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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County Commission is looking to help the less fortunate work towards a better life this holiday season.
In participation with the WV Coalition to End Homelessness, Mon County Commission is looking establish a task force for Home for the Holidays. A program that will have it’s first meeting on November 22nd and is taking an aggressive approach to homelessness in Downtown Morgantown.
“It’s very daunting, but it’s one aspect of downtown that we are going to try and deal with,” said Mon County Commission President Tom Bloom. “And it’s to put in 15 families into 15 homes by December 25th,” he said.
The funds to make that achievable are coming through state grants and the WVCEH which makes this aggressive goal possible. This will allow for several services to be provided by the WVCEH including the providing of rent for these households and the replacement costs for any furniture that might be damaged during the year long leases. Along with the financial assistance, there will be case managers provided by WVCEH that will help those households get the proper channels. All with the single goal to get these less fortunate families back on their feet and having productive lives.
“We’re very excited about it, not only will we have people who will be vetting the individuals but we then we will also have and after care program,” said Bloom describing the services.
For landlords and community members, the requirements would be rather simple. To assist in providing fully furnished housing with fully stocked refrigerators at the time these households are selected. Also, in fully embracing the holiday season, the homes would also be provided with holiday decorations and appropriate gifts for children that are living in the household. While it is still early in it’s stages, Bloom says the community response to Home for the Holidays has been excellent, with over 30 people signed up to the task force.
“The response I’ve gotten has been unbelievable, it’s something, and it’s something tangible,” says Bloom about the progress of the task force. “And I look forward to promoting and telling more people about it this week,” he said.
The ultimate goal for the program, is to turn these 15 households into permanent residents in the volunteered homes. In Monongalia County, in particular the Morgantown area, concerns over the rising homeless population has lead to concerns from local business owners being openly addressed during public meetings of both Mon County Commission and Morgantown City Council. With the assistance of the WVCEH provided case managers and the community at large, Bloom feels that homelessness can be tackled this holiday season.
“It’s going to be a community effort, it’s just dealing with one aspect right now of the downtown situation, but we just believe that we had to do something and just sitting there and talking about it, just isn’t going to resolve it,” he said.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – More than 100 people filled the sidewalk in front of the Morgantown Public Library Saturday morning for the Drag Queen Storytime Support Rally.
The Drag Queen Storytime event was cancelled due to threats of disruption, violence and physical harm to the volunteer readers.
Third Ward councilman Zack Cruze attended the event and expressed disappointment that protests from groups outside Morgantown and Morgantown/Monongalia County residents made participants feel unsafe.
“Anyone that wants to volunteer can come and read,” Cruze said,”Morgantown is a very inclusive community, so it really isn’t fair to say that we’re inclusive, to say we have a non-discrimination policy and then say no we don’t want you to read at the library.”
Cruze tells WAJR News the rally had been planned well in advance of the cancellation.
“There was already a plan to have a rally and help people get into the library,” Cruze said,”Because the protesters were threatening violence and saying they were going to bring pepper spray and bullhorns.”
Cruze says it would very difficult to establish dialog with those opposed to the event.
“Some of these individuals have been threatening bodily harm towards members of the community,”Cruze said,”They’re saying the LGBT community is disgusting and sick, it’s difficult to sit down with someone when you know that just your existence makes them want to cause to harm you.”
Cruze stressed that we all pay taxes.
“Every member of our community is a taxpayer, the LGBT community, we pay taxes just like everyone else,” Cruze said,”The event was even going to be held in the basement so that anyone coming to the library didn’t have to see it if they didn’t want to.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- Library officials in Morgantown have cancelled the Drag Queen Storytime event scheduled for Saturday due to threats of violence on the participants.
Library director Sarah Palfrey says the participants received death threats and did not feel safe.
“We had a event scheduled for Saturday,” Palfrey sad,”And the volunteer readers received enough death threats that they felt they should not participate.”
Morgantown police chief Ed Preston tells WAJR News at 8 p.m. Thursday they did receive one threat Preston says the complainant characterized as “veiled.” Preston adds the complainant insisted that no investigation be conducted.
WAJR obtained a copy of the report and it says quote”One person made various statements that could be perceived as veiled threats.”
The report says the complainant did not want an investigation completed at this time, but wanted the incident documented.
A rescheduled date has not been established.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Police Department has received the American Automobile Association “Community Traffic Safety Platinum Award” for the 14th consecutive year.
The award was presented at a special ceremony in Bridgeport.
“Receiving these awards goes to show the effort that the city, the Morgantown Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies in the area puts into making our roadways safer,” said Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston.
The Platinum Award is the highest award given by AAA. It recognizes participation by the city in programs like the Governor’s Highway Safety
Programs “Click It or Ticket” campaign, creating a Pedestrian Safety Board and Bicycle Board, hosting the ARIDE program, and DWI Enhanced Enforcement.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Code Enforcement Department has organized a group of volunteers to help the elderly and disabled with snow removal. Morgantown city code requires residents to clear snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24-hours.
The program has averaged 12 calls for assistance over the last seven years.
This year, volunteers for the program come from the WVU Center for Service and Learning’s iServe Program, the WVU Wrestling Team, and local church groups.
“It’s heartwarming to see so many people willing to help the community,” said Code Enforcement Director Mike Stone. “If we get a call from an elderly or disabled person needing help with removing snow from their sidewalk or driveway, we will make sure one of our volunteers will get out and take care of it.”
Elderly or disabled residents can get assistance by calling 304-284-7401.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says Jesse Tichenor, 27, of Morgantown, has been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a drug distribution ring.
Tichenor pled guilty to using a a communication device to promote the sale of crack cocaine in Monongalia County in March of 2017.
The Mon Metro Drug and Violent Crime Drug Task Force assisted with the investigation.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Police in Morgantown say a pedestrian was hit by a car that fled the scene at the intersection of High and Pleasant Streets at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Minutes later a car matching the description was located in the Sabraton area.
Police identified the driver as Shane Alan Mcie, 48, of Anmore. He has been charged with hit and run with injury, failure to render aid and driving without a license.
The pedestrian was treated for minor injuries at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
Witnesses to the crime are aasked to call 304-284-7522.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A routine traffic stop in Morgantown has led to a major quatity of marijuana, TKO vape cartridges, bottles of THC vape juice and packaging materials.
Morgantown police chief Ed Preston says the investigation started with a traffic stop on Gallatin Avenue involving a 2018 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven Tristan Clay Anderson, 23, of Bolivar, Ohio. A canine alert on the vehicle resulted in the discovery of 2.5 pounds of marijuana, scales and packaging materials.
Police then obtained a search warrant for a property tied to Anderson in the 300 block of Virginia Avenue and recovered a substantial amount of drugs.
“More than 25 pounds of marijuana, more than 70 bottles of THC oil to charge the pens, more than 300 of the TKO vape cartridges plus more than 100 of the edible marijuana candies.”
Preston says tests have verified the bottles of oil contained a very potent concentration of THC, but no heroin.
The TKO vape cartridges are known to contain heroin.
“If someone has, or knows someone who is using these TKO cartridges, they’re stamped with the letters T-K-O, Technical Knockout, they’re extremely dangerous, they have heroin, they have highly concentrated THC oils in them,” Preston said,”There’s a lot of talk about the Vitamin E acetate thats is used with the THC oils that is extremely dangerous.”
Anderson is being charged with possession with the intent to distribute and is awaiting arraingment.
Preston says this is an ongoing investigation.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It was standing room only in the Shenandoah Room of the Mountainlair for the showing of Breathe, Nolan, Breathe, the documentary about the tragic hazing-related 2014 death of Nolan Burch. Burch, of Buffalo, N.Y., was found unresponsive and died with a blood alcohol level of .493 at the former Kappa Sigma fraternity house.
T.J. and Kim Nolan, his father and mother, brought the film to the WVU campus to educate students about the dangers of hazing and alcohol abuse. The Nolans also want to empower current students to not be afraid to stand up for what’s right and ethical.
Olivia Almond attended the showing of the film and the roundtable discussion.
“It was really hard seeing exactly what happened,” Almond said,”I came into this not really knowing there was going to be actual scenes from that night and seeing that really, really hard.”
Almond told WAJR News this was a very impactful evening for her.
“Seeing that tonight makes me want to spread awareness for this issue that is very rampant on our campus,” Almond said,”A lot of people on this campus are proud that West Virginia has a party reputation, but that’s not really something to be proud about.”
Almond did say that film, roundtable did make her feel empowered to take the message further than the Shenandoah Room.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Monongalia County commissioners have voted to opt out of a mass-opioid lawsuit. Municipalities like the county, are very concerned about the share they may receive if a nationwide settlement is reached.
“This allows our case to proceed,” Sikora said,”We’re not entering into a mass settlement group right now, we’re opting to let the case run it’s course and see where it goes.”
The mass lawsuit would distribute settlement money to at least 34,000 municipalities, some that may have not filed lawsuits.
The state Supreme Court has established a Mass Litigation Panel led by Taylor/Barbour County Judge Alan Moats for municipalities that want the cases heard at the state level.
Commissioners are concerned the mass settlement could favor larger cities.
“If they were to forward and have a settlement we would be locked in,” Sikora said,”Instead we’ve opted to let the court run it’s course.”
Commissioner Sean Sikora says they watching the outcomes of cases involving Huntington and Cleveland and plan to evaluate options.
More than half of the 55 counties in West Virginia are expected to opt out, they have until November 22 to do so.
Since the 1990’s the opioid crisis has cost billions of dollars and more than 200,000 people have died from overdoses in the country.