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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston City Council approved changes to city code on Monday, resulting in stronger punishments for owners of properties where illegal activity happens.
The change requires property owners to address reported actions within 30 days of receiving a notice from the Charleston Police Department. Any property owner who fails to stop the actions after that period will be subject to a misdemeanor and $1,000 fine for each offense.
“If they can eliminate the illegal activity by talking to their tenants by saying this is not going to be allowed, that’s fine as long as it is proven that they’ve addressed it and it was resolved,” said Kevin Baker, Charleston’s city attorney.
Baker noted eviction as another option at the property owner’s disposal.
“We’re not trying to tell people how to manage their property,” he added “The point is that when there are houses that become such a nuisance to the community, we have to figure out a way to address them”
The policy is the latest change from the city to address problematic properties; city officials in August launched the Land Reuse Agency for vacant and abandoned structures.
Baker said while it is difficult to determine if new policies are successful, the short-term results have been positive.
“The biggest change we can see is the number of permits for renovating homes as increased,” he said.
“We take from that there are more people who are realizing they can’t let their property sit vacant. They need to fix it up and either get it rented out or sell it.”
The new ordinance will go into effect on Saturday.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The newest member of West Virginia’s House of Delegates is pastor of a large Kanawha Valley church.
Gov. Jim Justice named appointed T. Kevan Bartlett of Sissonville to the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 39th District.
Bartlett, senior pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church, fills the vacancy created by the recent death of Delegate Sharon Lewis Malcolm, a Republican.
Justice selected among three candidates passed along by the Kanawha GOP Executive Committee. Besides Bartlett, the other candidates were Ryan Lemmon and Vaughn Sizemore.
Lawmakers who are named to fill open seats often experience an edge in name recognition over challengers in subsequent elections.
Lemmon had already filed to run for the seat in the coming election. Another announced candidate, Dana Ferrell, ran for the seat as an independent two years ago but is running as a Republican this time.
Malcolm, 72, had represented House District 39, which spans the Sissonville, Mink Shoals and Cross Lanes areas, since early 2018.
Malcolm was first named to fill the unexpired term of longtime Delegate Ron Walters after he resigned.
Malcolm then won won the 2018 General Election with 2,436 votes. Democrat David Holmes, who is registered to run again, got 2,022 and Ferrell got 1,315.
Bartlett became senior pastor at Maranatha in 2008. The prior 24 years he served as associate pastor alongside his father, Bill Bartlett.
His wife, Linda, directs the women’s ministries and the nursery. They have two sons and eight grandchildren.
WINFIELD, W.Va. — The Winfield Boat Ramp and Dock upstream of the Route 34 bridge will be closed for the next four weeks.
The Putnam County location closed on October 18 to replace the concrete launch ramp. Boaters and pedestrians will not be able to use the ramp and courtesy dock during construction.
According to the Division of Natural Resources, the replacement will be done under the contractor’s warranty at no additional cost to the state.
“We understand this is an inconvenience for people who use the facility,” said Zack Brown, assistant chief of the Wildlife Resources Section said in a release. “However, the DNR wants to ensure the facility is properly constructed so that it will serve the public for many years to come.”
The release said that during the repairs, boaters and pedestrians may use the city of Winfield’s launch ramp east of the site for fishing, kayaking and paddle boating.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The doors are now open for a Charleston branch of a global leader in business cloud software.
“We are just getting started but we are soon going to be at 100 employees here actually,” Pam Murphy, Infor COO said.
“We continue to expand and grow this new office as we land more business and more deals. We are super excited.”
Murphy said the company is still hiring for its Charleston location, which is one of 200 locations worldwide.
It’s a great day in WV! Infor is officially open in Charleston, and plans to bring more than 100 high-tech #jobs to the Mountain State. Innovative companies like Infor strengthen & diversify our economy, & I’m proud to have helped bring Infor to #WV. MORE: https://t.co/dfLPD3Vge5 pic.twitter.com/LNLF6h8scs
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 21, 2019
The company sells end to end industry specific solutions for the companies and industries that they serve. This includes manufacturing, distribution, public sector and healthcare.
Murphy said her company is different from the competitors because of the flexibility.
“Solutions that we provide for the public sector are very different from the systems that we produce for our manufacturing customers. That makes us different because of the other competitors in our field offer the same software and it needs to be tailored to fir their specific needs and specific requirements.”
She said two of the biggest reasons why Infor chose Charleston was a highly skilled and capable workforce along with the cost of living.
Mike Hall, chief of staff for Gov. Jim Justice, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Amy Goodwin, City of Charleston Mayor, Kevin Samuelson, Infor CEO, Ed Gaunch, West Virginia Commerce Secretary, and Murphy were all on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Honored to be a part of @Infor’s ribbon cutting in Charleston this morning. Infor is already up to 45 employees here & is primed to grow their presence. I lobbied Infor hard to come to Charleston. This investment is going to help rebrand the business community in WV. pic.twitter.com/KetpnaMEaI
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) October 21, 2019
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bond has been denied for a Jackson County man arrested on murder charges.
On Monday, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom denied the motion for James Kiser, 40, of Kenna, on his first-degree murder charge. In September, Kiser admitted to police he killed his wife Crystal Dawn Kiser, 36, and buried her in a shallow grave.
“Given the seriousness to the nature of these charges and the proximity of the children,” Bloom said in court Monday.
“The children’s interest is foremost to because they are potential witnesses. I think that continued incarceration pending trial is appropriate.”
Kiser’s two children, both teenagers, currently live with his mother, Betty Kiser. She took the stand during the bond hearing and said that she would welcome Kiser to her home if he was released on bond.
Betty Kiser was one of over a dozen family members on hand, supporting bond for James Kiser. Dwayne Harrison, the second cousin of James Kiser and former employer, said he had a job for Kiser if he was released.
Don Morris, Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor, asked Harrison if he still trusted Kiser even though Kiser lied to him between the time the victim was missing and the admission of killing. Harrison said yes.
“He lied to his own family, he has lied on an application on the purchase of a firearm,” Morris told the court. “He has a prior history of violence, not only with this victim but with another woman.”
Morris said the victim had filed two separate domestic violence petitions against Kiser, including one of them she claimed that he had choked her and she feared for her life. He also added that the defendant had been stalking the victim leading up to the murder.
The defendant was convicted in 1998 of domestic battery in Fayetteville and had lied about the conviction on an application to purchase a firearm.
The lying continued to the police, Morris said.
“He gave two different versions of how the crime occurred,” he said. “He said he confronted the victim and used the words “lost it” with the victim. He initially said the victim fell inside the house during the struggle and hit her head. Later on, he changed his story that the victim fell outside, hit a rock with her head, causing death.”
On September 5, Kiser admitted to killing his wife nearly a month after she was reported missing on August 11. According to him, he killed the victim during an argument at her grandmother’s home on Lessle Lane near Sissonville. He then took her body to a remote location near the community of Kentuck in Jackson County where he buried her.
Kanawha County Sheriff’s office said the body was discovered early on the morning of September 6. Morris said on Monday that the body was rotting and when found was mostly skeletal remains. Because of that, he said, an autopsy to find the cause of death may be difficult to complete but it doesn’t appear the victim had any injuries to her skull.
Kiser will remain in the South Central Regional Jail. Bloom said if the state doesn’t present the case to a grand jury by early 2020, he would take another look at a bond.
MALDEN, W.Va. — Longtime Kanawha Valley riverman and philanthropist Charlie Jones has died. He was 101.
Charlie Jones at his 99th birthday celebration.
Jones was a World War II veteran where he served in the Navy. He returned from the war to direct the family business, Amherst Industries, located at Port Amherst on the Kanawha River just east of Charleston at Malden. He moved coal and other materials up and down the Kanawha and other rivers with tow boats and barges and other equipment.
“He was an absolute icon,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said Monday. “He was a philanthropist. The type of person that would do anything for anyone.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said he enjoyed having Jones as a friend.
“Charlie was a regular Renaissance man, and his zest for innovation never waned throughout his long life – a World War II Veteran, a legendary businessman, coal miner, farmer, riverboat captain, and a servant of the community who was adored by all. His influence and legacy will remain in our hearts and in the hearts of countless West Virginians forever,” Manchin said in a statement.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito tweeted about the death.
“So sad to hear of the passing of Charlie Jones, a veteran, Distinguished West Virginian, National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award Winner, riverman, husband, father, and my friend. 101 years of giving for others,” Capito said.
Jones spent many years on the Yeager Airport Board. Carper remembers Jones speaking out for the airport when there were efforts to close it and establish a regional airport between Charleston and Huntington.
“Charlie Jones stood up and was counted,” Carper said. “His business depended on some of these folks but Mr. Jones loved the airport, loved the transportation and he could see beyond the political reckoning of some people and he did what was right.”
At a party for his 100th birthday back on June 4, 2018 a pair of proclamations were read praising Jones for his work for making the state’s waterways more navigable. He was asked how he felt about the big celebration of his birthday and he said, “I’ll be here the next day.” Reports indicated Jones did report to Port Amherst for work on June 5.
Carper said Jones’ work ethic was unmatched.
“He would do any job that he could possibly ask someone else to do—he would do it first. He was the first one to get to work and the last one to leave,” Carper said. “He had a vision. He could see things. He was so successful,” Carper said.
According to a 2009 story in Waterways Journal, Jones was involved in many industry groups including The American Waterways Operators, Ohio Valley Improvement Association, DINAMO, Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen and the Seamen’s Church Institute, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. In 2001, Jones received the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award. He also served as chairman for three years of the Inland Waterways User Board and was given chairman emeritus status. In 2008 he received the Distinguished West Virginian Award and induction into the Coal Mining Hall of Fame. Also active in his community, he is scheduled to receive the “Spirit of the Valley” award August 12, presented annually by the YMCA of Kanawha Valley, for his long support of the organization’s youth programs. Jones holds a Master of Towing Vessels, Western Rivers, license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
That same article asked Jones what he wanted written on his gravestone.
“Have a lovely day. I’ll see you in the morning,” Jones said.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation again that would increase the age to legally use tobacco products in West Virginia from 18 to 21.
Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, introduced a measure last legislative session to increase the age; his respective chamber passed Senate Bill 348 in a 20-14 vote, but the legislation failed to receive committee approval in the House of Delegates.
“The argument that got it shot down in the House last year is there’s this belief of personal freedom and beliefs that you can fight for the country at age 18, you should be able to smoke,” he said on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“The reality of it is there are limits on all kinds of things that we do at certain ages. You can’t lump everything on one certain age and say when you turn this certain age everything has to happen.”
Takubo, a pulmonologist, said the risk of various cancers and cardiovascular diseases is higher among people who use tobacco products.
“Everything can be abused, whether it’s tobacco or doughnuts or alcohol,” he said. “It’s one of those things where, if it was killing everybody, obviously it would be easy to just outlaw.”
Takubo added he understands the argument about personal freedom, but certain products create public health hazards, such as cigarettes and second-hand smoke.
“What you do with yourself is your business as long as it doesn’t affect me, but at the same time — from a public health perspective — we need to do everything we can for these kids,” he said.
Takubo noted human brains are still developing until someone reaches 23 years old.
“We know if you don’t start any addictive thing before the age of 21, the chances are single digits that you’ll ever pick that up in your lifetime,” he said.
Ohio’s new regulation on purchasing tobacco products went into effect last week. No one younger than 21 can purchase cigarettes, tobacco products or vaping products.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The first bid related to HVAC improvements at two Kanawha County high schools is expected to go out next month.
The Kanawha County Board of Education approved last week entering contracts regarding projects at Capital High and George Washington High schools. Willaims Shriver Architects will be responsible for designing and overseeing the project at Capital High, while Bastian & Harris will manage the work at George Washington High. Both firms are based in Charleston.
According to Chuck Smith, the school system’s director of facilities and planning, the HVAC systems need to be replaced; classes at Capital High were canceled at the start of the 2017-2018 school year because of mold in the system.
“Systems age. They get outdated. We mandate them and hold them together as much as we can and replace them when possible,” he said.
The bid for the Capital High project is slated to out to bid in November and the George Washington project will go out to bid in January.
Once the bids are awarded — Smith noted it could happen in January for the Capital High project and March for the work at George Washington High — it will take 18 months to complete related work.
“They’re occupied buildings. We’ve got students in place. We can’t disrupt the flow of students as much as we need to,” he said. “We’ll have to limit construction times and do most of the work at evenings and weekends and days when people are not there, and try to capitalize on those times and those possibilities.”
The projects will be funded through the excess levy voters approved last November. Smith said the Capital High project is budgeted at $10 million and the George Washington High project is budgeted at $5 million.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One person is recovering from injuries suffered in a Kanawha County shooting on Sunday morning.
Charleston Police said the victim was shot in the foot near the 800 block of Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston around roughly 1 a.m.
Two people were arrested as a result of the shooting. The victim was taken to a local hospital.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man is the victim of a deadly shooting incident on I-77 in Charleston from Friday night.
Charleston Police say Antwan Curnell, 28, of Dunbar suffered a gunshot wound as he was driving on I-77 near the Westmoreland exit. The incident was in the northbound lanes just north of the I-77/64 slit in the Capital City.
Curnell was driving a Toyota 4-Runner and suffered the gunshot wound about 9:10 p.m. Friday causing him to lose control and crash. He was pronounced dead later at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital. Two adult female passengers were in the vehicle with Curnell at the time of the shooting, neither was hit by the gunfire.
The shooter is unknown, but police say the fatal shot was fired from another moving vehicle on the interstate. The suspect vehicle is a blue car, no make or model known. Police say it will have damage to the front end and passenger side as a result of the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Charleston Police Department at 304-348-8111. Callers can remain anonymous.