Governor Tomblin Discusses Progress in Fight Against Substance Abuse with Advisory Council

Announces $1.3 million in lawsuit settlement funds to support efforts to curb epidemic
The Free Press WV

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today met with members of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse (GACSA), which he established in 2011, to discuss progress made in recent years in West Virginia’s fight against substance abuse. Since it was created, GACSA has coordinated 20 rounds of community meetings in six regions across the state and helped drive major policy reforms to help curb this epidemic.

“When I established this advisory council, my vision was to create a community-driven approach to tackling our substance abuse epidemic,” said Governor Tomblin. “By working from the ground up, we have been able to address needs in specific regions across our state while making broad, statewide reforms.

“We now look at substance abuse as an illness, not a crime. We have increased access to life-saving Narcan. We’ve expanded and improved treatment and recovery services. And we established West Virginia’s first-ever substance abuse help line, which has received more than 7,500 calls since it launched just over a year ago. This progress, and so much more, is making a difference for individuals, families, children and communities across the Mountain State.”

At today’s meeting, Governor Tomblin announced that $1.3 million in funding, a result of a lawsuit settlement from drug distributors who allegedly helped contribute to West Virginia’s substance abuse problem, will be used to support projects in the state ranging from residential treatment and recovery services for women, to detox/crisis stabilization beds for youths and adults and law enforcement-assisted diversion.

In addition, he shared that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has submitted a substance abuse disorder demonstration waiver for approval to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If approved, this waiver would improve quality of care and outcomes for Medicaid enrollees with substance abuse disorder issues.

“Our work to bring more resources to West Virginia has not lessened, and we will continue bringing in everything we can to fuel our work to curb this far-reaching problem,” Governor Tomblin said. “Together, we are giving West Virginians back their lives, their independence, their families – and their hope.” 

Snapshot of Substance Abuse Resources & Programs in West Virginia

•  The 844.HELP4WV call line is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week and accepts phone calls and text messages. The website -​ - includes a live online chat application.

•  Substance abuse prevention services are provided in all 55 counties in West Virginia. More than 130 crisis detoxification beds in residential treatment facilities exist across the state with more sites under development. An additional 118 beds are designated for short-term, post-partum, youth and long-term treatment. Nearly 700 beds are available to those seeking help and support at peer and provider recovery homes and facilities.

•  The West Virginia Division of Corrections offers programs focused on combatting substance abuse in the state’s prisons and jails. Nine Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) units in correctional centers across the state provide six-month to one-year courses of inpatient treatment with a total reach of 491 inmates. The RSAT model has been expanded to regional facilities.

•  Through a pilot program overseen by the DHHR, medication assisted treatment is available for paroling or discharging inmates who have completed substance abuse programs and show motivation for continuing treatment. This pilot program has been expanded through legislation passed this year and has begun development in regional jails.

•  Both prisons and jails offer outpatient substance abuse counseling programs, including 12-step peer-to-peer programs and a 39-session program focusing on addiction education, transitional skills for recovery and relapse prevention

Trump’s Cabinet: ‘Draining The Swamp’ Or Diving Right In?

Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capital. Instead, he’s diving right in.

So far, the president-elect is tapping people with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street as he fills out his Cabinet, turning to two power centers he vilified as greedy, corrupt and out of touch with Americans during his White House campaign. His choices have won praise from Republicans relieved by his more conventional choices, but could risk angering voters who rallied behind his calls for upending the political system.

Two of Trump’s early picks are wealthy financial industry insiders with ties to the kinds of institutions he railed against as a candidate. Elaine Chao, his choice for transportation secretary and an accomplished political figure in her own right, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — blending family and political power in a way Trump fiercely criticized campaign rival Hillary Clinton for. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s selection for attorney general, has spent two decades in the Senate, and Tom Price, his health and human services nominee, is a six-term congressman.

The gap between Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his governing decisions is most striking regarding his emerging economic team. On Wednesday, he announced that he planned to nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.

As a candidate, Trump said Wall Street had created “tremendous problems” for the country. He included the CEO of Goldman Sachs in a television advertisement that accused global financial powers of having “robbed our working class.“

The Free Press WV

Mnuchin and Ross also have financial links to Trump’s White House bid, with Mnuchin having led the campaign’s fundraising efforts. Trump repeatedly bragged that his personal wealth — he mostly self-funded his campaign during the primaries — meant he would not be beholden to donors who might expect their financial contributions to be repaid with powerful jobs or insider access.

“I can’t be bought,“ Trump said during the campaign. “I won’t owe anybody anything.“

Trump’s transition team brushed aside questions about whether there are inconsistencies between the president-elect’s campaign rhetoric and his Cabinet picks.

“These are experts who know how to win,“ spokesman Jason Miller said Wednesday.

By picking billionaires, as well as a smattering of millionaires, for his Cabinet, Trump is asking voters to trust that privileged insiders can help a stressed and dispirited middle class — even though he, like past presidential candidates, promised he would change that dynamic. Few of his choices have outwardly displayed much of a common touch. Many live surrounded by a level of wealth that most Americans struggle to fathom — and prospered in recent decades as many Americans coped with stagnant incomes.

Not only did Mnuchin once work at Goldman Sachs, but so did his father. After leaving the investment bank in 2002, the Yale graduate pivoted into hedge fund management and producing blockbuster movies such as “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.“ Mnuchin invested in the wreckage of the housing crisis, scooping up the troubled bank IndyMac and turning a $1.6 billion profit in under a year as millions of Americans endured foreclosure.

Ross orbits a similar world as Trump, as both of them have luxurious homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. The billionaire investor bought up many struggling steel, auto and coal firms in the industrial Midwest at a steep discount and sold them for steep profits, even as factory and mining jobs at the core of American identity disappeared.

Chao is the offspring of a Chinese shipping magnate, in addition to serving on the boards of Wells Fargo bank, Dole Food and News Corp., the parent of Fox News. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the wealthiest of Trump’s Cabinet nominees thus far, married into the family that started the sales company Amway.

Trump and other Republicans spent months warning voters that a possible Clinton administration would be lined with Wall Street insiders, campaign donors and other special interest hires. But GOP officials have raised no such concerns about Trump’s picks.

If anything, some Republicans appear relieved. Many of Trump’s picks are cut from a more traditional Republican mold and share the party’s ideological preferences, in some cases more so than Trump himself.

“The picks so far have been fantastic and well-received by Republicans and conservatives of all stripes,“ said Cesar Conda, the former chief of staff for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “Trump is unifying the party, which is essential to getting his agenda enacted.“

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a lukewarm Trump supporter for much of the campaign, praised the economic picks Wednesday, saying he was “excited to get to work with this strong team.“

Trump is still weighing his choices for several Cabinet posts, including secretary of state. Among the leading contenders: millionaire businessman Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and millionaire lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

~~  The Associated Press ~~

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   State Putting Down New Rules for Amateur MMA

West Virginia is poised to put new rules into effect governing mixed martial arts for both professionals and recently legalized fights for amateurs.

The detailed regulations, subject to review starting Sunday by lawmakers, prohibit fighters under age 18 and require blood tests for both pros and amateurs.

They set insurance minimums and professional licensing fees and require doctors at the cage matches.

Amateurs can turn pro after four matches where they show they can compete.

The state legalized pro fights with the mix of punching, kicking and grappling in 2011.

Last year, lawmakers and the governor added amendments that lifted a state ban on amateur fights.

The State Athletic Commission’s regulations to codify those changes in the law and rule revisions are set for review Sunday by a legislative committee.

►   Maryland Won’t Limit West Virginia’s Access to Potomac

After threatening to sue the state of Maryland, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced that Maryland is halting the permitting process that would have restricted West Virginia’s use of the Potomac River.

News outlets report that Morrisey had told Maryland officials in early November that the state of Maryland could not impose regulations on West Virginia’s rights to draw from the river.

Morrisey announced Wednesday that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said in a November 22 letter that West Virginia users are not required to get permits from Maryland.

Morrisey had argued that his state needs the water to support a $500 million manufacturing plant that P&G plans to build on its side of the Potomac.

►   Police: Slain Teen Had BB Gun in Waistband, Nothing in Hands

A black West Virginia teenager had a BB gun in his waistband but nothing in his hands when he was fatally shot by a white man, a police detective has testified.

According to police, 15-year-old James Means was shot in the chest and in the back November 21 by 62-year-old William Pulliam after they bumped into each other outside a Charleston store and twice exchanged words.

Police said Pulliam showed no remorse and told investigators, “That’s another piece of trash off the street.“

Pulliam, who faces a first-degree murder charge, said in a jailhouse interview that he shot in self-defense after he felt threatened.

“He told me that he shot him because he was hassling him,“ Charleston Police Det. Chris Lioi testified during Pulliam’s preliminary hearing Thursday.

According to Lioi, Means had a BB gun in his waistband, though video footage showed nothing in his hands when he was killed.

“James Means had nothing in his hands and I observed Mr. Pulliam pull out a gun and discharge one round. James Means then falls to the ground. As he gets up, William Pulliam fires another round,“ Lioi said.

The detective also said that audio captured from the footage suggested Pulliam knew the BB gun was a toy.

“That toy gun is going to get you (expletive) killed,“ Lioi said Pulliam could be heard saying before Means was shot.

“No, it’s not,“ Means responded, according to the detective.

Pulliam’s attorney, Richard Holicker, said neither he nor his client have seen the footage, and he argued that prosecutors should play it in court.

“Hopefully, one day the state will let us see the video so we’ll know what happened,“ Holicker said in his closing statement. “The fact that Mr. Pulliam shot Mr. Means doesn’t make this a first-degree murder,“ he said.

A Kanawha County magistrate found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.

►   Roane County sheriff-elect on leave, evidence missing

The sheriff-elect of Roane County is on leave after evidence at the Spencer Police Department went missing.

Media outlets report that Matthew “Bo” Williams, a Spencer police officer and the county’s sheriff-elect, was placed on leave Friday.

Spencer Mayor Terry Williams said in a statement Tuesday that “evidence collected in certain criminal investigations was missing.“ On Thursday, Spencer Police Chief Greg Nichols confirmed that Williams was placed on leave in connection to the case.

A trooper from outside Roane County has been assigned to investigate the incident.

In the event of a resignation, the Roane County Commission would appoint a replacement who belongs to the same party.

►   West Virginia universities to help new governor on policy

The incoming Justice administration says experts from the state universities will play a key role in the governor-elect’s transition policy committees.

West Virginia University and Marshall University are volunteering faculty and experts from their research departments to lead discussions. The schools’ provosts are acting as coordinators for the transition team.

Larry Puccio, chairman of the team, says Jim Justice wants the universities at the table for policy making and the goal is to “to identify new opportunities to grow jobs and make West Virginia No. 1.“

Marshall President Jerome Gilbert says they’re pleased to be invited and have expertise in areas including infrastructure and transportation, education, health care and substance abuse.

WVU President Gordon Gee says the university has much to offer - “from data to research to leadership.“

►   Homeowner’s sign to prostitutes: ‘Do not walk by this house’

Frustrated with the prostitutes who he says walk in front of his home day and night, a West Virginia man has put up signs urging them to take their business elsewhere.

Jeffery Blankenship says prostitutes walk along his street at all hours, seeking clients.

Three weeks ago, he began putting up anti-trespassing signs outside his Bluefield home, including one that reads, “Attention prostitutes ... Do not walk by this house 1000x a day waving your hand.“

The signs also warn that he has set up video surveillance equipment and sends any footage of suspected illegal activity to the police.

Blankenship says he plans to move from Bluefield next year, but plans to leave the signs up until then.

►   Woman left autistic daughter home alone to get beer

A Fairmont woman is facing a felony charge after authorities say she left her autistic and epileptic daughter home alone while going to get beer.

41-year-old Melissa Posten is charged with one count of child neglect creating risk of injury.

A witness told police she saw Posten drive away, striking trash cans and running into the grass as she left. Shortly afterward, the witness says she saw Poston’s 13-year-old daughter wandering around the yard by herself.

By the time an officer arrived, police say Posten was back inside the home and had a receipt showing she had recently purchased alcohol.

A police report says Posten was unable to walk and was carried to the cruiser.

It’s unclear whether she has an attorney.

►   No Serious Injuries Reported in PRT Collision

West Virginia University transportation officials have confirmed that two PRTs collided Wednesday afternoon.

There were six people on the two PRTS when they collided. Two people were treated for minor injuries, according to a press release from West Virginia University.

The incident occurred near Beechurst Avenue and Walnut Street. That route was closed for the remainder of the Wednesday evening. These PRT accidents are rare.

WVU released a statement after the incident.

“Each section of the PRT system between stations operates on a closed loop circuit,” said Associate Vice President for Facilities and Services Randy Hudak. “As a result, we can isolate the section between the Beechurst Avenue and Walnut Street stations and continue operations for the rest of the PRT system.”

In USA….

The Free Press WV

►   BP to push ahead with big oil project in the Gulf of Mexico

BP PLC is moving ahead with a $9 billion oil project in the Gulf of Mexico after a cost-cutting redesign, a sign of confidence about future prices for crude.

The UK-based oil giant announced it would continue with the second phase of its Mad Dog project off the Louisiana coast just a day after OPEC ministers agreed to cut production, a move that sparked a rally in oil prices.

BP said, however, that the project would be profitable even at or below current oil prices. BP spokesman Jason Ryan said the OPEC decision did not affect the company’s decision.

Minority partners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Chevron Corp. have not decided yet whether to invest in the redesigned project.

The companies decided to re-evaluate the project in 2013, citing its initial estimated cost of $20 billion. The project became less attractive when oil prices began tumbling from highs over $100 a barrel in mid-2014.

BP said the project was redesigned to use a different type of floating platform, lowering the cost to $9 billion. It will be capable of pumping up to 140,000 barrels of oil per day from as many as 14 wells, compared with the 80,000 barrels a day capacity of the project’s first phase. Production is expected to begin in late 2021.

The slump in oil prices has led companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron to cut back sharply on investment in new major projects. Since January, however, oil prices have rebounded from under $30 a barrel. BP said it plans to add 800,000 barrels a day of new production through 2020.

On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading at more than $51 a barrel and Brent crude, the standard for the price of international oils, was over $54.

Shares of BP shares rose 23 cents to $35.62.

►   U.S. health care tab hits $3.2T; fastest growth in 8 years

The nation’s health care tab grew at the fastest rate in eight years in 2015, driven by the coverage expansion in President Barack Obama’s law and by costly prescription drugs, the government said Friday.

The growth of 5.8 percent in 2015 boosted total health care spending to $3.2 trillion. That’s an average of $9,990 per person, although the vast share of that money is spent caring for the sickest patients.

Health spending grew about 2 percentage points faster than the overall economy in 2015, said the report from nonpartisan economic experts at the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s a problem because it makes it harder for government programs, employers, and individuals to afford the level of health care that Americans are used to having.

The report was disappointing news for the outgoing Obama administration, which had enjoyed a long stretch of historically low increases in health care spending, and had sought to credit its 2010 health care overhaul for taming costs. It’s a reality check for President-elect Donald Trump, who did not focus much on health care during his campaign and implied that problems could be easily fixed.

America has struggled for decades to balance health care cost, access, and quality. Obama’s law made significant strides to expand access, and the report found nearly 91 percent of U.S. residents now have coverage. But the problem of costs has re-emerged. That’s partly because people with health insurance use more medical care than the uninsured, who tend to postpone going to the doctor. Some of the newly insured turned out to be sicker than those who were already covered.

The report “casts further doubt on the extent of a permanent slowdown in health cost growth,“ said economist Eugene Steuerle of the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

In a milestone for data-watchers, the report found that the federal government became the largest payer for health care in 2015. Washington accounted for 29 percent of overall spending. That was followed by households (28 percent), businesses (20 percent), and state and local governments (17 percent). In doing the analysis, the HHS experts count the employee share of premiums for job-based insurance as spending by households.

Spending by private health insurance plans increased by 7.2 percent in 2015, and Medicaid spending grew by 9.7 percent. In both cases, the health care law was a driver. Nine million people had private insurance through the health care law’s subsidized markets, and nearly 10 million had Medicaid coverage as a result of the law. Increases in Medicaid spending will be a problem for states. Starting next year, states that expanded the program under the health law must gradually pick up a share of the costs.

Spending on prescription drugs dispensed through pharmacies increased by 9 percent in 2015. Although that rate of growth was less than in 2014, the report said drug spending grew faster any other category, including hospitals and doctors. It wasn’t only pricey new drugs for hepatitis C infection driving the trend, but also new cancer drugs and price increases for older brand-name and generic drugs.

Medicare was a bright spot in the report, growing only by 4.5 percent, despite roughly 10,000 baby boomers a day reaching eligibility age. Calculated on a per-beneficiary basis, Medicare spending grew by just 1.7 percent.

Former White House official Ezekiel Emanuel said that’s partly due to the Obama administration’s stewardship. Not only did the health care law cut payments to service providers, it set into motion a series of initiatives that aim to reward quality, improve coordination and penalize poor performance.

Republicans would be foolish to sweep away Obama’s Medicare changes, Emanuel said. “In the long term, the only way we get rate of increase down is by experimenting with alternative payment models,“ he said. “We need to push harder and harder.“

Still, there seems to be little to cheer about as health care costs start to accelerate. Two of the major brakes on costs in the Obama health care law — a Medicare spending board and a tax on high-priced insurance plans — are in limbo and likely to be repealed if ascendant Republicans follow through on their promises. It’s unclear whether the GOP has better ideas, and even more uncertain whether Democrats would support them.

“You get back to this old problem we have of spending growing faster than the economy,“ said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the America Action Forum, a center-right think tank. “If you don’t solve the cost problem, it will undercut coverage expansions because they get too expensive.“

The HHS report was published online by the journal Health Affairs.

►   Sad Reason Why Ex-Inmate’s Freedom Lasted Just 103 Days

It can be tough for ex-inmates to stay out of trouble when they get out prison, but for those with drug problems or battling mental illness in Massachusetts, the transition is even more of a struggle, per a piece by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team. A Department of Correction study of prisoners released from state prisons in 2012 shows within three years of release, 37% of those with mental illnesses get sent back, as do more than half of those with addictions—and if they have both issues, that number climbs. The problem starts in the state prisons themselves, which have suffered from decreased funding for mental health care in recent years (especially since a for-profit company took over health care services in 2013), and it continues into the real world, where prisoners are sent with few skills or resources, leaving them hard-pressed to find decent housing and work and at risk for recidivism.

One case study in the piece: that of Nick Lynch, diagnosed with ADD and bipolar disorder and first incarcerated at the age of 18. While imprisoned, Lynch’s illness worsened, exacerbated by long stints spent in solitude, a drug problem that wasn’t treated, and little access to meds. Help came only when Lynch tried to kill himself near the end of his sentence. Once released at age 26, trying to navigate his mental illness and addiction problems on his own, with his dad desperately trying to help, Lynch spiraled out of control again, enjoying just 103 days of freedom before he was charged with attempted murder and started the incarceration cycle all over. “My brain and will used to be strong, Dad,“ he wrote to his father in 2014. “But instead of growing stronger through my prison experience, I grow weaker.“ Now 30, he’s due out of prison sometime next year. The entire Spotlight story, including Lynch’s story and how Massachusetts prisons have become makeshift asylums, is HERE .

►   Bold Thief Takes Advantage of Golden Opportunity

When opportunity knocks, remember to lift with your legs—especially if said opportunity comes in the form of an 86-pound bucket of gold. CNN reports surveillance video from September 29 but just released by the NYPD shows a man walking by an open, un-watched armored truck in the middle of the day in Manhattan, turning around, grabbing a bucket from the truck, then slowly walking off. The man apparently took advantage of a 20-second window during which one guard was making a pickup and the other was checking his cellphone, according to WNBC. “I think he just saw an opportunity,“ Det. Martin Pastor says.

The weight of the bucket seems to surprise the man, who has to stop and rest multiple times. The New York Times reports it took him an hour to get the bucket to his van half a mile away. The bucket contained nearly $1.6 million worth of gold flakes, but police don’t believe the man knew that beforehand. “I think when the lucky charm opened up the bucket, he seen the rainbow and seen the gold,“ Pastor tells WNBC. Police are still looking for both the gold and the man, who they believe is lying low in the Miami or Orlando area.

►   Careful When Spurning Lover Who Can Wiretap Your Phone

Be careful if you get involved with a high-ranking prosecutor; you never know what she might do if the relationship comes to a bad end. Brooklyn prosecutor Tara Lenich, 41, is accused of forging judges’ signatures in order to tap the phone belonging to a married NYPD detective in whom she was romantically interested, the New York Daily News reports. Lenich was arrested Monday and has been charged with two counts of eavesdropping and 20 counts of possession of a forged instrument after allegedly wiretapping Det. Jarrett Lemieux’s calls for more than a year, between 2015 and 2016. Lenich and Lemieux, 46, had worked together on a 2014 case. Their exact personal relationship is not clear, but sources tell the New York Post they may have been involved at some point and Lenich may have been a “spurned lover.“

Lenich told investigators that she was tapping Lemieux’s phone as part of an Internal Affairs investigation, but sources say it’s not clear whether she had a legitimate reason for the wiretaps (which targeted Lemieux’s calls to another Brooklyn prosecutor, a woman the Post‘s sources say may have been another love interest of Lemieux’s) or whether she was just stalking him. A staffer brought the wiretap investigation to a supervisor’s attention after getting suspicious about how long it had gone on, and neither he nor the acting district attorney was aware of the investigation Lenich claimed the wiretap was related to. Lemieux is not accused of any misconduct but is on desk duty during the investigation.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►   Report: Pilot Chose Not to Refuel Doomed Plane

The pilot of the plane that crashed in Colombia on Monday while carrying a Brazilian soccer team made a fateful decision not to stop to refuel the aircraft, according to a report in a Brazilian newspaper. The account in O Globo says pilot Miguel Quiroga chose not to stop en route in Bogota, about 260 miles from his destination, reports the BBC. He did so despite being warned that he might run out of fuel before he took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, according to the Bolivian newspaper Deber. The risk seemed clear given that the maximum range of his Avro RJ85 plane is roughly equivalent to the total distance of the flight from Santa Cruz to Medellin. The plane might have made it if not for one thing: Quiroga was ordered to circle near the Medellin airport for seven minutes because another plane needed to make an emergency landing, reports Reuters.

Quiroga, perhaps not realizing the situation was so dire, did not immediately signal an emergency, reports AP. But soon he radioed that he was out of fuel and experiencing electrical failure, and by then it was too late. The air traffic controller who handled the call has since received death threats. “I did all that was humanly possible and technically necessary to preserve the lives of the passengers,“ she wrote in a letter to colleagues. “Unfortunately my efforts weren’t enough.“ International flights are supposed to carry enough fuel for an additional 30 minutes of flight time, and authorities continue to investigate. In the meantime, Bolivia has suspended the charter of the small airline that operated the flight.

►   He Said He’d Rule for a Billion Years. Gambians Voted Him Out

Gambia’s opposition candidate has defeated longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh—a man who in 2011 said he was prepared to rule for a billion years—in the West African country’s presidential vote. It’s an upset victory that could lead to the country’s first transfer of power in more than two decades. Gambians voted Thursday by placing marbles into drums marked for each candidate. Adama Barrow won 263,515 votes, or 45% of the total, while Jammeh finished in second with 36%, and a third candidate received 17%, the head of the election commission announced Friday. Eight opposition parties united behind Barrow, a former businessman, and the campaign featured large opposition rallies and unprecedented expressions of frustration with Jammeh’s rule.

Nevertheless, Jammeh had projected confidence, predicting “the biggest landslide in the history of the country” after he voted on Thursday. Jammeh came to power in a coup in 1994 and then swept elections in 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 after a 2002 constitutional amendment removed presidential term limits. Critics say those earlier elections were not free and fair. Human rights groups have accused Jammeh of ordering the deaths of countless political opponents as well as targeting journalists and gays and lesbians. If Jammeh agrees to step down peacefully, it would demonstrate that even Africa’s most entrenched leaders can be brought down if opposition politicians overcome their divisions and unite, a human rights activist tells the AP. “This is going to have resonance way beyond the tiny borders of Gambia.“

►   He Was Executed in 1995. China Now Says He Was Innocent

In August 1994, a Chinese man was named a suspect in the rape and murder of Kang Juhua, whose body was found in the northern Hebei province. He was allegedly beaten into a confession, subjected to a trial his parents couldn’t attend, and executed by gunshot without their knowledge seven months later. Now, 21 years after that, China’s supreme court has declared Nie Shubin, just 20 years old at the time of his death, innocent. CNN calls it “a landmark case that exposed deep flaws in China’s criminal justice system,“ where 99.93% of cases ended with a conviction in 2013. In their ruling, the judges noted that Nie was made a suspect “without a shred of evidence” and that the time and cause of death and murder weapon couldn’t be verified, reports the AP. And, then, there was the other confession.

A man named Wang Shujin admitted to the crimes in 2005; it took nine years for a legal review of the case to commence—Beijing legal expert Xu Xin tells the New York Times the police and prosecutors who worked on the case drove the hold-up—and the court in June of this year decided the case should be retried. On Friday, Xinhua reports the Supreme People’s Court, among other things, ruled the “truth and legitimacy of Nie’s confession” were in doubt. Nie’s mother, burdened by both the loss of her son and her husband’s attempted suicide in the wake of Nie’s death, broke down sobbing at the news. She tells CNN, “I wanted to tell my son: you’re a good person, you’re innocent.“ Xinhua reports Wang was sentenced to death for unrelated rape and murder cases.

►   Iraqi troops bring to 23 districts retaken in Mosul

Iraqi special forces fighting Islamic State militants in the northern city of Mosul seized a new neighborhood on Friday and took full control of a densely-populated neighborhood, where troops happened upon a residential complex for IS fighters, according to two Iraqi field commanders.

Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Tamimi of the special forces told The Associated Press his men were now in full control of the Zohour neighborhood, more than a week after they first entered the district.

He said his men also captured the neighborhood of Qadissiyah-2, bringing to 23 the number of neighborhoods retaken by the special forces in the eastern sector of the city since the campaign to recapture Mosul began on October 17.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the special forces later told the AP on Friday that his men had taken over two adjacent, two-story houses in Zohour where IS fighters lived. In the garden, they found life-sized cardboard cutouts for target practice, he said.

The walls inside the two houses were adorned with posters of RPGs, assault rifles and artillery shells. Some posters had instructions for snipers and RPG users, he said. Flyers bearing the names of the fighters who slept in each room were plastered on doors, he added.

Shortly after Gen. Fadhil spoke, the state-run al-Iraqiyah TV network showed footage taken inside the houses, with black-clad special forces searching them with their rifles on the ready. The footage showed metal bunker beds dressed with colorful blankets.

There has been some discrepancy over the exact number of neighborhoods retaken from IS thus far, something that Iraqi commanders explain as a possible result of the use of different maps of the city or the exceptionally small size of some neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, for example, Gen. Fadhil of the special forces said his men were in control of 19 neighborhoods, which constituted less than 30 percent of the part of the city east of the Tigris River.

Most of the fighting in Mosul has taken place in the city’s eastern sector, where Iraq’s special forces are making slow progress because of fears over the safety of civilians still inside the city and spirited IS resistance.

The campaign to retake Mosul is being launched on a multitude of fronts, with forces from the army, federal police and Sunni tribal militias deployed to the north and south of the city. State-sanctioned militias are holding territory to the west of Mosul, but are not expected to enter the mostly Sunni city.

Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul was captured by IS in 2014 when the militants swept across much of Iraq’s north and west. The city is the largest urban center in Iraq still held by IS.

►   Colombia repatriates dead as airline’s licensing questioned

Victims of this week’s tragic air crash in the Andes were flown home Friday as Bolivia’s president called for “drastic measures” against aviation officials who signed off on a flight plan that experts and even one of the charter airline’s executives said should never have been attempted because of a possible fuel shortage.

The move by President Evo Morales came after evidence emerged that the pilot reported the plane was out of fuel minutes before it slammed into a muddy mountainside, killing all but six of the 77 people on board. Among the dead were players and coaches from a small-town Brazilian soccer team that was headed to the finals of one of South America’s most prestigious tournaments after a fairy-tale season that had captivated their soccer-crazed nation.

As an honor guard played taps early Friday, members of Colombia’s military loaded five Bolivian crew members who died in the crash onto a cargo plane for the trip back home.

Later in the day, caskets containing the remains of 50 Brazilian victims, many draped with sheets printed with their team’s green and white logo, began the journey to the Chapecoense club’s hometown in southern Brazil. Fourteen Brazilian journalists traveling with the team and two passengers from other South American nations were being sent home on separate flights.

The somber farewell came as details surfaced of possible negligence and unsettling family ties between the Bolivian-based charter company LaMia and the country’s aviation agency, which approved the ill-fated flight Monday between Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and Medellin, Colombia, even though it exceeded the short-haul jet’s maximum flying range.

Attention was focused on a former Bolivian air force general, Gustavo Vargas, who is one of LaMia’s owners and whose son headed the office responsible for licensing aircraft in Bolivia’s civil aviation agency. As part of the investigation, the younger Vargas was suspended Thursday along with several other high-ranking aviation officials. The airline, whose only operable aircraft was the British Aerospace 146 Avro RJ85 that crashed, was also grounded.

Morales said Friday that the elder Vargas served as his pilot in 2006. But he said that he had no knowledge of the airline’s existence and called for a “profound investigation” to explain whether Vargas’ son, also named Gustavo Vargas, favored the airline, which has transported the national teams of Argentina and Brazil, as well as many other top-flight South American clubs.

One of the suspended officials, Marcelo Chavez, the regional director of the agency that controls air traffic in Bolivia, told The Associated Press that an inspector pointed out irregularities in the airlines’ flight plan, including the fact that the aircraft’s fuel capacity was barely enough to fly directly to Medellin. Chavez said the airline decided to go ahead with the flight anyway and air traffic controllers had no authority to prevent them.

On Thursday, the airlines’ operations director told an Argentine radio network that he also had disapproved of the flight plan. “I wouldn’t have flown direct,“ said the executive, Marco Rocha.

At LaMia’s main office in Santa Cruz, a secretary said the airline had yet to be notified of any sanctions. A black rose was left outside the door.

A recording of conversations between a pilot of the doomed flight and air traffic controllers, as well as the account of a surviving flight attendant, indicated the plane ran out of fuel before crashing just a few miles from Medellin’s international airport.

In the flight’s final minutes, pilot Miguel Quiroga, who co-owned the airline with Vargas, could be heard requesting permission to land because of “fuel problems,“ although at first he didn’t make a formal distress call. He was told another plane with mechanical problems had priority to land at the airport’s single runway and was instructed to wait seven minutes.

As the jetliner circled, the pilot grew more desperate. “Complete electrical failure, without fuel,“ he said. By then the controller had gauged the seriousness of the situation and told the other plane to abandon its approach to make way for the charter jet. But it was too late.

In Brazil, grieving fans and relatives in the soccer team’s hometown of Chapeco prepared for the sad return of so many whose lives were cut short by the crash, hanging origami figures in the club’s colors on the fence of the soccer stadium, where a memorial service was to be held Saturday.

Marissol Dias, who volunteers for the charity that organized the placing of the origami figures in the shape of a crane — considered to be a symbol of peace — said she was overwhelmed by the community’s response. Some 100,000 people were expected at the stadium — about half of the city’s population.

“This comes from a Japanese legend that says if you make 1,000 of these, a wish will be granted,“ she said. “Our community did much more than we asked.“

Elsewhere, gravediggers prepared the ground for burial of some of the victims. At the Jardim do Eden cemetery, the caretaker said he was used to the business of death, but this felt different.

“We bury two people every day. I’ve done this job for a long time, but this is different,“ said Dirceu Correa. “It is a tragedy for the families, for the club, and also for us, because we are a part of the city.“


The Free Press WV

GSC Jazz Band to hold Third Annual Christmas Concert

The Free Press WV

The Glenville State College Department of Fine Arts announces the third annual Jazz Band Christmas Concert on Friday, December 02 at 7:00 p.m. in the GSC Fine Arts Center Auditorium.

This year’s performance consists of two sets. The first set will include classic jazz band and swing music such as Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and even more contemporary groups like Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. After a brief intermission, the concert will resume with a set of Christmas classics played in a jazz style. There will be swing, latin, rock - a little something for everybody. Several of GSC’s talented student soloists will be featured, including vocalist Chelsea Hicks. This concert is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

“The purpose of this concert is to expose our little part of West Virginia to a uniquely American musical idiom in the live performance of jazz music,” said GSC Assistant Professor of Music and Jazz Band Director Jason Barr. “At the same time, we want the community to come together to celebrate another great American tradition - enjoying the holiday season!”

The concert is open to the public. Admission is by donation and all proceeds from the concert will help support the jazz ensembles at GSC. Funds from last year’s Christmas concert allowed members of the band to perform and recruit at high schools in the Putnam and Cabell County areas. New band stand fronts, which helps increase the visibility of both GSC and the Jazz Band, were also able to be purchased.

For more information, contact the GSC Fine Arts Department at 304.462.6340.

Lack of Behavioral Health Care for Young People Limiting State Progress

Lack of behavioral health care for children may be undermining West Virginia’s efforts to reduce truancy, cut juvenile incarceration and improve foster care, advocates say.

They pointed to surveys showing that a much higher than average portion of state high school students complained of mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. And when those young people go untreated, they often end up in trouble, either with the schools or the justice system, said Kelli Caseman, co-founder and chair of Mental Health Matters West Virginia.

According to Caseman, the state is putting more effort into spotting young people in crisis.

“But once we identify that child who needs help, where do we send them?“ Caseman asked. “Even in our metro areas like Charleston, kids are waiting up to two months to get into care.”

The number of young offenders behind bars has dropped sharply across the county. But West Virginia is one of the few states where the number has increased. During the legislative session, Caseman and others will be working with lawmakers trying to reduce it.

The Free Press WV
West Virginia is one of only a few states with rising levels of young people behind bars,
and advocates say part of the issue is a lack of behavioral health care.
(WV Virginia Center on Budget and Policy)

The Legislature has been looking at reforming West Virginia’s juvenile justice system, reducing truancy, and improving foster care. Caseman said lawmakers are coming to see that investing in young people in crisis pays off in the long run.

“No, you’re not going to really see a big financial change within the next two years,” she said. “But within maybe the next five or 10 years, you could be seeing a substantial change in the finance – and then, you’re going to see a change in the kids.“

Caseman said truancy often is the first sign of serious trouble. She said many young offenders can only get treatment while locked up, possibly after a wait of a year or more. Then when they get out, any treatment they had been receiving might just stop cold.

She described the care as so fragmented, it’s difficult to know where children are falling through the cracks.

“Currently, we don’t even know where our major gaps are in care,” she said. “If we collectively don’t know where those resources are, how can we go about helping kids?“

Caseman said one suggestion she plans to make to the Legislature is better data gathering and a global look at care across schools, communities and the justice system.

Who Is Responsible for Soaring EpiPen Costs

The EpiPen maker’s CEO knows who is responsible for soaring drug costs
— and it’s not her

The Free Press WV

Heather Bresch, the CEO of EpiPen maker Mylan, knows who to blame for soaring drug prices — and it’s not her company.  

“EpiPen had to be the catalyst to show this window into what hard-working families are facing in the rapid rise of high deductible plan,“ Bresch said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit on Thursday.

It’s true. High deductible insurance plans are on the rise, and they leave patients on the hook for a greater portion of medications like insulin or EpiPen, which is used to used in extreme allergic reactions.

It is worth pointing out that the only reason she’s talking about this is that Mylan was called out in August for raising the price of EpiPen from $93.88 to $608.61 over the last decade. It caught the nation’s attention because parents were re-filling their kids’ prescriptions, and some found that they were on the hook for hundreds of dollars for the device.

The fury didn’t end there. Her compensation became an issue, as did her parents’ political connections (her father is a Senator and her mother was head of the National Association of State Boards of Education). Around the same time, it was also revealed that Mylan was being accused of overcharging of government programs for the device.

To Bresch, its clear that Mylan hasn’t done anything wrong though. In fact, she said all this “will have been worth it,“ if it gets the US to address what’s really causing people to pay high prices at the pharmacy counter.

During her conversation with Forbes senior editor Matthew Herper, Bresch spoke of the complexity of the EpiPen autoinjector and Mylan’s efforts to increase access and awareness for severe allergic reactions.  Bresch said Mylan’s been able to reach 80% more patients since the company acquired the EpiPen, to which Herper countered that Mylan would then be able to make money off both volume and the price increases.

Bresch responded by saying that the price increases allowed for “reasonable profit.“

Bresch, who has a background in lobbying, was also asked why she didn’t see all this outrage coming. She said that has to do with the rapid exposure patients are getting to healthcare costs.

“The pharma pricing system was not built on the idea of consumer engagement,“ she said. “It was built ... on market efficiencies. It was not built on the premise of consumerism.“

Financial & Economy | G-Fin™ | GrantsBusinessNewsWorldwideUnited StatesWest VirginiaPolitics | Government | ElectionState-WVUSA(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

“reasonable profit” being a relative term.
So says a corporate lobbyist.  That’s rich.

This gets better with the outrage being caused by “the rapid exposure patients are getting to healthcare costs.“

I would say more likely because the consumer is tired of corporate America being able to legally pick pocket citizens.  Thanks to free speech the crooks are slowly being exposed? 

Her last two sentences tell all.  Reread them.  Is she saying ‘its all right we just were caught’?  And John Q. Public is stupid?

By now we know who gets the ''reasonable profit''  on  12.03.2016

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The Free Press WV

  • Feds announce major changes within Bureau of Prisons designed to ease re-entry for the men and women housed in federal penitentiaries. They’re building a “semi-autonomous” school district within the BOP to better educate prisoners, paying for state-issued identification cards for inmates, and requiring new standards for federal halfway houses to ensure better care once ex-offenders are released. U.S. Department of Justice

  • But the Trump administration and presumptive attorney-general nominee Jeff Sessions could scrap those plans. The Washington Post

  • Donald and Preet meet. Preet Bharara, the powerful U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, will stay on as a federal prosecutor in the Trump administration. The decision, which keeps the so-called “sheriff of Wall Street” in power in New York, was lauded by Sen. Charles Schumer and others. The Wall Street Journal

  • Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice to be the next U.S. attorney general, also reportedly has blessed the deal. The New York Times

  • “I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” As he leaves office President Obama makes his strongest comments yet in support of the legalization, or at least the decriminalization, of marijuana. “It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another,” he said in an another of his exit interviews. Rolling Stone

  • Now he tells us? Reason

  • A proposal for a Trump civil rights agenda: Let’s make intentional discrimination against blacks a priority. National Review

  • Police reform won’t necessarily end under the Trump administration. So long as local police officials continue the reforms they’ve initiated over the past few years. The Crime Report

  • American Sheriff. Milwaukee’s David Clarke can’t even safely run a county jail. Why would anyone think he can run the Department of Homeland Security? The Huffington Post

  • Who’s laughing now? GEO Group bet big on Donald Trump after the Obama administration began to roll back private prison contracts. And now it’s poised to reap the reward. Brennan Center for Justice

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


The president-elect nominates retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, former chief of U.S. Central Command.


The resort city and other communities across the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains are welcoming back residents and visitors.


A vote is scheduled today on the legislation, which would prohibit closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and give U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years.


Encamped demonstrators fighting the Dakota Access pipeline will soon face the full weight of a Great Plains winter, with its frigid wind chills and deep snow drifts.


Families prepare to receive the bodies of 71 victims of this week’s air tragedy in Colombia involving a charter plane that apparently ran out of fuel before it crashed.


Castro was born in eastern Cuba, his revolution started there, and it’s there where his campaigns for literacy, social welfare and land redistribution had their deepest impact.


The conservative Muslims rally in the Indonesian capital against its minority Christian governor who is being prosecuted for alleged blasphemy.


Israel’s military shuts down more than a dozen factories and confiscates equipment and 160 tons of wood used or charcoal production.


A shipbuilding company in China is constructing the 300-meter (984 foot) vessel as a tourist attraction complete with dining hall, theater, luxury first-class cabins and swimming pool.


Dez Bryant scores the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as Dallas drops Minnesota 17-15.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►   Governor Tomblin Announces Minecraft Competition Winners

After proclaiming today STEM Day in West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the student winners of the State Capitol Minecraft Design/Build contest. This contest was a collaborative effort involving the Governor’s STEM Initiative, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and the Education Alliance.

The competition, which began in May, was open to West Virginia students, grades PreK-12 and challenged participants to either create a new version of the state capitol building or produce a replica of the current complex using Minecraft. Governor Tomblin recognized both individual and team winners from each category.

“I applaud each student who took the time to create their own versions of our state capitol,” said Governor Tomblin. “More than once this summer, I saw students exploring the capitol grounds, taking notes and preparing for the hours they would spend creating their submissions. Their efforts certainly paid off. It’s important that we encourage our students to develop the skills and interests that build a foundation for future success in STEM fields – into college, training programs and careers.”

The students recognized today received more than $7,100 in gift cards to be used for educational purposes. In addition, Microsoft is providing a Surface Pro 4 to each of the top two winners for each category–Asad Ranavaya from Cabell Midland High School in Cabell County and Justin Hardwick from East Fairmont High School in Marion County.

Before the student recognition ceremony, Governor Tomblin hosted a roundtable discussion with state and education officials, along with students, to highlight the efforts and successes of his STEM Council and STEM Initiative.

“There is a critical need to focus our state’s attention on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Governor Tomblin. “West Virginia’s workforce needs are evolving and in order to fill jobs in the future, all of us – from K-12, higher education, and workforce and economic development – must work together to provide our students access to the best STEM education opportunities.”

The Governor STEM Council was established to develop specialized STEM education opportunities for West Virginia students and increase the number of graduates in these fields. The council is comprised of business and education leaders across the state.

To view the STEM Day Proclamation, click here.

The following students were recognized today by Governor Tomblin:

Benjamin Reed, Village of Barboursville Elementary School
Zane Spencer, Cherry River Elementary School
Camdyn Hill, Terra Alta/East Preston Middle School
Madison McCloud, Madison Middle School
Elizabeth Shaf, Charleston Catholic High School
Jensen Tucker, Grafton High School
Austin Ballenger, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Gabe Coleman, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Ian Morrison, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Savion Myers, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
Jackson Stewart, Washington High School
Jacob Thrasher, Washington High School
Matteo Cerasoli, Washington High School
Asad Ranavaya, Cabell Midland High School
Justin Hardwick, East Fairmont High School

►   Free Adult Education Center Opens in Huntington

A charity has opened a new adult education center in Huntington that will offer free training in everything from college preparation to financial literacy and parenting.

Enrollment at the Center for Community Learning and Advancement is open every day for the next two weeks. After that, the center will have open enrollment each Friday.

Coordinator Ginny Sellerds says full-time instructors will function as mentors and case workers.

The center is owned and operated by Catholic Charities West Virginia, and all of the classes are free. Each class will have between eight and 10 people.

A Georgetown University report says that by 2020, 65 percent of all of the jobs in the U.S. will require post-secondary education or some other training beyond high school.

►   Report: Charleston Adults Have Very High Rate of Diabetes

A new report says Charleston, West Virginia had the second highest rate of diabetes last year out of nearly 200 communities surveyed across the nation.

A Gallup-Healthways report released Wednesday says 17.6 percent of adults in Charleston in 2015 had diabetes. Of the 190 communities studied, only Mobile, Alabama had a marginally worse rate of 17.7 percent.

The report found the overall incidence of diabetes in U.S. adults has grown from 10.6 percent in 2008 to 11.5 percent.

The community rankings were based on telephone interviews with 246,620 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Charleston Dr. Mary Ann Maurer says the prevalence of diabetes is largely due to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

►   State Supreme Court Denies Judge’s Appeal to Remain on Bench

The West Virginia Supreme Court denied a Logan County circuit judge’s appeal to remain on the bench and wrote that voters can’t be penalized because of errors made by poll workers.

After losing his race by 59 votes to Joshua Butcher in May, Judge Douglas Witten argued that irregularities in the polls should void the votes cast at several county precincts.

A three-judge special court dismissed Witten’s petition in October and certified the election results, finding that election laws were broken, but the violations weren’t bad enough to void any votes. The high court rejected Witten’s appeal in a 25-page opinion Wednesday.

Witten was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin last year, when then-Circuit Judge Roger Perry retired. Butcher is Perry’s former law clerk.

►   Doctor Facing Federal Charges After Oxycodone Deaths

A doctor who ran a drug clinic in Raleigh County has been accused of illegally distributing oxycodone to three patients who later died.

Dr. Michael Kostenko was arrested Wednesday on numerous federal charges, including three counts of distributing oxycodone that resulted in the deaths of three patients.

Kostenko’s medical license was initially suspended in March after the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine found probable cause of unprofessional and unethical conduct. The board later voted to revoke his license.

Kostenko argued his files at the Coal Country Clinic in Daniels didn’t directly document the fact that he had examined patients, performed screens and discharged patients who didn’t follow their contract.

Kostenko’s attorney and daughter, Christina Kostenko, called the charges “fraudulent” and said the investigation is “unjustified.“

►   Highland Hospital Says Sale to Acadia is Off

Highland Hospital has announced it is not selling its facilities to Franklin, Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare.

The sale was to include Highland’s Kanawha City hospital. Highland’s board of directors unanimously agreed to sell Kanawha City hospital three months ago.

Highland’s board is now considering other potential partners for the sale.

Highland CEO Cynthia Persily said in a news release Wednesday that the proposed sale “no longer is the right deal at the right time.“

The two behavioral health companies were expecting to have had a definitive agreement in place by the end of September.

The sale would include the Highland Hospital Association, a psychiatric hospital which includes a psychiatric residential treatment facility; Highland Health Center Inc., a 16-bed residential treatment and detoxification program; and Process Strategies, which provides various outpatient behavioral health services.

►   Kanawha County Asks State for Repairs to Interstate Lighting

The Kanawha County Commission is asking the West Virginia Department of Transportation to fix non-working lights along interstates.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper announced Tuesday that at least 135 lights are out on several stretches of state-maintained roads. Carper says he sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox citing safety concerns and asking about the status of plans to fix the lights.

DOT spokeswoman Carrie Jones says some of the lights, like the ones in between South Charleston and the West Virginia Turnpike, are more than 40 years old and aren’t repairable. She says $12 million in renovations projects are planned for lighting along the Charleston interstate system over the next few years.

►   Nicholas County Schools Awarded $2.1M for Temporary Quarters

Nicholas County School District has been awarded a federal grant of more than $2.1 million for temporary facilities to replace schools damaged in June floods.

U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins announced the grant Wednesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The June 23 floods killed 23 people and devastated homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure.

►   WV Takes Part in Impaired Driving Enforcement Effort

State Highway Patrol troopers in Ohio and their counterparts in five neighboring states will target impaired driving in an enforcement effort this weekend.

The effort starts early Friday and continues through Sunday. It will include the state police agencies from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ohio troopers have made more than 23,000 arrests for driving under the influence so far this year.

The patrol’s superintendent, Col. Paul Pride, says troopers take impaired driving seriously and will enforce the law to get dangerous drivers off the roads.

The weekend effort is part of the 6-State Trooper Project. It’s a multi-state law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.

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