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Capito applauds Barrett pick for Supreme Court; Manchin issues plea to slow down

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., says she looks forward to meeting U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “and will consider her based on her merits as West Virginians would expect me to do.”

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., urged a slowdown for the process.

“I will not vote to confirm Judge Coney Barrett or any Supreme Court nominee before Election Day on Nov. 3,” Manchin stated. “I urge my Republican friends to slow down, put people before politics, and give their constituents a chance to vote.”

West Virginia’s two senators are demonstrating the debate America is about to have over the open Supreme Court seat just weeks before the General Election.

Barrett is being considered for the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon, who died a little more than a week ago.

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump appointed Barrett to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago just three years ago. Both Capito and Manchin voted to confirm her to the federal bench.

Before that, she taught law at the University of Notre Dame for 15 years and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump introduced Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday evening and alluded to controversy over the timing.

“I’m sure it’ll be extremely noncontroversial,” Trump said, meaning the opposite.  Then he referred to the contentious confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “We said that the last time, didn’t we?”

Trump said, “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. Should be very easy. Good luck. It’s going to be very quick.”

Controversy has swirled over proximity to the upcoming General Election, as well as the Senate GOP majority’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in 2016.

Voting for the General Election has already started in some states. West Virginia’s early voting period begins in less than a month, Oct. 21.

On March 16, 2016, Capito said the election cycle should be concluded before the Supreme Court nominee was considered.

“Before a Supreme Court justice is confirmed to a lifetime position on the bench, West Virginians and the American people should have the ability to weigh in at the ballot box this November. My position does not change with the naming of a nominee today,” Capito said in 2016.

At that point, Capito concluded, “With just a few months until the election, West Virginians should have an opportunity to express their views and elect a new president who will select the Supreme Court justice.”

In a statement today, Capito did not specify a timetable to consider Barrett’s nomination, but indicated support.

“She has demonstrated a strong commitment to the rule of law and to carefully considering the text and history of the Constitution,” Capito stated today.

“I look forward to meeting with Judge Barrett soon as the Senate moves forward with the confirmation process and will consider her based on her merits as West Virginians would expect me to do.”

With the Garland nomination in 2016, Manchin had said the nominee should get a hearing.

Today, Manchin said he would “review Judge Coney Barrett’s legal qualifications and judicial philosophy just as I have done with every Supreme Court nominee that has come before the Senate during my time as a Senator.”

But he warned not to go so fast.

“Rushing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee weeks before a presidential election has never been done before in the history of our nation and it will only fan the flames of division at a time when our country is deeply divided,” Manchin stated.

“I cannot support a process that risks further division of the American people at a time when we desperately need to come together.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also issued a statement about Barrett’s nomination.

“I urge the Senate to put aside partisanship, give Judge Barrett swift consideration and confirm someone who obviously has the qualifications to sit on our nation’s highest bench,” Morrisey stated.

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No red on latest school map; Kanawha and Wayne are orange and still have no classroom instruction

West Virginia’s coronavirus map that determines whether classroom instruction can occur for the next week had no counties in red and just a couple — Kanawha and Wayne — shown as orange.

That means those two counties must continue with remote learning and can’t yet have extracurricular activities.

More counties were gold. That means in-person instruction can occur with heightened precautions including face coverings for students in grades 3 and above. Extracurricular activities are permitted only in that county or with other gold counties.

Gold counties included Fayette, Logan, Marshall, Mingo and Summers counties.

All other counties were green or yellow.

The map is based on data through midnight Thursday, then reviewed by a panel of state health officials.

This Saturday’s version of the map was affected by a change made by state leaders. Early versions were determined by daily positive covid cases on a rolling average and adjusted for 100,000 population.

Gov. Jim Justice announced an adjustment to allow county status be determined by percent positive cases instead.

“Whichever metric, whether it’s the infection rate or the percent positive rate — whichever of those two metrics is better — will be the metric that’s applied for the color code of the county,” Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus response coordinator, said Friday.

A daily map at the Department of Health and Human Resources website on Friday showed most of the state on green, reflecting that change.

There were also several instances of adjustments by a panel of health officials who review the map before it is released every Saturday evening.

  • Barbour County: Moved from yellow to green as the percent positivity is less than 3% over a 14-day average. Barbour County was assessed with a 14-day average rather than a 7-day average due to the number of total cases in the 7-day average being below 20.
  • Wyoming County: Moved from gold to yellow as the percent positivity is less than 3% over a 14-day average. Wyoming County was assessed with a 14-day average rather than a 7-day average due to the number of total cases in the 7-day average being below 20.
  • Marshall County: Moved from yellow to gold based on two additional cases being included as Marshall County cases for a 7-day average.
  • Monongalia County: Moved from yellow to green using the percent positivity rate due to the exclusion of isolated students at Arnold Hall at West Virginia University.
  • Fayette County: Moved from orange to gold using the percent positivity rate due to four cases being transferred to another county during data validation.
  • Boone County: Moved from orange to yellow using the percent positivity rate due to six cases being transferred to another county during data validation.
  • Morgan County: moved from green to a yellow based on two additional cases being included as new cases for Morgan County for a 7-day average based upon county of residence.

 

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16 games scrubbed in Week 5, many teams can reschedule in gold counties

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the midway point of the high school football arrives this week, 16 games have been removed from the Week 5 schedule as a result of the weekly COVID protocols map that was posted on the WVDE website Saturday afternoon.

Kanawha and Wayne counties are in the orange category, meaning that their teams can practice but not play.

Five counties are in the gold category: Fayette, Logan, Marshall, Mingo, Summers. Teams in those counties can play in-county opponents or schools from other gold counties.

Canceled games (involving teams in orange counties):

  • Capital at Cabell Midland
  • South Charleston at George Washington
  • Huntington at Spring Valley
  • Herbert Hoover at Chapmanville
  • Liberty Raleigh at Wayne
  • Nitro at Logan
  • Poca at Sissonville
  • Tolsia at Tyler Consolidated
  • St. Albans at Riverside

Canceled games (involving teams in gold counties, they can reschedule):

  • Mingo Central at Greenbrier East
  • Tug Valley at Pike Central(KY)
  • Man at Buffalo
  • Midland Trail at Nicholas County
  • Greenbrier West at Meadow Bridge
  • Oak Hill at Pikeview
  • Summers County at Independence
  • Buckhannon-Upshur at John Marshall

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Photo gallery: WVU faces Oklahoma State in Big 12 opener

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Photos from West Virginia’s Big 12 Conference opener at Oklahoma State.

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Follow along: WVU opens Big 12 play in Stillwater

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Check in throughout West Virginia’s Big 12 opening contest at Oklahoma State.

Of note: ABC has the game broadcast, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. In the event that President Donald Trump announces his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat (which is expected around 5 p.m.), ESPNNews will pick up the broadcast.

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

Final – Oklahoma State 27, West Virginia 13 (OSU has won six in a row against the Mountaineers)

7:09 p.m. – Chuba Hubbard 23 yd TD run – OSU 27, WVU 13 (1:17 left)

6:44 p.m. – Evan Staley 30 yd FG – OSU 20, WVU 13 (9:01 left in 4th)

6:22 p.m. – Evan Staley 26 yd FG – OSU 20, WVU 10 (:37 left in 3rd)

5:20 p.m. – Alex Hale 44 yd FG with 3 seconds left in the half – (OSU 20, WVU 7 at halftime)

5:05 p.m. – WVU now with 265 yards of total offense as Doege hits Winston Wright with a 70 yd TD strike – OSU 17, WVU 7 (3:48 left in 2nd)

West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

5:00 p.m. – Alex Hale 41 yd field goal – OSU 17, WVU 0 (5:02 left in 2nd)

4:36 p.m. – Promising WVU drive stalls when Jarret Doege is sacked and fumbles, Tyren Irby scoops and scores – OSU 14, WVU 0 (11:07 left in 2nd) 

4:23 p.m. – L.D. Brown breaks the stalemate with a 66 yards touchdown run. – OSU 7, WVU 0 (13:42 left in 2nd)

4:16 p.m. – Scoreless at the end of one quarter. Freshman Reese Smith preserved WVU’s current possession with a 3rd down reception.

3:46 p.m. – True freshman Shane Illingworth to lead the OSU offense. WVU picks up a first down but that’s all on their opening possession.

3:07 p.m. – Bridgeport High School grads receive captain/flag bearer honors for the Mountaineers.

Today’s captains and flag bearer.#HailWV pic.twitter.com/xAcNTcemON

— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) September 26, 2020

2:40 p.m. – You will undoubtedly recognize one of Oklahoma State’s four co-captains. Former WVU offensive lineman Josh Sills gets the honor.

Today’s Captains: Josh Sills, @OfficialTylan2, @McCalister_Dos2, @Dayton84Metcalf#LetsRide | #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/nZkeYEg1dZ

— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) September 26, 2020

Your essential pregame reading/viewing:

2019 meeting could offer some clues for WVU & OSU

Gundy sees several reasons for lackluster performance in season opener

‘Three Guys Before the Game’ – OSU preview

In his fifth start at WVU, Jarret Doege set to face Oklahoma State a second time

WVU preparing for multiple OSU quarterbacks as the Mountaineers open Big 12 play

 

Stay tuned to MetroNews Gameday coverage through 9:30 p.m. – The livestream can be found at wvmetronews.com.

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Wildlife cupboards are close to bare for 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia hunters may remember the 2020 spring gobbler season. Everybody was excited to get into the woods because, we had been locked down with worry and uncertainty over the newly discovered ailment known as Covid 19. We were encouraged to practice a new way of behaving called “social distancing.” We all did. After all, there’s no better place to be socially distant than in the West Virginia hills on a hunting trip.

What you may not recall as vividly from that sprig time quest for a long beard was the chill in the air, especially in the early part of the season. It was a cold spring and in the higher elevations some of us hunted some in the snow. Those conditions which are a memory now, are coming home to roost with the Division of Natural Resources 2020 West Virginia mast survey.

“This is the worst one we’ve every had in terms of numerical score,” said Chris Ryan of the DNR one of the co-authors of the annual report.

The survey is compiled by the observations of biologist, foresters, and other qualified and trained individuals from the DNR, Division of Forestry, and some retired employees of those agencies. It ranks 18 species of the most widely available wildlife food sources. based on their abundance when compared to last year’s crop and the average over the life of the survey. This is the 50th years for the mast survey.

“Sixteen of our eighteen species are in pretty bad shape compared to the long term average and compared to last year. Unless it’s red oak/scarlet oak or black oak, things are pretty dim this year,” Ryan shared in this week’s edition of West Virginia Outdoors on MetroNews.

Each year the survey is broken down into hard mast, of which there are eight species. Soft mast are the other eight. species surveyed. Hard mast is typically the go to meal during the fall for deer, bear, turkey, squirrels and a host of other critters. Acorns are the most sought after in many cases. But the much desired white oak fell drastically again across all regions of the state.

“White oak and chestnut oak were bad last year, but hickory, which supports quite a few species is down significantly from last year. Squirrels and bears go to the hickory pretty fast because those hickory nuts are very high in carbohydrates and fat. A bear can put on a lot of weight by hitting the hickory flats, but this year it’s going to be real hard for them to find a lot of good hickory,” Ryan explained.

Typically through the summer months and into the fall, soft mast because the sustenance of wildlife. But even the backup pantry for the critters of West Virginia is limping along this year.

“It is bad, bad, bad, bad when it comes to soft mast. I have never seen those nine species of what we call the soft mast group all be negative both from last year and the long term average. That has impacted things that have happened in the summertime,” Ryan said.

There was early evidence of a mast failure brewing when bears were already causing nuisance complaints in the early summer months. For the DNR’s bear team those complaints are the canary in the coal mine to forecast a shortage of eats. Bear complaints have multiplied as the food supply dwindled.

Hunters in the eastern panhandle had one bright spot reflected in the report.. The beech crops was up considerably from last year in the region and will impact hunting for bears and turkeys especially.

Low mast counts may seem like doom and gloom in how it is reported, but ironically, the conditions bode well for West Virginia hunters.

“A lot of times, it’s the opposite. particularly when you talk about species which rely on certain types of food, it becomes a lot easier to pattern animals and a lot easier to predict where they are going,” Ryan said.

Under low mast conditions, game will have to travel more to reach the scarce food resources. More game will congregate in those areas and in many cases, they’ll break cover and head into open fields to feed. All of those conditions make game more vulnerable to hunters than in a year when mast is abundant and keeps them spread out widely across the landscape.

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Daily COVID map shows more counties ‘green’ ahead of school map release

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported 37 counties in the “green” category on the daily COVID-19 map released Saturday morning.

Counties can now be classified in connection with the coronavirus in one of two ways. Either by the incident rate, which is equal to a rolling 7-day average of new cases, or by the percent positivity rate, based on the percent of COVID-19 tests that come back positive in the county. The map color is based on the lower of those two rates.

Most counties on Saturday morning’s map fall under the percent positivity rate for its color code. Of note, Monongalia County, which was “yellow” Friday moved to “green” Saturday.

The map that matters the most when it comes to school instruction and extra-curricular activities is the School Alert map which will be released by the state Department of Education at 5 p.m. Friday. A working group reviews case numbers for the week, as of midnight Thursday, to determine the color code for the next week.

Things that have never changed:
1. Wear a mask 2. Avoid crowds 3. Wash your hands with soap & water 4. Stay home if sick and now 5. Go and get COVID tested if you have symptoms or if you are able to avoid asymptomatic spread. COVID-19 is a chronic disease here to stay.

— Ayne (like “Ein”-stein)Amjad, M.D., MPH (@AyneAmjad) September 26, 2020

The DHHR did report 205 new COVID-19 cases in Saturday morning’s report along with two additional deaths, both from Logan County, a 77-year-old man and 62-year-old woman. COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia are at 332.

The state’s daily positive test rate is at 2.71% and the Rt Value, rate of spread, for West Virginia is estimated at 1.03, now the 27th of all states. West Virginia had the highest spread rate a week ago.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., September 26, 2020, there have been 541,883 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 15,158 total cases and 332 deaths. https://t.co/YRwScg1li2 pic.twitter.com/capVOf55lh

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) September 26, 2020

Overall confirmed cases per county include: Barbour (56), Berkeley (987), Boone (216), Braxton (13), Brooke (113), Cabell (791), Calhoun (25), Clay (34), Doddridge (23), Fayette (608), Gilmer (46), Grant (160), Greenbrier (126), Hampshire (106), Hancock (148), Hardy (89), Harrison (354), Jackson (259), Jefferson (429), Kanawha (2,603), Lewis (38), Lincoln (164), Logan (610), Marion (267), Marshall (172), Mason (141), McDowell (81), Mercer (412), Mineral (172), Mingo (376), Monongalia (1,992), Monroe (149), Morgan (55), Nicholas (100), Ohio (368), Pendleton (53), Pleasants (17), Pocahontas (59), Preston (153), Putnam (550), Raleigh (510), Randolph (242), Ritchie (12), Roane (49), Summers (54), Taylor (124), Tucker (23), Tyler (16), Upshur (71), Wayne (392), Webster (8), Wetzel (54), Wirt (12), Wood (362), Wyoming (114).

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Greenbrier County man faces prison time after post office break-ins

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A Greenbrier County man faces five years in federal prison after admitting to breaking into two post offices.

Matthew Riffle

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said Matthew Riffle, 29, of Rupert pleaded guilty Friday.

Riffle broke into the Smoot Post Office in Greenbrier County on March 30, 2019 and then the next day, March 31, 2019, he broke into the Springdale Post Office in Fayette County. He tried to go back to Smoot the next day but was unsuccessful. He was arrested on April 2, 2019.

“Riffle not only broke into a post office- he admitted he broke into two,” Stuart said. “The security of our post offices is critical. In a season of massive amounts of ballots being delivered by mail, this case echoes the worries of many in the country as to post office and postal service security. I commend the tremendous work of the U. S. Postal Inspection Service and the Sheriff’s Departments of Greenbrier and Fayette counties.”

Riffle took a postage meter, mail, stamps and some cash.

Riffle will be sentenced Jan. 8, 2021. he faces up to five years in prison, a fine and restitution.

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Prosecutor: Juvenile in custody in connection with Weirton double-murder

WEIRTON, W.Va. — A 13-year-old boy is in juvenile custody in connection with the Thursday shooting deaths of a Weirton woman and her teenage daughter.

Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis

Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis told WTRF-TV Friday the boy was inside the Ardmore Avenue home with Melissa Rowland and her daughter Madison Crowe. Davis would not identify the boy because of his juvenile status. He’s being held at Ronald C. Mulholland Juvenile Center in Wheeling.

Davis said a gun has been recovered which authorities believe was the murder weapon. Both victims died at the scene.

Madison Crowe was a sophomore at Weir High School and a member of the Red Riders’ girls soccer team. School Athletic Director Donna Ferguson told MetroNews Friday she was bright and funny with an infectious laugh.

“Just one of those young ladies, no matter what kind of day she was having, always had a positive attitude, always a smile, and always a laugh,” Ferguson said. “Plus a very fierce competitor on the field.”

Ferguson said the news of the deaths was devastating to many in the community. She said members of the soccer team have already pulled closer together.

“They have very strong leadership within the team with their senior leaders along with their three coaches so I know they’re all going to rally together,” Ferguson said.

Counselors remain available for Weir High students. Some of the students led a vigil Thursday night to remember “Maddy.”

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2019 meeting could offer some clues for WVU & OSU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia and Oklahoma State matched up in the second-to-last regular season game of 2019. They will share the field at Boone Pickens Stadium this afternoon in the second game of the COVID-altered 2020 season.

Coaching staffs and personnel for both teams are largely similar, but with some notable exceptions. Oklahoma State will have some firepower back on their offense that wasn’t on display at Milan Puskar Stadium in OSU’s 20-13 win on Senior Day.

“You go back to last year and (Spencer) Sanders was out. (Tylan) Wallace was out. Some of the stuff matches up and it is redundant,” said WVU defensive line coach Jordan Lesley. “You go back and look at it. Does it match? Some of it, yeah. Some of it, no. It is probably flip a coin, 50-50.”

“Defensively, they were quite a bit different last week (vs. Tulsa). You don’t know why that was,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “Are they going to be different? Or were they just a little bit different last week? You really look at not necessarily the schematics of it, but more the one-on-one matchups — the O-line vs. D-line, the receivers vs. the defensive backs. You go back and see how individual players did. That is kind of the way we have attacked that.

“This is a difficult prep game for us defensively. They do have a new play caller. We are unsure who is going to be quarterback. Now in this game, they do have Tylan Wallace, which is a whole different piece than when we played them last year at the end of the year. Normally it would be a good thing. I am not sure it makes much of a difference this time.”

Oklahoma State Cowboys horse Bullet rides after a touchdown at Boone Pickens Stadium. (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

Pump up the volume (sort of)

Boone Pickens Stadium features a normal seating capacity of 55,509. On Saturday, OSU will welcome approximately 15,000 fans in. It will be the only time the Mountaineers will play in front of a crowd consisting of more than family members until at least October 17. Next Saturday’s home game vs. Baylor is closed to the general public.

“I think our guys will be charged to see some people in the stands and play in front of,” said WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. “You actually have a discussion about noise up there with the size of the stadium and the things they create. I have never had the opportunity to go up there and play. So it is going to be good for our guys to go out there and get in front of some energy. I know it will be a reduced crowd but at the same time, it will be good to see some people up there.”

“It has been a long time so we are happy about that,” said WVU defensive lineman Jeffrey Pooler. “We didn’t have a lot of fans but we had our families so it was a little bit to look forward to last week. Having more around is going to be more of a college football atmosphere.”

Former West Virginia Mountaineers offensive lineman Josh Sills (Photo by William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

Hello, old friend

Josh Sills started 24 games on the WVU offensive line before transferring to Oklahoma State. He was limited to just two games a year ago in an injury-shortened season for the Mountaineers. Sills is slated to start for the Cowboys at left guard today.

“Josh has been really good for us,” said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. “He has come in for us and competed. It took him a while to get back in shape. He was off. Then the virus hit. He went back home and I think hunted for three months and then came back and had to get in shape again. But he has been good for us. He is a good leader. He likes to play football and he is a good person. We are certainly glad he is on our team.”

“We are going to line up and he is going to play offense,” Brown said. “Our defensive guys are going to go out there and play. We wish him the best of luck. I actually don’t want him to have a whole lot of success in this game. But after that, we wish him the best of luck.”

“We came in the same year in the 2016 class,” Pooler said. “So it is going to be fun to play against each other. We’re on different sides of the ball so we had a lot of competition in practice.”

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