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Mountaineer Challenge Academy graduates new class

KINGWOOD, W.Va. — The 53rd Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy class started 22 weeks ago with 184 members, Friday 148 young men and women graduated with renewed hopes for the future.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, W.Va. adjutant general

State Adjutant General James Hoyer says the MCA is a volunteer program for young people from 16 to 18 years old who are educationally at-risk, drug-free, mentally and physically capable.

“Over 56 percent of our kids come from a single parent head of household, we’ve got kids that for some reason school just didn’t work,”Hoyer said. “We’ve got kids who have been through difficult circumstances due to the opioid crisis, we’ve got kids from all different issues.”

Hoyer said the structure, discipline and care the training staff offers allows the cadets to gain confidence and achieve their potential.

Class 53 also included the first 14 graduates of the Mountaineer Job Challenge Program(MJCP). The MJCP is career and vocational program that offers certifications in advanced manufacturing, medical technology and pre-apprenticeship in the build and trades.

“One young man that came across the stage today, yesterday thought he was going to a job interview,” Hoyer said. “He got the job on the spot and his employer let him off today so he could go to graduation.”

Class members also completed 122 community projects that were valued at more than $225,000.

The overall top cadet and winner of the Robert C Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and the “Esprit De Corps” award was David Turner, of Dunbar.

“Me and school we really don’t go together too well,” Turner said. “I wasn’t as motivated as I should be and I was falling behind, I didn’t think I what it took to graduate.”

Turner heard about the academy from a friend who attended and decided to apply.

“I found out about the academy from my friend, Ethan Hackman and I saw what it did for him,” Turner said. “After that I looked into it and I came, now 22 weeks later I’m the best person I’ve ever been.

Turner has joined the US Navy as an electrician technician.

Graduates of the class have been trained for jobs in agriculture, food service, manufacturing, hospitality or prepared for post-secondary education.


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Trial in connection with 2017 jail escape to resume Monday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A jail escape trial is scheduled to continue Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court after a jury heard testimony Friday.

Todd Boyes walked out of the South Central Regional Jail on Oct. 25, 2017. He wasn’t noticed missing for two days. Boyes was eventually arrested in Texas.

Boyes’ attorney told the jury Friday his client didn’t escape but rather the man featured in the surveillance video was essentially released from the jail because he was allowed to walk out.

Prosecutors allege Boyes had changed clothes to make it look like he wasn’t an inmate. Three correctional officers were charged in connection with the escape.

Boyes, 45, of Caldwell, Ohio, is currently serving time at the Mount Olive State Prison for separate charges. He was sentenced in December 2017 to a 5 to 25 year prison term for fleeing police, possessing a stolen vehicle and causing bodily injury.

Boyes rammed a stolen vehicle into a Charleston Police cruiser and sent an officer to the hospital. The pursuit lasted about 45 minutes and involved dozens of officers.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating the escape case Monday morning. If convicted, Boyes could be sent to prison for five more years.


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Man arrested for murder in Fayette County

OAK HILL, W.Va. — Fayette County authorities have charged a man with murder following a deadly shooting near Oak Hill.


Robert Jeffries

Robert Jeffries, 49, of Oak Hill, turned himself in to deputies Friday following the Thursday night shooting death of Michael Johns, 50, of Page.

According to a criminal complaint, the two men, who were related by marriage, were arguing over a generator at a residence on Gatewood Road. Jeffries allegedly shot Johns in the head. The complaint said residents at the scene first reported the shooting was accidental but after speaking with Jeffries the murder charge was filed.

Jeffries was arraigned Friday afternoon and is being held without bail in the Southern Regional Jail.

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Justice wants disabilities care program waiting list eliminated

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources has been directed by Gov. Jim Justice to conduct a formal study on the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Waiver program.

Justice ordered the review to determine options for eliminating the waiting list for the program.

The IDD waiver program gives people the choice of receiving support and services at home rather than in an institutional setting. Justice said in a Friday news release that too many people have been waiting for the program for too long.

“Some of West Virginia’s most vulnerable men, women, and children have been on the waitlist for more than four years,” Justice said. “We absolutely must find a way to eliminate the waitlist so that these West Virginians can get the help and support they deserve.”

Justice said eliminating the waitlist would allow 1,060 more West Virginians to receive critical services through the program. It would also save the state money. Friday’s news release said services provided by the program are 46 percent lower than the cost of services provided by an intermediate care facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Justice said he wants the DHHR to finished the study by Jan. 15.

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DNR releases harvest figures for two-week buck season


SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Preliminary data collected from the electronic game checking system indicates that deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 36,796 antlered deer during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from Nov. 25 through Dec. 7, 2019.

The 2019 harvest was 17 percent below that of the 2018 harvest. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were: Greenbrier (1,511), Preston (1,407), Randolph (1,382), Ritchie (1,244), Hampshire (1,239), Braxton (1,152), Upshur (1,146), Hardy (1,020), Monroe (1,000), and Pendleton (990).

“The harvest during the 2019 traditional buck firearm season was expected to be similar to that of last year; however, the southwestern region of the state had heavy oak mast conditions, which appears to have significantly decreased the harvest in that region,” noted Gary Foster, assistant chief of Game Management. “This year’s buck season also opened later and further from the peak of “rut,” which may have contributed to the reduced harvest.”

Deer hunters have several days of opportunity left this year, including the remainder of the archery and crossbow seasons, which run through Dec. 31. The traditional Class N/NN antlerless deer season in selected counties or portions of counties on both public and private land opened on Dec. 12 and will run through Dec. 15. Muzzleloader deer season will open Dec. 16 and remain open through Dec. 22. The Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season for antlerless deer will be open Dec. 26-27 in any county with a firearms deer season. This will be followed by the reopening of Class N/NN antlerless deer season on Dec. 28-31 in specified counties or portions of counties.

In addition, the primitive weapons “Mountaineer Heritage Season” will be open from Jan. 9-12, 2020.

Refer to the 2019–2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR website at for additional details, as well as county and area listings.

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University, Morgantown post convincing wins at Country Roads Tip-Off Classic

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Looking every bit like a defending state champion capable of a repeat, University’s boys basketball team started its season in strong fashion Friday night.

Kaden Metheny scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half to help the Hawks build a 30-point lead in a 93-63 victory over Greater Beckley Christian.

The contest marked the nightcap of Friday’s action in the Big Shots Country Roads Tip-Off Classic at UHS. In the earlier game, Morgantown handled Notre Dame, 96-44.

UNIVERSITY 93, Greater Beckley Christian 63: The Hawks held a 30-19 lead through one quarter and never looked back in their season-opening win.

Metheny scored 11 points in the opening frame and started the second quarter with a triple.

John Mazza gave UHS a big lift off the bench with three 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Ryan Niceler threw down a dunk in transition as part of his 5-for-5 shooting in the opening half.

“That sounds like Ryan,” University head coach Joe Schmidle said. “He’s good. He’s a lot better than people think he is and he’s going to be a key factor for us this year.”

Metheny, who also dished out six assists in the first two periods, was one of four University players to score at least nine points by halftime. That allowed the Hawks to hold a 55-25 lead at the break.

KJ McClurg had 13 of his 18 points before halftime, while Niceler and Mazza had 10 and nine, respectively, at the break.

“We shot the lights out,” Schmidle said. “We’re not going to shoot that well every day, but the biggest thing for me was the kids shared the ball and played team basketball.”

Metheny accounted for eight consecutive points during the third quarter to up the UHS lead to 42 points.

University made 12 3s in the win, with seven from Metheny.

Mike Maumbe had a game-high eight rebounds for the Hawks.

“Maumbe did a great job controlling the boards,” Schmidle said. “All in all, I was happy.”

GBC (1-1) was led by Elijah Edwards, who made seven 3s in a 30-point performance. Edwards scored all but 11 of his team’s points in the first half. 

No other Crusader finished in double figures.

Greg Carey/

Morgantown’s Alex Rudy attempts a shot against Notre Dame.

MORGANTOWN 96, Notre Dame 44: The Mohigans used a dominant second quarter to open up a 21-point halftime advantage in a convincing win over the Irish.

Morgantown (2-0) led 22-17 in the early stages of the second, before outscoring ND by 16 points over the remainder of the half to hold a commanding 45-24 lead.

The Mohigans had an advantage inside throughout and their length and athleticism caused issues for the Irish.

A balanced attack featured Xavier Pryor scoring 12 points in the opening half, while teammates Mac McMillen and Troy Battle added nine and eight, respectively.

The Mohigans continued to pour it on in the second half and outscored the Irish (1-1) 32-9 in the third quarter to build a 44-point advantage.

Pryor finished with 16 points, while McMillen (14), Battle (12) and Alex Rudy (12) were also in double figures.

Morgantown outrebounded the Irish, 35-16, over the final three quarters.

Elijah Goodman led ND with 15 points and Jaidyn West scored 12 in defeat.

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Shady Spring locks down on Fairmont Senior, 58-36

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Shady Spring allowed just 22 points over the final three quarters as they defeated Fairmont Senior 58-36 in the season-opening contest for both teams.

Tommy Williams dropped in a game-best 25 points for the Tigers. He connected on 4 3-pointers in the third quarter. Williams was joined in double figures by freshman Braden Chapman. He scored 15 points in his Tiger debut.

Jaelin Johnson paced the Polar Bears with a 22-point effort.

Fairmont Senior led 14-12 after the first quarter but the Tigers outscored the Polar Bears 16-2 in the second stanza to take a 28-16 halftime lead.

Both teams will return to the 201st Fairmont Senior Fieldhouse on Saturday to complete the Polar Bear Invitational. FSHS will host Wheeling Central Catholic (1-0) while the Tigers will meet Robert C. Byrd (0-1).

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Reasbeck leads Wheeling Central past RCB, 72-59

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Sophomore Ryan Reasbeck connected for 25 points as Wheeling Central picked up a quality season-opening win over Robert C. Byrd, 72-59 in the Fairmont Senior Polar Bear Invitational.

Both teams advanced to the state semifinals in their respective classes last winter.

Jalen Creighton, who is just six days removed from winning a state football championship, scored 15 of his 17 points in the first quarter. Central used a 9-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 22-15 after the first stanza and they would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Clayton Abate added ten points for the Maroon Knights.

Khori Miles led the Flying Eagles with 22 points while Gavin Kennedy chipped in with 14.

Both teams return to the 201st Fairmont Senior Fieldhouse on Saturday. The Flying Eagles will face Shady Spring (1-0) while the Maroon Knights face the host Polar Bears (0-1).

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Governor Justice takes constitutional questions over his residence to state Supreme Court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lawyers for Gov. Jim Justice are asking the state Supreme Court to block lower court action that could force him to live at the seat of government.

The lawyers filed a 37-page writ of prohibition on Friday. The filing says the courts should not meddle with the executive’s discretion over where he spends his time. It also says there’s no practical way for a court order to enforce where the governor lives.

The governor played a big role in reshaping the Supreme Court last year, when three justices resigned during a scandal over spending and an ensuing legislative impeachment.

Vacancies allowed Justice to name former House Speaker Tim Armstead, former Congressman Evan Jenkins and Circuit Judge John Hutchison to the court. Armstead and Jenkins then won special election, and Hutchison is up next year. Recusal is likely to be an issue in this residency case.

The state Constitution addresses where officers of the executive branch should live: “They shall reside at the seat of government during their terms of office, keep there the public records, books and papers pertaining to their respective offices, and shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law.”

Justice has continued to make his home in Lewisburg, about two hours from Charleston.

Lawyers for Justice have contended that the duty to reside at the seat of government is “nebulous and laden with discretion.” They question how the court, as a practical matter, could define or enforce any order to compel the governor to live somewhere.

Office of the Governor

Jim Justice

The Governor’s Office issued a statement about the filing, emphasizing the governor’s need for flexibility to travel around the state.

“I promised to get out and promote our great state with everything I had,” Justice stated.

“That’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve driven my own personal Chevy nearly 200,000 miles, meeting with local leaders and regular people from every corner of our state because that’s what a governor should do instead of just sitting behind a desk every single day and hosting lavish parties at night.”

Isaac Sponaugle

The case was brought by state Delegate Isaac Sponaugle more than a year ago. At one point, Sponaugle filed it with the Supreme Court, but justices rejected his petition without comment. His explanation was that they wanted more evidence through the lower court.

Contacted on Friday evening, Sponaugle declined to immediately comment because he had not yet had a chance to read the filing.

Justice is represented by high profile attorneys, including Mike Carey, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia who pressed charges against former Gov Arch Moore and several of the state’s top political figures.

George Terwilliger

Another of Justice’s lawyers is George Terwilliger,  a former United States Deputy Attorney General now leading the white collar practice at the McGuireWoods firm in Washington, D.C.

A statement from Terwilliger was included in the press release sent out by the Governor’s Office.

“This matter should be squarely focused on a fair analysis of the law, not politics. The governor, not the court, has the discretion to carry out his official duties in a manner that best serves the people of West Virginia,” Terwilliger stated.

“While the governor is often on the road promoting the state and visiting West Virginians where they live and work, he is in Charleston with great frequency to conduct official business and meet with legislators. In addition, his staff and cabinet officials work there on a daily basis.”

The residency case was heard most recently in the Kanawha Circuit courtroom of Judge Charles King. The lawyers for Justice asked King to send two questions to the Supreme Court earlier this year, and he declined.

King did grant a stay of further proceedings, anticipating the writ of prohibition would be filed by Justice’s legal team.

The latest filing by Justice’s lawyers cites separation of powers issues, “impermissibly allowing the authority of the courts to be used to intrude into the inner workings of the office of the State’s chief executive.”

“If such a mandate could issue, its enforcement would entail court-supervised monitoring of the Governor’s whereabouts,” Justice’s lawyers wrote.

The filing also suggests that there are practical remedies aside from the courts.

“If Mr. Sponaugle is truly dissatisfied with the manner in which the governor is performing his duties, then he (and every other citizen of this state) has the ability to vote against him in the next gubernatorial election,” Justice’s lawyers wrote.

“In addition, Mr. Sponaugle can advocate for impeachment proceedings if he deems them warranted.”

Justice Residency Writ of Prohibition (Text)

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DEP, EPA working together on addressing ethylene oxide

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday it is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a strategy over a flammable chemical.

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas used for sterilizing medical and dental equipment. The EPA recently elevated the risk of ethylene oxide as a hazardous air pollutant compared to its previous analysis.

“Our agency has identified and initiated an updated review of EtO emitters in West Virginia,” said Austin Caperton, the secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“We are developing strategies that will provide more detailed emissions data that may be required for compliance with any new federal guidelines. We are also in contact with regulatory agencies in other states regarding how they are addressing this matter.”

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