GOV’S COAL COMPANIES HIT WITH FEDERAL LAWSUIT NOW FIRING BACK

Governor Jim Justice’s coal companies that have been hit with a federal lawsuit, are now hitting back. The Governor’s Bluestone Energy Group said on Tuesday, that Justice’s coal operations are seeking a declaratory judgement in federal court against the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement… asking the court to require the federal agency to live up to an agreement to settle various fines, penalties and reclamation fees. The filing alleges that the agency agreed to settle various fines and penalties with Justice’s coal companies in early April. But they say, company officials became skeptical of the agreement after the federal government filed suit against the companies earlier this month.

CEREMONY SET FOR FRIDAY

U.S. Attorney Bill Powell will honor law enforcement and community members at the U.S. Attorney Awards this Friday, May 24th. The ceremony will be held beginning at 1pm at the W. Craig Broadwater Federal Building and United States Courthouse on West King Street in Martinsburg… in the courtroom of Chief District Judge Gina M. Groh… on the 2nd floor.

MANCHIN INTRODUCES HEALTH LEGISLATION

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has introduced legislation to overturn the expansion of short-term health insurance plans that aren’t required to provide healthcare coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or cover services such as prescription drugs, emergency room visits, substance use disorder treatment, or maternity care. The House companion legislation passed on Thursday by a vote of 234-183. The No Junk Plans Act is cosponsored by the entire Senate Democratic caucus.

STATE FIXING MORE ROADS

A special session on Monday in the state capitol resulted in not only fixing some bills that had previously been vetoed by Governor Jim Justice, but also included nearly $100 million in additional funding for secondary roads here in West Virginia. Three bills included supplemental appropriations to move money into the Division of Highways for the remaining fiscal year… plus for the next fiscal year starting July 1st. The total amount moved was $98 million dollars. Since March, about 3,600 miles of roads have been ditched, more than 458,000 feet of culverts cleaned, and just shy of 43,000 tons of asphalt has been used for patching statewide.

MARTINSBURG WOMAN ARRESTED ON FELONY CHILD NEGLECT CHARGES

A Martinsburg woman was arrested on felony charges after a child was discovered living in unsafe conditions. 28 year old Sarah Murphy has been charged with child neglect creating a risk of serious injury or death, and possession of controlled substances. When she was taken into custody at her home on Albert Street, a child of 5 was found in a room with food mashed into the floor, mounds of filthy laundry, a bed with no sheets or blankets, and a pillow with no fabric. There were also signs of drug use, and a metal bucket with human waste in it… all within reach of the child. Murphy is now behind bars in the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $12,500 bond

FATAL CRASH IN GERRARDSTOWN

A single vehicle accident over this past weekend in Gerrardstown, leaves one person dead and another injured. It happened just before 2:30 Sunday afternoon, when the vehicle slammed into a tree on Apple Harvest Drive. The driver… 37 year old William Colandrea, was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger… 30 year old Valerie Smith was found lying unconscious with life-threatening injuries. She was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Another passenger… an 8 year old child… suffered minor injuries and was taken to Berkeley Medical Center. Police say all are from the Martinsburg area. The investigation into that crash continues today.

GAS PRICES MODERATING THIS WEEK

The average price of gasoline across West Virginia is three cents cheaper this week at $2.75 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report. Ahead of the Memorial Day travel weekend, gas prices are cheaper across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, ranging from $3.00 in Pennsylvania to $2.54 in Tennessee. Average price last week was $2.78…. a year ago, it stood at $2.85. In Martinsburg today, the average price of a gallon of regular stands at about $2.79. Today’s national average is $2.85… about seven cents cheaper than it was one year ago.

BUNKER HILL MURDERER SENTENCED

A Bunker Hill man is headed to prison for at least 18 years before he is even eligible for parole, for the murder of a 27-year-old Kearneysville woman. 30 year old Mark Carter Jr was sentenced Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. Carter was convicted by a jury in March of first-degree murder, felony conspiracy, and leaving the scene of an accident involving death… all in connection with the death and robbery of Christina Crawford in the early morning hours of August 16. Crawford died from her injuries 15 days later at Innova Fairfax Hospital.

NEW REP SWORN IN FOR 9TH DISTRICT

A former investigator with experience in uncovering public corruption and fraud, is now the 9th District’s newest representative in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Republican Chuck Little from Davisville, took the oath of office Monday. Little takes over for retired West Virginia State Trooper Ray Hollen, who resigned effective May 12th to take on a new job with the U.S. Department of Defense. Governor Jim Justice announced Little’s appointment in a statement released on Sunday night. Little is an investigator and forensic financial specialist for the law firm of Bailey and Glasser in Charleston specializing in white-collar criminal cases. Before that, he served in the West Virginia State Police for 15 years, and worked with the IRS as a special investigator.

MOTORCYCLE THEFTS UNDER INVESTIGATION

Someone broke into Ridersville Cycles in Berkeley Springs around at 4 Friday morning. West Virginia State Police say the owners of the business watched video of it happening from their home, as 10-12 thieves went to work there. The owners rushed there, and saw a U-Haul traveling north on Route 522 away from the business. They began to follow it, and the driver at one point drove toward the owner’s vehicle… before losing control along Sand Mine Road, and getting stuck in the mud. The people in the U-Haul took off on foot before officers arrived. Two stolen motorcycles were recovered valued at $17,000. Two other dirt bikes valued at $19,000, remain missing. The investigation is continuing.