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PARSONS, W.Va. West Virginia State Police have issued a Silver Alert for two missing teens. Isaiah Russell, 16, and Brooklyn Stemple, 14, were reported missing on June 5.
Police said they have received reports of sightings of the pair outside Tucker County and are asking anyone who sees them to call 911.
Reports indicate Isaiah is 5-feet, 6-inches tall, 130 pounds, with long red curly hair and blue eyes. He also has Tourette’s syndrome and displays some “mental tics.” Brooklyn is 5-feet-1-inch and 110 pounds, with long dark brown hair, blue eyes, a small mole, and braces.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Issues over the Republic contract for waste and recyclables continue for residents in the City of Morgantown.
Over half of the active members of Morgantown City Council voiced concerns related to waste pickup during the end of Morgantown City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday night. Issues varied from the timing of pickups to communications with contracted disposal company Republic Services and included interactions with the public and with members of the city council themselves.
“I have heard and reported a lot of complaints about missed pickups and early neighborhood pickups,” said Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble on concerns she’s heard regarding trash services.
Trumble, along with Councilors Bill Kawecki, M. Joe Abu-Ghannam, and Mayor Jenny Selin, each voiced a different issue involving Republic Services and their recent performance of duties. While Trumble voiced issues over the timing of pickups that have affected residents, Kawecki described situations where residents didn’t have either the 96-gallon waste bin or the 35-gallon recycle bin provided as part of the service provider’s contract with the city.
“The difficulty I find too, though, is that we don’t seem to have an inventory of anything, not even the recycle bins,” said Kawecki on what he’s seen around Morgantown. “I know there’s one rental property near my area that has four recycle bins in front of it and no trash can,” he said.
Councilor Abu-Ghannam described an incident where Republic Services asked for medical information in order to have a trash bin smaller than the 96-gallon waste container given to Morgantown residents. In his request for a smaller bin due to the size of his wife, Abu-Ghannam alleges that Republic Service representatives requested doctor-signed medical information despite guarantees from Republic Service officials that those types of issues would be avoided.
“When I called about it, because my wife is too short to move the garbage bin, in return they asked for a doctor’s note,” said Abu-Ghannam. “Which I’m not quite sure where Republic’s business is (having) our doctor be involved,” he said.
As part of the contract with the City of Morgantown and Republic Services, the city has the right to issue fines for drops in performance that can vary from missed pickups to a failure to replace a container within a ten-day notice. Trumble, along with the rest of the Morgantown City Council, affirmed that if the same level of service continues, action should be expected to be taken by the city.
“I would like to remind everyone that when we were re-negotiating the contract, we had a commitment that we would be implementing those fines that are written out in the contract,” said Trumble. “And at least on my part, I’m happy to give you video every time they’re through my neighborhood at 5:30 a.m.,” she said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A popular food program that offers free fruits and vegetables to children will return with expanded service for summer 2023.
The West Virginia University Extension Family Nutrition Program will operate the Kids Market @ The Store program in 26 counties in West Virginia after serving 16 counties in 2022. The program is supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and will serve 3,200 families this summer.
“It’s a program where families sign up, and then they receive $30 worth of wooden tokens in the mail, and they can spend those tokens at participating retailers in their county,” said WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program Multimedia Specialist Zack Harold.
Any family that fills out the survey to sign up for the program will receive SNAP-supported wooden tokens that can be used at any participating retailer in the county they live in. Each family will receive $30 in tokens that kids from ages 2 to 17 can use to “shop” for fruits and vegetables that would be found in a designated Kids Market @ The Store display. Harold says the display will have a constant supply of various fruits and vegetables that will be restocked with the help of local farmers.
“Fruits and vegetables that are grown by local West Virginia farmers come once a week, and they stock these special carts, and that’s where the kids will do their shopping,” said Harold.
At checkout, store clerks will also give children who participate a sticker that will vary depending on which produce they purchase. Families who keep track of the collected stickers through the Kids Market @ The Store passport sent as part of their tokens can then mail them back to the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program for WVU-themed prizes. The aim is to offer incentives for kids to try different fruits and vegetables throughout the summer.
“This takes away that barrier; it lets kids do the shopping for themselves, and it also gives it to them for free so they can try things that they might not otherwise try,” said Harold.
The Kids Market @ Store program will operate in Monongalia County as well as Barbour, Cabell, Clay Doddridge, Fayette, Grant, Hardy, Harrison, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Ritchie, Tyler, Uphsur, and Wood counties. With the help of grants from Save the Children and the Sisters Health Foundation, Harold also stated that $138,000 will be paid to local farmers who will provide produce throughout the summer. Produce that will be paid for with SNAP-supported funds so families can have healthy food options while kids are out of school.
“We’re giving families free fruits and vegetables; we’re using funding that we get from other grants; we have community partners; and we use that grant money to pay the farmers,” said Harold.
Families can sign up by completing a short survey at https://wvu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7ZDsUFsohDDRcJ8.
WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program’s work is supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
MASONTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Academy has announced a major donation that will allow the state’s first charter school to add a second campus and sports facility at the current site of the Preston County Youth Center (PCYC) in Masontown.
The partnership with PCYC involves a significant donation of 20 acres of surrounding land by Glenn Larew and the Coaltrain Corporation along with a matching donation from Bionic Tire Recycling for materials to develop additional sports facilities and classrooms for the campus.
“The primary driver behind was Glenn Larew, he is the founder of the PCYC and he contacted us about a partnership and significant donation to create a campus out there,” Chairman of the West Virginia Academy, Jon Treu said. “And we also got a very, very generous in-kind pledge from Bionic Tire Recycling.”
The new campus and sports facility will be a five-phase project at the 20 acre PCYC facility on VIP Dr. in Masontown. The facilities will be an 18-minute drive from the Sabraton exit to I-68 in Morgantown and about the same distance from Kingwood.
“Of all the local counties close to where we operate, Preston County had the strongest support for charter schools,” Treu said. “And that was true both in terms of support in the legislature as well as just ground swell support for charter schools.”
The existing facilities currently include multiple basketball and volleyball courts, as well as an indoor children’s play area. Previously, the areas had been used by community leagues and summer and after-school programs. These programs will continue in partnership with West Virginia Academy, and registration for summer programs is available now.
The new campus will be the home for all WVA competitive sports programs, something that has been a priority, while serving the needs of the PCYC and their community mission.
“This partnership with them allows us to achieve that mission by establishing a campus there as well as operating after school programs and summer programs at that facility,” Treu said.
Currently, a project is underway to add four to six classrooms to the existing building and should be available by August of 2023. Current West Virginia Academy students from the Suncrest area of Morgantown have already been holding events there, including field day and graduation.
Future plans include the addition of a new school, track and field facility, soccer fields, sports courts, playgrounds, and a swimming pool with an enclosure for the winter, so swimming will be available year-round to students during the day and community members in the evenings.
Bionic Tire Recycling will also produce many of the critical components for the sports facilities including surfacing for tracks and sports courts, gripping tile for surfaces around pools, artificial turf, as well as padding and rubber products.
Funding will determine the timeline for some of the sports complex additions, but some funds are already in place.
According to Treu, a pilot opening for the Preston Campus could be as early as this August if there are enough students. However, there are plans for the opening in the fall of 2024.
“Any families that are interested in attending school or having their children attend the charter school at that campus should go to the website and complete the short survey,” Treu said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy and former Director of the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, Dr. Rahul Gupta, participated in a roundtable discussion on the West Virginia University campus Thursday.
Gupta told the group that the Biden administration has allocated $15 billion for addiction treatment to the state, or about $8,500 per West Virginia resident. Gupta said enforcement is still a focus, but as the numbers of those addicted rise, more options must be considered.
“This major shift in policy will be one where we meet people where they are because we cannot feed dead people,” Dr. Gupta said.
Those under 25 likely know someone who has either been addicted or has overdosed, according to Gupta. As the age has dropped, most of the drug market is on the internet, where people inadvertently buy something they think is familiar, but the substance could be a deadly cocktail.
One of the most important efforts has been educating younger people about the dangers of fentanyl and synthetic drugs like Xylazine. Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer mixed with fentanyl that can cause severe limb damage when injected.
“Today, a teenager somewhere in America or right here in Morgantown can log on to social media on an app and order what they think is an Adderall or a Xanax and end up killing themselves,” Dr. Gupta said. “The rate of that is worse than playing Russian roulette with your life.”
Reducing and eliminating stigma relating to mental health and drug treatment is an objective of the program. The stigma related to drug issues is often attributed to a lack of willpower, poor choices, and low moral character. Gupta said over time, opinions have changed and will continue to change, resulting in more people seeking treatment. He also said fentanyl test strips should be readily available for people to test before they use a substance.
“Naloxone is as enabling for addiction as defibrillators cause heat attacks,” Dr. Gupta said. “So, we know that from science, and now everybody has embraced it.”
As interdiction, enforcement, and treatment continue, large quantities of these dangerous drugs continue to flow across the border with Mexico. Gupta said the Biden Administration is making investments in non-human assets that include non-intrusive detection devices to monitor the border.
“We’re always chasing like whac-a-mole, and that’s the reason why on April 12 I declared Xylazine an emerging threat, for the first time any administration has done that,” Dr. Gupta said.
Many times, successful drug treatment depends on the person’s complete engagement. In many cases, he said, engagement could take more than the standard 28 treatment programs paid for by insurance plans. Following that, he said outreach and outpatient services need to be available to people in recovery.
“The challenge really is connection, community, and family,” Dr. Gupta said. “There are going to be individuals who need patient care and who need patient care for a longer time than 30 days.”
The panel included the Chancellor & Executive Dean for Health Sciences, Dr. Clay Marsh; Dean of the WVU College of Applied Human Sciences, Autumn Tooms Cypres; Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Audrey Smith; United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia, Michael J. Aloi; Monongalia County Delegate from the 81st District, Anitra Hamilton; co-chair of the Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force, Azeem Khan; United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, Bill Ihlenfeld; Director of the Carruth Center, T. Anne Hawkins; Executive Director at Clarksburg Mission, Lou Otenzio; Dean of the West Virginia University College of Law, Amelia Smith Rinehart and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, Matthew Cowden.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A complete bridge closure lasting for a year will begin in Harrison County on Monday, June 12.
The Department of Highways (DOH) will close the bridge over Limestone Creek on Wilsonburg Road/County Road 9 near Precision Coil for complete replacement and new drainage structures.
The suggested detours are Limestone Run Road and the West Pike Street exit of U.S. Route 50.
The road is expected to reopen on June 7, 2024.
FAIRMONT, W.Va. Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department made a drug possession arrest while checking on a subject in home confinement in Fairmont.
On Friday, June 2, police went to the residence on Locust Avenue and found the GPS monitoring device but could not find the subject.
While searching the home for the subject, deputies found an ash tray in a bedroom with a white powder that tested positive for suspected methamphetamine and a smoking pipe. A safe found in the room contained four bags of suspected methamphetamine, a scale, packaging materials, and cash.
The home confinement officer informed deputies that Destiny Bogo, 23, of Fairmont, also lived in the home.
Bogo was arrested later and is being held in the North Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $20,012 bond.
ELKINS, W.Va. – Two people were hospitalized, one of whom was flown from the scene, after an accident on U.S. Route 33 at the intersection of Route 151 in Randolph County.
Deputies report a vehicle was turning left onto U.S. Route 33 from Route 151 when it was hit by an eastbound vehicle on U.S. Route 33.
Deputies said the vehicle turning onto U.S. Route 33 failed to yield the right of way.
There is no word on the extent of the injuries.
HealthNet, Randolph County EMS, volunteer firefighters from Junior and Coalton Fire Departments, and West Virginia State Police assisted.
Deputies said the crash happened during the day but did not specify a time.
MAIDSVILLE, W.Va. Firefighters from the Granville Fire Department extinguished a coal truck fire Wednesday.
Crews were called to the Fort Martin Industrial Park in Maidsville at 12:57 p.m. and found the semi-truck with a fully involved cab.
Crews had the fire under control at 1:07 p.m.
No injuries were reported, and the damage was contained to the truck cab only.
No damage estimate has been provided.
The cause is under investigation.