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West Virginia Research Corporation earns National Science Foundation grant

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito have announced $50,000 for the West Virginia University Research Corporation through the National Science Foundation.

“It’s great to see WVU at the center of research into technology that has the potential to save lives. This project aims to advance easy-to-use tech that can provide real time feedback to individuals performing CPR and could potentially improve survival of cardiac arrest both in and out of the hospital. I will continue to be a strong advocate for federal funding that supports projects like this in our colleges and universities right here in West Virginia,” Senator Capito said.

This funding will support a research project that seeks to develop technology to assist the general public, military, first responders, and medical professionals with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“The National Science Foundation continues to be a great partner for West Virginia and our universities. This research project will help design technology that is easy to use and will help guide and provide feedback for first responders, medical professionals and the general public performing CPR. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this important and life-saving research, and I will continue prioritize research and technology development conducted here in the Mountain State,” said Senator Manchin.

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

Morgantown students advances to international science competition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Morgantown High school student will be one of two representing the state in an upcoming science and engineering fair.

Alice Guo from Morgantown High School and Alexandria Harper from Riverside High School in Belle will represent West Virginia during the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair virtually May 16-21. Both advanced to the international event by competing in the state Science and Engineering Fair.

Guo, a junior at Morgantown High School in Morgantown, West Virginia, was awarded top honors for her project titled, “Automated Recognition of Autism Based on Visual Analysis with Artificial Intelligence Techniques.” Guo also represented the West Virginia Science and Engineering Fair at ISEF 2019.

Harper, a freshman at Riverside High School in Belle, West Virginia, was awarded top honors for her project titled, “Chasing Fireflies: Creating a Firefly Sanctuary to Increase the Firefly Population.” This will be her first appearance at ISEF.

The pair will show their projects more than 1,800 ninth through twelfth graders from around the world competing for nearly $5 million in awards, prizes and scholarships.

“Our West Virginia students are an important piece of the puzzle when we talk about building the next generation of scientific innovators for our state,” State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said. “We are grateful to those who continue to inspire, celebrate and elevate young scientific superstars like Alice and Alexandria. These young ladies are a product of the tremendous science education we offer within West Virginia, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments.”

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

WVU students dies in Friday afternoon incident

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University police have identified the man who died Friday afternoon on campus as Benjamin Pravecek, a 20-year-old business major from Harpers Ferry.

At 12:30 Friday afternoon MECCA 911 dispatched police and fire to University Avenue near University Place on a report of person who had fallen or jumped from a parking garage.

“We are grieving today,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “This tragedy reminds us how important the love, care and compassion we share with others can be. We have been in touch with Benjamin’s family and friends to offer our support during this difficult time, and we will continue to provide whatever resources and help are necessary.”

The investigation is ongoing, but at this point police do not suspect foul play.

“I want our students to know that we are here for you,” T. Anne Hawkins, clinical director of the Carruth Center, said. “If you need to talk, if you just want someone to be with you or if you know someone who may need support, please know that you are not alone.”

The Center offers individual counseling and 24/7 support at 304-293-4431, as well as a Crisis Text Line that is available 24 hours, seven days a week. Text WVU to 741741 to reach a live, trained crisis counselor.

Faculty and staff may seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.

Anyone with information that may assist in the investigation is asked to contact University Police at 304-293-3136.

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

Morgantown shooting suspect in custody

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown police the suspect in an April 8 shooting has turned himself in.

Justin Christopher Lamar, 19, of Morgantown, is accused of shooting another man in the parking lot of the Domino’s Pizza parking lot on Pleasant Street.

Lamar surrendered at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon and has been charged with malicious wounding. He is being held in the North Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $75,000 bond.

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

Morgantown man admits to role in drug organization

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – One of 17 drug dealing suspects arrested during a September 2020 sweep by multiple agencies has entered a guilty plea in connection with his role in the enterprise. Daniel McClung, 40, of Morgantown, admitted to a single charge of maintaining a a drug-involved premises.

McClung could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and be fined up to $500,000.

McClung was one of 17 arrested in four states following a federal probe into a well organized drug distributing operation in September of 2020. At the time, officials said the organization moved quantities heroin and cocaine base from California and Mexico to the Mon County area.

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

Mon County Delegate reflects on the legislative session

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mon County Delegate John Williams came to WAJR’s Talk of the Town to reflect on the legislative session during the pandemic. Typically the closing days of a legislative session are filled with last minute efforts to pass proposal and make deals, but the threat of a virus outbreak changed the pace of workflow.

“Quite a few big ticket items were done early on,” Williams said,” We just didn’t know if we would get shutdown because of COVID, the feeling of the session was different.”

Delegates John Williams (D) and Joe Statler (R) believe the current formula does not recognize growth and increased traffic in Mon County specifically. Because of that they say Mon County is short-changed.

Williams proposed a change that sailed through the house by a 97 to 1 vote two years ago, but was vetoed by Governor justice. This year House Bill 2532, a measure to force the commissioner of the DOH to revise the funding formula died in the Government Organization Committee.

“There’s sort of been a whisper campaign behind the scenes as how this bill (HB 2532)can pull money from other counties,” Williams said,” That’s made for a difficult road to climb and honestly I’m a little dejected.”

As the session started Williams was skeptical about the effort to phase out the personal income tax. None of the plans presented by the governor or fellow lawmakers swayed Williams while he was in Charleston.

“The state budget is taking care of the most basic needs and services for the people of West Virginia,” Williams said,” I don’t think we’re in a place where we could start tinkering with tax collection and put those programs at risk.”

Economic development is a priority to Williams, but this plan has too many unknowns at this point of the process.

“I will never question the governor’s motives. I do believe he has what’s best best for West Virginia on his mind,” Williams said,” It just so happens that we disagree.”

Williams wants to see more data and analysis of how the income tax would repeal would work and where the burdens would be distributed. Based on the unanimous vote in House, Williams says there is a need for more consideration on how the proposal would impact residents.

“You have to realize the vote was 100 to nothing in the House,” Williams said,” It’s just not there, and I really do believe it’s coming from a good place from the governor. I think he does think it’s a good issue, but he needs partners.”

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

More firefighter litigation could in the future for Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown Fire Civil Service Commission is requesting Morgantown firefighters and city officials to try and mediate a dispute in differential pay.

During an emergency meeting of the commission Wednesday morning, the commission officially requested that the dispute between the City of Morgantown and their firefighters, be further discussed during a May meeting. With that motion, encouraging the legal representatives for both parties to try and mediate ahead of the meeting so that further legal litigation becomes unecessary.

“We’re going to continue this over to a formal hearing to allow a presentation of evidence on the issue on May 12 at nine a.m,” said Fire Civil Service Commission member Shane Mardis on the issue. “And again we’re requesting that everybody to try and mediate this and resolve it if possible,” he said.

The dispute, began with a lawsuit being filed by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 313 against the City of Morgantown earlier this year. The lawsuit, stemmed over a cut of differential pay for city employees, pay that carries over if your work on afternoon or overnight shifts and would average about $2,000 per firefighter. According to the lawsuit, the city is being accused of making the decision on differential pay in response to a previous lawsuit over holiday pay, which was further emphasized by accusations made by city officials over Morgantown Fire Department improprietites.

“In the midst of all of this hot litigation, in the midst of all of that’s going on, that an H.R. trained, the city trained the firefighters how to do it (handle timesheets) and what’s the city’s public response, suggest impropreities by the firefighters,” said attorney Teresea Toriseva who represents the over forty firefighters involved in the lawsuit. “We all read the Mayor’s Facebook posts,” she said.

In response, the City of Morgantown has repeated it’s claims that they have done nothing wrong. During the meeting Ryan Simonton of Kay Casto and Chaney, who represents the City of Morgantown, continuted to assert the city’s claims that firefighters are not being targeted over the change in pay. In particular, the change in differential pay was a correction that was made across the board with all city employees.

“As Attorney Toriseva stated, the City has a duty to correct an issue that is not in compliance with it’s rules once it recognizes it,” said Simonton discussing the sudden change. “If that’s the case, if the employees were claiming that shift differential before for their regular shifts that started at 8 a.m. and they are not doing that now then that’s what has happened, but the rule has not changed,” he said.

With no agreement being reached during the emergency meeting, litigation is expected to continue between fifty-one Morgantown firefighters and the City of Morgantown. Between this dispute and the orginal dispute between city officials and firefighters over pay, could lead to over $1.8 million being litigated over the course of 2021 and beyond. Keeping in mind the previous lawsuit, as well as others involving the City of Morgantown and other local entities, the Fire Civil Service Commission, while acknowledging the concerns of firefighters, encouraged some agreement to be met before further litigation in necessary.

“Suggesting that might be an outcome that we try to resolve this without ex-spending $100,000 that just got moved into the litigation department budget,” Madris said.

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

Justice, WVU react to NCAA response to transgender bill

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has expressed support for the transgender bill and will sign it or let it become law, but he is not in favor of a veto.

“I just can’t possibly get through my head that it is the right thing for at a middle school level or a high school level in our state for me not to support the bill,” Justice said during the Wednesday coronavirus briefing.

The NCAA released a statement saying they are closely monitoring these efforts across the country and NCAA championships hosting opportunities will be awarded based on a willingness to welcome and be respectful to all participants.

“The addition of the college aspect could cause some ramifications,” Justice said.

WVU executive director of communications, April Kaull released the following statement to MetroNews:
“We are still reviewing the legislation and the impact it will have on WVU and our student athletes as it relates to NCAA tournament competition.”

The West Virginia bill says a birth certificate would be required upon admission to public school confirming the person’s sex at birth, banning transgendered participants.

“The NCAAP has moved to a more political, politically correct or liberal body,” Justice said,” And they could very well penalize us in West Virginia.”

West Virginia joins Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas as states that have recently passed similar measures.

“There is some talk that we could come back into a special session and retroactively look at it,” Justice said,” I am either going to let it become law or sign it.”

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

Parker out as administrator in Harrison County

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – By a vote of 2-1 Harrison County commissioners ended their relationship with county administrator Willie Parker. Commissioner David Hinkle, who voted to keep Parker said his services were no longer needed.

Parker had served as the Administrator in Harrison County since 2013. Prior to that he was the county administrator in Upshur County for more than 20 years.

It’s unclear when a replacement could be named.

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

Fairmont Medical Center adds 32 inpatient beds

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – WVU Medicine has received Certificate of Need approval from the West Virginia Health Care Authority to add 32 beds to Fairmont Medical Center, a campus of WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

“We are continually looking for opportunities to expand the services available at Fairmont Medical Center for the residents of Marion County,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “As the demand for inpatient and outpatient care grows, we will do what we can to ensure that those in the greater Fairmont area receive the care they need close to home.”

The Fairmont Medical Center opened an emergency department June 30 with 10 beds. That move was to ensure immediate needs and continuous access was available in case of a surge of coronavirus patients in the state.

Since the June opening, services at the Fairmont Medical Center have expanded to Cardiology and Vascular care, diagnostics such as echocardiogram, stress echocardiogram, treadmill stress testing, magnetic resonance imaging, and outpatient laboratory testing.

The facility now has 42 inpatient beds and will likely hire 100 new employees.

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