The Voice of West Virginia
SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — A Berkeley County man died in a motorcycle crash late Saturday night near Spring Mills.
State police said Ronald Mumma, 36, of Falling Waters, lost control of his motorcycle northbound in the 3200 block of Williamsport Pike at just before midnight.
Troopers said the bike went off the road and hit a utility pole. Mumma died at the scene.
MAHAN, W.Va. — A Sunday afternoon crash of a tanker truck on the West Virginia Turnpike was continuing to cause a major traffic back up Sunday night.
The truck wrecked in the northbound lanes just south of the Mahan exit at around 1:15 p.m. It skidded on its side and part of the truck went over the barrier wall into the southbound lanes.
Authorities had the northbound shoulder open quickly and by 4:15 p.m. they were able to open one north and one southbound lane. Traffic was backed up in both directions. The northbound back up was approximately five miles at 9 p.m. Traffic was moving at about 5 mph.
The truck was carrying a glue-like substance. Cleanup was still taking place Sunday night and authorities were waiting on another truck to arrive to unload the tanks that had not ruptured.
There was no immediate word about the condition of the driver.
Turnpike troopers are investigating the crash,
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.
Surveillance testing in the summer of 2021 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, Fox said.
“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.
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. Fox said 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.
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With just a week left in the regular legislative session, a lot of lightning rod issues have yet to be resolved.
Here’s where several attention-grabbing issues stand as the session winds toward its stirring conclusion at midnight Saturday.
Budget bill — The House and Senate have each passed their own versions of the budget bill, and now it’s time to reconcile them. The House bill includes pay raises for public employees like teachers, and the Senate bill does not. The House bill also include a phase-out of the state taxes on Social Security benefits, and the Senate’s does not. Somebody’s gotta blink, probably.
A complicating factor is a $465 million obligation to the federal government over whether West Virginia maintained its obligation to uphold its proportional support for education funding when it accepted covid relief funding. That big issue has prompted a call already for a special session in May when officials hope the state’s financial situation will be more clear.
Unemployment — This Senate bill would lower the amount of the unemployment safety net over time. The bill been assigned to House Finance. The reason that bill popped up in the Senate so late was because senators had thought the House would take up a similar policy. Delegates declined to do so earlier, so it’s hard to judge the level of support now.
Dropping work permit requirements for teens — This bill passed by the House marks out portions of existing law detailing work permit requirements for 14- and 15-year-olds. The bill leaves in place a written parental consent standard.
The Senate Workforce Committee examined and advanced the bill Friday afternoon, so it goes to the full Senate. “Was there any discussion that maybe absent parents who are not the best — you’ve got a couple of kids who might go out there and work, and they want them to work all they can, not necessarily in the child’s best interest?” asked Senator David Stover, R-Wyoming.
Women’s Bill of Rights – This bill that codifies the definitions of “man” and “woman” passed Senate and goes back to House, where it already passed once, because there were a few changes to the wording. So delegates will need to determine whether they agree with what changed.
Gender affirming care –Last year, legislators passed a ban on gender surgery for minors, but wound up allowing treatment with medication under narrowly-tailored circumstances. Some senators had tailored the exemptions out of concern that some youths going through gender dysphoria may act on suicidal thoughts if they are barred from treatment of any kind.
This year, delegates passed a bill to strike those exceptions, which allow treatment with medicine after approval by two doctors and the minor’s parents or guardians. Now it’s been assigned to Senate Health, where vice-chairman Tom Takubo was the leading voice last year in establishing those exemptions in the first place.
Teachers bearing firearms (or stun guns) – Educators could be considered school protection officers and carry firearms or stun guns in classrooms with a conceal carry permit and 24 hours of training under a bill passed by passed the House. With one week to go, it is double referenced to the Senate’s Judiciary and Finance committees.
Student discipline — The House and Senate have passed separate bills focused on how to handle student discipline problems. The question this week is whether differences can be resolved. The Senate bill was sent to House Education in mid-February and was placed on the House Education Committee agenda for Monday. The House bill was sent to Senate Education at the beginning of February.
School vaccine exemptions — School vaccine requirements would be loosened for virtual schools, private schools and parents citing religious grounds in this bill passed by the House. Critics have argued this would open West Virginia to more spread of communicable disease. The bill has been assigned to Senate Health, which is led by doctors — Mike Maroney, a radiologist, and Tom Takubo, a pulmonologist.
Baby Olivia — Senators voted to require eighth grade viewings of a specific video, “Meet Baby Olivia,” showing insemination and fetal development by a particular national group involved in abortion politics. With one week to go, the bill has been assigned to two House committees, health and education.
Obscenity charges in libraries — Right now, public and school libraries have exemptions to West Virginia’s law against displaying or disseminating obscene material to minors. House Bill 4654 would work by simply removing the exemptions. This bill generated vigorous debate before passing the House. In the Senate, it was assigned to Judiciary back on Feb. 20 but has not been taken up.
Mugshots — Booking photographs of criminal suspects could no longer be made public, except under a few circumstances, by state corrections officials under a bill passed by the House of Delegates. Critics have argued mugshots of arrests represent community news and that prohibiting access amounts to prior restraint. This bill has been assigned to Senate Judiciary.
Travel ball – This bill would allow student athletes to play for their school teams and their travel teams at the same time in the same season. Critics have said the policy would undercut school athletics and run a greater risk of injuries. The bill has been assigned to House Education and was listed on the Monday afternoon agenda.
Left lane driving — Senators passed a bill that would have made camping out in the left lane a primary offense, with a range of exceptions like construction in the right lane or a left-lane exit. Delegates narrowly voted that down and then passed their own bill to make life in the left-lane a secondary offense. That now makes a U-turn back to the Senate, where it’s on schedule for a Monday passage vote.
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2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship Schedule
(Note: All times listed are eastern time zone; all games played at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City)
Thursday, March 7 – First Round
Game 1: No. 12 Texas Tech vs. No. 13 Houston, 6:30 p.m.
Game 2: No. 11 Cincinnati vs. No. 14 UCF, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 8 – Second Round
Game 3: No. 5 Baylor vs. Game 1 Winner, noon
Game 4: No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 TCU, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: No. 7 Kansas vs. No. 10 BYU, 6:30 p.m.
Game 6: No. 6 West Virginia vs. Winner Game 2, 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 – Quarterfinals
Game 7: No. 4 Iowa State vs. Winner Game 3, noon
Game 8: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Winner Game 4, 2:30 p.m.
Game 9: No. 2 Texas vs. Winner Game 5, 6:30 p.m.
Game 10: No. 3 Kansas State vs. Winner Game 6, 9 p.m.
Monday, March 11 – Semifinals
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 2:30 p.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 12 – Championship
Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12, 9 p.m.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVSSAC Girls Basketball State tournament will begin on March 5 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. Radio broadcasts of all state tournament games will air on the MetroNews Radio Network and will be streamed at wvmetronews.com. MetroNews will also produce HD video broadcasts of the four championship games.
No. 1 Cameron (20-5) vs. No. 8 Pocahontas County (13-11) – Wednesday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m.
The Dragons are seeking their third consecutive Class A state championship. The last three-peat girls champion in any class was Morgantown (2014-2016). Youngstown State signee Ashlynn Van Tassell scored her 2,000th career point in Cameron’s Region I final vs. Doddridge County.
For the second consecutive season, Cameron loaded up their regular season schedule with opponents in higher classifications, including Union Local (OH), Norwin (PA), Wheeling Park, Parkersburg South, Huntington, Wayne and Wheeling Central Catholic. The Dragons are unbeaten against Class A opponents.
Four seniors are featured in the Cameron starting lineup, including the program’s all-time assist leader Kenzie Clutter.
Pocahontas County has qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2020. The Warriors were seeded second in their sectional tournament but they won at Pendleton County, 52-49 in the final to earn hosting rights in the regional. Pocahontas defeated East Hardy, 70-37 to secure the regional title.
The Warriors enter the state tournament on a four-game winning streak. They closed the regular season with a win over 2023 Class AA state runner-up Summers County, 53-45 in Hinton.
Sophomore Calli Propst leads the Warriors in scoring at 10.8 points per game. Senior Olivia Vandevender averages 10.3 points per game. Freshman Allyson Taylor leads the team in rebounding with ten per game.
No. 2 Gilmer County (23-2) vs. No. 7 River View (17-8) – Wednesday, March 6 at 1 p.m.
The Titans own the best record among all Class A teams. Gilmer has qualified for the state tournament in each of the last four seasons. They advanced to the 2022 state championship game.
Gilmer County opened the season by winning their first 21 games. The Titans fell to Huntington St. Joseph’s, 50-46 in the sectional final. However, they won at Tug Valley to secure a state tournament bid. The Titans swept a pair of regular season meetings with Tucker County and they are 5-1 against state tournament qualifiers. Gilmer won the Little Kanawha Conference Tournament title with a 53-49 win over St. Marys in overtime.
GCHS junior guard Allie Ellyson recently reached the 1,000-point plateau.
River View returns to the state tournament after a one-year absence. The Raiders were one of two Class A teams to win on the road in the regional round. RVHS advanced to the state tournament with a 95-92 win at Greenbrier West.
After a 4-4 start to the season, River View enjoyed an eight-game winning streak in the middle of their schedule.
Freshman guard Chastity Kennedy leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Senior Abigail Pruitt (13.1) and freshman Kaci Hatfield (10.9) also average double digits in scoring. Kennedy also leads the squad in rebounding (7.1)
No. 3 Tucker County (19-5) vs. No. 6 Tyler Consolidated (13-12) – Wednesday, March 6 at 9:30 a.m.
Tucker County owns West Virginia’s longest streak of state tournament appearances. The Mountain Lions have won 20 consecutive regional championships. A significant portion of their roster returned from last year’s state runner-up team.
The Mountain Lions head to Charleston with wins in nine of their last ten games.
Junior Raven Matthews leads Tucker in scoring (13.0) and rebounding (11.1). Seniors Ericka Zirk (10.8) and Macy Helmick (10.3) also average double-digits in scoring.
Tyler Consolidated is making their first state tournament appearance since 2003. The Silver Knights lost their first six games to open the year but they are currently riding a six-game winning streak. Tyler upset Doddridge County in the sectional finale, 57-48 to earn hosting rights for their regional game against Valley Wetzel.
Sophomore Kathryn Grimm is the Knights’ leading scorer (11.5 points per game). Junior Juliana Lattea averages a double-double (10.5 points, 11 rebounds).
No. 4 Huntington St. Joseph’s (19-5) vs. No. 5 James Monroe (16-8) – Wednesday, March 6 at 9 p.m.
The Irish have qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2020. St. Joseph’s won nine state championships from 2009-2019. In their third season under head coach Jessica Huff, the Irish are currently on an eight-game winning streak.
St. Joseph’s is the only Class A team to defeat Gilmer County this season. They won in Glenville in the sectional championship game, 50-46.
Sophomore Ava Gallion leads the Irish in scoring (16.2 points per game). Senior Niko Kaufmann also scores in double-digits (12.9).
Like Tyler Consolidated, James Monroe is making their first state tournament appearance in 21 years. The Mavericks head to Charleston on a five-game winning streak. They also had win streaks of four and six games during the regular season. James Monroe is 4-0 this season against teams in the Class A state tournament field.
Junior Maggie Boroski is the team’s leading scorer at 19.5 points per game. Senior Mary Meadows averages 14.3 points per game and she leads JMHS in assists (7.3) and steals (5.9).
No. 1 Wyoming East (21-2) vs. No. 8 Charleston Catholic (12-11) – Thursday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m.
The Warriors are one of three defending state champions to qualify for the 2024 state tournament. East heads to Charleston with a 15-game winning streak and only one of those wins came by less than 18 points. WEHS is unbeaten against Class AA opponents.
Since 2016, Wyoming East has won three state titles and finished as the runner-up three times. Junior guard Cadee Blackburn leads the team in scoring at 17.9 points per game and Madison Clark averages 14.4 points.
Charleston Catholic has won regional titles in four consecutive seasons. The Irish are one of the top defensive teams in Class AA, allowing just 38.1 points per game. Sophomore Mary Rushworth leads CCHS in scoring (17.8).
In their three postseason victories, the Irish have allowed just 77 points.
No. 2 Williamstown (19-4) vs. No. 7 Petersburg (15-9) – Thursday, March 7 at 1 p.m.
The state’s all-time wins leader in girls high school basketball, Fred Sauro has led the Yellowjackets to their first state tournament appearance in three seasons. WHS advanced through the state’s toughest Class AA region with a 51-48 overtime win over St. Marys in the regional round.
Williamstown has won seven consecutive games and nine of their last ten. The Yellowjackets defeated Petersburg, 49-37 on December 8. WHS is 4-2 against state tournament opponents. Just two seniors (one starter) are featured in the Williamstown lineup.
Junior Faith Pickens is averaging a double-double (14.9 points, 11.3 rebounds).
Petersburg heads to Charleston riding a four-game winning streak. Five of their nine losses have come against state tournament qualifiers. Senior guard Karmen Whetzel leads PHS in scoring at 11.1 points per game while senior Abigail Alt averages 9.7.
No. 3 Wheeling Central Catholic (15-8) vs. No. 6 Trinity (19-5) – Thursday, March 7 at 9:30 a.m.
The Maroon Knights are seeking their first state championship since 2018. Central opened their season with seven consecutive wins and they own quality victories over Williamstown, St. Marys (twice), Charleston Catholic and Parkersburg Catholic.
Wheeling Central is led in scoring by junior forward Kaitlyn Blake. She averages 23.3 points per game. Blake also pulls down 7.9 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Brooklyn Edge leads Central in assists per game (6.1). Haley Severns leads the team in rebounding (9.8).
Trinity started the season with a 5-4 record before winning 12 of their last 13 games. The lone loss in the span came against Cameron in the OVAC 1A Championship game. The Warriors yield just 45.1 points per game.
Senior Jenna Barnett leads the Warriors in scoring. She scored 34 points in Trinity’s sectional championship victory over Braxton County.
No. 4 Ravenswood (18-6) vs. No. 5 Chapmanville (15-9) – Thursday, March 7 at 9 p.m.
Ravenswood has won eight consecutive games and 13 of their last 14.
Senior guard Hadleigh McGoskey is the team’s leading scorer at 24 points per game. Fellow senior Emily Wratchford averages 13.5 points and 5.9 assists per contest.
Chapmanville has qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2011. The Tigers eliminated 2023 state runner-up Summers County in the regional round after falling to the Bobcats twice in the regular season. Six of CHS’ nine losses have come against state tournament qualifiers.
Senior Alaina Evans leads Chapmanville in scoring at 19 points per game. Fellow senior Jaiden Mahon averages 10.7 points per game.
No. 1 East Fairmont (24-0) vs. No. 8 Weir (13-10) – Tuesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m.
The Bees are the only undefeated high school basketball team (boys or girls) remaining in West Virginia. All but one of their victories have come by double-digits. East is 6-0 against teams in the state tournament field.
East averages 73 points per game. West Virginia State signee Kenly Rogers surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in December. She leads the Bees in scoring at 18.6 points per contest and adds 4.2 assists. Sophomore Kailee Haymond chips in with 10.5 points per game. Sophomore Brooklyn Shupe averages a team-best 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Weir defeated defending Class AAA state champion North Marion in the sectional final to earn hosting rights in the regional round.
After a 9-10 start, the Red Riders have won six consecutive games. Weir is making their third appearance at the state tournament.
No. 2 Wayne (22-1) vs. No. 7 Keyser (18-5) – Tuesday, March 5 at 1 p.m.
Wayne is the No. 2 seed in the state tournament for a second consecutive season. Their lone loss was a two-point defeat to Class AAAA opponent University. All but one of Wayne’s victories have come by double-digits.
The Pioneers average 66.7 points per game and they are on a nine-game winning streak. Junior Brooke Adkins leads the Pioneers in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (8.0). Freshman Jaycelyn Sammons averages 14.6 points per game and a team-best 3.8 assists.
Keyser eliminated defending Class AAA state champion North Marion in the regional round and they head to Charleston on a 12-game winning streak. Freshman Riley Felton leads the Golden Tornado in scoring (18.8) and junior Autumn Kerchner adds 11 points per game.
No. 3 Nitro (21-3) vs. No. 6 PikeView (18-6) – Tuesday, March 5 at 9:30 a.m.
The 2021 Class AAA state champions from Nitro will face PikeView in a rematch of a 2022 quarterfinal contest. The Wildcats have won 11 consecutive games.
Junior Natalie Smith leads NHS in scoring (15.6), rebounding (7.8) and blocks (1.7). Junior Ava Edwards averages 9.7 points per game and she leads the team in assists (3.7).
PikeView is one of the top defensive teams in Class AAA. The Panthers yield just 38.8 points per game They have held teams to 40 points or less 14 times.
PHS head coach Tracy (Wyatt) Raban was an All-American guard at Glenville State.
No. 4 Lewis County (22-3) vs. No. 5 Philip Barbour (15-8) – Tuesday, March 5 at 9 p.m.
Big 10 Conference rivals will share the court in the last of the four Class AAA quarterfinals. After qualifying for the 2023 state tournament, the Minutemaids opened this season on an 11-game winning streak and they are on a six-game run as they head to Charleston.
Senior Kenna Maxwell leads the Minutemaids in scoring at 16 points per game. Senior Emma Pinkney adds 12.8 points per game and she leads the squad in rebounding (8.5). Bryn Hunt is Lewis’ third double-digit scorer (10.7).
In their lone regular season meeting on February 8, the Minutemaids defeated the Colts, 63-37.
PBHS is back in Charleston after making a run to last year’s Class AAA title game as the No. 6 seed in the tournament. The Colts won eight games to start this season but the endured a five-game losing streak in February.
Philip Barbour was the only Class AAA team to win on the road in the regional round. Senior Braylyn Sparks leads PB in scoring (12.0). Freshman Rylee Bodkins (10.6) and fellow freshman Elizabeth Knotts (10.1) also score in double figures. Knotts leads the team in rebounding (9.6).
No. 1 George Washington (21-3) vs. No. 8 Musselman (17-8) – Tuesday, March 5 at 7:15 p.m.
The Patriots are unbeaten against in-state opponents and they enjoyed a 16-game winning streak in the middle of the regular season. The Mountain State Athletic Conference champions are 5-0 against state tournament qualifiers. Division I prospect Zaniah Zellous and UNC-Wilmington signee Finley Lohan are the top two scorers for the Patriots. Freshman guards Rayana Breckenridge and Jeriyah Pryor have been fixtures in the starting lineup.
GWHS averages 68.2 points per game.
Musselman claimed their first regional title with a 50-36 win at Martinsburg. Jasmine Morris leads MHS in scoring (14.8), rebounding (9.2) and she is second on the team in steals (3.8).
Senior Sarah Price is second on the team in scoring (7.0). Musselman allows 41.8 points per game.
No. 2 Wheeling Park (21-4) vs. No. 7 Washington (12-10) – Wednesday, March 6 at 7:15 p.m.
Wheeling Park features a trio of 1,000-point scorers in senior Natalie Daugherty and juniors Alexis Bordas and Lala Woods. Park is 6-2 against state tournament opponents and half of those victories came against defending state champion Morgantown.
Bordas, the reigning state player of the year, leads the Patriots in scoring at 23.3 points per game. Woods averages 16.2 and Daugherty adds 14.8 points per contest.
Wheeling Park, the Class AAAA state runners-up last season, are averaging 76.1 points per game.
Washington went 8-2 against Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference opponents. Lexi Adams leads WHS in scoring at 13 points per game.
Washington allows 44.5 points per game.
No. 3 Spring Valley (19-6) vs. No. 6 Huntington (11-13) – Wednesday, March 6 at 11:15 a.m.
Sectional rivals Spring Valley and Huntington will meet for the fourth time this season in the Class AAAA quarterfinals. The Timberwolves have won the first three meetings by 12, 2 and 6 points.
Spring Valley, state semifinalists in 2023, average 61.6 points per game this season. They are 7-3 this season against state tournament opponents. Four underclassmen starters (Allie Daniels, Brooklyn Ellis, Sophi Hutchison and Dria Parker) join senior Haleigh Crum in the starting lineup.
Huntington is two years removed from winning the Class AAAA state championship. Seniors Amara Jackson and Jada Turner were key contributors to their 2022 title team.
The Highlanders won just two of their first eight games to open the season, but they won at Parkersburg in the regional round to return to the state tournament after a one-year absence. Veteran head coach Lonnie Lucas has won four state championships as the leader of the Highlanders (2000, 2017, 2021 and 2022).
No. 4 Morgantown (16-8) vs. No. 5 Greenbrier East (21-4) – Tuesday, March 5 at 11:15 a.m.
Defending state champion Morgantown is back in Charleston after enduring an up-and-down season. The Mohigans won their first nine games this season before going 3-7 over their next ten.
Senior and Indiana, Pa. signee Lily Jordan has missed the last four weeks of the season due to injury. Junior Sadaya Jones scored 33 points in Morgantown’s regional win at University. Freshman Kayli Kellogg has been a starting guard for the entire season.
The Mohigans allow 45.8 points per game.
Greenbrier East has qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2020. After a 3-3 start to the season, the Spartans have won 18 of their last 19 games and eight games in a row. They defeated Class AA No. 1 seed Wyoming East, 75-52 on December 27.
East averages 63.3 points per game.
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HAZELTON, W.Va. — Investigations are underway after two inmates died at the federal prison in Hazelton Saturday.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Jevonte Green, 36, was found unresponsive in the Preston County-based lock-up while Marcelino Heredia, 48, died of an “apparent assault.”
The BOP said Green had been an inmate at Hazelton for less than a month, Heredia had been there since September 2022.
The deaths were announced in separate news releases.
KINGWOOD, W.Va. — A resource fair is planned Tuesday in Kingwood for workers at Allegheny Wood Products who abruptly lost their jobs when the 50-year-old company closed its doors on Feb. 23.
AWP is based in Grant County but had two large operations in Preston County. Tuesday’s fair will take place at Kingwood Christian Fellowship on state Route 7 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Preston County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Roberta Baylor said the resource fair is the first step in an attempt to bring stability back to those families.
“That’s a great first step; hopefully our second step will be to hold a job fair for these people,” Baylor said. “We don’t have anything firm on that yet, but we hope something is coming really soon.”
It’s believed lenders foreclosed on AWP and company officials responding to closing its operations. The closure put up to 650 company workers and another 200 contractors out of work overnight. The company’s operations in Preston County included a sawmill in Kingwood and a kiln operation in Bruceton Mills. The company was also a material supplier to AHF Products Manufacturing, a national manufacturer of hard surface floors.
Baylor said the job loss locally is significant.
“The Kingwood number was probably between 75 and 100, and the Bruceton Mills number was probably around 50,” she said.
Members of the WorkForce West Virginia Rapid Response Team will be at the resource fair to meet with the workers. The information available Tuesday will hopefully be the next step in replacing lost income, Baylor said.
“Help them with job opportunities, employment insurance benefits, unemployment, retirement planning, education and training that’s available, and different community resources,” Baylor said.
Baylor said several companies, not all in Preston County, are in need of workers and have reached out to them. That information is being organized by the economic development authority and is available on request by calling 304-329-2299.
“We are compiling a list in our office, and if people want to contact us directly for information on who has reached out to us, we would be more than happy to give that information to them,” Baylor said.
Recycler, Bionic Tire is expected to open a facility this year in the Valley Industrial Park that will employ up to 50 people at full operation. The company makes a wide variety of products from the recycled steel and rubber taken from tires while eliminating discarded tires.
“They will be under construction in a month or so and hopefully operational by the third or fourth quarter of this year,” Baylor said. “There are a lot of good jobs with great benefits for Preston County people.”
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Musselman’s 50-36 win over Martinsburg in the Class AAAA Region II co-finals. Musselman will make their first state tournament appearance.
(Photo gallery courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It remains to be seen if the state Senate will agree with the House of Delegates and approve a bill that would change certain requirements when it comes to getting children vaccinated.
House Bill 5105 first removed vaccine requirements for students attending virtual public schools, then was expanded to allow private schools to adopt their own policies and then was opened up to parents citing religious reasons to opt out of vaccination requirements at any school in the state.
The bill is currently in the possession of the Senate Health Committee. Health leaders from across the state have been commenting on the bill.
West Virginia University Chancellor and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh said vaccines have been proven to improve quality of life and health outcomes for more than 100 years.
“Worldwide polio affected about 500,000 people as recently as 1980,” Marsh said last week on MetroNews “Talkline.” “Now, it’s just a handful of cases internationally and none in the United States, and smallpox has been eradicated because of immunizations.”
Berkeley and Morgan County Health Department Director Bill Kearns said getting the proper vaccines is about keeping children safe.
“Immunizations are a vital part of our children growing up. You get them immunized that throughout time have killed people,” Kearns said recently during an appearance on the Panhandle News Network.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently report 35 cases of measles in 35 states, most notably Pennsylvania and Florida. Pennsylvania reports nine cases, eight of them in Philadelphia, and in Florida, where there are eight cases, state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo called measles “the most infectious human pathogen they know of” and compared it to a heat seeking rocket in being able to find the unvaccinated.
“When we look at Pennsylvania right now and we look at Florida, we’re seeing outbreaks of measles, which is a highly contagious illness that in vaccinated children basically does not happen.” Marsh said.
A report from the World Health Organization estimates around 128,000 people died in 2021, and many more suffered complications like inflammation of the brain, pneumonia, and encephalitis.
“In 2019, there were about 1,300 cases of measles in our country, and 90 percent of those people who were infected in our country in 2019 were not vaccinated,” Marsh said.
The vaccine requirements set the stage for what officials call “community immunity.” When enough people in a community receive a vaccination, sickness and disease do not have free access from person-to-person, keeping infection rates as low as possible.
“We’re really immunizing our children and our population to try to protect the most vulnerable and try to protect the complications that happen,” Marsh said.
Bill sponsor, Delegate Laura Kimble, R-Harrison, said before the House vote last Monday, the arguments against the exceptions amount to a belief that “herd immunity is crucial, so important in fact that the state of West Virginia should continue to use the force of law to coerce parents to have their children vaccinated without exceptions or exemptions.”
She continued, “The stated reason to require most vaccinations of children, public safety, which can only be achieved by herd immunity is disingenuous, illogical and ultimately contrary to what we claim to be most important.”
West Virginia has some of the highest immunization rates for children, Kearns said he can’t understand why lawmakers would be interested in going the other direction.
“West Virginia does it right. Other states look at else and want to model their behaviors after West Virginia,” he said. “With this, we are going from one of the strongest states to one of the weakest when it comes to immunizations.”
Kearns is urging residents to take note of how their representatives in Charleston have voted on the issue.
“You can look on the roll call and see how your representative voted,” Kearns said. “Then you can say, ‘Well, maybe that representative didn’t care about my child’s health,’ maybe they did, maybe they had other reasons why they voted. This is a medical issue and we want to keep our children safe.”
The 60-day legislative session is set to end Saturday night at midnight.
Panhandle News Network Reporter Marsha Kavalek contributed to this story.
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