GREYHOUND FUND MAY BE WIPED OUT

The Senate Finance Committee is considering a bill that would eliminate the Greyhound Breeders Development Fund that contributes to the purses for greyhound racing at two state casinos. If passed, it would wipe out the nearly $17 Million transfer from wagers on table games and video lottery machines from the fund, effective July 1st.

HARPERS FERRY BILL PENDING

A bill that could affect a multi-million-dollar hotel project in Jefferson County passed the West Virginia Senate Tuesday in a 21-12 vote. It gives the State Development Office authority to involve itself in projects that qualify for tax credits under the Tourism Development Act that are in historic districts and have a minimum private investment of $25 million in Class IV municipalities, those cities with 2,000 or fewer residents. It’s primarily aimed at the Hilltop House project in Harpers Ferry.

LEGISLATIVE SESSION ALREADY HALF OVER AND ONLY 9 BILLS PASSED SO FAR

The halfway point of the 2020 legislative session passed last week, and so far, only nine bills have passed both the House and Senate, with two of those bills being signed last Wednesday by Gov. Jim Justice.

JUSTICE EXPANDS BALLOT ACCESS

Governor Jim Justice has signed Senate Bill 94, which expands ballot access to West Virginia voters living with physical disabilities who are unable to vote at the polls. The new law allows voters with physical disabilities, who cannot travel to the polls and mark a paper ballot without assistance, to receive and mark an absentee ballot electronically through secure means approved by the Secretary of State. The new law takes effect with the 2020 Primary Election, but voters covered under the new law who prefer to vote via paper absentee ballot may still choose to vote using the traditional method.

PATTERSON OFFERED PLEA DEAL

A plea deal is now on the table for 59 year old Clyde Patterson of Martinsburg, who faces a string of felony charges including robbery, assault and attempted murder in connection with the December 2018 hold up at Lupitas Grocery. It Patterson pleads guilty under Alford circumstances to first-degree robbery and attempted murder, the remaining charges will be dismissed, and he will serve a 50-year sentence for the first-degree robbery charge, and three to 15 years in prison concurrently for attempted murder.

TENTATIVE TRIAL DATES SET

Tentative jury trial dates have been set for a man from a Jefferson, Maryland, and a woman from Harpers Ferry woman… each charged in connection with the death last August death of 28-year-old local Taylor Pond of Charles Town. 28 year old Elliott Lansdowne’s trial will begin on June 23rd. 20 year old Emma Phillips’ jury trial was scheduled for August 23rd. Both were extradited back to West Virginia following their arrests in Maryland.

WANTED WOMAN IN JEFFERSON COUNTY

A warrant is now out for the arrest of an Eastern Panhandle woman who did not appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court last week for an arraignment hearing. 41 year old Sherri Fritts was charged with delivery of a controlled substance resulting in death and failure to render aid. Anyone with information on Fritts’ whereabouts is asked to call the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

BILL WOULD END DRIVERS LICENSE SUSPENSIONS FOR UNPAID COURT COSTS AND FINES

Under consideration in Charleston, is a bill that would end driver’s license suspensions over court costs and unpaid fines. Brittney Myers was jailed on drug charges. Her license was suspended when she couldn’t pay thousands in court fees.

If passed, West Virginia would join six other states that stopped suspending driver’s licenses because of unpaid debt.

KEARNEYSVILLE HOUSE FIRE

Flames damaged a home on Mason Farm Drive in Kearneysville on Sunday. According to firefighters, it began as a small fire in a bathroom, and then it spread into the attic. Everyone who was home at the time, safely escaped. Nobody was hurt and crews had it out quickly. The home is not totally destroyed, but for now it is not habitable. The exact cause remains under investigation.

LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

After four days of testimony, a jury on Friday, took just 15 minutes to return a no-mercy verdict against 47 year old Julie Orellana of Gerrardstown, who was found responsible for the shooting and stabbing death of her 8-year-old daughter and the wounding of her 11-year-old daughter. Orellana will be sentenced now to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sentencing has been set for April 20th.