www.wvgazette.com http://www.wvgazette.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Funerals for: September 22, 2014 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT01/309229986 OBIT01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT01/309229986 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:23 -0400 Adkins, Darrell 11 a.m., Wilson

Ball, Victoria 1 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Campbell, Richard Noon, Preston Funeral Home, Charleston.

Cryus, Phillip, Sr. 2 p.m., Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home, Lewisburg.

Eggleton, Ruth 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hairston, Alhmermita Noon, Heart of God Ministries, Beckley.

Jeffers, M. 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Jordan, Kermit 2 p.m., Cunningham

Judy, Melvin 5 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Lake, Lloyd 11 a.m., O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Moore, Robert 2 p.m., Lovers' Leap Baptist Church, Ansted.

Morris, Dennis 11 a.m., Smathers Funeral Chapel, Inc., Rainelle.

Neaves, Allen D. 6:30 p.m., Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Barboursville.

Nickell, Michael 1 p.m., Pryor Funeral Home, East Bank.

Pauley, Anna Mae 7 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Staats, Regina 2 p.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Stewart, Patricia C. 11 a.m., Montgomery Memorial Park Chapel, London.

Waldeck, Pauline 1 p.m., Stockert

White, Wally 8 p.m., Sycamore Free Pentecostal Church, Sycamore.

Wynn, Eddie 2 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Raymond E. Adkins http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229987 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229987 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:22 -0400 Raymond Ezra "Rat" Adkins, 82, of Alkol, died Sept. 20, 2014. Service will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Bear Branch Church of Christ, Alkol, with visitation beginning one hour prior. Arrangements by Handley Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Alexander Browning http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229999 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229999 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:18 -0400 Alexander Todd Browning, of Scott Depot, gave up his fight with multiple sclerosis on Friday, September 19, 2014.

Todd was born August 20, 1969, to Vernon "Skip" and Carrie Browning with whom he made his home.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Dennie and Pearl Browning and Lee and Effie Wood; aunt, Jean Collins; and uncles, Bob and Bill Wood.

In addition to his parents; Todd is survived by his children, sons, Levi and Walker; and daughters, Haleigh, Tori, Brooklyn and her children and Mallory and her children, all of Chilhowie, Va.; sister, Verna Lee (Kevin) Coll of Tornado; brother, Vernon Browning Jr. (Cecelia) of Culloden; nieces, Sara, Jenny and Amanda; nephews, Matthew and Eric; great-nieces, Natalie and Edyn; great-nephews, Nate, Nolan and Owen; special uncles and aunties, Janie and Carl Estep, Larry and Ruth Wood and Laliah Wood; and a host of cousins and second cousins.

Todd loved his family, old cars, trucks and cycles. He began working for Teays Valley Hardware as a Junior at Winfield High School until he retired with M.S. Disability.

Funeral service will be held noon Tuesday September 23, at Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane with Pastor Steve Inman officiating. Burial will follow in Montgomery Memorial Park, London. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the funeral service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society WV Office, 1700 MacCorkle Avenue SE, Charleston, WV 25314.

Visit www.chapmanfuneralhomes.com to share memories or to express condolences.

Chapman Funeral Home, family-owned and located at 3941 Teays Valley Road, Hurricane is honored to serve the Browning family.

Helen "Sissy" Farmer http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229994 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229994 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:20 -0400 Helen "Sissy" Harding Farmer, 74, of Charleston, passed away Sept. 20, 2014. Service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the funeral home.

Susie Mae Hardwick http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229995 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229995 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:20 -0400 Susie Mae Hardwick, 72, of South Charleston, passed away Sept. 19, 2014 at her home.

Susie was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She was preceded in death by parents, John and Bula Woody; husband, Gene Hardwick; seven brothers and two sisters, Ruby and Bonnie; granddaughter, Beth Reeves; and brother-in-law, David Philpo.

She is survived by sister, Gladys (Harold) Hall; brother, Paul Woody; sister-in-law, Barbara Philpo; sons, Christopher (Legina), Forrest John (Roxana), William (Melanie) and Terry (Mary) Hardwick; 15 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes, officiated by Pastor Mike Tucker. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service, and burial will follow at the same location.

Ruby Faye Jones http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229988 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229988 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:22 -0400 Ruby Faye Jones, 83, of Crawley, died Sept. 19, 2014. Service will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Wallace & Wallace Funeral Chapel, Rainelle. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at the funeral chapel.

Linnie Mae King http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229998 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229998 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:19 -0400 Linnie Mae King, 48, of Charleston, passed away Sept. 19, 2014. Service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at the funeral home.

Mary Ruth Morris http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229990 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229990 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:22 -0400 Mary Ruth Morris, born April 23, 1947, died Sept. 20, 2014. Service will be 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Ronald Meadows Funeral Parlors, Hinton. Visitation will be held from to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at the funeral parlors.

Allen Dale Neaves http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229996 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229996 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:20 -0400 Allen Dale Neaves, 69, of Huntington, died Sept. 14, 2014. Service will be 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Barboursville, with visitation beginning at 5 p.m.

Monna J. O'Dell http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229989 OBIT http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/OBIT/309229989 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:02:22 -0400 Monna Joyce "Tiny" O'Dell, 77, of Quinwood, died Sept. 21, 2014. Service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Wallace & Wallace Funeral Chapel, Rainelle, with visitation beginning one hour prior.

WVU re-accredited, but Tech nursing school flagged http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929811 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929811 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:18:10 -0400 By Mackenzie Mays West Virginia University has officially been re-accredited, affirming the school's academic programs until its next Higher Learning Commission review in 2023.

However, the HLC -- which oversees colleges in 19 states, including West Virginia -- will require continued monitoring of issues concerning the university's assessment practices and its nursing program at the WVU Tech campus in Montgomery.

In a letter to WVU President Gordon Gee last month, HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley called WVU Tech's passing rate for nursing students "unacceptable" and also calls for WVU to demonstrate a stronger "culture of assessment."

WVU is now required by the HLC to submit an assignment of duties for a director of assessment by 2016 and also a plan of future goals for the Tech nursing program "in order to avoid recurrence of this issue."

In a statement on Monday, Gee said appropriate action is underway for the two issues in question and that "these are realistic expectations."

"I believe what the commission found was a university on the move," Gee said.

The first-time passage rate for nursing students taking a licensing exam at WVU Tech last year was about 81 percent, with the average rate for the past three years around 84 percent, according to WVU Tech spokeswoman Jen Wood Cunningham.

Those numbers were initially lower, though, and now include at least six students who first failed the exam and have since retaken it, Cunningham said.

In 2012, RN candidates across the state had about an 89 percent pass rate, just below the national average of 90 percent, according to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses.

WVU Tech has implemented several changes in recent years to increase its scores, establishing a new nursing training center inside Montgomery General Hospital last month.

"Now all of the students are learning everything hands-on from the beginning," Wood-Cunningham said. "We've upgraded equipment and assessed the curricula and we're ensuring students are getting everything they need to do well not only on the exam, but in their careers."

WVU's institutional re-accreditation process started in 2011 and included site visits, public comment, inner-university assessment and several meetings with faculty and staff.

"We are pleased with the continuation of accreditation... This final designation shows our commitment to the standards of accreditation and the value we place on the self-study process as a way to improve and to learn from those with an external perspective," WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joyce McConnell said in a statement.

The HLC evaluates WVU a minimum of once every 10 years and grants accreditation for a maximum of 10 years.

For more information, visit https://www.ncahlc.org.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @MackenzieMays on Twitter.

(No heading) http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929812 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929812 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:09:28 -0400 Express your opinion on any subject you wish. Not all comments are published. Call 304-357-4451 or email readersvoice@wvgazette.com.

I'm not too interested in college football, but that Clint Trickett is a hottie.

Now some nut is saying that we will go to hell if we voted for Obama. Since God is all powerful, and apparently wanted Obama to be president, that means he wanted me to vote for him. Thus, by your logic, God wants me to go to hell. Somehow that doesn't seem right from an all-loving God.

It is strange how Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson et al. are being perceived as victims and Roger Goodell may lose his job. Last I heard, he had not hit a lady or whipped a child. Thank the media for once again protecting these overpaid bullies.

I read the Readers Voice column daily. I've never expressed my opinion on anything so I thought I'd take a shot. It's funny to me how everyone is bashing the political parties both Republicans and Democrats alike but you never hear much about the Lord Jesus Christ. No man or woman in office can or will make a change in our country for the better unless we as a nation begin to put God first in our day to day plans.

Fox News tells us the war on Christmas is some recent liberal assault. Looking at the old picture of Main Street in St. Albans, there must have been liberal guerrilla groups up in the hills staging random attacks even in the 1950s.

Mark Plants' case has been mishandled from the get-go; a domestic issue has mushroomed into a media circus where he is getting thrown under the bus. Even the judges seem to be openly biased prior to any legal hearing or trial.

Ms. Capito says West Virginians want less regulation. I think most of us working people who have smelled and tasted polluted water, or know someone killed in a mine because of poor safety controls, or who lost their home after the mortgage crisis, realize that we need the government to protect us from the big corporations. She consistently voted with the banking industry that's funding her campaign, rather than for us.

So Obama is a socialist? If wanting good health care for everyone; clean water and air for our people; feeding the poor and hungry; and providing adequate housing for those less fortunate, is being a socialist, then I guess I am a socialist too. Actually, I always thought it was a part of being a good Christian, but, then again, I might be wrong.

From reading the article in Sunday's Gazette-Mail, we now know why schools in WV do not score well. If one in three is absent from school, and in some counties more than half, it explains a lot. You can't learn if you are not in school. Many West Virginians have a disdain for teachers and for school. They need to realize that the days of quitting school and going to work in the mines is over. They will need to get a good education to prepare for the 21st century.

With disintegrating highways that no longer receive maintenance, mounting trash everywhere that will never be picked up, a contaminated public water supply, and the look of helplessness and hopelessness in people's faces, West Virginia is starting to resemble one of those third world countries that the French and British abandoned several years ago and since have been ruled by a dictating family who have become obscenely rich while keeping everyone else dirt poor.

The new pavement at the end of Montrose is great. However, the centerline for the last half of it needs to be moved over to the south 2 feet like it was before. Resident parking on the north side takes up most of the outgoing lane the way it is now. Please look at this in the evening when cars are parked and the lane is blocked. It's a head-on accident waiting to happen.

WVU completely collapsed after that Oklahoma kickoff TD. The Big Question: Can our Eers recover to pull out a 5-5 season and go to a bowl?

The folks that vent thanking Obama for the Affordable Care Act, should in fact thank me and the many other retirees who have had their premiums nearly doubled for the takers and illegals..

I'm beginning to wonder if anyone in West Virginia knows the meaning of the words "communist" or "communism."

Maybe if they name the South Charleston Public Library after Mayor Frank Mullens, like they do the million-dollar ball fields, he will support the levy?

West Virginia should follow Scotland's lead and remain in the United States.

Prosecutor says 800 rounds were found in White House intruder's car http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/ARTICLE/140929813 ARTICLE http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/ARTICLE/140929813 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:05:02 -0400



THE Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Investigators found more than 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in the car of the former soldier accused of scaling the White House fence and sprinting inside the building while carrying a knife, a federal prosecutor said Monday. President Barack Obama said he was "obviously concerned" about the weekend incident.

The Secret Service increased security around the famous grounds on Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital, some guards openly holding weapons, others escorting dogs. There was talk of expanding White House security beyond the current area as a major investigation began into the question of how the man managed to get to the building without being stopped.

Forty-two-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez of Copperas Cove, Texas, faces charges of entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. He had been arrested earlier in the summer in Virginia with a carful of weapons, authorities said, and a federal prosecutor said Monday in court that Gonzalez had had a map with the White House circled.

Obama and his family had left the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred Friday evening. Gonzalez was seized just inside the building's front door. No guns were found in his car.

In court, Gonzalez, with a gray beard, a shaved head and dressed in a standard prison orange jumpsuit, listened impassively as the prosecutor spoke. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of illegally entering a restricted area with a dangerous weapon.

The Army said he served from 1997 until his discharge in 2003, and again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired due to disability.

Obama, asked about the incident at the White House, said, "The Secret Service does a great job, and I'm grateful for the sacrifices that they make on my behalf -- and my family's behalf."

But spokesman Josh Earnest said the president was "obviously concerned" about what had happened.

At the federal court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said Gonzalez already was under indictment in southwestern Virginia, accused of having a sawed-off shotgun and trying to elude police this summer.

Wythe County Deputy Commonwealth Attorney David Saliba said by telephone that Gonzales also had two powerful rifles, four handguns and other guns and ammunition in his Ford Bronco when troopers stopped him on July 19. The weapons and ammunition were seized, but Gonzalez was released on bail.

Earnest said the Secret Service investigation will include a review of protective efforts both inside the White House grounds and outside the fence line along Pennsylvania Avenue, including staffing and threat assessment policies and procedures.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced it would hold a hearing next week.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he would ultimately review the findings of the investigation ordered by Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. Johnson said the public should not rush to judgment about the security breach and urged against second-guessing security officers whom he said "had only seconds to act."

The Secret Service didn't open fire on Gonzalez or send attack dogs after him.

Officers who spotted Gonzalez scale the fence quickly assessed that he didn't have any weapons in his hands and wasn't wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Another consideration was whether bystanders behind the fence could have been injured by errant gunfire, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The Secret Service has long tried to balance public access to the "People's House" and security of the presidential residence.

The two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House's north gates has been closed to vehicle traffic since May 1995, when President Bill Clinton ordered the immediate closure of the road in an effort to prevent a potential car- or truck-bomb attack.

On any given day, numerous uniformed officers can be seen patrolling parts of the sprawling lawns on either side of the White House, and others are stationed along the fence line on Pennsylvania Avenue. Many more were in view on Monday.

But the pedestrian-only zone hasn't entirely prevented security breaches along the fence.

Last September a man was arrested and accused of throwing firecrackers over the fence on the north lawn, near the area where Gonzalez is accused of climbing over the barrier. The Secret Service at the time said the man with firecrackers did not pose a threat.

A few weeks later a Connecticut woman set off a police chase through downtown Washington after ramming a security checkpoint near the White House. Miriam Carey, 34, was shot and killed by police near the Capitol.

In May, a man was arrested after he followed a motorcade carrying President Obama's daughters through the gates into the secure area near the White House. He had a pass for the Treasury Department, which is next door and also inside the pedestrian-only security zone. A charge of unlawful entry was later dismissed.

On a lighter note, in August a toddler managed to slip through the slats in the metal fence. The Secret Service joked that they would wait until the boy learned to talk before questioning him.

Less than 24 hours after Gonzalez's arrest, a second man was taken into custody after he drove up to a White House gate and refused to leave, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said. Bomb technicians in full gear searched the vehicle as agents briefly shut down nearby streets.

On Sunday, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary identified the man as Kevin Carr, 19, of Shamong, New Jersey.

There was no indication the two incidents were connected. But they only intensified the scrutiny of the Secret Service, which is struggling to rehabilitate its image following a series of allegations of misconduct by agents in recent years, including agents on Obama's protective detail.

Newborn dropped off at Logan hospital http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/DM02/140929814 DM02 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/DM02/140929814 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:59:13 -0400


Authorities are looking for the parents of a newborn baby that was dropped off at a Logan County hospital.

A man and woman walked into Logan Regional Medical Center about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 6 and left the staff with a newborn baby girl, according to a statement by the Logan Sheriff's Office. The two left before staff could identify them.

The baby girl was believed to be about a day old, deputies said.

Hospital staff contacted deputies the next day, but deputies haven't had any luck getting more information about the incident, the statement said.

"The sheriff's department wants to make it known that the child is in good health and is being taken care of," according to the statement. "The department's concern is the well-being of the mother and to ensure there aren't any circumstances that would be criminal in nature as far as the safety of the mother of the child is concerned."

In West Virginia, the parents of a newborn may anonymously leave an infant at any hospital or health care facility within 30 days of the child's birth, according to state code.

The man and woman who dropped the baby off were white and were last seen driving a newer, dark-colored GMC SUV. Deputies said it wasn't clear if the mother of the child was in the vehicle when the baby was dropped off.

It also was possible that the people who dropped the child off could be from another county, investigators said.

Anyone with information can contact deputies at 304-792-8590.

Climate protesters disrupt Wall Street http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/DM01/140929815 DM01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/DM01/140929815 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:58:23 -0400


the Associated Press

NEW YORK - A day after 100,000 people marched to warn that climate change is destroying the Earth, more than a thousand activists gathered Monday in lower Manhattan's financial district, chanting, carrying signs and - in some places - sitting down in the street to protest what they said was corporate and economic institutions' role in the climate crisis.

There were reports of some isolated arrests of protesters, who police said did not obtain a permit for the rally. But by and large, the police, office workers and tourists watched alike as the activists chanted: "We can't take this climate heat; we've got to shut down Wall Street," and bounced two large, inflatable balloons meant to represent carbon dioxide bubbles. Police later punctured the balloons.

Ben Shapiro, an urban farmer and bread-maker from Youngstown, Ohio, said he didn't participate in Sunday's march but came specifically on Monday because he's concerned about fracking, a technique that cracks open rock layers to free natural gas, and feels the financial system enables pollution.

"I wanted to come specifically to disrupt Wall Street because it's Wall Street that's fueling this," Shapiro said while sitting next to the famed bull statute on Broadway. "I'm going after the source of the problem. . . . That means actively having to confront the system."

The organizers of #FloodWallStreet said the sit-in aimed to disrupt business in the financial district by targeting "corporate polluters and those profiting from the fossil fuel industry."

The protest took a tense turn when demonstrators, after several hours of sitting and chanting near the bull statue, decided to march up Broadway and onto Wall Street itself. The protesters encountered barricades and a strong police presence outside the New York Stock Exchange. Some tried to push through the barricades, and tussles between demonstrators and police ensued. Police used pepper spray as they tried to hold the barricade.

Tourist Matilde Soligno, visiting from Bologna, Italy, came downtown to show a friend the famous bull and found it barricaded behind the demonstrators and the officers standing by. She took it in stride, snapping photos of the gathering.

"Every time I come here, there's somebody here protesting," she said. But, she added, "I think it's a good thing."

Demonstrator Nicholas Powers, who teaches black and feminist literature at SUNY Old Westbury, said that unlike Sunday's protest, the sit-in was less about building consensus and more about confronting the institutions they feel are responsible for stalled political action to reverse global warming.

Dressed in a green wig and superhero outfit, protester Jenna DeBoisblanc said at a rally in a park near Wall Street before the protest that those assembled were expecting arrests at the sit-in.

"I think arrests in particular are a very good way of conveying the gravity of an issue," said DeBoisblanc, an environmental activist from New Orleans. "If you're willing to risk arrest it certainly demonstrates that it's something very urgent."

While some bystanders took the disruption in stride, others were skeptical about what the protest stood to accomplish.

Christopher Keane, a lawyer whose office is upstairs from the sit-in, said was he concerned about climate change, "but these people aren't convincing me of anything."

"How did they get here today?" he asked, if not through some use of the fossil fuels they deplore.

On Sunday, actors Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly were among the 100,000 estimated protesters. It was one of many demonstrations around the world urging policymakers to take quick action.

W.Va. urged to fight for international tourists http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929816 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929816 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:53:52 -0400 By Paul J. Nyden West Virginia has a lot to offer international tourists, and the state should keep trying to attract travelers from foreign countries, according to one speaker at a state tourism conference on Monday.

"International visitors are a marketing opportunity for the U.S.," said Amir Eylon, vice president of business development for Brand USA. "International visitors typically spend between four to six times as much money compared to domestic visitors" while visiting the same areas.

Eylon - who worked 12 years for the Ohio Office of Tourism before moving to Brand USA in June 2012 - spoke to the West Virginia Governor's Conference on tourism at the Charleston Marriott on Monday morning.

The goal of Brand USA is to promote international travel into the United States. The nonprofit organization, created under the federal Travel Promotion Act, brands West Virginia "the outdoor recreation capital of the East."

Eylon encouraged his audience, made up of about 300 people from around the state who work to attract local and international visitors to West Virginia, to continue working closely with his groups. The activities of Brand USA are financed at no cost to taxpayers through a combination of private investments and funds the federal government collects from international visitors come to visit under the Visa Waiver Program.

Not surprisingly, Canada and Mexico send the most visitors and tourists to the United States every year, Eylon said. Other countries sending many tourists include the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, China, Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and Australia,. he said.

"Global travel is booming. Expenses are expected to double to $2.1 trillion by 2020," Eylon said.

Places like West Virginia, Eylon said, have "key attractions, such a natural features, outdoor activities, landmarks and good cuisine.... Whitewater rafting and bridge jumping also attract a lot of visitors."

Last year, Dulles Airport, a short drive from West Virginia, had nearly 7 million foreign visitors land at its facilities. Today, Dulles Airport has planes that fly to more than 70 countries every day.

"Air China recently started nonstop service to Dulles," Eylon said.

Brand USA also publishes Discover America to help attract visitors. Discover America's website - www.discoveramerica.com - maintains sections provide tourists information about every state in the country.

"Whether you prefer relaxation or exhilaration, the outdoor recreation capital of the East offers spring and summer adventure that will suit you perfectly," Brand USA says about West Virginia.

"Are shopping and dining more your taste? Come enjoy some truly unique shopping and a culinary destination that is a complete departure.

"And when it comes to arts and entertainment, the Mountain State holds many surprises, from world-class venues and major productions to small-town acts that remain true to age-old mountain traditions. Why not plan your escape today?"

On Monday, Eylon also promoted natural sites and parks, mentioning that 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service under President Theodore Roosevelt.

"West Virginia's rugged and rolling landscape awakening in spring provides a breathtaking backdrop for unforgettable outdoor adventure," states "Discover America."

"Whitewater rafting, rock climbing, rappelling and caving are available in abundance. Over 375 miles of train tracks have been converted into trails for walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding. The rail trails (30 in all), with their gentle or level grades and wide rights of way, are easily accessible and are among the most stunning and scenic in the country."

The Charleston conference was co-hosted by the West Virginia Division of Tourism, West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus and West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.

Lawyers spar over Plants' desire to keep prosecutor job http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929817 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929817 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:44:08 -0400 By Kate White Three judges considering whether to remove Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants from office shouldn't take a "drastic remedy" and void the decision made by voters to elect Plants, his lawyer said Monday, the first day of a hearing on Plants' future as prosecutor.

But an attorney representing county commissioners, who want Plants gone, said the prosecutor has committed malfeasance in office, violated the rules of professional conduct and can't do the job he was elected to do because of a conflict of interest.

Plants is charged with domestic battery for striking and leaving a 6- to 7-inch bruise on his 11-year-old son's thigh, and violating a domestic violence protective order that required him to stay away from his ex-wife and their two sons. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom ruled a conflict was created with Plants' office prosecuting similar charges when Plants said, in his defense, that he has a right to discipline his son.

Bloom then appointed former assistant prosecutor Don Morris and a team of assistants from Plants' office to handle cases involving domestic violence-related charges and those involving parents and minor children.

Commissioners have been paying Morris $200 an hour since April and say there's no end in sight to the conflict.

"I think he should have resigned," County Commissioner Dave Hardy testified at Monday's hearing, in front of the three judges -- Preston Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller, Berkeley Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes and Doddridge Circuit Judge Timothy Sweeney -- appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the commissioners' removal petition.

But Jim Cagle, Plants' attorney, argued that the prosecutor tried to save the county money -- and that all of the expenses have been set by third parties, not Plants.

Assistant Kanawha prosecutor Dan Holstein testified he recommended that Bloom appoint Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia, who had offered to supervise assistants to handle the domestic-related charges for free.

During a recess in Monday's hearing, Plants said to a group of reporters, "Sorsaia would have done it for free." For most of Monday's hearing, Plants kept his head down and stayed hunched over a desk.

Melissa Foster Bird, the lawyer for the county commissioners, called a long list of witnesses, who provided a timeline of events involving Plants. She began by questioning the State Police troopers who investigated the child abuse allegations and the charge of violating a protective order.

Kim Eagle, victim's advocate for the Charleston Police Department, testified that she has to answer numerous questions from victims who are nervous to come forward because of Plants.

Morris, the special prosecutor handling domestic violence cases, testified that his assistants hear defense attorneys argue the "Plants defense" every day in cases involving corporal punishment.

To prosecute the criminal charges against Plants, former McDowell County prosecuting attorney Sid Bell was appointed as another special prosecutor. Commissioners are also paying his salary.

To avoid going to trial, Plants and Bell reached a pre-trial diversion agreement, which would have allowed the charges to be dropped if Plants stayed out of trouble for a year. It was soon realized that pre-trial diversion agreements aren't allowed in cases of domestic violence.

Bird questioned Holstein about a memorandum he sent out in 2013 warning prosecutors that pre-trial diversion agreements aren't allowed in cases of domestic violence.

"Mr. Plants would have seen that," Bird said, accusing him of trying to cut corners to speed up a resolution to the charges against him.

Plants and Bell entered into another deal that Plants would attend a 32-week batterer's intervention program in Putnam; upon completion, the charges could be dismissed.

It wasn't until commissioners filed the removal petition that Plants changed his mind and said he wanted a trial to try to clear his name. A magistrate appointed to the case has ruled Plants must complete the domestic violence program before any trial.

Holstein said that while cases are still being prosecuted correctly and efficiently, "In terms of morale, as you can imagine, this has been difficult for some attorneys to go through."

Cagle said the evidence being used by an attorney for Kanawha commissioners to attempt to have Plants ousted isn't grounds for removal. That evidence "cannot and will not support the relief they are seeking," he said.

The hearing will continue Tuesday.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723, or follow @KateLWhite on Twitter.

Four cases of rare enterovirus confirmed in West Virginia http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929818 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929818 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:37:41 -0400 By Erin Beck Staff writer The federal Centers for Disease Control has confirmed four cases of enterovirus EV-D68, a virus that can result in respiratory failure, in West Virginia, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The four confirmed cases come from Greenbrier, Wirt and Wood counties, according to Loretta Haddy, state epidemiologist.

The virus disproportionately impacts children and can be dangerous for children with asthmas and other breathing conditions, according to Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director and chief health officer of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Mild symptoms, including fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, body and muscle aches, can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

Gupta said while most people with the virus will show only mild symptoms, parents should be on the watch for more severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing and wheezing.

"It's better to be safe than sorry and get the medical help that's needed to prevent rapid deterioration of the disease," he said.

More severe cases may require hospitalization and intensive support therapy.

W.Va. water panel starts review of spill law http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929819 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929819 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:37:30 -0400 By Eric Eyre Facing a December deadline for its first report, a West Virginia panel has started reviewing a new law that aims to protect the state's drinking water supplies.

The Public Water System Supply Study Commission held its first meeting Monday. The panel was established as part of legislation passed after the January chemical spill that contaminated the Elk River.

Commission members said they want to ensure that the wide-ranging water protection law prevents chemical spills in the future. The Freedom Industries spill in January tainted water for more than 300,000 people for days.

"Prevention always works better than cleanup," said commission member Mike McCawley, a West Virginia University public health professor. "If you don't do prevention, you're going to be looking at a lot of problems."

The commission also may study successful drinking water systems in West Virginia and other states.

"Now that we've got this piece of legislation ... we can take a look at some of the best systems to see if we can mirror that," said Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, who sits on the panel. "One of the biggest problems is we have this hodge-podge of [water and sewer] systems throughout the state. Some of them work fine. Some of them don't work at all."

While the January spill contaminated water for customers of West Virginia American Water, which is the largest drinking-water supplier in the state, smaller water utilities also pose a risk, commission members said.

"This commission is looking at all failures - from small utilities to large utilities," said Rick Roberts, an engineer appointed to the panel. "There's already been a lot of effort thrown at the [Elk River spill] incident that we're all here because of. More likely, some of the failures in the future will be much smaller utilities in other parts of the state. We don't want to lose sight that this is a statewide issue."

The commission's first report is due to state lawmakers by Dec. 15.

Under the new law, the commission must review source water protection plans submitted by public utilities, examine the law's effectiveness, and study the availability of funding for projects that set up alternative water sources in the event of a chemical spill.

The commission also must review recommendations in a U.S. Chemical Safety Board report issued after the 2008 Bayer CropScience blast in Institute that killed two workers and injured eight others.

The commission established six smaller "working groups" Monday. The subgroup meetings won't be open to the public, commission members said.

"Everyone recognizes the importance of our drinking water and keeping it safe," said commission Chairman Jimmy Gianato, who works as West Virginia's homeland security director. "This commission is an integral part of that."

The commission next meets Oct. 27.

The commission members include: engineer Rick Roberts; hydrologist Ed Watson; West Virginia University public health professor Dr. Mike McCawley; citizen representative Pam Nixon; secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Randy Huffman; commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health Dr. Letitia Tierney; director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato; chairman of the Public Service Commission Mike Albert; Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha; and Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Director Dr. Rahul Gupta.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.

Special prosecutor announces seven Kanawha indictments http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929820 GZ01 http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140922/GZ01/140929820 Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:17:34 -0400 Staff reports A Kanawha County grand jury returned a set of indictments on Friday dealing with charges involving allegations of domestic abuse, which Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants is barred from handling.

Special prosecutor Don Morris announced the indictment of seven defendants on Monday. The conflict created by the misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and violating a domestic violence protective order Plants faces requires a team of special prosecutors, a circuit judge ruled earlier this year.

In April, Judge Duke Bloom appointed Morris and three of Plants' assistants to handle all of the county's cases involving child abuse and neglect, violent crimes against children by parents or guardians and criminal violations of protective orders. Another assistant in Plants' office was moved to help Morris last month.

Those assistants no longer report to Plants, who is charged with striking his 11-year-old son with a belt and leaving a 6- to 7-inch bruise on the boy's thigh.

Morris retired as an assistant in Plants' office last year after working there 27 years.

The indictments Morris announced are not a finding of fact; it means only that grand jurors have decided that enough evidence exists to warrant a criminal trial. Arraignments are as follows:

Judge Duke Bloom, 1:30 p.m., Oct. 7: Alicia Gay Runyon, 37, St. Albans, child abuse causing bodily injury and child neglect causing bodily injury.

Judge Tod Kaufman, 1 p.m., Oct. 2: Roy Spencer Cottrell, 60, St. Albans, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree sexual abuse, sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, battery; Willard Mosley Holley Jr., 61, Charleston, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree sexual abuse, sexual abuse by a parent or guardian.

Judge Charles King, 1:30 p.m., Oct. 6: John Franklin Russell, 44, South Charleston, first-degree sexual abuse, sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, incest, first-degree sexual assault.

Judge James Stucky, 10 a.m., Sept. 30: Brandon Tyler Weese, 28, Elkview, wanton endangerment, violation of a domestic violence protection order.

Judge Carrie Webster, 9 a.m., Sept. 30: Jeremy Allen Freeman, 32, Charleston, malicious assault, child abuse by a parent or guardian with bodily injury.

Judge Paul Zakaib Jr., 9:30 a.m., Oct. 3: Eric Dewayne Richmond, 42, South Charleston, child abuse resulting in injury, domestic battery.