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Kanawha County Schools Superintendent announces agreement with WVU on new Master’s program for teachers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Superintendent of Kanawha County Schools Dr. Tom Williams was excited to deliver the news during a county board of education meeting Thursday that West Virginia University will start providing up to 25 teachers the opportunity to earn their Master’s degree in reading.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams
Tom Williams

“They have lowered their tuition and with ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, we are going to be able to provide 25 teachers with a Master’s degree in reading and they will come out as a reading specialist,” Dr. Williams said.

According to Dr. Williams, the program will be a two-year, online program with the possibility of some in-person meetings. Right now, both sides are figuring out the criteria for what teachers are eligible. Upon completion of the Master’s program in reading literacy, the select teachers will have to commit to Kanawha County for a certain number of years.

“I think that will be a tremendous help to our students in those classrooms for years and years to come,” said Dr. Williams.

Talks of a collaborative effort between West Virginia University and Kanawha County Schools started two years ago. Dr. Williams said West Virginia University and President Gordon Gee wanted to have a bigger presence in Kanawha County. So, they came to an agreement. Dr. Williams told Gee that the county wanted more teachers for math, reading, special education, etc. Then, the announcement from Dr. Williams came this week of the Master’s program.

Gordon Gee

“25 of our teachers will be able to get a free Master’s degree in reading literacy.”

Autumn Cyprès became dean of the WVU College of Applied Human Sciences in May 2022. The School of Education is under that college. Williams spoke highly of Cyprès ever since they became familiar with each other at the beginning of the year. He called her a “go-getter.”

“They’ve been down here to visit our schools,” Williams said. “We’ve had several meetings down here with them and then last week they took some of us up to WVU.”

Williams said the program will better train teachers on how to better teach the reading material and students in those classrooms will benefit in the long run.

“I’m truly really excited about it,” he said.

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West Virginia Army National Guard promotes newest general officer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Army National Guard has welcomed it’s newest general officer.

On Thursday in the Drill Hall at Joint Forces Headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia, Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the Adjutant General of the state, presided over the promotion ceremony for Col. Arthur J. Garffer, who becomes a brigadier general.

Maj. Gen. William Crane

Col. Garffer currently serves as the Director Joint Operations (J3 M-Day) for the JFHQ, West Virginia National Guard. He is responsible for joint force development, joint doctrine, professional development, training, exercises, and assessments. He’s also accountable to the TAG-WV for the direction and control of all WVNG Homeland Defense (HLD), Homeland Security (HLS), Theatre Security Cooperation, International Relations and Civil Support.

It’s the first promotion for Garffer since he became a Captain in 2000. Only 0.25% make it to general officer.

Maj. Gen. Crane described Col. Garffer as “an incredible leader with a huge heart.”

“Every time he’s done something for us, I’ve received emails or letters from his commanders saying how great he did,” Maj. Gen. Crane said. “I can’t thank you enough for being a part of our Guard family.”

Col. Garffer was honored and humbled by the promotion.

“Thank you Major General Crane for your steadfast support, confidence and mentorship throughout the past few years,” Col. Garffer said.

The newest general had members of his family in attendance for the ceremony along with others in uniform.

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House Health chair: Legislators missed chance to ask questions after death in state facility whirlpool

Delegate Amy Summers, chairwoman of the House Health Committee, says legislators would have benefited from hearing testimony about West Virginia health care facilities, in particular about the horrifying death of a resident at a long-term care facility.

Amy Summers

However, Summers said in an opinion piece distributed to West Virginia news outlets, a legislative oversight meeting was canceled and lawmakers could not hear from Michael Caruso, secretary for the Department of Health Care Facilities, or John Pritt, a representative for Hopemont Hospital.

“When Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability (LOCCHRA) members were told the scheduled speakers for our April 16 meeting would not be available to discuss critical issues and long-term planning for our state-owned health facilities, I reached out to Secretary Caruso without success,” wrote Summers, R-Taylor.

She wanted to hear more about capital improvement needs at state-run facilities. That’s a timely question because human services allocations could be at the center of a special legislative session being considered for late next month.

“We have practically begged the newly separated departments of health to show and tell us where additional funds are necessary, and this most recent opportunity to do so was wasted,” Summers wrote.

Fixes for state-run facilities are also a focal point after an elderly, nonverbal man died after being placed in a hot whirlpool at Hopemont. The state Department of Health Facilities reported in early January that the resident suffered burns related to unsafe water temperatures resulting from the failure of a water tank.

Learning more about conditions at state-run facilities and considering how to help fix them is a key part of legislative responsibility, Summers wrote.

“How can the West Virginia Legislature comprehend the state’s most dire problems, let alone look for the solutions to them, without information?” she wrote.

“How do I know if the $90,000 increase in the budget line item for maintenance and repairs to Hopemont is enough to solve a problem that led to a patient burned so badly it resulted in his death? I refuse to accept this type of care as the care a West Virginia-owned facility, or any facility, provides!”

She continued, “Tears come to my eyes when I think of the pain a nonverbal, elderly man suffering from dementia must have endured sitting in scalding water for over 45 minutes. If we are expected to allocate and adjust state funds during a May special session, we should be clear about where those funds are desperately needed well before we gavel in.”

Summers wrote that she has asked legislative staff to coordinate on-site visits to all health facilities owned by the state, starting with Hopemont.

Roger Hanshaw

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline” also described the desire for an on-site visit by lawmakers to Hopemont. Hanshaw said he wasn’t certain why the oversight committee meeting that had been scheduled for earlier this week was canceled.

“To be clear, I don’t know. My understanding is that one or more of the presenters we had on our agenda for the meeting earlier this week, for whatever reason or another, couldn’t testify at the time that we had set up to schedule with them,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay. “So without presenters being available to attend the meeting, we just didn’t have the meeting.

“We’ve decided instead to exercise oversight responsibility by actually going out to the facility.”

Michael Folio

Michael Folio, legal director for Disability Rights West Virginia, had been one of the originally scheduled speakers for this week’s legislative oversight meeting.

Folio said state officials, including the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability, should focus on fixing substantive issues.

“If LOCHHRA is serious about getting to the bottom of the horrific avoidable death of the Hopemont resident, LOCHHRA should invite Sec. Caruso and me to appear before the commission and address under oath the criminal misconduct by state facility staffers, deficient patient care, and patient abuse and neglect,” Folio said after being asked about Summers’s public statements.

“If Sec. Caruso refuses to appear voluntarily, LOCHHRA should exercise its statutory powers and serve him with a subpoena to appear.”

Gov. Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice was asked during a news briefing this week about the cancellation by reporter Amelia Knisely of West Virginia Watch: “Can you discuss why this meeting was canceled, and was it any effort to hide these details from the public? And what do you think needs to be done to prevent future incidents like this at our state-run hospitals?”

The governor said he was miffed by the question.

“I could take big-time offense about your question because I’m not going to cover anything up. There’s no possible way. No way. The other thing is, I don’t control and cancel legislative meetings,” Justice said.

“The other thing is, just this: From the standpoint of what’s going on and we lost a life and everything, it’s surely under investigation. From the standpoint of the legalities, I can’t talk about that and everything. But no one on the planet is going to take things like this more seriously than me, and there’s no chance on the planet that we’re ever, ever under any circumstances going to cancel something, cover anything up.”

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Jeff Williamson steps down as Logan head coach

The Logan boys basketball team will take the court next winter with their third head coach in three seasons. Jeff Williamson stepped down after one year leading his alma mater. He made the announcement on social media Thursday afternoon.

“Earlier today, I submitted my resignation as the Logan High School Varsity Head Boys Basketball Coach,” Williamson said in a post on Thursday. “Thank you to everyone that supported the program during my tenure.”

Williamson led the Wildcats to the No. 5 seed in the Class AAA state tournament. Logan went 16-10, winning sectional and regional championships. After a 4-6 start to the season, Logan turned the page during the second half of the regular season schedule. The Wildcats brought an eight-game winning streak into the state tournament.

Prior to returning to Logan, Williamson was the head coach at Garden City High School in Kansas. He also coached in Oklahoma, South Carolina and at the college level at West Virginia Tech, Salem University and Rio Grande University.

 

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Governor Justice endorses Moore Capito to succeed him

Gov. Jim Justice has endorsed Moore Capito to succeed him in the Governor’s Office.

Justice gained the endorsement of Moore Capito’s mother, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, when he announced his own bid for Senate last April 27. Moore Capito then endorsed Justice on Sept. 13. Then, when Moore Capito resigned from the House of Delegates on Dec. 21 to focus more on the gubernatorial race, he did so from the Governor’s Reception Room and on a statewide news briefing with Justice.

As recently as this Wednesday, Justice said in a news briefing that he was still considering his endorsement in the Republican primary for governor.

Gov. Jim Justice

Late today, Justice rolled out the endorsement on official letterhead from the Governor’s Office:

“Today I am honored to announce my wholehearted endorsement for Moore Capito for Governor and that I will support him in every way. He is from a family of thoroughbreds: from his three-time-elected Governor-grandfather Arch Moore to his current United States Senator-mother Shelley Moore Capito. Moore has shown he has the vision and knowledge to elevate West Virginia, and I am proud to wish him success.”

Moore Capito

Capito is a former House Judiciary Committee chairman, son of the U.S. senator and grandson of three-term Gov. Arch Moore.

West Virginia’s primary election is May 14. The early voting period for the primary election starts on Wednesday, May 1, and ends on Saturday, May 11.

The most recent MetroNews West Virginia Poll showed a very tight Republican race for governor. 

In the lead was three-term Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who showed support from 31% of registered Republican voters and independent voters who will request a Republican ballot.

Capito was just behind with 29 percent. The overall confidence level is +/- 4.9 percentage points, indicating a tossup at the point the poll was conducted.

Businessman Chris Miller, whose mother is Congresswoman Carol Miller, came in with 16% support. And two-term Secretary of State Mac Warner was at 12 percent. The poll had 10% of Republican voters still unsure, with the remainder saying they favor some other candidate.

In recent weeks, the race has featured escalating back-and-forth between Morrisey and Miller, with each camp accusing the other of supporting transgender issues.

Justice’s endorsement made reference to mudslinging and said it’s a major reason he’s for Capito.

“We have good candidates, and I admire each for their individual accomplishments. As I have watched this campaign mature, however, I am saddened by the ridiculous mudslinging,” Justice said.

“I have realized only one candidate is laser focused on continuing to keep us on the path of goodness for all of us. I think only one truly understands that we got here by pulling the rope together. Our great turnaround story still has chapters to be written, and I believe one candidate is prepared to keep the course.”

Patrick Morrisey

Morrisey’s campaign responded to the endorsement with criticism of Capito.

“If only politicians and swamp creatures voted, of course the liberal son of a senator would win. That’s Capito’s constituency,” said Taylor Van Virk, representing the Morrisey campaign.

“But West Virginia’s Republicans aren’t going to elect someone Donald Trump Jr. rightfully called a RINO. They are going to overwhelmingly elect Patrick Morrisey.”

Justice is a two-term governor first elected as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican Party in 2017 at a rally for Donald Trump in Huntington.

“We have a great opportunity to put President Trump back in the White House and have a unanimous Republican team from West Virginia working together in Washington,” Justice’s endorsement said. “That’s why it’s so important to have a ‘get it done’ Governor who will connect the pieces to help our Great State.”

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3 Guys Before The Game – Mark Kellogg Visits (Episode 547)

To say the last year has been a whirlwind for Mark Kellogg would be an understatement.

The West Virginia women’s basketball coach guided his team to 25 wins in his inaugural season, and came close to a stunning victory over No. 1 seed Iowa in the NCAA tournament.

In this episode, Kellogg joins the “Guys” to review the season and look ahead to the next step within the WVU women’s program.

Listener questions and comments complete the episode.

Three Guys Before The Game is sponsored by — Komax Business Systems  —-  GoMart   — – Lou Wendell Marine Sales and the Conley Group.

Don’t forget to check out Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, it’s free, subscribe below.

                                              

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WVU Medicine announces major capital investment plan

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Medicine says it plans to invest $400 million in capital improvement projects that will stretch from Morgantown to Bluefield.

“It is $400 million in new capital projects over the coming years in different sites around WVU Medicine,” WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright said on MetroNews “Talkline” Thursday.

Albert Wright

“We’re stretching from Morgantown to Fairmont, Elkins, and all the way down to Princeton and Bluefield, so we’re making some big investments in just about everything we do.”

The largest capital investment is $233.5 million for a new WVU Eye Institute that will be built on the medical campus in Morgantown. The site of the current WVU Eye Institute will be the future site of the Hazel Ruby McQuain Comprehensive Cancer Hospital.

“We will expand our capabilities at the WVU Eye Institute in the size and scope of our clinics,” Wright said. “But we’re actually going to make it a one-stop shop with research and surgical suites, and it will be attached to a 1,600-space parking garage.”

Plans are in play to build a 38,000-square-foot facility, the WVU United Hospital Center, in the Elkins corridor to serve as a “hospital without beds.” The facility will be dedicated to walk-in medicine, urgent care in cardiology, orthopedics, oncology, and infusion services. The estimated cost of the facility is $37.3 million.

In the southern part of the state, $64.5 million will be invested to construct a comprehensive cancer hospital on the campus of the WVU Medicine Princeton Community Hospital. The work will also relocate the full-service emergency department, imaging, and lab services while adding 10 observational beds, MRIs, and ultrasounds.

Artist rendering of cancer center project planned for Princeton/Bluefield area. (WVU Medicine)

“We need to be able to take care of folks in their communities, so if you can be all tied in on that same network of doctors, that same electronic medical record, then we want your infusions and radiation oncology to be in your home communities.”

As a non-profit organization, their priorities are to meet financial obligations, develop attractive pay and incentive packages, and meet the expectations of bond companies. Beyond that, the dollars remaining are used for facility improvement and income packages that ensure these new facilities can be staffed.

“Folks go to where jobs are,” Wright said. “If we’re creating great jobs and more jobs in local communities, we’ll be able to staff it.”

In addition to the enhancements in care, the infusion of $400 million into local economies to build the facilities will also advance the state economy.

“So, if we can get these construction jobs as we build these new facilities, if we can hire folks that are paying taxes and can stay here, that’s healthy for all of West Virginia,” Wright said.

The projects are all subject to regulatory approval.

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Boone County woman charged in teenage daughter’s death

MADISON, W.Va. — A Boone County woman is behind bars charged in connection with the death of her teenage daughter.

Julie Anne Stone Miller (WVRJA)

Boone County Sheriff Chad Barker said deputies were dispatched to a home in the Morrisvale community Wednesday to investigate a reported death. When deputies arrived they found the body of a 14-year-old girl on the bathroom floor. Investigators described the girl’s body as “emaciated to a skeletal state.”

Authorities arrested Julie Anne Stone Miller, 49, of Morrisvale. She’s charged with felony child neglect causing death.

A criminal complaint filed in Boone County Magistrate Court described the details of the discovery of the victim identified in court records at “K.M.”

Chief Deputy Mark Abbot wrote in the court document they interviewed the victim’s grandmother who said the girl had an eating disorder which dated back for several years and had not been eating in the last four to five months. She further told investigators the child’s health had been in decline for months or years and in the past four to five days her physical condition had become so bad she was unable to function on her own.

“K.M.’s physical appearance was shocking with an obvious emaciated, skeletal state,” read the complaint.

The grandmother also said, according to investigators, the teen had not attended school since late 2019 or 2020 and hadn’t been outside the house more than a couple of time in the last four years.

“With the overwhelmingly visible conditions of K.M.’s body and the clear and distinct physical problems, Miller failed to obtain any medical treatment for K.M. for at least the last four years,” Abbott wrote. “It is believed this neglect caused the death of K.M., a 14-year-old child.”

Miller is lodged in the Southwestern Regional Jail on $250,000.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and there could be additional charges.

The girl’s body was scheduled for an autopsy Thursday at the state Medical Examiner’s Office.

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Rep Miller supports aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, plus TikTok bill and keeping the speaker on the job

Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., says she supports each part of a foreign aid package — and she supports the continued leadership of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is at risk of losing that position over a portion supporting Ukraine.

Johnson has proposed several inter-connected bills — one each for aid to Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific allies and another that includes policies to require TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance either to sell the popular social media network or face a ban in the U.S.

More recently, Johnson proposed a fifth stand-alone bill to address widespread Republican demands to strengthen the southern U.S. border.

Elements of the foreign aid package have been swirling for months. President Joe Biden last October proposed a $106 billion package including aid for Ukraine and Israel and additional financial support for border security. In February, a majority of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

In the House, disagreement among Republicans on support for Ukraine has put the speaker’s leadership role on the line. Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has repeatedly threatened to oust the speaker, who has a historically thin majority. Others like Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky., have expressed support for toppling the speaker.

Nevertheless, votes on the bills could come by this Saturday.

Carol Miller

Miller, who represents counties in the southern half of West Virginia, said she supports each of the bills in the package — plus keeping Johnson on the job.

“The world’s hair is on fire,” Miller said on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” describing urgency. “We are in crazy times. And if you are a student of history and you start looking back to what was going on in the 30s, it’s kind of spooky how this is all kind of coming back to fruition.”

Alex Mooney

West Virginia’s other congressman, Republican Alex Mooney, said the federal government should put border security first.

“Our border is overrun with drugs, criminals, and terrorists flooding into the U.S. President Biden is allowing it to happen. The House has already passed H.R. 2. The focus should be on providing real border security measures before funding the border security of other nations,” Mooney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said in a statement provided by his office.

Miller indicated she supports the bill for Ukraine, which has faced dwindling arms and ammunition in its fight against Russian encroachment.

“So I do support replenishing our munitions, which would then enable Ukraine to have munitions that are not as current as the ones that we’ll be putting forward now,” Miller said.

Miller said she supports Israel, which has been embroiled in Gaza ever since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and then was targeted last weekend by a drone and missile strike from Iran.

“I absolutely, 100 percent support Israel. They are our ally. They are the democracy in the Middle East. They are God’s chosen people and God’s chosen land,” Miller said.

On the support for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies, Miller referred to Chinese aggression. “Look at China. Look at the countries that are all — it’s an evil axis. And yes, China is ever-present. And what they want to do to Taiwan — they’ve just been waiting.”

On the TikTok bill, Miller was critical of the social media platform. “TikTok is a tool of the communist party. The Chinese are very, very clever. The bill is very narrow. It targets the national security threats that they do,” Miller said.

“This is national security from the very, very ground up.”

Mike Johnson

Miller stood by Johnson when he was named speaker on Oct. 25.

She still stands by him, she said today.

“He is such a fine man, and I was in prayer with him this morning, in a prayer group,” Miller said. “He is doing the best he can in a very closely divided Congress. He is trying to do the right thing for the American people.”

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Operation GPA launching again in Kanawha County to help keep kids safe on prom and graduation nights

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County police and school officials say the goal is to keep students safe during some of the most memorable events of their lives.

For 18 years now, Kanawha County Sheriffs, Metro 911, the Kanawha County Commission, the board of education, among others have been coming together to launch Operation Graduation Prom Alive, a program meant to keep students safe and ensure no fatalities ensue on prom and graduation nights.

They all met Thursday morning to start getting Operation GPA underway in the community yet again.

Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said there’s a full presence of police from every county law enforcement agency as well as state sheriffs out on those nights.

“We’ll go to the areas where the proms are and the graduations are and let the kids know that we’re there, we’re there to protect them and help them.

He said they coordinate with the 911 center, so when they get calls about after parties or events that may have gotten too out of hand, officers will dispatch to that location and help bring the situation back under control.

Rutherford said they also watch the roads to make sure no one is driving recklessly or are under the influence.

He said the program has really made a difference for the safety of teenagers on prom and graduation nights.

“We’re not there to cause a problem for them, we’re not there to harass or do anything to them, we just want to make sure they’re safe,” Rutherford said. “We’ve been fortunate that it has been 18 years since we started the program and we’ve had no kids killed or injured.”

However, Rutherford said that unfortunately wasn’t the case before Operation GPA.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams said there were at least seven fatalities that occurred in the St. Albans area from car accidents following prom and graduation when he was principal there several years ago.

Williams said while it’s a fun, celebratory occasion, it can be a very daunting one for school personnel, as they have to worry whether the students are safe or not after the main events are over.

“Prom night and graduation night, anybody who has been a high school principal knows you don’t sleep until the next morning when you know all of the kids have made it home safely, and that was always my greatest fear, the call in the middle of the night,” Williams said.

Williams was joined by all of the county high school principals Thursday during the announcement of the re-launching of Operation GPA.

Kanawha County Commission President Lance Wheeler presented the principals with checks of $2,500 each to help support the program.

Wheeler said the idea for Operation GPA came from his fellow commissioner Kent Carper 18 years ago when he wanted to provide a safety program for graduation night. He said it takes the whole community to successfully carry out the initiative.

“We’re proud to be able to support all of our partners in this, and this wouldn’t be able to be done if it wasn’t for everyone coming together,” Wheeler said.

Rutherford said the program has continued to expand over the years since it was launched. He said it now not only covers prom and graduation nights, but they also have police presence out at the beginning of the school year, as well.

He said they plan to keep running Operation GPA for many years to come, as the statistics are showing that it’s working.

“You know, there’s no way to really sit back and say that we saved this person or that person, there’s just no way to know, but we can say since the program has been in effect, we have not had one kid who has been injured or killed,” Rutherford said.

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