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Manchin Pitches Compromise, But Who Wants It?

Two weeks ago, Senator Joe Manchin published a commentary in the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper explaining his opposition to the For the People Act and his support for continuing the filibuster.

Those were not new positions for Manchin.  He had already said in multiple interviews that he thought the federal elections bill was too broad and had only partisan support, and his backing of the filibuster goes back years.

Manchin may have believed that codifying his positions on these highly controversial topics would put the issue to rest. As we know, it did not. In fact, it set off a fire storm of criticism from fellow Democrats and interest groups.

Manchin never minds being in the middle of the fray, but I suspect even he was caught off guard by the vitriol directed his way.  Democrats who support the For the People Act wanted to know not only why Manchin was against the bill, but what he supported.

The Senator responded with a list of election changes that he would back.  In true Manchin fashion, his plan is a compromise intended to draw both Democrats and Republicans to the bargaining table.

That is not going to happen.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the proposal almost immediately on the grounds that it is not Congress’s responsibility to tell the states how to run their elections. “There is no rational basis for the federal government to take over all of American elections,” McConnell said.

Here is another way to read that: After Republicans were called racists for not supporting the For the People Act, there was no way they were going to buy into anything that even vaguely resembled the original bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to bypass Manchin’s compromise and instead call a vote next week to bring the For the People Act to the floor, even though he knows the bill cannot get the 60 votes necessary to pass.

And here is how to read that: Schumer will get Republicans on the record opposing a bill that Democrats believe is an important issue for them in 2022.

Manchin truly believes in bipartisanship, and he’s supremely confident—probably overly confident—in his ability to bring together Republicans and Democrats on any issue. Maybe that play will work with an infrastructure bill, and Manchin is a member of the bipartisan group working on that.

However, the elections bill has become a political litmus test for the base of each party. Manchin’s proposal is a practical alternative, but there is no political middle ground to be had.

 

 

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Former White Sulphur Springs mayor dealt with a double tragedy in 2016

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — When you drive through White Sulphur Springs today  you have to look closely to see the scars from the 2016 flood.

They are still there, but former Mayor Lloyd Haynes will tell you they’re almost invisible thanks to the resiliency of the town’s residents and the commitment of workers in the city hall and out towners.

Former White Sulphur Springs Mayor–now City Manager Lloyd Haynes (left) and current Mayor Bruce Bowling

Haynes was the mayor five years ago when the rain started falling on June 23, 2016. He said he didn’t think much about the rainfall as he brought his ailing wife home from the hospital.

“I got her settled and when I really realized how bad it was is when I went to pickup her medicine at the drug store. That’s when I realized the rain had really intensified,” Haynes said.

Haynes was just trying to get through the middle of town and within minutes his car was surrounded by water and before he knew it, he was in peril.

“My car was just about ready to float. I had to get back to my wife so I tried to get turned around. I finally got enough traction to get turned around and get back home,” he explained in a recent conversation with MetroNews.

Listen to “Chris Lawrence with Lloyd Haynes” on Spreaker.

He contacted city hall to begin work on a response. There, he found chaos. Many city employees were losing their homes as well. The downtown streets became a river as the typically mild streams like Howard’s Creek and its tributaries rose from their banks and backed up on the city’s main drag. The water was up into some businesses by six feet or more. Boats replaced cars on the city’s streets and homes were washing away.

“It came up fast and hard. The pressure was what was so devastating. We had houses where the water forced them off their foundation and onto neighboring houses,” Haynes said.

A day after the waters receded in White Sulphur Springs in 2016. PHOTO: Matt Sunday/WVMetronews.com

Sadly, lives were also lost. Law enforcement and fire departments from all over the state were there, trying to rescue stranded residents who were on the roofs of their house trying to escape. It was a terrible time.

A day later, the water receded to reveal an even bigger horror as the city’s infrastructure was gone along with most of its homes and businesses. Streets were rolled up like tissue paper. Houses were piles of sticks and every surface had a coating of mud.

“It seemed like you weren’t visiting White Sulphur Springs, it was like you were visiting a third world country. My first thought was, ‘How in the heck are we going to come out of this mess?'” Haynes said.

As terrible as the situation was at city hall, for Haynes it suddenly became worse at home. Amid a city in ruin, the Mayor lost his wife. She died the day after the flood and for Haynes it was almost too much to bear.

“I was torn between two catastrophes,” he said. “Some people wanted to know afterward, how did you have the strength? I didn’t. I had to depend on God Himself. I don’t know what I would have done if I had been totally on my own.”

But amid his terrible suffering, both for a lost love and for his lost town Haynes was determined, along with the city workers, this wasn’t going to be their end.

“I told them we can do one of two things; we can sit here, wring our hands, and say ‘Why me?’ or ‘Poor me.’ and wait for somebody to ride in on a white horse and save us or we can start acting for ourselves. They all agreed we needed to act for ourselves,” said Haynes.

Slowly but surely and with the help of many from outside the area, debris disappeared, the mud dried and was washed away, and mitigation work tamed the creeks. New homes, built with the hammers and saws of numerous volunteers, started to take shape. Today, the rebuild is still unfolding, but the rebound of White Sulphur Springs five years later is remarkable and impressive.

Haynes is no longer mayor, but when he left office he couldn’t stay away and was quickly hired by the new Mayor Bruce Bowling as the City Manager.

“If there came another flood, it would be a lot easier to survive now,” Haynes said.

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Regular season rematches set in Class AAA baseball semifinals

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two teams well acquainted with each other will share the diamond at Appalachian Power Park Thursday in the Class AAA semifinals. Mountain State Athletic Conference rivals Hurricane and St. Albans played in the last state tournament game. The Red Dragons defeated the Redskins in the 2019 final. These teams have combined to win the last three large school titles.

This spring, Hurricane is 2-0 against St. Albans. The second win of the series was a 7-0 triumph in the MSAC semifinals. The Redskins have played nearly perfect baseball in 2021. After losing their second game of the season to Parkersburg South, the Redskins have won 31 games in a row.

At 32-1, Hurricane owns the best record across all classes. Brian Sutphin’s club has scored six runs or more in 30 of their 33 games. WVU signee Joel Gardner is batting .421 in his senior season. The Redskins’ deep pitching staff features Ismael Borrero and Bryson Rigney. The juniors combined for eleven regular season victories are both own earned run averages below 1.25.

With a younger roster this spring, St. Albans posted a mark of 25-7. Rick Whitman’s club battled back from a loss early in their sectional to GW, winning three consecutive elimination games. Seven regulars in the starting lineup are hitting .350 or better, led by Drew Whitman’s .481 average.Will Campbell leads the Red Dragon pitching staff with a 7-1 record and an ERA of 1.89. St. Albans is seeking their third title in four seasons.

In the second semifinal, a pair of veteran head coaches will meet as Jefferson’s John Lowery opposes Robert Shields and the Bridgeport Indians. The two have combined for 2,219 wins and 20 state titles. The Cougars defeated the Indians 6-1 last month. Jefferson struggled their the sectional tournament. The Cougars lost their opener to Washington and then won a pair of one-run games and a nine-inning contest against Washington to stay alive. Jefferson later swept Martinsburg in the regionals.

The Cougars are 27-3, thanks in large part to the prodigious power of Army signee Cullen Horowicz. He has blasted sixteen home runs to go along with 41 RBI. Jefferson is seeking their first state title since 2016.

Bridgeport brings the longest streak of championships into the state tournament. The Indians won six consecutive Class AA crowns from 2014-2019. In their return to the large school classification, Bridgeport is 32-4 and they are 5-0 in postseason games.

A trio of juniors, Ben McDougal, Austin Mann and Christopher Herbert, each own six victories on the mound. Six Indians have driven in at least 25 runs and that group is led by Nate Paulsen’s 55 RBI. Charleston signee Ryan Goff  leads the team with ten doubles and Cam Cole has swiped 32 bases. The Indians are seeking their ninth state title under the direction of Robert Shields.

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Winners of first vaccination lottery announced in West Virginia Day ceremony

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians marked West Virginia Day with multiple celebrations around the state on Sunday.

For some individuals vaccinated for the coronavirus, it was a West Virginia Day like no other.

Gov. Jim Justice and first lady Cathy Justice announced the first winners of the “Do It For Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” sweepstakes, in which people who received at least one vaccine dose were eligible to win $1 million and other prizes.

The effort was named after the governor’s English Bulldog, who joined the Justices for a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol.

The lottery was an attempt to motivate unvaccinated West Virginians to receive the shots. The state will stop taking new registrations for its “Beat 588 Bad” program on Sunday at 11:59 p.m, in which people between the ages of 16 and 35 can receive either a $100 savings bond or a $100 gift card.

“If you choose to not get vaccinated, you can’t get in the drawings today and you can’t get in the drawings in the next few weeks, and absolutely, that’s a shame,” Justice said.

“You’re in a drawing right now if you choose not to get vaccinated, and the drawing is the drawing for your life.”

The governor and the first lady announced the prizes winners, in which most people attended Sunday’s ceremony:

— The $1 million prize: Karen Foley of Mineral Wells.
— Custom-outfitted trucks: Melissa Spivy of Vienna and Ralph Paugh of Parkersburg.
— Full four-year scholarships to any West Virginia public institution: Rebecca Osborne of Hurricane and Elizabeth Ball of Nitro.
— Lifetime hunting licenses: Geneva Blake of Washington; Christopher Harvey Jr. of Maben; Sabrina Morrison of Huntington; Dickie Roberts of Lewisburg; and Shirley Young of Bomont.
— Lifetime fishing licenses: James Browning Sr. of Dry Branch; Sharon Cope of Frankford; Andrew Humphreys of Charleston; Joshua Rakosi of Morgantown; and Cathy Osborne of Rainelle.
— Custom hunting rifles: Charles Moats of Philippi; Heather Petry of Scott Deport; Bryan Price of Hurricane; Christy Reger of Nutter Fort; and Justin Myers of Hurricane.
— Custom hunting shotguns: Xavier Alston of Fairmont; Stephen Barberio of Clarksburg; Deborah McNews of Princeton; David Shipman of Wheeling; and Bonnie Taylor of Montcalm.
— State Park weekend getaways: Thomas Binns of Elkins; Gerald Boone of Prichard; Carol Burge of Moundsville; Brandon Cork of Wellsburg; Victoria Dennison of Davisville; Deborah Dickens of Reynoldsville; Keith Ewing of Hico; Kevin Ford of Charleston; Bonnie Gibson of Princeton; Cathy Harless of Charleston; Edith Harrison of Parkersburg; Lisa Hewitt of Kearneysville; Kimberly Jackson of Princeton; Beverly Machir of Nitro; Travis Persinger of Fayetteville; Lana Plymale of Kenova; Wesley Runyan of Cross Lanes; Mary Anne Seckel of Morgantown, Jeff Sine of Falling Waters; Ronald Smith III of Huntington; Jason Thompson of Mount Hope; Caroline White of Fairmont; Lindsay White of Elkview; Jessica Workman of Crawley; and Jamie Young of Wheeling.

West Virginians who are 12 years older and older can receive vaccine doses.

Additional lottery drawings will take place weekly. The final drawing will take place Aug. 4, in which there will be a grand prize of $1.588 million and a $588,000 second prize.

Sunday also marked the end of the statewide mask mandate. The governor altered the order in May to require only unvaccinated West Virginians to wear facial coverings in public settings.

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Monongalia County considering additional medical marijuana regs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Monongalia County Commission could decide this week whether it will approve additional regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries from the Monongalia County Board of Health.

The state Medical Cannabis Office has okayed 14 dispensaries in Monongalia County. The state has a number regulations on where the dispensaries can be located. The health board has added several regulations.

Health Board Chairman Sam Chico told county commissioners during a work session last week, the regulations approved by the board are designed to protect the safety of the community.

State regulations require dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from any school or daycare facility. The health board has added libraries and parks to the 1,000 foot list, while dictating dispensaries must be stand-alone and not be allowed in a strip mall. The regulations also include strict storage security for guidelines and other local legal requirements that are over and above the state law passed in 2017 and amended in the most recent legislative session.

Chico said the additional regulations are not based on economics.

“We’re probably the only people in this room that have no economic interest in this,” Chico said. “We don’t make a penny and we don’t lose a penny whether this comes or goes, whether the ordinance is here- we are unaffected by economics in our decision.”

Chico also operates Chico Enterprises, Inc., a company that operates convenience stores and other retail locations in the Morgantown area. Chico said the regulations are establish out of an abundance of caution and safety.

“I can assure you, after some period of time you’re going to put in these rules,” Chico said. “We can wait until people get harmed and we can retrofit these places or we can be proactive.”

Chico said the dispensaries would be the target of professional criminals.

“I’m talking organized crime, I’m talking “Oceans Eleven” type crime, I’m talking about gang violence,” Chico said. “I’m talking about semi-automatic weapons in overwhelming force coming into these places and scaring people to death or killing them.”

Tom Bloom

County Commissioner Tom Bloom questioned the consistency of the boards rules and regulations.

“I never heard the board of health come out at any time with the 43 bars that are downtown and the problems that are there locally,” Bloom said.

A new state law mandates new rules from health departments be approved by county commissions or other elected bodies before going into effect.

Chico said there are still some questions about the law.

“Being that you have a legal opinion that says we don’t have this authority, I can tell you we have a legal opinion that says we do,” Chico told commissioners. “So, it will maybe take a challenge of a judge, but that would be counter to everything we’ve done in our entire existence. We pass regulations and we regulate commerce- that’s what we do.”

The proposed regulations are expected to be part or the county commission’s agenda for its Wednesday morning meeting.

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Five years after flood, residents see lingering challenges and increasing progress

Susan Jack escaped a roaring West Virginia flood to make a life.

A few months into recovery from that disaster, Jack was asked what kind of progress she envisioned in five years.

“Depending on who you ask, some people will tell you ‘Clendenin’s done. Forget it. Every single business was annihilated here.’ And there are some people who feel the town is done. I don’t believe in that. I don’t subscribe to that belief. I’m from here. I know the people here. We have a tremendous amount of talent here. We have hard-working people here, and we have people that love this town.

“So we’re going to get creative. We’re going to come up with some great economic development initiatives that are already in play right now, that we’re attempting to work on. And I think five years from now you’re going to see a completely different Clendenin. My vision is to make Clendenin the coolest little town in West Virginia, and we can do that. We’re tough people. In five years, we’ve got  this.”

That time is now.

This week, June 23, communities all across the state will mark five years after the flood with lingering horror but also pride in the miles they’ve come.

Jack will acknowledge that her town and its people are still recovering from the terrible 2016 flood. But she looks around and sees new people moving to the community, new restaurants, a brew pub coming in and visions of a recreation-based economy that takes advantage of the very river that nearly drowned the town’s hope.

“We’re well on our way, I’ll put it that way,” Jack said in the recent weeks leading up to the anniversary of the June 23, 2016 flood.

“It has been a very tough five years. It has been a brutal five years. But I think the people of our community have been starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s something that river community needs. They’ve needed it for a long time.”

Across West Virginia, as five years pass, people will remember the flood with horror and sorrow. But they may also look around today and see progress — homes rebuilt, businesses started, lives continuing. It’s not over. The recovery continues. But those who are closest to where the water rushed are inclined to speak with optimism now.

That awful flood of June 23, 2016, was historic and devastating.

Between 8 to 10 inches of rain fell in a narrow window of 12 hours. The rushing water killed 23 people and destroyed houses.

Twenty-three people were killed. There were 1,200 homes destroyed, and thousands were without power, according to state assessments. The flood damaged businesses, roads and water and sewer systems.

“It was a disaster like none other,” Gov. Jim Justice reflected this month.

West Virginians spent the days and weeks following the disaster mourning neighbors who had died, mucking out homes that had been swamped and wondering when life would return to normal.

One of those was Justice, who was running for governor at the time. Justice, whose family owns The Greenbrier Resort, has spent his adult life in the area. The flood waters spared no one, raging over the resort property and carrying other people’s houses downstream.

Justice halted his campaign that summer, restarting it later, and opened The Greenbrier to those who needed someplace to stay.

“Over and over and over, I would go there, right in the middle of the campaign I completely suspended – I would go to Rainelle or wherever it may be – and I would try to help anybody and everybody we could.

“We opened the doors to The Greenbrier hotel and took anybody in that we could help. A bunch of folks walked in and they didn’t have shoes on. It was absolutely terrible. Just plain terrible.”

Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, a Democrat who is also from Greenbrier County, sees mixed progress in that region.

“It depends on where you go. If you go to White Sulphur today, you will see a community that’s more vibrant than it was pre-flood. Certainly the memories of those lost will never be forgotten, and they’ve been memorialized there in town. But you see a housing shortage. You see improvements in housing. You see new small businesses, activities for kids, outdoor recreation,” he said.

“Then you go to a town like Rupert or Rainelle and you see that the people that left that there are not jobs there for them, that infrastructure improvements that are much needed have not been made yet. So they continue to struggle and struggle mightily.”

Baldwin says his grandmother has lived through a hundred-year flood, a 500-year flood and a thousand-year flood, “and unfortunately there will be more West Virginians in that situation moving forward. So we have to have a sense of urgency about it, and we have to get structures in place to be prepared for it. Not just wait for the next time.”

When recovery began, leaders described a three-pronged process: housing and then infrastructure improvements followed by economic development.

West Virginia was awarded $149 million in Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The housing effort, notably, got off to a slow start. For many months, RISE West Virginia  — which spearheads the flood relief effort — drew criticism as the federal government officially designated the state as a “slow spender” for its pace.

In recent months, the pace picked up.

At a May meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, state leaders described completing 296 housing projects through RISE West Virginia. To compare, in March 2020 the program had completed 140 houses.

The 102 housing projects that remain are all under contract, managers of the program said. And, of those, 79 have received notice to proceed and are now in construction phase. Leaders of the housing effort are hopeful that it could conclude by the end of the year.

Now it’s time to start broadening the focus from housing to greater strides in infrastructure and economic development, Baldwin said.

“The recovery efforts have begun and ended in housing and haven’t gone any further. And the populations have continued to decline pretty rapidly,” he said.

“People are moving out of the towns where they do not feel hope about the future. That’s very sad thing to me considering the history and legacy of these towns and of the potential they hold for the future.”

In Richwood, a Nicholas County mountain town hit hard by the flood, Mayor Gary Johnson sees progress and much more to do. Johnson sees four new restaurants and a couple of new Airbnbs, the lodging rentals. There’s a yoga studio. A new coffee shop.

Collins Hardwood, a big local employer in the timber region, closed down after the flood but was taken over by Appalachian Forest Products. “The hardwood industry is really good, so that’s a big help to us,” Johnson said. Richwood is part of a Mon Forest Towns marketing effort for the region.

“I think the last two years, everybody has become really optimistic,” said Johnson, a longtime judge in the county. “Our tourism has increased substantially. Everybody here is very optimistic about the future.”

But challenges remain. Richwood continues to try to straighten out its finances, following strain and controversy. “We were in such debt after the flood. We’re trying to work our way out of that,” Johnson said.

For years, residents have been focusing on rebuilding Richwood Middle and Richwood High, which were razed after the flood. The town needs to improve its sewer system and has applied to replace a wastewater treatment plant. And the town has about 18 buildings to be demolished, still damaged from water pouring down the mountain.

“The main problem with every rural community is to make us a desirable looking place to go. I think we need to get rid of all the dilapidated-looking buildings,” Johnson said.

“When you get down close to it, we’ve got to get our rural towns cleaned up so you have desirable places to go. That’s what we’re working on.”

The Elk River community in Kanawha County is also making progress but much more effort is ahead, said Delegate Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha.

“Here in my area, the Elk River area, one of the big things we’ve been waiting on is Herbert Hoover High School to be completed,” Jeffries said. “That was big with our community. Your schools are the kind of glue that holds them together.”

Students have been going to school in portable classrooms, with some students spending all their high school years that way. But through tenacity, many of those students have experienced academic and athletic success. And now there’s visible progress on a new school under construction.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the administration, the teachers and the students of Herbert Hoover since this has happened. They have held in there and persevered. They have been a school of excellence. Almost every athletic team has competed for state championships. These kids have buckled down.”

“They haven’t been dealt the best of circumstances, but they keep overcoming it and moving forward. I can’t say enough about the staff and administration at the school. They deserve an incredible school, which is hopefully what they’re going to get.”

Jeffries, who is co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, more broadly says the big struggle over housing seems to be nearing a conclusion. More work needs to be done on demolition of flooded buildings as well as on mitigation to avert future disasters, he said. He is pleased by the work of the newly-established State Resiliency Office.

“When the next flood does come — in West Virginia it’s not if, it’s when — when it does happen we’ll be better prepared and move quicker and more efficiently,” Jeffries said.

Jack, who lives just up the river in Clendenin, also sees advances. Her daughter, Jodi, had volleyball practice at Herbert Hoover’s the night of the flood. “Little did we know she was going to be one of the last people in the school.” Jodi, who graduated last year, was one of the students who spent her high school years without a traditional school building.

“Those were the kids that really went through hell. Their school was completely disrupted,” Jack said.

A new school gives some hope for the kids to come. So does a renewed emphasis on Clendenin as a recreation community, taking advantage of the river and terrain. The flood devastated the community, but it also required its reinvention, pressing residents to get more involved and to consider what their town could be.

“There’s a lot of people on the Elk River who really stepped up to try to save home – not their house — their home, their community. If you grow up on Elk River, it’s a family,” Jack said. “People are going to try to help people. Thank goodness.”

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DNR looks to amend walleye regulations on three waters

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Biologists with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources  have learned when it comes to fishing regulations, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. A blanket regulation for walleye implemented five years ago has been under review in three waters of northern West Virginia.

District 1 Fisheries Biologist Dave Wellman said the regulation approved five years ago was a 15 inch minimum size limit and an eight fish creel limit for walleye on Tygart Lake, Cheat Lake, and the Monongahela River. He explained a review of those regulations revealed things are definitively different.

“We have evaluated those waters and what we’ve found is that 15 inch limit really isn’t working on a couple of those waters. There are a lot of reasons for it, but it’s a pretty big contrast between Tygart Lake and Cheat Lake,” he explained.

Tygart Lake has great recruitment and spawning in the water each year is strong. But Wellman said it takes a walleye in Tygart Lake much longer to grow to 15 inches.

“It’s a Corps of Engineers lake with extreme water fluctuation and very little nutrients. You don’t have a great forage base and so the walleye really grow slowly,” Wellman explained.

Conversely in Cheat Lake, it’s a fertile body of water which has really taken off in recent year’s with improved water quality. The problem with the 15 inch limit at Cheat Lake is too many of them are getting past 15 inches before they reach sexual maturity.

“Since 2010 we’ve seen real improvement. Those walleyes grow faster at Cheat Lake than any other lake in the state. You have very fast growing fish and limited reproduction,” he said.

Therefore, Wellman and his team have asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider changes to the regulations. On Tygart Lake they want to remove the 15 inch minimum, but leave the eight fish limit intact.  On Cheat Lake they want to change it to a 20-to-30 inch slot limit. Anglers would be permitted to keep one walleye over 30 inches.  The slot limit is similar to regulations on the New River where the idea is to protect the sexually mature females and allow for the highest chances of natural reproduction. Cheat Lake has been stocked for many years and since 2010, the fish have started to hold their own with natural reproduction.

“Those female walleye are growing so fast, the 15 inch minimum is not protecting them,” he said. “They’re not sexually mature until their 23 to 25 inches.”

Wellman said the aim is for the protection of those larger females at Cheat Lake which would enable the agency  to stop stocking the fish and let natural reproduction take off.

As for the Monongahela River, no change is proposed. Since it’s a riverine environment, the results of the regulation review aren’t as pronounced according to Wellman.

“We’ve seen somewhat of a decline of the abundance of the walleye. We haven’t been ab le to sample enough of them to make a determination if the regulation is beneficial or not,” he explained.

The loss of fish has Wellman and his team considering a stocking of fingerling walleye in the Monongahela River at least for a few years to boost the population. The biggest impact to the walleye numbers in the river is flooding. According to Wellman, the only real spawning areas are the tailwaters of each of the three locks and dams.  High water at the right time can eliminate an entire year class of fish.

“It’s due to environmental conditions, specifically spring time flooding events,” he said.

The proposed regulation changes will be up for approval before the Natural Resources Commission at the July meeting.

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North runs win streak to five with 26-0 win over South

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A pair of eastern panhandle standouts accounted for all four touchdowns as the North Bears blanked the South Cardinals in the annual North-South game at South Charleston High School, 26-0. With the win, the North is enjoying their longest win streak in the series at five games.

“That was kind of the pregame message that a lot of people think that football lives in Charleston or below. But there is a lot of good football played in the eastern panhandle particularly but also in North Central West Virginia and throughout the smaller schools in Central West Virginia.” said North and North Marion head coach Daran Hays.

The Bears scored on their first two possessions of the game. Spring Mills quarterback Keon-Padmore Johnson scampered 42 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the contest. Four minutes later, Padmore-Johnson rushed ten yards for another score to extend the North lead to 13-0.

In the second quarter, Martinsburg’s Kevon Warren powered his way into the end zone from fourteen yards out, increasing the lead to 19-0. Padmore-Johnson (148 yards) and Warren (97 yards) accounted for 245 of the North’s 270 yards of offense.

“We have always been on the opposite team but we were so happy to get in the backfield. We bonded real good together. That’s my boy,” Padmore-Johnson said of Warren.

“The amount of speed, physicality and competitiveness those two dudes have, it flipped about Wednesday. They were all fun until about Wednesday evening and then they flipped the switch,” Hays said.

Padmore-Johnson, who was named the Kenny Wright North MVP winner, accounted for his third touchdown in the fourth quarter. He found John Marshall’s Dalton Flowers on a 42-yard strike to cap the scoring.

The North outgained the South 270-174.

“Our linemen really ate today. They dominated out there,” Hays said.

The North defense forced three turnovers. Wheeling Park’s Shaheed Jackson intercepted a pair of passes while Brennan Boron of St. Marys picked off another. Musselman’s Justin Rinehart led the North with ten tackles.

Richwood’s Caleb Jantuah won the Rat Thom Award as the South MVP. Midland Trail’s Chris Vines intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter for the South.

Bridgeport’s Devin Hill and Herbert Hoover’s Trey Chapman earned honors as the top linemen in the game.

Hays became the third North Marion head coach, along with Roy Michael and Gerry White, to lead the North to a shutout victory.

Game stats

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Battle Buddy doing its part to prevent suicides by veterans

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Few people can understand a veteran like another veteran.

When Sam Rock started the Battle Buddy Response Team in Martinsburg back in April 2019, he determined his team would go wherever they could to help veterans in crisis.

Sam Rock (Photo/Battle Buddy)

“As soon was arrive, regardless if we’re traveling all of the way down to Florida or all of the way over to California or just right down the street, there’s a since of hope we bring with us,” Rock said recently on ‘Panhandle Live’ on MetroNews affiliate WEPM in Martinsburg. “We bring experience. We bring connections. We bring peer support.”

Battle Buddy is a non-profit organization that does suicide prevention for veterans and their families. Rock, an Army combat veteran, said his group goes to those who are having problems which, he said, makes the group unique from other organizations.

“Whenever we get a concerned party form in on our website we go ahead and take that form and we go to that address, a homeless shelter, the side of a street and check on that veteran or that family member that a concerned party has filled out a form for,” Rock said.

Rock said their 165 volunteers have provided care and services to over 468 veterans all over the United States. He said they use a personal approach.

“We bring a military member to another military member or their family and then they feel at ease that everything will be worked out,” Rock said.

Statistics show the annual number of suicides involving veterans in the U.S. has exceeded 6,000 since 2008. There are about 17 veterans a day who take their own lives. June is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) month.

Sheriff Nathan Harmon

Berkeley County Sheriff Nathan Harmon said the locally-based Battle Buddy Response Team is making a difference for area veterans in crisis.

“I actually utilized them on a call with a veteran in the Hedgesville area and I have to say with the hats that we wear Battle Buddy response group are the more so professionals at helping than your standard law enforcement officer,” Harmon, himself a veteran, said.

Rock said the group’s mission is to stop and prevent all veteran suicide.

For more information, go to Battle Buddy Response Team. 

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Source: WV MetroNews

West Virginians will mark West Virginia Day with celebration, drawing at state Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians will mark West Virginia Day with a celebration at the state Capitol Complex, in which officials will announce the first winners of the coronavirus vaccination lottery.

West Virginians who received at least one vaccine dose before Thursday were eligible to register for the “Do it for Babydog: Save a life, Change your life” sweepstakes. Around 246,000 people registered to win prizes, including $1 million, custom-outfitted trucks, four-year scholarships to any state public institution, lifetime fishing and hunting licenses, custom hunting rifles and shotguns, and weekend passes to West Virginia State Parks.

The celebration outside of the state Capitol will include multiple food trucks and vendors. The state will also have a free coronavirus vaccination clinic on Kanawha Boulevard from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees must bring a valid driver’s license or an identification card and a recent utility bill.

The Pfizer vaccine and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available.

This year’s Blenko glass vase to mark West Virginia Day. (West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History)

The vaccination winners will be announced at 1 p.m. Babydog, Gov. Jim Justice’s bulldog, will be at the event.

Gov. Jim Justice and state Department of Administration Secretary Allan McVey will also hold a special presentation marking the completion of renovations to the state Capitol dome.

The governor will join Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams at 2:30 for the dedication of a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument located outside of the Capitol.

The state Culture Center will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Three new limited-edition Blenko glasses pieces will go on sale starting at 1 p.m.

The new pieces include a pitcher and vase, in which there are 35 pieces available for $88 per item, as well as a special Governor’s Father’s Day mug, which will sell for $60. Only 50 mugs are available.

The Culture Center will also host a birthday cake cutting at 3 p.m. The governor and First Lady Cathy Justice will lead the ceremony. Cathy Justice will also honor the winners of the “Renaming West Virginia” student essay contest.

The post West Virginians will mark West Virginia Day with celebration, drawing at state Capitol appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews