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The Voice of West Virginia

State Fire Marshal’s Office looking for 2 juveniles following fire

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. — The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office is looking for two juveniles in connection with an arson investigation.

According to officials, an arson and attempted arson happened on Patrick Court in Inwood on Sunday around 5:15 p.m. Ignitable liquids were thrown into a mobile home and ignited, and the liquids were also found on four vehicles close to the mobile home.

The suspects include a white male, 11 to 12 years old, who was wearing a blue-zippered hoodie, and a female between 8 and 10 years old with light brown hair and a pinkish coat.

Anyone with information is asked to call the West Virginia Arson Hotline at 1-800-233-3473.

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3 people in jail for December 2018 death of child

FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. — Three people are now in jail in connection with the December 2018 death of a child.

The Fayetteville Police Department on Monday arrested 35-year-old Sherie Titchenell of Hilltop. Julie Browning, 36, and Marty Browning Jr., 34, both of Hilltop, turned themselves in on Tuesday to the Oak Hill Police Department.

According to police, the child lived at a home with three adults and three other children. One of the children told a counselor the girl had been grounded from drinking anything and the child was caught drinking from the toilet several times.

The child also said the victim was subject to being struck with a wooden spoon and metal object.

All three face of charges death of a child by parent, guardian or custodian and child neglect causing death.

Each person’s bond was set to $100,000.

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Democrats overplay their impeachment hand

The evidence accumulated over the last two months of impeachment hearings leads to the conclusion that President Trump wanted the president of Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and the unsupported claim that Ukraine conspired with the Democrats to interfere in the 2016 election.

Now House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment accusing the president of abuse of power and obstruction of the Congressional investigation.  The House vote whether to impeach the president is expected to follow party lines, which will lead to a trial in the Senate.

It is notable that as Democratic leaders explained the two articles Tuesday, they raised the stakes of the impeachment gambit. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler invoked the highest possible risk to the country.

“He (Trump) endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security,” Nadler said. “Our next election is at risk. That is why we must act now.”

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff sounded equally ominous warnings. “The argument ‘Why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?’”

So, after pushing quid pro quo, bribery and extortion, now the issue is Trump might cheat in the next election?  Does the United States Congress feel compelled to, for the first time in the country’s history, remove a president from office for what he might do?

I thought that’s what elections are for. Voters do, in fact, make decisions on who to entrust based on what they have done and what they may do while in office. That’s the job of the voters and not the responsibility of Congress to second guess the outcome of the election or prevent voters from deciding the next one.

As Rich Lowery, editor of the conservative National Review wrote, “The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters.”

Trump’s attempt to get dirt on the Bidens by holding up military aid to Ukraine was reckless and an abuse of power. The House should vote to censure him.  A few moderate Democrats are even proposing that, but it’s doubtful that will happen.

Trump’s mercurial behavior is enough to drive even his closest advisors crazy.  Trump has dug enough holes during his term to give the Democrats plenty of opportunities to take back the White House.

However, the Democrats run the risk of being obsessive. The more they invoke the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, the fate of the Republic and the security of the next election, the more they sound like they’re losing it.

And that could cost them in November.

 

 

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Mooney, Miller continue opposition to impeachment following announced charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two West Virginia lawmakers remain critical of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry as the chamber’s Judiciary Committee prepares to consider articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller told MetroNews on Tuesday that House Democrats are wrong to continue the related proceedings, with both saying Democrats are focused on removing the president from office rather than conducting an impartial investigation.

Trump faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Democratic leadership said Trump solicited the help of Ukraine for the 2020 president election by asking for investigations into political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden. The lawmakers noted Trump suspended the release of $391 million in financial assistance in connection with the request. The charges also say Trump directed officials and agencies to not comply with the investigation while also blocking access to documents.

“In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States,” the nine-page resolution states.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said the committee has a “duty to the Constitution and to our country,” warranting the charges.

Mooney, who has called the impeachment inquiry a “kangaroo court,” said Trump was upholding federal law by withholding funds from Ukraine. He argued the president has a responsibility to ensure money does not go to a corrupt county.

“Far from launching a serious inquiry with any semblance of fairness, the America people witnessed a partisan witch hunt,” Mooney said through a spokesperson.

“Voters now can see a pattern emerging. Instead of allowing President Trump to do his job, Democrats in Congress have been consumed with undoing the results of the 2016 elections.”

Miller, who also answered MetroNews’ questions through a spokesperson, said the impeachment inquiry has been a “sham process” since it launched in September. She additionally criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., claiming he is obsessed with impeachment.

“Adam Schiff has abused his power as Intelligence Chairman — holding closed-door hearings, making selective information leaks, hiding the identity of the whistleblower, releasing the phone records of his political opponents and the media, and has a blatant disregard for the facts,” she said.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley’s office did not return an interview request.

Mooney and Miller opposed closed-door depositions held before public hearings started in November; both lawmakers took part in a demonstration on Oct. 23 that delayed testimony from a Pentagon official for more than five hours.

Miller was allowed to take part in the sessions as a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Lawmakers that are part of the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees could also hear the depositions.

Miller’s comment also echoes arguments from the president, who has called Schiff a leaker and asked for the whistleblower of his July call involving Ukraine’s leader to identify themself.

“Everything we know was in the transcripts President Trump voluntarily released,” Miller said of the inquiry. “The hearings showed nothing beyond Adam Schiff’s obsession with impeaching President Trump.”

Public hearings began Nov. 13; McKinley, Mooney and Miller voted in October against rules for the investigation, including guidelines on public committee work and the release of 17 witness interview transcripts.

When asked if any new moments from these sessions stood out, Mooney pointed to constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley’s Dec. 4 testimony before the Judiciary Committee.

Turley — who was called forward by Republicans — said he opposed impeaching Trump because of “a record composed of a relatively small number of witnesses with largely second-hand knowledge of the position” in addition to national anger with politics.

“Instead of wasting time and taxpayer dollars on a ridiculous impeachment inquiry, it is time for Democrats in Congress to focus on issues that matter to all Americans,” Mooney said.

The House Judiciary Committee will begin consideration of the impeachment resolution on Wednesday. The full House is scheduled to vote on the measure next week.

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Balanced Polar Bears improve to 3-0 with win over East

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Four Polar Bears scored in double figures as Fairmont Senior posted another quality early-season win, 71-42 over East Fairmont.

Marley Washenitz and Emily Starn each scored thirteen points while Laynie Beresford and Rebekah Jenkins notched ten points each for the Bears (3-0).

“We want people to not just focus on their scoring, we want people to look at the fact that person is forcing turnovers,” said Fairmont Senior head coach Corey Hines. “That person is getting rebounds and doing a lot of different things. We want all of our players to play like that. I thought we got that effort today.”

The Polar Bears jumped out to a 22-12 lead after the first quarter and they would hold a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Washenitz is the only returning starter from last year’s state championship squad, but younger Polar Bears have performed well in quality wins over Wheeling Central Catholic and Morgantown.

“We are nowhere near where we are supposed to be,” Hines said. “For us to be so young and to have great contributions from Emily and Marley and all these girls stepping up for the first time, I am very proud as a coach.”

The Polar Bears will visit another county rival North Marion Thursday evening in a key early-season matchup.

“They’re one of the best programs in the state of West Virginia,” Hines said. “We always look forward to those challenges. That’s who you are going to have to go through if you are going to get where you want to go.”

East Fairmont (1-2) was led by Avery Pack’s 13-point effort. Kierra Bartholow added ten points. The Bees will host Hedgesville Saturday.

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Governor, first lady join West Virginians in celebrating holidays

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dozens of West Virginians, including Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice, celebrated the holiday season on Tuesday with the annual Joyful Night celebration at the state Capitol.

The Justices flipped the switch to turn on this year’s state Christmas tree, which stands on the south side of state Capitol.

“It’s an amazing state, it’s amazing people, and it’s an incredible time of year,” the governor said. “A time to be so thankful in so many ways. A time to know the true meaning of the season. … Merry Christmas is the reason and the meaning of the season.”

Music from the marching bands of Cabell Midland High School and Greenbrier East High School as well as the Capital High School show choir, the Voices in Perfection, entertained the crowd. The students performed as light snow flurries fell, a shift from the rain showers observed in the Kanawha Valley earlier in the day.

“You think about these young people and these incredible voices and this incredible works of our marching bands and all fo the people that are here with us tonight. You just think about the good Lord giving us these flurries of snow versus the rain that we had just a little while ago,” the governor said.

After the music, the governor and first lady turned on the lights decorating this year’s tree. David and Rebecca Absher of Absher Christmas Tree Farm in Mount Hope donated two trees being used at the state Capitol.

“To grow this beautiful, beautiful specimen of trees is un-flat-believable,” Gov. Jim Justice added.

A tree inside the state Capitol honors military personnel and first responders.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, two West Virginia State Police troopers were honored with the Purple Heart; Cpl. Joshua Ware was injured while assisting with a call in July in Berkeley County, and Trooper First Class Joshua Tallman was shot while apprehending an armed suspect in Pocahontas County.

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Williamstown football coach Terry Smith resigns after 16 seasons

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — After 16 years as head coach of Williamstown’s football program, Terry Smith has resigned.

Smith announced his decision Tuesday night after amassing a career record of 164-41 with the Yellowjackets.

“I’ve been coaching so I have to make sure I’m around all the time,” Smith said. “It usually keeps me tied down in the fall. Just wanted a little more free time.”

Smith recently helped guide WHS to a 10-3 season and Class A semifinal appearance. The Yellowjackets won playoff games against Tug Valley and Greenbrier West before being eliminated by Doddridge County.

Under Smith, Williamstown reached the playoffs all 16 seasons and finished with a winning record 15 times.

“My favorite part is preparing, getting ready during the week and then the games kind of take care of themselves,” Smith said. “It’s fun trying to do different things and coming up with ideas.”

Smith’s teams at Williamstown reached the Super Six seven times and won Class A state championships in 2018 and 2014.

The Yellowjackets were runner-up from 2005-2007 and in 2011 and 2018.

“The kids at Williamstown, whatever we decide we want to do, the guys will try for sure,” Smith said. “The kids really work hard. I don’t think the parents put any restrictions on them, and the parents are into football, so the kids are too.”

Smith added he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family. He has a daughter that lives locally and a son in Birmingham, Ala.

“I have to mention that my wife has been very supportive of everything,” Smith said. “It’s been a great ride. The coaches are fun to be around and I’ve really enjoyed being there.”

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Brooke County officials leading investigation after body pulled from Ohio River

MINGO JUNCTION, Oh. — The Brooke County Sheriff’s Department is leading the investigation after a body was pulled from the Ohio River near Jefferson County, Ohio on Tuesday.

After being pulled from the water into a rescue boat from Wellsburg, the body was identified as missing person Sabrina Hicks, 48 of Steubenville, Ohio, WTOV-9 reported.

Along with the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department, the Jefferson County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office, and police in Mingo Junction are helping with the investigation.

Hicks had been missing since November 13. Her body will be sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

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With running back Constant out of the picture, where will WVU turn?

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s 2020 football recruiting class suffered a jolt over the weekend when running back Lamy Constant announced on Twitter that he was opening up his commitment.

Constant, previously a four-star recruit, had committed to the Mountaineers just a month prior and was seen as one of the biggest fish in Neal Brown’s first signing class.

Thank you for the love. Unfortunately there was miscommunication and a misunderstanding on both my part and the coaches. I thank them for their interest and the WV fans for their love.

— Lamy S. Constant (@ConstantLamy20) December 8, 2019

Multiple sources have indicated that the decision to move on was mutual, and indeed more on West Virginia’s end. Among other factors, Rivals.com dropped Constant to a three-star prospect following an underwhelming senior season.

As a junior, Constant ran for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games. His production dropped off considerably this year, when he rushed for 422 yards and four touchdowns in seven games according to New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League website.

Specifics aside, an important reality remains: the Mountaineers are down to 14 commits with early signing day looming on Dec. 18, and are now in the market for a running back.

Brown alluded to West Virginia’s need at the position in his season-ending press conference last Friday.

“We’ve got to do a better job finishing runs at running back,” Brown said. “We have to do better in space at running back. We can get a little better than that. But we’ve got to recruit guys that can compete for playing time. The more competition you have in the room, the more push there is to get everyone better. We’ve got to get some bigger, more explosive guys in that room.”

At the moment, the spotlight is primarily on junior college running back La’Damian Webb. Webb is a freshman at Jones (Miss.) Junior College. The 5-foot-8, 195-pound back signed with Mississippi State in December 2017, but as reported by Rivals’ Keenan Cummings he did not qualify because his ACT score was flagged.

Webb had 940 rushing yards for 10 touchdowns and 151 receiving yards for two touchdowns in nine games this season and was named a second team NJCAA all-American.

He was undoubtedly on the radar yet out of reach for Brown’s Troy coaching staff when he was in high school, where he was named Alabama Mr. Football at Beauregard High in Opelika, Ala.

As a junior, Webb rushed for 359 yards and five touchdowns in Alabama’s Class 5A state championship game — both state records. His video-game numbers for that season added up to 3,242 yards and 47 touchdowns on 311 carries.

West Virginia’s ace-in-the-hole in Webb’s recruitment is defensive line coach Jordan Lesley, who spent five seasons coaching at Mississippi junior colleges and remains well-connected in the region.

However, Webb is not expected to make his decision until February’s signing day. He took an official visit to Ole Miss this weekend despite the fact new coach Lane Kiffin had yet to arrive in Oxford as the Rebels’ new head coach or assemble a full coaching staff. To this point, that has been Webb’s only official visit.

Based on West Virginia’s list of uncommitted running back offers, things could get a bit dicey should the Mountaineers miss on Webb in February. If that ends up being the case, the NCAA transfer portal may become the most likely means for adding to a position of need next season.

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West Virginia businesses honored for exporting to new countries

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than two dozen West Virginia companies and many more individuals working for those companies were honored Tuesday at the state Capitol for successfully exporting to a new country in 2018.

The honorees received the Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry Award inside the Governor’s Reception Room on the West Wing of the Capitol.

State Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch told the crowd that he has learned a lot from these businesses over the past year.

“I never go into a business that I don’t come away learning something. All of my business cards have my cell number on it, people call me. I am constantly getting remarks, comments, and suggestions on how we can make things better,” Gaunch said.

26 companies received awards, 10 for the first-time, including Doc’s Tea in Inwood, Mountaineer Brand in Martinsburg, American Muscle Docks and Fabrication in Wellsburg, Blue Ink Technology in Huntington, Chestnut Hill Candle in Chester, The Homer Laughlin China in Newell, J&M Industrial in Millwood, Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood, and Mustang Sampling in Ravenswood.

Schonstedt Instrument in Kearneysville, DRK Studios in St. Albans, Industrial Bolting Technologies in Charleston, JQ Dickinson Salt-Works in Charleston, and Preiset Scientific in St. Albans, Athena Sciences Corp in Fairmont, ND Paper in Fairmont, Best Business Strategies in Glen Dale, APG Polytech in Apple Grove, Sport Outfitters in Williamson, IstoVisio in Morgantown, Caperton Furnitureworks in Berkeley Springs, Direct Online Marketing in Wheeling, MEDI-KAL Resources Inc. in Wheeling, TROY Group in Wheeling, Wheeling Truck Centers in Wheeling, and Multicoat Products in Fraziers Bottom all received awards.

VIEW: Individual and company award winners

A total of 77 countries were represented, a release said. Five countries appeared as markets for West Virginia companies for the first time: Vanuatu, Somalia, Lesotho, Central African Republic, and Liechtenstein. Countries that were the most frequent market destinations included Australia, Canada, Poland, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Each company received a framed piece of currency from each new country to which the business began exporting, the West Virginia Development Office said. The presentation is based on the tradition of displaying the first dollar a business earns.

“According to the numbers I have been given, since 2002, there have been 2,200 awards presented to 169 companies who have sold products to 188 countries around the world,” Gov. Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff, Mike Hall said at the ceremony.

“On behalf of the governor, I thank you and I congratulate you.”

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