State News

WV MetroNews

The Voice of West Virginia

Marshall suffers 1-0 loss at Indiana in third round of NCAA Tournament

— By David Walsh

Indiana made its final home match of the 2022 season memorable Sunday night.

Brett Bebej’s goal at 46:54 proved to be the game-winner as the Hoosiers edged Marshall, 1-0, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Jerry Yeager Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.

Indiana advances to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the fourth time in six years. They extended their NCAA record to 28 Elite 8 appearances.

Ryan Wittenbrink notched the assist off a high, arching corner kick from the right and Bebej came from the back side, leaped high and headed the ball into the top right of the goal past Herd keeper Oliver Semmle. Wittenbrink is the Big 10 team’s leading scorer with 27 points (nine goals, nine assists).

“Probably gave away too much at the beginning of the game,” Marshall coach Chris Grassie said. “Needed to get more pressure on their back lines. They were just flicking the ball in behind us. The field was wet. We gave away too much territory and that’s where they ended up scoring from.”

Marshall made adjustments in the second half. The Herd just couldn’t get a shot home.

“Fixed things. We didn’t do it soon enough to create enough chances,” Grassie said.

These two teams first met in the title match in the 2020 College Cup held in the spring of 2021 (due to the Covid-19 pandemic and protocols put into place). The Herd prevailed in the thriller, getting the lone goal in overtime for a 1-0 win.

“This did not feel like a rematch,” said Grassie, knowing that’s the way this match had been constructed. “The teams are quite different from the spring of 2021.”

Indiana, the No. 13 seed, improves to 12-4-6, including a 9-1-3 mark at home. The Hoosiers will play at No. 12 UNC Greensboro on Friday or Saturday.

Unseeded Marshall, one of two Sun Belt Conference teams in the tournament, finishes 11-4-4.

Kentucky, the other Sun Belt team in the event and top seed coming in, got eliminated Sunday by Pitt, 2-1, in Lexington. The Wildcats were the only unbeaten team in the country prior to Sunday. 

Marshall took 12 shots, but had only two on goal. Hoosiers keeper J.T. Harms stopped both for his sixth clean sheet and seventh overall for the team.

Indiana got off 10 shots with six on goal. Semmle have five saves.

The Hoosiers kept the pressure on with 12 corner kicks to one for the Herd.

Marshall had wins over Elon and Virginia in the first two rounds.

“We never quite put it all together,” Grassie said. “We did some good things. A great bunch of guys. They have a lot to be proud of. We set the table to show how far this program has come. Everybody is unhappy with the result. To come to a place like this shows how far the program has come. This is a great place to be.”

The post Marshall suffers 1-0 loss at Indiana in third round of NCAA Tournament appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

West Virginia manhandles Florida, 84-55

West Virginia outplayed Florida for much of the first half Sunday night in the fifth place game of the Phil Knight Legacy at Chiles Center in Portland.

It paled in comparison to the way the Mountaineers manhandled the Gators over the final 20 minutes.

After taking an eight-point lead into the break, West Virginia scored 20 of the first 22 points after halftime and immediately pulled away for an 84-55 victory in one of the Mountaineers’ more dominant rebounding efforts in recent memory.

“We played really the first half and then we kind of got a little loose,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “By and large, we played pretty well.”

WVU held a 49-28 rebounding edge, including 15-6 on the offensive end.

Emmitt Matthews Jr. opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer off the wing to give West Virginia (6-1) a 44-33 lead, and it marked the start of a 20-2 spurt over 5:02.

After the Gators’ Kyle Lofton scored in the paint to cut UF’s deficit to 45-35, it was all Mountaineers. 

Erik Stevenson’s triple gave WVU a 13-point lead and Tre Mitchell followed with a turnaround jumper that stretched the advantage to 50-35.

Matthews accounted for the next four points and Joe Toussaint scored with 15:52 remaining to give WVU a 21-point lead.

After another Stevenson trey and Mohamed Wague’s dunk, the Gators were faced with a 61-35 deficit.

Jason Jitoboh scored for Florida (4-3) to end a run of 16 unanswered points for the Mountaineers, but the Gators’ deficit was never inside 24 over the final 15:27.

“Our goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament and win in the NCAA Tournament and the easiest way to do that is to get a higher seed,” Huggins said. “We need to play like this all the time.”

It was an emphatic statement from West Virginia, which never trailed over the final 36:45 after Jimmy Bell scored to give the Mountaineers a 9-8 lead.

After Lofton scored to tie the game at 12, the Gators went 5:20 until their next field goal. When they got it courtesy of Riley Kugel’s layup, West Virginia’s lead was 26-15 as six different Mountaineers scored during the UF drought, including five points from Mitchell, who led the way with 17 points in the win.

Kobe Johnson’s bucket 6:41 before the break gave West Virginia its biggest lead to that point at 35-19, and it was 41-28 after Kedrian Johnson scored on a layup, before Lofton scored the final five points of the half to bring the Gators to within eight.

After shooting less than 38 percent (14 of 37) in the opening half, WVU made half of its 30 field-goal attempts over the final 20 minutes.

Stevenson scored 15 on 6-of-8 shooting and Matthews added 13 for a third double-figure scorer. Toussant and Wague weren’t far behind with nine and eight points, respectively.

Wague led the best rebounding effort of the season with nine boards, Mitchell added eight and Stevenson seven.

The Mountaineers made 29 field goals but had only 11 assists.

“We don’t share the ball enough, but that’ll come,” Huggins said.

Jimmy Bell finished with five points and six rebounds in 14 minutes and was at least partially responsible for helping to limit Florida’s leading scorer Colin Castleton to three points on 1-of-6 shooting. The 6-foot-11 Castleton entered averaging 20.7 points but picked up four fouls in 18 minutes.

“He moves his feet really well to stay in front of people,” Huggins said of Bell. “He’s scoring it around the goal, which he didn’t do when we first got him. He’s using his body and shielding defenders with his body and really doing a good job.”

The Gators made 11-of-27 shots in the opening half, but only 9 of 31 the rest of the way.

Lofton matched Mitchell for game-high scoring honors with 17. He was Florida’s only double-figure scorer.

The post West Virginia manhandles Florida, 84-55 appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

DOH engineer says Wellsburg Bridge likely to open in late spring 2023

WELLSBURG, W.Va. — Originally set to open this fall, residents in the Brooke County area will have to wait a more few months before using the highly anticipated Wellsburg Bridge.

Tony Clark, the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) District 6 Engineer recently updated MetroNews on where things stand with the $131 million project. The work on the Wellsburg Bridge began in 2019 when the bridge, that connects Wellsburg to Brillant, Ohio, was built on the shoreline of the West Virginia side of the Ohio River.

“The contractor, Flatiron Construction, had hoped to be getting it open this fall. Due to various delays on the project, they were not able to make it happen,” Clark said.

Clark said weather played a factor into the timeline of the project. He hopes it can open in late spring 2023. Clark said part of the finishing touches on the bridge cannot be done while temperatures are below freezing and if it could be done, it would have been open by now.

“They’ve got some paving work to do on both sides, they have to tension the cables in the arch and pour concrete for the parapet walls,” Clark said of certain tasks left to do while it’s warm.

The project is what officials have called an ‘engineering marvel.’ The 830-foot main span of the bridge was floated down the Ohio River and lifted onto its pilings in April 2021. The historic float, West Virginia’s first alternative delivery project, followed the construction of the span by Flatiron Construction along the banks of the Ohio River.

As part of the project, West Virginia Route 2 is expected to become three lanes for a stretch around the bridge.

The project is a collaboration between the DOH and the Ohio Department of Transportation, Clark said, but the contract is handled through the DOH.

The Wellsburg Bridge idea was pushed for years, according to Clark, and was a dream of former Wellsburg Mayor Sue Simonetti who passed away on March 31, 2021.

Currently, motorists in a passenger vehicle traveling along West Virginia Route 2 or Ohio Route 7 can cross the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia on the Fort Henry Bridge in Wheeling or the Market Street Bridge, north of Follansbee and into Steubenville, Ohio. The distance between those two bridges is roughly 25 miles.

The post DOH engineer says Wellsburg Bridge likely to open in late spring 2023 appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Crime Lab test results getting to police, prosecutors faster thanks to new portal

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The State Police Crime Lab is making evidence testing results available more quickly to investigating police officers and county prosecutors across the state through a new online portal system.

Staci Taylor

The Laboratory Informational Management System (LIMS) portal went live in mid-July and since then 50 of 55 county prosecutors have signed up to use it along with several police agencies.

State Police Crime Lab LIMS administrator Staci Taylor said the portal allows authorities to check the status of their cases in a much more efficient way.

“It pulls the information that we enter on our side so they can look up their cases and see where they’re at to see if they’ve been tested or not,” Taylor told MetroNews. “If they have been tested the report is available through the website on a PDF so they can download.”

It makes for a quicker turnaround of lab testing results, Jefferson County Prosecutor Matt Harvey told state lawmakers earlier this month.

“The improvements in the crime lab are absolutely making a difference in helping resolve cases sooner than later,” Harvey said.

LIMS login page

The lab, located in South Charleston, is still producing hard copies of evidence testing results and sending those to the investigating officer who then forwards the information to prosecutors. Taylor said in many cases that can take a week or more by the time the information is mailed to the officer and he or she alerts the prosecutors. She said the portal eliminates the wait.

“This gives the prosecutor the opportunity to get the report the second it’s ready and not have to wait on the officer to hand over the report,” Taylor said.

The LIMS portal is another step to help the lab keep up with cases. The lab started 2019 with 2,300 pending cases. The backlog at the end of 2016 was 5,000 cases. Taylor said being fully-staffed also helps. The lab has recently hired several new employees who are being trained in the biology, firearms and drug sections.

There is currently a four to five month turnaround on drug testing while the latent prints section can get test results done in a week.

Taylor said the portal has been well-received by prosecutors.

“They like to be able to check the status of cases without having to call us to check out what that status is,” she said.

Matt Harvey

Harvey told lawmakers wide use of the portal could eventually help counties reduce regional jail bills, an ongoing financial issue in most counties.

“It would be nice if we could get our results within a day or two, which is obviously not possible, but how effective they’ve become has definitely improved and made a big difference,” Harvey said.

The LIMS portal is free to prosecutors and police agencies. Taylor is busy recruiting.

“We don’t have everybody on board. I still have approximately five prosecuting attorney’s offices who have not signed up yet and I’m starting on law enforcement agencies and I have only about 10 agencies that have signed up for it,” she said.

Those who do sign-up for use of the portal complete an MOU with the crime lab that leads to a password-protected account being created.

The post Crime Lab test results getting to police, prosecutors faster thanks to new portal appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Marion County Holbert Road rockfall project set for spring completion

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A high-visibility hillside construction project on U.S. Route 250 in Fairmont is on track for completion next spring.

Mike Daley

Work on the Holbert Road rockfall protection project between Muriel’s Kitchen and Wood’s Boat House began last spring.

Interim District 4 Engineer Mike Daley said a switch is coming soon of the one lane controlled by traffic lights.

“We’re getting ready to transfer a single lane to the opposite side of the road, which is what we call the hillside, for the traveling public it will be the north side of the road, so we can do some repairs down by the river,” Daley said.

In addition to rockfall repairs, Daley said contractors are properly sizing the storm drainage system around the area. Adequate drainage will preserve the work on top of the slope and prevent intermittent closures due to falling debris, he said.

“We’ve got to mitigate different drainage structures to be able to handle the runoff that we have to be able exhaust that out into the river properly.”

The work has included removing the existing hillside and replace it with more stable material and a combination of concrete and other specialized methods to secure hillside.

“We have what we call “rock blankets” that stabilize against the bank to secure this and hold it in place to prevent it from coming down into the roadway,” Daley said.

Prior to the project that section of road had to be closed or restricted and crews were required to mobilize equipment to clear debris from the road and clear the hillside. The problems have persisted for several years creating hazards and delays for motorists, Daley said.

“We’ll have to wait until the spring of 2023 to go in and do the overlay and final asphalt work and preparation to finish the project,” Daley said.

An alternate route around the work zone is Holbert Road, I-79 and Shirlane Avenue to Warren Road.

The post Marion County Holbert Road rockfall project set for spring completion appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Political expert says the 2024 run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia could determine the futures of many

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The race for the West Virginia U. S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Joe Manchin could set the field for other races, possibly the office of President of the United States.

Greg Noone

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Director of the Fairmont State University National Security and Intelligence Program and an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law, Greg Noone said the early announcement by Republican Second District Congressman Alex Mooney started the campaign clock ticking for 2024.

Now Republicans, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner and Evan Jenkins, former Congressman and Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Jenkins was defeated by Morrisey in the primary for that senate seat in May of 2018.

“Mooney is smart to try to lay down a marker and declare that’s the seat he’s running for ,” Noone said. “He wants to try to push Morrisey, Warner and perhaps (Evan) Jenkins into the governor’s race that’s going to happen in two years.”

In July of 2022, the governor released a statement citing a poll by the Morning Consult showing Justice as the fifth most popular top state executive in the country.

“To be among the very highest-approved governors in America is a true honor. With all the historic successes we’ve seen in West Virginia, especially in the past year, people are prouder than ever to be from this state. They’re walking around with their heads held high, and that’s exactly what this poll proves,” Gov. Justice said.

For Noone, Mooney is a solid candidate, but would have difficulty battling against a popular two-term governor.

“Mooney has the money and he has Trump backing him, but at the end of the day Mooney is from Maryland,” Noone said. “I think going up against someone like Jim Justice, who is so well respected around the state I think it would be Jim Justice versus the outsider.”

Noone believes this is where the “Jim Justice Factor” reaches across political parties and could push incumbent U.S. Senator Jor Manchin into the 2024 campaign for the White House. Noone said the best option for the Democrat party to win key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan could be a 2024 Manchin run for President.

“I think Joe Manchin can have an impact on the Democratic party, he can pull the Democratic party back to the center,” Noone said. ” He can argue what Joe Biden argued a few years ago which is I’m electable in November.”

The post Political expert says the 2024 run for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia could determine the futures of many appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Family of 4 injured, 2 dogs dead after car goes over interstate wall in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Sunday morning crash at the I-77/I-64 split in Charleston has sent a family of four to the hospital and left their two dogs dead.

Charleston Police said the wreck occurred around 9:49 a.m. when the driver lost control of the vehicle, struck a cement barrier wall and landed below at the Martin Marietta Charleston Yard located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The family was taken to CAMC General Hospital, one with life threatening injuries and three with non-life-threatening injuries.

The two dogs traveling with the family were found dead at the scene.

All I-64 westbound lanes were closed as of 10:20 a.m. Sunday.

West Virginia 511 tweeted that the I-64 westbound lanes “will be closed for an unknown amount of time. Expect significant delays.”

The Charleston Police Department Crash Investigation Unit is investigating.

The post Family of 4 injured, 2 dogs dead after car goes over interstate wall in Charleston appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Education focus groups to be held statewide by AFT-WV, WVEA

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leaders of West Virginia’s two teachers’ unions plan to hold public focus groups to help come up with solutions to improve public education.

American Federation of Teachers West Virginia chapter and the West Virginia Education Association will hold a series of five listening sessions, called Solutions for Success, beginning Tuesday in Morgantown.

Fred Albert

AFT-WV President Fred Albert said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline” this will be a bottom-up approach.

“We need to listen to the experts and those experts are those teachers facing situations every day in the classroom. I hope some students show up at these focus groups as well so we can hear from them,” Albert said.

Albert said he also hopes to hear from state lawmakers on a number of education-related issues, including test scores, ahead of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session which starts in January.

“We hope legislators show up,” he said. “The focus groups are to find some solutions for success because no one is happy when test scores are published and they’re not where we want them to be.”

West Virginia’s test scores for reading and math are down for fourth and eighth graders. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, published last month, were well below the national average and amounted to the state’s lowest performance ever.

Dale Lee

“Children are more than just test scores and there’s so many other things in the mix and we want to hear about all of that,” Albert said. “I think it’s long overdue for us to do this.”

The statewide teacher shortage is also top of mind for education leaders.

Gov. Jim Justice has previously said he’d like to propose a pay raise for state workers including teachers and school service personnel.

“Governor Justice has made education a cornerstone of his administration and we will certainly present these findings to him,” WVEA President Dale Lee said.

Lee said there needs to be legislative action with their findings. He said lawmakers need to hear from all points of view.

“Not only the teacher and school service personnel point of view, but from the parent point of view and the Legislature can see that instead of actually having to go on hearsay from us, have the experts talk to them about that,” Lee said. “That’s going to be the key to this.”

The sessions will be very organized, Lee said.

“We’ll have a series of questions that we’ll ask and then a survey at the end for people to complete,” he said.

The focus groups will be held at 6 p.m. at the following locations. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.:

  • Morgantown – Tuesday, Nov. 29
  • Wheeling – Wednesday, Nov. 30
  • Charleston – Monday, Dec. 5
  • Beckley – Thursday, Dec. 8
  • Martinsburg – Tuesday, Dec. 13
  • Virtual forum – Thursday, Dec. 15

The post Education focus groups to be held statewide by AFT-WV, WVEA appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

State capitol Christmas trees come from Monongalia County tree farm

MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. — The owners of a Monongalia County Christmas tree farm are proud to have two of their trees displayed at the state capitol for the Christmas season.

The state’s Christmas Trees come from Morgantown.

“I think the exciting part of it is the fact that it’s the Canaan fir tree that got selected to go down. Canaan fir, it’s a seed source from our state, so to have those trees displayed at our capital, I mean, it’s the perfect tree variety to go down there,” Beth Bossio of Quarter Pine Tree Farm said.

Bossio, the stepdaughter of tree farm owner Jim Rockis, said the trees must be in perfect shape to be chosen for display. So, employees at Rockis’ farm worked hard to shear the trees into a perfect triangle shape.

“A lot of the other trees that have been at the capitol are unsheathed trees that are gorgeous and tall, but they don’t look like a Christmas tree,” Bossio said.

Rockis is also a Christmas tree seed and transplant wholesaler. The farm owns seed orchards in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, as well as land out in Washington State.

“I think we’ve figured out that every [transplant] being grown… probably about 70 percent of [that] seed comes from us,” Bossio said. “We’re a small, small family farm but we do a lot of work.”

The Canaan firs will be lit during this year’s Joyful Night ceremony coming up early next month at the state capitol.

The post State capitol Christmas trees come from Monongalia County tree farm appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

DNR officer reflects on week one of buck season
Cpt. David James

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Deer season appears to still be in recovery mode with the reported numbers of hunters down in comparison to pre-pandemic numbers.

With one more week left of deer rifle hunting season left in West Virginia, early numbers from the state Division of Natural Resources show that between 250,000-300,000 hunters hit Mountain State woods during the first week. The reported numbers are considered just a bit below average with several factors attributing to the post-pandemic recovery.

“It’s kind of stabilized,” said Cpt. David James with the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. ” There are hunters there, but it’s not at the level it was a couple years ago and you can attribute that to gas prices, and inflation, stuff like that.”

According to James, gun related injuries are on the decline this year due to increased training programs, but injuries unrelated to firearms are on the rise. These incidents mainly stem from transportation accidents where in one case, a person died from their injuries and in another one person was accidentally shot.

“What we’re seeing an uptick in is hunting incidents involving ATVs and UTVs,” James said. “We actually had a fatality with that in District 6, that’s the Parkersburg District.”

Another unusual rise in hunter related incidents is stemming from heart attacks and tree stand falls. While tree stand falls are a little more self-explanatory, reports of heart attacks appear to be stemming from hunters carrying back hunted deer to their vehicles. In response to these numbers, James is advising hunters to not be afraid to ask for assistance if they need it.

“Know your limits. If you’re a sedentary person and you don’t do much through the year and have some health conditions don’t be afraid to ask for help- take your time,” James said.

James is also advising hunters to still follow gun safety measures that are taught yearly by the Department of Natural Resources. He also advises to continue to wear safety gear while out in the woods and to know that if you take a shot, make sure it’s one that you don’t want to take back.

“Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it,” James said. “You’re responsible for that bullet not only to the deer or animal you’re shooting at, but what’s beyond it once it passes through.”

The post DNR officer reflects on week one of buck season appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews