www.wvgazettemail.com http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: February 01, 2016 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT01/302019986 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT01/302019986 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Davis, Glenna Noon, Long and Fisher Funeral Home, Charleston.

Ellars, Virginia M. 11 a.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston.

Falls, Willard 11 a.m., Wilson

Hoover, Charles 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Kidd, Geraldine 1 p.m., West Virginia Mausoleum, Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Lloyd, John 12:30 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home, Nitro.

Post, William 11 a.m., Carpenter and Ford Funeral Home, Fairmont.

Proudfoot, Diann S. Noon, Rebecca Chapel, Rock Creek.

Samples, Ermel 11 a.m., Bartlett

Saunders, Thomas 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Stoehr, Amelia C. 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Stuck, Charles 2 p.m., Elk Hills Presbyterian Church, Charleston.

Wood, James 7 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Mark J. Adkins http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019987 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019987 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Mark J. Adkins, 84, of Huntington, died Jan. 30, 2016. Service will be 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at Woodmere Memorial Park Abbey of Remembrance Mausoleum, Huntington. Visitation will be 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday at Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Barboursville.

Demetrious Bonos http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019999 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019999 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Demetrious C. Bonos, 89, of Charleston, passed away January 23, 2016, at The Oak Ridge Center. He was a retired researcher for the Federal Government, Army Veteran of WWII and a Catholic by faith. Demetrious loved to travel, played the harp and was a song writer that held a couple of copy rights.

There are no known survivors, but he will be missed by all who knew him.

Memorial service will be 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

It was Demetrious' wishes to be cremated and his ashes will be inurned at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

The family will accept online condolences at cpjfuneralhome.com.

Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Helen Sue Buzzard http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019990 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019990 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Helen Sue Buzzard, 58, of Charleston, departed this life on Jan. 23, 2016.

She was preceded in death by her parents, William and Harriett Jones Mullins; her husband, Robert Buzzard; and brothers, Ricky and Kevin Mullins.

She is survived by her loving family: daughters, Carrie (Vinny) Franco and Staci Mullins; son, William Mullins; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sisters, Edna Bronough, Sherry Surface and Lisa Eplin; and brothers, William Mullins, Jr. and James C. Mullins.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at Elk Funeral Home, 2001 Pennsylvania Ave., Charleston. Family will receive friends one hour before the service, at the funeral home.

Elk Funeral Home is honored to serve the Buzzard/Mullins family.

Shirley Collins http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019997 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019997 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Shirley A. Grover Collins, 80, of Nitro, passed away Friday January 29, 2016.

She was a lifelong resident of Nitro, a 1953 graduate of Nitro High School where she was a cheerleader, she retired from the WV DOH District One with 30 years of service. Shirley was a member of Nitro First Baptist Church where she served on the board of deaconess. She loved spending time with her family and being outside tending to her roses and especially enjoyed watching butterflies.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Marguerite Grover and her husband of 47 years, David B. Collins.

Shirley is survived by her children, Mike Collins of Nitro, Julie Daff and husband, Bill of Nitro; three grandsons, Zachary Brooks Collins of Nitro, Joshua David Daff of Boynton Beach, Fla. and Timothy Michael Daff of Nitro; two great-grandchildren, Madison Taylor Collins and David Zane Collins, both of Cross Lanes; one brother, Frank Grover Jr. and wife, Dee of Nitro; special niece and nephew, Jayne Ann Arthur and husband, Jeff of Scott Depot, Frank Matthew Grover and wife, Angie of Sissonville; and great-niece, Emma Grover. She is also survived by a host of other family and friends.

A service to celebrate Shirley's life will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday February 2, 2016, at Nitro First Baptist Church with Dr. Lawrence Hoptry and Rev. Bryan Cantrell officiating. Burial will be in Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the church, 23rd Street and 2nd Ave, Nitro, 25143.

The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the nurses and staff of Genesis Teays Valley Center for their excellent love and care of our mother and for always making her feel like a "Queen."

Cooke Funeral Home and Crematorium, Nitro is assisting the Shirley's family and you may send e-mail condolences to www.cookefuneralhome.com.

Sada Douglas http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019998 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019998 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Sada B. Douglas, 78, of Charleston, was released from her earthly body to be with her Lord and Savior on Thursday Jan. 28, 2016, at Eldercare of Ripley, after a long illness.

She was an accomplished pianist from a young age and loved gospel music. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour in August of 1944 as a young girl and spent her entire life serving Him. She was a member of Pinch Baptist Church and spent many years serving as the church pianist. While attending there, she began playing for the group "Soulwinners," which included Bob and Sue Proctor, Keith Ledsome, and Jim Gunnoe. In 1974, the family became members of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Elkview where she attended until 2010 when she was no longer able to get out. She served faithfully as the church pianist for 30 plus years and spent countless hours rehearsing both at church and in her home for the many groups and soloists who requested her help.

Sada graduated Elkview High School in 1953 and graduated from McMillan School of Nursing in 1957. She worked at McMillan Hospital, Charleston Area Medical Center - General Division, and also for Dr. Clarence Lewis, and retired after 18 years from the Kanawha Charleston Health Department.

Sada had an extreme love for sports, especially the WVU Mountaineers, of which she was a 28-year season ticket holder. She was an avid NY Yankees fan and a great supporter of Elk Valley Christian School sporting events.

She loved her family and spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandaughter. The family would like to express their appreciation and thanks to Shafer's Room and Board and Eldercare of Ripley where she spent the last years of her life.

Sada was married to her late husband, Norman H. Douglas on October 5, 1957; and is also preceded in death by her parents, William B. Buckner and Inez Chandler Buckner; and her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Howard and Effie Douglas.

Sada is survived by her loving children, Cindy Douglas Hamrick, children, Ashley and Nicholas of Charleston and great-granddaughter, Shealyn Hamrick; Buck (Rita) Douglas and their children, Stephen and Savannah of Ripley, Doug Douglas, children Hunter and Grayse, daughter-in-law, Amee Vickers - Douglas of Charleston.

Service will be 2 p.m. Tuesday February 2, 2016, at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Elkview with Pastor Lee Swor and Pastor Jonathan Comer officiating. Burial will be in Elk Hills Memorial Park, Big Chimney. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Monday February 1, 2016, at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Elkview and one hour prior the day of the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations are asked to be made to the Breast Cancer Center, CAMC Foundation, 3412 Staunton Ave, SE, Charleston, WV 25304.

Online condolences may be sent to www.haferfuneralhome.net. Hafer Funeral Home, 50 North Pinch Rd., Elkview is assisting the Douglas family.

Amy Inez Friend http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019993 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019993 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Amy Inez Friend, 105, passed away Jan. 31, 2016. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Feb. 2, at Casto Funeral Home, Ravenswood, where a procession will leave for a graveside service at Ankrum Cemetery, Cottageville.

William Marshall http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019994 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019994 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 William Morrison "Coach" Marshall, 63, of Oak Hill, passed away Jan. 31, 2016. Arrangements forthcoming with High Lawn Funeral Home, 1435 E. Main St., Oak Hill.

Patrick McLaughlin, Jr. http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019989 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019989 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Patrick Floyd "Jerry" McLaughlin, Jr., 83, of East Bank, passed away Jan. 28, 2016 at Clarks Christian Care Home, East Bank. Graveside funeral service will be held Tuesday, Feb. 2, at Montgomery Memorial Park, London. Arrangements by Fidler and Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Elsie Mae Newhouse http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019991 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/OBIT/302019991 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Elsie Mae Newhouse, 74, of St. Albans, passed away Jan. 30, 2016. Service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, at Bartlett-Chapman Funeral Home, St. Albans. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the funeral home.

Photo: Women celebrated at Legislature http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209943 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209943 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 20:03:15 -0500

Man meets New River Gorge 100-mile hiking challenge in 14 days http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ07/160209944 GZ07 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ07/160209944 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 19:51:33 -0500 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer When Melvin Hartley of Fayetteville decided to take part in the New River Gorge 100 Mile Challenge, he didn't let any grass grow under his feet.

The Challenge, sponsored by the New River Gorge National River, Active Southern West Virginia and the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, was designed to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service while promoting fitness and an appreciation of nature by encouraging participants to hike 100 miles of trails between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year.

Hartley completed the Challenge in 14 days.

"My goal was to finish by the end of January, but I ended up getting into kind of a flow and kept hammering out the miles," he said. "I ended up finishing in two weeks, getting my mileage in before the big storm hit. You'd need snowshoes to get any hiking in now."

Those taking part in the challenge must do their hiking on trails in the New River Gorge National River or the Bluestone National Scenic River, both managed by the National Park Service. Those NPS units, along with the Gauley River National Recreation Area, which currently has no designated hiking trails, protect nearly 114 squire miles of canyon lands and cliff-top plateaus, and are now being promoted as the National Parks of Southern West Virginia.

Hartley said he learned of the Challenge through friends on social media, and was directed to a link to register for the program on the New River Gorge National River's Facebook page.

"I decided to enter because I hike the trails on a daily basis to give my dog exercise," often covering three or four miles each day, Hartley said. Hartley's dog, Bear, a rescued Australian cattle dog, also known as a blue-heeler, accompanied him on all his Challenge hikes.

"I thought that if I could step up the mileage a little, I could finish the challenge by the end of January," he said, "but I never thought I would be the first one to finish."

Hartley, 56, a retired regional planner for the state Department of Environmental Protection's Abandoned Mine Lands Program, and a retired lieutenant colonel in the West Virginia Air National Guard, can access the New River Gorge National River's trail system from Fayetteville City Park, a short distance from his home. "I can access the trails from behind my house," he said. "I tell people I meet who are interested in where I live that I have the biggest backyard in West Virginia."

Before starting the Challenge, he downloaded a "MapMyHike" app to his smart phone to use GPS mapping technology to accurately measure and record his trail miles. Hartley and Bear started the Challenge on Jan. 1 with a 10-mile hike.

Trails hiked by Hartley and Bear included Long Point, Endless Wall, Fayetteville, Park Loop, Timber Ridge, Butcher Branch, Keeney Creek and Glade Creek.

"We hiked a lot of the trails several times," Hartley said. "We did Glade Creek Trail (5.5 miles each way) at least three times and Endless Wall maybe four times. The miles added up quickly."

Hartley said he packed along photography gear on some hikes, "when I knew the lighting is good and I would see a waterfall or a grand vista, such as can be seen from Long Point, Grandview or the Endless Wall trails."

Since taking up photography about four years ago, "it's become a passion," Hartley said. "I am 100 percent self-taught. I didn't attend any classes or workshops because I didn't want to be influenced by someone else - I wanted to create my own path in art. To me, art is an expression of one's own self."

Hartley has taken oil and acrylic painting classes, which he says have helped his composition skills in photography and helped him better appreciate the nuances of light.

"Once you take an art class and hike in the woods, a tree is no longer just a tree," he said. "You are observing how the sunlight is impacting its shadows, tones and hues."

Hartley posts his images of West Virginia scenery on social media "in hope of increasing tourism to our great state," he said. "I send images to Wonderful West Virginia Magazine, Spotlight West Virginia, Blue Ridge Country, Daytripper, Visit Southern West Virginia, West Virginia Wild & Wonderful and Only in West Virginia," he said. "If my images encourage people to visit our state, it can help the tourism industry and help people keep their jobs and possibly create more."

The National Parks of Southern West Virginia are not the only national parks with which Hartley is familiar. He and his wife, Libby, who has logged 60 New River Gorge Challenge miles so far, have visited at least 33 national parks and several national monuments.

"There is not much I will not endure to get a good photograph," Hartley said. "I will lose sleep and endure extreme weather, hazardous terrain and wild animals."

Hartley said he has had close encounters with bears, elk and bison while visiting national parks, and near Grand Teton National Park, was charged by a pair of moose. "I just hunkered down and the cow went to my left and the bull to my right," he said. "I tried to photograph the bull as he passed by, but he was so fast my image was a blur."

During his New River Gorge Challenge hike, he encountered coyotes, skunks, deer, turkey and a garter snake. He encountered a black bear on a hike along Timber Ridge Trail last year.

The Fayetteville man said he plans to accompany his wife as she completes her remaining 40 Challenge miles, and then continue logging New River Gorge trail mileage until Dec. 31.

"I'm curious to see how much mileage I can get in by the end of the year," he said.

Hartley said he hopes the Challenge will give participants a better appreciation for the value of public lands.

"There is a movement in Congress to take federal land and give it back to local governments or authorities for development," he said. "You can also see this movement being played out now with the militia groups in Oregon. But federal land belongs to all of us. Who wants to go photograph the Grand Tetons with condos standing in front of them, or go to Yellowstone and see Old Faithful being used as a water hazard for golfing? Hunters and anglers would lose prime habitat and access to big game and trout streams, other people could lose access to hiking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing and kayaking.

"Hopefully, my images can be used to help fight the battle."

So far, more than 600 people have signed up to take part in the New River Gorge 100 Mile Challenge.

"The response to the program and the enthusiasm people have for it has been amazing," said National Park Service Ranger Jodi French-Burn at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. "The people who have registered are sticking to it and getting their miles in, and new people continue to sign up. It's not just people from the New River Gorge area who are taking up the challenge, it's people from Morgantown and Charleston and all across the state."

Last week, Tim Harrison became the second Challenge hiker to complete 100 miles. He was accompanied by his dog, Burdee.

To register for the New River Gorge 100-Mile Challenge and download log sheets and trail maps with hiking distances, go to www.nps.gov/neri and click the "100 Mile Challenge tab, or call 304-465-2515.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169, or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Kanawha officials dispute Capital High gas threat http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209945 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209945 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 19:28:26 -0500 Ryan Quinn By Ryan Quinn Kanawha County school officials continued Monday to dispute allegations from Mountaineer Gas concerning Capital High School, where the natural gas company says the current setup to use another company's gas presents a "potentially lethal situation."

Charles Wilson, the school system's executive director of facilities planning, said the gas from a Reserve Oil and Gas well that was drilled on Capital's property in 2014 and had been serving the school has been shut off since Jan. 6, the date Mountaineer alleged that "a fire or explosion could easily have occurred" after a regulator on a Reserve gas line coming from the well froze in an open position. Wilson said the regulator that froze was supposed to bring the gas pressure from pounds per square inch down to ounces per square inch. He said Reserve is prepared to fund safety upgrades.

Mountaineer, which also provides gas to Capital, said the January incident caused a "dangerous overpressurization of the school's internal gas piping," causing a gas leak in the school kitchen when a pilot light blew out and damaged controls on a boiler. Wilson said the controls weren't damaged, although he did say a pilot light didn't come on in the school because of a lack of gas.

Those statements came from Mountaineer Gas attorney Jonathan W. Price in a letter he sent Jan. 12 to the school system saying that Mountaineer intended to turn off its service to the school by Monday, to cease its own involvement in the situation. The school system opened a case Thursday with the Public Service Commission, trying to stop Mountaineer from cutting off service.

Leading up to a scheduled hearing on the matter Wednesday, the PSC has ordered Mountaineer to continue to provide the high school with gas as long as the lines from Reserve's well - located 400 yards from the school - are shut off. Wilson said the school system is meeting with Mountaineer today.

"I don't think we're far apart on the issues, I think we'll resolve it, and life will go on," he said. "We are implementing every recommendation that Mountaineer Gas suggested at our last meeting, and we're not going to turn the well gas on until all that's in place and Mountaineer Gas has had a chance to inspect it, as well as our plumbers."

He said these suggestions came from a meeting among Kanawha plumbers, Reserve and Mountaineer Gas right after the incident occurred, and Reserve, pending the PSC's ruling, will pay for the upgrades.

Wilson said those upgrades include a different type of regulator, an odorizer that will help people smell the gas and a better dryer to remove the moisture that Mountaineer said caused the gas line to freeze. He said he didn't expect any controversy to ensue after Jan. 6 because all parties agreed.

"We all thought we were on the same page," he said.

Few people showed up at Monday's school board meeting, and only one Capital High parent spoke about the issue. Wilson spoke briefly to the board after board member Ryan White asked for information.

He said Reserve has permission in its lease to drill two more wells. He said Capital had been using all Reserve gas since some time after July, even though the school is hooked up to both Reserve and Mountaineer Gas service.

White said he'd heard from several parents about the issue, which the Gazette-Mail first publicized Sunday. He said he'd support turning the Reserve well's gas back on, as long as safety is assured.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

Caperton endorses Justice for governor http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209947 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209947 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 18:53:42 -0500 David Gutman By David Gutman Former Gov. Gaston Caperton has endorsed Jim Justice for governor, as Justice hopes to follow the path that Caperton traveled, from business success to the Governor's Mansion.

Justice, a coal and agriculture magnate and owner of The Greenbrier resort, is in a three-way Democratic primary against state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, of Marshall County, and former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

Just as Justice's campaign has done so far, Caperton cited his business success as a reason to support his bid for office.

"Jim Justice understands how to create jobs and grow our economy," Caperton said, in a prepared statement. "Just look at how he rescued The Greenbrier from bankruptcy and added hundreds of new jobs to the resort. When many coal operators are closing their doors, Justice has kept coal miners on the job. The man knows how to make big things happen."

He also cited Justice's success in bringing a PGA Tour golf tournament to The Greenbrier and getting the New Orleans Saints to hold their training camp there.

Caperton was governor from 1989 to 1997. Just as Justice intends to do, Caperton used his personal wealth to boost his campaign. Caperton transformed a small Charleston insurance agency into the nation's 10th largest insurance brokerage firm. He spent $3.2 million of his own money to defeat Arch Moore in 1988.

Justice, whose assets are estimated by Forbes at $1.7 billion, is the richest man in West Virginia.

"Jim Justice has no hidden agenda, and is not doing this for personal gain," Caperton said in his statement. "Jim is running because he deeply loves our state."

The Kessler and Goodwin campaigns could not be reached for comment Monday.

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5119 or follow @davidlgutman on Twitter.

Trial begins for man charged in Rand killing http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209948 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209948 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 18:08:49 -0500 Kate White By Kate White Leonard Dwayne Thomas doesn't deny shooting Gerald Maxwell in the head inside a Rand apartment, his attorney told jurors Monday.

But, attorney Ed Bullman said, prosecutors won't be able to prove the April 2014 killing was premeditated -- something necessary in order to convict his client.

The trial of Thomas, who faces a first-degree murder charge, began Monday in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Assistant Kanawha prosecutor Maryclaire Akers told jurors that Thomas, of Detroit, had been frustrated and using drugs the night before the shooting.

After Thomas was arrested, he whispered "I'm sorry," during his arraignment, according to previous reports.

Thomas didn't want to take part in his trial, his attorney told the judge before a jury was selected on Monday. Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King ordered that Thomas be brought to the courtroom from South Central Regional Jail.

Thomas and others inside the Starling Drive apartment had been drinking and using heroin the night before the shooting, Akers said Monday. Maxwell had been at the apartment selling drugs, according to Akers.

One of the women in the apartment was "tricking," Akers said, or trading sex for drugs, and Thomas wanted some drugs to give to her. When Thomas asked Maxwell for heroin to give to the woman, he refused. That's when Thomas walked across the living room and shot Maxwell in the head, according to Akers.

Maxwell was relaxing on a couch in the living room of the apartment when Thomas shot him. The prosecutor showed jurors photographs of the apartment and the blood stains on the couch.

"He was leaned back, trying to get a little bit of rest," Akers said. "He shot him over that. Over a verbal argument about a woman in the house."

Others who were in the apartment at the time of the incident will testify that Maxwell didn't even see it coming, the prosecutor said.

Police who responded to the scene will also be called by the prosecutor to testify.

Bullman said that most of what prosecutors described in their opening statements was true. "This case shouldn't take long," he said.

Maxwell died several days after the shooting at CAMC General Hospital. His mother, Antoinette, sat behind prosecutors in the courtroom Monday.

Maxwell's twin brother, Gerard, is being held in South Central Regional Jail on a murder charge in a separate case.

Gerard Maxwell is accused of shooting and killing Christopher "Snacks" Carey, 27, in a January 2015 shooting, also on Starling Drive in Rand.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or @KateLWhite on Twitter.

Photos: A musical start to Black History Month http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209949 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209949 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 18:08:17 -0500

WV Senate President Bill Cole speaks at retreat organized by Koch brothers http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209951 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209951 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 17:42:25 -0500 David Gutman By David Gutman Senate President Bill Cole spent the weekend at a Palm Springs resort with about 500 high-spending donors, where he spoke at a retreat organized by the conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

The annual donors retreat is organized by the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit affiliated with the Koch brothers, which requires an annual membership fee of $100,000. The event is not open to the public, just to major conservative donors, although select media were invited to attend.

Charles Koch gave the opening address at the retreat.

Cole, R-Mercer, and a candidate for governor, spoke at the exclusive event, to discuss his work in improving West Virginia's economy, a campaign spokesman said.

"He specifically addressed his legislation to make West Virginia the 26th right-to-work state," campaign spokesman Kent Gates said in an email. "Bill Cole will travel throughout West Virginia and beyond - to talk about his commitment to fixing the economic and financial crisis that West Virginia faces."

The event was held at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa. The luxury hotel was rented out entirely for the Freedom Partners event, according to The Hill, a Washington newspaper. The Hill was among five media outlets which attended the event, on the condition that they not identify donors who did not wish to be identified.

Cole was one of just seven elected officials to attend the event, according to The Hill and The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs-area newspaper.

Gates said the donor retreat was "not a political event." He said that Cole did no fundraising or campaigning at the event.

"He was introduced in his official capacity and did not discuss the campaign for governor," Gates said.

Gates emphasized that Cole, who left Friday afternoon and returned Sunday evening, traveled at his own personal expense. He flew to California on his personal plane.

The state Democratic Party criticized Cole, who has said that he would spend the legislative session focused on governing, not his campaign.

"Instead of raising money in California, Cole needs to focus on doing his job in West Virginia," Democratic Party spokeswoman Brittni McGuire said in a prepared statement.

The Koch brothers and their political network have pledged to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 elections, more than the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined spent on the 2012 elections.

Their network has been active in West Virginia. Jason Huffman, the state director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group founded and largely funded by the Koch brothers, is a regular presence at the state Capitol and has spoken at two recent public hearings.

And Americans for Prosperity recently accelerated its advertising in West Virginia, specifically related to right-to-work.

The group has been advertising in favor of a right-to-work law -- a top priority of Republican legislative leadership -- since December.

They launched a television ad on Friday.

Christian Hertenstein, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, said the group recently spent "a strong five figures" on a digital ad buy.

Hertenstein said Americans for Prosperity has now "amped up" its advertising, in advance of a vote on right-to-work in the House of Delegates this week.

The right-to-work bill passed the Senate by just one vote, with every Republican voting in favor and every Democrat opposed.

While the bill is expected to pass the House as well, where Republicans hold a 64-36 edge, some Republicans are also expected to cross the party line and vote against the measure.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, 13-10, with one Republican, Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, voting no.

Hanshaw's district is one of 11 House districts that received two mailers from Americans for Prosperity last weekend about right-to-work.

Almost all of the districts targeted by the mailers are represented by Republicans.

Cole has been clear that he thinks passing a right-to-work law, which allows employees in unionized workforces to opt out of paying union fees, will bring new employers to West Virginia.

"You look at a state like South Carolina that's drawn in BMW and Boeing to create jobs, I think that I'd like to follow that model," Cole said last week.

Democrats say that right-to-work laws aim to weaken unions and, thus, lower wages. Cole counters by pointing to West Virginia's low economic rankings.

"When we're last in unemployment and we're going downhill," he said, "why don't we want to try something new? Our wages are already at the bottom, I can't possibly fathom that they'll go lower."

Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5119 or follow @davidlgutman on Twitter.

New West Liberty president says school can improve http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209952 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209952 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 17:34:46 -0500 Samuel Speciale By Samuel Speciale Stephen Greiner has been president of West Liberty University for less than a month, but he's already identified ways the college can improve.

"We need to work within ourselves and with partners in the community," he said.

As colleges across the state and nation grapple with reduced funding and increasing pressure to keep tuition costs low, university officials need to work together to overcome challenges, Greiner said.

"With declines in state support, there's no surprise universities raise tuition to balance their budgets," Greiner said. "We have to be more creative."

For Greiner, that'll involve the difficult task of balancing the university's budget while allocating more money for scholarships.

"When I look and see that 93 percent of our students have some form of financial aid, that shows me we have a great need," he said.

While he hasn't set enrollment or fundraising benchmarks yet, Greiner said he is focusing on making connections for the university, forming partnerships with other colleges and area businesses and courting alumni and donors.

He expects that work to pay dividends.

By forming connections, Greiner hopes to drum up support for the university. He said he is determined to reconnect alumni with the university.

With more scholarship funds available, more students will be able to attend West Liberty and complete their education, he said.

More graduates improves the university and the state, he said, adding that he is confident a focus on education can help rebound West Virginia's economy.

Greiner also said he plans to meet with business and other college leaders to foster new partnerships.

"I want to ask what their needs are," he said.

West Liberty's Board of Governors hired Greiner in October to replace former President Robin Capehart, who resigned last year. The Weirton native has been a university official for 14 years and has 40 years of higher education experience.

Reach Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-7939 or follow @samueljspeciale on Twitter.

Prevailing wage repeal passes WV Senate committee http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209953 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209953 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 17:33:03 -0500 Phil Kabler By Phil Kabler Legislation to repeal the state's 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act roared through its only committee assignment in the Senate on Monday, after calls for a jobs impact study, a Fiscal Note on the bill's financial impact and additional review by the Senate Finance Committee were rejected on party-line votes.

"We don't want to have the information," an exasperated Sen. Ron Miller, D-Greenbrier, said afterward. "I've never seen anything like it."

The bill (HB 4005) advanced to the full Senate after it passed the Senate Government Organization Committee on a party-line 8-6 vote.

Prior to that vote, committee members also rejected, on a voice vote, Miller's motion to send the bill to the Finance Committee for further review.

He also was shot down in committee and on the Senate floor on motions to demand a Fiscal Note on the bill. That's a summary by affected state agencies of potential increases or decreases in expenses and/or revenue if a bill is enacted.

Miller's motion was defeated on the Senate floor on a party-line 16-18 vote, with all Democrats voting for the measure and all Republicans voting against it. That margin likely is a precursor for votes for passage of the repeal bill and to override an expected veto by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

"They're just pushing things through without discussion," said Miller, who added that it was disturbing to see the leadership show such disrespect for the minority party.

"This is not a new bill," Committee Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said of assertions that the bill is being rushed though the Legislature without study. "I was the sole sponsor last year of the repeal bill that we eventually did a compromise on."

Blair added, "We know - and you know - this is a delaying tactic."

Blair ruled in committee that House leadership already had concluded that a jobs impact study or Fiscal Note were unneeded for the legislation.

"These same questions were raised in the House, and the decisions were made [that] they were not necessary," he said.

Blair also argued that the bill did not need to go on to the Finance Committee, saying the full Senate would act as a committee of the whole to review the bill, adding, "Each and every member of the Senate has the opportunity to weigh in."

"There's no question it's going to have an impact on state resources, and we need to know what it's going to be before we move forward on this," Sen. Bob Williams, D-Tucker, said of the need for more information on the repeal bill.

Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, however, downplayed the usefulness of a Fiscal Note, saying it would be hard to accurately measure how changes in the wage rates for construction workers would affect the state's general revenue budget.

The bill passed the House last Wednesday on a 55-44 vote, with eight Republicans joining the House's 36 Democrats to vote against the repeal. That was after House leadership rejected five motions calling for either jobs impact studies or Fiscal Notes on the bill.

Meanwhile, Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, urged the leadership to allow more time for the revised Prevailing Wage Act to take effect.

Passed last session, the legislation made numerous changes to the law, including setting a $500,000 project-cost threshold for prevailing wage rates, and moving the process of verifying regional wage rates from the Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia.

The new wage scales went into effect Oct. 1.

"Politics is the art of compromise," he said. "There was a lot of time and a lot of effort spent on this last year."

Snyder said the Legislature should be looking at improving the new prevailing wage rate calculations, instead of repealing the law outright.

Earlier Monday, five building contractors and union representatives spoke against repeal of prevailing wage, while one speaker, Brian Hoylman, of Associated Builders and Contractors, which represents a group of non-union building contractors, was in favor of the bill.

Glenn Jefferies, president of Cornerstone Interiors, in Eleanor, echoed Snyder's comments.

"For some reason, we don't want to give the new methodology a chance. Now we want to completely repeal it," Jefferies said.

Reflecting the razor-thin Republican majorities in Senate committees, Monday's committee meeting was delayed by an hour, awaiting the arrival of Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne.

Once Maynard arrived, the committee spent a total of about an hour and 15 minutes on the bill, from counsel's explanation of the bill to the vote to advance it to the full Senate.

With no amendments expected on the Senate floor, the bill could be headed to the governor before the end of the week.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

Alpha lays off 93 workers in Fayette County http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209954 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160201/GZ01/160209954 Mon, 1 Feb 2016 17:28:10 -0500 CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Bankrupt coal producer Alpha Natural Resources says it has laid off an additional 93 miners in southern West Virginia due to the industry's downturn.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha announced Monday the immediate layoffs at Kingston Mining Inc.'s No. 1 and No. 2 mines and a processing plant in Fayette County.

The company said in a statement the layoffs are due to tough market conditions that have dramatically reduced the demand for coal.

Last week Alpha sent 60-day layoff warning notices for 831 miners and dozens more support staff at eight underground mines and two processing plants in Boone and Raleigh counties. Other layoff notices have been sent since July to hundreds of Alpha workers in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

Alpha filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August.