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Eligible students can receive financial assistance through new program at West Virginia State

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — West Virginia State University (WVSU) has introduced a new tuition assistance program.

Incoming freshman or transfer students who are also West Virginia residents will have the opportunity to apply for the “Free for Eight” program starting in the Fall 2024 semester. The program will make the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree free for those who meet the requirements.

“We understand that cost is a considerable factor when deciding whether to pursue a college degree,” said WVSU President Ericke S. Cage. “Through the Free for Eight program, we want to remove the financial barrier that students face and make a world class education at West Virginia State University affordable and accessible.”

The program will cover up to the total cost of tuition, mandatory fees and approved academic program fees that are not covered by other federal, state, institutional, or outside resources.

For first-time, first-year students, “Free for Eight” is renewable for four consecutive years (eight semesters). The program is available for two consecutive years (four semesters) for transfer students.

The eligibility requirements are:

· Undergraduate, degree-seeking student

· Working toward a first bachelor’s degree

· West Virginia resident

· FAFSA completed by the published West Virginia deadline

· Federal Pell Grant and West Virginia Grant or Scholarship eligible

· Enrolled full time (12 or more credit hours) in WVSU courses

· Complete a “Free for Eight” Application

The deadline to apply is June 30, 2024. Eligible students who submit all requirements by the deadline will be awarded while funding remains available.

More information can be found online at www.wvstateu.edu/freeforeight or by contacting the WVSU Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at (304) 204-4369 or [email protected].

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

First of five USA Cycling events held in Charleston was a success

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston officials say it was a successful first ride for the around 500 cyclists that took the city by storm over the course of last week.

The USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships wrapped up Sunday for its inaugural year of a five-year stint in the Capital City.

Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Tim Brady told MetroNews that the six-day event, which was held May 14-19 brought in hundreds of athletes and fans from around the country, a projected hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic impact, and two winning cyclists who are now bound for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.

Brady said eight months of planning and logistics went into hosting the event and the success it brought is only encouragement for next year.

Tim Brady

“You saw tons of community enthusiasm, you saw people really embracing this event, which is great for us because we have it for five years and I think as we look forward to year two, all of this enthusiasm from the community now we have a year to build it and grow it and make it even bigger and better next year.”

Brady said with the chance for some small modifications here and there, ultimately all of the race routes should remain the same for next year, which inluded the focal point being the Kanawha Boulevard, the downtown area, as well as the last two of days of the event being from the Bridge Road area to Greenbrier Street and Oakridge Drive areas.

He said while the road closures had been a main concern for many residents leading up to the event, they found with clear communication and direction, they were not problematic.

“It took a lot of effort by a lot of people but we made it work and I think that people now understand that yes, there’s a lot of street closure when this race is taking place, however, the majority of the time it’s a rolling closure and you can still get to and from just about anywhere in Charleston,” he said.

Brady said while it will still take a couple more weeks to figure up the numbers the race brought in, he said the economic impact it had on the city should be significant.

He said they look into a lot of different data when calculating it including cell phone data and zip codes from credit card transactions, which gives them information on exactly where everyone was coming in from.

He said but by the way the event looked, it had quite the impact.

“Hotels were full, restaurants were running out of food, we estimate a significant economic impact, I’m hesitant to put a number on it until we get all of the data, but you know, you saw big crowds, you saw a lot of people in from out of town,” Brady said.

He said this event was successful due to a collaborative effort from the city and all of its departments, along with Charleston Area Medical Center who covered all of the medical needs of the athletes.

Brady said however, they were a little light on the number of volunteers for the event, and he said next year they hope to be able to recruit more.

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

West Virginia Department of Education launches new online resource to assist students in mental health needs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education is leading the way in bringing more mental health assistance to students and their families.

The WVDE announced the launch of its new resource, ParentGuidence.org as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a 24/7 online platform that assists families, educators, and caregivers with mental health wellness and self-care.

WVDE Federal Programs and Support Assistant Superintendent Melanie Purkey said West Virginia is the first to offer the tool statewide which is designed to enhance school communities and human connections.

She said one aspect when looking at students’ mental health the department noticed was the vital role parents, families, and caregivers play in helping support their childs’ mental health. Purkey said this resource will give caregivers the tools they need to fully help their children.

“As much as we try to do for students at school, they are at home two-thirds of the day, and so we wanted to provide a resource for their caregivers that would help them in being able to help students in mental health issues,” Purkey said.

The online resource was provided to WVDE through a three-year contract with the national nonprofit The Cook Center for Human Connection.

Purkey said a grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) called an Aware grant also helped get the resource off the ground in the state when it was being utilized by six counties. She said after it was found to be successful in those counties, they decided to take the platform statewide.

ParentGuidence.org will provide free access to a variety of tools including:

. Regular one-on-one parent coaching with cognitive behavioral health coaches

. On-demand parenting sessions taught by licensed therapists

. “Ask a Therapist,” a frequently updated question-and-answer forum

Over 6,000 schools use the platform across the country, offering more than 3.3 million families in 46 states access to the services.

Purkey said it will be a tool educators in the counties can use as well.

“We see this as a tool that we can use to help not only parents and family members but also teachers,” she said.

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency regarding the shape of children’s’ mental health in the country. 

They noted that child and adolescent healthcare providers are quote, “caring for young people with soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, and their communities.”

Purkey said West Virginia is certainly not immune to these mental health issues within young people.

She said while the WVDE has been working with school-based mental health for years, they had never seen quite a negative impact a universal circumstance had on students until the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Following the lockdowns that were enforced for two years amid the pandemic, Purkey said students had much more anxiety when they returned to in-person learning, and she said these mental health issues have opened up the door to other problems as well.

“We get a lot of issues with attendance, and parents will say, ‘well, my student says they have anxiety about coming to school and I don’t know how to deal with my student and make them get up and come to school,” she said.

And like the rest of the country, Purkey said the state also faces a shortage of traditional mental health services.

“In West Virginia we have a shortage of mental health providers,” she said. “Many times if you try to get a child in to seek a counselor or to receive mental health services the wait can be months.”

According to the WVDE, over 700,000 people in the state live in communities that do not have enough mental health professionals.

The online resource is expected to reach the states’ underserved communities and will provide a direct line of mental health support, regardless of their financial means.

Purkey said she thinks the resource will be very well-received and impactful for parents and caregivers in addressing and assisting their children’s’ mental health.

“These coaches can help with any kind of situation, if you have issues with small children, teenagers, I think regardless of what kind of relationship you have with a child, as long as you’re some kind of caregiver or family member and you want to help that child, you can participate in the coaching process,” said Purkey.

In addition, counties may customize professional development sessions with The Cook Center to meet individual needs, as well as access nationally recognized programs that feature help with bullying, isolation, and absenteeism at reduced costs.

You can learn more wvde.us or ParentGuidance.org.

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

Kanawha County to beef up security at Shawnee Sports Complex following nearby shooting

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission will be reviewing safety protocols in the event of an active shooter situation following Sunday’s shooting near the Shawnee Sports Complex.

Ben Salango

Commissioner Ben Salango said he wants to beef up security with new emergency lock gates at the complex after the shooting at an apartment complex on Smoot Avenue sent athletes, coaches and families into a panic.

“We need to install more of those emergency gates along the back of the park, even over on the grass side towards the railroad tracks and toward the back of West Virginia State to have some additional emergency exits,” Salango said on Tuesday “580 Live” with Dave Allen heard on 580-WCHS.

Hundreds of families were on hand watching children participate in the West Virginia Soccer Association’s Open Cup event at the complex Sunday when shots rang out two blocks away, but nobody knew where the shots were coming from at the time. No body was hurt.

“The shots were loud,” Salango said. “The people on the baseball side thought there was an active shooter. It wasn’t on the complex, but they heard it and it was incredibly loud.”

The commission released a statement Monday and said while they cannot comment on the ongoing investigation, they will be holding a debrief with emergency management and law enforcement officials to improve security at Shawnee.

“Upon review of the incident so far, 2 of the 26 gates at the facility were locked for security reasons. We will be reviewing this process and coming up with a solution to better protect participants, including reviewing whether a new gate system is necessary,” the statement read.

Salango commended county officials for their quick response.

“Our staff did everything that they could possibly do directing people out, but there’s room for improvement,” he said. “We’re going to make those necessary changes. I want this facility to be safe and I want everybody to feel safe.”

Active shooter drills are held every six months at Shawnee, Salango said.

Three men were arrested shortly after the shooting Sunday, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. Antonio Jacobs III, 18, of St. Albans, Kaden Bowman, 24, of Dunbar, and Zion Clark, 23, of Dunbar, were each charged with wanton endangerment. Clark was also arrested on an outstanding and unrelated burglary warrant.

All three men are being held at the South Central Regional Jail.

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

Water rescue made for two teens along Kanawha River near Malden

Two teenage girls were successfully rescued along the Kanawha River near Malden Monday.

According to the Charleston Fire Department, the two girls lost control of their raft and were hanging onto a barge until a rescue team got to them.

First responders brought the two safely to shore. They were then taken to a local hospital to be evaluated.

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

Plans for new Fire Headquarters move forward at Charleston City Council

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Council approved three different resolutions Monday night that will affect the city’s fire department including the creation of a new headquarters.

First, council members passed a resolution that allows the city to purchase property that’s adjacent to Fire Station 1 in the 1300 block of Lee Street. The costs of purchasing the property is $295,000 with up to $15,000 in closing costs.

“The city is evaluating and looking into building a new administrative, training and wellness center headquarters for the Charleston Fire Department,” council member Joseph Jenkins said at the meeting Monday.

The next resolution says the City will enter into a contract with KZF Design, Inc for the design and construction of the new fire headquarters. This was something mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin had previously called for in her state of the city address earlier this year.

“Our Fire Department stands ready 24/7 making it critical we provide a space where our fire and EMS workers can get a good night’s rest and a good meal, and a place where they can learn and grow as first responders while also being able to work on their physical and personal health,” said Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin. “I’m thrilled we can get these critical projects underway for the men and women who always put our community first—and not just during emergencies and times of need.”

The third resolution authorizes the City to enter into a contract with The Thrasher Group, Inc. for phase one of renovating the city’s eight fire stations.

“Having spent countless hours in our fire stations – both as a firefighter and as a former Fire Chief – I know, firsthand, how much these station renovations and a Fire Headquarters are needed,” said Council Member Chuck Overstreet. “Not only will these projects provide better accommodations for our firefighters, but they will also enhance our ability to serve our Charleston community.”

Council member Joe Solomon said all three resolutions are great steps taken by the city to help the Charleston Fire Department for the future.

“It’s good news, the investments that we are making into Charleston Fire,” he said.

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

Stretch of I-64 East to be closed this week for paving operations

NITRO, W.Va. — Officials with the West Virginia Department of Transportation say there will be temporary lane closures on Interstate 64 East near the US 35 exit this week for paving work.

The paving will take place between mile markers 39 and 42 starting Monday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until Friday, May 24.

On Tuesday, traffic is expected to be shifted onto newly paved lanes on I-64 East between mile markers 40 and 41.5. Stop signs will be put in place to control the traffic on the I-64 eastbound on ramps at the US 35 interchange.

The paving is related to the approximately $225 million project to widen I-64 between Nitro and US 35. The work is part of Gov. Jim Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity highway program.

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

Kanawha County Commission soon to hire new member to fill vacant seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s boots on the ground now for the Kanawha County Commission as they discuss who will temporarily fill the recently vacant seat on the commission.

The now just two commissioners, Lance Wheeler and Ben Salango opened up discussions Monday regarding the timeline and procedure for filling the vacancy left behind by longtime and now retired commissioner Kent Carper following previous battle with health issues and an investigation into alleged misconduct.

They met at the Voter’s Registration Office in Charleston for a special meeting regarding the matter after taking all morning to canvass votes from last Tuesday’s May Primary Election.

After the seat became officially vacant on May 12, the commissioners have until this Friday, May 24 to look over resumes of qualified candidates and make their selection.

Lance Wheeler

Commission President Wheeler said during the meeting that the process of hiring someone to fill the role until November’s General Election will be handled as fairly and efficiently as possible. He said the candidate will officially be appointed during another special meeting on Thursday, May 30.

“We are going to make sure we do this as transparent as possible, and we’ll make sure on the 30th for the county commission meeting that candidates will have received a notice, and it will be on a public agenda in front of everyone who wants to be here,” said Wheeler.

Also during Monday’s meeting, commissioners made the decision to rescind a portion of Order 2013-309 pertaining to the hiring process of a new commissioner.

Specially, they made the motion to do away with the public interview process of that order. Commissioner Salango said he had to go through it in 2017 and it came down to him and a group of others in the same room being grilled on questions, and he said it hardly seemed a fair or efficient process.

“It’s just unnecessary, I’m not aware of any other government that would do that kind of process, so certainly it’s my recommendation that we rescind that portion of 2013-309,” Salango said.

Wheeler said he agreed that the process wasn’t being conducted in an efficient way and he believes it will go a lot smoother without that portion.

“I watched that at the time actually and that was very daunting for the people that came out and spoke,” he said. “I think this is something that we can come together, figure out someone for the next seven months, and get somebody who is big in the community and is able to work hard.”

The vacancy is currently being advertised on Kanawha County’s website and through a legal ad.

Ben Salango

They are encouraging qualified candidates to send in their resumes and cover letters to County Manager Jennifer Herrald at [email protected]. She will then forward all cover letters/ resumes over to the commissioners for review.

Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant who won the Democratic nomination for Kanawha County Commission during the Primary Election, or Republican nominee winner and former state senator Chris Walters will be running against each other this November during the General Election for the commission seat.

After canvassing votes all Monday morning for the overall election, the commissioners say they are just waiting on a few more hand counts until the election can be certified on May 30. They had 48 hours from the point of Monday’s meeting to canvass all of the votes, but Salango said they could make adjustments if need be.

“If we needed to, like for any local elections, we could certify before then and just wait for the final county to turn in their votes,” he said.

Those who want to apply for the vacant spot on the commission must turn in their resumes and cover letters by Friday at 5 p.m.

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

Boone County grandparents charged in death of teen found in ‘skeletal state’

MADISON, W.Va. — Boone County sheriff’s deputies have charged the grandparents of a 14-year-old girl who was found in a “skeletal state” last month.

Jerry Stone (WVRJA)

Jerry Stone, 75, and Donna Stone, 76, were taken into custody Monday morning and charged with child neglect causing death.

The teenage girl’s mother Julie Miller, 49, of Morrisvale, faces the same charge. She waived her preliminary hearing on April 29. Her case will now head to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Kyneddi Miller was found unconscious on the bathroom floor of her Morrisvale home on April 17. Investigators described the girl’s body as “emaciated to a skeletal state.”

The girl lived at the home with her mother and her grandparents.

Donna Stone (WCHS-TV)

According to a criminal complaint, the Stones failed to “exercise a minimum degree of care” to assure the 14-year-old’s safety.

The grandmother told deputies that the girl had not attended school since late 2019 or early 2020 and had only been outside the house possibly two times in the last four years.

Julie Miller (WVRJA)

The complaint also went on to say the girl had an eating disorder for several years and that the grandmother told deputies the girl had not been able to function on her own for four to five days due to her physical state.

Julie Miller is being held on a $250,000 bond. The Stones’ bonds were set at $25,000. All three are housed at the Southwestern Regional Jail.

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

New furniture for Clendenin Elementary comes from Charleston business

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A local business will be supplying the new furniture heading to the new Clendenin Elementary.

The Kanawha County Board of Education voted to enter into a contract with Capitol Business Interiors in Charleston in the amount of $727,192.63 for the furniture. The vote was 5-0.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams said during their board meeting last week that the funding is from FEMA money.

“This is coming out of the FEMA money that pays for the construction for the new Clendenin,” he said.

Kanawha County Facilities Planning Executive Director Andrew Crawford said the furniture will come straight from Capitol Business Interiors and be ready for use at school when it gets there.

“We wanted to ensure that we could put this directly into the classrooms as it arrives,” said Crawford.

The new Clendenin Elementary School is still currently under construction but is expected to have students there by the Fall.

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