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WAJR-AM

Downtown Morgantown shooting under investigation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Detectives in Morgantown are investigating an early Wednesday morning shooting in the 200 block of Walnut Street downtown.

Officers responded in seconds to the call at 2:15 a.m. and found witnesses that said a lone male on foot and several people in car involved in the shooting had left the area. Officers located and stopped the vehicle on Beechurst Avenue. One female in the vehicle had suffered a minor gunshot wound to the side. She was transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital after officers performed first aid.

Detectives are interviewing witnesses and collecting additional evidence. Anyone with any information that may help police solve the case is asked to call the Morgantown Police Department Detective Division at 304-284-7454 or use the Anonymous TIPS line at 304-284-7520.

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

Fairmont non-profit seeks to relocate following consecutive recent flood events

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A long time non-profit who sustained extensive damage during days of repetitive flooding, is asking for help.

During the extreme rainstorms between June 10 and June 14 that lead to severe flash flooding all around North Central West Virginia, the Disability Action Center received approximately $200,000 worth of damage to their Fairmont facilities. This included damage to the exterior and interior of the building and equipment inside the facility such as computers, workout equipment and the flooding out of a banquet hall. As a result, the agency is requesting for community help via GoFundMe to help with a total relocation plan that would cost approximately $750,000.

“The flood waters just poured down from the backside of 1st Street down to Benoni Avenue as well, it just creates a river down through the back of our building,” said Disability Action Center Director Julie Sole describing in part of what happened.

Damage to the facility that took place between June 10 and June 12, lead to the options for either completely renovating the facility or relocating was brought up, which would’ve costs $200,000 and $750,000 respectively. Unfortunately for the Disability Action Center, they had to re-evaluate their options in order to keep serving North Central West Virginia families. After rainstorms between June 13 and 14, a total relocation of facilities at the $750,000 price tag was determined to be necessary.

“After we got flooded again on June 13 and 14, I only have one plan, and that is to relocate to higher ground,” said Sole. “That is to give our clients and their families a safe center that they can have a healthy learning environment for,” she said.

The Disability Action Center, is a non-profit agency that has served children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Central West Virginia for over half a century. Opened in 1958, they have provided services such as educational and enrichment programs to help those who are developmentally disabled as well as be the home for other agencies who focus on their needs.

“We serve close to five hundred individuals with disabilities, children and adults with special needs, all over Marion County and regionally,” said Sole describing the details of their services. “We also house three on-site partners, Special Olympics of Marion County, the Homstead Farm Center and Playworks Child and Adult Therapies,” she said.

So far, the GoFundMe for the Disability Action Center is at $4,795, a bit short of their $100,000 goal. Even though the goal itself is way short of the near three-quarters of a million dollars that will be needed for a total relocation. According to Sole, the GoFundMe will be one of several sources of income expected to be taken for the relocation with request made State Senators Bob Beach and Mike Caputo to get grant money designated to the new facility’s construction. The hope now is that with a combination of several different financial resources, the longtime non-profit will be able to resume operations as soon as possible.

“It won’t make up the lion’s share of what it’s going to take to get us to higher ground, but not only will it help monetarily, I think it will show a real community support and that the community wants to rally around us,” she said.

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

Westover man arrested in firearm incident after telling police he was “ripped off” while trying to buy drugs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to a criminal complaint, a 43-year-old Westover man faces wanton endangerment involving a firearm and a weapons charge after waving a gun in a convenience store parking lot after allegedly being “ripped off” while trying to purchase crack cocaine.

Witnesses told police Corey Robert Marable was brandishing a black firearm in the parking lot near the gas pumps at the at the intersection of Van Voorhis and Chestnut Ridge Roads and fled in an SUV. Police did recover the handgun they believe Marable threw in the parking lot.

Marable returned the scene highly agitated and told police he had come to the gas station to buy crack and was ripped off.

Witness accounts say Marable back into a vehicle, pulled out a firearm and began waving it at people. Reports indicate two children were on the scene as well.

Marable’s felony criminal record goes back to 1998.

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

Health official explains additional Monongalia County medical cannabis dispensary regulations

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Commissioners in Monongalia County are expected to take a vote on new regulations proposed for medical cannabis dispensaries, already approved by the county board of health. The health board unanimously passed the regulations May 27, however for the first time the ordinance also requires approval from the county commission.

Senate Bill 12 was passed in the last legislative session giving county commissions the authority to review regulations passed by county health boards.

“The health department recognizes that there are true risks that are involved and that there are multiple dark elements,” Chico said,” And those range from medical issues to safety issues, but there all health issues.”

In October of 2020, the Monongalia County Board of Health approved 20 dispensary permits unanimously. In early 2021, the DHHR Office of Medical Cannabis approved 100 dispensary permits statewide, 14 of those are approved for Mon County.

State regulations require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from any school or daycare facility.

Guidance from the Monongalia County Health Department adds libraries and parks to the 1,000 foot list, while recommending dispensaries must be stand-alone or not in a strip mall. The regulations also include strict storage security for guidelines and other local legal requirements that are over and above the state law.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, health board chair Sam Chico said large amounts of cash and medical marijuana in these 14 locations present many challenges for local officials. Chico believes the amount of cash and marijuana in the area could draw organized crime to area and endanger dispensary employees and the public at-large.

“We’re a proactive health department. We do not wait until a disaster strikes to be prepared,” Chico said,” We try to avoid clear issues and we saw this coming.”

According to Chico, the additional regulations passed by local health officials take up issues that the board felt were overlooked during the legislative process. Adding increased security and an onsite medical professional are specific ways to enhance safety.

“Civics 101 taught me a local ordinance or regulation can always enhance any state or federal regulation,” Chico said, “It can’t lessen any regulation, but of course a local ordinance can go above and beyond any state or federal reg.”

Local officials recognize medical cannabis is a highly sought after substance and a large amount of cash onsite could entice criminal activity. Additionally, the cannabis is not heavy or bulky and can be quickly sold on the black market.

“Criminals in general are searching for cash, or something very easy to convert to cash,” Chico said,” Marijuana is very easy to convert to cash on the black market.”

Chico operates several convenience stores in the region and also know others in the industry that contributed personal experiences to develop the regulations.

“I’ve operated convenience stores- I’ve seen many, many instances of people putting guns to peoples’ heads and asking for money,” Chico said,” And unfortunately, I’ve seen people shot and killed over $100, much less than $1,000,000 or $100,000.”

Monongalia County commissioners will vote on the regulations Wednesday during their regular meeting at 10 a.m.

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

High Street assault victim elects not to press charges

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – One of the victims in the High Street assault weeks ago has elected not to press charges in the case. The victim has told police the disagreement with the other party has been settled.

A video of the incident shows a group of people surrounding a vehicle parked outside of The Bank Bar. In the video, a female can be seen opening the passenger side door, throwing several punches, then dragging a woman out of the car by her hair. The assault continues in the street as the victim lies on the ground taking several more punches. Eventually, the victim is able to make it to the car and the driver is able to pull away as the crowd appears to pummel the sides of the vehicle.

The Uber driver, Vincent Kang was hit and punched while the crowd did an estimated $1,500 in damage to his car. Kang was able to fight off the attacker while he believes someone else pulled the individual away.

It is not known if Kang will press charges in the incident.

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

Terrain, hydrant distance hamper firefighters in Morgantown Sunday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Firefighters in Morgantown battled a two alarm fire Sunday in the 300 block of Jerome Street.

Approximately 9:30 p.m. firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 385 Jerome Street. The structure is located at the end of Alcova Street, which is not within city limits.

Firefighters were hampered early on by steep terrain and the closest fire hydrant was 1,600 feet away from the scene. The roof and several sub-structures made the fire difficult to bring under control. However, firefighters were able to clear the scene a little after midnight.

Damage was estimated at $50,000 in damages and no injuries were reported. Since the home is not within city limits the State Fire Marshal will conduct the investigation.

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

Officials assess storm water system following Patteson Drive flooding

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Sunday, June 13 severe thunderstorms rolled through the Morgantown area causing major flooding on Patteson Drive, Beechurst Drive and areas near the Coliseum.

MUB storm water engineer Ken Hacker is one of the local officials trying to figure out exactly what happened and if it can be prevented in the future. On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, Hacker said intense rainfall in the Pocono Run and Borrough’s Run drainage basins caused the issues.

“Anywhere from just over two inches of rain at the lower most end of the drainage basin,” Hacker said,” All the way to nearly five inches of rain in that one event at the upper-most end near Stewart Street.”

As part of the investigation, Hacker spoke to residents in the areas and used data from the National Weather Service to better understand what really happened.

“Reports we were getting from customers were saying that as fast as the water rose it receded and was gone,” Hacker said,” So, that leads you to believe the system was open and functioning and flowing as much capacity as it possibly could.”

Hacker said from eyewitness accounts and analysis they have determined the storm water system operated properly. He adds this is the type of extreme weather event that cannot be planned for.

“We’re finding the system was open, but it was completely overwhelmed,” Hacker said,” We’re not seeing blockages or issues it was just way too much rain.”

In some cases, some old infrastructure is repaired or replaced when MUB conducts normal repair and maintenance operations throughout the city. Still, there are some independent and unmapped storm water system that are encountered by chance.

“You got to think of the age of Morgantown and how long things were able to be built without any kind of regulations, now we’re dealing with it on this end,” Hacker said,” But even at that, with that amount of rainfall it wouldn’t have mattered- in my opinion.”

While acknowledging the drainage issue in the Pocono Run and Borrough’s Run areas Hacker is satisfied the storm water system is working properly.

“The majority of the problems were in this real localized area where these really large amounts of rain fell,” Hacker said,” Outside of that the system handled it as it normally does 99.9-percent of the time.”

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

Mail carrier sentenced in election misconduct case

ELKINS, W.Va. – The mail carrier convicted in mishandling absentee voter requests has been sentenced to five years probation with six months to be served on home confinement.

Thomas Cooper, 48, of Dry Fork, pleaded guilty last July to single counts of injury to the mail and attempt to defraud the residents of West Virginia of a fair election.

Investigators with the Attorney General helped put the case together for the Secretary of State’s Office.

“This conviction and sentencing should serve as a strong warning to anyone else who feels tempted to commit election fraud,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “As we have stressed in the past, our team remains committed to protecting the integrity of elections in West Virginia. We will use every means provided by the law to do so.”

Court documents say Cooper fraudulently altered eight absentee ballot requests in Pendleton County, of which the complaint stated he fraudulently changed the party affiliation on five from Democrat to Republican.

Cooper had access to the documents through his employment as a rural mail carrier. He was responsible for mail delivery in the three towns from which the tampered requests were mailed – Onego, Riverton and Franklin.

According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to altering some of the requests.

The alterations were caught by an elections official in the Pendleton County Courthouse and reported to the state’s Election Fraud Task Force.

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

Public Defender Services coming to Mon County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – State officials have announce the creation of Public Defender Corporation (PDC) in Mon County. The organization will be the 20th PDC in the state serving the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit. Michael D. Simms, Esq., has been named as the leader of the Public Defender Corporation.

“I am honored to have been appointed by Governor Justice as the Chairperson of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Corporation,” Simms said. “I have dedicated my practice of nearly sixteen years to criminal defense work in West Virginia and understand the unique and difficult conditions that people with low incomes face when going through the criminal justice system. One thing is for certain – money should never be a barrier to receiving high-quality, professional legal representation.”

According to Public Defender Services (PDS) executive director Dana Eddy, their mission is to address underlying causes of why people end up in the legal system. The ultimate goal is to stop relapse, recidivism and help people into job-specific training programs.

The Monongalia Co. PDC will also establish a partnership with the WVU College of Law to provide learning opportunities for law school students. The partnership could lead to employment as a public defender following graduation.

The PDC will also provide a voice for the local criminal defense bar in support of programs within the community that serve clients dealing with unemployment, substance use issues, or other barriers to being a productive member of the community.

“I am indebted to Governor Justice and his administration for their support of our agency’s efforts to ensure the adequate funding of indigent defense and to ensure that the state of West Virginia is meeting its constitutional obligations in the most meaningful manner,” Eddy said.

The Mon County PDC will employ seven to nine attorneys and six to eight support staff. Support staff may include legal secretaries, paralegals, investigators, social workers, and recovery coaches.

During Fiscal Year 2019, the nineteen PDCs resolved 35,696 cases, for an average cost of $531.79 per case.

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

Justice issues proclamation calling for special session
Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV