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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Civilian Police Review and Advisory Board has completed a review of their first case with the Morgantown Police Department.
Board member Megan Gandy raised questions about an arrest on August 30, 2021, at the Sheetz location downtown on University Avenue.
Gandy had questions about the response when she witnessed four police cruisers in the parking lot and officers interacting with a black female who appeared to be upset.
“I think it was extremely informative; there was a lot of really good feedback and back-and-forth,” police chief Eric Powell said. “I think it was very productive and positive.”
Committee chairman Rich Burks said the first case review was a good experience for the board.
“I thought it was a fruitful meeting—we had questions and he had answers,” Burks said. “He volunteered a lot of information that will help us, and it goes a long way in helping us discharge our responsibility.”
Powell said there were good questions posed by the board, and he feels that will lead to a better understanding for the police and community. Board members sharing their experiences and knowledge could be another way to improve relations with the public.
“A couple of the board members said the initial responding officer did a pretty good job with respect to his response and his attempts to de-escalate the situation and bring it to a peaceful resolution,” Powell said.
One of the voting questions focused on the code of conduct and whether those policies are enforced consistently across the board. Following a set of standard orders keeps the officer focused on procedure and proper response.
“One of our concerns was that when they hear a particular type of call, does that dictate how they interact with the public when they do respond to that call?” Burks said.
One change that has been made as a result of the board’s work is easy access to the civilian complaint regarding a police response on the website. Before, residents had to get the form from the Public Safety Building on Spruce Street; now it is more prominently displayed on the police department website.
In Morgantown, police officers complete annual implicit bias and de-escalation training and are equipped and trained to use less lethal options. Choke-holds are considered deadly force and are never considered a means to gain compliance.
“We always try to take steps to do better through training and other things, and I think that message got across,” Powell said. “I think they understood it and appreciated it.”
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The hours of operation for state-federal disaster centers have changed in Boone, Calhoun, Clay, Harrison, and Kanawha
Beginning Feb. 29, 2024 the centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Boone County center is located at 38 John Slack Circle in Racine.
The Calhoun County center is located at 80 Spring Run Rd. in Arnoldsburg.
In Clay County the center is located at 223 Main Street in Clay.
In Harrison County thew center is in the Harrison County Courthouse at 301 W. Main Street in Clarksburg.
In Kanawha County one center is located in the Belle Town Hall at 1100 E. Dupont Ave. in Belle.
A second location in Kanawha County is located in the Penn VA Coal Carbon Center at 13905 MacCorkle Ave in Charleston.
Residents that cannot travel to any of the centers should call 800-621-3362 or apply online.
MONONGALIA COUNTY, W. Va. – The West Virginia Fishing, Hunting, and Outdoors Show comes to the JW Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park on March 2 and 3. The largest sports show in the region features 200 vendors in 100,000 square feet of everything outdoors.
NASCAR driver, disabled Marine Corps veteran, and host of Josh White’s Outdoor Adventures show currently on Waypoint TV will be on hand with give-aways and autographs.
“I’m just there to have a fun time, meet some new people, make some new fans, and I’ll be there signing autographs as well,” White said. “You can come get a free autograph and get your picture taken with me; it’s going to be a fun time.”
White is a West Virginia native and said the show is a real family account of actual hunting adventures. White, his daughter, and their family share their hunting experiences in the West Virginia countryside, not from a plantation or organized hunting area.
“It’s real hunting; nothing is scripted,” White said. “Sometimes we get something, and sometimes we don’t.”
For season 2, the show will begin to branch out to other areas of the country and move to cable TV. Beginning this month, season 2 can be seen on Waypoint TV and the Hunt Channel.
“We’re going to be upgrading; it’s going to be an awesome ride—it’s going to be even better next year,” White said. “I learned a lot this year, but next year we’re going to be on cable TV, so next year is going to be a big year for us.”
There will also be several chances to win, including a weekend for two at Dream Mountain Ranch valued at $10,000, a youth dirt bike, a Red Bonafide SS127 kayak, and a Northern Maine Bear Bait Hunt valued at $4,600.
Erik Geroski, a West Virginia native, and the Backbone Mountain Guide Service team are providing the Maine bear hunting adventure. Geroski said 15 years ago, he started coming to Maine to hunt and developed a relationship with the guide service. Geroski and his partner bought the guide service about five years ago and have been operating it since.
“We’re primarily hound hunters providing hounded bear adventures, but we also offer guided bait hunts,” Geroski said.
Geroski said there are more and larger bears in Maine, and the biggest difference Mountain State hunters will notice is that baiting is legal. He said they operate about 75 bait sites on 40,000 acres with a variety of tree stands or ground blinds, and hunters can use a gun or bow.
“You stand a better chance of harvesting a bigger bear in Maine,” Geroski said. “Just because there’s more bear up there, you’d have a better chance of harvesting a trophy bear.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The first North-Central West Virginia Outdoors Community Meetup was attended by more than 100 people on Wednesday at the Morgantown Ascend WV Basecamp on University Avenue.
The event was hosted by the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Collaborative at West Virginia University (WVU).
Staff engineer for the city of Morgantown, Drew Gatlin, talked about three pending trail projects in the area. The three projects included the Flegal Reservoir, White Park South, and the Action Park at Marilla/Valley Crossing.
The Flegal Reservoir project includes three miles of trails, at least one bridge, and a kayak launch to be partially funded with $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds. The project is a collaboration with Morgantown, WVU, the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB), and BOPARC that entered the planning stage in 2022.
“This is going to be built ASAP; we just had bridge engineers out there Monday looking at our crossings,” Gatlin said. “We’re looking at three miles of trail, and we’re going out for bid in December.”
The White Park South project is being done at the former site of one of the largest oil tank farms in the 1880s. This project will improve about 1.5 miles of trails while actually completing the environmental cleanup simultaneously. The project will be funded with $500,000 from the EPA.
“We know we need more trails in White Park, and we know we need to rebuild the trail system out at White Park with the actual clean-up technique, so trail construction is a clean-up technique.” Gatlin said.
WVU now offers a Sustainable Trails Development Graduate Certificate and Trail Stewardship program. The programs teach design and maintenance and is designed to grow more trail experts here in the Mountain State to further the outdoor economy.
“We want to establish Morgantown and WVU as hubs for trail education and trail research,” Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Coordinator for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Richard Edwards, said. “This is the kind of place that kids growing up in New England would say—I want to go to WVU so I can learn about modern trails because I want to be a trail manager.”
Director of outdoor development for the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Andy Williamson, said they plan to invest in helping communities with expertise and bring a trail expert to Morgantown. He said they’ll help train communities on how to create, maintain, and operate world-class trails in West Virginia.
“It’s about growing our outdoor economy and leveraging our national partners and their expertise and lessons learned on how to create a support system to help outdoor businesses start, grow, and thrive right here in West Virginia.”
In the coming weeks, enthusiasts will have an interactive online map where comments can be left or users can look at the trail system. Comments that are left on the site will be reviewed and could even be incorporated into the future design.
“Within the month, if not sooner, we will have a story map up,” Edwards said. “A web-based map where you can zoom around and look at all the different zones, be able to make comments and suggestions, and look at some of the opportunities.
FAIRMONT, W.Va. The 24-hour Fairmont State University Falcon Day of Giving is a community effort to recognize the contribution of the institution and support its’ efforts. The event has a goal of $375,000, and President Dr. Michael Davis will kick the event off at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, February 29, personally online.
All of the activities from all of the units will be streamed online throughout the event.
“Every unit on campus is participating, so people can give to the thing they care about the most,” Davis said. “I’ll kick it off with a live stream on all of our social media channels.”
In addition to being able to make donations to impact areas of the institution they favor most, there are a series of giving challenges available for donors.
“It’s a way for people to connect back to the university and feel like they’re part of it,” Davis said. “We’re a public university, and we want them to feel like they’re a part of us because they are, and they have a stake just as much as I do in whether we succeed or not.”
Davis said he has several costume changes planned for Thursday that will include “opportunities” to watch Davis get a pie in the face or get bounced off the basketball court, all in the name of Falcon Spirit.
“I’ll be in the dunk tank at 1 p.m.; if the College of Business Aviation raises enough money, I’ll get a pie in the face; I’ll play basketball in the evening; there’s a lot going on,” Davis said.
While the themes of the day and the event are lighthearted, the effort will help the institution continue to meet the educational needs of students, families, and businesses in the north-central West Virginia area.
“We have to make sure we’re connecting every future effort to what made us historically great,” Davis said. “And what made us historically great were the people that work for us and the desire to find innovative and engaging programs for our students.”
The events associated with Falcon Day of Giving are all open to the public, and Davis encourages people to attend.
“We’ve forgotten how to connect with each other, and I get up every single morning trying to create intentional opportunities for people to connect with each other,” Davis said.
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Bridgeport Utility Board has successfully met monitoring requirements for lead and copper in the water system and has been reinstated as a reduced monitoring utility system.
In the summer of 2021, surveillance testing found three cases of high lead levels in the Clarksburg Water System, the primary provider of water to the Bridgeport community. Increased testing, booted water, and emergency service line replacement were then followed in the Clarksburg area.
Before the discovery, every three years, 30 homes were tested for the presence of lead and copper, according to director of engineering and public utilities Beth Fox.
The West Virginia Department of Health implemented an increased testing regime following the discovery. The increased testing mandate was for up to 60 homes every six months.
“Getting samples from locations throughout the town,” Fox said. “It required the customers to take their first flush out of the spigot in the morning, and our staff collected them the same morning and sent them off for testing.”
The samples were selected primarily based on the age of the neighborhood or the age of the materials used in homes. Fox said most of the areas tested were neighborhoods built before 1980.
“Select the areas of town where houses were built prior to a certain year, houses where you have an idea that used lead, soldered fittings, or lead lines,” Fox said.
Now, the change allows the Bridgeport Utility Board to return to the testing schedule of 30 homes every three years after three years of increased testing.
“Following the regulations implemented over the past three years, we were certainly able to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Health, and they gave us approval to go back to our original monitoring schedule,” Fox said.
Fox said the Bridgeport distribution system is now up to code with the last upgrade just a few years ago. Now, work will shift to services and neighborhoods in a more business-as-usual fashion.
“Through town, probably five or six years ago, we replaced our last section of line that we knew to have lead fittings in it in our main distribution system,” Fox said. “Through Bridgeport, we know our lines are free and clear.”
Fox said as a small utility they know most customers and she has really appreciated their patience over the last three years.
“Through all of this, we have definitely developed close relations with our customers, and we hope their faith in us has increased and they can rely on us as their system provider to give them the best water we can,” Fox said.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced $6.88 million in funding from the EPA to the Clarksburg Water Board. The money will fund a transmission line on Van Buren Street, work on West Pike Street, and service line work in the communities of Northview, Rosebud, and Stealey.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two new stoplights on University Town Center Drive are being delayed again. The project, valued at $675,000, is a joint-funded effort between the Monongalia County Commission, WestRidge, and the city of Granville and has been a year in the making.
One traffic signal will be on University Town Centre Drive where WVU Medicine and Walmart is and the second signal will control access to the Wendy’s and Chik-fil-A area.
After numerous design, funding, and justification delays, a connectivity issue at the engineering firm will delay the bid date for about another month. Mayor Patty Lewis told commissioners during their regular meeting Wednesday that Potesta & Associates, Inc. had an internet malfunction that prevented them from answering questions from bidders.
“There was a technical and IT issue at Potesta last week, and there were a couple bidders that sent questions to Potesta they did not receive,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the engineering firm issued an addendum to extend the bid date to the next town council meeting on March 12 at 7 p.m.
“Rather than start over from the beginning, we decided to do that because it wasn’t the fault of any of the potential bidders and they wouldn’t have enough time to get a bid in,” Lewis said.
Monongalia County litter control officer, Alex Hall, told commissioners he had received about 30 calls from residents because their trash had not been collected. Hall said the residents are served by a number of different services and was referring them to the Public Service Commission for help.
“Those are all Public Service Commission things; I really have no control over who picks up the trash or when they pick it up,” Hall said. “But they can call me, and I forward them along to the Public Service Commission.”
Hall said members of the Monongalia County Health Department have trained their staff members in the use of NARCAN. The workers come into contact with material from multiple locations, some remote, and they need the ability to make the first life-saving move.
“We’re training everyone in the use of NARCAN, and we’re going to keep it in our trucks now because those guys are out there dealing with things,” Hall said. “If they come into contact with something, at least they can be a part of their own rescue before EMS gets there.”
WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to designate the Clarksburg Federal Courthouse as the “Irene M. Keeley United States Courthouse.” The legislation was authored by authored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The legislation will now proceed to consideration in the House of Representatives.
Judge Keeley was appointed as the first female judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and held the position for 30 years.
“I am thrilled the Senate unanimously passed our legislation to designate the Clarksburg Federal Courthouse in honor of Judge Keeley’s career and her decades of service to West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “As the first female judge for the Northern District of West Virginia, and in her 30 years of service on the bench, Judge Keeley has earned a reputation as someone who conducts herself with integrity, consistently demonstrates a thorough understanding of the law, and treats each case before her with fairness and thoughtfulness. I am thankful we have widespread support for our effort to honor Judge Keeley, and appreciate the unanimous passage of this legislation by my colleagues in the Senate. We are one step closer to making this a reality, and I encourage the House of Representatives to quickly pass this legislation.”
“I’m pleased our bipartisan bill to dedicate the Clarksburg Federal Courthouse in Judge Keeley’s honor has unanimously passed the Senate,” Senator Manchin said. “As the former Chief Judge and first woman to serve on the bench for the Northern District of West Virginia, Judge Keeley has inspired generations of legal professionals through her commitment to justice and integrity. This tribute is beyond deserving and I will continue working with Senator Capito and our colleagues to ensure the bill is signed into law by the President.”
Judge Irene M. Keeley earned her law degree from the West Virginia College of Law in 1980 and served in private practice until she was nominated by President George H. W. Bush as Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in 1992.
On August 11, 1992, Judge Keeley was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. Judge Keeley served as the district’s court Chief Judge from March 2001 to March 2008. She took inactive senior status on September 30, 2022.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A Fairmont man has been sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for distributing heroin and fentanyl near public facilities.
Cedric Pierre Young, age 33, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison to be followed by six years of supervised release.
Young, also known as “Billy,” sold heroin and fentanyl near Fifth Street Park playground and the Marion County Adult and Community Education Center, both in Marion County. During the investigation police recovered 245 grams of fentanyl and cash from propertied connected to Young.
The Three Rivers Drug Task Force investigated.