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Mountaineer men’s soccer program to join C-USA in fall 2022

West Virginia’s men’s soccer program is leaving the Mid-American Conference for Conference USA. The Mountaineers, members of the MAC since 2012, will join C-USA starting in the fall 2022 season.

With the addition of the Mountaineers, C-USA will have 10 members for men’s soccer, including 2020 national champion Marshall. The rest of the league includes: Charlotte, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion, UAB and affiliate members Kentucky, South Carolina and Coastal Carolina (starting in fall 2021).

“As we continue to build upon this year’s national championship in men’s soccer and a very deep and talented lineup of teams, we are pleased to welcome another traditionally strong program in West Virginia to enhance one of our conference’s most successful sports,” C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said.

West Virginia finished 6-3-1 in the spring 2021 season, including 4-3-1 in the MAC.

Despite having the No. 12 RPI, WVU was not selected for the NCAA Tournament.

Former WVU player Dan Stratford became the the Mountaineers’ head coach in January 2020 after replacing Marlon LeBlanc, who held that title from 2006-20019.

“We’re very excited by the news and our conference realignment for the fall of 2022,” Stratford said. “I must thank Shane Lyons, Simon Dover and the rest of our administration for their help, support, and foresight in our program’s transition. Conference USA has quickly become a men’s soccer powerhouse, with so many reputable schools that have a strong tradition. Our program’s ambition is to compete with the very best in the country, and we believe that Conference USA provides us the platform to do that.”

The Mountaineers joined the MAC after they left the Big East Conference. In LeBlanc’s final season, WVU won the MAC Championship to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, where they beat Butler before falling to Marshall.

“I want to thank the Mid-American Conference for providing WVU with a great home,” Stratford said. “I was part of the staff when we entered the MAC, and it has continued to be a tough league with a formidable RPI standing year after year. I have been particularly appreciative of my fellow coaches within the MAC, along with Jeff Bacon, who has done an incredible job navigating a very difficult campaign with the pandemic.”

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Road now honors Shirley Love, whose unique West Virginia life took many turns

Shirley Love, legendary broadcaster and legislator, is now remembered with his very own West Virginia country road.

The “Senator Shirley Love Memorial Road” was established with a ceremony Friday along Gatewood Road in Fayette County, where Love made his home. The original name, Gatewood Road, remains but signage will encourage community members and drivers to remember Love’s contributions.

Gatewood Road connects Fayetteville and Oak Hill, so the naming is a fitting symbol of community connections in Fayette County. The road is also considered to be County Route 9 and County Route 14

Austin Haynes

“He spent a lot of his time on Gatewood Road. He lived there. He raised his family there. A lot of the work that was done during his time in elected office, a lot of that work was done from Gatewood Road, so I thought that would be a fitting road,” said Delegate Austin Haynes, R-Fayette, who led the effort to honor Love with the road.

Haynes represents a different party than Love, a Democrat, did during his many years in the Legislature. But Haynes, like many who knew Love, expressed admiration for his fellow community member and legislative predecessor.

“We were on different sides  of the aisle but over the last couple of years that Shirley was with us, we had a chance to get to know each other better,” Haynes said. “He was always full of advice and words of wisdom.”

Love died last July at age 87.

He served one term, 2016 to 2018, in the House of Delegates and 14 years in the state Senate, 1994 to 2008.

Love is best known for his days as a broadcaster, spanning more than five decades.  He worked for WOAY in both radio and television from 1954 to 1997.

Love did the “Juke Box Review” for more than 20 years on radio. He was the voice of Oak Hill High School football and basketball games from 1954 until the early 1990s.

He also hosted the “Friday Night Barn Dance,” which featured local country and western musicians every Friday night — and another similar show on Saturday afternoon called the “West Virginia Jamboree.”

Perhaps he is most fondly remembered for broadcasts of “Saturday Night Wrestling,” pronounced “rasslin’”

Love eventually retired from broadcasting and went into sales for WOAY and then into state politics. He is also a member of the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Shirley Love working at WOAY Radio in the 1950s.

Honoring him with a road meant getting a resolution passed this year during the regular legislative session. Given how fondly people remember Love, it wasn’t hard. The resolution has a bipartisan list of sponsors filling six lines on the Legislature’s landing page.

“Whereas,” the resolution states, “early on, Love’s engaging, ever-present smile won him many lifelong friends and he quickly built a reputation in the state Legislature as a tireless worker, always willing to listen to the concerns of his constituents.”

The resolution continues that way, expressing admiration for Love’s singing voice and his colorful and productive life before finally resolving that signs in his memory should be placed at both ends of Gatewood Road.

A few weeks were needed to prepare the signs. This past Friday, a ceremony allowed family and admirers to see the installation of signs marking the “Senator Shirley Love Memorial Road.”

“It’s nice to see the signs up now,” Haynes said. “He deserved it, and the family deserved it too.”

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Jenkins makes interim appointment to judgeship in Wyoming County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Evan Jenkins entered an administrative order Monday appointing senior status judge Jim Rowe to replace Wyoming County Circuit Judge Warren McGraw on the bench until Gov. Jim Justice names McGraw’s replacement.

Wyoming County Circuit Judge Warren McGraw

McGraw announced his retirement last month. He said he suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and that’s made it difficult to fulfill his duties.

McGraw’s retirement takes effect next Monday, June 21.

Rowe can began hearing cases the next day.

MORE Read administrative order here

Rowe’s been a senior status judge since 2016. The former state lawmaker was on the bench for 20 years in the 11th circuit that includes Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.

McGraw, 82, was a two-term member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates and then served three terms in the state Senate, rising to become president. He won a Supreme Court seat in 1998.

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Local health departments, DHHR honored by West Virginia Association of Counties for pandemic work

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — County health departments around West Virginia and the state DHHR were honored on Monday for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic by the West Virginia Association of Counties.

During the association’s (WVACO) annual meeting at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston, officials on hand for each county accepted an “Outstanding Service” award to bring back to their local health departments. Dr. Ayne Amjad, the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, accepted the award for the DHHR and gave brief remarks.

Speaking with MetroNews, Amjad said it was a balancing act for many inside a local health department to deal with COVID-19 and continue with the normal health services. She said especially with not having the proper amount of staff to deal with a health pandemic.

“They had to deal with flu, they are still doing well visit check, GYN stuff, they still had to do tetanus vaccine. They had to juggle 10 other roles while still dealing with a COVID pandemic. They were stressed to the level that is unbelievable,” Amjad said of the work ethic of local health officials.

Tammy Tincher, a Greenbrier County Commissioner agreed with Amjad. She told MetroNews that health officials in her county have not gotten a break in 18 months even with dozens of volunteers helping with testing and vaccination clinics.

“They work all day, all night, holidays, weekends, they worked at home and worked at the office,” Tincher said. “Working on COVID issues while there were other issues such as regular, everyday services at the health department.”

Tincher was presented the award on behalf of Greenbrier County from Amjad and WVACO President, Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Riffle. She said in conversations with other county commissioners, many realized there was not enough space, staff and time to attack the virus early on and it put too much pressure on local health leaders.

She said since the early stages, her county has implemented guidelines in items to help in situations like they were in. Tincher said the commission is even looking into enlarging the size of the health department with federal COVID funding.

The Greenbrier County Health Department only has a handful of employees with the director, Bridgett Morrison, working full-time at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Tincher said.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done by counties and state levels to make sure that our health departments run smoother and provide better services. In situations like COVID or regular services offered,” she said.

Tincher also said that there could be improvements with communication between the state and local levels during the pandemic. She said it wasn’t on purpose but it was difficult to communicate between the two parties which caused ‘chaos’ that could have been prevented.

“It did cause a lot of alarm at times because things would be mentioned publicly before our individuals and people on the ground had that information. Social media caused the information to spread so much faster,” she said.

Amjad recognized the stress all parties were under to get out the right information.

“They got a lot of questions from the public because COVID wasn’t so black and white,” she said. “Every day we were getting fed information from the CDC, from multiple healthcare specialists. Counties also needed up-to-date information because people from their own level wanted information from physicians to regular, everyday people.”

Amjad noted that even with restrictions easing, the pandemic is not over. She said work with vaccinations still needs to be done, especially in the age range of 30-50-year-olds.

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WVU President Gordon Gee sounds off on proposed football playoff format

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first steps in a lengthy process to expand the College Football Playoff system are underway and West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee will be a voice in the discussions that could triple the size of the playoff field from four teams to twelve.

Gee, who formerly served two stints as the president at Ohio State University, was a vocal opponent of creating the original playoff setup while at OSU.

“I voiced my concerns publicly about the fact that I thought a playoff would harm college football. Well, I lost and I was wrong, which is not the first time,” Gee said on MetroNews Talkline Monday morning.

“We have been losing fan support and a number of other things. As with everything in life, we are in a fast forward world right now. This is probably the best solution to creating more interest in college athletics.”

.@gordongee joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the 12-team college football playoff proposal. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/OQUlOUjTqV

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 14, 2021

The proposed format will give first round byes to the teams seeded one through four. Teams seeded fifth through twelfth will play in on-campus first round games, setting up quarterfinal games on January 1 or 2. It is likely that traditional bowls will host games as they have previously done.

Gee is a member of the CFP board of managers. He says the CFP management committee sub-group that crafted the proposal looked at several options and the 12-team model gained the most traction.

“They came up with sixty permutations about this. They did think about six and eight and ultimately twelve. The reason is that we have the ‘Power 5’ conferences and then the ‘Group of 5’. We wanted to make sure we could get as many people on board without a lot of rancor.

“Secondly, one of the things that was most persuasive to me is that when you get closer to the end of the season, only a few teams are really in the hunt for being able to be in that four-team scenario. With twelve teams, there could be upwards of 30 to 40 teams that could still be in the hunt in October and November. That increases the possibility of college football having more fan support but also making it more exciting and more competitive.”

If there are no changes to the 12-game regular season schedule, college teams could play as many as 17 games. Gee says the academic component will be a significant topic of discussion on June 22.

“That’s one of the things we looked very carefully at. We will be talking about that a week from tomorrow when we have our meeting. The subcommittee has worked very hard at decreasing the amount of conflict we are going to have with academic calendar. That obviously is very important.”

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Bonus photo gallery: Class AAA state track and field meet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More sights from the final day of high school track and field season, which culminated with Jefferson’s girls and Parkersburg’s boys winning team titles at University of Charleston Stadium.

(Photos by David Pennock)

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Cleanup is ongoing from weekend flooding at Burnsville library

BURNSVILLE. W.Va. — Motorists on I-79 ran into an unusual site in Braxton County Friday night.

A deluge of rain rain off the mountain, causing a mudslide. The mudslide blocked the culvert and diverted water runoff into the middle of the northbound lanes. It isn’t very often the interstate is flooded, but that was the case on Friday. Not far away folks at the Burnsville Public Library had their own set of problems as water was coming through a back wall.

“We had in some parts of the back room we have about a half inch in the library,” Library director Beth Anderson told MetroNews Monday.

Books and equipment stored on shelves were saved, but anything stored on the floor was water logged and lost. Fortunately, Anderson said that didn’t amount to too much.

“The carpeting is saturated and we’ll have to pull up the carpet, but it doesn’t appear any of our collection or items were damaged. We did lose some book sale books,” she explained.

Crews were busy working to air out the building with fans and get up the dirty carpet as quickly as possible on Monday.

According to Anderson, they used to have backups from a storm drain which couldn’t handle big storm runoff near by. However, she said that problem was fixed back in 2019 and Sunday’s high water was from a new source which came as a surprise.

“We believe it’s probably storm runoff. We’re only a little place from where the interstate was closed. It must have gotten hit hard, but honestly we can’t pinpoint where the water came from, ” she said.

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Calhoun County cleans up after wet weekend

GRANTSVILLE, W.Va. — Volunteer fire fighters in Calhoun County didn’t get much rest through the weekend. Passing storms on Friday night set the stage for three days of heavy rain which caused flooded roads and homes.

“The National Weather Service told us we got two inches in 30 minutes,” said Calhoun County 911 Director Julie Sears.

The storms were county wide, but the heaviest and most constant downpour was on the northern end of the county. Roads were flooded, culverts washed out, and many were stranded. As for damage to private property there were reports of basement flooding and lost gardens, but according to Sears there’s been nothing catastrophic.

“We did not have any reports of it being in the living space of homes,” she explained.

Sunday’s heavy storm was accompanied by high winds which knocked down a lot of trees and created widespread power outages. There was one tree which fell across a road and landed on a garage. Nobody was injured, but the home incurred significant damage.

“We have a lot of debris on the roads where there was just so much water coming off the hillsides that it  washed into the roads. We’ve had the fire departments out there trying to sweep it off the roads. It was a lot,” she said.

The Division of Highways is working to remove the debris and get those roads reopened today. Only a handful of secondary roads remain blocked, but all need some attention from washouts. There are line crews all across the county working to restore power. A quarter of the Calhoun County’s population had no electricity Monday morning. The outages for a good period of time included the county’s 9-1-1 center which operated on generators.

“Right now it’s just recovery mode. Hopefully we’ll be back to 100 percent very soon,” Sears added.

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DHHR: Active COVID-19 numbers now below 3,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia fell below the 3,000 mark for the first time since late last summer in numbers released Monday by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

There are now 2,799 active cases including 205 newly confirmed cases since last Friday. The last time there were less than 3,000 cases was Sept. 8, 2020.

The DHHR also reported four new deaths in Monday’s report including a 78-year old male from Grant County, a 95-year old male from Morgan County, a 51-year old male from Wayne County, and a 79-year old female from Greenbrier County.

There have now been 2,853 deaths COVID-19 related deaths in West Virginia since the pandemic began.

Hospitalizations due the virus have dropped to 132. The last time it was that low was Aug. 17, 2020.

Vaccination numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show 53% of the state’s overall population have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The state will have its first drawing in its vaccination lottery contest– Do It for Baby Dog — later this week.

The registration deadline is Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. for the first drawing. The winning names will actually be drawn Thursday with the winners announced next Sunday. Prizes include $1 million in cash, two trucks, 25 weekend state park getaways, guns and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. The drawings will take place weekly through early August.

Those who have had at least one COVID-19 shot can register. The registration is at the ‘Do It For Babydog’ website.

DHHR reports as of June 14, 2021, there have been 2,947,986 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 163,144 total cases and 2,853 deaths. https://t.co/eSA49QWaF3 pic.twitter.com/RzADpkDK89

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) June 14, 2021

Overall confirmed cases per county include: Barbour (1,511), Berkeley (12,786), Boone (2,168), Braxton (1,000), Brooke (2,246), Cabell (8,851), Calhoun (377), Clay (541), Doddridge (636), Fayette (3,542), Gilmer (879), Grant (1,306), Greenbrier (2,882), Hampshire (1,916), Hancock (2,838), Hardy (1,564), Harrison (6,128), Jackson (2,222), Jefferson (4,773), Kanawha (15,448), Lewis (1,275), Lincoln (1,584), Logan (3,267), Marion (4,621), Marshall (3,533), Mason (2,047), McDowell (1,612), Mercer (5,105), Mineral (2,970), Mingo (2,718), Monongalia (9,386), Monroe (1,203), Morgan (1,223), Nicholas (1,890), Ohio (4,303), Pendleton (723), Pleasants (959), Pocahontas (680), Preston (2,952), Putnam (5,309), Raleigh (7,036), Randolph (2,834), Ritchie (755), Roane (656), Summers (857), Taylor (1,270), Tucker (545), Tyler (738), Upshur (1,956), Wayne (3,186), Webster (543), Wetzel (1,384), Wirt (455), Wood (7,921), Wyoming (2,034).

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Wyoming County woman charged with arson and attempted murder
Bridget Cozort

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Wyoming County woman is charged with arson and attempted murder for a fire last month in the community of Kopperston.

Bridget Avonelle Cozort, 30, of Kopperston, was already in jail when the new charges were leveled by the State Fire Marshal.

Investigators side Cozort was living with the two victims, both women, who asked her to move out on May 21st. A day later investigators said she set fire to the curtains in the living room of the home as she left while the other two women were still inside.

One of the victims discovered the fire and called 911, then alerted the other victim and both women escaped safely. The fire department was able to contain the fire to the room where it originated.

Cozort was arrested May 28th on unrelated charges out of Wyoming County. She’s been in the Southern Regional jail. Her bail is now set on the new charges at $100,000.

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