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Jackson Smith scores 26 points as Parkersburg South bests Huntington, 98-84

INSTITIUTE, W.Va. — Highlights from Parkersburg South’s 98-84 win over Huntington in the Par Mar Shootout at West Virginia State University.

Parkersburg South (12-4):

  • Jackson Smith – 26 points
  • Nathan Plotner – 19 points
  • Aiden Blake – 12 points
  • Cyrus Traugh – 10 points
  • Cole Joy – 10 points

Huntington (14-3):

  • Duane Harris – 30 points
  • Mikey Johnson – 29 points

 

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Coalfields bill passes House committee

Story by David Beard, The Dominion Post

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill to create a new state agency designed to promote energy development projects in the coalfields is on its way to the House floor after clearing the Government Organization Committee Monday afternoon.

Chris Hamilton

The West Virginia Coal Association did not lend its support to the bill.

HB 3130 creates the Coalfields Energy Research and Economic Development Authority.

The bill establishes the authority as a public corporation charged with an array of goals, including:

Promote and develop the state’s energy workforce and energy technology research;

Promote and develop energy projects, storage and manufacturing;

Work with industries, other agencies and nonprofit partners to advance energy projects, storage and manufacturing.

The authority will function under a five-member board: four appointed by the governor, one by the Economic Development secretary. It can apply for and award grants, enter into contracts and receive grants and donations of money and property.

The authority may not own or become a market participant in any commercial energy facility or manufacturing related to its work.

The bill defines coalfields broadly: any county that historically had mining within its boundaries; has benefited or is benefiting from mining; has had economic activity “ancillary or related to” mining; or has been or will be significantly affected by mining.

Committee counsel said that effectively takes in the whole state.

Coal Association President Chris Hamilton said, “This is not legislation that we are supporting this session.” He doesn’t know of any project in the coalfields that needs it and the association was not involved in drafting it.

Hamilton took a question from Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, who asked if the association believes the authority should be empowered to buy land.

Hamilton said they would probably frown on that because there has been concern expressed about land being bought up by outside companies to use the land for carbon credits and block any useful development.

Fast agreed, mentioning a state timberland purchase designed to prevent logging on the land. He didn’t want the state to be in a position to outbid private developers.

Fast proposed an amendment to the bill forbidding it from buying land, which the committee adopted.

The bill previously was considered and approved by the Energy Committee. Monday’s voice vote in Gov Org was not unanimous, with several voting against it.

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Morgantown police defend use of force in downtown arrest

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown Police Department is clarifying a downtown incident that was videotaped but lacks the proper context, according to Chief Eric Powell.

Eric Powell

“It’s a real shame that people automatically jump on that wagon as it pertains to the negative portrayal of police interactions with people or are willing to just chime in and create even more narratives that are even more negative and derogatory about police,” Powell said.

Just before midnight on Thursday, officers responded to a report of a man, later identified as Massinissa Belkadi, 20, of Stafford, Virginia, attempting to drag his ex-girlfriend out of the bar against her will. When officers arrived on the scene they began to question those involved. Powell said Belkadi would not answer any questions.

“When the officer was met with ‘No, I’m not giving you that information,’ then the officer attempted to arrest the person and again was met with physical resistance, and that’s what led to everything,” Powell said.

Powell said officers spent several minutes trying to get Belkadi to cooperate before they asked him to stand. When Belkadi ignored that order, the officer lifted him up, and a physical struggle ensued.

Belkadi was treated by Mon EMS for an abrasion to the face and forehead.

“During the scuffle, the subject grabbed the officer’s arm, attempted to pull away, and then pulled back toward the officer,” Powell said. “The officer used the appropriate use of force to control the subject, and that’s where the use of force ended.”

Morgantown police officers are required to complete regular training regarding the use of force, pepper spray, tasers, and self-defense tactics. Powell said when an officer is locked in a struggle with a suspect, they are authorized to use the appropriate amount of force to protect themselves, other officers, and the public.

“An officer is authorized to use whatever physical force, including a chokehold, to gain control of the situation and keep himself and others from receiving severe bodily harm or death,” Powell said.

Powell acknowledged that emotions are high in most police interactions, but it is only the first phase of the legal process. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and have the full right to defend themselves.

“Being arrested isn’t the end of the world; it’s not going to ruin your career or your life,” Powell said. “You do have the opportunity to plead your case before a judge, explain your actions, and explain your role in the situation you’re involved in.”

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Turnpike traffic snarled after crash of truck carrying rolled steel

SHARON, W.Va. — Both southbound lanes of the West Virginia Turnpike will likely be closed for several hours after a large truck carrying 40,000 pounds of cold rolled steel crashed Monday afternoon in eastern Kanawha County.

The wreck occurred just south of the Chelyan toll plaza near the Sharon exit at around 3:45 p.m.

Authorities were able to open one northbound lane by 4:30 p.m. There were was no immediate word on how the southbound lanes will be closed.

There were no injuries reported in connection with the crash.

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Buffalo uses balanced attack to defeat Cameron, 57-47

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Highlights from Buffalo’s 57-47 win over Cameron in the Par Mar Shootout at West Virginia State University.

Buffalo (8-7):

  • Bradley Harris – 19 points
  • Caleb Nutter – 16 points
  • Evan Smalley – 10 points

Cameron (9-8):

  • Lance Harley – 12 points
  • Colson Wichterman – 11 points

 

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3 Guys Before The Game – Sooners Stomped & Iowa State Preview (Episode 440)

A big win calls for a BIG episode.

The “Guys” go into overtime with their recap of Saturday’s win over Oklahoma and preview of Wednesday’s date with Iowa State.

But wait, there’s more!

Former WVU standout Nathan Adrian joins the show from Italy with an update on his season for Unieuro Forli. The Morgantown native has returned from injury and is posting impressive numbers.

Listener texts and comments complete the show.

Three Guys Before The Game is sponsored by Burdette Camping Center Komax Business Systems  — and  GoMart.

Don’t forget to check out Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, it’s free, subscribe below.

 

                                              

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Scott uses fourth-quarter surge to rally past RCB, 44-39

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Highlights from Scott’s 44-39 win over Robert C. Byrd in the Par Mar Shootout at West Virginia State University.

Scott (12-7):

  • Reece Cardin – 13 points
  • Jayden Sharps – 10 points

Robert C. Byrd (8-9):

  • Charles Hawkins – 10 points

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House Finance members advance financial support for cutting-edge battery factory

House Finance Committee members advanced a $105 million supplemental appropriation to support Form Energy, which has plans to build a cutting-edge battery plant in the northern panhandle.

House Bill 2882, which calls for a directed transfer to the state Economic Development Project Fund, now goes to the full House for consideration.

That’s a key piece of the financial structure for the Form Energy deal announced by Gov. Jim Justice just before Christmas. Form Energy is putting up at least $350 million of private dollars to get the project off the ground at the site of the old Weirton Steel in Hancock County.

The total public support by the State of West Virginia for the project is $290 million, including the piece delegates are advancing. Lawmakers are discussing whether that is a good investment by the state in a project promising at least 750 well-paying jobs with an energy-transition manufacturer.

Erikka Storch

Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, says the answer is yes. Storch described her mother growing up in Weirton and memories of the enormous steel mill in its manufacturing prime.

“It’s hard for me to picture that community because the Weirton that I’ve seen, in my recent memory, has been one that’s vacant, where people have left the area, where the buildings have been demolished or have been recycled or repurposed.

“So I can’t think of a better opportunity that will be a better for this community to take a chance on a company that’s willing to invest in a community that really could use the jobs and the investment.”

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority voted late last year to allocate $75 million toward the purchase of land and the construction of buildings in Weirton. The $105 million represented by the supplemental appropriation considered by delegates on Monday is the second piece. And a budget surplus item of $110 million next fiscal year is the third piece.

The deal means West Virginia will own the building and land, and Form Energy will lease it back. The property would transfer to Form no sooner than five years and only if the company employs 750 workers. The deal calls for workers making at least $63,000 a year in average salary.

John Williams

“What we have in front of us is a pretty good deal,” said Delegate John Williams, D-Monongalia. “We have the opportunity to have to the state of West Virginia own the facility, own the land, and then it’s on the company to come up with the jobs and in five years to demonstrate that they’ve done a good job.”

Form Energy expects to start construction of its Weirton factory in 2023 and begin manufacturing iron-air battery systems in 2024 for broad commercialization.

The company’s battery technology operates through a “reversible rusting” process. The battery breathes in oxygen from the air and converts iron metal to rust. When the battery charges, the reverse happens. An electrical current converts the rust back to iron, and the battery breathes out oxygen.

Matthew Rohrbach

The announced plant is an opportunity for West Virginia to add to its recent streak of economic development announcements, said Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell.

He rattled off last year’s announcement of Nucor Steel, which uses recycled materials; Berkshire Hathaway’s announcement of a titanium aerospace plant; GreenPower’s all-electric school buses in Kanawha County; and Pure Watercraft’s battery-powered pontoon boats.

“Now we’re talking about Form Energy, which is brand-new battery technology,” Rohrbach said. “So the things I just named off are 21st Century, new technology companies that are choosing West Virginia to locate.

“I will tell you the theme is businesses, new cutting-edge businesses are noticing what we’re doing, they’re liking what we’re doing, and they are locating with billions of dollars in investments in our state.”

Marty Gearheart

Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, was not convinced. He said he was sorry to be a Debbie Downer.

“I don’t think we have a good deal in front of us,” Gearheart said. “I think we have an extremely risky — and I don’t know that the state of West Virginia wants to be involved in using our capital as risk capital.”

He said, “We’ve got a lot of tax dollars, a lot of tax dollars, that I think we’re putting into a risky venture. And I hope that I’m wrong.”

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House Ways and Means Committee comes to W.Va.

PETERSBURG, W.Va. — Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee heard stories about the difficulty of small business first hand in a tiny West Virginia community Monday. The committee held the first in a series of field hearings across the Untied States in Petersburg, W.Va.

“Over the last few years, this committee’s work and that of Congress, has drifted from the needs of these good people. We must course correct. We must prioritize the voices in rooms like this one and not those of the Washington Political Class,” said Committee Chairman Jason Smith of Missouri.

West Virginia Congresswoman Carol Miller was on hand and is a member of the Committee. Congressman Alex Mooney was also on hand and although not a committee member, was permitted to participate in the hearing.

Four representatives of various business large and small in West Virginia testified and took questions from Committee members about the difficulties their respective companies and employers have endured in the past two to three years since the pandemic started. All agreed they have suffered hard times, some more than others, but there was an array of problems laid out to members of the committee.

The number one issue seemed to be the impact of inflation. All four mentioned it in one way or another.

“We have and continue to struggle with the ever increasing cost of goods,” said Ashley Bachman, owner and operator of Cheetah B’s Restaurant in Petersburg.

Bachman used the wholesale cost of chicken wings, a popular item on her menu, as an example.

“We used to sell one or two 40 pound cases a week. They used to be $40 a case until they skyrocketed to over $150 for the same amount,” she said.

Government regulation was equally a struggle for industries like Allegheny Wood Products who hosted the field haring and the coal industry. Testifying on the struggles for coal was Jamie Ward, Manager of the Itman Prep Plant in Wyoming County for Consol Energy.

“The coal industry is consistently under pressure from Washington which makes it hard to do business and provide the materials needed to make steel and affordable electricity,” he told the Committee. “Federal agencies make it difficult for operators to even get off the ground, especially when agencies make the rules that are very hard to follow.”

Wiley McDade co-owner of Devil’s Due Distillery in Kearneysville said breakdowns in the supply chain, rising fuel prices, and difficulty in getting raw materials made it hard for his business to make ends meet at times in recent years.

“We started business in 2021 and diesel prices were in the two-dollar range. Factories were producing at or near capacity and warehouses were full. Choice in products was plentiful. Much has changed in the past two years,” he said.

McDade’s company relies on glassware to bottle their product, wooden barrels to store and age their product, and a grain to produce the whiskey. The supply of all of raw materials has increased in cost for a variety of factors and the already narrow profit margin had become even more narrow.

McDade as well lamented the difficulty in finding workers who could afford to live in the area with skyrocketing costs for homes or rent.

The struggle for workers was a problem all four members of the panel brought up in their discussion. Each indicated the numerous stimulus checks and relief programs offered during the pandemic had created a disincentive to work.

“It put businesses that continued to operate in a position of competing against the government for employees,” said Tom Plaugher, Vice President of Operations for Allegheny Wood Products who hosted the event.

“As the pandemic went on, we had employees coming to us for every reason to try and get out of work to be eligible for those enhanced unemployment benefits when they realized they could actually make more money staying at home than they could coming to work,” he added.

Others on the committee noted many of those enhanced benefit programs, which originated during the pandemic, have since ended. Plaugher and other members acknowledged those programs were phased out, but said the negative impact on the workforce remained.

The Ways and Means Committee intends to conduct similar hearings across America in the weeks ahead to continue to hear directly from business operators and their struggles in the present economic situation.

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Carte nets 25 points as Ravenswood holds off Wyoming East, 63-56

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Highlights from Ravenswood’s 63-56 win over Wyoming East in the Par Mar Shootout at West Virginia State University.

Ravenswood (14-4):

  • Matthew Carte – 25 points
  • Logan Alfred – 11 points
  • Drew Hunt – 11 points

Wyoming East (11-6):

  • Garrett Mitchell – 16 points
  • Cole Lambert – 13 points
  • Zach Hunt – 12 points

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