www.wvgazettemail.com http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: January 31, 2016 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT01/301319965 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT01/301319965 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Abbott, John 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

Arrington, Penny 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Baldwin, Brady L. 3 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Bennett, James W. 3 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.

Bonvillian, Pamela S. 2 p.m., Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home, Lewisburg.

Cantrell, Betty Jane 3 p.m., Richard M. Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Carr, Freddy L. Sr. 3 p.m., Hope Baptist Church, Frametown.

Clay, Billy 2 p.m., Stevens and Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Hicks, Jerry W. 2 p.m., Cunningham

Johnson, Shirley A. 2 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Ravenswood.

Mahan, William 4 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.

Pauley, Johnnie F. 2 p.m., Jones Family Cemetery, Sissonville.

Slack, Zachary A. 2 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Demetrious Bonos http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319985 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319985 Sun, 31 Jan 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 February 2, 2016, at Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home.

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/20160131/OBIT/301319968 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319968 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Helen Sue Buzzard, 58, of Charleston, died Jan. 23, 2016. Complete obituary will be in the Monday Gazette-Mail. Elk Funeral Home is in charge of arrangments.

Shirley Collins http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319979 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319979 Sun, 31 Jan 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.

Carolyn Critchfield http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319967 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319967 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Carolyn MacVean Critchfield, a Kanawha County resident for nearly 60 years, passed away on January 21, 2016, in Pittsburgh, PA. She was 82. Born in Niagara Falls, NY, she attended the University of Michigan before taking a laboratory technician position at Union Carbide Corporation in South Charleston. Her work there contributed to the development of a plastics production process that received a U.S. patent bearing her name.

In 1954, she married chemist Frank Critchfield with whom she raised four children in South Charleston. A strong advocate of education, she often remarked that her proudest accomplishment was that all of her children earned advanced college degrees.

When her children were older, Carolyn returned to work as Kanawha County Voter Registrar. In this position, she helped to reform the voting system, including by installing some of the nation's first electronic voting machines, which led to a bit of notoriety. Three losing candidates in a 1980 election filed a multimillion dollar civil lawsuit against Carolyn and other workers who they claimed had manipulated the voting machines. After a judge dismissed the suit it was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1987 refused to hear the case. As described in a 1988 New Yorker magazine article, this episode helped to frame a national discussion on the reliability of electronic voting.

Afterward, Carolyn sought a lower profile in public service, serving as assistant to three mayors and holding several City of Charleston positions. She retired from the Mayor's Office of Economic Development in 2010.

Throughout much of her adult life Carolyn was active in the Republican Party at the local, state, and national levels. Although she met three sitting presidents, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and attended a Presidential inauguration, her best political memories were of working on Arch Moore's gubernatorial campaigns, and she most enjoyed the friendships with Kanawha Valley residents that arose through her work.

After retiring, Carolyn lived for a time on Charleston's West Side and in Bloomington, IL. She is survived by her children, Tom, of Normal, IL, and spouse Karla; Ellen Conrad, of Pittsburgh, and spouse Bill; Jim, of Austin, TX, and spouse Osvaldo Osio; and John, of St. Louis, and spouse Carol Emery; and by grandchildren Lauren Critchfield of Los Angeles; Sean Conrad of Cleveland; Maggie Conrad of Pittsburgh; Hannah Critchfield of Chicago; Max and Riley Critchfield of St. Louis; and Zoey Critchfield of Normal, IL.

Glenna Davis http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319987 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319987 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Glenna Marie Davis, 94, of Charleston, entered her eternal home with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on January 28, 2016 at Hubbard House.

Mrs. Davis was born in Oak Hill, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley. She wanted to work for C & P Telephone Company as an operator, but was not tall enough to operate the switchboard. She was employed for a short time as a Legal Secretary. She was also a member of Maranatha Baptist Church.

From September 23, 1944 to February 4, 1946, she valiantly did her part on the "home front" while her husband fought in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. Very seldom did she speak of the personal hardship brought on by WWII, but when she did, you sensed the pride in what her husband and others like him accomplished. As she spoke of the endless anxiety that accompanied the fear of the unknown, it was clear that she quietly concealed a badge of courage deep in her heart exemplifying the fact that she had courageously fought her own battle in that horrific war.....and won.

She was the daughter of the late Clarence and Beulah Strou; loving and dedicated wife to the late Oscar Lewis Davis; sister to the late Sonny Stroud and Margaret Baker; and great-grandmother to the late Michael Davis.

She is survived by her daughter and caregiver, Sara Lilly of Charleston; two sons, Andrew Davis and his wife, Anna Mae Davis of Beckley, and Philip Davis and his wife, Joyce Davis of Cottageville; eight grandchildren; eighteen great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and sister-in-laws, Patty Stroud of Rainelle and Lois Davis of Columbus, Ohio; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the staff at Hubbard House and a special thanks to Betty Jo Payne and Erma Jarrett for their love and support over the years.

The funeral service will be held on Monday February 1, 2016 at noon with visitation two hours prior to the service at Long & Fisher Funeral Home. Pastors Bill and Kevan Bartlett will be officiating, and Pastor Andrew L. Davis will be assisting. Burial will follow at 3 p.m. in the Mt. Tabor Cemetery, Beckley.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Maranatha Baptist Church, One Maranatha Acres, Charleston, WV 25312; or Gideons International, 724 Indiana Ave, Charleston, WV 25302; or Hubbard Hospice House, 1001 Kennawa Dr., Charleston, WV 25311.

Online condolences can be left by visiting: www.longfisherfuneralhome.com.

Pamela DeVere http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319990 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319990 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Pamela Jean DeVere, 62, of Charleston, went home on Jan 23, 2016. She was born at Clendenin, on Dec 8, 1953, a daughter of the late Noble and Evelyn Louise Tucker Green. She was also preceded in death by a grandson, Xidis DeVere.

Pam fought a courageous battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

She was an outstanding and loving wife, mother, and NaNa.

She is survived by her husband, Jim DeVere; daughter and son-in-law, Sarah Michelle and Travis Lee Payne of Charleston; a son, Joshua Adam DeVere at home; two sisters, Gloria (John) Annie of Charleston and Melody (Gordon) Parker of Cross Lanes; four grandchildren, Izaiah DeVere, Gracelyn Payne, Caytlee DeVere, and Gavin Payne; a niece, Julia Parker; and nephew, Bryan Parker.

Pam will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Private memorial services will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be sent to the Multiple Sclerosis Society at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/. Online condolences may be left at www.BartlettBurdetteCox.com.

Carol Ann Donald http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319995 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319995 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 On January 25, 2016, Carol Ann Donald left this world to continue her journey.

She is survived by her mother, Shirley Young; her brother, Ralph Donald; her sisters, Jean Rueth, Lynn Trent, Melanie Young, Tracy Young; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and the community of St. Albans.

She was preceded in death by her wife of 18 years, Lori Merrill.

Carol moved to St. Albans in 2010 and quickly became a fixture of the community. From behind the cash register at the store where she worked, she dispensed love and wisdom to everyone who stopped in to see her. Every child in St. Albans will remember Carol as the lady who would give and occasional free or "price reduced" Slurpee on hot summer days; every adult in St. Albans will remember her as a kind soul who helped them get a cup of coffee when they needed it most but didn't have enough money. No one in need of a hug ever left her presence without getting one.

As the family grieves, the community grieves; as the family will heal, the community will heal. Please be good to one another and look for opportunities to spread love and compassion.


Cooke Funeral Home and Crematorium is assisting Carol's family and no services are scheduled at this time.

You may express online condolences at www.cookefuneralhome.com.

Sada Douglas http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319982 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319982 Sun, 31 Jan 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.

Flora Dowell http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319974 OBIT http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/OBIT/301319974 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Flora Edna Dowell, 93, of Leon went home to be with the Lord Saturday January 30, 2016 at Pleasant Valley Nursing and Rehab. She was a Christian and a homemaker.

Born May 13, 1922, she was the daughter of the late Rupert and Minnie Wheatcraft. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Charles Edward Dowell; six brothers and three sisters.

She is survived by her children, Billie Ray (Mary) Dowell of Caldwell, Emma Jo Tucker of Galion, Ohio and Ronald Roman (Barbara) Dowell of Leon; brother, Dorman Monroe (Betty) Wheatcraft of Oxford, Ala.; six grandchildren; along with several great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312.

Graveside service will be held at 11 p.m. Tuesday February 2, 2016, at Leon Cemetery, Leon.

Online condolences may be sent to the Dowell family and the online guestbook signed by visiting www.raynesfuneralhome.com. Raynes Funeral Home, 20072 Charleston Road, Buffalo, WV is in charge of arrangements.

Who's running for office in West Virginia? http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139925 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139925 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 12:54:53 -0500 David Gutman By David Gutman So who's running for office in West Virginia?

The deadline to get on the ballot for West Virginia's May primary election was midnight on Saturday. (If candidates mailed in their filings with a postmark of Saturday or before, they can still end up on the ballot.)

Among the last-minute filers on Saturday was former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, who filed to run for the state Supreme Court, where he served 12 years from 1976 to 1988. McGraw was West Virginia's attorney general for 20 years before narrowly losing a bid for a sixth term to current Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in 2012.

The only seat on the court up in this year's election is the one held by Justice Brent Benjamin, who was elected in 2004 after a hard-fought battle to oust incumbent justice Warren McGraw, Darrell McGraw's brother.

Besides Benjamin and McGraw, candidates for the seat are Clay lawyer Wayne King; Morgantown lawyer Beth Walker, who ran unsuccessfully for the court in 2008; and Beckley lawyer and former legislative leader Bill Wooton.

All judicial elections in West Virginia are now non-partisan, meaning no candidates will be identified by party on the ballot, and the May election will function as the general election for court candidates. In the past, McGraw and Wooton have run as Democrats, and Benjamin and Walker have run as Republicans.

Also Saturday, three Democrats jumped into the race for the U.S. House's 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from Cabell County to the Eastern Panhandle. Nitro lawyer Harvey Peyton, Eastern Panhandle lawyer Tom Payne and Cory Simpson, a U.S. Army lawyer whose family is from Charleston, all filed on Saturday. They will join Mark Hunt, a Charleston lawyer and former state legislator, in the Democratic primary.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Alex Mooney also has a primary challenger: Marc Savitt of Kearneysville, who ran for a U.S. House seat in Virginia in 2014, finishing last in a six-person Republican primary.

Incumbent Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, also filed to run for re-election. Guthrie, who represents the 36th District, had previously said she would not run again.

For president, there are 15 major candidates running nationally. All will be on the West Virginia ballot except (as of Sunday) two Republicans: former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, both of whom have been polling near the bottom of the crowded GOP field.

Candidates in the Democratic field include former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady Hillary Clinton; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Republicans include real estate mogul Donald Trump; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; neurosurgeon Ben Carson; former technology CEO Carly Fiorina; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Lesser-known candidates for president in West Virginia are Keith Judd, the former federal prison inmate who ran in the Democratic primary in 2012; Huntington lawyer Paul Farrell Jr., and Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, from San Diego. All of them are running as Democrats. David E. Hall, a Floridian whose website offers to sell a book with his campaign positions for $15, is running as a Republican.

Four men are running for West Virginia governor. Republicans have united behind Senate President Bill Cole, from Mercer County.

The Democratic primary will be contested among Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, from Marshall County, former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and businessman Jim Justice. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

The 1st Congressional District, representing northern West Virginia, will not have a contested primary. Republican Rep. David McKinley is running for re-election. He will face Democrat Mike Manypenny, a former state delegate from Grafton, in the November election.

The 3rd Congressional District, encompassing southern West Virginia, also will not have a contested primary. Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins is running for re-election and will face Democrat Matt Detch, a former U.S. Secret Service officer from Lewisburg, in November.

Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is running for re-election. She will be challenged in the Democratic primary by first-term Delegate Patsy Trecost, of Harrison County.

The Republican candidate is Andrew "Mac" Warner, an army veteran and military contractor who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010. Warner's family has long been involved in state Republican politics; one brother was chairman of the state GOP, another ran for governor, and a third was U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush.

The Republicans have also united behind one candidate for auditor: Delegate J.B. McCuskey, of Kanawha County.

Democrats are looking at a three-way primary for auditor, with former Tomblin administration official Jason Pizatella facing off against two former auditor's officer employees, Mary Ann Claytor of St. Albans and Robin Righter of Shinnston. Longtime State Auditor Glen Gainer, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election.

State Treasurer John Perdue, a Democrat, is running for re-election. Without a primary opponent, he will face one of two Republicans in the fall: Ann Urling, a Charleston banker, or Delegate Larry W. Faircloth, of Berkeley County.

Each party looks to be running just one candidate for attorney general. Republican incumbent Morrisey will face Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell, in the general election in the fall.

The primaries for agriculture commissioner also appear to be uncontested. The Democratic candidate is incumbent Walt Helmick, a former state senator. He will run in the fall against Sen. Kent Leonhardt, R-Monongalia. The two also faced off in 2012, with Helmick narrowly defeating Leonhardt.

The 8th Senatorial District, representing parts of Kanawha and Putnam counties, including downtown Charleston, will see a contest between Republican Sen. Chris Walters of Putnam County, the incumbent, and businessman Glenn Jeffries, a Democrat from Red House.

The 17th Senatorial District, which represents southern Kanawha County, including South Charleston and Charleston south of the Kanawha River, will be a faceoff between Democratic Sen. Corey Palumbo, the incumbent, and Delegate Chris Stansbury, a Republican from Charleston.

Candidates in Kanawha County House of Delegates races are:

In the 35th District, representing St. Albans, South Hills, Dunbar and Kanawha City, for four House seats: Incumbents Eric Nelson, a Republican, and Andrew Byrd, a Democrat. Republican challengers are: Moore Capito, Calvin Grimm, Bill Johnson, Matt Kelly, Charlotte Lane and Keith Pauley. Democratic challengers are: Ben Adams, C.B. Britton, Devin Joseph Casey, Thornton Cooper, John Knight, Shawn Little, Jack Rogers and Benjamin Sheridan.

In the 36th District, representing southern Kanawha County, for three House seats: Incumbents Nancy Guthrie and Larry Rowe, both Democrats, and Republican Brad White; and challengers Kevin Parsons, Andrew Robinson, Curtis Robinson Jr., Danny Wells and Don Wilson, all Democrats, and Republicans Tressie "Profitt" Cabell, Adam Marcum, Justin Quinn and Chelsea Walker Gaskins.

In the 37th District, representing downtown Charleston, the East End and the West Side: incumbent Delegate Mike Pushkin and Janet "JT" Thompson on the Democratic side, and Republican Thomas Goodman.

In the 38th District, representing sections of northern Kanawha County and southern Putnam County, incumbent Republican Patrick Lane is not running for re-election. The Republican primary candidates will be David Bender, Nancy Reagan Foster and Bob Keller. The Democratic primary will be uncontested, with Tom Tull the sole candidate.

In the 39th District, representing northeastern Kanawha County, Republican incumbent Ron Walters will face Bill Jordan in the primary. Democrats Clint Casto, Shannon Hagerman and Wes Holden are running, as is Chris Reed of the Mountain Party.

In the 40th District, representing northern Kanawha County: House Speaker Tim Armstead, a Republican, faces two primary opponents, Ronald Shamblin and Lewis Taylor. Democrat Melissa Riggs Huffman and Mountain Party candidate Jeffrey "Scott" Straight are also running.

Candidates in Putnam County House of Delegates races are:

In the 13th House District, representing northern Putnam County and parts of Mason and Jackson counties, for two House seats: Republican incumbent Michael Ihle is running for re-election. Challengers are Democrats Scott Brewer, Rosalee Juba-Plumley and George Thaxton, and Republicans Amanda Cadle, Kathie Hess Crouse, Joshua Kurt Higginbotham and Robert Marchal. Incumbent Scott Cadle is not running again, and said he would instead seek a seat on the Mason County Commission.

In the 14th House District, representing northwest Putnam County and part of Mason County, Republican incumbent Jim Butler is running for re-election. Democrat Samantha Ann Fooce is also running.

In the 15th House District, representing a central swath of Putnam County, two candidates are running for office, Republican incumbent Geoff Foster and Democrat Jeffery Smith.

In the 22nd House District, representing parts of Putnam, Lincoln and Boone counties, incumbents Jeff Eldridge, a Democrat, and Michel Moffatt, a Republican, are running for re-election. Challengers are Republicans Eric Johnson and Zack Maynard and Democrats Scott Gillenwater and Gary McCallister.

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

West Virginia University to host weekly film festival http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139926 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139926 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 11:55:14 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia University Community Human Rights Film Festival is getting started this week.

The event showcasing a series of five films covering a range of themes about human rights concerns begins Tuesday night. It will continue every Tuesday through March 8 at the WVU Gluck Theatre at the Mountainlair in Morgantown.

The screenings are free and open to the public.

Tuesday's screening of the documentary "Blood on the Mountain" about the struggles of life in the Appalachian coal industry will be followed by a panel discussion.

The event is co-sponsored by the Morgantown Human Rights Commission and WVU Libraries.

Essay contest to award cash toward college savings accounts http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139927 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139927 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 11:52:53 -0500 The Associated Press By The Associated Press CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Schoolchildren from across West Virginia can win cash to be applied for higher education expenses through an essay contest.

The ninth annual SMART529 "When I Grow Up" contest is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grades. Teachers in those grades also can enter a separate contest.

A total of 15 student winners will be announced later this year. Each will receive $500 toward a SMART529 investment account. The deadline for entries is Feb. 26. Each winner's school also will receive a $500 cash award.

Entry forms are available at elementary schools throughout the state and at www.SMART529.com .

Small town keeps Swiss 'Fasnacht' tradition alive http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139928 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139928 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 11:41:21 -0500 By Mary Wade Burnside The Exponent Telegram By By Mary Wade Burnside The Exponent Telegram HELVETIA, W.Va. (AP) - Just a few days after prognosticating groundhogs reveal whether spring will arrive early, revelers in a small Randolph County town with Swiss origins will wear whimsical masks they made themselves and parade through town, attend a masquerade ball and then attempt to drive the cold away by burning Old Man Winter in effigy.

The event is called Fasnacht, and Clara Lehmann's grandmother, the late Eleanor Fahrner Mailloux, helped revive the Swiss tradition and put the community's own spin on it in the 1970s.

"When they first brought the festival over, they practiced it differently," said Lehmann, a Helvetia native who returned to the small town with her Chicago-born husband a few years ago.

"It wasn't a masquerade. She said children and families used to don a mask and go house to house and ask for doughnuts. It was kind of like trick-or-treat, rather than a square dance and scaring Old Man Winter away."

But her grandmother, who Lehmann still calls "mutter" for mother and who owned and operated the popular restaurant, The Hutte, loved art and entertaining, and decided to incorporate aspects of Mardi Gras into the celebration.

"It's an amalgamation of festivals," Lehmann said.

And this year, Fasnacht arrives early, on Feb. 6, the Saturday before Ash Wednesday.

"It's very early this year. Easter is very early this year," said Woody Higginbotham, president of Helvetia Restoration and Development, an organization formed in the 1960s to restore the town that was settled by Swiss immigrants in 1869.

By about 1880, Higginbotham said, the town had 300 to 350 residents, most of them from Switzerland.

Coincidentally, Higginbotham, a native of Wetzel County, has Swiss ancestry on his paternal grandmother's side, but he moved to Helvetia by chance in the 1970s to take a job as a teacher.

"I did not know anything about this community when I came here 40 years ago," he said.

Higginbotham now serves as an organizer of the festival, while Lehmann's role is one of the interest she has in preserving her culture and the event her grandmother revitalized. Lehmann even researched and wrote her senior college thesis on Fasnacht, a word that means "fast night," which would refer to the idea of stocking up on treats before Lent arrives.

"You're going into Lent so you have to store up the fat," she said.

Fasnacht features a variety of activities, Higginbotham noted, starting at the The Hutte, which is now run by Lehmann's mother, Heidi Mailloux Arnett. The restaurant will serve sample plates all day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Helvetia - the Latin word for Switzerland - features two community buildings. Events will commence in the smaller one, the Red Hall, from 3 to 8 p.m. when musicians will participate in an open-microphone jam session.

"There will be fiddlers, there will most likely be a bass player and guitarist, and they sit around and play folk tunes and country tunes all evening," Higginbotham said.

He likened the atmosphere to that of the Vandalia Gathering that takes place in Charleston on Memorial Day weekend, in which musicians can show up and join in.

During this event, there will be food for sale such as bratwursts, Higginbotham added. Also, for the entire day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., visitors can peruse the Mask Museum at the Kultur Haus General Store. The masks from past Fasnacht celebrations are on display year-round, Lehmann noted, to help generate interest in the event for visitors who might stop by in the summer or another part of the year.

Even though early Fasnachts had elements of trick-or-treat, the masks for the holiday are quite different, often made of papier mache, "although that doesn't stand up as well," Lehmann said. "I've noticed people making theirs out of material that lasts longer."

The types of masks can vary, but sometimes revelers make ones that are a bit bawdy or fanciful that might embolden them while wearing them.

"Maybe you would be dressed as a very voluptuous woman with a strange mask and you would kiss a man," Lehmann said. "You have a license to be risque. You might make fun of a politician so you wear a mask that makes fun of somebody. So it's a little bit like you get away with something that day."

The masks come into play during the parade that takes place from the Red Hall to the larger Community Hall - where the masquerade ball takes place - that begins at about 8:30 p.m., lighted with Swiss lampions.

"There will be some fantastic masks," Higginbotham said. "There is a pretty good following of people who come every year, mostly from Morgantown, and from some other places, that spend a lot of time making a mask. They really have fantastic outfits."

Once they get to the Community Hall, the ball begins, usually at about 9 p.m. The Helvetia Star Band, of which Higginbotham is a member, plays the music that includes square dancing, as well as polkas and waltzes.

While people dance the night away - usually after taking off their masks, which would impede them - a bonfire is built about 150 feet from the Community Hall.

They also dance around the effigy of Old Man Winter that is hanging in the middle of the hall.

"He's made out of pine and has a Halloween mask and boots," Higginbotham said.

Around midnight, the celebrants cut him down and take him out to the bonfire in an effort to drive away winter and bring on spring.

"And then people stand around and enjoy the bonfire for a while," he added.

On a good year, about 300 people attend Fasnacht, Higginbotham said. Snow does not seem to keep visitors away, although last year's biting cold resulted in a small event with only about 150.

Accommodations in Helvetia are limited and mostly booked up, so people who attend from other areas can stay in either Elkins or Buckhannon, each about an hour away, Higginbotham said.

In addition to Morgantown, the event generally draws people from Charleston and even out of state.

Last year, a reporter from the National Public Radio show "The Salt" attended and did a story about the food at Fasnacht.

For Lehmann, who works from home doing film post-production work with her husband, Jonathan Lacocque, moving back to her tiny hometown and celebrating events such as Fasnacht are important to her.

"I think it was ingrained in us," she said. "Even in elementary school, I remember my grandmother coming to school and teaching children to make papier mache masks and telling us what heritage was and who we were. As an adult, I've held on to that and felt that it makes me who I am and thus it's very important to me. It means a lot. The more all of us can embrace that, the richer our lives will be."

FSU professor recalls police experience on streets of Miami http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139929 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139929 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 09:00:00 -0500 By Sean McNamara The Times West Virginian By By Sean McNamara The Times West Virginian FAIRMONT, W.Va (AP) - Sitting in class each day, it's easy for students to become bored with a teacher simply reading out of a text book to prepare for a test.

For students in the award-winning criminal justice program at Fairmont State University under the direction of Dr. John McLaughlin, his stories, experiences and expertise in the field of criminal justice make class anything but boring.

For more than a quarter century, McLaughlin served in law enforcement Miami Dade County in a district known as Liberty City - a district so high in crime that Rockstar Games made a "Grand Theft Auto" video game based off it.

"When you turn on the news to see what's going on, I was there," McLaughlin said. "I saw what happened. If there was a shooting, I was at it. If there was a stabbing, I was there."

Now that he's retired from active duty, McLaughlin has moved from South Florida to North Central West Virginia and has brought his knowledge and experience with him.

McLaughlin received his bachelor's degree from Florida State University in the 1980s before taking a job with the Miami Dade Police Department.

After spending two years as a court officer, McLaughlin's rise in the law enforcement ranks began and went on to include many titles, positions and responsibilities between 1987 and 2013.

First he became a police officer, then a training officer, detective, general investigations officer and eventually corporal.

After being named a corporal, McLaughlin began working in Vice.

"Some people in Miami used to watch 'Miami Vice.' I didn't have to watch it. I was there," McLaughlin said. "We worked organized crime. We apprehended some Cuban mafia members. After doing that for a year, I was promoted and made sergeant."

McLaughlin worked at the police academy as a trainer for five years before being promoted to master sergeant and eventually lieutenant.

During all his years in law enforcement in South Florida, McLaughlin stayed busy and his job was not without excitement.

His responsibilities included assignments in fields like customs and coordinating the D.A.R.E. program, but in Miami Dade County during his time, fighting crime on the streets was what McLaughlin enjoyed most.

In true fashion of working in a district that GTA based a game on - a game where the streets and music accurately reflect the actual city, McLaughlin noted - his favorite part of his job was chasing stolen cars and burglars.

"If I didn't get at least one [car chase] a day I was upset," McLaughlin said. "I always loved to chase cars, and I had fun. Just like in the game, and although I've never played it, I've heard all about it."

Drug usage was high in the area and that, coupled with all other forms of crime, kept him occupied.

"Pretty much every car you stopped, you looked for drugs there," McLaughlin said. "It was so blatant back then. It was so easy to find criminals. The criminals made themselves known. They were proud of being criminals."

Finally, as a member of the Economic Crime Bureau, McLaughlin retired as a lieutenant of the mortgage fraud task force where he worked with the FBI and Secret Service.

During many years of his career in law enforcement, McLaughlin also continued his own education.

He earned his master's degree from Florida International University, a school he eventually wound up teaching at for 12 years.

While he never planned on going to school past his bachelor's degree, things kept falling into place and he kept furthering his education.

As he began to compile degrees and academic honors, teaching became something that he felt he would not only be able to do, but do in a way that many teachers couldn't.

"I taught in the academy, and when I got into my master's, I started to notice that some of these professors didn't know as much as I did," he said. "They were telling me stuff that I knew wasn't true. That's what made me motivated.

"If they can do this, I can do this because I know it. I've been there and done it."

He went on to explain that while most of his professors learned their material from theories and text books, his came from experience on the same streets and living the same life that the students he would be teaching hoped to work.

"Things on the street are not the same as in the book," McLaughlin said. "You can't just categorize people into theories and some of the professors did. Things weren't like that."

McLaughlin continued teaching and working his way up the ranks at FIU.

McLaughlin eventually became a member of the Criminal Justice Honor Society and worked his way up to the board of directors.

While serving on the board of directors for the Criminal Justice Honor Society, McLaughlin met Deanna Shields from Fairmont State, who also served on the board around 2001.

"We met twice a year and we competed against each other - our school, FIU, against Fairmont State," McLaughlin explained. "After I got 25 years on [the police force], I told [Shields] 'I'm going to start looking for a full-time job teaching.

"She told me 'that's interesting because we're going to have an opening coming up soon."'

By December, McLaughlin applied for the job at FSU, interviewed for it a month later and eventually got hired.

Now, three years after taking a job at Fairmont State, McLaughlin is enjoying his work, and his students are enjoying the chance to learn from him.

"I think my experience in law enforcement helps because I've been there," McLaughlin said. "I teach from the book, but I also give them stories to go along with the theories."

Not every student in the criminal justice program wants to become a police officer, and McLaughlin's experience and knowledge of fields like probation, customs and other law enforcement related areas make him someone the students can relate to, trust and learn from, all while staying engaged and entertained.

"I like the students because they're young and they're motivated," McLaughlin said. "They have a positive attitude because they're beginning their future.

"I think that this is the best time of their life, and my goal is to get them ready so when they leave here they know what they're getting into and they know what it's going to be like."

Buckley, Hines capture McCoy track athlete awards http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ02/160139930 GZ02 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ02/160139930 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Rick Ryan By Rick Ryan Their senior seasons couldn't have gone much better for Christian Buckley of Poca and Anacia Hines of St. Albans, as they included both state meet glory and all-time state track records.

For those accomplishments, the Kanawha Valley tandem will receive the Ray McCoy Awards as the top male and female track athletes in West Virginia.

Voting on the awards was done by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Buckley turned a lot of heads this past season when he broke a 30-year-old record belonging to Randy Barnes, a former St. Albans weight thrower and 1996 Olympic shot put champion.

Barnes tossed the discus 181 feet, 7 inches in the 1985 Class AAA state meet, but Buckley surpassed that twice during his senior season - 186-4 at a midseason meet in Huntington, and then 186-9 in the Class AA Region 4 meet at University of Charleston Stadium/Laidley Field.

In the state meet, Buckley fell just short of Barnes' respective all-class state meet marks of 181-7 in the discus and 61-7 in the shot - Buckley went 180-9 and 61-1 1/2 - but both of those efforts were Class AA state meet records and Buckley capped off his third straight shot-discus sweep, giving him six career state titles.

"Definitely, I was [satisfied],'' Buckley said. "When the season started, I hit some good marks and [personal records], and I had the 60-foot mark in my sights [in the shot] and I got that pretty early in the season.

"The season was a success from that point on. As far as the marks, I'd liked to have gone a little farther overall, but looking back I'm very happy with what I accomplished.''

At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Buckley was also the starting center on Poca's basketball team, which went 27-0 and captured the Class AA championship.

He's currently competing on the track squad at Louisville, still working with the shot put and discus, but is also tinkering with both the hammer and weight throws. The hammer weighs 16 pounds and the weight throw 35 pounds.

"It was the first time I ever touched one here at Louisville,'' Buckley said.

Buckley is majoring in bioengineering.

Hines, one of the state's fastest girls since her freshman season, also established an all-time state record as a senior when she was clocked at 14.36 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles at the Russ Parsons Invitational in Parkersburg.

She had just one state meet championship to her credit before her senior season, but left Laidley Field with a bundle of gold last May, winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the 100 hurdles with respective times of 12.28, 25.35 and 14.52 seconds.

"I'm very satisfied with my accomplishments,'' Hines said, "even though you always feel like there are things you could look back on maybe that you did wrong or what you could have done better in high school.''

Hines had previously forged her name in the record books with a state meet record time of 14.44 seconds in the 100 hurdles during her victory in that event in 2014.

She's currently attending Coastal Carolina, competing on the school's track team and majoring in exercise science. Hines is still running the 100 and 200 dashes and 100 hurdles and could also work into one of her team's relays.

"It's going really well,'' she said. "A lot of people get homesick, but I enjoy home and I enjoy Coastal.''

Both Buckley and Hines will be honored during the 70th Victory Awards Dinner, set for Sunday, May 15 at the Charleston Civic Center.

Tristan Slater, Capital's three-time state champion in the Class AAA pole vault, finished second to Buckley in the voting for the McCoy male track athlete award. Jayden Allender of Ritchie County was third, Hayden Harrison of Buffalo fourth and finishing in a tie for fifth were Seth Edwards of University of Jacob Kilgore of Spring Valley.

The rest of the McCoy female track athlete top five behind Hines included Abby Colbert of Jefferson, Hannah Carreon of Clay-Battelle, Aiyana Kachmarek of Tucker County and Kayla Haywood of Bridgeport.

Feds probe gas worker death in Pleasants County http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139949 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139949 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Ken Ward Jr. By Ken Ward Jr. Federal officials are investigating the death last month of a gas industry worker in Pleasants County in what may be the latest in a string of workers killed by toxic fumes from petroleum storage tanks.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is examining the death, which occurred on Dec. 17.

Aaron Michael Flanigan, 20, of Pennsboro, was working for Balis Well Service, using a wooden gauge stick to measure contents of a tank. He was found on top of the tank, was unresponsive and was dead when emergency crews arrived, according to an OSHA spokeswoman. A death notice published by the local funeral home said that Flanigan was married and had eight siblings. It said he enjoyed computers, dirt bikes, horses, fishing and "anything outdoors."

On its website, OSHA says that Flanigan died "from exposure to gas vapors." A state official said that Flanigan was on a tank ladder, but had fallen partway into a manhole on top of the tank.

Leni Uddyback-Fortson, the OSHA spokeswoman, said that the agency is investigating the death "to determine causative factors, including the potential for exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and oxygen deficient atmosphere."

"We don't know for sure at this point, but a hazard involved in this work is exposure to hydrocarbon vapors and oxygen deficient atmosphere when the worker opens the hatch," Uddyback-Fortson said last week.

Word of the OSHA investigation of Flanigan's death comes just as researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are publishing new findings that warn of a trend in oil and gas workers dying from exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors, known as HGVs, and oxygen-deficient atmospheres after they open the hatches of storage tanks.

NIOSH identified nine such deaths between January 2010 and March 2015. Those occurred in Colorado, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas.

The new report said that health professionals need to recognize the signs and symptoms of exposure to high concentrations of HGVs in oil and gas workers.

"As required by OSHA regulations, employers should reduce or eliminate the hazard. This can include practices that allow for alternative fluid sample collection points, remote monitoring of fluid levels, proper use of gas monitors, respiratory protection meeting OSHA requirements, and worker training," the report said. "Employers also need to ensure that workers do not work alone where they might have risks for exposures to high concentrations of hydrocarbons and low-O2 environments."

Earlier this year, a commission appointed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to examine oil and gas industry worker safety and health issues included in its recommendations a suggestion that the state Department of Environmental Protection come up with a list of "best practices" for the monitoring of potentially dangerous vapors at oil and gas production sites.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.

Pipeline builder seeking tax breaks; counties could benefit too http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139950 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139950 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Andrew Brown By Andrew Brown As Columbia Pipeline Group continues to plan for the proposed Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline, the company is eyeing possible tax deals for at least two of the gas compressor stations that would be built as part of that $2 billion project.

The Charleston-based pipeline company has approached county leaders in Doddridge, Calhoun and Jackson counties proposing agreements known as PILOTs or payment in lieu of taxes, which would allow Columbia Pipeline to make annual payments in place of the normal property taxes that would be owed.

No deals have been struck yet, but conversations with county commissioners suggest that the agreements, as discussed, would allow Columbia Pipeline to pay several hundred thousand dollars less annually than it otherwise would over the next 10 to 30 years.

Scott Castleman, a spokesperson for Columbia Pipeline, could not confirm the details of the suggested tax deals because nothing has been finalized, but he said the company has continued to negotiate with the Jackson and Calhoun county commissions.

"It isn't uncommon for companies investing in natural gas facilities, wind farms, solar farms and other large scale energy infrastructure projects to seek incentives," Castleman wrote in an email response. "Columbia Pipeline Group works with the appropriate officials at the local level to come up with a proposal that is acceptable to both the company and local government."

The deals would reduce the amount of money the counties collect from the multi-million compressor stations, which will help ship gas south to Cabell County and on to the Gulf States, but they could end up benefiting the county governments and local schools too.

As a result of state tax policies, the county commissions and boards of education could end up netting more money by agreeing to Columbia Pipeline's terms. It is an odd situation, where the counties actually keep more, while collecting less.

The convoluted setup all stems from the way the state, through the West Virginia Department of Education, currently calculates and disburses student aid money to county schools. That complicated formula requires state officials to reduce the amount of school aid a board of education receives as county tax revenues increase.

But if the gas compressor stations are covered under PILOT programs, those interstate pipeline projects aren't considered taxable property and would not be taken into account under current state policy.

"A PILOT arrangement would also allow Calhoun County more flexibility in allocating tax revenue to local services such as public education and county administration services," Castleman wrote, adding that it would be up the commissioners to decide if the deal is in the county's best interest.

When Scottie Westfall, the Calhoun County Commissioner, found out that Columbia Pipeline planned to build the estimated $90 million White Oaks Compressor Station on the edge of his county, it was cause for celebration.

"For a little county like Calhoun, this is a big deal, and it's vital," Westfall said.

With the county government operating on a shoestring budget for decades and the Calhoun County Board of Education now struggling with $1.77 million in debt, Westfall said the compressor station could go along way towards boosting local finances.

That is why he was skeptical when Columbia Pipeline approached him last fall about possibly striking a tax deal. "I thought it was a scam at first," Westfall said.

But after consulting with the county assessor and a tax attorney, Westfall says the county and its schools have more to gain than lose from meeting the company's requests.

Nothing has been confirmed, but Westfall said Columbia Pipeline is proposing to pay the county and the school board $650,000 per year over 30 years. By comparison, he said the company would pay an estimated $910,000 annually if the compressor station was assessed under normal county property tax levies.

In that way, Westfall said the county is expected to avoid reductions in the state's school aid formula, and would be paid an additional $250,000 per year by Columbia Pipeline even before the compressor station is built.

Dick Waybright, the Jackson County Commission president, said he had not received anything in writing from Columbia Pipeline as of yet, but he thinks the suggested tax deal could be good for county residents.

The agreement with Jackson County, like Calhoun, has not been formalized, but Waybright said it is expected to last around 10 years. And according to discussions with the county assessor's office, it wouldn't mean a reduction in county collections or funding for the Jackson County Board of Education.

As Columbia Pipeline has held public meetings for the proposed 165 mile pipeline, Waybright said county resident have largely been supportive of the project that would be built through 11 counties in the western part of the state.

"So far it has been well received," he said, "but that is as far as it has went."

The basic calculations behind the proposed tax deals may be changing in the near future, however, if the West Virginia Legislature approves Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's budget proposals.

Joe Panetta, the Department of Education's chief operations officer, said Tomblin has called for local revenue from PILOT programs to be treated the same as property tax revenue in the school aid formula.

Panetta pointed out that state code already gives the state government the ability to reduce school aid to counties based on the amount of money they collect through PILOT agreements, but he said the governor and the legislature have chosen not to do so in the past.

If that policy decision is reversed, it would mean that $2.64 million in local money gained through PILOT agreements would be affected, and that Columbia Pipeline's deals in Jackson and Calhoun would result in the counties making less from the compressor stations, while still having their school aid reduced.

Westfall said he just counts himself lucky that Columbia Pipeline planned to build the proposed compressor station on his side of the Calhoun-Ritchie county line.

"The county got lucky for once in 160 years," he said.

Reach Andrew Brown at andrew.brown@wvgazette.com, 304-348-4814, or follow @Andy_Ed_Brown on Twitter.

Rick Steelhammer: Jail-free Judd ready to joust for bragging rights as state's top 'none of the above' candidate http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139958 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139958 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer

The virtually unknown Texan who captured nearly 42 percent of West Virginia's vote during the 2012 Democratic presidential primary because he was not Barack Obama is back, this time hoping to collect even more votes in the Mountain State for not being either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

Back then, Keith Russell Judd ran his presidential campaign from his prison cell. Had he been elected, the Oval Office may have been relocated to a corner of his medium security prison.

This time around, the fringe candidate may get to spend some time stumping through West Virginia, since he's been spent enough time serving a 17-year sentence for making threats by mail to be recently released on parole. Now a hotel worker in Midland, Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News, Judd has officially filed as a presidential candidate in at least seven states, including ours.

Judd told the Dallas newspaper that his unexpectedly good showing in the 2012 Democratic primary here had less to do about him and his values, which no one here knew anything about prior to the vote, and more to do with giving West Virginia voters "an opportunity to voice their message of displeasure" for Obama.

"They jumped on it," he said.

Judd, 56, who describes himself as a "Rastafarian Christian" and looks a lot like fellow back-of-the-packer Martin O'Malley - if the former Maryland governor had a three-foot-long graying ponytail - does have some campaign policies that go beyond simply being "none of the above."

Several of them could resonate with West Virginians.

First of all, he is strong on Second Amendment rights, and states in his blog that citizens "must be armed with guns to fight terrorism." He joins with many West Virginia politicos of both parties in decrying "Obama's War on Coal," and calling for federal funding to implement carbon sequestration technology. Judd sums up America's foreign policy needs by saying "the United States must be the Big Dog in world politics" and "start slamming down the hammer."

While the above remarks are reminiscent of something that could have been said by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Judd says economic policies favored by Trump and his boosters "are killing the middle class."

But Judd said he also thinks it's high time to end the federal government's War on Drugs, and proposes legalizing and taxing marijuana and other unspecified "street drugs." The amount of revenue raised through a federal marijuana tax "would be astonishing," Judd said, as would savings generated by "immediately releasing at least 50 percent of all of our prisoners," since, as he has observed first-hand, "prisons are a waste of taxpayers' money."

Judd includes ESP as a hobby, lists "superhero" on his employment history, considers Nixon his favorite president, and lists pro bowler Gary Skidmore as his favorite athlete, further distancing himself from Clinton and Sanders. This time around, he also faces competition from home-grown fringe candidate Paul T. Farrell Jr., a Huntington lawyer, who figures he makes the best "none of the above" candidate.

"I don't think anyone is betting the farm that I am going to win the primary," Judd told the Dallas newspaper. "But you never know what's going to happen."

In the realm of West Virginia political contests, he's already proven that to be the case.

12,000 homes in rural WV could get broadband http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139959 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160131/GZ01/160139959 Sun, 31 Jan 2016 00:01:00 -0500 Eric Eyre By Eric Eyre Thousands of West Virginians in rural areas do without high-speed broadband Internet.

They pay through the nose for choppy satellite Internet service. They get frustrated with dial-up service. Or they forgo the Internet altogether.

But legislation advancing through the West Virginia Senate offers a glimmer of hope.

The Senate bill aims to bring broadband service to about 12,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia’s most remote areas. Places like Randolph, Pocahontas and Nicholas counties — and rural communities in every other county in the state.

“There’s currently no program to bring broadband to those folks truly at the end of the line,” said Billy Jack Gregg, a consultant with Frontier Communications, West Virginia’s largest Internet provider. “There are still large areas throughout the state that do not have access to broadband of any speed.”

The legislation (SB 16) would provide tax credits to companies that bring high-speed Internet service to homes and businesses that don’t have it now. The firms would receive a $500 tax credit for each new location. The state would award no more than $1 million a year in tax credits for all Internet providers combined.

The tax breaks are expected to cost the state about $6.1 million over the life of the program — about six years.

“The bill was introduced to address a hole in the support net for bringing broadband to rural areas of West Virginia,” Gregg said. “It spreads out the tax credit that would be taken and the hit to the state’s finances.”

After state lawmakers introduced the bill, cable companies and smaller Internet providers complained that the legislation was tailored to benefit Frontier.

The original version allowed Frontier to simultaneously collect state tax credits and federal subsidies through a federal grant program called the Connect America Fund. The fund has earmarked $38 million for Frontier to expand Internet to rural communities in West Virginia.

On Friday, members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee revised the bill.

“We made it more open so it’s not targeted to one company being able to access the tax credit,” said Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, chairman of the committee. “We also cleaned up the double-dipping stuff. Any federal funding they use to expand out, they couldn’t also get a tax credit because of that.”

A cable company representative supported the changes.

“This bill is not a cure-all,” said Mark Polen, executive director of the West Virginia Cable Television Association, which represents Suddenlink, Comcast, Shentel and other firms. “Hopefully, we can demonstrate this tax credit will be put to good use in rural areas to expand service. It sounds like a reasonable approach.”

State lawmakers say they’ve fielded a rising number of complaints from constituents about Internet service. So they’ve embraced legislation designed to expand broadband service.

“I like the idea of incentivizing [Internet providers] to get this broadband to these unserved areas,” said Sen. Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha.

Wireless Internet providers, telephone landline companies and cable TV firms all would be eligible to tap the tax credits.

“There are still thousands of rural locations that have been deemed to be extremely high cost,” Gregg said. “We’re trying to target this to the area of greatest need.”

Other legislation (SB 315) advancing through the Senate would create a $72 million fiber network that aims to improve Internet reliability, expand service, boost download speeds and drive down broadband prices.

Frontier and cable companies oppose building the 2,500-mile fiber loop, saying they have no use for the network.

But Walters said his proposed “middle-mile” project would act like interstate highways, linking communities with high-speed fiber, while the tax credit bill would provide “last-mile” service directly to people’s homes and businesses.

“Together, both these bills could do a lot for the state of West Virginia,” Walters said.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.