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W.Va. Hunting and Fishing Show returns this weekend

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 34th West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show is set to go this weekend at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.  The show is put on annually by the non-profit West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association. The event will return a year after being cancelled for Covid.

“We’re excited to be back,” said Glen Jarrell, spokesman for the Trophy Hunters. “It goes Friday the 21st, Saturday the 22nd, and Sunday the 23rd.”

Close to 200 vendors will be set up for the three day event which typically draws close to 15,000 people into  the capital city and the Convention Center over the course of three days. The exhibitors include a large number of hunting and fishing outfitters from around the world.

“I looked the other day and we have outfitters from at least 22 states who will be represented, including all of those out west like Wyoming, Montana, Colorado. We have outfitters coming from Canada so you can book a hunting or fishing trip and we have five outfitters from South Africa if you want to book a safari,” said Jarrell.

 

From our friends at the WV Hunting & Fishing Show. It is ON! Your Adventure Awaits. Thank you @WVOutdoors & @wchs8fox11 pic.twitter.com/Dul3ausQyi

— James W Strawn (@JimStrawn21) December 30, 2021

Additionally the show features a number of vendors selling outdoor equipment and gear and sportsman’s organizations using the opportunity to raise awareness of their cause and doing some fundraising.    All exhibitors have to be tied in some way to the outdoors.

The show has been put on for the 34 of the past 35 years. The first event was held in Beckley, but moved to its permanent home in Charleston the following year.

In addition to vendors selling outdoors related products, the show features several seminars. There is also a charity auction on Saturday featuring a number of firearms and products and trips contributed by vendors to raise money for the organization.

The West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association is a non profit organizations. Any profits from the show after expenses are paid are put toward conservation programs or youth outdoor education efforts. According to Jarrell the organization in the past has made sizeable contributions to Hunters Helping the Hungry, Archery in Schools, West Virginia Hunter Education, and purchased equipment for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources wildlife programs.

The show hours are noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 -12, and under age 6 get in free.

West Virginia Outdoors will originate from the show floor on Saturday and a special edition of the show will air from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on MetroNews flagship station 580-WCHS on Saturday.

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Thornhill Auto Group MetroNews Boys Basketball Power Index (Week 3)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The third edition of the MetroNews Boys Basketball Power Index, sponsored by Thornhill Auto Group, is set. This edition includes results through the end of play on Monday, January 17th. We released the edition a day earlier than usual due to the limited amount of games on January 18th. The next edition will be published on Wednesday, January 26th and the index will be updated each Wednesday afternoon through the end of the regular season.

Week 3 MetroNews Power Index

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Slow repairs for power outages in Kanawha County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power reports some customers in Kanawha County may not have power fully restored until Wednesday.

“A lot of them will be restored today, but we’re probably going to see some go into Wednesday just because of a lot of outage cases where we’ve got to make repairs,” said Appalachian Power Spokesman Phil Moye.

Roughly 7,000 customers remained out of power Tuesday afternoon following the storm Sunday night. According to Moye they had significant tree damage and problems with broken poles and broken lines in the areas of I-77 through Sissonville, I 79 through the Elkview area and parts of Davis Creek and Loudendale in Kanawha County.

“It’s just areas where the snow hit deep enough and wet enough to bring down trees and tree limbs,” Moye said.

Ahead of the storm, the company staged 250 linemen from Michigan and Indiana in anticipation of the outages. Another 50 line workers from Kentucky were due in the Charleston area Tuesday afternoon to aid in the recovery.

“We’ve got more than a thousand folks out there restoring power,” Moye said.

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Fentanyl bill debated in House Judiciary before being sent to full House for consideration

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would make it a crime when someone in possession of fentanyl exposes the drug to a first responder.

HB 2184, which cleared the committee on a 22-1 vote, would create a misdemeanor crime if governmental representatives, health care providers, utility workers, law enforcement officers, correctional employees and emergency medical service personnel are exposed to fentanyl. The crime would be a felony if the first responder is physically harmed as a result of the exposure.

Larry Pack

Bill sponsor, Del. Larry Pack, R-Kanawha, told fellow judiciary committee members the bill is about protecting those whose job is about protecting others.

“My intent is to really protect the first responders,” Pack said. “We’re being overrun by fentanyl in our state. They are mixing it with a lot of different drugs and it really does expose our first responders to illness and even death.”

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that’s contributed to thousands of deadly overdoses in West Virginia. Most of the time the drug is smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.

Pack was questioned by some delegates on whether someone should be held responsible for exposing someone to the drug without intent. Pack said the person who possesses the drug has already made a choice.

“The person who has possession takes the risk of this charge once they make the decision to be in possession of this drug,” Pack said.

Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, was the only committee member to vote against the bill. He said it won’t help with the real problems associated with the opioid epidemic.

Mike Pushkin

“This isn’t going to work, it’s not going to have the desired effect,” Pushkin said. “What you really are creating is a monstrosity of a law that’s going to be very difficult to convict anybody of because you would have to show that they intentionally purchased something that is often put in other drugs.”

Pushkin said if lawmakers want to do something to eliminate the problem they should make it easier for people to get fentanyl test strips to see if the drugs they have do contain the dangerous fentanyl or not. Pushkin said last year’s harm reduction bill makes it more difficult for drug users to obtain the strips.

Pushkin said lawmakers need to think more about their responses to the epidemic.

“We’re going to have a lot of well-intended, stupid bills this year and I suggest you think about it before you vote for it,” Pushkin said. “It’s not going to have the desired effect, you’re not going to help anybody, you’re going to clog up our jails and prisons systems and it’s going to make it much harder for our prosecutors to do their jobs.”

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

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Capito seeks input from West Virginians regarding broadband connections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) says she wants to hear from West Virginians when it comes to service needs related to broadband expansion.

The senator put the call out Tuesday as part of her Capito Connect plan.

“I want to invite everybody to tell me specifically where you are, what your service is and if it’s unsatisfactory or if it needs improvement,” Capito said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Capito Connect is one of the first initiatives Capito introduced when she joined the Senate in 2015 to highlight the digital divide in the state.

The public is encouraged to share their stories and experiences on a new web page: capito.senate.gov/ShareYourStories.

West Virginia is going to get more than $100 million dollars from the federal infrastructure law to expand broadband. Capito said it’s important to hear from as many people as possible so they can put that money to good use.

“I want to make sure we are working with the state and the local entities that we’re maxing out our opportunities here because this is going to be a massive effort. I want to make sure we do it right,” she said.

With three economic development announcements made last week, Capito said now is the time to improve internet access for businesses moving to the Mountain State.

“As we grow our economy, and with the announcements from last week, we have to have broad connectivity to be able to make sure that we can attract those kinds of investments,” she said.

Nucor Steel in Mason County, Green Power Motor in Kanawha County and Owens & Minor in Monongalia County are among the companies planning to bring hundreds of jobs to West Virginia over next year.

Capito’s staff plans to evaluate input over the coming weeks and then announce next steps for the program.

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Democrats in Legislature push for West Virginia sales tax cut

Democrats in the Legislature today proposed a sales tax cut for West Virginians.

West Virginia’s sales tax is currently 6 percent. The Democrats, who announced the policy goal in a news conference, proposed lowering that initially to 4.75 percent with possible reductions after that if the state’s finances are healthy.

Stephen Baldwin

“It’s a tax cut for everybody. This helps every single West Virginian. This helps every single West Virginia business,” Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, said during this morning’s news conference.

Sales tax rates of surrounding states include 6 percent in Kentucky, 6 percent in Maryland, 6 percent in Pennsylvania, 5.75 percent in Ohio and 5.3 percent in Virginia. Most of those states, like West Virginia, also have local sales taxes.

“This proposal would give us the lowest sales tax in the region, and that would give us an advantage over surrounding states,” Baldwin said at the news conference.

The Democrats calculated the sales tax cut would be a $312 million effect on the state’s General Fund.

Baldwin noted that’s in line with the $350 million match that state officials promised last week for investments by Nucor Steel’s capital improvements.

“That is the same amount of money essentially that was given in an incentive to Nucor last week, and we all supported that,” Baldwin said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

What are Senate Democrats going to propose today? @baldwinforwv announces the proposal to @HoppyKercheval. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/ph7V6Xg6Zq

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 18, 2022

Gov. Jim Justice, who last year proposed eliminating the state income tax, has put forward a relatively flat $4.6 billion budget proposal this year.

Observers have noted that it’s challenging to judge what financial conditions might be like in the near future, considering the lingering effects of covid-19 and the influx of federal money to states over the past couple of years.

Kelly Allen

Anyone assessing the proposed sales tax cut should be cautious, said Kelly Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Budget & Policy.

“I don’t think it’s fiscally responsible to use one-time revenue to fund a permanent tax cut,” Allen said today. “In future years, budget cuts would likely be required to offset any permanent cuts to the general revenue fund — necessarily meaning reductions in funding for schools, health care, and other areas that need more funding — not less.”

Democrats represent the minority party in the Senate and House of Delegates. So passing the tax cut would require buy-in from the Republican majorities.

Baldwin made the pitch for bipartisan cooperation today in comments on the Senate floor.

“We think we’ve come up with an idea we can work with our friends and colleagues across the aisle on,” he said. “We’d be happy to have support, comments, feedback, work with our colleagues from across the aisle on making this better. We would welcome our colleagues to join with us on this effort.”

The Democratic leaders who pitched the tax cut today said they have spoken already with Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and is optimistic that the proposal could be considered.

Richard Lindsay

“It’s been discussed with leadership, and I hope it does — I hope this bill ends up on a committee list,” said Senator Richard Lindsay, D-Kanawha.

Doug Skaff

House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, expressed hope that the tax cut could receive bipartisan support.

“It’s time to give back. I think that’s not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue,” he said. “Let’s be creative, work together.”

Lisa Zukoff

Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, said she often hears from seniors and people on fixed incomes who would benefit from a tax break on their spending. Zukoff also pointed to an advantage for small businesses on border counties.

“I’m excited to be here this morning, and I hope this can truly be a bipartisan effort, across the board to help all West Virginians,” Zukoff said.

Jim Barach

Delegate Jim Barach, D-Kanawha, characterized the sales tax as a regressive tax where people pay the same percentage without regard to their ability to pay. “I think this will make things a little more even for everyone,” he said.

And, he too, said the sales tax reduction could promote activity at retailers across the state.

“Not only will we help people but we’ll help businesses. And this will prime the pump,” he said.

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Active COVID cases fall, hospitalizations rise in Tuesday’s report from DHHR

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 case total in West Virginia dropped by more than 3,000 on Tuesday, according to the latest report from the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

The DHHR confirmed 17,239 Tuesday compared to 20,392 reported Monday. 1,949 new cases of the virus were added Tuesday. The DHHR reported the daily positivity test rate for the virus at more than 22%, flat from Monday.

Tuesday’s dashboard showed a rise in COVID-19 related hospitalizations at 907. It’s the states first time above the 900 mark since Oct. 4, 2021. 207 of those patients are in the ICU.

There have been 26 deaths reported since the last report, with a total of 5,561 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

DHHR has confirmed the deaths of a 38-year old male from Clay County, an 83-year old female from Wood County, a 47-year old female from Roane County, an 85-year old male from Wood County, a 76-year old male from Jefferson County, a 75-year old male from Wood County, a 63-year old female from Jefferson County, a 75-year old male from Jefferson County, a 93-year old female from Mason County, a 30-year old female from Summers County, a 74-year old female from Cabell County, a 53-year old male from Marshall County, and a 54-year old female from Harrison County.

Included in the total deaths reported on the dashboard as a result of the Bureau for Public Health’s continuing data reconciliation with the official death certificate are a 79-year old male from McDowell County, a 71-year old female from Ohio County, a 95-year old female from Pocahontas County, a 96-year old female from Putnam County, a 90-year old male from Monongalia County, a 75-year old female from Cabell County, an 88-year old male from Monongalia County, a 51-year old female from Tucker County, a 62-year old male from Hancock County, a 66-year old male from Raleigh County, an 82-year old female from Logan County, a 70-year old female from Brooke County, and a 46-year old male from Hancock County. These deaths range from November through December 2021.

“Any death due to COVID is one too many,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary in a release. “The best way to end continued loss of life is for all eligible West Virginians to choose to be vaccinated and boosted.”

West Virginia has now confirmed 413 cases of the Omicron variant.

Active COVID-19 cases per county: Barbour (73), Berkeley (1,258), Boone (237), Braxton (102), Brooke (144), Cabell (1,014), Calhoun (49), Clay (74), Doddridge (40), Fayette (551), Gilmer (54), Grant (94), Greenbrier (319), Hampshire (164), Hancock (208), Hardy (115), Harrison (619), Jackson (109), Jefferson (694), Kanawha (1,887), Lewis (89), Lincoln (174), Logan (263), Marion (625), Marshall (326), Mason (144), McDowell (114), Mercer (422), Mineral (295), Mingo (168), Monongalia (999), Monroe (146), Morgan (204), Nicholas (189), Ohio (556), Pendleton (47), Pleasants (68), Pocahontas (30), Preston (271), Putnam (612), Raleigh (964), Randolph (308), Ritchie (84), Roane (154), Summers (95), Taylor (135), Tucker (22), Tyler (83), Upshur (157), Wayne (352), Webster (67), Wetzel (141), Wirt (55), Wood (862), Wyoming (213). To find the cumulative cases per county, please visit www.coronavirus.wv.gov and look on the Cumulative Summary tab which is sortable by county.

DHHR reports as of January 18, 2022, there are currently 17,239 COVID-19 cases statewide. There have been 26 deaths reported since the last report, with a total of 5,561 deaths attributed to COVID-19.https://t.co/DRauvEik8j pic.twitter.com/UpSvxDQoKv

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) January 18, 2022

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MetroNews This Morning 1-18-22

Winter Storm Izzy is out of here–but left quite a mark on the state. Governor Justice returned to the Capitol after battling Covid. There were impassioned views and personal stories in a public hearing on two abortion bills at the Capitol on Monday. A small group is arrested in Charleston while blocking traffic on a main street trying to get Senator Manchin to back voter reform and eliminate the filibuster rule. West Virginia celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. In sports, the Mountaineers take on Baylor later today and an NFL first with a Wildcard game on Monday night. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 1-18-22” on Spreaker.

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Biden Floats Straw Man Arguments on Voting Rights Bill

Senate Democrats this week will try to pass legislation they argue is designed to protect the right to vote. It will likely fail, since 60 votes are needed for passage and no Republicans support the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may try to carve out an exception to the filibuster so it can pass with 51 votes, but Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are against that.

The debate over voting rights has been mired in hyperbole by Democrats who claim that opposition to the bill is tantamount to voter suppression. There have even been attempts to categorize opposition as Jim Crow 2.0.

That is an insult to Black Americans who lived under Jim Crow, who were subject to poll taxes, literacy tests and outright refusal by white election officials in the south to allow Black Americans to register to vote.

President Biden elevated the attacks on the opposition in a speech in Atlanta last week. First, he attempted to equate those opposed to the elections bill with the insurrectionists of January 6, suggesting that the fate of democracy depends on the outcome.

Next, he accused Georgia Republicans of putting up obstacles to voting, which he said are aimed at suppressing the Black vote.

“They’re making it harder for you to vote by mail,” Biden said. Georgia voters will now have to request an absentee ballot rather than have an application mailed to every voter in the state, as was done in 2020 because of the pandemic.

If asking for a no-excuse absentee ballot is truly “harder” then we are going to need new classifications in this country about levels of difficulty.

The Georgia law limits the number of ballot drop boxes, which Biden argued contributes to this idea of voter suppression. Of course, there will still be drop boxes and, here’s a thought, voters could put their ballots in a mailbox.

Much has been made about the prohibition against handing out food or water to voters waiting in line at the polls. The President and others portray this in Biblical and apocryphal terms. In fact, it protects voters from being harassed by campaign workers trying to ply voters with goodies.

Nothing prevents voting locations from putting up hydration stations, and more importantly, according to a report by CBS, “counties with any precinct with over 2,000 voters last election or one that kept voters waiting for over a hour to vote must create an additional precinct or add more resources to reduce wait times.”

The Georgia law requires at least 17 days of early voting including two Saturdays. There is also an option for counties to offer Sunday early voting to accommodate the “souls to the polls” drive which is popular in the Black church community.

Biden, the Democrats, and all Americans regardless of political persuasion, should be concerned about threats to democracy. The January 6 insurrection and the continued adherence by many Republicans to “The Big Lie” about the 2020 presidential race sow seeds of doubt about our elections.

Donald Trump makes it worse by continuing to claim the election was stolen and that it can happen again. And now Biden is adding fuel to the fire by suggesting the outcome of the voting rights bill is a choice of “democracy over autocracy.”

That is a straw man argument, and a poor one at that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Appalachian Power making progress with restoring power

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power crews made significant progress in restoring electricity services to customers who lost power on Monday due to Winter Storm Izzy.

According to the utility, 8,296 customers were still without service as of Monday at 11:15 p.m. As many as 31,000 customers did not have power at some point because of gusty winds and precipitation. Most of the outages involve customers in Kanawha County, in which there were 6,089 reported outages.

“We anticipate having the majority of outages in Kanawha County restored by Tuesday evening, with the remainder restored by Wednesday evening,” spokesperson Phil Moye said in a statement.

Customers in other West Virginia counties should have their services restored by Tuesday night.

Additional workers from Indiana Michigan Power are assisting with the power restoration efforts.

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