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In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Criminal charges possible in fatal I-79 accident

LEWIS COUNTY, WV — Criminal charges are pending after a Thursday evening accident resulted in the death of two people and injured two others.

Thomas Francke, 22, Charleston, lost control of his GMC Yukon while traveling south bound on I-79 near mile marker 85 after 3 PM Thursday afternoon, which resulted in a head-on collision with a minivan carrying a Canadian family of four on I-79 North.

At this point, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department believes speed was the main contributing factor in the accident.

Raymond Nicholson, 86, was pronounced dead the scene. Brian Nicholson, 57, died later that evening as a result of his injuries. Minivan driver Wayne Nicholson, 52, remains at Ruby Memorial Hospital. His condition is unknown. Kelly Pearson, 58, is still at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Her condition is unknown.

The Sheriff’s Department is still reconstructing the accident, and will meet with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if they will press forward with criminal charges.

HealthNet was unavailable to transport the injured due to wintry weather.


►   Common Core repeal passes House by wide margin

CHARLESTON, WV — Three hours of debate Thursday must have been enough for members of the House of Delegates on the bill to repeal the Common Core teaching standards because there was no debate Friday before the final vote.

The House passed the bill (HB4014) 73-20.

The measure codifies the repeal of Common Core, which the state Board of Education did last December. The bill puts a review process in place for the new standards, College and Career Readiness Standards, by an appointed panel after those standards have been in place for one year.

The bill also keeps the current science standards in place until June 30, 2017.

Standardized testing time is limited in the bill and it mandates students cannot suffer repercussions if their parents decide to opt them out of the testing.

The bill next goes to the state Senate.


►   NRA reinforces support of Constitutional Carry

CHARLESTON, WV — The leading voice of advocates of the Second Amendment is standing firmly behind the Constitutional Carry Bill which now sits on the desk of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.  Lawmakers in both chambers approved the legislation which removes the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in West Virginia for those over the age of 21.

Some have criticized the measure, including MetroNews Talkline Host Hoppy Kercheval, but Amy Hunter with the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said on MetroNews Talkline Friday in response the bill isn’t a far leap from what is already legal in West Virginia.The same people can legally carry a firearm openly.

“As long as you purchased your firearm legally and are not prohibited, that is legal to do,” said Hunter.  “What this bill does is allow you to do that, but also wear a coat or put it in your purse.”

Hunter said although carrying firearms openly is legal, it’s not always understood that way.  She claimed when somebody walks into an establishment with a gun strapped to their hip, even though it is legal, it often generates a nervous response.  She said frequently law enforcement is needlessly called.  This measure actually creates a safer environment for the armed and unarmed in the NRA’s estimation.

“Someone comes into that area and decides they want to inflict harm, that person (carrying a gun) is a target. That’s the first person a criminal would want to neutralize,” she said. “If you can carry concealed it not only keeps you safer, but it acts as a deterrent.”

Critics have raised objections to the lack of any training requirement in the new legislation for those over the age of 21.  Under the bill those between the age of 18 and 21 would still have to complete a required training course and get a conceal carry permit.  Although Hunter encouraged everybody to go through training, she thought the decision should ultimately be left up to the individual.

“People know best what kind of training they need. We feel you should be able to choose your training options,” she said. “There is a lot of training available and a lot of people do. But I emphasize again, already in this state people can openly carry with no training.”

Supporters of the Constitutional Carry Bill who sought the change were critical the current law was violation of Constitutional rights to self protection. They further charges the cost of a permit is an obstacle to exercising your Second Amendment right.  Law enforcement groups would have favored waiving the fee if the training requirement were left in place.  But Hunter said it was less about the fee and more about rights.

“The issue is the 45 day waiting period.  This bill allows for immediacy,” said Hunter. “The problem with situations you find yourself in that you would need to use your firearms is they come out of nowhere and you can’t predict when they are going to happen.  Or you feel like you’re under a threat and you may need to do this immediately.”

Tomblin Administration officials indicated this week the governor was leaning toward a veto of the bill citing concerns raised by law enforcement.  Legislative leaders said there would be time to try and override the veto if that were the case.


►   Roane County deputies to add ‘In God We Trust’ to vehicles

KINGSTON, WV — Roane County commissioners have voted to allow the sheriff’s department to add the phrase “In God We Trust” on to the department’s vehicles.

The commissioners approved the phrase in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Roane County sheriff’s deputies say they requested the addition of the decal to show respect to their community which has a strong religious background.

Chief Deputy Matt Cooper says the department wants to make the community feel at home by showing them what the country and the department was founded on.

Roane County deputies are hoping to have the decals on all eight vehicles no later than Wednesday, March . Deputies say the decals will cost less than $100 in total and the funding will come from the vehicle maintenance budget.


►   Doddridge gas well site ordered shut down following fire

WEST UNION, WV — Four Antero Resources natural gas wells in Doddridge County will remain idle while an investigation into a Thursday morning fire continues, state regulators said.

The fire occurred about 5 a.m. at the company’s R.J. Smith Pad near West Union, said Kelly Gillenwater, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection.

There were no injuries, and no material appears to have spilled outside the containment area at the Canton Road site, Gillenwater said.

“We did issue a cease-operation order related to the four wells” on that section of the pad, Gillenwater said. “There will be certain conditions that have to be met before that order is lifted.

“That includes sampling to verify no pollutants escaped the containment area,” she said. “There will also be a requirement that the company investigate the root cause of the fire and make necessary repairs to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Al Schopp, Antero’s chief administrative officer and regional senior vice president, said the company is working with the DEP.

The company reported the fire to state regulators and voluntarily shut down the wells prior to the cease-operation order being issued, Schopp said.

“We’re cooperating fully with the DEP on the investigation to be able to assure future prevention of the same type of event,” Schopp said.

“We will bring the wells on-line upon further review of the DEP and replacement of damaged equipment,” he added.

The fire occurred at a production site where gas, oil and water are separated upon coming out of the wells, Schopp said.

A piece of processing equipment apparently failed, allowing gas to escape, Schopp said.

“The gas then ignited the equipment,” he said.

Firefighters from West Union, Smithburg, Greenwood and BANCS extinguished the fire by 7:15 a.m., Schopp said.

Damage to the equipment was minimal, Schopp said.

“Antero appreciates the quick and professional response from local fire departments,” he said.

Whether any citations are issued will depend upon the outcome of the investigation, Gillenwater said.

“We’re still evaluating whether there are any violations,” Gillenwater said.  ~~  Jim Davis ~~


►   Memorial planned to honor victims of West Virginia explosion

GHENT, WV — A memorial is being planned to honor four people who died in a 2007 propane tank explosion in southern West Virginia.

Organizers hope to have the memorial completed by next January’s 10-year anniversary of the explosion at the Flat Top Little General gas station.

Hazel Burroughs is the widow of one of two firefighters who died in the explosion. Burroughs says $7,000 of the memorial’s $20,000 goal has been raised.

Burroughs says included in the memorial’s dimensions are a 30-to-40-foot slab of concrete, a flagpole and 3-foot pillars dedicated to each victim.

Propane escaped from a tank and filled the store, which blew up after an undetermined spark ignited the fuel.

A firefighter who was injured in the explosion died in 2010. Five others also were hurt.


►   West Virginia House amends bill over global warming doubt

CHARLESTON, WV — Amid doubts of global warming, West Virginia lawmakers look to delay new science educational standards.

The GOP-led House approved the amendment blocking science standards Thursday.

The bill requires experts chosen by legislative leadership to suggest changes to English and math standards to take effect by the 2017-18 school year.

It’s up for a House vote Friday, and would head to the Republican-led Senate afterward.

The amendment blocks Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for Science now effective July 01. It would maintain current science standards until June 30, 2017.

Several delegates in the coal-producing state expressed doubts Thursday over global warming instruction.

The vast majority of peer-reviewed studies, science organizations and climate scientists say global warming stems largely from man-made sources. A major source of carbon emissions is burning coal.


►   House passes bill that would allow counties to raise revenue for road improvements

CHARLESTON, WV — A bill allowing counties to implement a tax to fund local infrastructure improvements had overwhelming support in the House.

Delegate Joe Statler (R-Monongalia), who introduced HB 4009, told his colleagues the legislation had 3 years of research behind it and creates a revenue tool that is important to consider.

“I’m asking this body to help us help ourselves. Please, please push the green light on this legislation to allow the counties to move forward,” Statler said before his colleagues Friday afternoon.

Delegates passed the Letting Our Counties Act Locally Act in a 60-39 vote. Ultimately, road projects supported by county sales tax of up to 1% could be put on the ballot for voters to approve or deny. Prior to the bill going to the full House, Statler said a local poll showed 64% of respondents would support a local tax if it meant new and improved crumbling roadways.

“We’ve got 11 projects identified from the MPO (Morgantown Metropolitan Planning Organization) at over $280 million. That’s only a drop of what’s going on that needs addressed in Monongalia County,” Statler added.

Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R-Monongalia), a supporter of the bill, said a projected $400 million dollar state budget hole forced leaders to think of new ways to raise revenue.

“If we asked for specific infrastructure improvements to alleviate the traffic and congestion in our areas, we would probably come back with nothing,” Kurcaba said. “So, we came with a solution where we could try to fund it ourselves and let the folks in our community make the final decision.”

The legislation would require road plans within a county to be proposed to county commissioners.
The cost, money raised through a proposed sales tax, must be transparent with detailed line items of where the sales tax revenue would go.

Residents have to be given proper time to comment on the proposal. Then, the DOH has 60 days to decide if the project is feasible. If approved, the project and sales tax proposal would be placed on a ballot for county residents.

Among concerns from lawmakers opposed to HB4009 was what kind of disconnect could be created between a county and its highway department and who would be responsible for road maintenance.

“This bill does not tell the Department of Highways nor does the Department of Highways tell the county ‘You need to take care of your roads, we’re not going to do it any longer’. There’s nothing from the truth on this bill,” Statler confirmed.

The bill goes on to the Senate.


►   January U.S. Mine Inspections Result in 138 Citations

Federal inspectors issued 138 citations and four orders at U.S. mine operations in January.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the inspections were conducted at 11 coal mines and six other mines in 12 states, including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

The impact inspections began in 2010 after the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 coal miners. Since April 2010, MSHA has issued 15,833 citations and 1,303 orders.

Mines targeted by the inspections are those that have compliance concerns or poor compliance history.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   CDC: At least 2 U.S. women chose to have abortions after Zika diagnosis

At least two pregnant women in the United States infected with the Zika virus have chosen to have abortions in recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday, while two others have suffered miscarriages. One woman gave birth to a infant with serious birth defects, while two others delivered healthy infants.

One of the women who had an abortion was in her 30s and had contracted the virus during her first trimester after traveling to a Zika-affected area, the agency said. When she was 20 weeks pregnant, she learned from an ultrasound that her fetus was suffering from severe brain abnormalities. Doctors also tested her amniotic fluid and found the presence of Zika virus. “After discussion with her health care providers, the patient elected to terminate her pregnancy,“ the CDC wrote in a case study released Friday.

The agency said that between last August and February 10, it has received more than 257 requests for Zika virus testing of pregnant women in the United States. The vast majority of those cases, 97 percent, tested negative for the disease. But the CDC has been tracking nine pregnant women in the country who tested positive for Zika, all of whom had reported symptoms of the disease—such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis—after traveling to one of more than two-dozen Zika-affected countries.

Six of the infected women acquired Zika during their first trimester, the CDC reported. Of those, two experienced miscarriages and two chose to have abortions. One woman delivered a baby who suffered from “severe microcephaly,“ a condition marked by abnormally small head size, as well as seizures, trouble swallowing, eye problems and calcifications in the brain. One pregnancy is ongoing, the CDC said. The agency said that while remnants of the Zika virus were detected in the fetal tissue of both miscarriages, “it is not known whether Zika virus infection caused the pregnancy losses.“

Have you had an experience with Zika? Tell us about it.

Of the two pregnant women with Zika diagnosed during their second trimester, one gave birth to an apparently healthy baby, and another is still pregnant. The one pregnant woman who experienced Zika symptoms during her third trimester later delivered a healthy infant.

Friday’s report added another dimension to the ongoing efforts by scientists in the United States and abroad to answer some of the many mysteries surrounding the once-obscure Zika virus. At the top of that list is nailing down whether—and how—the virus is linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, as well as to cases of a rare autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Those associations, particularly to possible problems in newborns, appear to be growing more likely over time.

“The evidence every week is accumulating and getting stronger and stronger,“ Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing earlier this week.

But Friday’s CDC report also highlights the hard questions that pregnant women face when they have been infected with the Zika virus, not to mention the religious and societal debates that have unfolded as the epidemic has spread.

Throughout Latin America, home to some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, there have been controversial calls to lighten restrictions on the practice in the face of the Zika virus outbreak. In El Salvador, where abortion is banned, the health minister has argued for a revision of the law because of the dangers the virus poses to fetal development. In Colombia and Brazil, there have been efforts to lift certain restrictions on abortions as the virus has spread explosively through the continent, but those efforts have encountered stiff opposition, particularly from religious authorities.

Pope Francis himself has waded into the issue, saying recently that the use of contraceptives may be morally acceptable in fighting the Zika virus. He cited the decision in the 1960s by Pope Paul VI, who allowed nuns in Belgian Congo to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancies because they were being systematically raped. But Francis stopped short of saying abortion should be condoned.

“Abortion isn’t a lesser evil, it’s a crime,” he told reporters earlier this month. “Taking one life to save another, that’s what the Mafia does. It’s a crime. It’s an absolute evil.”


►   Secret Society of Hunters at Ranch When Scalia Died

A new detail has emerged in the death of Antonin Scalia: The US Supreme Court justice spent his last hours with members of the International Order of St. Hubertus, a “secretive society of elite hunters,“ the Washington Post reports. Public records reviewed by the Post revealed that some of the men staying at the Cibolo Creek Ranch when Scalia died there on February 13 are members of the order founded some three centuries ago. Ranch owner John Poindexter, along with Scalia’s traveling partner, C. Allen Foster, both hold leadership positions within the order. Scalia’s association with the group is unclear. In an email, Poindexter acknowledged that group members have been guests of the ranch, adding, “I am aware of no connection between that organization and Justice Scalia.“ Private planes connected to two other men who have held leadership positions in the order’s Texas chapter landed at the ranch for Valentine’s Day weekend, records show.

As for Scalia’s death, Poindexter told the sheriff that after dinner and a chat, the justice retired for the evening. Poindexter knocked on his door when he didn’t show for breakfast; it was then they found Scalia dead in bed. Founded in 1695 in the modern Czech Republic, the International Order of Saint Hubertus (the patron saint of hunters) was a “knightly order,“ according to its website. Among the group’s tenets is promoting “the concept of hunting and fishing as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.“ And its motto is “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes” or “Honoring God by Honoring His Creatures.“ (Honoring how? And which creatures? Gawker inquires.) Members drape themselves in green robes and have titles like “grand master” and “protector of the order.“ Read the whole story H E R E .


►   In 1997, a Baby Was Stolen From Her Mom. Now, a Trial

When the story broke one year ago, it was jaw-dropping: After South African schoolkids noticed a physical resemblance between two girls, a DNA test revealed that one of them was Zephany Nurse, a girl kidnapped as a baby in 1997 from a Cape Town hospital; the other, her younger sister. A then-50-year-old woman living just a few miles from Celeste and Morne Nurse was charged with kidnapping, and on Tuesday, her trial began. She has pleaded not guilty and is not being named to protect the identity of Zephany, who was raised under another name. From the coverage thus far:

  • The Washington Post’s in-depth piece makes note of the eerie symbolism of the name Zephany, which means “the Lord has hidden” in Hebrew.
  • The BBC recounts Celeste’s testimony about how, as an 18-year-old who had given birth three days prior by C-section, she recalled a woman in maroon clothes asking if she could pick up her crying child. “I was in pain and under medication. I fell asleep. Next thing I remember is the nurse asking where my child was.“
  • In a plea explanation submitted to the court, the accused claims that a woman at a train station “handed a baby” to her on April 30, 1997, as part of a prearranged adoption. She said she initially had difficulty loving and accepting the child as her own, reports IOL.
  • IOL separately has the testimony of a woman who also gave birth at Groote Schuur Hospital and claims the accused tried to take her newborn on April 30, the same day Zephany vanished.


►   Kennedy Cousin Back in Court Over 1975 Murder

More than 40 years ago, 15-year-old Martha Moxley was found beaten to death near her home in the exclusive community of Belle Haven in Greenwich, Conn. On Wednesday, the lawyer for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted in 2002 of murdering her, told a panel of six Connecticut Supreme Court justices that his client “did not get a fair shake,“ the New York Times reports. The justices must decide whether Skakel, 55, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was denied his right to a fair trial. “The weight of the evidence is that Tommy Skakel killed Martha Moxley,“ attorney Hubert Santos told the court, referring to Michael Skakel’s older brother, who had been a prime suspect in the 1975 murder. It’s the third time the Supreme Court has heard arguments in the case, the Hartford Courant reports.

Santos contends that Skakel’s previous lawyer failed to provide an adequate defense. In 2013, he convinced a lower court justice that Skakel likely would have been acquitted if not for tactical errors by Michael Sherman (who was later sent to prison for dodging federal taxes). Since then, Skakel has been free on $1.2 million bail, per the AP. On Wednesday, prosecutor Susann Gill argued that Skakel had received a “well-planned, well-thought-out defense,“ which included four lawyers and several investigators. “This was far from a slipshod defense,” she said. Moxley’s mother, Dorthy, who was in court, says she is convinced Michael Skakel killed her daughter. “I’m sure Michael is the young man who swung the golf club,“ she told reporters. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that,“ adding, “Michael got a fair trial.“ If the justices agree with Santos, prosecutors must decide whether to retry Skakel, per the Courant. If they rule for the prosecution, he will likely go back to prison.


►   SeaWorld: Yes, Our Workers Spied as ‘Animal Activists’

SeaWorld has told “management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists,“ company CEO Joel Manby said Thursday morning, per the Orlando Sentinel. He told an earnings call that the practice was ostensibly “to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the [face] of credible threats.“ At the center of what PETA has called a “corporate espionage campaign” is Paul McComb, a SeaWorld employee in San Diego who showed up at animal rights meetings and PETA protests as animal activist “Thomas Jones,“ Newsweek notes. As Jones, PETA says, McComb rallied against a SeaWorld float at NYC’s 2013 Thanksgiving Day parade and even got taken away by cops at the 2014 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., per Bloomberg.

But PETA members were suspicious of what the Dodo calls McComb’s “inflammatory rhetoric” almost from the get-go. “There were a number of red flags relating to this individual,“ a PETA rep said last year. “Any genuine animal advocate is not on social media saying things like, ‘Burn SeaWorld to the ground and drain the tanks.‘“ McComb was placed on leave by SeaWorld while the investigation took place, though he’s since returned to work, Manby acknowledged. SeaWorld wouldn’t say if anyone had been fired or disciplined as a result of the investigation, though the Dodo notes the company’s VP of communications was fired in December for unspecified reasons after 25 years in SeaWorld’s employ. After the call, which also announced a limp first-quarter outlook, SeaWorld shares fell by as much as 9%, Business Insider notes.


►   Firefighter Pays $1K Bill for Disabled Teens

Firefighter Ryan McCuen spent $1,023 on a Detroit family and received cookies, fruit, and a balloon in return. He doesn’t regret it one bit. After responding to a medical call at a home earlier this month, McCuen, 35, learned Christy Stone has five kids, including two teens with muscular dystrophy. The family’s electricity had been shut off because of unpaid bills, meaning 18-year-old Troy, who is on a ventilator, would need to be taken to the hospital in order to survive. Christy says that after Troy was put on a ventilator the family’s electricity costs tripled. “This might sound corny, but we are here to help,“ McCuen tells the Macomb Daily.

He paid the bill and power was restored within 20 minutes, per C&G News. “I was glad to do it,“ he says. “I hope it inspires other people to do something similar.“ McCuen himself has been there: He was laid off during the recession, and only re-hired last year when the department was awarded a grant.


►   Filming Cops Isn’t First Amendment Right: Court

Unless you’re actively challenging or criticizing the police, don’t whip out your cellphone to record them. That’s the ruling of a US District Court in Pennsylvania in a joint lawsuit covering two cases in Philadelphia, the PhillyVoice reports. The complaint—which the ACLU of Pennsylvania says is the fourth suit in a series designed to curb the Philly PD’s “illegal practice of arresting citizens in retaliation for observing or recording the police performing their duties"—is in the names of Amanda Geraci and Richard Fields, who sued the city for infringing on their First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. In the case of Geraci, IDed by the ABA Journal as a “trained legal observer,“ she was at a 2012 fracking protest and says she was physically restrained and prevented from recording an arrest. Fields says he was handcuffed, put in a police van, and stripped of his cellphone and searched after he recorded what he thought was a “great picture” of 20 cops outside a 2013 Temple University house party.

The District Court on Friday did allow the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment claims regarding excessive force (Geraci) and false arrest and unreasonable search (Fields). Their First Amendment rights were another story, with the court deciding citizens can’t record police actions unless they engage in what’s called “expressive conduct"—they tell the cops why they want to capture certain images or moments, per the ABA Journal. “Absent any authority from the Supreme Court or our Court of Appeals, we decline to create a new First Amendment right for citizens to photograph officers when they have no expressive purpose such as challenging police actions,“ the decision reads. Eugene Volokh takes issue in the Washington Post with the ruling, noting precedents set in lower federal courts for this type of recording and that what Geraci and Fields were doing was silently “gathering” information, which he says is as constitutional as “loud” gathering of information. An appeal is reportedly in the works, Volokh says.


►   Wave Sweeps 4 Into Ocean, One Killed

A large wave swept four people off a Los Angeles County jetty as high surf pounded much of the California coast, leaving one man dead and his three companions seriously injured, authorities say. Redondo Beach firefighters responded late Wednesday after witnesses reported people in the water calling for help at King Harbor, the AP reports. Rescuers pulled two men and two women from the waves at the base of the rock jetty, says Mark Winter, the city’s fire department operations chief. One man was dead at the scene. The three others were hospitalized in serious condition.

It wasn’t clear why the group was on the rocks late at night, but people routinely fish there, according to Winter. He says the surf this week was especially high and people were warned to stay away. “You get one wave every three or four minutes,“ Winter tells the Daily Breeze. “They feel they can get out and that’s just not the case.“ A wave knocked a Harbor Patrol officer into the water during the rescue. He was not hurt.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   They’re Back: Shoes Containing Human Feet Found in Canada

After a short respite, athletic shoes containing human feet are once again washing up on Canadian shores, the Guardian reports. Earlier this month, a family visiting a Vancouver Island beach made a “grisly discovery,“ according to the CBC. “We had a look at it for about five minutes and we thought, ‘It almost looks like there is an actual foot bone in it,‘“ says Charlotte Stephens, whose husband spotted the shoe and brought it onto the beach. It was the first foot sighting in British Columbia in four years. Five days later, another foot in a shoe was found—a match for the first, making the latest two finds a pair. They were the 11th and 12th feet to wash ashore in British Columbia since 2007. Four more have also washed up in Washington state to the south, with the most recent being found in 2014 in Seattle.

Since the feet started appearing in 2007, people have suspected everything from drug dealers to serial killers, the Washington Post reports. The truth is likely much more mundane. Barb McLintock at a coroner’s office in British Columbia tells the Guardian the feet almost assuredly come from people who either killed themselves (“People jump off bridges,“ a criminologist told the Daily Beast in 2011) or were killed by storms. A study once found that when a body is being pushed and pulled around in water, hands and feet are usually first to fall off. Coroners can tell whether bones separated naturally during decomposition or by force, and so far the feet show no signs of foul play. Tide patterns and new shoe designs with air pockets and lighter foam that allow them to float account for why the feet suddenly started appearing in 2007 in the Pacific Northwest. But one mystery still remains: Most of the shoes contain right feet.


►   Model Quits; Manager Says Industry Favors Whites

Ajak Deng—whom Vice calls “one of Australia’s most successful model exports” since her modeling debut in 2008—abruptly quit Tuesday, likely because of racism. “I am happy to announce that I am officially done with the fashion industry, I will be moving back to Australia In order to live the life that I fully deserved. Which is real life,“ Deng posted on Instagram. “I can no longer deal with the fakes and the lies. My life is too short for this dramatic life.“ Her manager, Stephen Bucknell, seemed to imply earlier this week that Deng’s decision might stem from racism in the industry.

The industry is biased toward white models, Bucknell told the Herald Sun. “They’ll book the big Caucasian girls, spend the big dollars, and fly them in from LA, but I’m yet to see them book a dark-skinned girl in that way,“ he said. Deng, whose family fled Sudan in 2005, has also discussed racism in the industry, tweeting in 2014 that she was “kicked out of Balmain for being black” and noting, “I know a lot of black models would rather kiss someone’s a—than being honest but guessed what? I do not gaged [sic] a damn f—-“ before deleting her Twitter account. The 26-year-old had just walked in New York’s Fashion Week before quitting, People reports.


►   She Tried to Run Across a Sea—and Almost Made It

A British TV host tried to run 20 miles across the Irish Sea. She nearly made it, too. Inside a 10-foot-wide inflatable ball attached to paddles, 25-year-old Lindsey Russell set off from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland at 6:30am on Thursday in an attempt to raise money for Sport Relief, which helps fund children’s education, vaccines, mental health initiatives, and more. The journey to Scotland’s Portpatrick Harbor—which would see Russell roll the ball or “zorb” from the inside with her hands and feet—was expected to take about 14 hours, or the same time it would take to swim the distance, per the Belfast Telegraph and BBC. But 10 hours and 17 nautical miles into the trek, Russell was forced to give up due to bad weather.

“The sea has been crossed in so many ways—jet skiing or swimming—but this just felt different and silly and a bit mad,“ the host of CBBC’s Blue Peter said before setting off. She completed the London Marathon and Swiss Army’s Mountain Marathon for practice and was soon running up to seven hours per day. She also practiced fighting huge waves, though it wasn’t enough to beat the harsh weather on the open water. Still, Russell was greeted by cheering fans when she arrived in Scotland by boat. The “challenge was always going to be incredibly hard and zorbing many miles across the Irish Channel is a huge achievement,“ a Sport Relief rep says. It was “the most epic day,“ Russell tweeted, adding she is proud but tired.


►   Man Gets $180 Ticket, Spends 75x That Fighting It

When Mustafa Al Shakarji immigrated with his family to Australia from Iraq in 2002, he found a country far less rife with government and police corruption. So when he got a $180 (in US dollars) speeding ticket he felt was flat out wrong back in March 2012, he decided to fight it—and is still contesting it, reports news.com.au. “In Iraq I couldn’t stand up to speak out, but here you can when you don’t think it’s right, so why wouldn’t you?“ he told news.com.au back in 2011, when he was discussing another ticket he successfully fought. (That story made news because he used Google Earth images to make the case police had the wrong car.) The main difference here is that Al Shakarji says he has spent at least $14,000 fighting the ticket, even though he has represented himself over five hearings, which include police appealing the appeal he won.

Though police allege he was going 88kmh in a 60kmh speed zone (that’s roughly 55mph vs. 37mph), “I was not speeding, absolutely,“ the pharmacist says. A radar expert tells A Current Affair that the police radar detector wasn’t installed in the proper location in the patrol car, and so “the whole operation ... comes into question because you are now using a device outside the guidelines.“ Al Shakarji himself surreptitiously filmed being pulled over using his watch. “I am sure, 100%, finally justice will be served,“ Al Shakarji says of his next day in court, adding that he’s willing to take the case all the way to Australia’s High Court. Even his family thinks he’s crazy and should just pay the fine.

David Ray Rogers

The Free Press WV

David Ray Rogers

Age 54, of Spencer, WV passed away peacefully, with his family at his side, Sunday, February 21, 2016, at his residence, after a short illness.

He was born April 29, 1961, in Lewis County, WV a son of the late Jimmie Ray Rogers and the Pauline Greathouse Rogers Matheny.

David was a disabled tow motor operator.

Survivors include his wife, Christina Poore, and their daughter, Veronica Kathryn Rogers of Spencer; children from a previous marriage, D.J. Rogers and Sabreina Angelin both of West Virginia; brother, Rusty Rogers of Ohio; sister, Jeannie Rogers of West Virginia.

There will be no visitation or funeral service.

John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer, is handling the arrangements.

Governor Tomblin Issues Statements on Key Legislative Proposals

The Free Press WV

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today issued statements on key legislative proposals that will be addressed during the final two weeks of the 2016 Legislative Session.

“During my State of the State address, I presented a structurally sound, fiscally responsible and balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that uses no money from the Rainy Day Fund and does not include any additional across-the-board cuts,” Governor Tomblin said. “At a time when the state is facing serious budget challenges and after cutting our state’s budget by nearly 20 percent over the past three years, we must seriously consider new revenue opportunities.”


School Aid Formula

“Senate Bill 452 was a key component of our work to present a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Under the current law, wealthy counties experiencing growth are able to put local revenues into a special account to support future school construction and maintenance needs. The money they save for those projects is replaced by money from the school aid formula on a dollar-for-dollar match.

“In essence, it means counties struggling with declining student enrollment and funding are subsidizing wealthy, growing counties. For example, according to numbers from the West Virginia Department of Education, Berkeley County will receive $665 more state dollars per student than Boone County during this fiscal year, and Berkeley County will receive $815 more per student than Pocahontas County.

“Senate Bill 452 would have reduced this inequitable appropriation and redirected funds from the state school aid formula to better meet the needs of all school systems. It also would have extended, by three years, the time to replace school buses and fixed a portion of the state code that inappropriately requires counties to increase service personnel salaries based on actions taken in other parts of the state.

“The bill would have re-directed more than $14 million to the General Revenue Fund. It is my hope that members of the Legislature will continue to work on this bill in the coming weeks.”


Highways

“I understand West Virginians across the state are concerned about the condition of our roads, and legislation currently being considered in the Senate would help to address these concerns. I am open to discussing an increase in DMV fees and potentially the state’s gasoline tax to collect the new revenues necessary to fund these improvement projects. On the other hand, I am concerned that dedicating sales tax revenue generated by auto-related purchases would leave a shortfall in the General Revenue Fund, and an increase in the state’s sales tax would be difficult at this time.

“I also think we should pay for road construction projects as they are completed, rather than issuing bonds, so we can create jobs in West Virginia for hardworking West Virginians and keep our taxpayer dollars in-state, while dedicating nearly $150 million a year to road maintenance and improvement projects.”


Concealed Carry

“Last year, I vetoed the concealed carry bill at the urging of law enforcement officers who voiced serious concerns about the consequences of the bill. This year, law enforcement tried to work with legislators to develop a bill to alleviate some of those concerns. I will look at the bill passed by the Legislature this year, but if it does not take law enforcement concerns into consideration, I will likely veto the bill.”


Tobacco Tax

“During my State of the State address, I proposed increasing the state’s tobacco tax by 45 cents a pack – to a total of $1 – while also increasing the rate for smokeless tobacco and creating a tax on e-cigarettes. I believe that increase would discourage young people from smoking, and it would generate more than $71 million in new revenue without risking a sales tax decrease at retailers in our border counties.

“While I don’t rule out an increase of $1 – to a total of $1.55 – we must consider the potential for adverse impacts on border retailers. Causing West Virginians to travel out of state to purchase cigarettes means they also may buy groceries, gasoline and other everyday products during those trips, reducing sales tax collections and potentially hurting small businesses.”

Gilmer County Magistrate Court Report

The Free Press WV

Magistrate Court of Gilmer County, West Virginia
Defendant Offense Disposition
Wilhelm, Brandi Diane Possession of Controlled Substance Less Than 15 Grams Proceeding Deferred
Fox, Franklin R. Domestic Battery - Unlawful or Intentional Physical Contactor Harm to Family or Household Dismissed
Williams, Eric Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense - Obtaining Money, Property and Services by False Pretense; Penalties (Larceny) (7) Transferred to Circuit Court
Wentz, Joseph Scott Driving While License Revoked - DUI - Alcohol Concentration in Blood < .15 3rd or Subs Dismissed - Plea Agreement
Furby, Roger Wanton Endangerment Involving a Firearm (3) Dismissed - Joint Motion
Richards, Dustin Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol - Controlled Substance (24 hr. Confinement) Guilty Plea
Roberts, Jeffrey Leon Operate a Private Pay Pond Without a License (2) No Contest Plea - Dismissed by Joint Motion
Wentz, Joseph Scott Unsafe and Improperly Equipped Vehicles; Applicability of Article to Farm and Road Equipment Dismissed - Plea Agreement
Furry, Roger Domestic Assault - Unlawful Use of Force Capable of Causing Pain/Injury to Family or Household (2) Dismissed - Joint Motion
Furry, Roger Person Prohibited from Possessing Firearms; Classification No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Furry, Roger Interference, Prevention, or Deprivation of Access to Emergency Services No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Richards, Robert Domestic Battery - Unlawful or Intentional Physical Contact or Harm to Family or Household No Contest Per Plea Agreement
Wood, Kayla J. Hunting without Class N (Resident) or Class NN (Non-Resident)Antlerless Deer Hunting Stamp Dismissed
Wood, Kayla J. Possession of Wildlife Dismissed
Kazee, Breeanna Marie Officer Cited Expired MVI 10.15 No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Roberts, Sarah Elizabeth Possession of Controlled Substance Guilty - Plea Agreement
Roberts, Sarah Elizabeth Driving a Vehicle without the Required Security Dismissed - Plea Agreement
Friend, Matthew Butron Domestic Battery - Unlawful or Intentional Physical Contact or Harm to Family or Household No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Schoolcraft, Eric Robert Domestic Battery - Unlawful or Intentional Physical Contact or Harm to Family or Household Dismissed
Schoolcraft, Eric Robert Possession of Controlled Substance Dismissed
Schoolcraft, Eric Robert No Vehicle Insurance Dismissed
Knauff, Kenneth Shooting Across the Road or Near Building or Crowd; Penalty Dismissed
Moore, Jonathan E. Driving While License Suspended or Revoked; General Guilty Plea
Davis, Shawndale Eugene Driving While License Suspended or Revoked; General Dismissed
Raines II, Stephen Lee Improper Use of Evidence of Registration No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Raines II, Stephen Lee No Insurance Dismissed
Smith, Cody L. Open Container No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Smith, Cody L. Under Age Consumption No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Curry, Kevin Ray Burglary in the Nighttime, Break and Enter, or Enter without Breaking Dismissed - With Prejudice
Moyers, Shawn M. No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Wade Jr., Oras Harold Conspiracy to Violate (DNR); Withholding Information; Obstructing Officers Dismissed
Bennett, Jeanne Lea Unlawful Methods of Hunting - Vehicle Hunting Dismissed
Bennett, Jeanne Lea Hunting without Class N (Resident) or Class NN (Non-Resident)Antlerless Derry Hunting Stamp Dismissed
Parsons, Cody Doyle Speeding Guilty Plea
Westfall, Amanda Dawn Speeding No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Conrad, Austin James Fail to Use Due Care No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Conrad, Austin James No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Conrad, Austin James Defective Equipment (Speedometer) No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Bell, Laura Thelma No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Sampson, Brandon Scott No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Blake, Erica Renae No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Roberts, Cassandra Louise Driving While License Suspended or Revoked; General Dismissed
Roberts, Cassandra Louise No Proof of Insurance Dismissed
Fisher Jr., Burl Ray Unlawful Methods of Hunting - Uncased or Loaded Gun Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Fisher Jr., Burl Ray Hunting without Permission Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Blair, Rhonda Anne No Proof of Insurance Dismissed
Dent, Nicholas Evan No Proof of Insurance Dismissed - Proof of Insurance
Hoone, Cory A. Using Cell Phone or Electronic Communication Device Without Hand-Free Equipment Guilty Plea
Curry, Kevin Ray Domestic Assault - Unlawful Use of Force Capable of Causing Pain/Injury to Family or Household Dismissed - With Prejudice
Curry, Kevin Ray Trespass in Structure or Conveyance Dismissed - With Prejudice
Curry, Kevin Ray Unlawful Taking of Vehicle Dismissed - With Prejudice
Bourn, Scott J. No Operators Carried Dismissed
Bourn, Scott J. No Seatbelt Driver No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Venezia, Francis J. Left of Center Guilty Plea
Wentz, Joseph Scott Driver Under the Influence with Alcohol Concentrationin in Blood <.15 No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Nichols, Brittney Nicole Making, Issuing Worthless Checks (2) No Contest - Nolo Contendre
Nicholas II, Austin Glenn Making, Issuing Worthless Checks No Contest - Nolo Contendre
02.26.2016
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G-Eye™: Ike & Sue Morris Stadium

GSC burning tree stubs close to Ike & Sue Morris Stadium on 02.24.16‏
The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

Now Available: A Library of Opportunity

Summary: Open eBooks is now available to millions of students offering unprecedented access to thousands of digital books.

What if we could ensure that every student, no matter where they live or the income of their parents, could get access to a great book?  What if they had access to not just one book, but a library of thousands of titles – and could read them from anywhere?

We’ve taken a big step toward that vision thanks to Open eBooks, a stakeholder-driven project that the President highlighted last April, and that after months of hard work by a team of libraries, publishers, and non-profits, is launching nationwide today. For millions of America’s kids, Open eBooks can be a passport to a world of learning and opportunity – delivering over $250 million of reading material to students who need it most, and introducing them to a love of reading.

Why is this so important?  Ask Colin Rogister, who helps lead the Administration’s ConnectED initiative. Colin began his career as a 2nd grade teacher at a low-income elementary school in California, where he taught Marlene, a DREAMer whose parents emigrated from Mexico to find a better life. An advanced reader, it only took Marlene a few months to finish every chapter-book in Colin’s classroom. If she had been able to access a resource like Open eBooks, she would have had thousands of popular and award-winning books at her fingertips. Stories like Marlene’s help inspire efforts like Open eBooks.

The President said it best:

“No matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you’ve got, you should be able to access the world’s knowledge and information just like anyone else.”
–President Obama, Anacostia Library, April 30, 2015

Open eBooks helps advance ConnectED’s vision of seizing every opportunity technology affords to ensure students, inside and outside the classroom, have access to the best teaching and learning. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, we’ve already cut the connectivity divide in half in schools. Meanwhile, more students than ever – at all income levels – have access at school or home to a digital device, whether a tablet, laptop, or mobile phone. According to a national survey, 85 percent of families with young children (6-13 years old) living below the poverty line have access to mobile devices. That translates into a unique opportunity to deliver more and better content to students with a hunger to learn.

Open eBooks is not a federal program; it was created by a breakthrough coalition of literacy, library, publishing, and technology organizations who worked together over the past year to make the initiative possible. This team – Digital Public Library of America, First Book, and The New York Public Library with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor – created the app, curated the eBook collection, and developed a system for distribution and use. They received support for development of technology critical to the app from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and content contributions from ten major publishers — including today’s big announcement that National Geographic will include all its age-appropriate content in the app.

But they can’t do this alone. To make sure students can take advantage, they need the help of a responsible adult — those who work with children in need through libraries, schools, shelters and clinics, out-of-school programs, and early childhood programs; and those who work primarily with students in military families. This includes teachers, librarians, after-school counselors, and others primarily serving students in need. Students with codes can then download the free Open eBooks app to mobile devices from their mobile app store and enter their access code to start enjoying Open eBooks.

For more information on how to sign up and to connect young people with the eBooks they need, visit www.OpeneBooks.net.
 

Gilmer County Named to Dean’s List at West Virginia Wesleyan College

The Free Press WV

Gilmer County area students were named to the Dean’s List at West Virginia Wesleyan College for the 2015 fall semester.

Wesleyan’s Dean’s List requires students to earn a grade point average of 3.5 - 3.9 in 12 or more semester hours.

Underclassman receiving academic recognitions were:

  • Brandon Desormier of Glenville

  • Kortney Frame of Troy

  • Lindsay Gregory of Normantown

Founded in 1890, West Virginia Wesleyan is a private residential college located in Buckhannon.

The college offers 49 majors and graduate programs in athletic training, business, education, English and nursing.

Thirteen Wesleyan students have been selected as U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholars.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   MANCHIN AND CAPITO ANNOUNCE $800K FOR WVU SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today announced a total of $800,000 to West Virginia University from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research and education programs in the environmental engineering and health chemistry fields. These grants will allow the University to continue making advancements in science and engineering and developing the knowledge and cutting edge technologies necessary to grow the state’s economy and address our challenges.

“In order to grow our economy, create jobs for the future and attract the best and brightest students to West Virginia, it is critical that we invest in research and development at our colleges and universities,” Senator Manchin said. “Our scientific research teams at West Virginia University are the best of the best, leading the nation in innovation. These grants will help provide WVU with the resources necessary to continue carrying out the kind of advanced research projects that lead to breakthrough scientific discoveries and allow our students to compete with other institutions around the country. This is wonderful news for WVU and for our entire state, and I applaud their leadership and their continuing efforts to excel.”

“Programs like these show exactly why WVU is recognized as one of the top institutions for doctoral research,” said Senator Capito. “This funding has the potential to assist with the discovery of scientific breakthroughs, such as treating Alzheimer’s. It will also encourage undergraduate students to take their scientific training to the next level. I am very pleased to see these grants headed to WVU and look forward to seeing these programs grow the next generation of scientists.”

A total of $300,000 will support the “REU Site: Research in Chemistry at West Virginia University” project beginning on April 01, 2016. For more information on this project, please click   H E R E.

Another $500,000 will support the “CAREER: An Integrated Research and Education Program to Advance Pathogen Detection and Quantitation” project beginning on March 01, 2016.  For more information on this project, please click
H E R E.


►   WV House Democrats Fight to Fund PEIA

Democrats in the House of Delegates continue to fight to restore benefits and fully fund PEIA. Today during the House floor session, Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) offered an amendment to Senate Bill 419, Relating to termination of Workers’ Compensation Debt Reduction Act, that would have redirected revenue from the Workers’ Compensation surcharge tax on coal, natural gas and oil to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.  House Republican Leadership was opposed to this proposal.

The plan would have guaranteed funding for PEIA until an alternative funding source was approved by the Legislature.  After certification that PEIA would be fully funded and benefits to recipients were restored to fiscal year 2015 levels, the Workers’ Compensation surcharge tax on coal, natural gas, oil and timber would have been removed.

“Adoption of the amendment would have been a win-win for PEIA recipients as well as for coal, oil, gas and timber in our state- all of which are struggling,” Delegate Sponaugle added.  “It is day 43 of the 60-day legislative session- House Republicans have shown that fixing PEIA is not a priority to them, but corporate tax cuts are,” he stated.

“I am disappointed that Republican leadership in the House of Delegates continue to choose big business over West Virginia teachers, law enforcement officers, public employees and retirees,” House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison) stated.  “While the Republican leadership says one thing while doing another, the Democrats will continue to work to fully fund and restore benefits to the thousands of PEIA recipients across West Virginia,” he pledged.


►   English records bill sent to Tomblin for consideration

CHARLESTON, WV — The bill that would require governmental business and records in West Virginia be conducted in English is headed to the desk of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for his consideration.

The Senate passed the bill (HB3019) 27-6 Thursday following approval by the House of Delegates earlier in the legislative session.

“This is not meant to be an exclusionary bill, what it’s meant to be is inclusionary,” Senator Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) said. “It makes it so that everybody has a baseline you can go to, uniformity.”

The bill would actually allow government documents, like driver’s license handbooks, be printed in different languages, Blair said. But English would always be required.

Some senators argued against the bill calling it unnecessary and restrictive. Supporters for the bill came from both political parties.

“There’s an old saying that we’ve all heard, ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do,’ when you’re in the United States, we speak English,” Senator Doug Facemire (D-Braxton) said.


►   WV Medal of Honor recipient receives $50K award

FRANKFORT, KY — Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams has been named the grand prize winner for Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey’s 2016 Rare Life Award.

A $50,000 donation from Eagle Rare will be made to the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which honors and supports the families of American military personnel killed in action.

“Winning this award is not about me or the foundation,“ Williams said in a release. “It’s for the benefit of others who gave much more than I did so that I can wake up every morning and be a free American.“

Williams, a resident of Ona for over 40 years, is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Williams, 92, has been active in serving veterans associations and military families for decades, and has been widely honored in the Huntington area.

“The accomplishments of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams are truly inspirational,“ Kris Comstock, Eagle Rare spokesman, said in a release. “His passion for, and commitment to, recognizing the families who’ve lost loved ones during their service truly embody everything the Rare Life Award stands for.“

One of the foundation’s major goals is the creation of monuments for Gold Star families, those who have lost a family member in military action, and plans to create an additional 25 in cemeteries across the country. Seven monuments are currently completed in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana.

“We couldn’t be happier for Woody and those who work to further the goals of the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Medal of Honor Foundation,“ Comstock added.


►   WV trooper pushes for world record for a cause

HUNTINGTON, WV - In a crowded room of cheering supporters Wednesday afternoon, nobody could care less about the world record than Capt. Ron Arthur, except maybe his 9-year-old daughter, Madi. Whether or not he beat the Guinness World Record for most push-ups in an hour was secondary to the money his feat had raised to send around a dozen children with diabetes to Camp Kno-Koma.

The night before Arthur’s shot at the record, Madi reminded him of what was truly important in the grand scheme of it all.

“She said it best last night: ‘The kids are going to camp anyway. Jesus is more happy about that then he is with the push-ups,“ Arthur said, eyes bloodshot and visibly shaken after his attempt at the Guinness World Record for most push-ups in an hour with 2,505 reps.

“That took the pressure off.“

Initially unsure he could even knock out the 2,221 push-ups required to break the previous record, the 46-year-old West Virginia State Police captain from Winfield made only one promise before he began to the roughly 50 supporters packing Robert’s Running Shop in Huntington.

“Every day is a gift from God so we owe a perfect effort in honor of God giving us that day,“ Arthur said. “I promise a perfect effort right here. Whether I’m way ahead and going to break it or way behind and no chance of breaking it, my effort level will not change.“

Finishing a quick prayer as Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” bounced from the speakers, Arthur knelt and placed his palms to the floor for those first reps.

“Here it is,“ he said. “Let’s see how close we can make it.“

Working in around 45-second bursts with 10 second rests between intervals, Arthur pounded out 50 push-ups within the first minute. The clock rolled, and Arthur’s skin grew red and slick with fatigue, his breaths raspy under stress.

Eclipsing the 1,000-rep mark just under 21 minutes, Arthur reassured the room he was hanging in there.

“I’m warmed up now,“ he said to laughs and cheers.

At the 30-minute point, Arthur had completed 1,408 push-ups, but his fatigue was more evident. His breaks became longer, sweat began to puddle on the ground under his forehead, and he even swapped his water bottle for a few drinks of Coca-Cola.

Through all the cheers, Madi’s voice calling “Come on, Daddy! You’re awesome!“ was the only one he really heard.

“She knew when to time it,“ Arthur said. “Oh my gosh, the strength that goes through your veins when that happens.“

At 51 minutes and 15 seconds, Arthur repped push-up No. 2,221, possibly breaking the record set in 2014 by Carlton Williams in the United Kingdom.

He didn’t stop. He didn’t slow down. Arthur was out to give a perfect effort, win or lose. By the time the clock ran out, his perfect effort totaled 2,505 push-ups.

“None of us are perfect; we haven’t a need to prove that,“ Arthur said. “All we can prove is a perfect effort. The only thing I can control is my effort.“

“Whether Guinness accepts it or not is really insignificant to me.“

Raising at least $3,600 to send children to Camp Kno-Koma, a summer camp for children with diabetes in the Monongahela National Forest, Arthur’s could hug Madi knowing what his perfect effort was worth.

“The first 2,221 were to break the record,“ Arthur said. “Every one after was for her.“

Diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes herself, Madi said it means the world knowing her father would go to such painful lengths for kids like her to have a happier childhood.

“I’m really proud,“ Madi said. “He never gives up, and he always does everything perfect, whatever he does.“

Arthur extended his gratitude to his supporters, adding their contributions to the fundraiser meant far more than the push-ups.

“We have a great community, and anybody who doesn’t believe it needs to come to West Virginia,“ Arthur said. “Thank God. God bless America.“

“The push-up record is back in the USA.“    ~~  Bishop Nash ~~


►   Religious groups tackle West Virginia health problems

CHARLESTON, WV — West Virginians from nine denominations will make a push next month to sign up hundreds of people in their campaign to improve people’s health.

The religious groups are working with Try This West Virginia, a statewide healthy community program. The WV Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits network will launch the month of activity on Tuesday in the secretary of state’s conference room.

At the group’s request, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared March “Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits Month.“

Catholic Charities West Virginia Director Mark Sliter said in a news release from the campaign that churches can work together to help change unhealthy habits and behaviors.

The Rev. Lynn Keener, a Nazarene pastor from Morgantown, said many problems in today’s world can’t be changed, but something can be done about the health of West Virginians.

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV

LOTS ON LINE AT GOP DEBATE

With Super Tuesday’s mega-round of voting looming, the presidential campaign is shifting to a broader new phase, making a strong debate performance even more important.


SURGEONS PERFORM FIRST UTERUS TRANSPLANT IN U.S.

The operation at the Cleveland Clinic on a 26-year-old woman, using a uterus from a deceased donor, opens a new frontier that aims to give women who lack wombs a chance at pregnancy.


APPLE URGES JUDGE TO REVERSE ORDER

In a court filing, the tech giant argues that requiring it to help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone would violate the company’s constitutional rights.


DEADLY SHOOTING RAMPAGE IN KANSAS

A suspect is killed by authorities at his workplace after a series of shootings in the small town of Hesston in south-central Kansas that left several people dead.


HOW U.S., RUSSIA VIEW SYRIAN CEASE-FIRE

Amid skepticism that the agreement will hold, both world powers nonetheless describe it as the best path for ending five years of violence.


REFORM CANDIDATES VYING IN ELECTIONS IN IRAN

A stronger reformist presence in parliament would give moderate President Rouhani support as he tries to move toward warmer ties with the U.S. and the West.


WHY MEDICAL EXPERTS ARE CRITICIZING RESPONSE TO ZIKA

Some say Brazil and international health officials have prematurely declared a link between the virus and what appears to be a surge in birth defects.


SCIENTISTS QUANTIFY NATURAL GAS LEAK

They say the leak that forced thousands of people from their Los Angeles homes was the largest reported release of climate-changing methane in U.S. history.


WHAT’S EMBARRASSING SEAWORLD

The company is acknowledging that it used a worker to infiltrate an animal rights group opposed to its practices.


ROSA PARKS’ ARCHIVE NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

The Library of Congress announces that the civil rights’ pioneer’s letters, writings, personal notes and photographs have been fully digitized.

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   Justice Scalia spent his last hours with members of this secretive society of elite hunters

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 12 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s.

After Scalia’s death February 13, the names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort, along with details about Scalia’s connection to the hunters, have remained largely unknown. A review of public records shows that some of the men who were with Scalia at the ranch are connected through the International Order of St. Hubertus, whose members gathered at least once before at the same ranch for a celebratory weekend.

Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes,” which means “Honoring God by honoring His creatures,” according to the group’s website. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. The Order’s name is in honor of Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and fishermen.

Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter and C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who traveled to the ranch with Scalia by private plane, hold leadership positions within the Order. It is unclear what, if any, official association Scalia had with the group.

“There is nothing I can add to your observation that among my many guests at Cibolo Creek Ranch over the years some members of the International Order of St. Hubertus have been numbered,” Poindexter said in an email. “I am aware of no connection between that organization and Justice Scalia.”

An attorney for the Scalia family did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

Two other private planes that landed at the ranch for the weekend are linked to two men who have held leadership positions with the Texas chapter of the Order, according to a review of state business filings and flight records from the airport.

After Scalia’s death, Poindexter told reporters that he met Scalia at a “sports group” gathering in Washington. The U.S. chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus lists a suite on M Street NW in the District as its headquarters, although the address is only a mailbox in a United Parcel Service store.

The International Order of St. Hubertus, according to its website, is a “true knightly order in the historical tradition.” In 1695, Count Franz Anton von Sporck founded the society in Bohemia, which is in modern-day Czech Republic.

The group’s Grand Master is “His Imperial Highness Istvan von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria,” according to the Order’s website. The next gathering for “Ordensbrothers” and guests is an “investiture” March 10 in Charleston, S.C.

The society’s U.S. chapter launched in 1966 at the famous Bohemian Club in San Francisco, which is associated with the all-male Bohemian Grove — one of the most well-known secret societies in the country.

In 2010, Poindexter hosted a group of 53 members of the Houston chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, according to a Houston society publication. A number of members from Mexico were also part of the ranch festivities that included “three days of organized shoots and ‘gala’ lunches and dinners.”

Poindexter told CultureMap Houston that some of the guests dressed in “traditional European shooting attire for the boxed bird shoot competition” and for the shooting of pheasants and chukar, a type of partridge.

For the hunting weekend earlier this month, Poindexter told The Washington Post that Scalia traveled to Houston with his friend and U.S. marshals, who provide security for Supreme Court justices. The Post obtained a Presidio County Sheriff’s Office report that named Foster as Scalia’s close friend on the trip.

Sheriff Danny Dominguez confirmed that a photograph of Washington lawyer C. Allen Foster is the same man he interviewed at the ranch the day of Scalia’s death.

From Houston, Scalia and Foster chartered a plane without the marshals to the Cibolo Creek Ranch airstrip. In a statement after Scalia died, the U.S. Marshals Service said that Scalia had declined a security detail while at the ranch.

The friend, Louisiana-born Foster, is a lawyer with the Washington firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. He is also known for his passion for hunting and is a former spokesman for the hunting group Safari Club.

In 2006, Foster was featured in The Post when he celebrated his 65th birthday with a six-day celebration in the Czech Republic. He flew his family and 40 Washington friends there to stay in Moravia’s Zidlochovice, a baroque castle and hunting park. The birthday bash included “tours of the Czech countryside, wine tasting, wild boar and mouflon (wild sheep) hunts, classic dance instruction and a masked costume ball.”

A secretary at Foster’s law firm said he is traveling in Argentina. The firm’s director of marketing, Mindee L. Mosher, said Foster was traveling and she would try to contact him. A woman answering a phone associated with Foster hung up when asked for comment.

Planes owned by Wallace “Happy” Rogers III and the company of A.J. Lewis III left from San Antonio and arrived at the ranch just after noon February 12. The planes departed the ranch about 30 minutes apart February 14, according to flight records provided to The Post by FlightAware.

Rogers owns the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in San Antonio. He has donated $65,000 to Republican candidates since 2008. Lewis is the owner of a restaurant supplier company, also based in San Antonio. He has given $3,500 to GOP candidates since 2007.

Rogers and Lewis have both served as prior officers in the Texas chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus, according to Texas business records. Rogers spoke to a Post reporter briefly on the phone and confirmed that he was at the ranch the weekend of Scalia’s death. He declined to comment further.

Lewis did not respond to several attempts for comment.

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office released an incident report to The Post on Tuesday that revealed Foster’s name as Scalia’s traveling companion and provided details about the discovery of his body.

Poindexter and Foster told the sheriff that Scalia had traveled to Texas the day before to go hunting. Poindexter told the sheriff that they “had supper and talked for a while” that evening.

Scalia “said that he was tired and was going to his room for the night,” the sheriff wrote in his report.

When Scalia didn’t show up for breakfast that morning, Poindexter knocked on his door and eventually went in and found the Justice dead in his bed, Poindexter said.

Law enforcement officials told The Post that they had no knowledge of the International Order of St. Hubertus or its connection to Poindexter and ranch guests. The officials said the FBI had declined to investigate Scalia’s death when they were told by the marshals that he died from natural causes.


►   Mysterious high-pitched tone keeps Oregon residents up at night

An unexplained high-pitched tone has kept residents of a Portland suburb awake at night for at least a week, confounding the best efforts of police and firefighters to pinpoint its source, officials in the community said on Monday.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the noise, a steady, whistle-like note resembling a flute, has only been reported after dark in Forest Grove, a rustic community of 22,500 located about 25 miles (40 km) west of Oregon’s largest city.

Former residents say they remember a similar sound echoing through the night air several decades ago, according to reports filed with Forest Grove Fire and Rescue, an agency spokeswoman said.

The tone is unusual for its combination of high pitch and ambiguous point of origin, said audio engineer Tobin Cooley, president of the company Listen Acoustics, who agreed to informally assess the phenomenon for Reuters on Monday.

“Higher frequencies like this tone are very directional sounds, versus low-frequency sounds which can seem to come from anywhere or everywhere at once,” Cooley said, cautioning that he had listened to poor-quality recordings but not made a thorough investigation.

“What surprises me is that neighbors have not been able to locate where this is coming from,” he said.

Cooley speculated that the sound could be coming from a release of compressed air or natural gas, but officials with the local gas company said they had ruled out any of the utility’s equipment or pipelines as a source.

“We sent a tech out, and he spent the whole day investigating,” said Melissa Moore, spokeswoman for Northwest Natural Gas. She added that a gas leak would also produce an odor, which has not been reported.

Although the Forest Grove fire department is collecting information about the sound, firefighters do not know what to do about it, a spokeswoman for the agency said. “We aren’t waiting for it to make a noise. We are going about our duties,“ she said.


►   Scalia Had a Slew of Health Issues

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suffered from a host of ailments that contributed to his death, including coronary artery disease, obesity, and diabetes, according to a letter from his physician. The letter—addressed to Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara, who determined Scalia died of a heart attack and no autopsy was needed—also mentions Scalia was a smoker who had sleep apnea, degenerative joint disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and high blood pressure, a Presidio County DA tells the AP, noting the letter is proof there was nothing fishy about the 79-year-old justice’s death. The letter was dated three days after Scalia died, though Guevara says she also spoke to the doctor by phone on February 13.

A doctor who did not treat Scalia says the cited conditions would have put him at risk for heart arrhythmia, pulmonary embolism, and stroke. Another doctor notes a breathing machine used for sleep apnea would “make sure the heart and body aren’t stressed while sleeping.“ A sheriff’s report notes a breathing machine was found turned off next to Scalia’s bed, but he was not hooked up to it, per the Washington Post. “All seemed to be in order,“ the sheriff wrote. Scalia’s clothes were neatly folded and the sheets covering him were smooth and creased. His head was elevated on three pillows and his hands were at his sides. A pillowcase “appeared to have shifted at some point in the night” and was covering his eyes but “did not seem to have inhibited Scalia’s breathing.“


►   More Tourists Hitting Colorado ERs for Pot Incidents

Colorado’s tourists aren’t just buying weed now that it’s legal—they’re ending up in emergency rooms at rates far higher than residents, according to a new study. Doctors reviewed marijuana-related emergency-room admissions at a hospital near Denver International Airport during 2014, when the sale of recreational pot became legal. The physicians found that the rate of emergency-room visits possibly related to marijuana doubled among out-of-state residents in the first year of recreational pot sales. The rate went from 85 per 10,000 visits in 2013 to 168 per 10,000 visits in 2014. Among Colorado residents, the rate of emergency-room visits possibly related to cannabis use did not change significantly between 2013 and 2014. Among Colorado resident emergency-room patients, 106 per 10,000 visits complained of marijuana-related ailments in 2013 and 112 per 10,000 visits complained of marijuana-related ailments in 2014.

The difference between tourists and residents played out statewide, the AP reports. The doctors said the difference between tourists and residents caught them by surprise. “We didn’t expect people from out of state to actually be coming to the emergency department mentioning this drug more often,“ says one. The study included all cases where patients mentioned cannabis. The increase has two likely explanations: more people using pot, and more patients fessing up about using pot to doctors because it’s legal. Health authorities have warned that travelers likely use marijuana differently than people staying home. “You’re more likely to overdo it on vacation, with marijuana just like with anything else,“ says a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment rep. “You have that vacation mentality. You’re there to have a good time.“


►   Nike Co-Founder Rains $400M Donation on Stanford

Stanford University is launching a program it’s calling the “largest single increase in student financial aid in Stanford’s history,“ and it has Nike’s chairman to thank for the lion’s share of it, NPR reports. Philip Knight, also one of Nike’s co-founders, has pledged $400 million, which is more than half of a $750 million endowment supporting the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. The scholarship aims to attract students from around the globe with demonstrated “leadership and civic commitment” to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Knight’s philanthropic offering—one of the biggest ever from a single donor to a university—will fund at least three years of full-time study toward a master’s or doctorate for 100 students per year. The first director of the program will be John Hennessy, the college’s current president, who’s taking leave of his post this year after 16 years at the helm. “This is using education to benefit mankind, and I think it really could be transformative,“ Knight told the New York Times in a phone interview.


►   CarMax Salesman Killed in Test Drive Gone Wrong

It was just another test drive—a regular task in the daily routine of a used-car salesman. But for CarMax’s Warren Smale, it turned out to be his last ride after a potential buyer crashed the red Corvette they were driving in Tuesday into a tree, killing the 43-year-old salesman in Ontario, Calif., and ending in the driver’s arrest, the Los Angeles Times reports. Alex Demetro, 28, was charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs after witnesses say he lost control of the car, the Ontario Police Department tells KTLA. The Corvette was seen zipping around at speeds up to 70mph, witnesses say in a police report. “Today is an incredibly sad day for the CarMax family,“ a company statement read. “Our hearts and prayers go out to our associate’s family.“

One witness tells KTLA that when she heard the accident, which took place around 12:45pm just a couple of blocks away from the CarMax lot, she headed outside and saw Smale still in the passenger seat and Demetro on the ground clutching his shoulder. “I think he was probably shocked,“ she says. Smale was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died there. “That guy had no idea today would be his last day when he showed up to work today,“ another witness told KTLA. Demetro is being detained in a San Bernardino County jail on $100,000 bail and is expected to appear in court on Thursday, per court records.

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