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Yeager to welcome Breeze Airways flights to and from Tampa Wednesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Breeze Airways begins offering flights between Charleston and Tampa, Florida just as the leaves are beginning to change colors this fall season in West Virginia.

Dominique Ranieri

The first Breeze flight arrives at West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) at 10:25 a.m. Wednesday and departs the same day at 11:05 am, according to airport director and CEO Dominique Ranieri.

Ranieri said it’s a great opportunity to welcome visitors from the Tampa area.

“I know a lot of people in Florida who really miss what we think is one of the best seasons here in West Virginia getting to admire our gorgeous landscape while all of the leaves are changing, so this flight is just in time to get those folks here,” she said.

Breeze routes to and from Tampa International Airport (TPA) will be available Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Ranieri said flights offered by Breeze are reasonably priced, which was a big draw for the airport after Spirit Airlines left.

“We’re seeing fairs starting at $39 on that route each way,” she said.

Breeze also offers nonstop trips to Orlando, Florida (MCO) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and seasonally to Charleston, South Carolina.

“We are so happy to have breeze serving our market and this is just the beginning of the partnership. We’re really hoping to have some additional, exciting announcements about routes that they’re going to be offering from CRW here in the near future,” Ranieri said.

Flights are on sale at and via the Breeze app.

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Former Ohio Valley Medical Center being torn down this week

WHEELING, W.Va. — Demolition gets underway this week on the former Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling so that a new WVU Medicine regional cancer center can be built.

Abatement has to take place for asbestos before the building can be torn down.

Doug Harrison

The closed city garage and connecting catwalk across Chapline Street will also be demolished.

Doug Harrison, president and CEO of WVU Medicine Wheeling and Reynolds Memorial hospitals, told MetroNews the entire project will take years to complete.

“We’re anticipating that the demolition project alone will be about 12-14 month time frame and we have five years to develop that site,” he said.

The demolition will cost about $6.8 million. The entire construction investment totals $70 million.

Being positioned right off state Route 2 in between Ohio and Pennsylvania, Harrison said the location is ideal in order to serve more patients.

“From a visibility standpoint, a traffic count standpoint, ease of access, this new regional cancer center will be easy to get to for our patients coming from all directions,” he said.

By the time the center is finished, Harrison said there will be a lot of infrastructure improvements. The city is working to repair roads as part of its Streetscape Project.

“New sidewalks, new lighting, new roads. Downtown Wheeling is going to look much different over the next few years,” he said.

The new cancer center will have four stories and between 75,000 and 90,000 square feet of space.

WVU Reynolds Memorial has an infusion program and WVU Medicine Wheeling has radiation and medical oncology programs that will be combined into one, according to Harrison.

“We’re just really looking at this new center to enhance those services and use it as a recruitment tool to bring in additional physicians and providers to that new center,” he said.

The new center is expected to employ about 150 people and have 40,000 patient visits per year.

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Congresswoman Miller says she supports McCarthy as House speaker on vacate-the-chair vote

Congresswoman Carol Miller says she’s standing by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a vote today on whether he should vacate the leadership position.

Carol Miller

“He’s been a wonderful leader,” Miller, R-W.Va., said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “He’s done everything that we have set out to do so far. He has worked very hard with every member of our caucus, and the majority — the strong majority — are behind him 100 percent.”

The House of Representatives is set to vote this afternoon on a motion to vacate the chair by Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. Once Gaetz made the motion, Congress had a couple of days for a vote. McCarthy, R-Calif., said it would be today.

Congress is so evenly divided that just five Republican votes would be necessary to oust McCarthy assuming Democrats don’t step in and vote to keep him in the leadership position.

After weeks of threatening to do so, Gaetz introduced the resolution Monday because McCarthy led the effort to pass a stopgap measure to fund the government with Democratic support.

“I think the choice they’ve made is disruptive and not the right agenda that we need for our country,” Miller said. “They are being selfish.”

Kevin McCarthy

Republicans caucused this morning with McCarthy commenting afterwards to reporters, “I truly believe, though, the institution of the House, at the end of the day, if you throw a speaker out that has 99% of their conference, that kept government and paid the troops, I think we’re in a really bad place for how we’re going to run Congress.”

Miller expressed her support for McCarthy on the social media site X.

“With the crisis at the southern border, fentanyl pouring into our communities, and $33 trillion of national debt, we need a strong leader like Kevin McCarthy. I am confident he will continue to deliver results that put America first,” she wrote.

She echoed that sentiment on “Talkline” today “because he has been a wonderful leader and he has delivered on what our agenda has been and, you know, so far we’ve gotten four of the appropriations bills through and we are working steadily to keep on doing what we’re doing.

“You know, our government is $32 trillion in debt, our country is, and we are trying to be very smart how we move forward. And you know, 70% of our budget is mandatory spending, and we are working very hard on that discretionary spending to make sure what we do is very smart and on point.”

Miller said she voted in favor of the continuing resolution that funds the federal government at current spending levels for 45 days. The House of Representatives passed the billon Saturday, 335-91. More than 200 Democrats voted yes, and 90 Republicans voted no in the Republican-led chamber.

Miller has said she wants to continue working on individual allocations bills that would provide steeper cuts to government spending. But she said the short term resolution was the most responsible choice when faced with a possible shutdown.

“I’m fiscally responsible,” Miller said. “And you know, we funded the government for 45 days to keep working on what we’re doing. It’s certainly not a permanent fix but it’s important that we keep our government open.

“My goodness, West Virginia alone has about 16,000 federal employees and I bet 10,000 of them are in my district. They wouldn’t have gotten paid. So, I think internal disagreements need to fall away when it comes to us taking care of our people.”

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Kanawha County couple charged after children found locked in a shed

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. — Two Kanawha County residents face charges of gross child neglect after the disturbing discovery of three children who were essentially held captive in two locations in the Sissonville community.

Donald Ray Lantz, 63, and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 61, both of Sissonville, were arrested Monday night on felony charges of gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of injury.

Kanawha County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a home on Cheyenne Lane in Sissonville Monday evening after 911 received a call regarding the welfare of the children.

Deputies found two juvenile children, a boy age 14 and girl age 16, locked inside a 20 x 14 foot room in a shed. Investigators said the children had no way to exit the building no running water, no bathroom, and had been obviously deprived of adequate hygienic care and food.

“I observed the children in dirty clothes and smelled of body odor suggesting they had not bathed in several days. I observed the male juvenile to be barefoot and what appeared to be sores on his feet,” the investigating deputy H.K. Burdette wrote in the criminal complaint.

According to the criminal complaint, the room had a concrete floor and plywood walls. There was a table and chair, but no beds and no plumbing. There was an RV potty sitting on a black tarp, but no functioning toilet. Investigators also observed a camera in the room. The room had no windows and the door was locked from the outside. The children would have been unable to get out in the event of a medical emergency or fire.

A neighbor told deputies they believed the children were made to do farm work, but were not allowed inside the home.

“The female juvenile stated their parents brought them food at approximately 6 a.m. but they had been in the room and had no contact with them. The female juvenile also stated she and her 14-year old brother were not allowed inside the house and were locked in the shed for long periods of time daily,” Deputy Burdette added in the criminal complaint.

“They didn’t have any type of plumbing, there was no bathroom facilities they appeared to be malnourished and appeared to have been denied any kind of hygiene. The conditions were just appalling,” said Sgt. Josh Lester of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

At the main residence a third, smaller child was found locked inside the home. The child was in an unprotected loft about 15 feet high.

“I observed a small child through the window appearing to be five or six years old, sitting alone on the floor in the loft. I observed the child to be crying and close to the railing of a 15-foot drop off from the loft. Due to the distressed condition of the child and the risk of her falling, forced entry was made into the residence to secure the child,” wrote Deputy Burdette.

Criminal Investigators from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Child Protective Services were soon on the scene. There were no caretakers present when deputies arrived. However, the adoptive parents, Lantz and Whitefeather, did show up while deputies were there. Lantz arrived about 8:30 p.m. and Whitefeather got there around 9:45 p.m.

“They learned while they were there these adoptive parents have two additional adopted children. So they are also investigating the condition of them because they were not at the residence when deputies were there,” Lester said.

It’s unclear where those children were located or their conditions.

“Ms. Whitefeather made the admission to Detective Alford that the children were left in the shed, but stated, ‘They like it.’ ” read the criminal complaint.

Lantz and Whitefeather are being held in the South Central Regional Jail on $200,000 each.


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MetroNews This Morning 10-3-23

Today on MetroNews This Morning:

–The State Police “whistle blower” is due for formal arraignment on criminal charges today

–A Gold Star monument is unveiled in Huntington on what would have been Woody Williams’ 100th birthday

–Revenues for September were ahead of estimate including income taxes despite a tax cut

–In Sports: Neal Brown addressed reporters Monday and the MLB playoffs get started

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 10-3-23” on Spreaker.


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Teflon Trump

When people ask why politicians run negative ads, the answer is simple: Because they work. That is the conventional wisdom that has been proven time and again in countless races.

Those ads typically present information about a political opponent that is designed to turn voters away from them. “You can’t trust candidate X because (insert fact or allegation here).”

But Donald Trump, as is often the case, defies traditional political strategies. Consider what has happened—or more accurately what has not happened—in Iowa and South Carolina:

The Win It Back political action committee, which has close ties with the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, has financed extensive ad campaigns against Trump in those two states. The organization is trying to cut into Trump’s popularity among Republicans, so that another of the Republican presidential candidates can gain ground on him.

The New York Times obtained an internal memo penned by David McIntosh of the Club for Growth where he acknowledges that even after testing more than 40 anti-Trump television ads and spending $4 million in Iowa and $2 million in South Carolina, “all attempts to undermine his conservative credentials on specific issues were ineffective.”

The memo suggests that the PAC tried everything. The failed ads include Trump’s “handling of the pandemic, promotion of vaccines, praise of Dr. Fauci, insane government spending, failure to build the wall, recent attacks on pro-life legislation, refusal to fight ‘woke’ issues, openness to gun control, and many others.”

“Even when you show video to Republican primary voters—with complete context—of President Trump saying something otherwise objectionable to primary voters, they find a way to rationalize and dismiss it,” McIntosh wrote. Some of the negative ads even helped Trump.

That also explains why all the criticism in the media of Trump—even in conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal and the National Review—doesn’t move the needle. To Trump voters, critical media coverage—including cable news commentary—can all be dumped into the catch-all category of fake news, media elites and Trump haters.

In West Virginia, it would be hard, if not impossible, to find a Republican running for statewide or federal office who is not a Trump supporter. I suspect most are true believers, but I imagine there is also a sprinkling of Republicans who are not fans of the former president, but they are listening to their constituents and going to where the votes are.

To do otherwise, at least in West Virginia, would be political suicide. West Virginia is a lot like Wyoming. Trump got 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming in 2020 and 69 percent in West Virginia. When Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney took on Trump, voters tossed her out on her ear in the Republican primary.

I wondered after last week’s Republican presidential debate why all candidates except for Chris Christie were careful not to be too critical of Donald Trump. Now we know why. It doesn’t work.




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Charleston City Council approves “PODA” ordinance, new floor rules for media

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Council spent much of their meeting Monday evening in discussion on PODA and new rules on the chamber floor regarding media members.

First, a bill on PODA, or a Public Outdoor Designated Area, passed overwhelmingly. The bill allows for people in certain areas of the City of Charleston to order and drink alcoholic beverages.

Ward 20 Charleston City Council member Chad Robinson, who spearheaded the idea, said this idea is all about trying to help out local businesses even more.

“This is to allow our businesses another option in bringing in customers to their facilities,” Robinson said.

Businesses in the capital city, Elk City, along Bridge Road and by the Capital Market have the option to apply to be a “PODA business.” The businesses that want to take part would need to apply and get approval from the city and from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.

Participating businesses would use special cups that are first expected to be supplied by the city, with the businesses paying for them in the days after.

Robinson said he spoke with a handful of business owners in the past month and a half, with all of them telling him that they were in favor or interested in participating.

The city said the ordinance could start as soon as November.

The city of Huntington became the first in the state of West Virginia to put in place “PODAs.”

Charleston mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said she experienced first-hand how this idea worked while in another city that had a similar ordinance. She was in favor of creating “PODAs” in Charleston.

“We wanted to take our time with this and see what other cities were doing across the country,” Goodwin said. “It’s working.”

Then, following a lengthy discussion on that bill, which ultimately passed, council members spent even more time in discussion on a resolution that would amend the Rules of Council.

The resolution adds new rules to media members and members of the public and their privileges to the floor of the council chamber during city council meetings. It also had a few proposed amendments that were all voted down. The resolution passed 19-7.

The resolution was brought forth to council after an incident occurred with a member of the media approaching a council member during a meeting at an inconvenient time.

The now passed resolution would move members of the media from a table that is positioned at the front of the chamber to the gallery.

People who are not council members or city staff will not be allowed on the chamber floor 30 minutes before, during and after the meeting, according to the resolution.

The resolution saw around 90 minutes of back and forth amongst council members before it was voted on.

Council also had their seating arrangements adjusted and are no longer sitting with their backs to the gallery. They are instead facing each other.

Goodwin said the resolution is favorable to the safety of the council members and the members of the media.

“They’re going to be able to see all of the council members and most importantly they’re still going to be able to hear,” said Goodwin.

The mayor said this resolution isn’t to prevent or make it harder for the media to cover council meetings. She added that the resolution is more about keeping council members and those allowed on the chamber floor safe.

“We don’t have any problems with the media,” Goodwin said. “We have great working relationships with all of them.”

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Nicholas County BOE close to selecting plan for future schools

NICHOLAS COUNTY, W.Va. — Nicholas County seems to be inching closer to getting some new schools built.

Board President Chip Perrine said they have a “special meeting” planned for Thursday, October 12, where they have will decide on one of the three options for their school development project. Perrine said they expect to have all the comments from the public read by then, with a written response to every single one.

The Nicholas County Board of Education met Monday after the 30-day public comment period ended for residents to speak on the three proposals for new schools in the county. The public comment period wrapped up September 30 and was a request by FEMA before a final decision was made on one of the three proposals that’s currently on the table.

The board decided that the next step of action will be to schedule their next meeting while the responses are recorded.

Perrine said their lawyer is in the process of looking at each of the public comments that were submitted during the month of September.

“We have to give her time to give a written response to every public comment that was made,” Perrine said in reference to their lawyer.

The board currently has $97 million left in the FEMA budget. The three options up for consideration are:

  • Having a PK-8 school all in one building
  • Having a PK-5 building and then a separate middle school building.
  • Having a middle school building with the rest of the funds used to repair Nicholas County High School and the career and technical center.

Perrine said by his count, the public was more in favor of having two separate buildings for PK-5 and grades 6-8 than the other two options.

It’s been a long process, but Perrine said the goal is to at least have a decision to be made as a possible agenda item for their next scheduled meeting.

“I am hoping that our agenda will say ‘discussion of options with possible action,” said Perrine.

The board president is hopeful that FEMA, who previously approved of all three options from the school board, will accept their decision in their next meeting, and that they can move along into the next segment of this extended process.

“I’m hoping we can put it out for bid and it’ll be within budget and then we can get these schools built,” he said.

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Three indicted, two minors in suspected Fairmont drug-related killing

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – In Marion County, three have been indicted for first-degree murder, including two 17-year-olds, by the grand jury.

Zeighshawn Meade, 19, of Fairmont, was arrested in March 2023 in connection with the fatal shooting of Clayton Pecki, 22, of Frostburg, Maryland, during a drug deal. Meade has also been indicted for first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Now, Fairmont residents Jayden Cheriza and Illes Williams, both 17 years old, have been indicted on identical charges.

Detectives caught up with Meade by matching a shoe left at the crime scene with one that was found at his home.

Reports indicate Williams lives in the apartment complex where the shooting took place, the Fairmont Hills Apartment on Cleveland Avenue.

Meade is still being held without binding at the North Central Regional Jail.

There is no information on the custody of Cheriza and Williams.

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Alleged whistleblower of State Police faces multiple-count indictment

RICTHIE COUNTY, W.Va. — The self-proclaimed whistleblower, who revealed several allegations about the West Virginia State Police, is now facing a three-count indictment.

Joseph Comer has been indicted by a Ritchie County Grand Jury on charges of domestic battery, strangulation and violating a protective order. The incidents of domestic battery and strangulation both allegedly happened in December 2022.

In September, Comer had his bond revoked after prosecutors said he violated his bond by communicating with his ex-wife, Vikki Marra, who accused him of domestic violence.

Comer is suspected of being the whistleblower who came forward about the alleged misconduct within the agency. West Virginia State Police filed a letter to terminate Comer’s employment last month.

Comer is expected to be arraigned in Ritchie County Circuit Court Tuesday.

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