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The Voice of West Virginia

Despite pandemic, RISE comes closer to fulfilling housing goal for 2016 flood victims

Even during the pandemic of the past year, West Virginia made significant progress on a longstanding effort to provide housing for people washed out by a major flood five years ago.

Jennifer Ferrell

“We are happy to say we have doubled our housing accomplishments and not had much of a stall,” said Jennifer Ferrell, director of Community Advancement for the state Development Office.

RISE West Virginia, which spearheads the flood relief effort with federal community development block grants for disaster relief, has completed 296 housing projects.

To compare, in March 2020 the program had completed 140 houses.

The 102 housing projects that remain are all under contract, Ferrell said. And, of those, 79 have received notice to proceed and are now in construction phase.

She said the effort has averaged completion of about 12 homes a month. And 88 percent have low- to moderate-income families.

The progress report pleased members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, who have been monitoring flood relief in their communities for years. Ferrell was among those addressing the committee today during legislative interim meetings.

Stephen Baldwin

“You all have made tremendous progress in RISE throughout the pandemic. I just wanted to say thank you for that,” said Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier.

The June 23, 2016, flood devastated much of the state.

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.

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

West Virginia made its request to start using the money on Jan. 29, 2018. HUD gave its OK on Feb. 20, 2018.

And for many months, RISE West Virginia drew criticism for its slow pace of administering flood relief as HUD officially designated the state as a “slow spender” for its pace.

Today, Ferrell told the committee the end of the long relief effort is closer in sight.

Of the $149 million originally granted by HUD, West Virginia had spent about $84 million through May 1. So that leaves the state with about $65 million remaining.

Chandler Swope

“The number one issue everyone’s interested in is when will this be done?” asked Senator Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, co-chairman of the flood committee. “Can we conclude that by the end of this calendar year we’ll be finishing up all the building projects?”

Ferrell responded, “That is our goal.”

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Justice says state ready to vaccinate 12-to-15-year-olds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Monday the state is ready to react when the federal Centers for Disease Control approves COVID-19 vaccinations for children between the ages of 12 and 15.

headshot
Governor Jim Justice

“There’s 78,000 of them (12 to 15 year-olds) in West Virginia and we’re ready to go,” Justice said during his media briefing Monday at the state capitol.

It’s believed the CDC will issue the approval some time early this week.

Justice called on adults to get the kids to vaccination clinics that will be scheduled in schools and other locations.

“Help us get those kids vaccinated,” Justice said. “Those kids need protected. You need protected. The side effects they could possibly get from this (COVID-19), they, in every way, need to get vaccinated.”

State InterAgency Task Force on Vaccinations Director Jim Hoyer said earlier Monday on MetroNews “Talkline” the state is prepared for the younger population.

“We’ve got county school systems that have already done surveys, they’ve got their numbers. We’ve got counties like Kanawha County that already have clinics tentatively set up and ready to go,” Hoyer said.

James Hoyer

He said the clinics will be used in an attempt to draw in older residents.

“Our clinics will be opened up not just to 12 to 15-year-olds but to 16-to-18 as well as any family member that wants to come,” Hoyer said.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department plans to go to every middle and high school in its county.

“We started the plan to be very aggressive. We want to go into the schools. Every middle school, every high school,” KCHD Executive Director Dr. Sherri Young told MetroNews affiliate WCHS Radio. “We know what we need logistically, we know what it is going to look like once we get to the schools. The school system is now used to our operating system so that we can get in there, be efficient and get everything we need to be done.”

KCHD and partners will have a large vaccination clinic for the 12 to 15-year-olds this coming Saturday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

The department will also offer vaccinations at Kanawha County Schools’ “Summer Academy” June 7-30.

James Hoyer, Director of the Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss delivering shots to children under 16. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/O7s8iuLuzE

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) May 10, 2021

Meanwhile, Hoyer said the the first primary care providers who signed up for vaccines will be picking them up beginning Wednesday. He said other doctors are registering with the state.

“What are data is showing us is those people who still have not made the decision to get the vaccine yet want to talk to a trusted health care provider.” Hoyer said.

Vaccination Reward Choice

Gov. Justice gave another update Monday on his plan to reward those between 16-35 who have been vaccinated. He said they’ll be given a choice between a $100 savings bond or a gift card.

“We can go where the people can get a savings bond or you can go the other way where you can go straight with a gift card,” Justice said.

He said the savings bond will end up being an electronic issuance.

“We’ll set up how all of that will work. We’re going to give people the flexibility of going one of two ways,” Justice said.

Justice’s office is still working out the details.

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Police investigating downtown Morgantown assault

MORGANTOWN – Police in Morgantown are looking into an assault late Saturday night and into Sunday morning in downtown involving at two women and a crowd that surround a vehicle on High Street.

Video of the incident was posted on social media.

The video depicts a group of people surrounding a vehicle parked outside of The Bank Bar. In the video, a female can be seen opening the passenger side door, throwing several punches, then dragging a woman out of the car by her hair. The assault continues in the street as the victim lies on the ground taking several more punches. Eventually, the victim is able to make it to the car and the driver is able to pull away as the crowd appears to pummel the sides of the vehicle.

We’re investigating three separate incidents that happened on High Street at approximately 3 a.m. on May 9. Anyone with information should contact the Morgantown PD’s TIPS Line to make an anonymous tip at 304-284-7520.

Click the link for more info⬇https://t.co/dMomd3i9bx pic.twitter.com/9vv84YTk5b

— Morgantown Police Department (@Morgantown_PD) May 10, 2021

Morgantown Police are aware of the video and detectives are in the process of identifying potential suspects and witnesses. Preliminary reports inidcate that a disagreement started inside the night club and continued into the streets.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Morgantown Police Department at 304-284-7522.

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Photo gallery: Logan downs Lincoln County, 8-2

LOGAN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Logan’s 8-2 win over Lincoln County.

(Photos courtesy of Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography)

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MetroNews Baseball Power Rankings: Unbeaten teams Jefferson, Bluefield stay on top

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The MetroNews high school baseball poll is voted upon weekly by a panel of 10 radio broadcasters and sports writers across West Virginia. The rankings include overall records, total points and first-place votes in parenthesis.

 

 

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Charleston mayor: Town Center Mall has buyer in Georgia-based group

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS in Charleston Monday morning that a Georgia-based real estate group is buying the Charleston Town Center Mall.

Appearing on 580-LIVE with Goodwin, Jim Hull, the Owner and Managing Principal of the Hull Property Group expressed excitement with the move from his group to come to the capital city. 

“We are so excited about joining the Charleston community. That will entail us having our first property in West Virginia. We think there is so much to be accomplished and it’s going to be a fun ride,” Hull said to Goodwin and 580-LIVE host Dave Allen.

Jim Hull

The Hull Property Group will now own 33 malls in 16 states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

The group began in 1977 under Hull and is based in Augusta, Georgia. Hull said in the interview that his company “is in the mall business and has hardly ever sold a mall once purchased.”

He said he wants the mall to be part of a successful downtown Charleston. 

“We look forward to meeting other property owners downtown. Using their wisdom, having a collaboration with them on how do we orchestrate a successful downtown. We want to be a part of it.”

.@AmySGoodwin announcing on @580WCHS that the Hull Group, based in Augusta, Georgia will purchase the @CharlestonTC

— Jeff Jenkins (@JeffJenkinsMN) May 10, 2021

The mall, which had been for sale for several months, has struggled over the past few years losing anchor stores of Macy’s and Sears. It has one anchor store left in JCPenney. Other stories closing recently include Chico’s, Talbots, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, several restaurants in food court, Shipwreck Collection Market, and Christopher and Banks.

U.S. Bank Association bought the mall during a January 2019 public auction. The former owners defaulted on a $93 million loan in late 2017, and the banking group filed a lawsuit to put the mall into receivership.

NEW from The Voice of Charleston: Episode 284: 05.10.21 – 580 Live with Dave Allen
CHARLESTON TOWN CENTER MALL BUYER AND PLAN REVEALED Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and Ric Cavender from Charleston Main Street on this morning’s 580 Live from the P… https://t.co/Iq09FYENtg

— 104.5 FM | 96.5 FM | 580 AM WCHS (@580WCHS) May 10, 2021

Hull couldn’t make any predictions about what to do inside the mall because he said real estate is demand-driven.

“The time to sell is when you have a buyer. What we have to do is figure out what makes sense. That’s not something I can come up with, we have to figure it out,” he said.

“All real estate is unique, Charleston Town Center is uniquely located.”

He gave an example of bifurcating a property with a mall his group purchased in Kingston, New York. He said there was visual separation between a $30 million health center on the property and the retail, which attracted a 180,000 square foot big box user.

The map of mall properties from Hull Property Group.

 

Hull said he wanted to come back on 580-WCHS in three months to give an update once the group gets to work in Charleston.

“We have an opportunity to display, show and offer good to all of West Virginia. That’s a key opportunity that hasn’t been taken advantage of. It’s really to everybody’s benefit,” Hull said.

Amy Shuler Goodwin

Goodwin said this announcement marks another hurdle cleared by the city on a downtown property, the first one being Appalachian Power Park. In February, the city announced the West Virginia Power’s return in a new league.

“The ballpark and the mall, those were two things we set our sights on. I’m just thrilled that we have forward movement in both of those big entities in the city of Charleston,” Goodwin said.

A formal announcement from the city and real estate group is expected later on Monday.

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Active COVID-19 cases now below 7,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 cases fell below the 7,000 mark in Monday’s case report from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The agency lists active cases at 6,983. It confirmed 211 new cases Monday including three new deaths.

The deaths include a 91-year old female from Berkeley County, a 74-year old male from Wayne County, and a 63-year old male from Kanawha County.

Vaccination numbers from the state show more than 810,000 state residents (54.9%) have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

DHHR reports as of May 10, 2021, there have been 2,795,243 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 156,617 total cases and 2,729 total deaths. https://t.co/JpoQyoCm7L pic.twitter.com/jifQHXEgxo

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) May 10, 2021

Overall confirmed cases per county include: Barbour (1,427), Berkeley (12,334), Boone (2,014), Braxton (930), Brooke (2,194), Cabell (8,674), Calhoun (325), Clay (498), Doddridge (591), Fayette (3,437), Gilmer (843), Grant (1,276), Greenbrier (2,791), Hampshire (1,804), Hancock (2,795), Hardy (1,520), Harrison (5,702), Jackson (2,110), Jefferson (4,600), Kanawha (14,900), Lewis (1,186), Lincoln (1,472), Logan (3,100), Marion (4,421), Marshall (3,436), Mason (1,999), McDowell (1,565), Mercer (4,808), Mineral (2,849), Mingo (2,562), Monongalia (9,181), Monroe (1,128), Morgan (1,170), Nicholas (1,681), Ohio (4,206), Pendleton (702), Pleasants (880), Pocahontas (663), Preston (2,866), Putnam (5,132), Raleigh (6,742), Randolph (2,576), Ritchie (703), Roane (630), Summers (820), Taylor (1,228), Tucker (526), Tyler (712), Upshur (1,860), Wayne (3,086), Webster (475), Wetzel (1,329), Wirt (423), Wood (7,751), Wyoming (1,984).

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Video, updates: Governor’s briefing on covid response at 10:30 a.m.

We’ll provide updates here about how West Virginia is dealing with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

State officials have directed members of the public to a landing page dedicated to information about coronavirus in West Virginia.

Additional information can be found at CDC’s Situation Summary or at DHHR’s COVID-19 information hotline, 1-800-887-4304.

10:25 a.m. 5/10/2021  Justice leads pandemic update 

9:29 a.m. 5/7/2021 Justice leads pandemic update at 11:30 a.m.

9:16 a.m. 5/5/2020 Justice leads noon briefing about covid response

8:04 a.m. 5/3/2020 Justice provides latest on pandemic response at 11 a.m.

8:04 a.m. 4/30/2020 Justice leads pandemic briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

11:05 a.m. 4/28/2021 Pandemic briefing by Justice at 2:45 p.m. 

12:45 p.m. 4/26/2021  Justice to lead pandemic briefing at 1 p.m.

7:59 a.m. 4/23/2021 Justice to lead pandemic briefing at 11 a.m.

11:55 a.m. 4/21/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at noon

11:55 a.m. 4/19/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at noon.

10:25 a.m. 4/16/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at 10:30 a.m.

10:25 a.m.  4/14/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at 10:30 a.m.

11:54 a.m. 4/12/2021 Justice to address pandemic response at noon 


11:35 a.m.  4/09/2021  Justice to have back to back briefings beginning at noon (income tax/COVID)

10:15 a.m.  4/07/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  4/05/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  4/02/2021   Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  3/29/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m.  3/26/2021  Justice briefing at 9 a.m.

10:30 a.m.  3/24/2021  Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  3/22/2021  Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:20 a.m. 3/19/2021  Justice briefing 10:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m. 3/17/2021  Justice briefing 10:45 a.m.

11:15 a.m.  3/15/2021  Justice briefing at 11:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m. 3/12/2021 Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:30 a.m. 3/10/2021  Justice briefing set for 11:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m. 3/8/2021  Justice briefing set for 10:30 a.m.

10:55 a.m. 3/5/2021  Justice briefing set for 11:00 a.m.

This briefing was originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m. but now has been shifted to 11

;

10:32 a.m. 2/19/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

6:52 a.m. 2/17/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

9:30 a.m. 2/15/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 

9:03 a.m. 2/12/2021 Justice to lead briefing at noon

9:30 a.m. 2/10/21 Justice to lead briefing at 11 a.m.

11:58 a.m. 2/8/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon 

9:48 a.m.  2/5/21 Justice to lead briefing at 11:30 

11:05 a.m.  2/3/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon 

9:34 a.m. Justice to lead briefing at noon 

10:34 a.m. 1/29/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon

9:39 a.m. 1/27/21 Manchin applauds federal effort to increases vaccine supply

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released a statement about the announcement from the Biden Administration about increasing the weekly supply of COVID-19 vaccinations to states and territories next week. The administration will also increase transparency by giving states a three week forecast of vaccine supplies.

“Today’s announcement by the Biden Administration shows that help is on the way. I thank President Biden for staying true to his word and delivering more vaccine so quickly and will continue to work closely with him to further increase our allocation. West Virginia is leading the country in efficiently and safely distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Clinics across our state have been operating below capacity because of the vaccine shortage. Now President Biden will ship out at least 10 million doses each week to get more shots in arms as soon as possible. Today’s announcement from the Biden Administration is another step closer to ensuring every West Virginian who wants a vaccine can get one, restoring our economy, and getting back to life as usual. In the last week, I have spoken with President Biden and multiple White House officials who have assured me the number one priority for the Administration is quickly producing and efficiently distributing the vaccine. I’m glad to see them put their money where their mouth is and ramp up vaccine distribution.”

9 a.m. 1/25/21 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

12:07 p.m. 1/21/21 Justice plans noon briefing 

9:56 a.m. 1/19/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

8:51 a.m. 1/13/2021 Justice plans 10 a.m. briefing

here is the livestream https://t.co/i4kQb1qU8N

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 13, 2021

8:49 a.m. 1/11/2021 Justice plans noon briefing

here is the livestream https://t.co/Dw7fbZbuev

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 11, 2021

11:31 a.m. 1/8/2021 Justice plans noon briefing 

livestream here https://t.co/jN45H6LHG6

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 8, 2021

7:54 a.m. 1/6/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

here is the livestream https://t.co/Khcw32yYBv

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 6, 2021

6:59 a.m. 1/4/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing

here is the livestream https://t.co/6YB4IooQpY

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 4, 2021

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MetroNews This Morning 5-10-21

The woman charged with killing patients at the Clarksburg V-A is set to learn her fate this week. The trial against three distributors of opioids continues today in Charleston Federal Court. High winds Sunday leave a lot of West Virginians in the dark to start the day. Lawmakers are back in Charleston today for their first interim meetings. Some students in Pocahontas County had an interesting conversation recently and four schools are celebrating state basketball championships. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 5-10-21” on Spreaker.

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Questions Linger as Reta Mays Faces Sentencing for VA Murders

Convicted serial killer Reta Mays is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.  Judge Thomas Kleeh will likely order that the 46-year-old former overnight nurses’ aide at the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Hospital in Clarksburg spend the rest of her life in prison.

Mays admitted during a plea hearing last year that she murdered seven aging veterans and contributed to the death of an eighth by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin. The veterans died from hypoglycemia.

Reta Mays

Judge Kleeh asked Mays during that plea hearing, “Did you in fact do what they say you did?” Mays answered, “Yes sir.”  However, she did not explain why, and that is the lingering question.  What was her motive?

Former U.S. Attorney Bill Powell, whose office investigated the case and brought the charges, calls that the “million dollar question.”  “She never told us why she did it,” Powell said.

“Obviously, the families want to know. I’m curious to know,” Powell said, “but I’m not sure anyone’s going to walk away satisfied in the end.”

Our Brad McElhinny reports that Mays’ lawyers may have built an argument based on her military service.

“Her defense attorneys in a previous status hearing were focused on gathering records about Mays’ mental health dating back to her 2003 deployment to Iraq, where she was a chemical equipment repairer with the West Virginia National Guard’s 1092nd Engineering Battalion,” McElhinny reported.

Tony O’Dell, the Charleston attorney who represents many of the families of Mays’ murder victims, does not believe that explanation will fly.

“I believe we’re going to hear that it’s post-traumatic stress disorder, but we have a lot of veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder who don’t murder people,” O’Dell said on Talkline last week.

If the “why” explanation will be unsatisfactory, perhaps families can at least get an answer to the “how” question; how was Mays able to murder eight veterans—and probably two more, based on successful civil lawsuits—over a period of months without the hospital detecting something was amiss?

The Veterans Administration Office of the Inspector General is expected on Tuesday to release the results of its long-awaited investigation. This report should shine a much-needed spotlight on the procedural breakdowns at the hospital that allowed Mays to carry out her despicable crimes.

“The one common thread that runs through all the families that I’ve represented has been just this tremendous feeling of betrayal that these families will carry with them the rest of their lives,” O’Dell said.

Tomorrow will be the end of the line for Mays, when she will likely be ordered locked away for the rest of her days.  Hopefully for the families of her victims, tomorrow can mark the beginning of their healing.

 

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