5 more counties added to gypsy moth quarantine
CHARLESTON (AP) — Five counties have been added to West Virginia’s gypsy moth quarantine area.
The state Department of Agriculture says McDowell, Mercer, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties were added after surveys documented the presence of egg masses. Forty-four counties are now regulated the gypsy moth quarantine.
The quarantine requires an inspection before trees, shrubs, logs, pulpwood and wood chips, and mobile homes and associated materials can be transported into a non-invested area.
The gypsy moth is a non-native caterpillar that has become established in most of the northeastern United States. It feeds on more than 500 species of trees and shrubs but prefers the leaves of oak trees, West Virginia’s predominant forest tree.
Black lung rule stalled 2 years after introduction
CHARLESTON (AP) — A federal plan to tackle the resurgence of black lung disease by controlling coal dust in U.S. mines is stalled.
The Charleston Gazette says a rule the Mine Safety and Health Administration introduced two years ago this month hasn’t reached the White House Office of Management and Budget. That office must review it before a final version is issued.
MSHA chief Joe Main can’t explain why. He says his agency finished its work and the rule is moving through the process.
But the United Mine Workers of America is eager to see changes implemented.
Spokesman Phil Smith says that if anyone is worried the bill will be assailed by Republicans as another job-killing regulation, they should remember black lung kills miners.
Some 10,000 died nationwide between 1995 and 2004.
4 WVU students, 2 others are charged after rioting
MORGANTOWN (AP) — Morgantown police have arrested four West Virginia University students and two others in the aftermath of last weekend’s post-game rioting.
Three are from Maryland, two are West Virginians and one is from Pennsylvania.
With the help of social media, police identified 21-year-old Kathryn Durko of Cokeburg, Pa.; 22-year-old Timothy Watkins of Westminster, Md.; James Richard Zito of Glenelg, Md., and 18-year-old Alexandra Amato of Morgantown.
Charges against the four students include disorderly conduct, and battery and obstruction of an officer.
Police also charged 19-year-old Pursglove resident Nathan Hoopergarner with battery on a government representative or emergency responder, while 39-year-old Vincent Rohrbaugh of Germantown, Md., was charged with public intoxication.
Police say they’ll be ready with new tactics to handle potential problems after Saturday’s football game at Texas Tech.
State crews prep for winter
ELKVIEW (AP) — West Virginia road-clearing crews have spent much of the week testing snowplows and salt trucks to make sure they’re ready when bad weather hits.
R.J. Scites of the West Virginia Division of Highways tells the Charleston Gazette it’s already snowed in some parts of the state.
Scites is maintenance engineer for a district that includes Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay and Mason counties. He says that district alone operates about 100 salt trucks.
On Thursday, crews checked out eight salt trucks at the Elkview station. Inspectors went over each vehicle, then directed drivers to the salt pile to take on a load of salt. Crews want to make sure the salt spreaders are working, and are properly calibrated so drivers know how much salt they’re putting down.
Bridge will get renovation
GLEN DALE (AP) — The West Virginia Division of Highways plans to spend about $8.2 million to renovate the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state Senate President Jeff Kessler announced the project Thursday. State bridge engineer Dave Sada says work should begin within the next year, but he couldn’t say how long it would take.
Sada told the Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that the structure is sound, but it’s better to do maintenance before there’s a problem. Plans call for minor structure repairs, lighting upgrades, cleaning, painting and other small improvements.
The bridge over the Ohio River was built in 1849, when Wheeling was still part of Virginia. Sada says the bridge last saw significant renovations in 1999.
Alzheimer’s victim missing
MORGANTOWN (AP) — Police and volunteers are still searching for a 79-year-old Alzheimer’s victim who has been missing from his daughter’s Morgantown home since Tuesday.
Authorities say Howard Nichol also has a bad hip. He was last seen in the Cheat Lake area, and searches have so far failed to find him.
Monongalia County emergency management director Mike Wolfe says trained search and rescue teams will be out again Friday, and he’s seeking volunteers to help Saturday. They should report to Cheat Lake Elementary at 7:30 a.m. and wear orange vests in case hunters are in the woods, too.
Media outlets say the 911 center sent a phone message to people who live in the Cheat Lake area, asking them to check sheds, garages and other empty buildings in case Nichol is hiding.
Man admits selling bath salts
WHEELING (AP) — A man who bought bath salts at a convenience store in Columbus, Ohio, then resold them in West Virginia has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute synthetic drugs.
Thirty-six-year-old Phillip James Hamilton of Wick admitted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling that he repackaged the drugs back home in Tyler County and resold them.
Under the plea bargain submitted to Judge Frederick Stamp, Hamilton agrees to forfeit $608 in cash, a handgun and a sport-utility vehicle seized when he was arrested last year.
Hamilton is free on bond until sentencing, when he could get up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Weapons instructor is shot
BERKELEY SPRINGS (AP) — Authorities say a 53-year-old Eastern Panhandle man who accidentally shot himself in the head was apparently a former military weapons instructor.
The Journal says David Holiday Jr. died Wednesday night. He was a native of Gallitzin, Pa.
Sgt. Seth Place of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department says Holiday had invited friends over to either sell or give away some guns. While showing them, he raised one pistol above his head. A witness says the gun then discharged.
Place says the shooting is being classified as an accident, not a suicide. No foul play is suspected.
Place says six guns were found on the kitchen table, and all were returned to family members.
Holiday was a military veteran, but Place didn’t immediately have the details of his service record.