The Voice of West Virginia
Today on MetroNews This Morning:
–A tragic and painful loss at Harrison County’s Liberty High School
–Lawmakers advance bills to allow teens to get a job at 14 and to play ball for two different teams at once
–The delays in the new FAFSA application are causing anxiety for those looking to apply for college
–In Sports: The Mountaineers avenge an earlier loss with a victory at home Tuesday night
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. — The 1796 map of Jackson County has now been fully restored and was unveiled Tuesday evening in Ravenswood, where it will continue to be a significant part of history for years to come.
Jessica Keister, the Art Conservationist who spent over a year restoring the map was to give a presentation of the Arts and Science of Conservation at the Ravenswood Annex Tuesday as part of the unveiling ceremony.
Faith Walker is the Director of the Great Bend Museum in Ravenswood, and she said that’s where the map will now reside after it’s transported from its previous location.
“The 1796 map is currently on display at Ravenswood City Hall,” Walker told MetroNews. “It’s quite large and also important enough that it felt fitting to put it at city hall.”
She said the map depicts all of the land grants in Jackson County belonging to veterans of the American Revolutionary War and the French and Indian War when they essentially received land instead of money in payment for their service in battle.
Walker said it’s the only map of the region from that time period, and one showing all of those first land grants– the first records of legal ownership of the area.
“Of course, there were plenty of people here even before those land grants who have a very valid claim to the land, as well, but this is a really good map as far as records of Revolutionary War and French and Indian War veterans who first owned property here and where the property went after that,” she said.
Walker said, being from 1796, the map has been through several moves and was faced with much wear and tear.
She said after it was acquired by the city again in 2022, it needed of a lot of conservation, or repair work, and needed to be re-stabilized. She added that there was a coffee stain on the map right in the spot where Ravenswood sits.
In the 1930s, Walker said the Library of Congress borrowed the map to make a copy of it for their own records.
She said Ravenswood has a very rich history and this map reflects a major aspect of that history.
Walker said George Washington owned roughly 2,500 acres of what is now Ravenswood, along with another nearly 5,000 acres in now Millwood, WV.
“And the map notes both of those, in very fine writing it says “G. Washington” and the exact acreage and where his property boundaries are,” she said.
She said it also features other notably historic names from that time, including Albert Gallatin and Savary Devalcoulon, who were two members of the North American Land Company, the short-lived company which accumulated and sold a large number of land in the region, and who created the 1796 map.
Walker added that Gallatin went on to become Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of Treasury.
She said the preservation efforts of the map were made possible through a grant from the City of Ravenswood.
Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller said the restoration of the map is a reflection of how the resources put into the Great Bend Museum and various programs recently launched in the city are paying off.
“It’s just the vision you wanted to see happen, and to see these pieces come together and us introducing history to the public, that’s exactly why this museum is at the top of the realm right now in terms of across the state,” he said.
Miller said Great Bend won Museum of the Year in 2023, but they are just getting started with all of the progress there to come.
He said with major industries such as Berkshire Hathaway and Timet– which will create a global aerospace hub in the region– they are also paving the way for the future in the city, but that taking steps back to preserve the past is an important part of moving forward, and it reflects their new motto, “Historic Past, Bright Future.”
“If you want to have a successful future, you have to know your past and where you came from, and so that’s why we have dedicated those resources to the Great Bend Museum and the people that work there, we have to make sure we remember and learn from our past, because, that’s the only way we’re going to have a successful future,” said Miller.
Walker said that Keister was also going to be bringing with her an 1832 map of Ripley, which is the first known map of Ripley laying out all of its streets, as well as a restored painting of Ravenswood by David Homer McFarland, a local folk artist who settled and fell in love with the area after being originally from Ohio.
Story by David Beard, The Dominion Post
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate is making another go at enabling counties with lots of tourists and few residents to raise money for emergency services to accommodate all those tourists.
Bills to build housing to draw new workers to the state and to enable enhanced oil and gas recovery for horizontal wells also cleared Senate committees on Tuesday.
Senate Finance took up SB 167, which would allow any county to impose a $1 health and safety fee on a list of specified tourism and recreation activities to put toward the cost of “emergency readiness.”
Funds from the fee would go into dedicated account, and 60% would have to fund fire and EMS services, while 40% could be used to pay for critical infrastructure projects. The fee couldn’t be imposed inside a city that has an amusement tax.
The bill allows counties to seek a waiver on the 60%, to apply all of the fee revenue to critical infrastructure for up to three years.
This bill is a new version of last year’s SB 429, which died in the House, and has the same lead sponsor, Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker.
There was no discussion of the reasoning behind the bill in Finance on Tuesday, but Smith explained it last year.
Small rural counties don’t have the tax base to support the demand on services required by the influx of tourists, he said, then. Everyone supports firefighters and EMS workers, but they also need financial support.
Sen. Rupie Phillips, R-Logan, was concerned on Tuesday that the bill didn’t include any accountability measures to ensure the counties are spending the money properly. The committee adopted his amendment to require counties that enact the fee to post a spending record on the auditor’s Open Checkbook page or to report back to the Legislature.
Further tweaking on that measure is expected when the bill returns to the floor. The bill was referred to Finance on second reading – the amendment stage – and will be on second reading when it returns.
Finance also approved SB 188, the Mountain Homes Act, aimed at recruiting new workers to the state.
The bill creates the Mountain Homes Fund to provide guaranteed construction loans for residential housing projects. The project must consist of at least six residential units with a combined appraised value of $800,000. The guarantee must not exceed $400,000, and total annual guarantees may not exceed $10 million. The Legislature may appropriate funds if it chooses.
The act would take effect Jan. 1, 2025, and run to Jan. 1, 2035. The bill came to Finance from Economic Development, with changes to the introduced version each time. It goes now to the full Senate.
Senate Energy took up and approved HB 5268 in less than five minutes, without discussion.
It permits enhanced recovery of oil and gas in horizontal wells via injection of any gas or fluid, including carbon dioxide. Committee counsel said state code already allows this for vertical wells and the bill just extends it to horizontals.
Enhanced recovery uses the gas or fluids to stimulate the flow of otherwise untapped oil and gas.
The bill passed the House unanimously on Feb. 12 and goes now to the full Senate. It saw no amendments in Senate Energy and would go to the governor if passed without amendment on the Senate floor.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In West Virginia’s 72-59 loss at UCF last month, the Mountaineers lost the battle on the boards and they were unable to handle the physicality that the Knights brought to the floor.
A change in strategy and a healthy Jesse Edwards made all the difference Tuesday night in front of 8,882 fans at the Coliseum as the Mountaineers defeated UCF, 77-67.
Edwards notched his fifth double-double of the season with a 15-point, 10-rebound effort as WVU put a stop to their four-game losing streak.
“It is a physical team and we knew that coming in, especially after the last game,” Edwards said. “So we expected it and I think we did a good job with it.”
“Having him made a tremendous difference, especially opening up our guard play,” said WVU head coach Josh Eilert.
“You are talking about a 7-plus-footer who is very mobile and active,” said UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins. “He really finishes well around the basket. If he gets the ball down low, you can pretty much mark two points.”
Edwards’ play, combined with a steady diet of zone defenses, forced the Knights into taking quick shots from the perimeter. UCF made just 9-of-38 shots from beyond the arc.
“We changed some things up defensively in our man and went back-and-forth with our defenses. Certainly, our guys took that and ran with it and executed it. Credit to out guys for taking that approach, especially after the loss in Orlando,” Eilert said.
“I told our guys, ‘They are going to make some shots. We can’t get frustrated when they do. That’s what we are going to live with’.”
WVU outrebounded UCF, 42-36.
“The hardest thing to do in the zone is to rebound out of it because you don’t have a man,” said WVU forward Quinn Slazinski. “What helps with that is us being vocal. Guys were stepping up. It is hard being vocal for the whole game because it was very tiring. We were able to do that.”
“We settled for too many threes,” Dawkins said. “On the road, you can’t do that. Our guys got caught up with getting looks, taking them and settling.”
West Virginia led wire-to-wire after quickly jumping out to a seven-point lead before the first media timeout. The Mountaineers built a 13-point lead in the opening half before UCF closed the gap to seven points, 37-30, at halftime.
The Mountaineers kept the Knights at a distance on the scoreboard in the second half. UCF crept within six points (62-56) with 6:30 to play before WVU pulled away down the stretch.
RaeQuan Battle led the Mountaineers with 24 points. It was his eighth 20-plus point game of the season. In his last three games, Battle has scored 70 points.
“Really just stay the course and don’t let them knock you off your trail. That’s kind of what I did today. I wasn’t trying to talk back to them if they tried to get in my head like last game,” Battle said.
“It is a lesson learned. I just turned it around, especially after a game like Texas when we got blown out of the water. That was when I was like, ‘Alright, I just need to relax and play the game I have always been playing my whole life’.”
“He is doing a lot better of a job in letting the game come to him and being patient with it,” Eilert said. “He is going to get his touches one way or the other.”
Slazinski scored 14 points for the Mountaineers. Josiah Harris scored eight points while making all three of his attempts from the floor in 11 minutes.
“He was excellent coming in,” Eilert said. “We need to find some more minutes for him.”
Kerr Kriisa scored seven points and dished out a game-best seven assists.
West Virginia (9-17, 4-9 Big 12) has drawn even with UCF (13-12, 4-9) in the conference standings. WVU hopes to avoid playing on Day 1 of the Big 12 Tournament, which the bottom four teams will do.
“As much as you guys want us to win, we want it ten times more. I know the fans are so great. But the league is so hard,” Slazinski said.
“Our staff has done a great job in trying to motivate us and keep us locked in for these last few games to really see if we can make something happen in the tournament.”
The Mountaineers will visit Iowa State Saturday and Kansas State on Monday.
“It is critical at this juncture, especially when you go on the road and play two really tough opponents,” Eilert said. “K-State has had their struggles but they are as hard as anyone to beat in Bramlage. You have a two-game road trip. Hilton and Bramlage are not fun places to play.”
Darius Johnson led the Knights with 29 points.
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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — After trailing for the entirety of the first half, Robert C. Byrd was in need of a lift Tuesday during its Class AAA Region II, Section 2 semifinal against Lincoln.
The Eagles found one in sophomore guard Jada Sutherlin.
Sutherlin scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, including 10 during a third quarter that allowed the Eagles to overcome an eight-point deficit in a 53-46 victory against the Cougars.
“It was a total team effort. Defensively, we changed up, and as bad as we started, we showed some resiliency,” Eagles’ head coach Robert Shields said. “The schedule we’ve played panned out. They’ve come back before and they didn’t hang their heads. They were very focused. Everybody stepped up at certain points tonight.”
With the win, the Eagles advance to play at Elkins in Thursday’s sectional title game.
Robert C. Byrd (15-8) changed the complexion of the contest with a three-quarter court trapping defense from the outset of the second half. Lincoln (12-11) had all four of the game’s turnovers in the third quarter, which the Eagles began with 11 unanswered points for the first advantage of the night.
That stretch featured two Carleigh Curotz free throws, Kyla Sutherlin’s layup off a steal, a short jumper from Martina Howe and five straight points from Jada Sutherlin on a three-pointer and follow-up bucket, the latter of which left RCB in front 29-26.
“It really is them being so into guarding Martina, because that creates for me,” Jada Sutherlin said.
Not until a Brooklyn Davisson three with 3:25 left in the third quarter did the Cougars score in the second half, at which point the game was tied at 29.
“Athough we preached we have to get the ball inside that defense and attack to the paint, we didn’t,” LHS head coach Rob Hawkins said. “We were too passive and by the time we started attacking, they had the lead and we couldn’t catch them. We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be in the second half. The third quarter, we were passive and we had some unforced turnovers against the press.”
Sutherlin then scored five points during a 7-0 spurt to give RCB its largest lead at 36-29, though the Cougars closed the third with six straight points and pulled to within a point ahead of the fourth quarter when Alexis Williams hit a triple off the wing.
But after Lincoln got back to within one, RCB opened the fourth with seven consecutive points, five of which Jada Sutherlin scored, including a trey for an eight-point cushion with 4:05 remaining.
“She stepped up really well,” Shields said of Sutherlin. “Martina became the facilitator and she and Kyla took care of the basketball and got it around.”
Ashlyn Riley’s driving layup with 3:50 left brought the visitors to within six and marked Lincoln’s first points of the fourth, and when Riley scored again from close range with 1:25 to play, the Cougars cut their deficit to 46-41.
But Lincoln could get no closer down the stretch as the Eagles made 8-of-12 free throws over the final 1:56 to maintain their distance, including two from Curotz that left the Eagles with a 50-41 advantage before the Cougars’ Sadie Adams counted with a triple.
RCB had only two second-half turnovers after 11 through the first two quarters.
In addition to Sutherlin’s 17 points, Curotz and Howe scored 12 each and Holly Hunsaker added nine in the win. Curotz also had a game-best six rebounds to key the Eagles’ 30-19 advantage on boards.
“Sutherlin hitting those threes was probably the turning point in the game,” Hawkins said. “We’re focused on Howe and focused on Curotz and if you told me we’d hold those two to 24, I’d have thought we won the game. But give her credit. She knocked down some huge shots.”
After shooting 7 for 21 in the first half, RCB made 10-of-19 shots over the final two quarters.
Riley capped a stellar high school career with a game-high 21 points, giving her 1,600 points to go with 500 rebounds for her career.
“Ashlyn’s had one of the best careers of any basketball player at Lincoln High School,” Hawkins said.
Davisson scored 11 and Adams contributed seven in defeat.
The Cougars finished with 15 field goals and 15 turnovers, nine of which came after halftime.
“The three-quarter court press really helped us,” Shields said. “We forced some turnovers that gave us some more possessions.”
Robert C. Byrd played with at least somewhat heavy hearts after learning of a tragedy in Harrison County earlier in the day. Ryan Lantz, a freshman boys basketball coach at RCB as well as a teacher and assistant football coach at Liberty Harrison, died Tuesday morning after being hit by a car in the Liberty parking lot.
“The freshman team practiced right behind us yesterday. We all know Ryan real well,” Shields said. “It’s a shame. It’s a tragedy. They saw him coming to practice after us a lot and the girls really took it to heart.”
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Booking photographs of criminal suspects could no longer be made public by state corrections officials under a bill advanced by the House Judiciary Committee.
As the internet search engines have made it possible to come across mugshots years after a criminal charge, some citizens who have experienced arrests have complained that those records have made it challenging to put the past behind or navigate the job market. Advocates for the bill say they have those people in mind.
“It’ll have repercussions for the rest of their life,” said Delegate Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha.
West Virginia media organizations and some delegates have countered that mugshots of arrests represent community news and that prohibiting access amounts to prior restraint. Delegates critical of the bill also contended mugshots are a public safety tool as well as a kind of protection against secret arrests.
House Bill 4621 was considered and advanced Tuesday evening by the House Judiciary Committee. It now goes to the full House of Delegates.
The bill says “photographs of a person for identification purposes taken by the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation or any other county or state jail facility upon booking into the facility are not public records and shall not be disclosed to the public.”
There are some exceptions, such as cases of fugitives where releasing a photo could help identify a fleeing suspect or if officials determine the person is an imminent threat. Mugshots can also be released after a conviction or a guilty plea.
But, generally, the bill says “these booking photographs shall not be published or disseminated to the public.”
The bill has specific directions for outlets that publish mugshots to the internet with the main goal of seeking payment for taking them down. Those outlets have to take down the photographs upon request for people who have been found not guilty or had their charge dropped.
The bill defines and differentiates news outlets from those remove -for-pay sites. Nevertheless, news outlets would not be able to publish booking photographs if they are no longer made public.
Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, argued against removing booking photos from public access. Steele, who runs the Lootpress news and opinion website, advocated for changing the bill to maintain requirements for pay-to-remove websites but dropping aspects that would prevent jail officials from making mugshots public.
He said the mugshots are a tool for the public and that keeping them from public view constitutes prior restraint.
“When we have people dying left and right in this state in our jails, I think we need to let the public know who’s in there,” Steele said. “This suppresses the right of the press to report on who your government is taking into custody. Is it embarrassing to get arrested? Yes. It is embarrassing to get arrested.
“Now we’re just not going to tell people who we’re arresting? That makes absolutely no sense to me.”
Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, disagreed.
“The press still has the ability to publish anything they want, any picture they’ve taken. They just don’t have access to the government documents, which is this photo,” Foster said.
Delegate Rick Hillenbrand, R-Hampshire, asked Steele when the 1st Amendment was written and if that was prior to widespread use of photography. He seemed to be asking if the 1st Amendment would actually apply to photographs.
“Were there any 1st Amendment issues that you’re aware of prior to the invention of the photograph of not posting photographs?” Hillenbrand asked.
“Would you agree with me that if not posting the photograph prior to the existence of the photograph wasn’t an issue, why would it be an issue now?”
Hillenbrand concluded, “I don’t see the inability of having that photograph being a violation of the 1st Amendment.”
West Virginia MetroNews was one of the media organizations objecting to the bill’s restraints on booking photographs.
“Our stations and our network, each have websites that allows citizens to read, watch and listen to pertinent news coverage according to their schedules,” MetroNews President George Pelletier wrote in a memo to committee leaders.
“Within that coverage, we also use mugshots. We also utilize such content, when authorities are searching for people who are either fugitives, or persons of interest. It is our belief that limiting this use of mugshots would not be a good idea.”
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WHEELING, W.Va. — The Wheeling University Board of Trustees announced on Tuesday that Ginny Favede has been suspended with pay and relieved of all her duties as President of Wheeling University.
Favede has served in the role since 2019.
Dr. Dianna Vargo will serve as Interim Chief Operations Officer.
The House Judiciary Committee took a bill to eliminate vaccine requirements for public virtual schools and expanded it to also eliminate state vaccine requirements for West Virginia’s private and parochial schools.
“This would allow private and parochial schools to make their own determination as to whether or not they’re going to adopt an immunization schedule such as the one in current code — one more stringent, one less stringent or none at all,” said Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, who first proposed the amendment.
A majority of committee members voted for the change and then for advancement of the bill during a Tuesday evening meeting that also served as a venting session about the effectiveness of vaccines.
As of now, the West Virginia Department of Education boasts that the state has one of the most effective school-entry vaccine preventable laws in the nation: “The vaccination laws have proven to improve attendance rates for students and staff while ensuring children stay healthy, safe, and ready to learn.”
West Virginia students entering school for the first time must show proof of immunization against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and hepatitis B unless properly medically exempted.
House Bill 5105 as first introduced had only one operative line to change that section of state law: “Any child attending public, virtual schools shall be exempt from the requirements of this article.”
The amendment by Steele would now open that up to private schools too. The bill’s next stop is the full House of Delegates.
Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, suggested there are about 15,000 students enrolled in private schools in West Virginia. “Those 15,000 would now not be mandated to provide proof of being immunized to attend private or parochial schools,” said Fluharty, who voted against the amendment and bill.
“So potentially none of the schools could require it or all of the schools could require it, but the state would not be doing that.”
Delegate Todd Kirby, R-Raleigh, spoke in favor of the expanded bill “so that we can give parents the choice as to whether or not their children should be injected 40 times before they reach their 18th birthday.”
Kirby, who is running for circuit judge, said experts and doctors during the covid-19 pandemic were allowed to “completely override the constitutional rights of our parents and our children in this state.
“Every time they would lie to us they would come out with an even bigger lie to cover up the last lie. They kept our kids out of school for the better part of a year. And the governor of the state went around providing incentives for all of our children to be vaccinated with a medical device, or whatever you want to call it, that ended up causing a lot of harm to our children, especially young males.”
Delegate Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, described West Virginia “at the bottom when it comes to medical freedom.”
“The more we can move in the direction of freedom — freedom for parents, freedom for them to make the decisions that they see best for their children, I think that’s a good thing — I think that’s a good thing,” said Pritt, who is running for state Senate.
Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, voted against the bill.
“Watching what happened with polio and watching what happened with mumps, measles, and several of these others there has been an awful lot of suffering that has been been eliminated in in this country by these vaccines,” Zatezalo said.
Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, argued that “the people who study this, people have the data, unambiguously come to the conclusion that vaccines serve a public good. The benefits far outweigh the risks. That’s what the data tells us.”
Steele concluded debate before the final committee vote on the bill by aiming at phrases like “trusting the science” and “the data indicates.” He also made reference to protections against lawsuits by vaccine producers.
“A scientific argument about this is about meritless because the people that are arguing the science have complete immunity from lying about it or doctoring up the information,” Steele said. “You can’t even sue these people. They’re manufacturing the vaccines that are providing you the data that are telling you it’s safe.”
“Show me all the dead kids in Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, all around us. Are they dropping from measles?” Steele asked. “Did they quit running the Brady Bunch episode where everybody jokingly got the measles?”
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato conclude their girls basketball playoff previews, taking a look at the top contenders in Class A.
The post As Cameron seeks a three-peat, familiar foes await (Class A playoff preview) appeared first on WV MetroNews.
Kids as young as 14 could get a job without a work permit under a bill passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Delegates were split on the wisdom as debate unfolded in the House on Tuesday, but the bill passed by a fairly wide margin, 83-16.
“I must say that many of us in this room probably worked when we were 12, 13, 14 years old out on a farm, bailing hay, digging postholes, whatever we were doing,” said Delegate Todd Longanacre, R-Greenbrier.
“And if one thing kids need today in our society is to start learning work at an earlier age not a later age. This is a good bill. Let’s let those kids get to work.”
Most of House Bill 5159 works by marking out portions of existing law detailing work permit requirements for 14- and 15-year-olds. The bill leaves in place a written parental consent standard.
The bill switches supervision over work permits from the state superintendent of schools to authorization of age certificates by the state labor commissioner.
“All this is doing is saying you don’t have to go through that onerous process of a work permit to get their kid being able to do some work,” said Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam.
Delegate Elliott Pritt, R-Fayette, spoke against the bill and raised questions about parents who benefit financially from their children working. Pritt, a teacher, also questioned the effects on student achievement and attendance.
And he noted that West Virginia has longstanding workforce participation issues, but Pritt said this bill is not an appropriate response.
“I don’t think opening up the labor force to 14-year-olds in the eighth grade is the answer to the problems we have,” Pritt said.
Delegate John Williams, D-Monongalia, asked “What about children being given the opportunity to be kids, to pursue an education.”
House Government Organization Committee Chairman Chris Phillips said the bill would put parents in charge of decisions about their children’s work activities.
“Parents are the gatekeepers for their children,” said Phillips, R-Barbour. “And while we may have some instances of parents that aren’t doing their job, that doesn’t mean every child in the state of West Virginia should be punished for that.”
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