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Toyota celebrates 25 years in West Virginia

BUFFALO, W.Va. — One of West Virginia’s largest private manufacturing facilities celebrated a major milestone over the weekend. Saturday marked 25 years since the Toyota plant opened in Buffalo, West Virginia.

Srini Matam (Photo/Toyota WV)

Initially the plant made only four cylinder engines, but over time grew in capacity to produce four and six cylinder engines as well as automatic transmissions and now hybrid trans-axles. The plant has expanded multiple times and now employs more than 2,000 people.

“Probably, they did guess the expansion would come, but as we continued to excel in key performance indicators a lot of people at the headquarters in Japan and in North America recognized the value of the company here in Buffalo, West Virginia and we continued to expand,” said Sirini Matam, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia.

Matam credited the success of the plant to a solid workforce.

“Our team members come to work every, single day and work hard. Not only do they work hard, but they bring intelligence and ingenuity to work with them,” he explained.

The Toyota Manufacturing Plant in Buffalo in Putnam County is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Srini Matam, president of the plant, explains the history of the plant, and its successful run to @HoppyKercheval. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 24, 2021

Matam said the turnover rate among full time company employees is extremely low in Buffalo.  Turnover in temporary workers is slightly higher, but even it is not very large when compared to other places struggling to find a qualified workforce.

The Toyota operation in Buffalo provides components used assembly of Lexus, Sienna, Highlander, Camry and several other Toyota models. The wide array of products makes the plant vital in the supply chain for the entire Toyota family.

“We’re pretty much integrated with the whole Toyota vehicle lineup,” Matam said.

As part of their 25th Anniversary Toyota has made a $189,000 dollar contribution to West Virginia Tech for the formation of an after school computer science program aimed at getting more girls into the STEM fields. It’s one of the many contributions the company has made to the community since becoming established a quarter century ago in Putnam County.

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Trial for Morgan County man charged in teenager’s death set to start Monday

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — Testimony is scheduled to begin Monday in a high-profile murder trial in Morgan County.

A jury has already been chosen to hear the murder case of Andy McCauley.

Andy McCauley

McCauley, 43, of Berkeley Springs, allegedly killed 15-year-old Riley Crossman in May 2019. Crossman was the daughter of McCauley’s then-girlfriend.

Crossman was reported missing on May 8, 2019, by her family after they received a notification from Berkeley Springs High School that she was marked absent.

A community search, consisting of law enforcement, community leaders and residents, lasted nearly a week.

Crossman’s body was found on May 16, 2019, by law enforcement over an embankment on Tuscarora Pike in Berkeley County, west of Martinsburg. McCauley was charged later that day with first-degree murder, concealment of a body and death of a child by child abuse.

Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said it’s been a long process to get to the point of trial.

Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer

“There’s been a lot of hard work by several different agencies,” Bohrer told the Panhandle News Network.

He said a homicide is the most egregious crime that police see but when it involves a young person it’s even more important to seek justice.

“We have to make sure we do our thing and the justice system protects the rights of the accused. We hope and pray for justice,” Bohrer said.

Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney Dan James said jurors may hear from as many as 40 witnesses for the state during the trial in Berkeley Springs . He anticipates testimony will last at least a week.

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Marshall, Kentucky battle to scoreless draw in top 10 showdown

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Goalkeepers Jan Hoffelner for No. 10 Kentucky and Oliver Semmle for No. 5 Marshall proved to be difficult to beat Saturday night.

Semmle stopped five shots, perhaps his biggest coming late in the first overtime, and Hoffelner stopped the only shot he saw in the closing seconds of that overtime, and thus the Thundering Herd and Wildcats settled for a 0-0 draw in front of 1,728 fans at Hoops Family Field.

The Thundering Herd moves to 4-1-3 overall and 0-0-2 in Conference USA play. The Wildcats are now 5-0-2 overall and 0-0-2 in league play.

“Kentucky did a very good job defensively with five across the back,” Herd coach Chris Grassie said. “I think Kentucky’s job tonight was to set up shop and park the bus and then try and to create some chances off our mistakes. It was a strong performance from us tonight as we maintained the ball most of the game but we just didn’t get the shots to show for it.

“Oliver (Semmle) was exceptional. A-plus performance from him tonight. He did a good job coming out and making the saves. He doesn’t have to make many saves but obviously some very important ones tonight. But his overall performance, his kicking, his composure, his vision for the game was very very good tonight. Definitely a man-of-the-match performance from him.”

The match proved physical from the outset. There was some pushing and shoving between the players with 6:30 left in the first overtime. In the end, there were 32 fouls and four yellow cards.

In the 93rd minute, Semmle made his fifth save with All-Conference USA selection Eythor Bjorgolfsson staring him down. Semmle made the stop while just a few yards in front of Bjorgolfsson and knocked the ball out bounds.

The Herd got its first shot on goal in the 100th minute as senior Vitor Dias had a header with seven seconds left and Hoffelner made the stop. He has allowed just one goal this season posted shutouts five times.

Marshall went on the attack in the second overtime and had a great opportunity in the 103rd minute. Ibrahima Diop received a pass in the middle of the 18-yard box and then just missed wide left of the goal. This was the first match the Herd failed to score.

This was the 44th meeting between the two teams, the longest running in Herd program history. Kentucky has the lead 21-19-4. The Herd had won the three previous meetings.

Grassie now has to wait until Wednesday to get his next shot at career-win No. 50. The faces Butler at home at 7 p.m. Grassie is 49-25-12 at Marshall and includes the national title Marshall won in May.

“Every game provides you a new opportunity,” Grassie said. “We kept trying to make a play.”

This was the Herd’s seventh match this season against a ranked opponent or one receiving votes at kickoff.

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WVU squanders opportunity, falls to No. 4 Oklahoma 16-13

West Virginia let a golden opportunity slip away Saturday night.

Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic made a 28-yard field goal on the game’s final play, giving the Sooners their first lead and a 16-13 victory over the Mountaineers at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

“I hurt in the pit of my stomach for our players,” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “I hurt because we had a plan and fought against a team that year in and year out is at the top of the recruiting rankings, and year in and year out is in the top 5 or 10 in the country. They’ve been dominant in our league and dominant at home for the most part, especially since Lincoln [Riley] has been the head coach.

“We had an opportunity to win and we just didn’t. That’s hard when you invest like we have and we had a great week and great prep.”

West Virginia (2-2, 0-1) was exceptional defensively throughout the game, but scored its only touchdown on the opening drive.

On their only fourth-quarter series, the Mountaineers got to the Oklahoma 28-yard line and put themselves in position to break a 13-all tie. An illegal snap infraction moved WVU back, and the next play proved disastrous when it appeared Jarret Doege wasn’t ready for Zach Frazier’s shotgun snap, with the Mountaineer quarterback being forced to fall on the ball for a loss of 21 yards.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Brown said. “We hadn’t had a bad snap up until that point. I’m sure the noise was a factor. I’m not sure whether they said something or not; that happens. That was uncharacteristic and even with that, we still had chances.”

Two plays later, Tyler Sumpter punted for the fifth time, and the Sooners (4-0, 1-0) never allowed WVU to get the ball back.

Despite being held to its lowest scoring output since the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl, Oklahoma delivered when it mattered most. A 14 play, 80-yard drive put Brkic in position to win the game with his third field goal.

The Sooners faced only one third down on the series, and although Akheem Mesidor was flagged for a facemask, OU was already in position for Brkic’s kick to be the last play.

“They executed in critical situations at the end of the game better than we did,” Brown said. “But they didn’t play any harder or more physical than we did.”

WVU’s only points of the second half came on Casey Legg’s 21-yard field goal that broke a 10-all tie with 5:21 to play in the third quarter. The Mountaineers were in prime position to score their first second-half touchdown this season against a FBS opponent, but Parker Moorer was whistled for a false start on second-and-goal from the OU 1.

“We had a penalty on second-and-goal at the 1 and we were going to walk in,” Brown said. “That hurts.”

Two plays later, Doege couldn’t connect with Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who was open in the end zone on third down.

“We’re going to go watch it on film tomorrow and Monday, and just go back to the lab and keep working,” Ford-Wheaton said. “We have to not shoot ourselves in the foot and capitalize on every opportunity we get.”

On Oklahoma’s ensuing series, Kennedy Brooks was stopped short on fourth-and-1 from the WVU 49.

But just as WVU regained possession, Doege was immediately called for intentional grounding, which led to a three-and-out.

The Sooners got even at 13 on Brkic’s 35-yard field goal with 8:52 left after being forced back on a holding penalty and Dante Stills’ sack when they reached the red zone.

A 17 play, 75-yard drive to start the contest was finished off by Garrett Greene’s 2-yard touchdown run and allowed WVU to take a 7-0 lead and use 9:07 of the first-quarter clock.

“We had a good game plan going in,” Ford-Wheaton said.

The Sooners covered 52 yards on their opening series and produced their lone touchdown on Spencer Rattler’s 4-yard pass to Austin Stogner.

The teams swapped second-quarter interceptions, as Doege was picked off by Delarrin Turner-Yell, before Jackie Matthews snatched a Rattler pass for WVU’s first interception of the season.

Legg’s 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half allowed WVU to lead 10-7 at the break.

Doege completed 20-of-29 passes for 160 yards, while Greene was 3-of-4 for 19 yards.

“I know everybody wants to talk about quarterbacks and I get it,” Brown said. “We’d like to score more points. That bunch is pretty good. They’re playing as good defensively as anybody right now.”

Ford-Wheaton led all receivers with eight catches for 93 yards and Winston Wright added seven grabs for 65 yards in defeat.

Leddie Brown was limited to 56 yards on 15 carries and the Mountaineers had 226 total yards and 3.6 yards per play.

Rattler completed 26-of-36 passes for 256 yards. Mike Woods was his favorite target and hauled in eight passes for 86 yards.

On 28 rushing attempts, Oklahoma gained only 57 yards.

“Our defensive staff and defensive players played their tail off,” Brown said. “We felt good about it coming in. I told our players as you look through this conference since we joined it in 2012, Oklahoma has been the team to beat. We’ve tried outscoring them and that doesn’t work. So when we got here and started putting a foundation on how we want to build this thing to give us an opportunity to win our league, we felt like we had to play great defense.

“If you go back to when we got beat by Texas Tech in 2019, since then we’ve played great defense minus a game or two.”

WVU, which has now lost six straight road contests, welcomes Texas Tech at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for its Big 12 home opener.

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Postgame video recaps: No. 4 Oklahoma 16, West Virginia 13

NORMAN, W.Va. — Game highlights from Oklahoma’s 16-13 win over West Virginia.

Postgame ‘Round of Sound’
Neal Brown postgame press conference

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School excess levy renewed in Monongalia County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Voters renewed the Monongalia County school system’s 5-year excess levy in Saturday’s election.

Unofficial results show 3,956 votes in favor of the levy and 888 against.

Voter turnout was just 8.1%.

Monongalia County has had additional funding for its school system through an excess levy since 1973. The renewed levy will generate about $30 million in annual tax revenue.

There are no tax increases in connection with the renewal.

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Charleston police investigate stabbing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A woman was injured after being stabbed in Charleston Saturday night.

It happened on Central Avenue on the city’s West Side at around 10:15 p.m.

Police said the victim was in critical condition.

There was no immediate word about a possible suspect.

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Follow along: Mountaineers fall short against Oklahoma, 16-13

10:56 p.m. — Brkic makes a 28-yard field goal on the game’s final play to give Oklahoma its first lead of the game and a win in the Big 12 opener. FINAL: OKLAHOMA 16, West Virginia 13.

Mountaineers have now lost six straight road games dating back to the start of the 2020 season. WVU remains without a second-half touchdown this season against three Power 5 opponents and has managed nine points over those 12 quarters.

10:48 p.m. — Oklahoma has picked up four first downs and moved to the WVU 30 on what could be the game’s decisive drive. The Mountaineers just called their first timeout with 1:01 left and OU facing second-and-6 from the WVU 30.

10:36 p.m. — The Mountaineers were in position to take a late lead, but a false start penalty was followed by a shotgun snap that Doege wasn’t ready to handle, resulting in a 21-yard loss that moved the ball from the Oklahoma 33 to WVU’s 46. Sumpter punts 46 yards and the Sooners start on their 7 with 3:39 left.

10:25 p.m. — Brkic makes a 35-yard field goal to tie the game at 13. Oklahoma moved itself out of the red zone with a Marquis Hayes holding penalty, and Dante Stills’ sack of Rattler put the Sooners in long distance situations on second and third down, before the tying kick. Now would be a good time for the Mountaineers’ first second-half touchdown this season, excluding the Week 2 win over Long Island. WEST VIRGINIA 13, OKLAHOMA 13, 8:52 4th qtr

10:08 p.m. — The third quarter ends with West Virginia leading 13-10, and Oklahoma in possession with first-and-10 at its 45.

10:02 p.m. — WVU goes three-and-out and Sumpter’s punt goes into the end zone for a touchback.

9:57 p.m. — Kennedy Brooks is stopped on fourth-and-1 at midfield and WVU takes over there. Mesidor blew up the fourth-down try and continues his strong play up front. However, Doege is flagged for intentional grounding on the first play of the ensuing series. Mountaineers still lead by three late in the third quarter.

9:50 p.m. — WVU regains the lead on Legg’s 21-yard field goal, but it’s a win for the Sooners’ defense. The Mountaineers had second-and-goal on the 1, before a false start on Parker Moorer moved them back. On third-and-goal from the 4, Doege couldn’t connect with an open Ford-Wheaton in the end zone. The Mountaineers had several creative play calls on the drive, which went 68 yards in 11 plays. WEST VIRGINIA 13, Oklahoma 10, 5:21 3rd qtr

9:33 p.m. — The Mountaineers continue their strong defensive play in the red zone and hold the Sooners to a field goal after they had first-and-goal at the 6. OU kicker Gabe Brkic knocks it through from 28 yards to tie the game at 10. Rattler’s 35-yard pass to Mike Wright was the key play of the 64-yard drive. WEST VIRGINIA 10, OKLAHOMA 10, 11:26 3rd qtr

9:15 p.m. — West Virginia with 43 first-half plays to Oklahoma’s 21. The Mountaineers averaged only 3.8 yards per play, but held the Sooners to 91 total yards. Neither team had much success rushing, with WVU’s 18 attempts netting 53 yards, and OU gaining 18 yards on 10 runs. WVU converted 4-of-11 third downs, while OU was 1-of-5.

30 more minutes (or however long it takes)

Who you with, #MountaineerNation?#TrustTheClimb

— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) September 26, 2021

9:05 p.m. — Casey Legg makes a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half to send West Virginia into the break with a 10-7 lead over Oklahoma. Legg is now 5-for-5 on field goals this season. On the Sooners’ final possession of the half, Taijh Alston sacked Rattler on third down, helping the Mountaineers start at the OU 49. Doege gained 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 sneak, before throwing a 28-yard pass to Winston Wright Jr. that put WVU in the red zone. This was all accomplished without a timeout available on the drive as the Mountaineers had used all three earlier in the half, including two on their previous possession.  HALFTIME — WEST VIRGINIA 10, Oklahoma 7

8:55 p.m. — West Virginia manages just one first down and 17 yards after the turnover. The Mountaineers have sputtered offensively since its opening drive. Sumpter gets off another good punt, this one 44 yards forcing OU to start at its 7. Sumpter is averaging 47 yards on three punts.

8:45 p.m. — Jackie Matthews intercepts Rattler for WVU’s first pick this season. Daryl Porter Jr. nearly made the interception and got his hands on the ball, before Matthews dove near the sideline and made a highlight-worthy grab. WVU takes over at its 32-yard line in a 7-all game 5:48 before halftime. Feels like an important drive for the Mountaineers, who forced their second turnover in the season’s 14th quarter. An audible chant of ‘We want Caleb’ can be heard from the OU faithful following Rattler’s INT. That’s in reference to 5-star true freshman Caleb Williams, who is Rattler’s backup.

What a time for your first career interception! #HailWV

— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) September 26, 2021

8:39 p.m. — Rattler comes up short on a third-and-10 run that gains 8 yards and Oklahoma is forced to punt. The Mountaineers take over at their 15. OU punter Michael Turk has punted twice for 52 and 53 yards, respectively.

8:33 p.m. — West Virginia’s defense holds following the game’s first turnover. Starting from their own 9-yard line, the Mountaineers pick up one first down before punting for the first time. Tyler Sumpter gets off a strong kick that goes 48 yards. The Sooners start at their 24 with 10:24 to play in the first half.

ZMM Architects & Engineers Logo

8:22 p.m. — Doege is intercepted by Delarrin Turner-Yell on the third-and-long, and OU takes over at its own 24. The interception is Doege’s fourth this season, but the Mountaineers would’ve been forced to punt anyhow had the pass fallen incomplete. WVU is now minus-7 in turnover margin this season.

8:17 p.m. — The first quarter ends with West Virginia and Oklahoma tied at 7. The Mountaineers’ worst offensive play of the quarter was their final one — a pass from Doege to Leddie Brown that lost 6 yards and sets up a third-and-14 to start the second quarter.

8:10 p.m. — The Sooners answer quickly and get even. Spencer Rattler throws a 4-yard touchdown pass to Austin Stogner on third-and-goal. OU converted on fourth-and-4 from the WVU 47-yard line and needed to cover only 52 yards on the drive after Jared Bartlett was flagged for a personal foul on the kickoff. WEST VIRGINIA 7, OKLAHOMA 7, 2:46 1st qtr

.@SpencerRattler 🎯 @austin_stogner 🙌

📺 ABC |

— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 26, 2021

8:02 p.m. — Garrett Greene keeps it for a 2-yard touchdown run and West Virginia drives 75 yards in 17 plays on the game’s opening drive. WVU took off 9:07 of the first-quarter clock. The drive featured a 6-yard pass from Jarret Doege to Bryce Ford-Wheaton on fourth-and-4 from the Sooners’ 38. WEST VIRGINIA 7, Oklahoma 0, 5:53 1st qtr

West Virginia takes the early lead at No. 4 Oklahoma 😤

— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 26, 2021

7:42 p.m. — Oklahoma wins the toss and defers to the second half. West Virginia will receive to start the game. WVU’s captains for its Big 12 opener are wideout Sam James, tailback Leddie Brown, offensive lineman Zach Frazier and defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor.

Kickoff nears in Norman, West Virginia & No. 4 Oklahoma set to go:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 25, 2021

7:10 p.m. — West Virginia (2-1) begins the Big 12 Conference portion of its schedule Saturday night at No. 4 Oklahoma. Kickoff at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m., and the contest will air nationally on ABC.

The Sooners (3-0) have won eight straight against the Mountaineers since WVU joined the Big 12 before the 2012 season. The two teams did not play last season due to COVID-19 issues within West Virginia’s program. In Neal Brown’s only previous matchup against OU, the Sooners won 52-14 in 2019.

Your essential pregame links:

Setting the scene from Norman

Tough test, ‘great opportunity’ awaiting WVU in Big 12 opener

Oklahoma’s explosive offense detracts attention from Sooners’ solid defense

‘Three Guys Before The Game’ – Oklahoma Edition

Facing Rattler for first time, WVU defense hopes to slow Oklahoma quarterback

Matthews’ versatility, mentality allow defensive back to find success in 2nd season at WVU

Greene remains part of plan as Brown vows to get better feel for how to use QBs



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Setting the scene from Norman as WVU & Oklahoma open Big 12 play

NORMAN, Ok. — Joe Brocato opens MetroNews on-site coverage from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. This page will be updated throughout the afternoon and evening.

Pregame warmups

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Wait list at Ruby as COVID cases continue to have impact

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A report from WVU Medicine officials says 40% of all coronavirus patients in the state are in a WVU Medicine facility.

In Morgantown, Ruby Memorial Hospital reports 119 coronavirus patients with no beds available. The staff at Ruby Memorial Hospital started a wait list Friday afternoon. Data from the hospital shows 61 of 71 available ventilators in use.

Last week, WVU Medicine officials announced they were operating in “crisis care” mode. Planned procedures have been placed on hold and some alternate accommodations are being made in departments where patients are waiting for treatment.

Residents who have minor to moderate medical needs are asked to go to urgent care centers before reporting to an emergency room with an injury. People who believe they are suffering from a heart attack or stroke should come to an emergency room.

Albert Wright
Photo/WVU Medicine

Saturday’s coronavirus report from the state DHHR said 977 people are hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, 285 have been admitted to the ICU and 193 are on ventilators. The percentage of unvaccinated people in the hospital is just over 80%. Data shows the number of unvaccinated people on ventilators is near 90-percent.

“Those numbers are scary and they tell the story,” WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright said during a recent appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “It’s a very challenging time for folks.”

At Mon Health, CEO David Goldberg has been working with state leaders and DataRobot to get a glimpse into the future by using artificial intelligence.

“We still expect to get to about mid-October,” Goldberg said. “We think we’re going to see this surge last until the second week of October, then come down slightly.”

Mon Health is also in crisis mode, and Goldberg explained how that works on the floor of a care facility.

“A procedure that might need a bed and it isn’t life threatening, emergent or urgent,” Goldberg said. “We’re having that conversation, doctor to patient to say we’re going to need to put this off a week or two to keep capacity open at the hospital for those who are very sick.”

While hospitals retreat into crisis mode around the state it’s the balance sheets for these institutions that struggle. Last week the governor unveiled the Save Our Care program designed to help hospitals get through this surge. State government has more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief money for situations like this.

David Goldberg

“I think the governor is looking at this responsibly and saying what can we do to help shore up staffing, what can we do to shore up supplies, what can we do to make to make sure our hospitals, our doctors offices and nursing homes are open and operational for the patients who need it,” Goldberg said.

As the hospital surge inches up daily Goldberg, like other health officials, believes the vaccine will ease the surge and save lives.

“At Mon Health Medical Center about 95-percent of the people coming in that are hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated,” Goldberg said. “What we’re seeing with the Delta variant is people are getting sicker with this presentation than early on when did not have a vaccine.”

Vaccine resistance is till a major issue in getting the remaining percentage of the population vaccinated. The Friday report from the DHHR raises the number fully vaccinated people to 834,259.

“We’re dealing with an international pandemic related to COVID. New strains keep coming, just like new strains of the flu come,” Goldberg said. “Getting the vaccine gives extra protection at a time when it is evolving and mutating so fast. I strongly think it’s the right thing to do.”

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