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Marshall returns to indoor mask mandate after community spread listed in high category by CDC

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Masks are once again mandatory in campus buildings on the Marshall University campus in Huntington.

According to Marshall’s COVID-19 dashboard, the campus is returning to an indoor mask requirement because this week’s infection risk level from the Centers for Disease Control is high for Cabell County.

The dashboard message says, “Masks are required inside Marshall buildings on the Huntington campus.”

Masks remain optional in buildings on Marshall’s campus in South Charleston. The community level for the spread of COVID-19 in Kanawha County is currently considered medium.

Marshall announced on March 24 that effective immediately it would adapt its indoor masking guidelines to fit the CDC’s color-coded system “based on the level of community spread any given week.”

Marshall hasn’t required masks in buildings in Huntington since March.

The spring semester ended a few weeks ago at Marshall. The school’s dashboard reports one new student case of COVID-19 since May 14 and four cases since then among staff members.

Marshall says 82% of its students have been vaccinated and more than 87% of its employees.

West Virginia headed into the holiday weekend with nearly 2,400 active cases of COVID-19, according to the Friday release of the state Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 dashboard.

Overall cases were up slightly to 2,377. The DHHR confirmed 648 new cases and three additional deaths.

The deaths included a 69-year old female from Putnam County, a 62-year old male from Mason County, and an 84-year old male from Ohio County.

Cabell County was ‘green’ on the state COVID-19 daily alert map Friday.

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Pepperoni Roll Eating World Championship taking place Saturday night

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The ninth annual Three Rivers Festival Pepperoni Roll Eating World Championship will take place Saturday at Fairmont’s Palatine Park.

Contestants will have 10 minutes to eat as many pepperoni rolls as possible for the chance to win $5,000 in prizes.

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut set the festival record in 2019 when he ate 43 pepperoni rolls. He is not taking part in this year’s competition.

According to spokesman Sam Barclay, 46-year-old Geoffrey Esper of Oxford, Massachusetts, is representing Major League Eating at the event. Esper was the Hooters wing eating champion in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s got all the physical tools and the mental tools to dominate the competition,” Barclay said. “He’s the former pepperoni roll eating champion of the world.”

Barclay continued, “Eighty-three slices of pizza in ten minutes, 281 Hooters chicken wings in ten minutes, over nine pounds of spam in eight minutes. He’s a power eater, he’s a capacity eater, and [Esper] enters Saturday’s competition as a firm favorite.”

The eating competition will begin at 8 p.m.

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Colorado woman continues search for lost service dog

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Colorado woman is still searching for her service dog that she lost near Morgantown earlier this month.

The dog, named Heidi, is trained to help Bridget Spangler detect seizures and get her help if she becomes incapacitated.

Spangler said she was riding with her fiance on Route 43 in Pennsylvania near the Monongalia County line on May 21 when he suffered a medical emergency and crashed the vehicle. Heidi panicked and jumped out of the back window and ran toward the Pennsylvania line.

“Heidi looks like a small German Shepherd. She’s brown and black, she has a standard black saddle bag on her and she has white underneath,” Spangler said during a Friday appearance on WAJR’s ‘Talk of the Town.’ “At the time she got loose she was wearing a purple collar with white stitching and it has a Laramie County, Colorado rabies tag attached.”

Spangler said there were several sightings of Heidi on a Route 43 overpass the same day she went missing but the last sighting was last Tuesday, May 24.

Spangler said the sightings have been in a general area.

“The West Virginia-Pennsylvania border and going down into the vicinity of Seghi’s Five Lakes,” Spangler said. “That seems to be the circle where anybody has seen and reported her.”

Due to weather conditions, Spangler said the dog is likely seeking shelter. Heidi can be timid around strangers, but Spangler said the dog is not aggressive or mean.

“In the rain she’s bedding down, she doesn’t like the rain,” Spangler said. “So, people need to look in their barns, in garages and under porches she’s got to be there somewhere.”

Spangler asks anyone that finds a dog they think might be Heidi to take steps to verify who the owner of the dog is.

“Heidi is microchipped,” Spangler said. “If anybody sees a German Shepherd or a German Shepherd mix dog please go get it scanned.”

Spangler is staying in Morgantown at the Motel 6 while the search continues.

A GoFundMe account has been created to help Spangler defray costs.

If you have information or see the dog please contact Bridget Spangler at 719-640-2651 or [email protected] or Margaret at 724-562-5807.

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Morgantown man arrested on sex-related charges following months long investigation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Troopers have arrested a Morgantown man on various sex-related charges following an eight-month long investigation.

James Daniel Stieringer

State police tell MetroNews James Daniel Stieringer, 41, was taken into custody Friday at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Troopers allege he sexually assaulted and abused a stepchild and a niece over a several year period.

Stieringer is charged with 2nd Degree Sexual Assault, First Degree Sexual Abuse and two counts of sexual abuse by a parent or guardian.

Troopers said Stieringer fled to Pennsylvania to avoid arrest. U.S. Marshals found him in Carmichaels, Pa. earlier this week. He injured himself in a suicide attempt. He was treated at Ruby and released into the custody of troopers Friday.

Stieringer is lodged in the North Central Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing will now be scheduled.

Troopers from the state police’s Morgantown detachment have been investigating the case.

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Steelworkers respond as lockout continues at Monroe County plant

UNION, W.Va. — A labor dispute that has halted production at a Monroe County aerospace plant heads into its second week following the holiday weekend.

Members of United Steel Workers Local 1449 say they’ve been locked out by Collins Aerospace. Production at the Union-based plant stopped last Monday.

The union, which includes 250 members at Collins, released a statement Friday saying the workers were locked out after just two weeks of bargaining for a new contract.

“Collins Aerospace must be made accountable for its decision to hold our jobs, families and community hostage over issues that should be resolved through collective bargaining,” the union said. “Management needs to end this lockout immediately, return these workers to their jobs and resolve our differences at the table.”

Company officials released their own statement earlier this week saying they were disappointed union members failed to ratify “a fair contract offer that would recognize and reward our employees’ contributions while keeping us competitive.”

The company said its proposal increased pay, lowered health insurance premiums, provided bonus pay and additional sick leave.

“Collins has a structure in place to continue operations and we do not expect this to impact delivering on our commitments to our customers,” the statement said.

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Excitement aplenty for Robert C. Byrd baseball as Eagles soar into state tournament

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — When Tanner Hill began his journey as baseball coach at Robert C. Byrd in advance of the 2019 season, he was aware a multi-year project was in store.

“When I took over the program, we were the worst team in the Big 10 that year,” Hill recalled. “I was playing almost all freshmen and we had 12 guys on the roster.“

Hill had to wait an extra year for his second season of coaching when the 2020 campaign was wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eagles made major strides in 2021, finishing with a 19-11 record and displaying plenty of promise, before falling short in sectional play with consecutive losses to Philip Barbour and Lincoln.

“Last year, we had a good club and we peaked too early,” Hill said. “We peaked in April and we kind of fizzled out in the sectionals. This year, our goal was to be not so much the greatest team in April, but to be peaking exactly at playoff time in sectionals and regionals. It seems as if we’re hitting our stride just as planned.”

Indeed, the Eagles have peaked at the perfect time in 2022, and after recently securing the program’s first state tournament appearance, anticipation is building and excitement isn’t hard to find as Robert C. Byrd awaits discovering its opponent Thursday in a Class AA semifinal at Appalachian Power Park.

“There’s a lot of buzz,” Hill said. “With our team and the community, we’re getting a lot of support, calls and a lot of people talking.”

The Eagles locked up their first spot in a state tournament with a pair of impressive victories over Herbert Hoover last week in a Region II series. Following a 5-0 win in Clarksburg, RCB had its way to the tune of a 9-1 win in Clendenin to finish off the sweep.

“We played really good team defense and we hit the ball well. If we keep doing that, we’ll be really successful,” said senior Nathaniel Junkins, who belted three home runs over the two wins against the Huskies.

Until Bluefield and Shady Spring finish their Region II series with Saturday’s winner-take-all game, the Eagles won’t know their opponent in Charleston. It’s assured to be the winner of that game, defending state champion Logan or nearby rival Fairmont Senior.

Regardless of the opponent, Hill likes the challenges the Eagles (26-9) present.

RCB has scored at least 10 runs in 15 games and 14 victories, while allowing three or fewer runs in 14 games. Over three sectional victories against Elkins, Philip Barbour and Lincoln, the Eagles allowed six runs, then held the Huskies to one over two games.

“Offensively, we’re pretty well-rounded,” Hill said. “We’re one through nine, but we have power in the middle, speed and we bunt and hit-and-run. We do a lot of things and it’s tough to slow down. Our pitching has been there all year long, especially our three studs of Junkins, [Luke] Sperry and [Nick] George. The other guys have done a nice job, too, when called upon. I believe we are a complete team and we have a good shot at making a run.”

Junkins and Sperry are among two of the team’s five seniors that graduated Friday evening. Sperry tossed a shutout in the regional opener against the Huskies, while Junkins picked up the victory in the second game. Also included in the group of seniors are Waylon Dodd, Evan Warne and Tanner Cook, with the latter manning centerfield and serving as a key part of the team’s success.

Of all Cook does, his defense and base-running are among the most important aspects, with both being predicated off his surplus of speed.

Robert C. Byrd’s Tanner Cook fires a ball to the infield during a game against Bridgeport earlier this season. Photo by Ben Queen/www.BenQueenphotography.com

“We were coach Hill’s first class that’s actually been with him four years at RCB,” Cook said. “We’ve created a good bond with him and there’s a lot of chemistry on the team.

“It’s kind of surreal, because freshman year we were at the bottom of our section,” Cook continued. “Last year, we didn’t come out of our section. This year, we’re going to states. It’s a lot to bring in, but I feel like we’re all ready for it.”

After securing the state tournament spot with Wednesday’s win at Hoover, Hill gave the Eagles Thursday off and they conducted a light practice Friday. After discovering its semifinal opponent Saturday, RCB will ramp up preparation in advance of the contest, along with playing a tuneup Tuesday at Class A state tournament qualifier Williamstown.

The Eagles are also hoping to get closer to full strength after George, a key pitcher and heart of the order hitter, missed the regional with a pulled hamstring.

“We’re getting healthy, preparing ourselves and we’ll really get into it next week on Monday,” Hill said.

Part of the preparation will be trying to ready themselves for a stage the program has never performed at. Appalachian Power Park is not only far more spacious than the normal high school field, it will also feature an environment with more people watching than a typical game and likely more nerves for players and coaches alike than the typical contest.

“I expect a pretty big atmosphere,” Junkins said. “Having my teammates with me, we’ll be able to get through it.”

Cook, who has dreamed of playing on this stage, believes he and his teammates need to envision themselves making plays in warmups as they try to grow accustomed to lengthier dimensions and covering more ground.

“Coming out pregame, getting a feel for it and heading out to your position and taking a look. Imagining what happens when a ball comes to you and where you are,” Cook said.

While the Eagles’ focus is on advancing to championship Saturday, the team’s seniors are hoping to help the squad stay grounded while soaking in an entirely new experience.

“It means the world,” Cook said. “Baseball is everything. It’s amazing to finally have a season that goes into the summer.”

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Photo gallery: Logan rebounds to win Class AA Region IV title over Sissonville

LOGAN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Logan’s Class AA Region IV series victory over Sissonville. The Indians took Game 1, 3-2 on Tuesday. The Wildcats battled back to win Game 2, 10-2 and the series finale 4-1.

(Photo gallery courtesy of Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography)

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University High School commencement reset for Saturday because of weather

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The graduation ceremony for University High School seniors scheduled for Friday at the school’s football field has been postponed until Saturday at 5 p.m.

Eddie Campbell (File)

Monongalia County Schools superintendent Eddie Campbell told WAJR News continuing rain and a worsening forecast are the culprits.

“Thunderstorms coming in about 6 p.m. and the stadium will be full by then,” Campbell said. “We’re not going to get an opportunity to dry out.”

The MetroNews Accuweather forecast said the chance of rain Friday is 90-percent with a chance for an embedded thunderstorm. Forecasters expect a quarter inch of rain, more in thunderstorms.

Campbell and principal Kim Greene reviewed the conditions and considered everything from the possibility of slick surfaces to lightening when making the decision.

“We just elected that it was probably more prudent to postpone things until tomorrow at 5 p.m.,” Campbell said.

There is just a slight chance for rain Saturday.

“The weather looks really good for tomorrow,” Campbell said. “I think things are going to clear out overnight.”

Morgantown High’s Class of 2022 will graduate at 10 a.m .Saturday  at Pony Lewis Field.

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Photo gallery: Jefferson returns to state tournament with 3-0 win over Martinsburg

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Jefferson’s 3-0 win over Martinsburg in the decisive game of the Class AAA Region II series. The Cougars earned the No. 1 seed in the Class AAA state tournament and they will face No. 4 George Washington Friday, June 3 at 5 p.m.

(Photo gallery courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)

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Yeager sees spike in travel, 75th anniversary events kick off this Memorial Day weekend

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — First time flyer Gianni Shortt, of St. Albans, says he’s heading to Florida to be with his family this Memorial Day weekend.

“This is my first time flying. My dad has flown before and my brother and sister have, but I have never flown,” he said.

Shortt, 14, told MetroNews it hasn’t been an easy journey so far. He and his dad were scheduled to catch a flight out of West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) to Washington Dullus International Airport Friday morning, but they were by about six hours.

“My dad got me a window seat. I was excited, but we got delayed a lot,” Shortt said.

More than 700 flyers passed through the TSA checkpoint Thursday, the busiest travel day of the week, according to airport spokesperson Rachel Urbanski.

The start of the holiday weekend comes as the same time the airport kicks off events to celebrated their 75th anniversary of commercial flights.

“We have historical aircraft. It’ll be a B-17 Yankee Lady coming in today and tomorrow. We also have some other dates schedule in June, July, August and October,” she said.

Many flyers were delayed Friday due to storms in the Washington, D.C. area where most had connecting flights. William Bailey is originally from Poca and said he was trying to get to his new home in Maine.

“Found out they got tornado warnings there,” Bailey said. “All D.C. flights are canceled for the best because of safety and so now I’m trying to find a flight to get back to Maine.”

Travel is expected to be busy throughout the weekend with a lot of return flights on Monday.

Urbanski said a lot of people depend on the airport to get to where they need to be. Over the years, they’ve opened a U.S. Customs facility to increase international travel.

“We’ve become more attractive to international business and helping with that local economic impact as well,” Urbanski said.

She also noted a lot has changed in the last 75 years, including a name change and full re-brand.

“We’re really proud just how far we’ve come, but we’re really proud that we’ve maintained our roots while also being steadfast in our journey for the future of aviation,” she said.

The airport has several planned events to mark the milestone anniversary, including hosting a Business After Hours in the Bill Noe Flight School’s hangar in June. There will be historic aircraft visits at the outdoor viewing area or playground located off Eagle Mountain Road.

Below are the list of events planned this year:

• May 28 – 29 Memorial Day Weekend: B-17 Yankee Lady
• June 18-19: C-47 Hairless Joe
• July 2-4: DC-3 Flagship Detroit
• July 2: Marshall’s Bill Noe Flight school open house
• August 13-14: B-25 Rosie’s Ripley
• October 25-30: CAF Red Tail Exhibit

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