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College’s creation gets a gubernatorial signature

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — When what we know today as Bluefield State College was created 125 years ago, it took an act of the West Virginia Legislature. The event was marked Friday at the state capitol.

Originally the school was the Bluefield Colored Institute.  The name changed in 1929 to Bluefield State Teachers College, and in 1943 became Bluefield State College.  Senate Bill 122 of the regular session of 1895 was passed by both the Senate and House of Delegates, but became law without the signature of then Gov. William MacCorkle.

“I think it was probably the atmosphere of the time. I’m sure it was racially driven and had something to do with his political standing at that time,” said Bluefield State President Rob Capehart when talking about the anniversary on MetroNews “Talkline” Friday.

Rob Capehart, President, Bluefield State College, joins @HoppyKercheval to talk about their 125th anniversary and the business inventory tax. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/c5R7PQMDH7

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 21, 2020

To mark the school’s 125th anniversary, Gov. Jim Justice met with school officials Friday at the state capitol to amend the creating legislation and in a ceremonial bill signing, put his pen to the paper which created Bluefield State.

The idea of at the time was to provide an education to African Americans who found themselves newly freed from slavery. They were heading north and arriving in large numbers in southern West Virginia to take jobs in the coal mines and on the railroad. West Virginia native Booker T. Washington led a movement to start providing higher education for those individuals to improve their standing.

“The education was mostly in the trades and that’s why most historically black colleges have an engineering department like we do. Out of the trades grew the applied engineering programs,” Capehart said.

True to form, the first campus building at Bluefield was actually constructed by the students.

Integration began after World War II like it did on most campuses. Many of the first white students at Bluefield were returning GI’s looking to take advantage of the opportunity to use their service to get a degree.

The campus also endured turbulent times in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement. A bomb set off on campus caused heavy damage to the Physical Education building. Nobody was injured, but the schools administration closed the dormitories because of the incident. They were never reopened and Bluefield State for the past 52 years has had no student housing. Capehart said they are about to break ground on a new student housing complex to return students to on campus living.

Bluefield was also an attractive spot for some of the most legendary African American entertainers of the time. Fighter Joe Louis held boxing exhibitions at the campus gymnasium. Noted African American poet Langston Hughes read poetry on campus and jazz legends Duke Ellington and Count Basie played at campus fraternity parties back in the day.

“It really at one time for the African American community was a huge social hub in the region where that level of talent would come and entertain,” Capehart said.

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Morrisey rejects proposed Johnson & Johnson settlement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is opposed to a proposed settlement involving Johnson & Johnson and various opioid distributors, arguing the total $22 billion is too low.

Under the deal, Johnson & Johnson would be responsible for paying $4 billion while wholesalers would pay $18 billion.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Morrisey said Friday the deal is not enough given the present-day value of the settlement as well as the damages associated with the drug crisis. He also noted smaller states are being poorly treated by the present allocation formula.

“West Virginia and her counties and cities will continue to litigate and ensure that our state, counties and cities obtain significant additional monies for abatement and other purposes,” Morrisey said. “We have led the way nationally in litigating these cases and have specifically protected future claims for West Virginia counties, cities and abatement for our citizens.”

Morrisey urged other state attorneys general to oppose the agreement.

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Herd play host to ODU to begin C-USA’s Bonus Play

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall opens Conference USA Bonus Play Saturday night as the Old Dominion Monarchs come to the Cam Henderson Center for a 7 p.m. matchup.

The Thundering Herd (13-14, 7-7 C-USA) and ODU (11-16, 7-7) tied for sixth with UTSA in the league standings after 14 games, putting them in a pod with FAU and UAB to make up teams six through 10 in the confernece. 

The five teams play each other to decide who will be seeded where six through 10 in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas.

Marshall and ODU have already played once this season. The game on Jan. 18 in Huntington was won by the Herd, 68-67. The Monarchs’ Malik Curry scored 20 in that contest, while Marshall was led by Taevion Kinsey’s 18 points. ODU shot only 33 percent from the field in the loss, while Marshall shot 40 percent and forced 15 Monarchs’ turnovers while only committing eight.

Old Dominion leads the all-time series with Marshall 11-10, but the Herd has some momentum after a 71-61 win at UTEP last Saturday. The Monarchs enter off a 64-47 loss at North Texas..

ODU is coached by former Virginia Cavaliers great Jeff Jones, who is in his seventh season in Norfolk, Va. He has a 508-370 career record, including 151-83 at Old Dominion.

The Monarchs are led in scoring by Curry and fellow junior guard Xavier Green, who average slightly more than 12 points per game. Sophomore guard and Clemson transfer A.J. Oliver II and fellow sophomore guard Jason Wade also average double figure scoring. Senior forward Aaron Carver is the team’s top rebounder at 10.1 per game. 

On the road, ODU allows 65.7 points per game, while scoring only 60.9 ppg.

Marshall’s scoring numbers have been increasing, especially at home, in recent games. At home, MU scores 74.5 points per game while giving up 71.8.

Marshall has an uncharacteristic 8-6 home record this season, while the Monarchs have struggled on the road with a 3-9 mark. ODU’s lone conference road wins are at Southern Miss and Rice.

Kinsey still leads Marshall in scoring with 16 ppg, while Jarrod West averages 14.4 points per contest. Iran Bennett is the Herd’s top rebounder at 5.5 per game, followed closely by Kinsey at 5.1 rpg.

After Saturday’s game, Marshall heads back on the road to play at UAB on Thursday.

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Listen: High School Basketball Roundup (Feb. 22)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Listen to the seventh edition of ‘High School Basketball Roundup’, which airs every Saturday at 8:30am across the MetroNews Radio Network.

Robert C. Byrd, Wheeling Park and University teams are featured and Fred Persinger discusses the seventh edition of the MetroNews Power Index.

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TCU looms as ideal opponent for a West Virginia road win

It is conceivable that West Virginia will pick up more Big 12 road wins in the next three days than it has in the past two seasons combined.

WVU has only one Big 12 road win since the start of 2019, but is in prime position to make that number a memory.

The 17th-ranked Mountaineers (19-7, 7-6 Big 12) open a two-game, three-day road trip against a pair of teams hurtling in the wrong direction with Saturday afternoon’s game at TCU. The Horned Frogs (14-12, 5-8) are 1-6 in their past seven games.

It was a much different scenario the last time the teams met. TCU came into Morgantown 3-0 in the Big 12, but left with a humbling 81-49 defeat from which it hasn’t really recovered.

Perhaps the most intriguing element of this matchup is what Bob Huggins will do with his lineup.

Huggins shook things up against Oklahoma State to snap a three-game losing streak. Though he indicated after that game that he didn’t think the small lineup he used to start the game was such a great idea, the Horned Frogs do start four guards and only one post player.

He was coy when asked what he’d do against TCU, noting that power forward Derek Culver was great off the bench against Oklahoma State.

“You could say it helped motivate Derek,” Huggins said of his most recent starting lineup. “That’s as well as Derek’s played in a long time. And he’s the guy who turned the game around if you point to one guy.”

Culver’s defensive presence helped key a 20-4 run to open the second half against the Cowboys, allowing West Virginia to rally from a five-point halftime deficit. He was also the dominant force the last time the Mountaineers played TCU, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

West Virginia follows Saturday’s TCU trip with a Big Monday game at Texas. The Mountaineers beat the Longhorns by 38 at WVU Coliseum.

Huggins is aware that this trip is an opportunity for his team to get back on the right path for a quality seed in the Big 12 tournament.

“You can’t lose three in a row in any league and not think that you’ve got some making up to do,” Huggins said. “Getting a bye in a conference tournament is important. Four games in four days is tough.”

The top six teams in the Big 12 tourney get byes into the quarterfinals. West Virginia is currently fourth in the league standings.

No. 17 West Virginia (19-7, 7-6) at TCU (14-12, 5-8)

TV: 2 p.m., ESPN 2

Last meeting: West Virginia beat TCU, 81-49, on Jan. 20 in Morgantown

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Trump ups flood recovery funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump  signed an order Friday increasing the federal reimbursement for the damage that occurred in the June 2016 flood from 75 percent to 90 percent.

The damage recently topped the threshold for the additional 25 percent when FEMA awarded funds for the Nicholas County school replacement projects.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Gov. Jim Justice each asked Trump to amend the original June 25, 2016 disaster declaration.

The additional funds will come in the area of public assistance, what the state, county and municipalities  incurred in flood costs.

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RCB wins 18th in a row, defeating Bridgeport 53-45

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Khori Miles scored 18 points to lead Robert C. Byrd to their 18th consecutive win, 53-45 over Bridgeport. RCB is tied with Pendleton County for the state’s longest winning streak in boys basketball.

In a tightly contested matchup, RCB slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter to sweep the regular season series from their county rivals. The Flying Eagles led 35-31 after three quarters and held the Indians to just one field goal in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.

“Defensively, I thought we turned it up, especially late,” said Robert C. Byrd head coach Bill Bennett. “That’s always been the key for us. We told our guys if we force turnovers, and we get more shots than they do, then we have a chance to win the game.”

Since losing their first two games of the season to Wheeling Central Catholic and Shady Spring, the Flying Eagles (18-2) have gone undefeated. “The record is not really important to us,” Miles said. “We are just focused on the next game.”

The game was tied at 12 after the first quarter and RCB built a narrow two-point halftime lead at 21-19. A driving layup by Nick Stalnaker allowed the Indians to draw even in the opening minute of the third quarter. However, a putback by Miles on the next possession gave the Flying Eagles a lead they would not relinquish.

Gavin Kennedy scored 11 points for the Flying Eagles. Stalnaker led all scorers with 20 points. Jack Bifano added 13 points for the Indians (15-5).

The win secures the top seed in the upcoming sectional tournament for the Flying Eagles. “It is great to win the game. I am not going to lie,” Bennett said. “It is tough when one of your best friends is sitting on the other bench (BHS head coach Dave Marshall). That is what we have been pushing for all season. You are playing for the number one seed so that you get to play on your home court.”

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Adler leads GW boys to ninth championship in 12 years

Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

Members of George Washington’s boys swim team pose with their state championship trophy.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — George Washington boys swim coach Josh Hemsworth didn’t consider his team to be the favorite entering the state swim meet at Mylan Park Aquatic Center.

With a memorable showing from junior Ian Adler and some good fortune, the Patriots managed to claim their ninth state championship in program history and third in the last four seasons.

George Washington finished with 180 points to edge Bridgeport (172), which couldn’t quite overcome its 200-yard medley relay team being disqualified for an early exchange on the fourth leg.

“Shocking,” Hemsworth said moments after his team wrapped up the win. “We knew the boys had a fighting chance. They got blessed with a disqualification right off the bat and Bridgeport was who we expected to win it. That helped us right way to put the mindset for the boys to go ahead and go at it.”

The Indians had the top qualifying time in the 200 medley relay and were favorites to claim first in the event.

Adler’s two first-place finishes were instrumental for GW, which has won nine of the last 12 boys titles.

The junior won the 200 freestyle (1:46.18) and edged the Indians’ Luke Pinti in the 100 breaststroke (59.95-1:00.57).

“I performed as well as I possibly could and I’m proud of the performance in the individual events,” Adler said.

While those were GW’s two first-place finishes, the Patriots benefited greatly from their relay teams taking second in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle. Grant Ridenour, who had a second-place individual finish in the 200 IM at 2:05.90, was a part of both relay teams along with Adler. They were joined on the 200 medley team by Landon Bostic and Lafe Potters, while Wesley St. Jean and Zachary Groe were made up the other half of the 400 freestyle.

”Ian Adler was our team leader on the boys side and the boys looked up to him,” Hemsworth said.

Groe also took third in the 100 backstroke at 56.41.

Bridgeport got two first-place finishes from sophomore Bruce Keener, who won both the 200 IM (1:54.43) and 100 backstroke (50.93).

The Indians’ 400 freestyle team also finished first as Mason Titchenal, Phillip Malenich and Marcel Rodriguez joined forces with Keener to finish in 3:21.45.

“It comes with a little bit of a grain of salt in that Bridgeport got disqualified in that relay, but I’m super proud of the team that we were able to pull through and win the whole thing,” Adler said.

Like Adler and Keener, Huntington’s Henry Sheils won two events individually. Sheils, a sophomore, was tops in the 50 freestyle (22.15) and 100 butterfly (53.18).

Jefferson junior Chris Turner took the 100 freestyle at 49.24, while Hurricane freshman Bradley Boyd won the 500 freestyle at 4:56.99.

Hurricane also won the 200 medley at 1:40.49 and 200 freestyle at 1:31.14. Both of those teams featured JR Newman, Bradley Boyd, Reid Painter and Nathan Neville. 

Hurricane (120), Wheeling Park (101), and Huntington (100) rounded out the top five in team finish. 

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Union, AHF struggling to reach contract agreement

BEVERLY, W.Va. — Union members are blaming the management of AHF Products for the inability to reach a contract agreement, increasing the chance of a strike at the Randolph County facility.

Teamsters Local Union No. 175 on Friday criticized the company’s decision to increase health care costs by up to 92% over a three-year contract while, according to the union, amid decreasing health insurance costs for the company.

The union offered to provide the same benefits at no additional cost to the employees while also opening a clinic in Elkins at a lower cost.

The union and AHF Products have been negotiating for the past three weeks. The union said in a statement company officials refused to meet in December or January despite the contract being set to expire Saturday.

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Manchin explains impeachment votes, looks ahead at Charleston town hall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following the impeachment trial, President Donald Trump tweeted he was “very surprised and disappointed” by U.S Sen. Joe Manchin’s conviction votes. He also called Manchin “a puppet” for Congress’ Democratic leaders.

“They are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin in West Virginia,” Trump later said. “He couldn’t understand the Transcripts. (Utah Sen. Mitt) Romney could, but didn’t want to!”

Manchin, D-W.Va., had an opportunity to explain his vote on Friday during a town hall at the University of Charleston. When the senator brought up the impeachment trial, most of the 150 attendees applauded in support of the senator’s decision.

“This is the most difficult decision I have had to make,” Manchin said. “I’ve told you before that if I can’t explain it, I don’t vote for it. I don’t look at whether its a Democrat issue or a Republican issue.”

The Senate acquitted Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The two articles of impeachment stemmed from a phone call last summer involving Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump requested an investigation in former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The Trump administration later withheld $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine.

Manchin defended his votes, saying he made the decision based on evidence put forward by managers from the House of Representatives. Manchin also supported allowing additional witnesses and documents during the Senate trial, which the full chamber opposed.

“I didn’t want to make that vote,” he told MetroNews regarding the impeachment trial. “When it got to me, I made the vote based on facts and based on the evidence. It should never have gotten to that.”

Manchin is Trump’s leading ally among Democrats; FiveThirtyEight notes Manchin has voted 52.5% in line with the Trump agenda, the highest among active Democratic senators.

Yet Manchin has not been afraid to vote against the president’s goals. West Virginia’s senior senator opposed the attempts to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law as well as the tax law during Trump’s first year in office.

“We can do something. Work with me, Mr. President. I’ll be an honest broker,” Manchin told the audience. “I’ll tell you what I agree with and don’t agree with. We’ll find a balance.”

Manchin did mention his support for some of Trump’s actions, including his trade policy with China. He did, however, criticize the president’s relationship with Russia, noting the country’s tampering in the 2016 election and concerns of interference in this year’s election cycle.

“I cannot figure that one out,” he said.

“There is not one of us on the Intelligence Committee or in the Senate that does not know — with the 17 intelligence agencies we have — that Russia has been extremely involved and they have not backed off.”

Manchin touched on multiple issues during the town hall, including the legal challenge to “Obamacare.” West Virginia is part of a coalition of states looking to overturn the statute, citing the zeroing out of the individual mandate as essential to the law.

Manchin has stressed concerns about West Virginians who would be at risk of losing their insurance coverage, including 800,000 people with a pre-existing condition and 159,000 residents with coverage through Medicaid expansion.

“We’re on the verge of losing health care as we know if for people who never had health care before,” Manchin said. “They’ll be at the mercy of large insurance companies whether you can afford it or even get it. We can’t do that. We can fix what we have.”

The U.S. Supreme Court previously rejected an opportunity to take up the matter before its term ends in June. Justices on Friday discussed considering the lawsuit before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes a final verdict.

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