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Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV


Two men in Nicholas County recovering after gunfire exchange, one facing attempted murder

NICHOLAS COUNTY, W.Va. — West Virginia State Police have provided an update on a Thursday shooting in Nicholas County centered around a two-year family dispute.

Two men in Nicholas County began shooting back and forth at each other, Paul Vencil “PJ” Morris Jr., 75, of Kesslers Cross Lanes, and James William “Billy” Stone.

According to a news release from State Police, Morris has been charged with attempted murder after he entered a garage on Summersville Lake Road to confront Stone and then shot at him. Stone pulled out his handgun and returned fire.

Stone was shot multiple times and was flown to CAMC General Hospital to receive medical attention.

Investigators said Morris was shot in the left arm. He’s currently being held at Central Regional Jail on a $20,000 cash only bail.

State Police said additional charges may be filed against Morris once Stone is released from the hospital.

The investigation is still on-going.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Fayetteville woman succumbs to injuries from shooting weeks prior

OAK HILL, W.Va. — A woman from Fayetteville passed away a month and a half after she sustained gun shot wounds from an Indiana couple.

On Friday, at 9:51 a.m., State Police said the victim, Michelle Dawn Smith, 41, of Fayetteville, WV, died due to her injuries. An autopsy will be performed.

The suspects responsible for the incident were identified as Andres Torres, 27, and Amanda Soultz, 30, of Goshen, Indiana.

An officer of the Oak Hill Police Department conducted a traffic stop on vehicle in the Plateau Medical Center parking lot back on February, 16. The officer noticed a woman handcuffed in the vehicle with a gunshot wound to her head. The victim was transported to CAMC General Hospital in critical condition.

A further investigation later on revealed the suspects were in possession of Smith’s credit cards along with three pistols.

The following day on Friday, February 17, both suspects were spotted by an off-duty Deputy U.S. Marshal at the intersection of South Fayette Street and U.S. Rt. 19. Troopers were notified and took the suspects into custody, the State Police said.

Torres and Soultz were incarcerated on charges stemming from a probation violation in Indiana, kidnapping, robbery in the first degree, attempted first degree murder, and conspiracy. Charges against the two suspects will likely elevate to first-degree murder.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Fazio’s, well-known Charleston restaurant, up for sale

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One of Charleston’s best-known restaurants is for sale.

According to a real estate listing, the asking price for Fazio’s Italian Restaurant is $1.7 million which includes the property, restaurant building, “recipes, equipment, furnishings and well-known name.”

“It’s a package deal,” Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Central Realtor Sierra Hess told MetroNews Friday evening.

Hess said the longtime owners aren’t yet ready to share a lot about the decision to sell the business but may in the future.

The restaurant is currently owned by Danny and Marsha Fazio.

Fazio’s has been in existence for more than 50 years, founded by Joe Fazio. It’s located at 1008 Bullitt Street, not far from downtown Charleston.

Hess said the listing created quite a stir at the restaurant Thursday evening. Many calls came in from residents who wanted to know if the restaurant was closing. Hess said it is not closing. The Fazios are however taking their annual spring break off for the next week.

A posting on Facebook Friday by the restaurant said “Addressing a rumor—Fazio’s has been listed nationally for sale but FAZIOS is not closing.”

The restaurant building is just more than 8,000 square feet.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Hurricane unveils newer, bigger fire station

HURRICANE, W.Va. — Hurricane Fire Chief Mike Hoffman says he’s relieved to have a new 20,000 square foot fire station.

“I’m glad it’s here and I’m glad we’re transitioning into a new facility. This has been a long time coming for the City of Hurricane and its citizens,” Hoffman said following a Friday afternoon ribbon cutting at the new station which is located just past Hurricane Bridge Park on Route 34 between Hurricane Middle School and U.S. Route 60.

Hoffman said the new building is four times larger than the current 5,000 square foot station and it features the latest in equipment and technology.

“It has the exhaust system that pulls all of the exhaust out of the building. We have a state-of-the-art training building and we have room out back for a future training facility,” Hoffman said.

Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said the new station is good use of CARES Act and other monies the city had. The project cost $6 million.

“It was the time to spend it so that that money will show for a hundred years,” Edwards said. “That money just didn’t get wasted away to nothing, people can see it.”

Edwards said the old station on Main Street will be demolished in the months to come and initially used for parking.

“We have some other ideas that are in the thoughts—I’m never satisfied. I’m always thinking on what’s going to be next,” Edwards said.

A community open house at the new station is set for later in April.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

CAMC, among other transplant centers are raising flags for organ donation awareness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A flag is being raised at Charleston Area Medical Center to bring awareness to April’s National Donate Life Month.

It’s an annual campaign to not only spread awareness of organ donation, but encourage people to become an organ donor, honor the deceased and living donors, and to celebrate the many lives that have been saved through receiving an organ transplant.

CAMC, a registered organ transplant center, will be joining other hospitals across the state and raising flags for the cause. On Friday, representatives from the CAMC Kidney Transplant Center, CAMC Donor Advisory Group, and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) met in the rain to raise the Donate Life flag on the grounds outside the main hospital entrance.

West Virginia Community Outreach Coordinator with CORE, Cheryl King said only 36% of West Virginians are registered to be organ donors, while simultaneously, there are nearly 500 people in the state currently waiting to receive a transplant. King added that such a status needs to change.

“We need to get those numbers a little closer together so that we can have more people receiving the life-saving organs that they need,” said King.

King went on to say that there are many misconceptions behind what it takes to become an organ donor, as some people believe they might be too old to undergo the process, however, she said that is simply not the case. She recalled a man named Cecil Walker, who was 95-years-old when he gave his liver at CAMC to a woman who is now still alive because of it.

King said that all it takes is one organ donor to save several lives.   

“One person can save up to 8 people, because you have 8 organs that you can donate,” she said.

King encourages everyone to consider becoming a donor, adding that it’s not only organs that can be of use.

“Everyone should sign up to be an organ donor, because, it’s not just organs, it’s also tissue and corneas, as well,” said King.

The month of April was chosen for the nationwide campaign in 2003, this year making its 20th anniversary. The Donate Life flag will stay up until the end of the month. King hopes that it will bring much awareness to support the cause.

“Hopefully people are seeing all of the different ads and things we have going on, and when they see that at this hospital or other hospitals then they know that, ‘Oh yeah, that’s about organ donation and transplantation, and I could sign up to be an organ donor,” King said.

While CAMC hopes to bring the numbers of organ dominations up, King said they had received over 900 organ transplants in 2022 alone.

People can sign up to become a donor by filling out a brief registration form.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

High school students compete in 2023 Academic Showdown Championship

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Ten high school teams from across the state were in Charleston Friday to compete in the 2023 Academic Showdown Championship.

The competition is an academic head-to-head tournament testing students’ knowledge in subjects including math, history, sports, fine arts and more.

The event was hosted by the state Department of Education at the state Culture Center.

State Department of Arts, Culture, and History curator and moderator Randall Reid Smith lead the event. It opened with a grand processional of teams, featuring bands and cheerleaders.

State Senate President Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) offered some words of encouragement to the high schoolers who are about to graduate this spring.

“Learning is a life-long experience. Don’t forget that,” Blair said. “Our job in the Legislature and the executive branch is to be able to make it so there’s jobs here for you. Stay here. Stay in West Virginia.”

State Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker echoed those words and said going to a college, university or trade school is important because there are more opportunities in the state compared to a few years ago.

“We used to have a problem where we had lots of people and no jobs. We don’t have that problem anymore. In order to get those jobs, you need to keep working. You need to keep your education and training. You need to move on to some form of post-secondary education. We will find you a spot here and you will make a lot of money,” Tucker said.

Friday’s matchups included:

  1. James Monroe High School vs. Winfield High School
  2. Morgantown High School Team 1 vs. George Washington High School
  3. Spring Mills High School vs. Wheeling Park High School
  4. Huntington High School vs. Morgantown High School Team 2
  5. Ripley High School vs. Berkeley Springs High School

The grand champion will win $10,000 with each team member receiving $2,500.

There are also awards for the Academic Showdown Most Valuable Player, which is a $1,000 prize, and the All-Tournament Team, which includes a $2,500 prize with each team member receiving $500.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Charleston man conspired to distribute meth

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A week after the largest methamphetamine bust in the state, a Charleston man plead guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.

Jasper Wemh, 38, of Charleston, admitted to having a role in a drug trafficking group operating in the Charleston area. According to court documents, Wemh said he conspired with several other people to distribute the drugs.

Wemh also admitted to obtaining several pounds of methamphetamine from his supplier back on December 3, 2022. Wehms’ supplier made $250,000 over several months from his distributions to customers in and around Charleston, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District.

Wemh is one of 30 individuals indicted from the ‘Operation Smoke and Mirrors’ operation last week, resulting in the massive meth seizure last week. Local, state, and federal law enforcement seized over 200 pounds of methamphetamine, 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms and $747,000 in cash.

Wemh’s sentence is planned for July 20. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $10 million fine.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Local chef is finalist for James Beard award

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Paul Smith, A Charleston chef, is among the finalists for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast.

“I am humbled when I think about how many restaurants and chefs are in this region,” said Chef Paul Smith. “This nomination is huge, not just for me and my team, but for Charleston as well. Charleston went from being an awesome place to live to a food destination overnight.”

Chef Paul works at the 1010 Bridge Restaurant and is a part owner of both Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream and The Pitch at Shawnee Sports Complex. Smith is also a Chef Partner at Barkadas in Charleston and The Humble Tomato in Lewisburg. Smith also took on a new role recently as an Ambassador for the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the city of Charleston.

“Congratulations, Chef Paul Smith, on being the first James Beard Best Chef Finalist from West Virginia,” said Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin. “Not only is this a monumental milestone in your culinary career, but it is also a tremendous honor for the team at 1010 Bridge and our Capital City.”

The James Beard Award is in honor of the late chef James Beard, commonly referred to as one of the ‘fathers of American cuisine.’

“Thanks to Chef Paul and his efforts, the outside world is starting to take notice of what’s going on here,” said Tim Brady, President/CEO of the Charleston CVB. “There is no better choice as an ambassador for our city in the food world than him. We’re proud to say that Chef Paul Smith calls Charleston home.”

States included in the the Southeast category include Georgia, Kentucky, North and South Carolinas, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Winners of the James Beard Award will be announced June 5 in Chicago. A complete list of finalists can be found at jamesbeard.org.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Home Show begins Friday at Coliseum and Convention Center

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 53rd West Virginia Home Show returns to the Capital City this weekend.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Charleston will put on the show at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center starting Friday and lasting till Sunday afternoon.

Homeowners and homebuilding professionals take part in the home show every year. The goal of the show is for others to offer tips, recommendations and inspiration for one’s upcoming home improvement project, whether it be big or small.

Event spokesman Jim Strawn said anything related to your home, there’ll be someone at the home show that can assist you and talk about the project.

“This is really the place to be to turn your house it more into a home,” Strawn said during an appearance this week on 580 Live on 580 WCHS.

Those that want to learn more about how to go about their home improvement projects, both indoors and outdoors, can learn something new from professionals at the West Virginia Home Show. Strawn said spring is usually a great time to do a makeover.

Strawn said exhibitors at the home show are looking to motivate individuals to start on redoing their bathrooms or

“You can find flooring, lighting, plumbing, it’s really an opportunity to come down and get some consultation,” Strawn said.

As far as new things coming to the show this year, Strawn said kids can get involved with a “kids construction workshop.”

The show begins Friday at noon. The doors will be open until 8 p.m. The show is open 10 to 8 on Saturday and noon to 5 on Sunday.

Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors. Ages 15 and under can get in free.

Learn more about the home show at wvhomeshow.com.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Repairs coming to I-64 before repaving begins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state Division of Highways contractor will address base failures to a busy stretch of Interstate 64 in Kanawha County before repaving all six lanes.

Randy Damron

West Virginia Paving is set to start the five-mile job Monday night near the Dunbar exit. The work will begin in the eastbound lanes. Once that’s repaved to the Oakwood Road exit in Charleston, crews will head west back to Dunbar. The job could take up to four months.

DOH spokesman Randy Damron said the work will take place overnights from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to avoid peak traffic times.

“To have less congestion and less inconvenience to the public,” Damron said.

That stretch of interstate sees about 103,000 vehicles a day.

Repaving won’t start right away because of base failures.

“The are going to fix what’s under the asphalt and then put the new paving on top when that’s finished,” he said.

Damron said one of those failures motorists can feel now.

“There’s a dip in the westbound lanes before you approach the Montrose exit,” he said.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane during the evening work periods. Crews will close sections between existing bridges. All lanes will reopen in time for morning traffic, Damron said.

“The cones will be pulled back to the shoulders,” he said.

Dangers increase in nighttime work zones. Damron said it’s important for motorists to pay attention to signage and move over to the open lane of traffic as quickly as possible.

The state will pay West Virginia Paving $18.6 million to complete the work.

It’s been several years since the five-mile section has been repaved. The most recent job, which happened within the last decade. focused on the repaving of the middle lane of traffic only.

The work zone is only about eight miles from a significant interstate widening and bridge project that’s happening near the Nitro exit heading west into Putnam County.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV