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Program hopes to incentivize investment in downtown Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The eastern panhandle’s largest city is offering potential investors an incentive in hopes of attracting more of them downtown.

Martinsburg officials announced earlier this week that the city will soon be accepting applications for matching grants up to $5,000 in an effort to help improve the visual condition of properties in downtown Martinsburg.

The grants can be used as part of projects, large or small, to improve a building’s façade. Most non-roof improvements to homes and businesses that bring a visual improvement—including painting, porch repair, brickwork, window repairs, etc.—are eligible for the program.

Martinsburg Director of Economic and Community Development Shane Farthing said the goal is to make downtown more attractive to additional visitors, customers, residents, and businesses.

Application for grant funds must be made before undertaking the work. Full details and the online application can be found at www.considermartinsburg.com/grants.

 

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Longtime Monongalia County facilities director heading into retirement

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County Director of Facilities Bobby Doyle announced his retirement after 30 years of service this week.

Monongalia County Commission President Sean Sikora said he regrets the loss of Doyle to the team but acknowledged the financial saving he brings to the county every year by completing many projects in-house that could have gone out for bid.

“Budget time was always a fun time because that’s when I really got to know how much you really save this county and how much your foot print and your finger prints are really all over this county.” Sikora said.

The projects Doyle completed with his crews this year save the county more than $1.8 million. The projects include a gas line repair at the Monongalia County Health Department, sidewalk at the Mylan Park 4-H Extension Building, new kitchen at the Youth Services Center, dining hall at the Mason Dixon Park, a new IT building on River Road, a forensic room at the sheriff’s department, garage doors and HVAC at the MECCA 911 Center, Chestnut Ridge warming hut and a new planning commission room at the courthouse.

Doyle has maintained all county buildings, completed new construction, managed the County Motor Pool, Canine Adoption Center and Litter Control Office since 1990.

I”t’s actually just fitting that we talk about this in this room because this room is from your group,” Commissioner Tom Bloom said. “When people walk in here it is clearly very impressive.”

According to MECCA 911 Director Jimmy Smith, Doyle has been available on short notice to disinfect contaminated buildings and work areas during the pandemic to keep county workers going.

“Anything we’ve needed during this event Bobby has been there for us,’ Smith said. “We bother him on the weekends and we bother him in the evenings.”

Former Commissioner, Ed Hawkins came back to the public meeting to recognize Doyle for support while he was in office and his service to the citizens of Monongalia County.

“I don’t think I could have ever been half of the commissioner I could have been without his aid and assistance,” Hawkins said.

As for Doyle, he has been granted lifetime access to the sheriff’s department shooting range that he helped to construct.

“I would like to thank the staff that got me to this point that I’m at now,” Doyle said. “Like I’ve always said, surround yourself with good people and they will make you look good and that’s happened in the 30 years I’ve been here.”

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Eight virus deaths in Hancock County included on Saturday list of 28 confirmed through DHHR

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed 1,475 new coronavirus cases and an additional 28 virus-related death in its Saturday morning report.

The victims included six women from Hancock County, ages 76, 89, 90, 87, 93, 95, and two men from Hancock County, ages 65 and 93, along with a woman from Kanawha County, 67, and two men from Kanawha County, ages 69 and 80.

Other deaths were a man from Summers County, 66, a man from Tucker County, 78, a man from Jackson County, 82, a woman from Upshur County, 79, a woman from Barbour County, 56, two men from Cabell County, ages 56 and 72, a man from Mercer County, 92, a woman from Harrison County, 74, a woman from McDowell County, 79, a woman from Brooke County, 79, a woman from Fayette County, 86, two women from Ohio County, ages 93 and 84, a woman from Doddridge County, 83, a woman from Wayne County, 85, and a woman from Wood County, 88.

Overall, West Virginia’s daily virus infection rate was back below five percent, at 4.54 percent, in DHHR reporting which included 27,012 total new test results.

The cumulative rate was 5.46 percent.

A downward trend continued for hospitalizations.

Two dozen counties were classified in the red category, signifying “substantial” coronavirus transmission, on the daily County Alert System Map. All counties remained red based solely on infection rates.

For vaccinations, information showed 127,931 out of 132,700 received for initial doses had been administered, a rate of 96.4 percent.

For second doses, 22,966 of 28,275 received had been given to people as of Saturday morning to complete their inoculations for an administration rate of 81.2 percent.

The Bloomberg COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker put West Virginia’s vaccination rate at 7.75 doses for every 100 people which was the best among states.

The national rate was 3.39 doses for every 100 people as of Saturday morning.

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Charleston Catholic’s Hunter Moles gearing up for compressed season

— Story by Taylor Kennedy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Teams all across West Virginia are gearing up for the beginning of the winter athletics season. The expected start is set for February 15th.

Among those teams is Charleston Catholic. Head coach Hunter Moles will be going into his second season with the Irish. Last season, CCHS finished with a 19-5 record, which earned them the No. 2 seed in the Class A boys basketball state tournament.

“You have to take it one day at a time, and it has been the message to our program ever since our state tournament got canceled last year. Control what you can control. We always say that it is bigger than basketball. That is something that you have to learn in life, and that is that you have to control what you can control,” said Moles.

“You try to be a better person, athlete, teammate, son, daughter, or whatever it is you have to be better every day.”

Coaches have seen their players deal with a lot over the last 10 months. From the unknown and uncertainty of when they are going to play, to know that they have to wait even longer to play. Now, teams have an understanding of when everything should commence. Moles says that he has seen his team go through a lot.

“It has been hard for them. It is something that no one has gone through before. No one knows what is going to happen. They are losing a lot of trusts, and they are losing a lot of hope. That is kind of our job as coaches, athletic directors, and administrators is to try and keep the hope alive. Stay ready, that way you do not have to get ready. Just keep going and stay motivated,” said Moles.

Moles says that it is evident that this is hitting his seniors the hardest.

Charleston Catholic’s Aiden Satterfield (Photo by Greg Carey)

“It has been a tough time for these seniors. It has been a tough time to be a high school athlete. You have to feel for them,” says Moles.

Coaches have not been able to be around their players as often as they would like. Teams cannot gather in a weight room and workout, or gather in a gymnasium and get shots up like normal. Moles says that he is relying on his guys to come prepared.

“We have not been doing anything as a team. It is all up to the kids as individuals to be working out on their own. It is hard to get these high school athletes to realize how to work out on their own. They are still learning that process of doing things on their own. I do not know who is coming in shape. We will see. I am telling them to come in shape, but we are going to see who is going to come in good enough shape because we practice very hard,” said Moles.

There are coaches, however, that will send workouts and basketball drills that their players can go through. For Moles, it is different. Moles wants to see his guys workout on their own, and learn that if they want to be an athlete then they need to do the right things.

“I have not sent any workout because at the end of the day you have to learn how to become a better basketball player on your own. When you walk into the gym, you have to put in the work. I can give you a workout, but if you go through it easy then you are not getting anything out of it. I do not care what they are doing as long as they are doing something. If you are going to be an athlete, you have to take care of your body,” said Moles.

Moles also said that he will check in on his guys, but he also has others helping him out.

“I will check in with them from time-to-time asking who has been working out. I got some people around town. I know who is working out and who is not,” said Moles.

Charleston Catholic lost a lot of guys from last year’s senior class, but the Irish do return a stellar backcourt in seniors Aiden Satterfield and Zion Suddeth. Moles is still high on this year’s team despite losing a lot of guys last year.

“We have the captain of the Class A all-state team, Aiden Satterfield, back. He is 6-7 now he was 6-6 last year. He has gained about 15 pounds. He also recently committed to West Liberty, which is awesome. Zion Suddeth has gained some muscle as well. He had another outstanding soccer season as well. For some reason, he was only on second-team all-state basketball last year. He is going to come back and have a big year. He recently committed to Wheeling University. All they are trying to do is win a state championship,” said Moles.

Charleston Catholic’s Hunter Moles (Photo by Teran Malone)

Along with Satterfield and Suddeth, Moles still likes what he is seeing from the rest of his squad.

“We lost some good players for sure. Anthony Minardi will probably play the point guard position. He played quite a bit last year. I am looking for a big senior season from him. Ferris Murad played quite a bit as a sophomore. He is a very good glue guy. He does not do too many things wrong to be honest he just tries to do everything solidly. Chase Dalporto did not play a whole lot last year, but I will bet he is one of the strongest kids in the weight room in the state of West Virginia. He puts in the work. Then you got J.P. McCutcheon. Another high energy player. Jonathan McComas coming back. I mean John McComas, he was scoring 20 a game in JV. He is between 6-2 and 6-3. He is tall and lengthy, and he can shoot it. Then you got J. Allen Turner as a freshman that can dunk. We got some players. We got some guys that can play,” said Moles.

Moles reflects on what his senior class has had to go through over the last 10 months, and sees how they set the example of getting through tough times as the legacy they will leave.

“I think everyone will remember what they had to go through. They will remember it like, ‘Hey that was the class that their junior year they were in the state tournament and it got shut down and they did not get to play.’ Hopefully, they come out and have a big year and lead by example. Just show they worked through the adversity, and they are going to grow a lot as people this year. They have a really good chance of leaving a great legacy,” said Moles.

The Irish will open the 2021 season at home against the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights on March 5.

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PSC orders Frontier service improvements

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Requirements for system upgrades and additional maintenance are included in orders the state Public Service Commission has filed after a full service audit of Frontier Communications.

Those filings came Friday.

In general, information from the PSC indicated Frontier has pledged to invest at least $200 million in system improvements in West Virginia by Dec. 31, 2023.

Additionally, the company has committed to providing fiber service to at least 150,000 locations before Dec. 31, 2027.

Not meeting the deadlines will come with consequences, according to the PSC.

Frontier filed for bankruptcy last year.

“These orders allow Frontier to proceed with its bankruptcy reorganization, emerge a stronger corporate structure and make much needed investments in West Virginia’s internet infrastructure,” said Charlotte Lane, PSC chair, in a statement.

Rampant complaints about Frontier’s service prompted the PSC audit.

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Union reports ratification for new nurse contract with Cabell Huntington Hospital

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Nurses and nurse practitioners at Cabell Huntington Hospital, a Mountain Health facility, have approved a new three-year contract.

Those with the Service Employees International Union District 1199, representing nearly 1,000 workers, announced the ratification early Saturday after two days of voting on Thursday and Friday at the Double Tree Hotel in Huntington.

“Nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital stood united at the bargaining table and they were diligent in negotiating the details of this agreement,” said Joyce Gibson, SEIU 1199 secretary-treasurer, in a statement.

“The new agreement ensures that these vital nurses will have job security and a voice for the patients they serve and it will strengthen quality care, in addition to wages and benefits.”

The contract came out of negotiations throughout 2020 focused largely on health benefits and staffing issues.

Last fall, members of SEIU District 1199 authorized a bargaining committee to issue a ten-day strike notice, if necessary.

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Pedestrian killed along Interstate 79

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. — Part of Interstate 79 south reopened late Friday night in Kanawha County after being closed earlier in the evening because of a deadly accident involving a pedestrian.

Emergency officials said one person was killed after being hit by more than one vehicle.

That person had been walking around 7 p.m. south of Elkview.

The victim was not being publicly identified as of Saturday morning.

For a time on Friday evening, interstate traffic was being rerouted off I-79 south at Elkview to the highway entrance at Big Chimney.

A second accident was reported in the traffic congestion in the area.

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Hilltoppers hold off the Herd 81-73

By David Walsh    

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Charles Bassey showed once again why he got picked the Conference USA preseason player of the year and also is on The Wooden Award watch list for Division I’s best big man.

The 6-foot-11 Bassey scored 21 points and pulled down a career-best 19 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season and Josh Anderson added a game-high 22 points to power the Hilltoppers past rival Marshall, 81-73, in a matinee Friday at E.A. Diddle Arena.

CBS Sports Network carried the game live. Bassey’s just one of the reasons Western Kentucky is the preseason C-USA favorite as well.

“Bassey’s difficult to take things away from,” Thundering Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said in a post-game interview at the arena. Bassey, a junior, is a big reason the Hilltoppers won the rebound battle, 46-29.

D’Antoni also knows unexpected time off did create some adversity for his team. The current Coronavirus pandemic led to Marshall calling off two home games last weekend against Charlotte. It was quarantine time instead along with some nagging injuries.

“We were rusty in the first half. We weren’t getting the ball movement,” D’Antoni said. “We were not in rhythm. A little rust is not adjustable.”

Western Kentucky (10-4, 3-2 C-USA) led 46-35 at the half. The Hilltoppers had a double-digit lead in the second half before the Herd made several runs, but never took the lead.

Jansson Williams nailed a three-pointer with 10:05 left to cut the deficit to 60-59. Luke Frampton, who played at Poca High School, came back with a trey at 9:13 left to make it 63-59 and the home team held on from there.

Williams paced the Herd (7-3, 1-2 C-USA) with 19 points with 16 coming in the second half. He made 5-of-7 three-pointers.

“Not surprised,” D’Antoni said. “He just has to get consistent game to game with his marksmanship.”

Taevion Kinsey, the league’s leading scorer at 21 points a game, followed with 17 points. No other Herd player reached double figures.

One Herd player who struggled at times was senior guard Jarrod West, who basically had the past two weeks off from practice. He was 3-of-13 from the field (1-of-5 from behind the arc).

“You could tell Jarrod’s not played,” D’Antoni said. “He was not the Jarrod we’ve seen in the past. Good reason. (Off) 14 days.”

The two rivals will meet in the backend of the doubleheader at 2 p.m. Sunday at Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.Va. The game will be live on the CBS Sports Network Facebook page. The Hilltoppers have now won four straight in the series, are 11-2 all-time at home and 19-12 in all games.

D’Antoni said the Herd’s got to clean up some issues before the tip. In the first half Friday, Marshall got called for 14 fouls, but just four in the second half. Western Kentucky made 19-of-21 free throws compared to 2-of-5 for the Herd. Marshall didn’t go to the line in the second half.

Anderson and Bassey were the only Hilltoppers in double figures. Do to CO VID-19 protocols, attendance was limited to 1,117 fans.

“Correct what we’re doing and make it better,” D’Antoni said. “No big changes. That was not our best game out there. Try to clean things up. It wasn’t that one team was more aggressive than the other. We have to be as good as we can be.”

After Sunday’s rematch, the Herd will travel to Miami next weekend for games against Florida International. Times are Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

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‘We’re not losing this damn game’… Austin Kendall on his Liberty Bowl heroics

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — At halftime of the Liberty Bowl, 418 days had passed since Austin Kendall took a meaningful snap in a college football game. A 9-game starter in 2019, Kendall had been passed up by Jarret Doege on the depth chart at the start of the 2020 season. Kendall attempted just six passes in a reserve role in the season opener against Eastern Kentucky and had not appeared in a game since.

It would have been understandable if the redshirt senior would have lost focus having not seen the field in nearly four months. However, Neal Brown praised Kendall’s practice work late in the season and with the Mountaineer offense unable to gain traction in the first half against Army, Kendall was told at halftime that he would take the first snap of the third quarter.

“It was definitely nerve-racking. But I was prepared for it. Coach (Sean) Reagan, Coach (Neal) Brown and Coach (Gerad) Parker all prepared me well. Obviously being the backup quarterback, you have to be prepared at any moment,” Kendall said.

“Coach Reagan walked by me and said, ‘Start warming up. We are going to give you the first drive in the second half’. I thought to myself to make the most of it. I have nothing to lose at this point.”

Kendall engineered an 11-point second half rally, as the Mountaineers prevailed 24-21, collecting the program’s first bowl victory in five seasons. The game was played in a steady rain with temperatures falling into the 30’s.

“I was frozen from my toes to my forehead. When I figured I might be going in, I ran in before halftime and thought I definitely need to start warming up and try to get as warm as I could.”

Kendall completed 8-of-17 passes for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After Army chewed up the first eight minutes of the third quarter clock, Kendall engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive, which was capped by a 3-yard touchdown toss to Mike O’Laughlin on fourth-and-2.

“They drew it up perfectly. Mike, with his first touchdown, that was one of the better experiences I had in college football, throwing to one of my better friends on the team.”

Trailing 21-16, the Mountaineers went three-and-out on the next two series.

“I looked at Leddie Brown and said, ‘We need to score here because we’re not losing this damn game’.”

With 8:10 to play, WVU took possession back. Facing third-and-14 near midfield, Kendall connected with Sam James on one of two lengthy third down conversions on the drive.

“Sam James, who had a really quiet year but worked really hard, I know him personally and he is a good friend, he came up big on the third-and-long. I texted him that what won us the game was you having that third-and-long catch.”

Three plays later, Kendall hit T.J. Simmons on the game-winning 20-yard touchdown pass.

“Obviously, throwing the touchdown to T.J. Simmons is awesome. But coming off to the sideline and seeing the joy in my teammates’ eyes was one of the best experiences I could ask for in my last game at West Virginia.”

In his five years as a college football player, Kendall was a backup signal caller for four years. He played behind a string of quality quarterbacks at Oklahoma for three years.

“I kind of give Lincoln Riley a lot of credit because I had to sit behind two Heisman quarterbacks and prepare each week like I am going to be the guy. He kind of helped me become that person.

“Just go out there and show people what they have been missing, honestly. Two years ago, it was more of a rebuilding year for the program. I kind of took that personal. I felt like I was left out this past season.”

West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Austin Kendall (12) throws a pass (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

Kendall officially entered the NCAA transfer portal shortly after the Liberty Bowl. With multiple degrees in hand, Kendall could opt to play at another school for one more season.

“It kind of brought a tear to my eye knowing this was my last game with all these guys. It was definitely a short ride. Two years is pretty short because it flies by. Every relationship I built with every player on the team I appreciate and I respect the heck out of every one of these guys.

“I have heard from every conference pretty much. That’s good news. But I am exploring options. With working, I want to do medical sales. I am not sure what the future holds yet. Everything is kind of up in the air. I have been applying for jobs and keeping everything open with football as well.”

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National Guard members will be in Washington to assist with inauguration efforts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Around 475 members of the West Virginia National Guard will be in Washington, D.C. early next week to assist with law enforcement efforts related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

State Adjutant General Bill Crane (West Virginia National Guard)

“Our One Guard Soldiers and Airmen are expertly trained and prepared for the missions that they will carry out while supporting the 59th Presidential Inauguration next week and our primary objective is to provide support to local authorities,” state Adjutant General Bill Crane said in a release.

Crane noted the support is typical for the National Guard and not related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Many of our Soldiers and Airmen are providing the same type of support that we do for any presidential inauguration or State of the Union address,” he said. “Our additional personnel will assist thousands of other National Guard members from across the United States and our law enforcement partners in providing a safe environment for all involved in the inauguration and leading up to it.”

Members of the 35th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package — which consists of 208 service members — assist with consequence management.

The inauguration festivities will take place Wednesday.

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