The Voice of West Virginia
I would have told you last week that I could not imagine our country any more polarized. But that was so yesterday.
This week we now know the split is even greater because of the controversy over how and when the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be filled.
President Trump said he will name a nominee by Friday or Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his colleagues in a private memo to keep their power dry. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may regret.”
However, McConnell has already publicly said “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” But he did not specify a timeline.
Democrats are apoplectic. They are still steamed about McConnell’s refusal to take up President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the high court before the 2016 election, and now it appears McConnell has flipped his position.
McConnell may be a political contortionist, but the award for pretzel logic goes to Lindsey Graham. Four years ago, the South Carolina Republican demanded to be on the record as promising not to act on filling a court vacancy if the primary process for the next election had already started.
Graham now says he had a change of heart over the way Democrats behaved during the nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. “They (Democrats) chose to try to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life to keep the Supreme Court seat open,” Graham tweeted. “You reap what you sow.”
Democrats are not immune to hypocrisy. They have now pivoted to demanding that the appointment wait until after the election even though four years ago, they held the exact opposite position.
Granted, some of the circumstances are different now than 2016 and each side will use whatever nuance they can find to justify their position. Democrats and Republicans are quickly fine-tuning their talking points for the upcoming battle royal.
But I will subscribe to Akums Razor—the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. Republicans will try to force through a nominee because they have the opportunity. I suspect Democrats would do the same if given the chance.
We can point out the hypocrisy, but when our leaders can lie without shame, then the result is that the rest of us become more cynical and angrier.
Let us go back to Graham’s comment: “You reap what you sow.” Is revenge now the substitute for governance? If so, and it certainly feels like it, then we are in for even more tribalism.
— Story by Taylor Kennedy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Charleston Catholic basketball rising senior Aiden Satterfield has verbally committed to West Liberty. Satterfield becomes the first commit in the Class of 2021 for the Hilltoppers.
Satterfield, 2020 Class A All-State captain, announced via his Twitter page that he will be heading to the northern panhandle after high school. Satterfield’s ultimate reasoning behind choosing West Liberty was not because of the facilities, instead it was the relationships he had built over time.
Thankful and blessed ! pic.twitter.com/WZtu43Wevh
— Aiden Satterfield (@aidensatt1) September 21, 2020
“They’ve been recruiting me for more than two years now. The relationship I’ve built with the coaching staff is great. I really like those guys. Also, they are one of the best Division II programs in the country year in and year out,” says Satterfield.
Satterfield held two other official offers one being from Mountain East Conference opponent University of Charleston, and the other came from the University of Rio Grande.
Satterfield felt that immediate connection with West Liberty’s coaching staff, which also made his commitment easier.
“I knew once I talked to those guys, they were genuine. They always kept it real with me, and that means a lot to me,” says Satterfield.
Satterfield recalls the first time that he and fourth-year head coach Ben Howlett met, and he felt comfortable around Coach Howlett the moment they met.
“It was great. It was back in January after they had watched the [Wheeling] Central game. I played really well, and Coach Howlett let me know about the program, how they operate, and how I could help,” says Satterfield.
Satterfield still has one more season with the Charleston Catholic Irish, but he and Coach Howlett have discussed how he could make an impact in year one.
“Working as hard as I can. Coach told me nothing will be handed, and that’s just how I want it. I know if I work hard and buy into the system I can help out the team in numerous ways. Not just scoring, but defensively as well. It’ll take time, for sure, but that’s a part of the process,” says Satterfield.
Satterfield helped the Irish capture their first regional championship since 2014, which earned them the No. 2 seed in the Class A state tournament, which was eventually cancelled.
Satterfield led the Irish in scoring last season averaging 19.5 points per game.
The post Charleston Catholic’s Aiden Satterfield selects West Liberty appeared first on WV MetroNews.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango released a new advertisement Monday morning criticizing Gov. Jim Justice and the state’s efforts to repair roads in West Virginia.
Hours later, Salango was in Monongalia County to look at road conditions and listen to voters.
Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom, himself a Democrat, invited the Kanawha County Commissioner to the area to discuss the roads and issues with the Roads to Prosperity bond program.
“We’ve asked for the governor to come up, but we can’t find him,” Bloom said. “He doesn’t come up here. It just feels like we’re the bastard child.”
The advertisement attacks Justice for the condition of roads across West Virginia, comparing the road outside of the Greenbrier resort — which the Justice family owns — to dilapidated roadways in other parts of the state.
“This road is nice, and the governor made sure that our tax dollars boosted his business,” Salango says, citing a ProPublica article detailing the conflicts of interest with Justice’s government responsibilities and his businesses.
“Too bad the roads where the rest of us live and work are a disgrace.”
Salango and Bloom said Justice has not kept promises to improve roads in the Northern Panhandle and left residents’ questions unanswered.
“$2.8 billion of Roads to Prosperity money. None of it is being spent in Mon County,” Salango said. “None of it really being spent in north central West Virginia, and it’s time for that to change.”
Salango spoke to reporters while standing alongside Greenbag Road outside of the Morgantown city limits as cars and trucks rattled over the street’s potholes.
“There were promises made of where that money would go, and the promises weren’t kept. That money is not getting out and helping the people who need it most,” Salango said.
“If you’re taking a CEO from the airport to a prospective job site and you’re dodging potholes and dodging road slips on the way, it kills business,” he added. “We’re going in the wrong direction. We have to focus on our infrastructure.”
Clay Sutton, the communications director for the Justice campaign, discounted Salango’s remarks, noting an internal poll showing the governor leading by 27 percentage points.
“According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation website, Roads to Prosperity has already completed nearly $42 million in road, highway, and bridge repairs in Monongalia County with another $165 million in projects in the pipeline for completion,” Sutton added.
Tuesday will mark six weeks until Election Day.
The post Salango goes after Justice on roads with ad, Monongalia County stop appeared first on WV MetroNews.
MOUNT CLARE, W.Va. — The North Marion Huskies held off stern challenges from Robert C. Byrd and Buckhannon-Upshur to win the Big 10 Golf Championship at Bel Meadow Golf Club.
The Huskies posted a team score of 265, two strokes ahead of RCB (267) and four strokes ahead of BU (269). Bridgeport and Grafton finished tied for fourth with team scores of 288.
North Marion’s Michael Harris won low medalist honors with a 2-over-par round of 74, earning the title of Big 10 Player of the Year. RCB’s Basil Lucas was named the Big 10 Coach of the Year.
All 13 teams will compete in regional tournaments next week, hoping to qualify for the state tournament at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling in October.
- North Marion – 265
- Robert C. Byrd – 267
- Buck.-Upshur – 269
- Bridgeport – 288
- Grafton – 288
- Fairmont Sr. – 293
- Preston – 303
- Liberty – 319
- P. Barbour – 323
- Lincoln – 330
- E. Fairmont – 337
- Lewis Co. – 353
- Elkins – 359
Top individuals (all earning 1st team All-Big 10):
- Michael Harris (NM) – 74
- Chris Miller (GHS) – 79
- Andrew Bowie (RCB) – 80
- Isaac Lane (BU) – 83
- Evan Coffman (BU) – 91
- Dylan Runner (NM) – 92
- Drew Hogue (BHS) – 92
- Alex Hawkins (RCB) – 93
- Tyler Stemple (RCB) – 94
- Zach Morgan (FSHS) – 94
The post Harris goes low at Bel Meadow, North Marion wins Big 10 golf title appeared first on WV MetroNews.
State Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, who is also a critical care physician, says he has a case of covid-19.
“I’m currently quarantining at home, and like most, my symptoms are mild, tolerable and I’m looking forward to a speedy recovery,” Takubo, R-Kanawha, wrote today on his Facebook page.
Dozens of people commented on his post to wish Takubo well.
Takubo said public concern should focus on other essential workers.
“Let’s all continue to keep of our healthcare and front line workers as well as our afflicted friends and family in our prayers for their continued safety, quick recoveries, and end to this pandemic,” Takubo wrote.
Takubo is the co-owner and founder of Pulmonary Associates Of Charleston. He was elected to the Senate in 2014, was re-elected in 2018 and became the majority leader that year.
Takubo is the second West Virginia legislator to publicly acknowledge a case of coronavirus.
In August, Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, publicly posted on her Facebook page this week that she developed a strange cough and got a rapid test because she was supposed to go to work.
“I have the Corona virus,” she wrote on social media.
Like Takubo, Staggers works in a medical field.
Staggers is an emergency room physician at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, which is one reason she had particular concern. The hospital was affected by community spread in the area.
Besides her emergency room job, Staggers is also medical director of several emergency medical services and emergency operations centers in Fayette, Wyoming, Raleigh and Boone counties.
On Sept. 10, Staggers wrote that she is feeling better.
“Now you not only know someone who had a “mild” case (didn’t need hospitalization) but you know someone recovered,” Staggers wrote.
She continued, “my prayers go out for those in the process of fighting this , for the strength and inner resources to win.”
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WHEELING, W.Va. — While Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott says he supports the efforts by the city’s police chief to handle crime at homeless camps in town by taking them down, he wants better collaboration between the city and organizations to help these individuals being impacted by the dismantling.
Elliott told MetroNews the recent ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bailey to give citizens a minimum two weeks notice before taking down any homeless encampments is a ‘good compromise.’
The ruling came after a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU) against the City of Wheeling for the original immediate teardown notices of four camps in early September led by police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
The city said there had been rising criminal activity at certain camps mentioned in the ruling including fires, drug activity, a reported assault, and a body found several days after death.
“I certainly understand the desire of the police chief to want to promote public safety within the city,” Elliott said Monday. “If you are seeing high incidents of criminal activity in a very small geographic area your options are limited into what you can do, you have to take action.”
“I think we will work very closely with members of the camps and with members with various social services agencies to make sure those people who are displaced can find somewhere else to go. We certainly don’t want to leave people with nowhere to go but we just could not tolerate the level of activity we have seen at those camps.”
The ruling by Bailey put down Wednesday included:
– The City of Wheeling shall post notices of its intended action at any encampment to be removed in such places as are most likely to be seen and read by the inhabitants thereof;
– Such notices must be posted at least two (2) weeks prior to the intended action;
– The City of Wheeling must provide at least two (2) weeks written notice to the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, Project Hope, and any other group or agency which requests to be included in such notifications.
– On the day upon which crews show up to dismantle an encampment, the crews must, upon request, give any inhabitants present a period of two hours in which to remove their personal property.
Schwertfeger told WTOV-TV in Wheeling he supported the ruling.
Elliott told MetroNews the city council and Schwertfeger will work to take several actions with support of social service agencies in town including creating new positions and adding services for drug addiction and mental illness.
“I think sometimes we are not always working on the same page. I have talked with the city council about coming up with ways where the city can have a bigger voice in that conversation, maybe fund a homeless liaison position where someone can reach out to all these organizations and make sure they are all on the same page,” Elliott said.
“We must be the Friendly City that we say we are. I think we are the Friendly City. The reason we have a lot of homeless camps is because we are a city that has a lot of organizations that bend over backward to help folks in need.”
Elliott added there are around 20 encampments in town but only four will be taken down by the Oct. 1 deadline with the ruling. He said the Division of Highways supports the relocation and will be performing most of the relocation as its on their property.
The post Elliott supports ruling on Wheeling homeless camps; vows city will work to add services appeared first on WV MetroNews.
BECKLEY, W.Va. — A Raleigh County pharmacist who convinced friends and family members to invest in two companies she created with her late husband pleaded guilty Monday to a pair of federal criminal counts.
Natalie Cochran, 39, of Daniels, pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. She collected money from June 2017 to August 2019 for the companies Tactical Solutions Group and Technology Management Solutions. She claimed the companies were involved in government contracts. There were no contracts.
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said Cochran, who worked in Shady Spring as a pharmacist, took the money and put it into her own bank account and spent it mainly on personal items. Some of the money was used to pay other investors who thought they were getting a return on their investments.
Stuart said he could have taken Cochran to trial on all 26 counts but was able to obtain just as much from the guilty pleas to two counts.
“It was a great deal for the taxpayers,” Stuart said at a Beckley news conference. “This is the right deal for the American people, for the people of West Virginia. It’s the right deal for her victims.”
Cochran has agreed to pay $2.6 million restitution to the victims of her scheme. She’ll also forfeit to the federal government items she purchased through the fraudulent activity. Stuart said the forfeiture is a key feature of the plea agreement.
“These are folks who lost an awful lot of money. Some may have lost their life savings due to these schemes and it’s unfortunate and tragic,” Stuart said. “I would have never agreed to this deal if not for the large amount of restitution.”
The items Cochran will forfeit include a 1965 Shelby Cobra, other vehicles, jewelry and $45,000 from her business’ bank account.
Cochran faces between 3-11 years in prison at her Jan. 4, 2021 sentencing hearing, Stuart said.
“Eleven years and three months is a pretty sizable period of time,” Stuart said. “Then you look at the waiving of her right of appeal, you look at the forfeiture accounts, then the $2.6 million restitution, it’s pretty significant. We drove a hard bargain.”
U.S. District Judge Frank Volk presided over Monday’s hearing.
The post Raleigh pharmacist pleads guilty to fraud charges; $2.6 million in restitution going to victims appeared first on WV MetroNews.
— Story by Taylor Kennedy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Marshall Thundering Herd did something Saturday afternoon that had not been done since 2003. The Herd defeated a quality ranked opponent. Marshall welcomed in No. 23 Appalachian State to Joan C. Edwards Stadium and won 17-7.
The Thundering Herd head football coach Doc Holliday was impressed with how his team played Saturday. Holliday was a guest on MetroNews Talkline Monday morning.
“It was a great team effort. Any time you have the opportunity to play a team the caliber like Appalachian State is a top-25 team. You have to be a better team on the field that day,” says Holliday.
Holliday was impressed with how his team responded to the call going up against a quality team in the Mountaineers.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 21, 2020
“We were the better team in all three phases. Offensively, Grant (Wells) did not quite have the numbers he had early on. He only has one turnover in two games, and as long as you can do that you got a shot offensively. Special teams, we dominated that part of it. The defense played tremendous. They gave up seven points to a tremendous football team, and had given up seven points the entire year. Proud of how physical they played,” says Holliday.
Holliday felt comfortable with how his defense played Saturday because there is a level of trust he has for those players
“I like our team, and I like our players. App State has its entire offensive line back, four of them are all-conference players. I was anxious to see how our defensive front would hold up against those guys. They held that team to less than 100 [rushing] yards. That has only happened two or three times in the last six years for App State,” says Holliday.
Marshall’s next game is not until October 10 against Western Kentucky. Holliday does not have the answers for this extended break for him and his team, but he remains positive despite everything.
“We got three weeks, unfortunately. It will be two games in a matter of six weeks, which I do not necessarily have the blueprint or game plan for as far as preparation is concerned. It is a different day and different world right now we are living in and a lot of different challenges. The one thing we can control is going out there everyday and getting better as a team, and we have to continue to do that,” says Holliday.
The Thundering Herd entered the Associated Press (AP) Poll yesterday afternoon. It was the first time since 2014 the Herd had been ranked nationally. Coach Holliday hints that he will talk to his team about it.
“They are going to get it. I can assure you they will get a lot of things, and that will be one of them,” says Holliday.
Marshall is the lone Conference USA member ranked in the Week 4 AP Poll.
The post Doc Holliday breaks down marquee win over Appalachian State appeared first on WV MetroNews.
Gov. Jim Justice says West Virginia needs to ramp up its coronavirus testing by thousands a day.
“Please go get tested,” Justice implored today.
West Virginia has been averaging about 3,500 tests a day recently, the governor said.
He would like to get to at least 7,000 tests a day.
Optimal, he said, would be at least 10,000 tests a day.
Greater numbers would have several benefits, said the governor and his advisors.
One would be increased likelihood of catching asymptomatic cases that could result in isolation. That, in turn, would help suppress the spread of virus.
Another would be more information about where the virus is spreading and how public health officials could respond.
“We’ve got to know where the problems are,” Justice said. “You’ll never, every get out of any hole unless you know how deep in the hole you are.”
And third, the governor said increased verification of people without coronavirus could drive down numbers in counties that currently are unable to have school in classrooms or sports on athletic fields. A lower percentage could open the counties to those activities, the governor said.
“Additional testing significantly will help your numbers,” Justice said.
“I encourage all kids as well as adults to go get tested. It is a nothin’ test. Absolutely nothin'”
Justice acknowledged that additional testing will require additional resources and staff.
But, he said, “We’re going to find a way. We’re just going to find a way to continue that testing.”
West Virginia was showing a 2.03 percent daily positivity rate on Monday.
The state is reporting 3,544 active cases. There were 312 deaths reported by Monday morning.
Four counties were classified as red on a Saturday map to depict the safety of classroom learning and sports events. Those were Kanawha, Fayette, Putnam and Mingo counties. The designation means those counties have remote learning and no sports events.
Two more counties were orange, which also means they have no classroom instruction or extracurricular activities.
The map is based on daily positive cases, adjusted for 100,000 population. For small counties under 16,000 residents it’s a 14-day rolling average. For counties larger than that, it’s a 7-day rolling average.
Last week, the governor announced a second way for counties to be assessed — by percent positive.
A panel of health experts examines the data before the Saturday map is unveiled, pulling out duplicates, making sure cases are reflected in the proper county and ensuring that nursing home residents or jail inmates are counted as one unit of congregate settings.
Some members of the public have asked to see the specific calculations that result in the map designations and lead to significant societal implications like having school in person or not.
Asked about that today, Justice said he would like to show the work but that it’s complicated.
“The amount of input and the amount of work that goes into making these decisions and deciding on the is astronomical,” Justice said.
But, the governor said, “If we can make things better, let’s make them better.”
Coronavirus response coordinator Clay Marsh described the lengthy verification process for the information that eventually forms the map.
“We’re not just making things up based on what we think should happen. We’re really looking at the accuracy of the application of the data.”
Last second field goals in the NFL, a comeback for the ages in college football and a buzzer beater in the NBA highlighted a wild sports weekend.
On the latest The Game Within The Game, presented by DraftKings, host Brad Howe and oddsmaker/risk analyst Dave Sharapan broke it all down, including:
*A great day for bettors on Sunday in the NFL as favorites went 13-1 SU
* A look ahead to NFL week 3 early lines, including two best bets
*What does early line movement tell us about upcoming games?
*College football: How did Navy do that?
*College football: a peek ahead to week 4 which will include the SEC taking the field
*Who has the upper hand in the Stanley Cup Final?
*All of that and much more…
We’re back on Thursday with our favorite plays for the weekend.