Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV
MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. – Current Democrat senator from District 13 has officially filed to challenge Republican incumbent West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, Ken Leonhardt.
Beach says making the decision to run has been a work in progress.
“In the last few years I’ve seen some things I don’t like,”Beach said,”Last January, I had some farmers from Greenbrier County reach out to me and ask if I would consider a run for ag commissioner and it didn’t take a lot of arm bending to convince me this was the path I wanted to go.”
Beach says we need to do a better job of promoting West Virginia agriculture here and in other states.
“There’s a lack of promoting agriculture, both in and outside the state of West Virginia,”Beach said,”We consume about $7 billion worth of food her in the state, but we produce less than $2 billion worth of food, so we have room to grow.”
Beach says after learning the current department leadership travels more than any other state agency he would put a moratorium on travel for the first year. He wants to allocate that travel money to promoting West Virginia agriculture.
Beach says hemp policies that require farmers to destroy crops that test over the THC limit are unreasonable and should be debated.
“I don’t believe we need to destroy the entire plant, the THC is only in the top 10 to 12 inches where the flower is at and where the sample is taken,”Beach said,”If we give the farmers the chance to cut off the top, that’s the part that’s destroyed, the rest of that plant is the fibrous material we need for textiles and hemp concrete.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A report of five to six gunshots in the Smithtown Road area of Morgantown led to the arrest of Daniel Cruz,19, of Morgantown, Wednesday.
Monongalia County deputies began a foot patrol in the area of Luke Street when they saw a suspect identified as Cruz approaching them holding a rifle.
When deputies grabbed the rifle they noticed a bag of marijuana in his sweatshirt pocket. While processing Cruz police found a loaded 40 caliber pistol, 81.5 Xanax bars, two cell phones, oxycodone and more than $1,000 in cash.
The investigation determined Cruz was at his girlfriend’s apartment firing the guns outside where other residents live.
Cruz has been charged with wanton endangerment and possession with intent to deliver.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University and the City of Morgantown a ready to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Starting Monday morning, activities will be taking place across WVU’s campus and the City of Morgantown celebrating the life and legacy of the civil rights leader. The ceremonies will begin with the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast the WVU Mountainlair Ballroom starting at 8 a.m. During the breakfast will be the presentation of the MLK Achievement Award. Also speaking will be former WVU football player turned motivational speaker Eugene Napoleon who will serve as the keynote speaker.
“He is going to come in and speak to our students and to all of the community and we are very much looking forward to having him,” said Director of WVU Center for Black Culture and Research Marjorie Fuller about Napoleon speaking.
Following the breakfast, there will be several service projects that will be completed around WVU’s campus and the City of Morgantown. According to Fuller, volunteers will be participating throughout the day as projects of various kinds will be worked on to celebrate King’s legacy. This will include the participation of groups such as the Apallachain Prison Book Project at the WVU Center for Service and Christian Help where volunteers will be helping in day-to-day activities. Two of several projects that Fuller says adhere to King’s legacy of taking action head on.
“We like to remember our history and to celebrate our history every year, but also to encourage our young people to go on out there and realize that they are the change agents of today,” she said.
Along with the service projects taking place around Morgantown, there will also be several ceremonies that will be taking place celebrating King’s memory. In the morning, after the breakfast and during the several service projects, will be the West Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission Ecumenical Service taking place at the Asbury United Methodist Church. Then in the afternoon starting at 2 p.m., a ceremony unveiling the newly named Martin Luther King Jr. will take place between Court Street and Brawley Walkway which will be followed by a symbolic march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on 304 Donnally Street where Vice President for WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore will speak about Dr. King’s message of acceptance regardless of who they are.
“We do believe in peaceful change, recognizing everyone’s humanity, and being out there and getting the word out, ” said Fuller. “About making sure that we respect everybody, everyone’s religion, everyone’s ethnicity,” she said.
Also taking place in Downtown Morgantown to celebrate will be a free for all program at the Metropolitan Theater starting at 2 p.m. The program includes performances by area choirs, readings of Martin Luther King’s essays and a reading by Jeremy Thomas of the children’s book The Youngest Marcher. These events, ceremonies and service projects taking place all across Morgantown, all are meant to not only encourage as many people to continue Dr. King’s legacy. but to pay tribute for all the hard work that has taken place to get there.
“We do want to make sure that everyone in the Morgantown community recognizes the fact that they are one hundred percent welcome to attend the Unity Breakfast or any of the other activities that are happening on campus, on this very special day,” said Fuller.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following years of loosely regulated residential development, Mon County commissioners and county planner Andrew Gast-Bray are finalizing the rules.
Last year, residents from the Cheat Lake area brought a petition to commissioners asking for help to get the DOH to repair roads and establish drainage. Residents told commissioners that years of unregulated development have led to washouts, slides and damage to private property.
Those situation were aggravated by intense rainfall events in June of 2019.
Gast-Bray told commissioners that in addition to many comments and concerns from the public they have been working with the DOH, developers and members of the finance community to develop rules that work for residents.
Gast-Bray says because of the volume of comments and input the process has been extended from the scheduled March 1 roll out.
“Its probably going to be more like May 1,” Gast-Bray said,”Because you need to have thirty days for public review.”
Additional public meeting are planned for April of this year.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says Jeremy Matthew Cralton, 42, of Morgantown, has entered a guilty plea to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a domestic violence crime.
Court documents indicate Cralton admitted to owning an AR-15 in March of 2019 while previously convicted for a domestic violence crime.
Cralton could receive a sentence of up to 10 years in prison or a $250,000 fine.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Pre-trial proceeding in the impeachment trial for the 45th President of the United States in the U.S. Senate officially gets underway today.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito was a guest on WAJR’s Talk of the Town and said the process begins with a series of formalities.
“At noon they will formally read the articles of impeachment to the Senate and then the Chief Justice gets sworn in, we get sworn in as jurors in the trial,”Capito said,”It’s a very solemn day on Capitol Hill and I take my responsibilities very seriously.”
Capito says the trial will hit full stride after the Martin Luther King holiday.
“Next Tuesday after Martin Luther King Day we will probably go into full session where we begin to hear the impeachment managers present the case,”Capito said,”Then we will hear the President’s lawyers present his defense.”
At that point, written questions will be submitted by senators through Chief Justice John Roberts to either the impeachment managers or defense lawyers.
Capito did address the issue of additional witnesses.
“I think that’s what we should do, and I haven’t heard both sides, then have questions, and I’m sure I’ll have questions,”Capito said,”Then decide whether we should move forward with additional witnesses.”
There is no timeline for completion of the litigation.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When the conservation chair for the Mon Group of the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Jim Kotcon criticized county commission members for a lack of transparency during the Longview Power Plant expansion process he didn’t know the commissioners were thinking the same thing.
“I’m particularly concerned about the lack of information and lack of transparency that has come from the commission since we first approached you in March of last year,” Kotcon said. .
A provision in the original deal in 2011 directed Longview Power to pay $500,000 per year to the Sierra Club to establish the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation, intended to provide environmental education and support stream and forest remediation. Unconfirmed reports from commissioner indicate the group has received $4 million and has spent $355,400 on remediation activities.
The unconfirmed report says the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation has spent another $1,244,609 on attorneys and maintains a bank balance of $1,600,106.31.
Commissioner Tom Bloom immediately pushed back on Kotcon’s claim.
“I believe the citizens of Monongalia County need to know what’s going on, all three commission members are conservationists,”Bloom said,”Where did that money go? What we’re seeing is it went to lawyers and other activities to fight what we’re doing now and that was not the purpose of the money.”
Kotcon was invited to return to the next regular meeting and provide information and he accepted.
Still, commission members remained very concerned about the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.
“$4 million was given to them and less than 10 percent was used for remediation and that was the agreement,”Bloom said,”I believe there needs to be an answer.”
Commisoner Bloom says this was a real shock for commissioners.
“I was hoping for education and other areas,”Bloom said,”This was real shocker, we’re following the rules and the legislation to do what’s in the best interest of this community.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says violent crime is down and the fight against illegal drugs is gaining traction in the Northern District of West Virginia since 2016.
“Violent crime specifically, which is a big emphasis of ours was noticeably dropping, Bridgeport, Martinsburg and Wheeling we’re down over 30 percent as far as violent crime is concerned.”
According to data from the FBI it’s the largest decrease since the 2013 report.
“Crime generally has been dropping in double digits across the district, not in every city, but overall a bid drop in crime across the district,” Powell said.
Powell says federal prosecutions are up more than 50 percent since 2016, largely due to an aggressive strategy in targeting and prosecuting dealers. Powell stressed that enforcement is only one part of a three-way approach that includes education/prevention and treatment.
“We’re picking up information from our various investigations that they all know we prosecute folks aggressively,”Powell said,”I think some of them now avoid coming here and the numbers reflect that.”
Powell says his team is looking to dismantle these drug distribution organizations from the top down, ultimately leading to the source.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown municipal workers and volunteers continue to collect and dispose of used needles during the information gathering phase of the decision making process.
In November, Milan Puskar Health Right offered to purchase, place and maintain three of the containers.
Council members have heard testimony from Morgantown police chief Ed Preston, Health Right executive director Laura Jones, peer recovery coach Dani Ludwig and council members who have analyzed similar programs in other cities.
During a workshop on Friday, January 10 mayor Bill Kawecki, deputy mayor Rachel Fetty, councilor Jenny Selin and city manager Paul Brake asked for more time to look at public policy options, education and additional expert testimony.
The officials have committed to moving the issue forward cautiously.
Morgantown city councilman Zack Cruze backs the plan and volunteers to collect and properly dispose of the syringes.
“My partner and I go out to some of these high use areas, Whitmore Park and the area under the bridge, to do litter cleanup,”Cruze said,”Because we’re comfortable picking up these syringes, where a lot of people aren’t we don’t mind to do that.”
Because infectious compounds can maintain viability for weeks in some cases, Cruze says the collection process can be complicated.
“We pick the syringe up off the ground with trash grabbers, put it in a two liter bottle,” Cruze said,”Then carry the bottle to my car with the trash grabbers and transport it to Health Right.”
Cruze added that he transports the medical waste across they city on a regular basis.
Cruze says he supports placing the containers because of data gathered from a similar program in Toronto, Canada. That program resulted in a 98 percent drop of sharps on the ground in a 600 foot radius of the container location.
“So its not just right beside the container where we see the reduction,”Cruze said,”It’s a 600 foot radius and 98 percent reduction of sharps on the ground.”
Morgantown continues the debate January, 21 in council chambers at 7 p.m. with testimony from Mon County public health officer Dr. Lee Smith during the committee of the whole session.