The Voice of West Virginia
BRIDGEPRT, W.Va. — Bridgeport High School Principal Matt DeMotto has announced his retirement after a three-decade career in education.
“There’s not a person of whom I’m aware in their right mind that in high school says one day I want to grow up and be a high school principal,” DeMotto told MetroNews Tuesday. “So, I feel like it picked me. I always liked being around the education environment, and I loved sports.”
DeMotto started as a biology teacher at Washington Irving High School in 1990 before transitioning to science. He then served in teaching roles and as the assistant principal at Nutter Fort Primary School. DeMotto has been principal at Bridgeport for five years. He was assistant principal and athletic director at the school for a dozen years prior.
“Fortunately, we won a lot more than we lost and that’s on the field, on the stage, and in the classroom,” DeMotto said. “I feel good about it; I’m in a place of personal satisfaction.”
DeMotto said they have maintained high standards for conduct and performance during his tenure. According to DeMotto, some policies limiting the use of smart phones in the school have not been popular, but they have created an atmosphere geared toward learning that students appreciate.
“Young people want discipline, they want structure, and they need a routine—we all do,” DeMotto said. “I’m very proud that I was able to play a role in creating that kind of culture here at Bridgeport High School and maintaining that kind of culture.”
DeMotto reflected on a time when there were only three television stations on the dial and said people really haven’t changed. The internet and social media have created a new normal that kids sometimes have a difficult time navigating.
“I don’t think human nature has changed much, and I think young people are really, at their core, no different than they’ve always been,” DeMotto said. “I think the things that surround them are very different.”
DeMotto said education is about helping people. He said he’s had the opportunity to help many students with very difficult situations, and through that, he has found job satisfaction.
“Most educators, when they look back, appreciate those individuals—and we all have them—that they know they were able to reach and that they know they were able to help them through a difficult time,” DeMotto said.
DeMotto announced his retirement in a staff meeting Tuesday.
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Bluefield City Manager Cecil Marson said they are still counting, but the flash flooding on Monday impacted as many as 750 homes in the city.
“The ballpark, anywhere from 250 to 750 is the amount of homes that have had some form of water damage,” he said.
The city endured more than three inches of rain in a short period of time. The runoff overwhelmed the city’s storm drains and backed up water into a number of residential neighborhoods. Larch and Tulip Streets along with College Avenue were the biggest trouble spots.
“All the water is receded and we got that cleaned up. Now we’re removing the last of the debris and the Red Cross is starting to go through the neighborhoods,” he explained.
Officials from the Red Cross and the Mercer County Office of Emergency Management went door to door Tuesday to document the level of damage in each home. Most of the damage was basement flooding, but a few had water in the living space of the first floor in their homes. The assessment also was happening in parts of Mercer County outside of Bluefield City Limits and in neighboring McDowell County.
Marson said he’s been told those areas of Bluefield which were hit have historically had water problems, but this was the worst rainfall in more than 20 years in the city. The damage assessment was expected to take several days to complete. The compilation will determine if they city and county residents can qualify for any sort of financial assistance for the damage.
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Members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation say they support a federal debt ceiling deal in part because the legislation includes measures to speed up approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Congresswoman Carol Miller gave a very direct answer.
“Support,” said Miller, R-W.Va., speaking today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “Number one, of course, is Mountain Valley Pipeline.”
Miller’s congressional counterpart, Republican Alex Mooney, didn’t comment right away on the pipeline or the debt ceiling deal.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, several times commented that “I am thrilled it is included in the debt ceiling package that avoids default.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a proposed 303.5-mile interstate natural gas pipeline that would cross nine West Virginia counties to transport natural gas to East Coast markets. The pipeline’s developers have said they intend to bring the pipeline into service in the second half of 2023.
The $6.6 billion pipeline project first got authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2017, but its completion has been delayed by regulatory hurdles and court challenges.
Expedited permitting for Mountain Valley Pipeline is specified in the debt ceiling deal hammered out by the president and House Republican leaders.
The section of the debt ceiling bill dealing with the pipeline says, “The Congress hereby finds and declares that the timely completion of construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is required in the national interest.”
That section goes on to say Congress ratifies and approves all permits and other approvals required for construction and initial operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The section specifies that the approvals should occur no later than 21 days after passage of the bill. The bill goes on to say that no court would have jurisdiction to review the federal regulatory actions.
Senate Energy Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been pushing for completion of the pipeline. Speaking on “Talkline” today, Manchin said he supports the bill.
“All parties that were negotiating agreed that Mountain Valley Pipeline is in the national interest,” Manchin said. “That’s the most important thing. We need it. That product needs to be in the marketplace for the security of energy in our country.”
Manchin said the running gas through the pipeline will result in about $40 million in annual tax revenue to the state and $300 million a year to royalty owners.
Environmental groups contend the pipeline will affect forest habitats, result in runoff to streams and disrupt outdoor recreation. There’s also an overriding concern about the effects of fossil fuels like natural gas on climate change.
Maury Johnson, a Monroe County resident who lives near the pipeline’s route, has pushed back on the project by working with groups like the Indian Creek Watershed Association and Preserve Monroe. He called the pending congressional legislation a “Super Corrupt, Probably Illegal Dirty Deal.”
Johnson said if the deal goes forward, “President Biden will have revealed himself to be weak, spineless and untruthful to his campaign, inaugural and recent promises to take action.”
“As for, Manchin, he has clearly revealed that he is nothing more than a high paid lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry. While I have supported both of them in past elections, I can never do that again unless they make a quick u-turn in their actions.”
Nationally, Sierra Club executive director Ben Jealous also called expedited approval of the pipeline a bad deal.
“Any deal that attempts to expedite the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, that rolls back bedrock environmental protections, and makes life harder for workers and families already struggling is a bad deal for the country,” Jealous said.
Equitrans Midstream Corporation, the developer of Mountain Valley Pipeline, expressed gratitude for the project’s inclusion in the debt ceiling bill.
“MVP is among the most environmentally scrutinized projects to be built in this country, having been subject to an unprecedented level of legal and regulatory review,” stated Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for the company.
“With a capacity of up to 2 billion cubic feet per day fully subscribed under long-term contracts, the MVP will serve as essential energy infrastructure that will ensure American families have reliable, affordable access to domestic energy, while also assuring national energy security and helping to achieve state and national goals for lowering carbon emissions.”
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ECCLES, W.Va. — A man and woman died in a house fire on Memorial Day in Raleigh County.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office said fire crews responded to a working structure fire at a house on Harper Road in the community of Eccles at around 2 a.m. Monday. The victims were found inside and pronounced dead at the scene.
The bodies were taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsies.
The Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an investigation into what caused the blaze.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A fishing boat stolen over the weekend in Kanawha County has been recovered.
Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies said a person who was following the story spotted the stolen boat at a home in the Procious community of Clay County. Clay County authorities went to the home to investigate and learned those in possession of the boat were friends of the victim’s family. They had spotted the boat and trailer abandoned at the Clendenin Park and Ride of I-79 and were aware it was stolen. When they were unable to contact the victim, they took it to the Clay County location.
The vinyl blue fish wrap on the boat had been stripped away before the boat was recovered. The wrap was one of the distinctive markings which authorities had used in the boat’s description to the public in looking for the vessel.
It was stolen from a business in Chelyan early Saturday morning.
An investigation into who took the boat and trailer, valued at $20,000, is continuing.
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WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. — West Liberty University is ready to turn a page with the welcoming of a new president this summer.
Dr. Tim Borchers begins his role as the 38th president on July 1 and will be on campus for a series of meetings next week.
“Some of my priorities will be really trying to get to know the people, building trust, creating stability for the university, but also getting out into the community and meeting as many community leaders as I can to create partnerships,” Borchers told MetroNews.
Borchers, a native of South Dakota, was selected by the university’s Board of Governors (BOG) earlier this month. He previously served as vice president for academic affairs at Peru State College, the oldest college in Nebraska.
Borchers said Peru and West Liberty have some similarities when it comes to student achievement.
“I’d had experience working on retaining students, helping them graduate, helping them be successful, looking at some innovative academic programs. I think all of those will be very well received at West Liberty University because it aligns very closely with their mission and vision as well,” he said.
Borchers succeeds Interim President Dr. Cathy Monteroso who served as president since Jan. 1.
The president’s position opened last year after the BOG voted not to extend the contract of former President W. Franklin Evans who came under scrutiny for allegedly plagiarizing his speeches in 2021.
Borchers said he hopes to restore confidence within the campus community as West Liberty’s new leader.
“Really trying to be transparent, communicate frequently and to communicate in a variety of different venues and forms to help try and people understand what is happening at the university and why it’s happening,” he said.
Borchers has 18 years of higher education administrative experience. West Virginia and West Liberty felt like the perfect fit to continue his career, he said.
“The mission and vision aligned so closely with my beliefs, my values and the experiences that I’ve had,” he said. “When I saw it (the job) I thought it felt very comfortable and a place I could come in and make a difference.”
During his tenure at Peru, Borchers helped lead the college to achieve its highest first-year retention rate in the past 30 years by enrolling two of the largest first-year student classes. He also provided leadership so that the college received continuing accreditation status with the Higher Learning Commission in 2022.
Borchers spearheaded Peru’s migration to new retention software and motivated more than 90 percent of the faculty to use the software to provide regular updates on students’ academic progress. His work also included administering Study Abroad programs.
Before Peru, Borchers served as the Dean of the College of Arts, Media, and Communication at Minnesota State University Moorhead in Moorhead, Mn., from May 2008 to June 2015.
Borchers holds both a doctoral and master’s degree in communication from Wayne State University in Detroit, and a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For Winfield to qualify for their first state tournament in 21 years, the Generals needed to get by two-time defending state champion Logan in the regional round. After dropping the series opener, Winfield won back-to-back elimination games to advance.
The Generals are playing as well as any team in the state, with wins in 12 of their last 13 games. During that stretch of play, Winfield has allowed more than four runs just once.
“The key factor, the key ingredient for this team is how much they play for each other,” said Winfield head coach Will Isaacs. “They are concerned with the name on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back of the jersey. That’s an old cliche. That’s corny but I really believe that is a key factor with this team.”
Winfield is the No. 1 seed in the Class AA bracket and the Generals have drawn No. 4 seed Lewis County in the semifinals. 37 years have passed since the Minutemen have played on the state’s biggest stage. After a 3-7 start to the season, Lewis has won 11 of their last 13 games and they finished second in the competitive Big 10 Conference. In five postseason games, the Minutemen have outscored their opponents 51-6.
“I don’t really think we had a bad team the last couple years. We just had a tough schedule and some bad breaks, maybe one bad inning in games that have taken ourselves out of it,” said Lewis County head coach Tyler Wood. “This year, the mentality has kind of changed where they don’t really let one thing get them down.”
Keyser was pushed to a decisive game in their regional with Oak Glen. The Golden Tornado were able to get past the Golden Bears to secure their first state tournament appearance since 1997. Keyser earned the No. 2 seed with a 20-6 record.
“We have just been treating this since playoffs started as basically a three-step process,” said Keyser head coach Sean Rohrbaugh. “We’re on the third step now. My guys all through it so far have seemed very determined.”
The Golden Tornado will face the only defending regional champion in the field. Shady Spring is back in Charleston after wining Region III a year ago. After an early loss in sectional play, the Tigers have won five consecutive playoff games. Senior pitcher and Fairmont State signee Cam Manns has struck out 89 batters in 53 innings.
“When he is on the mound, it is fun to watch,” said Shady Spring head coach Jordan Meadows. “He is easy to coach. We can all whatever we want to call pitch-wise. He shakes it off and does his own thing. He’s got the mentality that he wants to be the best out there.”
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Today on MetroNews This Morning:
–Heavy rain caused flash flooding on Memorial Day in Bluefield
–A shooting in Grafton is under investigation
–Title IX changes are necessary for Mingo County Schools
–In Sports, the Mountaineers open play in the NCAA baseball tourney on Friday in Lexington, Ky.
Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 5-30-23” on Spreaker.
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WESTOVER, W.Va. — The Westover Police Department has earned more than $6,500 in an unclaimed property firearms auction run by West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore.
The auction is held in Charleston and is only open to Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders.
“It’s an honor to conduct our annual unclaimed property firearms auction to raise money for the brave men and women across West Virginia who risk their lives to keep our communities safe,” Treasurer Moore said. “This year’s auction raised a record amount of funds that police departments can use to invest in new equipment, facilities, and training programs they need to protect and serve our citizens.”
Westover Police Chief Joe Adams said the exact amount raised was $6,615.
“They sell the guns for the law enforcement agencies, and they take 10% of the proceeds of the sale and give the agency 90%,” Adams said.
The guns in the auction accumulate over time from cases investigated by the department. Some of the owners elect not to take the guns back due to the circumstances, and other guns are found or confiscated through law enforcement action.
“Sometimes people find guns in parking lots, and other ones we took on a search warrant, maybe a drug search warrant,” Adams said.
The Ford Motor Company supplies nearly two-thirds of police cruisers nationwide, but those numbers decreased sharply in 2020 as the movement to defund the police grew. Adams said the two cruisers approved to be purchased by the council could not be purchased because orders were not being filled.
The car for Westover was purchased in Pennsylvania with some minor damage but will be repaired, configured, and pressed into service.
“We’ll use the money to equip that car with the lights, sirens, control panel, police radio, radar, and all of that,” Adams said.
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CAMPBELLS CREEK — The owner of a popular eastern Kanawha County restaurant which burned down earlier this year is on the road to recovery. Paco Ellison said they are slowly making progress on rebuilding the Dairy Winkle on Campbell’s Creek after a fire destroyed the place January 11th.
“We’re taking baby steps every day, but we’re moving forward every day,” said Ellison.
According to the owner they’ve rewired the entire building, installed new heating and cooling equipment, plumbing has been refurbished and soon they’ll rough it all in with the drywall work. They’ll also be installing equipment and painting the place in the coming days.
Ellison vowed to rebuild the day the accidental fire destroyed the restaurant which is a gathering spot for many in the community. He’s had a lot of help along the way and has tried to mind his finances by doing most of the work himself or with anyone willing to help out.
“Had I brought in a team of contractors I could have been done by now, but most of the work has been done by myself and volunteers. I can’t say enough about people who continue to give me stuff and help me out,” he explained.
Ellison anticipated the rebuilding work should be done and the restaurant ready to reopen by late July. However, he said he’s also hoping he’ll be able to find a new staff.
“I think three is all I’m going to have returning and they are all itching to come back, but I’m going to need another dozen because I’m wanting to open for breakfast,” he said.
However, he noted everybody is looking for help and wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to build a new staff for the popular eatery.
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