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Health care organization files lawsuit over drug test reimbursement payments

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia health care organization has filed a lawsuit against state agencies and a managed care organization regarding reimbursement for drug tests.

According to a petition filed this week in Kanawha Circuit Court, Ohio Valley Physicians learned in January that UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia would be ceasing payments for drug tests performed in physician office labs. Oho Valley Physicians, which has its principal base of business in Kanawha County, alleges such action has caused multi-day delays in obtaining screening results.

“They are now requiring lab testing to be done by out-of-state labs and other labs that are located elsewhere with serious delays in getting these results back,” attorney Jess Forbes told MetroNews. “You go from a 24-hour turnaround to days and days.”

Ohio Valley Physicians said it has attempted to resolve the issue with UniCare and copied the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the state Bureau for Medical Services on correspondences. The lawsuit alleges the agencies “have refused to perform their duties to hold UniCare accountable and rectify their breach of obligations,” and the business had no choice but to name both in the lawsuit.

“My folks want to see this in a position where they can treat effectively, but at the end of the day, they can’t continue forever to provide service without reimbursement,” Forbes said.

A Department of Health and Human Resources spokesperson told MetroNews on Wednesday the agency is unable to comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit also names Tadd Haynes, president of UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia; Bill Crouch, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources; and Cindy Beane, commissioner for the state Bureau for Medical Services.

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US Senate moves forward with bipartisan infrastructure plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday agreed to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan hours after negotiators reached an agreement with the White House.

Seventeen Republicans joined the Senate Democratic caucus in the 67-32 vote; Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. — who had leading roles in separate infrastructure talks — supported the motion.

The White House and senators agreed to decrease new spending from $579 billion in an earlier legislative framework to $550 billion. The proposal dedicates $110 billion toward road and bridge projects, $55 billion for drinking water infrastructure, $65 billion toward high-speed internet, and $73 billion in clean energy transmission. According to the White House, the proposal would be funded by redirected coronavirus relief money, targeted corporate user fees and stronger tax enforcement on cryptocurrencies among other actions.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (Office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin)

“The more we continue to do things such as this, the more you’ll see more bipartisanship,” Manchin said alongside a bipartisan group of senators following the vote.

“That pothole doesn’t have a Democrat or Republican’s name on it. It will bust your tire. It don’t care who you are. That bridge could fall in on you. It could be your child or someone else’s.”

Manchin is part of the bipartisan group that drafted the proposal after talks between the Biden administration and Senate Republicans fell apart. President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group announced last month they reached an agreement on an infrastructure framework, but it took a month for both sides to finalize details.

“People know that it is needed, and Washington has known that for years. Every president in modern times has proposed a major infrastructure investment,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told reporters.

“Washington hasn’t been able to get it done,” he added. “This time, we’re going to be able to get it done.”

Capito led negotiations between Senate Republicans and the White House, which ended in June after both sides could not reach agreements on generating revenue and the plan’s scope. She also serves as the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which approved a $35 billion measure on water infrastructure and a $311 billion surface transportation proposal earlier this year.

“I am glad to see the bipartisan group’s infrastructure legislation focuses on the core elements of infrastructure. Just as important, the bipartisan group’s package is built around our two bipartisan and unanimously committee-passed bills,” Capito said.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Funding from both bills will go toward various projects including the construction of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a network of corridors connecting Appalachian communities to interstates. Corridors D, E, G, H, L and Q in West Virginia are part of the system.

“After reviewing some of the legislative text of the bipartisan infrastructure package and ensuring West Virginia’s and the nation’s core infrastructure needs will be addressed, I plan to support the procedural vote to move this package forward,” Capito said before the vote.

Sen. Kevin Kramer, R-N.D., thanked the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for approving infrastructure legislation earlier this year in a bipartisan manner.

“This stuff happens a lot more than people would know, and I wish that they knew it more often,” he said. “I know it’s not sexy to get along, but there’s a lot more of it that happens than you might think.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., on Wednesday repeated his goal of the Senate passing the bipartisan infrastructure deal and a broad $3.5 trillion budget agreement before senators leave for August recess. The Senate will consider the second proposal under reconciliation, which allows senators to pass a bill with 51 votes.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., told The Arizona Republic she does not support the $3.5 trillion plan, which includes funding for Medicare expansion and efforts addressing climate change. Sinema was one of the leaders in bipartisan discussions.

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Fairmont organization secures funding for new office move

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Fairmont nonprofit has received $200,000 in state funding to move to a new office after the organization’s current location was damaged by flooding.

Officials with Disability Action Center determined repairing the aging infrastructure around the Benoni Avenue office would have been impractical following heavy rains in June, and they determined a new location was necessary.

Executive director Julie Sole contacted state Sens. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, and Mike Caputo, D-Marion, for financial help to open a new space. The lawmakers secured $200,000 to facilitate the moving process.

“We’re grateful we were able to respond as quickly as we were, and has the community in Marion County,” Beach said. “This is an organization that can’t be ignored. We often use the term no-brainer, but this was a no-brainer.”

The Disability Action Center offers services to more than 500 clients with disabilities. Sole said talks are underway with the current property owner about providing services.

“We have entered into a purchase agreement with a new location,” she said. “That site is on a bus line. It’s a beautiful site, and it’s ADA accessible.”

Sole did not detail the location of the new facility. Further information is expected to be announced in the ensuing days.

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Mark Mason named Capital football coach

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five days before preseason football practice kicks off across the state, Capital High School officially has its new head coach.

Longtime assistant coach Mark Mason was approved Wednesday by the Kanawha County Board of Education as the Cougars’ new head coach.

A Capital assistant since 1999, Mason continued to hold that title this summer after the resignation of head coach Jon Carpenter in June, though it was expected he would be named Carpenter’s replacement.

“I worked with them over the three-week period and we had about 40 kids participate,” Mason said. “They came out and we played in the MSAC event that was a substitution for the Grid-O-Rama at South Charleston and Riverside. i just enjoyed how the kids competed and how they all worked together. It was trying to do everything we had worked on throughout three-week period.”

Mason previously coached the offense line and defensive line as an assistant under Jack Woolwine, though more recently he was strictly a defensive line coach.

Mason takes over a program coming off a season in which it completed only three games.

Because of the pandemic, Kanawha County schools didn’t play games until October, while positive COVID-19 tests within the Capital program shut the Cougars down later that month. While finishing 1-2, Capital played two fewer games than every other Class AAA school, missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and endured its first losing campaign since 2002.

“With last year’s outcome that ended it, our kids have come in and done a tremendous job of preparing themselves for this upcoming season,” Mason said. “They’ve come to all the workouts, they’re lifting weights. They’re learning our program and it just seems like everyone is on board and they have a positive attitude.”

Mason, a graduate of Charleston High who went on to play football at Marshall from 1989-1991, recognizes why the excitement level is so high after last year’s disappointment.

“A lot of our kids were doing home school with the coronavirus going on. They weren’t able to see one another and get out and exercise or throw a football around,” Mason said. “They just had to do what they could do when they could do it. The unknown of when you’re going to play or when you’re going to practice, if you’re going to practice, all of those things really affected our kids. Coming into the locker room, we didn’t know if coach Carp was going to say that we’re a go or a no go and that’s how it went almost every day.

“But last year was last year. Now we’re in a new season and moving forward with everything.”

Capital will play for a much bigger purpose this season after former Cougars’ standout K.J. Taylor, 18, was shot and killed April 7 in Charleston. Taylor was held in high regard by this year’s Capital roster.

“We’re actually just trying to get back to normal with the loss of K.J. Taylor,” Mason said. “That tragic loss is still fresh to some of our kids and in their minds. They’re trying to work hard for him and to get the job done. We’re just trying to get ourselves back to the normal and having fun.

“A lot of the kids have not really spoken about it, but K.J. was a hard worker, a very good athlete and right now, everyone is really working to do what K.J. would’ve been doing. K.J. was a leader to most of the kids that we have right now.”

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Latest winners of Babydog vaccination lottery announced

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice announced the latest winners in the “Do It For Babydog” COVID-19 vaccination lottery on Wednesday, the second to last week of the drawings.

Wanda Coleman of Ronceverte is the latest to win $1 million. She joined dozens of her former coworkers at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg for what they believed to be a ceremony to honor a recently-retired staff member.

Coleman was surprised by First Lady Cathy Justice and Babydog with a $1 million check as the governor spoke in front of the room about the importance of vaccination.

A surgical team member at CAMC Memorial Hospital in Charleston was given the surprise of a brand-new, custom-outfitted truck. Ellen Taylor, a perfusionist, was personally greeted by Governor Jim Justice and Babydog on Wednesday outside of the hospital with her new Jeep.

“I think my brain just shut off. I was shocked. I thought I was going to a meeting,” she said.

Ellen Taylor, a perfusionist at CAMC, won a truck on Wednesday.

Taylor, from the northern panhandle of the state, said she was vaccinated in December with frontline workers when the vaccine was first rolled out.

Taylor said she has seen the wrath of the coronavirus first hand.

“Seeing all these people sick in the ICU with COVID is awful. Family members and these patients are asking for the vaccine while in the ICU,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Justice also surprised Michael Quinn from the community of Hacker Valley in Webster County, presenting him with a custom-outfitted truck.

Michael Quinn from the community of Hacker Valley in Webster County won a truck on Wednesday.

John Fox of Martinsburg and Keelin Howes of Buckhannon were named as the winners of two full four-year scholarships to any public institution in the state.

Additional prize winners:

Lifetime Hunting License Winners
Michael Constantino, Bluefield
Christina Evans, Maysville
Patricia Fortner, Rhodell
Madeline Taylor, Elkview
John Wiseman, Charleston

Lifetime Fishing License Winners
Paul Mattox, Hurricane
Julie Payton, Mt. Lookout
Kimberly Strickler, Maysville
Jacob Walker, Huntington
Joseph Wolfe, Buckhannon

Custom Hunting Rifle Winners
Franz Alarcon, Martinsburg
Sheena Burwell, Morgantown
Michael Cummings, Sutton
Belinda Haynes, Belle
Robert Masters, Morgantown

Custom Hunting Shotgun Winners
Jacqueline Boatright, Parkersburg
Beverly Casto, Kenna
Alyssa Lipscomb, Greenwood
Tomela Paden, Sistersville
Allen Park, Augusta

State Park Weekend Getaway Winners
Elizabeth Adkins, Daniels
Marvin Carr, Beaver
Casey Casto, Elkins
Jeffrey Cooper, Huntington
Sallie Davis, Morgantown
William Dent, Washington
Chris Efaw, Mannington
Kristie Hadley, Martinsburg
Billy Hatfield, Gilbert
Mark Jones, Bruceton Mills
Kenneth Kendall, Clarksburg
Daniel Linger, Burnsville
Richard Lynch, Elk Garden
Greg McCray, Winfield
Trina McDaniels, Sophia
Samantha Muller, Charleston
Travis Osborn, Bluefield
Terron Pendelton, Grafton
Nathan Plum, Arthurdale
Paula Schlegel, Wheeling
Franklin Snodgrass, South Charleston
McKenzie Stewart, Oceana
Jacquelin Tanner, Huntington
Hunter Williams, Fairmont
Jian Yang, Huntington

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Forty-day opioid trial now in hands of federal judge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Representatives of Huntington and Cabell County said over and over again in the months leading up to their landmark opioid epidemic trial that they deserved their day in court against the ‘Big 3’ drug distributors.

In the end, they got that and then some.

Closing arguments in the trial wrapped up Wednesday afternoon. Lead plaintiffs attorney Paul Farrell seemed somewhat relieved when he exited the Byrd Federal Courthouse in downtown Charleston.

Paul Farrell (Photo/WV Record)

“Forty days of trial, I did my best and right now that’s all you can expect,” Farrell told MetroNews.

U.S. District Judge David Faber has now given both sides three weeks to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. He may issue a decision in the case by the fall.

Farrell, Anne Kearse, Anthony Majestro and other attorneys for the plaintiffs laid out a case focused on 81 million opioid pills sent into a community of less than 100,000 people. They also put witnesses on the stand that detailed 1,100 overdose deaths from 2002-2008 and nearly 6,500 overdoses from 2015-2020.

Attorneys for AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, used their allotted time for closing arguments Tuesday and Wednesday to once again deny they contributed to the epidemic.

Farrell said the “Big 3” really didn’t have a defense during the weeks long trial.

“They only called six witness. What they did is they said, ‘You can’t prove it.'”

So Farrell said instead attorneys for the companies used a white collar defense tactic of objecting over and over again to the plaintiffs’ case.

“In order to win that kind of argument you have to prevent the plaintiff from putting evidence in and hope your case is made by attacking the other side,” he said.

During opening statements, which take place on May 3,the distributors all said the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controls the supply of drugs and their instructions were followed. The defense also pointed at budget decisions made by the City of Huntington to cut funding for law enforcement and a drug task force.

During closing arguments Wednesday, a defense attorney said Huntington and Cabell County spend less than $150,000 a year on drug treatment but they are seeking $2.5 billion in damages.

Farrell said the implication by the ‘Big 3’ is the plaintiffs are a “bunch of pillbillies who want a pay check.”

“If we haven’t established that our hearts are in it then I think we’ve failed,” Farrell said.

U.S. District Judge David Faber

Judge Faber frequently asked questions during the trial and during closing arguments. Farrell said Faber was engaged.

“He was testing and probing both sides of their case,” Farrell said. “There are some fundamental things that I think he’s still struggling with legally and factually but the record’s been made and I think he’ll write something historic.”

MetroNews legal analyst Harvey Peyton said the key issue focuses on causation.

“There’s no question that the doctors prescribed them and they (the distributors) shipped them and there’s really no issue that there’s an opioid crisis–the question is–is the one connected to the other?”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a statement concerning the end of the trial Wednesday evening.

“We commend Cabell County and the City of Huntington on this week’s strong closing arguments. Their work continues our combined efforts to hold opioid companies responsible with a strategy to expand accountability that began with our success in carving counties and municipalities out from earlier agreements to preserve additional claims and lay the groundwork for this year’s trial and the many others to follow,” Morrisey said.

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Lawyers for Morgantown man contend he argued against using pepper spray at Capitol riot

Lawyers for the Morgantown man accused of cooperating in the pepper-spraying of police not only contend that wasn’t his intention but that he can be heard on video arguing against it.

“Don’t do it, don’t do it, Julian,” lawyers for George Tanios say he can be heard saying to his co-defendant, Julian Khater.

George Tanios (Central Regional Jail)

Tanios is trying to be released from jail while awaiting trial. Federal judges have concluded he should continue to be detained, so Tanios is asking for their conclusions to be overturned by the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“Tanios is not dangerous and he did not commit violent acts at the Capitol on January 6. Specifically, Tanios did not aid and abet his co defendant, Julian Khater,” lawyers for the Morgantown sandwich shop owner wrote in a new brief to appeals judges.

Tanios is accused of obtaining and carrying extremely strong pepper spray, and Khater is accused of spraying it at officers, causing them to be injured and resulting in a distraction that enabled others to breach a bike rack barrier outside the Capitol. One of the officers, Brian Sicknick, later died but a medical examiner ruled the chemical spray was not the direct cause.

Tanios and Khater have been held in jail while awaiting trial, which could be months and months considering the many cases. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in D.C. and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Aloi in West Virginia each have rejected requests to release the two from jail.

Khater’s appeal was denied earlier this week, but appeals judges are still considering Tanios’s request.

In a brief filed Wednesday, lawyers for Tanios acknowledged that he bought pepper spray at a Morgantown area supply shop but said he obtained it for self defense.

“At the time of the purchase, on January 5, Tanios could not fully appreciate the actual level of danger in DC on January 6,” his lawyers wrote. “However, Tanios knew this would be a major rally, which could have suggested an increased level of danger.”

Although Khater called Tanios while he was making the pepper spray purchase, lawyers for Tanios say there is no evidence they discussed what he was buying.

“This telephone call does not suggest any criminal intent,” wrote lawyers for Tanios. “There is no evidence that during the call Tanios told Khater he was at ATR Performance in Morgantown, which sold chemical spray, or that Tanios planned to purchase chemical spray to harm law enforcement officers.”

As the rally turned chaotic, video evidence shows that Khater wanted the spray from the backpack that Tanios was carrying. He referred to bear spray, which was among the purchases, but wound up obtaining a smaller canister of pepper spray.

Lawyers for Tanios say a full conversation by the two men captured on video shows that he rejected Khater’s demand. “What’s more, Tanios argued against the use of spray on law enforcement,” his lawyers wrote.

Lawyers for Tanios say the full conversation, which included strong language, was this:

Khater: “Give me that bear shit.”
Tanios: “Oh my God…focus, focus.”
“Don’t do it, don’t do it, Julian.”
“Hold on, hold on, not yet, it’s still early”
Khater: “Gimme that. Give it to me”
Tanios: “Listen, listen.”
Khater: “They just fucking sprayed me!”
Tanios: “No, it’s not about [that]”

The lawyers for Tanios acknowledge the exact words are hard to hear, but they pieced the transcript together with multiple reviewers and high-end headphones.

“Clearly, based on the totality of the recorded conversation, there is no agreement between Tanios and Khater,” wrote lawyers for Tanios. “Tanios did not join Khater’s plan to use spray against others on Capitol grounds. Tanios disagreed with Khater. What’s more, the evidence suggests that Tanios and Khater argued about this for quite some time.

“Obviously, if the men had a plan to assault police officers, Tanios would have quickly handed the spray to Khater.”

Federal prosecutors disagree with all those points and argued in an earlier filing that the decision to keep Tanios in jail should stand.

“Appellant’s conversation with Khater before buying the sprays, his purchase of multiple sprays, his travel with Khater together with the sprays, and Khater’s access to the sprays at the Capitol showed appellant’s intent to share use of the sprays with Khater,” prosecutors wrote.

“The evidence that appellant and Khater talked together for several minutes as the crowd became excited and attacked police, coupled with appellant’s statement that it was ‘too early’ for the bear spray and that Khater should ‘hold on’ regarding using it, showed appellant’s intent that the chemical spray be used against police.”

Finally, prosecutors wrote, “Although Tanios claims he intended just to use the sprays for self-defense, there was no evidence of counter-protestors or others potential attackers for whom appellant would have been reserving the spray: the only imminent violence was between the crowd and police.”

Tanios and Khater are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Tanios has pleaded not guilty.

While awaiting trial, Tanios has proposed abiding by several conditions including home detention with electronic monitoring, 24-hour video surveillance, a restricted list of visitors, designated visiting hours, abstaining from use of smart phones or social media sites and reporting daily to pretrial services.

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said. More than 400 people have been charged so far.

West Virginians facing federal charges of entering the Capitol that day are former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane.

Tanios is the president of Morgantown’s Sandwich University, which advertises over-the-top foods. The photos that investigators used to identify him at the U.S. Capitol showed him wearing clothing with the logo for Sandwich University.

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Yeager Airport board approves name addition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Yeager Airport will be known as West Virginia International Yeager Airport beginning in 2022.

The airport’s board members voted to approve a name addition for the facility on Wednesday, something that had been discussed since March. The name addition will be effective January 1, 2022.

Yeager is dedicated to Chuck Yeager, a famed pilot and West Virginia native, who died in January. West Virginia’s largest airport was renamed Yeager Airport in 1985, after opening in 1947 as Kanawha Airport.

Yeager Airport Director Nick Keller told MetroNews there were zero discussions of removing Yeager from the name as the airport looked to rebrand.

Nick Keller

“We would never do that. We are very proud that General (Chuck) Yeager is from Lincoln County and made such contributions to aviation in his life. We want to make sure that his name is still there,” Keller said.

Keller said the international tag, which was agreed to by network planners, is appropriate given the upcoming addition of a U.S. Customs Building at Yeager in December. The airport stated as part of its news release, “To be designated an international airport, you have to have a U.S. Customs Building at the airport. You do not have to have international commercial service.”

The airport, which will keep CRW as its code, has direct flights to Charlotte, Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale through American, Delta, Spirit, and United Airlines.

Keller said the customs building gives the airport a chance to market to people to do business in West Virginia from outside the country, flying nonstop into Charleston to clear customs. He said they can also market to overflights, as private flights may look for a smaller destination to clear customs and buy fuel.

“We want to let the public, pilots and the aviation community know once that facility is completed and international, that we do have international capabilities,” Keller said.

Keller added that it was key to add a location to the name. According to him, Yeager Airport is one of 31 commercial airports in the country without a city, state, or region in our name. There are only five states without an international airport.

Current logo for Yeager Airport

“We wanted to add the name of West Virginia so people from outside the state know where the airport is. People from around here know where Yeager Airport is but once you leave West Virginia, virtually nobody knows where Yeager Airport is,” Keller said.

It’s been over a decade since the airport did a brand refresh. Keller said over the next few months there will be graphic design proposals to update the logo.

Keller also mentioned that 2022 is the perfect time for a rebrand based on the airport celebrating 75 years and the National Park and Preserve designation to the New River Gorge.

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New WV Air Guard commander ‘looking forward’ to new challenges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The new commander of the West Virginia Air National Guard moves into the position with lots of experience both on the ground and in the air.

Brig. Gen. David Cochran

Brig. Gen. David Cochran, a deputy Air Guard commander, assumed the new role during a ceremony Wednesday at the Charleston-based 130th Airlift Wing. He also becomes an assistant state Adjutant General.

Cochran, a 1989 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. has flown missions all around the world.

“I actually started out in active duty, transitioned to a civilian career in aviation and wanted to continue my service and the West Virginia Air National Guard was just the perfect opportunity to continue to do that,” Cochran told MetroNews Wednesday.

There are 2,100 members of the WVANG located at the 130th in Charleston and the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg. Cochran, who has spent most of his Air Guard career at the Martinsburg wing, said he’s overseeing a strong team with strong wing leaders.

“I’m leaning on them and their teams to continue to do what they do best and that is to serve the needs of the state and the nation,” he said.

Today, Brig. Gen. David V. Cochran officially assumed the responsibilities of Assistant Adjutant General – Air for the @WVNationalGuard, taking over the reins from Brig. Gen. Ray Shepard. Congratulations Brig. Gen. Cochran! @130th_AW @167AW #OneGuard

— WV National Guard (@WVNationalGuard) July 28, 2021

Cochran assumes command at a time when the 130th is going through a transition from the C-130 aircraft to the C-130J model. He said it’s an exciting and challenging opportunity.

“The men and women of the 130th and their commander, Col. Bryan Preece, are well-positioned to transition into that role and succeed,” Cochran said.

The new aircraft need fewer crew members and that will add to the challenge of the transition, Cochran said.

“It has to be addressed through retraining. There will be some options for early exit. There will be potential to transfer within the Guard system to other states that still operate C-130s,” Cochran said. “Transitions can be tough but exciting, We want it to go as smoothly as it can and focus on taking care of our airmen who are going to be affected by the transition.”

Cochran added that recruitment will continue to be a priority.

“We’re still going after, not only the recruitment of the best and brightest, but the retention of our best and brightest and that includes a diverse group because we want our Guard to reflect our population. That’s the challenge and that’s what we’re going to set as a priority,” Cochran said.

According to the WVANG, Cochran has been a command pilot with more than 7,100 hours in the C-130E/H3, C-21, C-5A and C-17 aircraft. He has flown combat sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Cochran said the success of any leader depends on those who follow. He said he wants to incorporate a style of leadership that is inspirational, compassionate and deliberate. He said the core values are always important.

“Look at integrity first. Look at service before self and make sure you’re trying to be excellence,” Cochran said.

He added that he tells young airmen to “do the right thing, be proud of your service and strive to be the best.”

Cochran is the second African-American Assistant Adjutant General – Air in the state’s history. He replaces Brig. Gen. Ray Shepard in the Air Guard commander role.

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The Game Within The Game – Episode 69

West Virginia’s Deuce McBride has been a ‘riser’ in NBA mock drafts for the last few weeks. Now that draft day is here (Thursday night) where will he land?

Brad Howe and longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Dave Sharapan offer up a play on McBride’s draft position.

The guys also look at the recent Big 12 conference realignment news from a betting perspective. Will playing in extra hostile road environments across the league this season lead to an opportunity to fade Texas on the season win total side, individual games or both?

Dave also uses his line making experience to set odds on the date of the first SEC game for Texas and Oklahoma.

All of that, plus a play on Olympic golf and a Major League Baseball discussion on the latest The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.

New users on DraftKings Sportsbookremember  to use code METROGAME for a free money sign up bonus offer for the Olympics.



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