The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 31, 2013

Top stories of 2013


Jan. 1: The White House reached a New Year’s Eve accord with Senate Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff in a budget deal.

Jan. 2: Jesom Edward Culver’s birth Jan. 1 was reported. Jesom, the 9 lb., 6 oz., son of Frank Colver and Evangeline Tiede, was the first baby born at Raleigh General Hospital in 2013.

Jan. 3: The financing of a proposed public swimming pool in Greenbrier County was challenged by four county residents.

Jan. 4: Warren Ashby Thornhill, a co-founder of the Beckley Area Foundation who helped to build the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, died Jan. 2.

Jan. 5: The community walk-ed through the new Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County.

Jan. 6: The Raleigh County Prosecutor’s office became the focus of a facelift.

Jan. 7: Public comments were being solicited on the proposed expansion of the Beech Ridge Wind Farm in western Greenbrier County.

Jan. 8: A person was shot dead near Lewisburg after a standoff with Lewisburg police.

Jan. 9: University of Char-leston Beckley’s campus open-ed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Jan. 10: Register-Herald publisher Frank Wood was named the United Way of Southern West Virginia’s 2013-2014 fundraising campaign chairman.

Jan. 11: Beckley Police Sgt. Frankie Shelton was named Governor’s Highway Safety Program “Officer of the Year” for the 14th year.

Jan. 12: U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced he would not seek a sixth term.

Jan. 13: Rep. Nick Joe Rahall III announced that he would enter the race for the U.S. Senate.

Jan. 14: Beckley Police Cpl. Jamie Blume announced the addition of Ciro, a 19-month-old German shepherd, to the K-9 unit.

Jan. 15: Gov. Earl Ray Tom-blin took the oath of office as West Virginia’s governor.

Jan. 16: Federal prosecutors decided to delay involvement in a long-lingering civil suit by former Massey Energy shareholders who said the coal company lied about its safety record to inflate stock prices.

Jan. 17: President Barack Obama urged Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, in the wake of shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Jan. 18: Former Upper Big Branch superintendent Gary May was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 21 months in prison and three years supervised release, in connection with an explosion at the former Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County.

Jan. 19: Marsh Fork Elementary School was dedicated in a special ceremony which was attended by Sen. Joe Manchin.

Jan. 20: Congested jails were a topic of study by Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, who said he and other lawmakers planned to research the problem, which had to be addressed.

Jan. 21: President Barack Obama, was sworn into his second term of office in Washington.

Jan. 22: Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated in Lewisburg with a gathering of 320 citizens.

Jan. 23: Raleigh County was getting $35,000 per quarter in 2013 in tax proceeds generated by methane derived from coal waste dumps, and the windfall was being applied to infrastructure needs, Commission President Dave Tolliver said.

Jan. 24: St. Francis de Sales Catholic School seventh-grader Nikki Zinzuwadia took first place at the annual Raleigh County Spelling Bee.

Jan. 25: Sen. Joe Manchin announced plans to push for a rural health clinic in the Marsh Fork area of Raleigh County.

Jan. 26: A snowstorm left the region covered in snow, as an icy blast hit the area.

Jan. 27: Raleigh County Schools officials announced that pre-K students would be assigned a school instead of automatically attending a feeder school for the district.

Jan. 28: NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was guest speaker at the Big Atlantic Classic Tip-Off Banquet.

Jan. 29: The West Virginia Education Association and the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers opposed drug testing for teachers and students in Raleigh County.

Jan. 30: Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner announced he would not enforce federal gun laws.

Jan. 31: University of Char-leston - Beckley President Dr. Jerry Forster announced the Golden Eagles would be flying when the university added an athletics program in the fall.


Feb. 1: Beckley man gets 20 years from murder plea after killing his girlfriend.

Feb. 2: Community groups get together to change “culture of violence” in Beckley.

Feb. 3: Local father shares the story of losing his son to 2007 gas explosion at Ghent Little General store.

Feb. 4: Major fire destroys Gospel Truth Lighthouse Church in Sophia.

Feb. 5: Schools around the region have maxed out their snow days.

Feb. 6: Report shows teen birth rate soars in McDowell County while falling in the rest of the state.

Feb. 7: Violence expert tells school and law officials to cut out violent media to make schools safer.

Feb. 8: Former MSU students get tied up in appeals from the school and can’t get new financial aid.

Feb. 9: Worker crushed to death in Pocahontas Coal Co.’s Affinity Mine.

Feb. 10: Fayette County citizens pass levy that puts $9.3 million into schools for next five years.

Feb. 11: Auditor calls for replacement of Jackie Withrow hospital because repairs cost more than building a new hospital.

Feb. 12: Ethics Commission schedules conference for Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh, who is charged with nine counts of ethics violations.

Feb. 13: Gant Montgomery named Beckley’s chief of detectives.

Feb. 14: Gov. Tomblin turns his focus to education and calls schooling in state “unacceptable.”

Feb. 15: Rahall warns budget cuts take away funds for King Coal Highway and Coalfields Expressway.

Feb. 16: Department of Labor asks judge to shut down coal slurry since it hasn’t been inspected and certified for two years.

Feb. 17: Report says Fayette County ranks 51st out of 55 counties in teen pregnancy rates.

Feb. 18: Fayette County citizens ask Legislature to extend waterline so they can have running water.

Feb. 19: Rep. Nick Rahall receives Truman Award from National Guard.

Feb. 20: Mayor Pugh’s ethics hearing moved to May 1 after deputy counsel leaves the commission.

Feb. 21: Affinity Mine shut for one-hour after two deaths in two weeks.

Feb. 22: Prison chief tells Legislature that crowding in prisons has reached a crisis level.

Feb. 23: Rockefeller and Rahall introduce miners pension bill.

Feb. 24: Mining safety officials working to finish safety talks and get back to work.

Feb. 25: Heart of God Ministries celebrates Black History with special service.

Feb. 26: Senate President says school boards need more control if schools will succeed.

Feb. 27: Fire in Hinton destroys entire city block; police charge a suspect with arson.

Feb. 28: Gov. Tomblin introduces bill to require payment sales tax on online purchases.


March 1: David Hughart, 54, the former president of Massey Energy’s White Buck Coal Co., admitted to U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger that he conspired to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration and conspired to violate mine health and safety laws.

March 2: Gov. Earl Ray Tom-blin dispels rumors about a massive education reform bill.

March 3: A proposed Greenbrier County fire levy flamed out as voters rejected the measure by more than a two-to-one margin.

March 4: Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver says commercial development was excellent in 2012, with over $61 million in total new construction.

March 5: President Obama selected Hinton native Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his budget director in the midst of a bipartisan battle over government spending.

March 6: Beckley Police Department discovered what they suspect was a meth lab on South Fayette Street across from the Stratton Elementary School; Mark Anthony Lyons, 44, was charged.

March 7: Hinton arson suspect Billy Joe Gill is now also charged with two counts of attempted murder according to the Summers County Prosecutor.

March 8: Officials at the West Virginia Parkways Authority monthly meeting discuss tolls and speed limits.

March 9: Raleigh County Commissioners prepared to complete the 2013-2014 budget, anticipated to be approximately $14.8 million and officials are requesting additional funding for staff.

March 10: Liberty High School theater and music teach-er Everett Jeremy Rodriguez is one of 20 finalists across the nation to win a $10,000 classroom grant through the Great American Teach-off.

March 11: A Senate Select Committee on children and poverty is set to meet in Beckley to discuss issues relating to children and poverty.

March 12: A nearly unanimous West Virginia House of Delegates approved a measure that would repeal a handful of municipal gun control ordinances.

March 13: Due to West Virginia's Regional Jail system ov-ercrowding, the Senate agreed to make more inmates eligible for parole with good-time credits.

March 14: The Catholic Church found a surprising new leader, a pioneer pope from Argentina named Pope Francis.

March 15: During a Raleigh County Board of Education meeting, members of the public announced they hope to have Stratton Elementary School placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

March 16: New River Community and Technical College is proceeding with plans for renovations of a building intended to be a fine arts and aquatic center despite the pending legal case.

March 17: Mount Hope Heritage and Hope and The Center of Hope, both nonprofit organizations, argue over the use and ownership of the old Mount Hope High School.

March 18: Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick discusses the state’s growing coyote population.

March 19: After weeks of intense hearings, the education bill passes 34-0 with a few tweaks.

March 20: Gov. Tomblin ordered a freeze on hiring for all executive agencies under his authority, due to tax revenues that could lag below expectations up to $70 million.

March 21: Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty met with community members to discuss solutions related to children and poverty.

March 22: After leaving Raleigh General Hospital 12 years ago, David Darden will return May 1 to serve as Chief Executive Officer.

March 23: Fayette County Commission approves a $9.9 million budget, and officials say budget increases can be traced to drug addiction and drug related crime.

March 24: University of Charleston - Beckley picks up radiologic technology, an old Mountain State University program.

March 25: Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce plans to honor miners who died three years ago during the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.

March 26: Beckley VA Medical Center hosts groundbreaking for two new patient care enhancement projects, which are set for completion in early fall 2014.

March 27: Rep. Nick Rahall, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, says he will not support gun control legislation.

March 28: Greenbrier Valley Airport is on the Federal Aviation Administration's list of 154 contract towers slated to close; Airport Authority exploring all options.

March 29: The House of Delegates passed a bill making seatbelt violations a primary offense.

March 30: The murder trial of 60-year-old Gerald Wayne Little has been moved from Mercer to Raleigh County.

March 31: Officials seek answers about the safety of waste fluids from oil and gas drilling being pumped underground in Fayette County.

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