“It’s easy to say there’s a war on crime and lock these guys up, but somebody has to watch these inmates, and it’s got to be us,” Rojas said. “If you don’t give us the manpower to watch these inmates, there’s going to be an uprising.”