Local News

Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

WAJR-AM

Bridgeport crash victim identified, may have suffered a medical emergency

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Police in Bridgeport have identified the body found in a crashed vehicle off Meadowbrook Road Nov. 21.

Police said a vehicle driven by Larry Gene Ice, 75, of Salem, may have suffered a medical emergency when his car went off Meadowbrook Road, across Custer Hollow and came to a rest on the baxck of the FBI property.

Police ruled out foul play and reckless driving.

The final report by the West Virginia Medical Examiner has not been released.

The crash was not located for days due to terrain and brush in the area.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Weston man faces second child neglect charge in as many years

WESTON, W.Va. – A Weston man is behind bars after an examomation of his one-year-old child at United Hospital Center (UHC)revealed abuse-related injuries.

In September, the nurse told a deputy from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department she was concerned the child had been sexually assaulted due to injuries the genital area.

The child was brought to UHC after the injuries were discovered at home during a bath.

When deputies went to the home of Joshua Sims, 33, he told deputies he had no idea how the injuries occurred.

During the investigation another indivdual told deputies Sims, who has anger issues was home alone with the child September 25 and it was possible he caused the injuries.

In 2019, Sims was charged after a 12-year-old in his care had been left at home for extended periods of time with no food. He was convicted of child neglect in that case in January of 2021.

In the September incident, Sims has been charged with second degree child neglect.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Morgantown firefighter retaliation case against the city continued into 2023

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The retaliation case brought against the city of Morgantown by members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 313 has been continued in order to recall two prior witnesses.

The retaliation claim was filed with the commission following new personnel rules implemented July 1, 2022 after firefighters pursued lawsuits over holiday backpay and compensation in 2019.

The Fire Civil Service Commission granted the continuance requested by attorney representing the firefighters, Joshua Miller from Toriseva Law to subpoena City Manager Kim Haws and Human Resource Director Jim Bihun again for additional testimony. Miller told the commission testimony of Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli and changes to the new personnel policy made November 11, 2022 have created additional questions for both.

A request made by WAJR News for the specific changes made to the new personnel policy on November 11, 2022 has yet been honored.

Miller, and Kay, Casto & Chaney attorneys representing the city, Ryan Simonton, Erin Webb and Matthew Elshiaty have agreed on ten potential days in January and February for next hearing date to accommodate schedules of upcoming witnesses.

Each side will review the dates with upcoming witnesses from Morgantown, city council and members of the fire department, communicate back to the commission to schedule the next hearing date. Haws and Bihun will be the final witnesses to avoid an additional appearance before the commission or continuance of the litigation.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

81st anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack remembered at WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Several members of the public and members of the WVU Reserve Officers’ Training Corps gathered to remember the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Oglebay Plaza at the site of the mast of U.S.S. West Virginia Wednesday.

The Colorado Class Battleship named after the Mountain State was moored on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 when the Japanese hit her with two Bombs and seven torpedoes. That day, 106 sailors were killed in the attack.

The ceremony included remarks from Brigadier General Hope Rampy, Director of Military Personnel Management from the Pentagon and a 21-gun salute.

WVU ROTC Command Sargent Major (CSM), Marshall Lowman said the ceremony was not just for soldiers, sailors and airmen killed at Pearl Harbor, but all conflicts.

“I think it’s a day to look back and remember,” Junior, WVU ROTC CSM Lowman said. ” Not only those who served and sadly died at Pearl Harbor, but anyone who served and died.”

WVU ROTC Cadet 1st Classs Anne Melton said it was for those killed in that unprovoked attack and to remeber the importance of that day in history.

“It’s very important for future generations and my generation to continue to commemorate the fallen on this very tragic day,” Sophomore WVU ROTC Cadet 1st Class Melton said.

Melton has wanted to serve in the military her entire life and when she learned WVU could help her make that dream come true in the Air Force she enrolled.

“I have always wanted to serve in the United States military and as soon as I found out WVU had Air Force ROTC- that’s what I wanted to do,” WVU ROTC Cadet 1st Class Melton said.

Melton was the last person at the ceremony to ring the bell from the U.S.S. West Virginia at the Wednesday ceremony.

“It was heartfelt, words can’t describe the way I felt,” WVU ROTC Cadet 1st Class Melton said. “Feeling the vibration off the bell ringing it, and being the last one to ring the bell was a great honor.”

WVU ROTC CSM Marshall Lowman said he has always wanted to join the US Army and wants to fly, Lowman believes the ROTC path is the best way to reach that goal.

“I think it was really moving,” WVU ROTC CSM Lowman said. “It really helped me to further appreciate what this day means to so many people.”

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Five face federal charges in coronavirus fraud scheme

WHEELING, W.Va. – A federal grand jury has indicted five from West Virginia for coronavirus fraud, including a Bridgeport resident.

United State Attorney William Ihlenfeld announced the indictments as follows:
Dalton Haas, 27, of Wheeling, Wire Fraud and False Statements to Small Business Administration
James A. Nolte, 51, of Bridgeport, wire fraud and money laundering
Shawn M. Murphy, 47, of Moundsville, wire fraud
David Boyd, 27, of Chester, wire fraud and false statement to federal agent
Jodi Headley, 49,of Chester, mail fraud

Dalton Haas allegedly made false statements about organizations he was affiliated with to obtain CARES Act funding. Haas is accused of lying about gross revenues, cost of goods sold, and the number of employees for the Lebanese Restaurant & Bakery, the Wheeling Wine Festival, the West Virginia Hockey League, and the Wheeling Hockey Association.

James Nolte is accused of defrauding the Paychecki Protection Program (PPP) of $645,717. Investigators said Nolte submited false tax documents, payroll reports, and business records in order to obtain the loans for PGO Veteran Services, PG Health, RJS Catering, and Dental Care Plus.

Shawn Murphy allegedly applied for CARES Act funds while he working as a machine operator at businesses in Marshall County.

David Boyd is accused of providing flase information to support an application for PPP funding. That included lying about the gross income of a business known as the Seafood Hut.

Jodi Headley allegedly applied for and received unemployment benefits despite being employed by Hancock County schools.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Outspoken critics of Amendment 2 publicly recognize efforts and look to the future

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A pair of Democrat county commission presidents who actively opposed Amendment 2 in November expressed gratitude for their combined public efforts in Monongalia County Wednesday.

Amendment 2 would have allowed state lawmakers to repeal property taxes on vehicles, business machinery, equipment and inventory. Counties would no longer have had a direct revenue stream and would have to rely on state lawmakers for their annual budgets.

Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom said he became a vocal statewide opponent during a conference in January of 2022 when Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Eric Tarr was unable to provide the plan for counties to maintain their revenue.

Bloom said in the months leading up to the election he hosted many informational events in the northern part of the state while President of the Kanawha County Commission, Kent Carper conducted similar events in the southern portion of the state.

Wednesday, Carper attended the regular meeting of the Monongalia County Commission to reinforce the importance of working together to engage the public.

“I want to sincerely thank your commission for standing up and doing what was right,” Carper said. ” It really was a profile in courage and the fact that it was defeated by voters in your county two-to-one proves you right.”

Bloom and Carper said just a promise, or trust was not enough when hundreds of millions dollars of tax revenue that supports vital services for constituents weighs in the balance. Carper said when statewide policies and ideas are proposed it is their practice to look beyond their budget and borders.

“The Kanawha County Commission has consistently refused to support any legislation that hurts any other county, we just don’t do it,” Carper said. ” Big or small, it doesn’t make any difference to us because we believe we’re all in this together and it is a privilege to be here.”

Bloom said his attempts to get the plan to make counties whole if Amendment 2 passed was never clear. In fact, Bloom said questions at different times leading up to the November election received incomplete or inconsistent answers.

Bloom added several major economic development announcements bring thousands of jobs to the state were announced diluting the argument that property taxes limited economic opportunities.

“This proposal really benefited out-of-state companies,” Carper said. “I don’t know if you had Walmart or Kroger say they were going to move if you don’t do this. They did not come to me.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Sikora said they were willing to work with state lawmakers for tax relief. Carper added state lawmakers passed the amendment with little fanfare during the last legislative session when some coronavirus restrictions were in place.

“You’ve got to be part of the conversation to do that, and you are not part of this conversation,” Carper said. ” This was done down in the legislature when it was closed due to COVID and they did the Constitutional amendments.”

Both commissioners said record surpluses should and could be allocated to some form of tax relief, but a solid plan will be required. But, situations like the EMS/volunteer funding and pay issues within state agencies should be addressed first.

“Something can be done for relief from the inventory tax,” Carper said. ” But, it needs to be a solvable problem where you don’t just trust somebody five or ten years from now to pay for something.”

Statewide about 68-percent of West Virginia voters were opposed to Amendment 2.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Fairmont looks to start new tradition with first ever Christmas tree lighting downtown

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The City of Fairmont is ready to host the first ever Christmas tree lighting at the heart of downtown.

The twenty-foot Christmas tree is being placed at the entrance of the historic downtown shopping district across from the Huntington Bank and will brighten the night sky for the first time at a ceremony on Thursday, December 8. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and will kickoff the annual Fairmont Hometown Holiday Celebration, including the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

“The Christmas tree that was purchased is beautiful and this is the first event that will kickoff the Fest of the Seven Fishes, so it’ll be part of that going forward,” said Fairmont Mayor Tom Mainella.

The ceremony is hosted by Main Street Fairmont in cooperation with the City of Fairmont and WVU Medicine-Fairmont Medical Center. WVU Medicine-Fairmont Medical Center made the initial purchase of the tree and to celebrate the city’s annual holiday traditions, worked with both the city and the local organization to start a tradition for the residents of Fairmont.

“It was an effort of Main Street Fairmont and the City of Fairmont, with a generous donation from WVU Medicine,” said Mainella on WAJR’s Talk of the Town. “The administration bought a Christmas tree that was placed on the 100 block of Adams Street, in a greenspace the city owns,” he said.

The first ever Fairmont Christmas tree lighting will begin with live music by local high school musical acts along with free refreshments courtesy of local restaurant, The Joe. A young Fairmont resident will also be selected by Main Street Fairmont as the winner of the annual holiday coloring contest, the winner will be the person to light the inaugural Fairmont Christmas tree.

“The East Fairmont Elizabethans will open the program, and they’ll be followed by the East Fairmont Choir,” said Mainella. “Then the results of the coloring contest and that will designate the person who gets to light the Christmas tree for the first time,” he said.

The Fairmont Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be followed by the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Friday that will also host the annual Hometown Christmas Market. Festival Cucina will also take place on Friday and Saturday and will include dishes from seven regional chefs. The three days of holiday celebrations are expected to be a part of a new tradition for Fairmont.

“And this year, there’s going to be food provided for two days, instead of just Friday it will be on Friday and Saturday, it will be great,” Mainella said.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Tickets for biggest event ever at the Mylan Park Aquatic Center on sale now

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Session tickets for the USA Diving Winter Nationals at the Mylan Park Aquatic Center are on sale now. President and CEO of the Visit Mountaineer Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Susan Riddle said the same facility is one of two finalists to host an Olympic diving event.

“This is our dress rehearsal for the bid we submitted for the 2024 USA Olympic Diving Trials and were are on of two finalists,” Riddle said.

Riddle encourages residents to show their support by attending some of the sessions, but said she hopes the entire community can show some level of support even if they cannot attend.

“The more we can show community support the more the USA Diving Site Selection Committee will see how serious we are,” Riddle said.

The 2022 USA Diving Winter Nationals is the largest event hosted by the Mylan Park Aquatic Center. Riddle believes a community-wide show of support will really make a positive impression and could lead to the next biggest event ever to be held there.

“Anyone who has a business and a billboard from December 14 through 18 we would really appreciate digital or static letter messages that say,” Welcome USA Diving,” it’s that simple,” Riddle said.

The week begins with a “last chance” qualifier Monday and Tuesday, them competition begins on Wednesday with the championship round on Sunday. For complete session ticket information click here.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Hoax shooting calls to multiple schools create chaos and panic
Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Morgantown man accused in $500,000 check fraud scheme

WHEELING, W. Va. – A Morgantown man has been indicted following an investigation into the theft nearly a half a million dollars in a check forgery scheme that victimized a a relative.

Jaynesh Umesh Patel, 40, faces bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, according to United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld. Patel allegedly used the identity of a relative to create fraudulent bank accounts and forged checks to be deposited that amounted to more than $450,000.

Ihlenfeld said the scheme was executed between June 2019 and October 2022 in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties.

“Sadly, those who engage in white-collar crime are often related to their victims, and that is the case here,” said United States Attorney Ihlenfeld. “We will continue to make sure offenders are held to account and do everything within our power to recover the amount lost.”

Patel could be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each of the three counts of bank fraud and faces up to two years in federal prison each of the two counts of aggravated identity theft.

The FBI conducted the investigation.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV