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Rally held at Coonskin Park for a movement to save it from a proposed project affecting the land the greenspace offers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds rallied together Sunday to help save a beloved thousand-acre Charleston greenspace.

The Save Coonskin environmental group held a rally at the park in protest against West Virginia International Yeager Airport’s potential runway expansion plan that would extend one of its runways into the park via mountaintop removal.

After having already held an information day at the park, garnered the support of over 11,000 people on a recent petition, as well as having future plans to continue reaching out to lawmakers on the issue, the movement decided a rally at the park would be one of the most impactful ways of letting their voices be heard.

“It feels like mother nature is on our side blessing us with a beautiful fall day and the people are starting to roll in,” a Save Coonskin Park group leader, Beth Segesseman told MetroNews at Sunday’s event. “Everything is coming together, and it’s just an amazing feeling to be able to celebrate this place with people who also agree that we should save it.”

The hundreds there Sunday supporting the movement all have one major thing in common– they love Coonskin Park. With that, they want no harm to come to the park and fear that’s what would happen if the airport follows through with the expansion plan.

The group asserts nearly 400 acres of Coonskin would become inaccessible to public use, with another close to 450 acres essentially getting destroyed.

They claim the park’s mountaintops would be stripped down many feet and the valleys filled with the leftover dirt, debris, and rubble.

In addition, Segessemen said this would jeopardize the health of the environment as well as the needs of the community in having the vast greenspace the park offers, as it’s a treasured rarity for the area.

“There’s so much of the park that we love, all of the trails, the upper park, the woods and the shelters, and Gorman Shelter where we are today would be gone if this proposal went through, so we want people to learn how it not only threatens our park but our community,” said Segesseman.

Several people got up and spoke for the main part of the rally, sharing more about specific areas in the park that are threatened from the proposal.

One person who spoke was Kanawha County resident Judy Spradling, a direct descendent of Calvin Spradling who was one of the area’s first settlers in about 1840. He has a cemetery located in the woodlands of the park where his family is buried, Judy Spradling said it’s one of the areas at risk of being destroyed if the proposal would go through.

“This is my ancestors, we want to honor them, they were laid to rest here in this park forever, and we can’t allow them to be destroyed,” Spradling said.

Along with the need to protect the property her family’s cemetery is on, Spradling said she was going to be talking about the history of the estimated 170 year old cemetery, which is located near the Wildlife Trail in the park.

CRW released a statement a couple of months ago about the runway project and the environmental impact study they are currently conducting with the FAA to assess if it would be environmentally feasible to move forward with the project at the park, stating they are looking to find a solution that would benefit all parties involved.

“The FAA will consider all reasonable alternatives of the project with a full and fair discussion of the significant environmental impacts of the Proposed Action. West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) is committed to operating our facilities in an environmentally responsible manner to conserve the existing resources unique to CRW while also providing a safe and pleasant experience for the public at large, and the Airport’s customers, vendors, and staff. We’re working to prepare the airport for the future of aviation, to ensure CRW can continue to serve as the gateway to West Virginia and the world by retaining and attracting additional air service.”

Segesseman said in the meantime the group will be waiting on the results of that environmental study, and continuing to try and garner more signatures on their petition to save the park, as well more support for the movement as a whole.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

West Virginia native author finding success with release of recent children’s books, mystery novels

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After two successful adult mystery novels that take place in the state, Tyler County native and author Storm Young is back with three up and coming children’s books.

Young, author of Amazon’s best-seller’s ‘The Pen Pal’ and ‘The Final Secret: A West Virginia Mystery’, has now published three kid’s stories to Amazon, all of which she said are also seeing some success.

Her first children’s book, ‘The Flower Princess,’ recently hit #1 on the site. Young said it was inspired by her daughter who was running around the house with a pot full of flowers, claiming they talk to her and deeming herself The Flower Princess.

Storm Young

Young’s second book, ‘Because Someone Cared,’ ranked #2, and it’s about a little girl who cuts her hair to give to another girl who has cancer.

Finally, Young said her third book ‘Felix the Frog Wants a Dog,’ is about a frog who wants a dog but doesn’t understand why he can’t have one. She said it also hit #1 in new releases, and that it teaches kids about the importance of caring for pets and finding the right pet for them.

Young said she made the decision to launch a mass-release of the books, and she said she is grateful for the success they have gotten.

“I am so thankful, I have had some people come up to me and actually recognize me from my books,” Young said. “It honestly just feels like a dream come true, and I’m thankful for anybody who grabs a book, gets a copy, reads it to any little kid, or if they just want to read it for themselves.”

Young’s very first book published in 2022 is an adult mystery novel known as ‘The Pen Pal.’ It takes place in West Virginia and Alaska, both places where Young has lived.

Her second mystery published shortly after is ‘The Final Secret,’ where in the novel the main character travels to Young’s hometown of Tyler County.

Young said while she plans to continue writing mystery books down the road, she said she was inspired to add some more traditional types of children’s books to her repertoire, as well.

“Of course, like I said I have a daughter, and I just wanted to make sure there were books out there that still told an important story, and has some kind of lesson that goes along with them,” she said.

Young went on to say that she believes some modern kid’s books seem to lack the impactful messages many may remember from their own childhoods.

“Whenever you look at books on the market, there are some that have that and then there are some that don’t, but I wanted to make sure I was able to put a little new twist on the stories,” said Young.

According to Young’s bio on her website, she won the Ann Kathyrn Flagg Artist Award in 2022, and was a finalist for best author in West Virginia. In addition, Young won second place in the Mid-Atlantic Author’s Society Competition in the Mystery Category.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Fayette case turned over to federal court

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Fayette County prosecutors say the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern West Virginia will prosecute a defendant in a drug and attempted murder case involving two police officers.

Keith Adams (WVRJA)

Prosecutors announced Friday they recently moved to have state charges dismissed against Keith D. Adams because the he faces more serious charges in federal court.

“It was determined that Adams was facing far more serious penalties for his alleged conduct under federal law versus state law,” a statement said. “Additionally, the evidence recovered at the scene was needed to prosecute Adams in both state court and federal court which made simultaneous prosecutions in state and federal court problematic. In light of the preceding, a decision was made to defer to our colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the prosecution of Adams and the charges in Fayette County were dismissed.”

Those state charges said Adams, 38, allegedly exposed two Oak Hill police officers to fentanyl with the intent to kill them. Prosecutors said both officers have fully recovered.

Adams was indicted on Sept. 7 by a federal grand jury on drug charges only not charges specifically tied to the attempt on the police officers. Fayette County prosecutors said Adams behavior will be considered at his sentencing if he is convicted.

“Adams’ alleged attempt to cause the officers to overdose will be considered by the Court at Adams’ sentencing in federal court should he be convicted and such conduct could result in an increase in the punishment imposed upon Adams under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines,” Friday’s news release said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit dies

CHARLESTON,W.Va. — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit has died.

Joanna Tabit

Tabit, 62, had been battling cancer for several months.

Former Charleston City Councilman Andy Richardson posted information about Tabit’s death on Facebook Friday afternoon.

“With the heaviest of hearts, I am sharing news to our state and through community Facebook of the peaceful passing this afternoon of Judge Joanna Tabit,” Richardson posted. “Family friends are heartbroken and devastated.”

Tabit was appointed to the bench by then Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in 2014 to replace the retired Judge Paul Zakaib. She was then elected to a full term in 2016. Tabit ran for state Supreme Court in both 2018 and 2020. She finished second both times in what were multi-candidate races.

Richardson said Tabit “never met a stranger, was devoted to her family and friends, and lived a passionate, fulfilling life.”

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Beth Walker called Tabit a “beloved West Virginian and member of our judicial family.”

“I always admired her commitment to her work, warm sense of humor, and generous spirit. She mentored so many younger lawyers — including me — and our hearts are heavy today. Judge Tabit and her family are in our prayers,” Walker said.

The Kanawha County Commission said Tabit “served as a mentor for countless young lawyers and professionals throughout her career.”

“Judge Tabit was an excellent member of her community. She was committed to public service,” the commission said in a Friday statement. “Her experience, integrity and character spoke for itself. She was a great leader and friend to many. She will be greatly missed.”

The commission had the state flag at the Kanawha County Courthouse lowered to half-staff Friday afternoon. Black drapes will also hang outside the Kanawha County Judicial Building.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

Senior Status Judge Jim Rowe has been hearing Tabit’s cases in Kanawha County Circuit Court by temporary assignment.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Rally to be held Sunday for the Save Coonskin Park movement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A local environmental protection group is continuing to take action against a proposed plan to cut into a large portion of Coonskin Park.

The grassroots movement to protect one of Charleston’s most popular and only green spaces, Save Coonskin Park, will be holding a rally at the park this Sunday, October 1 continuing their pushback for West Virginia International Yeager Airport’s prospective runway expansion project.

The group asserts the airport plans to cut and fill over 440 acres of land through the park to extend its runway, a project they say is identical to mountaintop removal coal mining projects. In addition, they claim another 375 acres of the park will be inaccessible to the public if the project goes through.

“This creates a whole lot of environmental issues that our group feels is worth bringing to the public’s attention,” Save Coonskin spokesperson Jeremy Severn told MetroNews.

He said the list of potential and detrimental issues the project’s impact would have on the environment is a long one, but one major concern is all of the dirt from the removal of the mountaintop that would be pumped into the valley where Coonskin Branch meets the Elk River. Severn said this could threaten the river as well as public drinking water.

“If this proposal would go through we would end up with a mountaintop removal site just upstream from the West Virginia American Water intake, and you’ve also got the possibility of runoff from the site, as well as the possibility of another collapse like there was a collapse on the other end on the Keystone side,” said Severn.

The rally will call on the Federal Aviation Administration, and local, state, and federal officials to get on board with helping to protect the park.

The Save Coonskin group has been busy for months now raising awareness of the issue and garnering support for the movement to protect the park, even reaching a total of 5,000 signatures back in early August on a community petition, and sending a letter out to the FAA and airport officials about their stance on the matter.

Now, Severn said the petition has over 11,000 signatures, and while the deadline for it is over he said people can still access it on the group’s website and add their signatures. He said they will continue to keep record of all of the signatures they receive, as they need all of the support for the movement they can get.

“Our goal has been making sure that the public is aware of the project number one, and then assuring that the project is not a done deal. there’s still a very long process ahead and there’s still a lot of things the airport and the FAA are going to continue to talk about,” he said.

Severn said the airport recently received more grant money to explore other alternatives for the project, which means there’s still hope for a compromise to be made, and there’s still time to save the park.

“The trucks are not here, there’s now dirt moving and we have a whole lot of time to make sure that we get our voices heard,” Severn said.

As part of the environmental study currently being conducted by the FAA and CRW to officially assess the potential impacts of the project, Severn said they will hold another open comment period in which the group plans to attend. He anticipates the comment period will take place sometime this winter.

Sunday’s rally will take place from noon until 5 p.m. at the park’s Gorman Shelter, one of the main target area’s for the proposed project.

Keynote speakers will address the issue and provide further information from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the main part of the rally. In addition, community art, activities and live music will be featured throughout the rest of the event.

Severn said he’s really looking forward to meeting everyone in support of the movement and hopes to see a good turnout, as he feels the rally will be truly impactful with allowing their voices to be heard on the matter.

“Standing at the Gorman Shelter, if this project were to go through, you would be buried under hundreds of feet of dirt and rubble, so to be able to stand there and explain that to people, it’s important,” said Severn.

The musical guests for the event will include The Independent State, Chet Lowther, and Mason Adkins.

The rally is open to all and no registration is required. Those attending are encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets, and picnic items. The event is expected to go on rain or shine.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

City heads to West Side for second “Here to Serve” meeting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The City of Charleston held its second “Here to Serve” meeting of the Fall on Thursday.

Representatives of every city department were present at Mary C. Snow Elementary School on the West Side.

The meetings are another opportunity for residents to speak with the departments, along with city councilmembers and mayor Amy Goodwin about issues, concerns or ideas that they have. The meetings were brought back by Mayor Goodwin again for this year for those who are unable to attend city council meetings.

Ward Four Council Member Larry Moore, a representative of the West Side was in attendance with many of his fellow council members. Moore said there are a lot of concerns in the West Side and it was good to see so many people show up to speak with him.

“Especially in my neighborhood and my ward, people have a lot of concerns,” Moore said. “It’s good for them to come and talk to us. I love it and hopefully they can come to another one.”

Moore said what he heard of the most from concerned residents was talks on dilapidated houses. Mayor Goodwin said a majority of the dilapidated houses in Charleston come from the West Side. Council member Moore said City Council is ready to address this issue.

“There’s a lot of vacancies and unsheltered people trying to get into these houses and sometimes cause fires,” said Moore.

Moore said he’s focused on trying to make the area “more vibrant” again.

The housing situations on the West Side are also an issue that was discussed by some residents who came to the meeting. One West Side resident said he’s noticed the vacant homes.

“There are a large number of properties that seem to be abandoned,” the man said. “I came to the meeting to see what the city and the departments had planned moving forward.”

The West Side man said he appreciates Mayor Goodwin for putting on these meetings and for the many different departments for showing up and assisting the people. The man said he’s lived in many other places before, but Charleston has done the best job at trying to address the problems that residents face and want solutions for.

“She seems to have no problem with giving attention and time to anybody,” the man said about Goodwin.

“Her office and departments have made themselves available and it’s very welcoming,” he said.

Here are the next three “Here to Serve” meetings:

Wednesday, October 11: Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist
108 Oakwood Rd, Charleston, WV

Tuesday, October 24: KCPL Main Library
Main 311C – TGKVF Mtg Rm
123 Capitol St, Charleston, WV

Wednesday, November 1: Roosevelt Neighborhood Center
502 Ruffner Ave, Charleston, WV

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Multiple indictments announced this week in Kanawha County cases

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. — A Kanawha County grand jury released multiple indictments this week, including some for notable cases.

Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Charles T. Miller announced Thursday that indictments were handed down to 21 defendants.

Among them was a woman who allegedly shot at another woman inside a Kroger in South Charleston.

Lydia Spencer, 33, of South Charleston, is accused of shooting, which happened on Mother’s Day. Spencer was indicted on charges of attempted murder, malicious wounding, wanton endangerment, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

An indictment was also announced for a Kanawha County man who allegedly assaulted a woman and then encouraged his two dogs to attack her.

Zachary Nathaniel Atkinson, 20, of Cabin Creek, was indicted on malicious wounding and battery charges.

Earlier this month, Atkinson allegedly followed a woman as she was walking away from him and heading to a residence in the Cabin Creek area. According to prosecutors involved in the case, the two had gotten into an altercation before the woman began walking away.

Deputies said a physical altercation ensued. The 24-year-old woman had fallen down and Atkinson is accused of getting on top of her and assaulting her. He then ordered his dogs, two pit bulls, to attack her.

A video of the incident was obtained by prosecutors and shown to the circuit judge during a preliminary hearing earlier this month.

In another high profile case, four people were indicted after allegedly breaking into a cabin before being detained with the help of an unknown masked man.

James Edward McDaniel, 50; Jason Aaron Becher, 39; and Elizabeth Littlejohn, 36, who are all from Charleston; and Timothy Wayne Justice, 57, of Milton, are facing charges of breaking and entering and petit larceny.

According to the Kanawha County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the unknown masked man, who was also allegedly armed, approached the group of four, ordered them to get out of a truck and off of an ATV, then tied their hands behind their backs before shooting out the tires of the vehicles. The person then left the scene and has never been identified.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

21-year-old Dunbar man gets federal probation for PPP defrauding scheme

DUNBAR, W.Va. — A Dunbar man is sentenced to two years in federal probation for defrauding the Paycheck Protection program (PPP).

Tamir Pratt, 21, received his sentence Thursday. He admitted to a scheme to defraud the PPP of $20,832 in COVID-19 relief loans in April 2021 for his purported business, “Tamir Pratt.” He must also pay $7,833.99 in restitution.

Pratt admitted that he falsely stated that the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 which was a requirement to qualify for a PPP loan. Pratt further admitted that he submitted a false IRS Form 1040, Schedule C, and claimed that the business earned approximately $100,000 in gross income in 2020.

According to court documents, Pratt’s loan application was submitted electronically in West Virginia, but uploaded to servers in Arizona for processing. He was approved for $20,832 which was electronically transferred to his personal bank account on April 26, 2021.

Pratt said he did not spend any of the fraudulent loan proceeds on business expenses, according to statements made in court. Pratt then admitted that the Small Business Administration (SBA) forgave his PPP loan on August 9, 2021. $15,748.57 of the $20,832 was recovered and returned to the SBA.

The restitution amount of $7,833.99 includes $250.56 in loan interest and a $2,500 PPP fee.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

CWA, Frontier agree to new union contract

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union in West Virginia and Ashburn, Va., announced that they have ratified a new union contract agreement with Frontier Communications.

The union contract is for four years and, according to the CWA, the new agreement, “achieves significant wage increases, preserves existing job security language, and maintains quality health and welfare benefits.”

Additionally, CWA said that Frontier is committed to creating more jobs and a long-term work at home agreement.

CWA issued the following statement Thursday:

“CWA members are proud to stand together today to ratify a union contract that is among the best in the telecommunications industry. Our members care deeply about providing quality service to the communities where they work and live. This contract ensures that we can continue delivering quality services to our communities and deliver new high-quality, union jobs to West Virginia and Ashburn, Va., to support working families. This contract is an investment in our members, our communities and the dignity of an honest day’s work.”

CWA and Frontier reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract on August 26. The contract covers around 1,400 CWA workers.

Union members ratified the agreement in a vote Thursday. The term of the agreement will remain in effect until August 7, 2027.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Secret Sandwich Society now officially re-opened in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The nearly three year wait for a newly rebuilt and beloved sandwich shop in Fayetteville is now over.

The new Secret Sandwich Society on 103 Keller Avenue has officially opened its doors, according to the restaurant’s website.

The restaurant, along with the popular upstairs music venue known as The Grove were destroyed in a November 2020 fire.

Fire marshals at the time believed the fire started in a utility room, damaging all three levels of the establishment as the blaze spread.

SSS owner Lewis Rhinehart announced his plans to rebuild the restaurant in 2021.

Now Secret fans can stop in once again for their favorite sandwiches everyday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV