The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 18, 2012

State news briefs

Jefferson County opposes proposed halfway house

CHARLES TOWN (AP) — The Jefferson County Commission is opposing a proposed halfway house for federal prisoners in Charles Town.

MinSec Companies LLC notified the commission late last month that it had submitted an offer to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to establish a halfway house on a 10-acre site.

The Journal says the commission voted unanimously Thursday to send a letter to MinSec and the Bureau of Prisons voicing its opposition to the facility. The letter also will be sent to federal and state elected officials and other county commissions that MinSec has approached.

Jefferson County Commission President Patsy Noland says she supports rehabilitation. But she doesn’t think the halfway house is a good fit for the area.


U.S. court reverses ruling on W.Va. flying squirrel

CHARLESTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has struck down a lower court ruling that had sided with environmental groups that were hoping to restore protected status to the West Virginia northern flying squirrel.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Five environmental groups had sued in 2009 after the federal agency took the squirrel off the endangered species list.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the agency wrongly ignored its own rules and effectively changed the recovery plan for the species without the required public-input process.

Sunnyside Up lays off its director after budget cuts

 MORGANTOWN (AP) — The head of a nonprofit urban redevelopment program in Morgantown has been laid off, but Jim Hunt says he’ll remain a supporter of Sunnyside Up.

Hunt will depart in mid-September under a vote taken this week. The board of directors thanked him for his service and said the decision was strictly budgetary.

Earlier this year, City Council cut its funding for the group from $100,000 to $50,000. So did its partner, West Virginia University.

Hunt’s salary was more than $76,000, with nearly $11,000 more in other compensation rather than benefits.

The Dominion Post says the board is considering hiring a part-time leader.

Sunnyside is a section of the city dominated by run-down student housing that the city and university have been trying to revitalize.


W.Va. gets $2.6 million in unspent highway money

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia will have access to $2.6 million in unspent federal highway funds for transportation improvements and job creation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday that more than $470 million will be made immediately available nationwide for projects such as repairing crumbling roads and bridges. States must identify how the funds will be used by Oct. 1.

The money initially was allocated to the Transportation Department for special projects known as earmarks from 2003 to 2006. The Republican-controlled House has since banned earmarks, which are provisions tucked into spending bills for lawmakers’ pet projects.  

But LaHood says money awarded by previous Congresses should be spent to improve the nation’s highways, transit systems and ports.


State gathers more data for storm aid appeal

CHARLESTON (AP) — A state official says a storm damage review provides more data for West Virginia’s appeal of the federal government’s denial of disaster assistance for individuals.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Jimmy Gianato tells the Charleston Daily Mail that damage in more than a dozen counties has been reassessed.

A June 29 windstorm and subsequent storms left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the state’s request for federal assistance to help governments pay for public damage.

But FEMA denied Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s request for aid for individuals.

Court won’t remove judge from former cop’s case

Wheeling (AP) — Ohio County Circuit Court Judge Arthur Recht will continue to hear the case of a former Wheeling police officer accused of sexually abusing several women.

Media outlets report the state Su-preme Court on Thursday denied a motion by Matthew Kotson’s lawyer to remove Recht from the case.

Lawyer Robert McCoid’s motion claimed recent statements by Recht raise questions about the judge’s impartiality and impede selecting an unbiased jury.

Recht denied the allegation in a response filed earlier this week.

Kotson was indicted in January on sexual abuse, sexual assault and burglary charges. He faces separate trials with the women he’s accused of sexually abusing. The first trial is set for Sept. 4.

Steel coating company announces W.Va. expansion

FOLLANSBEE (AP) — The Wheeling-Nisshin steel coating company has announced a $28 million expansion to produce a new product at its Brooke County facility.

The company’s new line is called ZAM, a combination of zinc, aluminum and magnesium. Company officials say it’s highly corrosion-resistant and environmentally friendly.

Jeffrey McLaughlin, general manager of accounting and finance at Wheeling-Nisshin, says the company will expand its building space, buy new equipment and add an electrical substation.

Construction is expected to begin by October and be completed by next fall.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved a $10 million loan to assist in the project.

AG names longtime educator to advisory committee

CHARLESTON (AP) — Veteran educator and Democratic activist Reva Mickey is the newest member of Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s Citizens Advisory Committee.

Mickey spent 40 years in the public school system as a counselor, teacher and reading specialist. She’s been a member of the West Virginia State Democratic Executive Committee and chairwoman of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee.

The Citizens Advisory Committee provides consumers an opportunity for direct contact with a representative of the attorney general’s office.

Clerk is accused of forging winning lottery tickets

HUNTINGTON (AP) — A Huntington gas station employee faces charges of forging winning lottery tickets.

Media outlets say 30-year-old Crystal Gail Hampton of Huntington is charged with 35 counts of forgery and counterfeiting and one count of embezzlement.

Hampton is accused in criminal complaints of scanning lottery tickets at the gas station to determine if they were winners. She allegedly bought 35 winning tickets at the gas station and then cashed them in.

Payouts ranged from $1 to $18.