Hoiberg headed to Nebraska

AP Sports Writer
Fred Hoiberg, the former NBA player who coached Iowa State and the Chicago Bulls, was hired Saturday to coach a Nebraska team that had big hopes this season but finished with a 19-17 record and out of the NCAA Tournament yet again.
Hoiberg has strong ties to the school, which announced his hiring four days after seventh-year coach Tim Miles was fired.
Hoiberg, dismissed by the Bulls in in December, agreed to a seven-year contract paying a total of $25 million.
The 46-year-old Hoiberg was born in Lincoln and maternal grandfather Jerry Bush was the Cornhuskers coach from 1954 to 1963. His paternal grandfather was a professor at Nebraska and his parents are graduates of the school.
“I can’t express how excited I am to be back on the sidelines and to be coaching at a university that means a lot to my family and me,” Hoiberg said. “Nebraska has always felt like a second home.”
Hoiberg went 115-155 from 2010-15 with the Bulls. Before that, he had a successful five-year run as Iowa State’s coach with an up-tempo, spread-the-floor offense. He went 115-56 and led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA Tournaments and two Big 12 tournament titles.
“When you look at him, you see an individual who has had success as a player and a coach,” athletic director Bill Moos said. “Fred’s background will sell itself on the recruiting trail, and help us bring in the type of student-athletes needed to compete at the highest level. His style of play not only will be appealing to prospective recruits but will also provide our great fans an entertaining brand of basketball.”
Hoiberg takes over a program that has never been able to win consistently. Nebraska’s most recent regular-season conference championship came in 1950. The Huskers remain the only Power Five conference program to have never won an NCAA Tournament game.
As a star player for Iowa State, Hoiberg became known as “The Mayor” because of his popularity in Ames. He competed twice a year against the Huskers from 1991-95 — when Nebraska enjoyed its most sustained success, with four straight NCAA appearances. In the 25 years since, the Huskers have gone to the tournament just twice (1998, 2014).
Nebraska had reason to be encouraged this season. The Huskers started 13-4 and were in The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2014. Then the Huskers lost 11 of the next 13 and finished 13th in the Big Ten, the fifth time in seven years they’ve been 10th or worse. A brief run in the Big Ten Tournament wasn’t enough to earn an NCAA bid.
The Huskers will lose seniors James Palmer Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland, and junior Isaiah Roby has said he didn’t know if he would return if there were a coaching change.
Hoiberg had said shortly after his dismissal by the Bulls that he wanted to coach again, but the speculation was that it would be in the NBA.
Nebraska has had a history of hiring hot mid-major coaches — Danny Nee in 1986, Barry Collier in 2000, Doc Sadler in 2006 and Miles in 2012.
The school built a new practice facility in 2011 and a new arena in 2013. With the infrastructure in place, Moos and the university administration were looking to make a splash hire.
“I had the opportunity to coach (an exhibition) at Pinnacle Bank Arena with the Bulls, and I have seen first-hand that the facilities are as nice as any in the country,” Hoiberg said. “When you couple that with a loyal and passionate fan base, you can see there is great potential for the future of Nebraska basketball.”

Hawkeye women will play for a Final Four berth

AP Sports Writer
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Iowa did what it always does, working the ball around and getting it to Megan Gustafson. Now the Hawkeyes are sticking around longer in the NCAA Tournament than they have in a generation.
Gustafson had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead Iowa past North Carolina State 79-61 on Saturday in the Greensboro Regional semifinals.
“It’s been a magical year for us,” Hawkeye coach Lisa Bluder said, “and we don’t want to see it end.”
Gustafson, who averages a Division I-best 28 points while also ranking second in rebounding, finished with her 33rd double-double to tie the NCAA’s single-season record. She made 10 of her 13 shots.
Hannah Stewart added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
They helped the second-seeded Hawkeyes (29-6) earn their first Elite Eight appearance since 1993. Iowa will play top-seeded Baylor on Monday night, with the winner advancing to the Final Four in Tampa, Florida.
Iowa shot 54 percent and took command by hitting eight straight shots during a Gustafson-led 20-8 run that came after N.C. State pulled to within five midway through the third quarter.
Alexis Sevillian bookended the burst with 3-pointers, with the second of those giving the Hawkeyes their largest lead to that point at 63-46 with 8 minutes left.
Seven of the Hawkeyes’ nine buckets during that run were assisted. Iowa ranks second in Division I with an average of 21.7 assists. The Hawkeyes had assists on 24 of their 31 field goals.
“We love to be able to just share the ball and get a great shot instead of a good shot,” Gustafson said. “We feed off each other’s energy, and that’s what kept us going.”
Freshman Elissa Cunane had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Kiara Leslie had 16 points and DD Rogers added 12 points for the third-seeded Wolfpack (28-6), who shot just 35 percent.
N.C. State: One of the best seasons — and most unlikely runs, after losing four players to season-ending injuries — in Wolfpack history came to an end at a familiar stage of the tournament. N.C. State reached the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in program history. Only once have the Wolfpack gone further — in 1998, the year of the program’s lone Final Four appearance. This team set a program record by opening with 21 straight victories before the schedule got tougher.
“I do believe that the program has gone up since I’ve been here,” said Rogers, a senior. “People just stepped up and wanted to go as far as they could this year, and we made it happen.”
Iowa: Thanks to Gustafson, it’s among the Hawkeyes’ deeper marches through the bracket in recent years. This was Iowa’s first Sweet 16 since 2015 and just the third since the ‘93 team rolled to the lone Final Four in program history under coach C. Vivian Stringer.
“That’s the goal, right?” Bluder said. “You always want to take your program as high as you can. This certainly was a step for us. It was really important to us, and it was important to our players.”
Iowa took command after N.C. State pulled to 43-38 on Aislinn Konig’s layup with just under 5 minutes left in the third. But the Wolfpack went cold after that, missing nine of their next 10 shots while Iowa hit eight in a row. Gustafson made consecutive layups, the second of which put the Hawkeyes up by double figures to stay.
“We made a nice run, came down about 4-5 times in a row … (and) the ball just didn’t go in,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “I thought that was our chance to put some pressure on them. But it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Gustafson joined some elite company with her latest double-double. Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris set the record of 33 in 2006 and did it again a year later. Natalie Butler of George Mason matched that mark last season. Gustafson has had a double-double in all but two games this season.
Iowa advances to face Baylor on Monday night in the regional final.

Judge drops Infowars’ Alex Jones from Ohio flag-burning suit

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed Infowars radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and two of his associates from a lawsuit filed by a man claiming his rights were violated when police arrested him for trying to burn an American flag during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Gregory Lee Johnson, whose arrest for flag burning at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas led to a U.S. Supreme Court invalidating state flag-burning laws.
Johnson’s suit claims Cleveland police officers lied when they said Johnson set himself on fire and that Jones’ associates lied about being injured during the flag-burning attempt.
Judge Solomon Oliver ruled Friday that statements Jones’ associates gave to police are protected and can’t be used in the lawsuit.

Father, daughter attend law school, take bar exam together

By STEPHANIE WARSMITH Akron Beacon Journal
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Some families have a swear jar. The Smiths have a bar jar.
Every time Tim or his daughter Sarah talk about the bar or any legal topic, they must put $1 into the jar.
It fills up quickly.
The Akron father and daughter attended the University of Akron law school together and took the bar at the same time, so they were consumed by law for several years, sometimes driving their family crazy.
“We tried not to talk about it,” Sarah said.
“It was impossible!” Tim agreed.
Tim and Sarah Smith recently made history, becoming the first father and daughter in Ohio to take the bar exam at the same time. This followed another first when they attended the University of Akron law school together, a feat achieved by siblings and spouses but never by a parent and child simultaneously.
The duo won’t find out until April 26 whether they passed the grueling bar exam, which they took Feb. 26-28. The Beacon Journal recently talked with the Smiths at the family’s Highland Square home about how they survived their unique, challenging journey — together.
Tim Smith was studying for the LSAT, an exam required to get into law school, in 2014 when Sarah came into the family room.
“Oh, what’s that?” she asked.
“Take a look,” Tim suggested, showing her a logic problem.
She figured it out, while he struggled, foreshadowing how the two of them would later do in many of their law classes.
That single success prompted Sarah to consider joining her father in seeking a law degree.
The father and daughter were at career crossroads. Tim, now 53, was a patent agent at GOJO Industries and thought the next logical step was to become a patent attorney. Sarah, now 27, was working in human resources where she regularly consulted with an attorney before making decisions. She thought it was time she became the one others consulted.
Tim and Sarah passed the LSAT and were accepted at UA’s law school, starting evening classes in the fall of 2015.
At orientation, they made five friends who fell between their ages and became a study group that helped guide them through law school. The tight-knit group took many of the same courses, sat together in class and gathered to cram for finals.
Many others, though, remained oblivious to the relationship between Tim and Sarah.
With a last name like Smith, it wasn’t difficult for the family connection to go undetected.
Professor John Sahl, however, who had the duo in his evidence class, became curious about the relationship.
“Uncle and niece? What’s the relation?” he asked.
“Father and daughter,” Tim answered.
“No way!” said Sahl, who is no stranger to family connections, with his wife, Joann, also teaching in the UA law school.
John Sahl said the Smiths were a pleasure to have in class — and both were prepared when he cold-called on them. He said seeing the two sitting together in class and studying with their group made him wonder if he and his daughter would get along that well.
“Their presence — I think — had a really nice effect on the class,” said Sahl, who has taught at UA since 1991. “My sense was everybody appreciated the fact that they were a father-daughter team.”
Sahl said the Smiths were always professional and warm and had nice smiles.
Tim said it was good to know when he showed up for class that Sarah’s friendly face would greet him. He often picked up Starbucks en route from GOJO to the law school — a latte for him and a caramel macchiato for her — to help keep them alert during their classes that ran as late as 10 p.m.
Sarah enjoyed the coffee and also liked having someone she could ask, “Did I sound stupid answering that question?” whom she could count on for an honest answer.
The two of them, however, often disagreed on whether a judge got it right with the court cases they studied. They figure this helped them to consider both sides.
Asked her least favorite class, Sarah said it would be a tie between torts and tax law.
Tim said his was property law because of the many odd rules.
Hearing this, Sarah then wanted to change her answer.
“I’m copying off you!” she joked.
Tim said Sarah often got a letter grade higher than he did on assignments, even though he sometimes put in more study time. But, he said, this didn’t bother him.
“I’m fine with that,” he said. “It was never a competition.”
“You did well,” Sarah told him.
The Smiths finished their classes and graduated in December, though they won’t walk across the stage together until May when the annual law school commencement will be held. They moved straight from this milestone to a 10-week course to prep for the bar.
As they waited in line to take the bar, Tim put his arm around Sarah and told her, “We can do this.”
A test proctor came up to them and asked if they were the father and daughter pair.
“Well, yes we are!” Sarah answered.
They continued to offer encouragement to each other as they took the exam, sending each other texts, often featuring exhausted-looking emojis.
“That level of understanding helped drive us forward,” Tim said.
Neither is certain how they did. Both will be waiting on pins and needles for the results, along with the 375 other Ohioans who took the latest bar.
A few days after the bar, the family took a Caribbean cruise to celebrate. That’s where the bar jar came out to make the trip more enjoyable for Betty Smith and her son, Samuel, 23, who needed a break from the law almost as much as Tim and Sarah.
Betty is proud of her husband and daughter for what they accomplished and how much they bonded through the experience.
“I didn’t expect this to cause an issue in their relationship,” she said. “They had the same group of friends. They were closer than I thought they would be through this.”
Tim is continuing to work at GOJO, where he hopes he can soon change his title to attorney, while Sarah took her career in a whole new direction. She is working as a law clerk for Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice in the 11th District Court of Appeals. She loves her new job and, if she passes the bar, will become a judicial attorney.
Someday, Sarah thinks, she may want to run for judge. If she does, she’ll have at least one big supporter.
“You would be really good at it!” her dad said, smiling.

Ohio Senate passes bill legalizing hemp, hemp product

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Senate has passed a bill to legalize hemp and hemp-derived cannabidiol oil, a move that could create an industrial hemp industry in the state.
The bill, which was unanimously approved on Thursday, would allow for cultivation of hemp as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana that makes users high. The legislation comes after a 2018 federal farm law reclassified hemp as a commodity rather than a drug.
“It is important to understand that hemp is not marijuana, it is much more versatile and lacks an appreciable amount of THC to cause any psychotropic effects,” Republican Sen. Steve Huffman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement Thursday. “This is an incredible opportunity for our farmers to help diversify their crops by allowing them to grow legal hemp.”
Both farmers and retailers have supported the legislation, saying it can bring new jobs to Ohio.
Fibers from hemp can be used to manufacture clothing, cosmetics, rope and other items.
The hemp bill would require the state Department of Agriculture, governor, and attorney general to develop a plan to regulate, license for three years, and inspect the cultivation and processing of hemp. They must also submit a plan to the federal government for approval.
Program operations would be funded, at least initially, through fees paid by licensees.
Many states have adopted a hemp pilot program, which is permitted by federal law, so that farmers in their jurisdictions could begin planting and harvesting the plant.
“Farmers are always looking for new options to diversify their operations,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
Julie Doran, with the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative, told The Columbus Dispatch that she receives calls and emails from farmers daily.
“They’re really trying to jump into this industry,” Doran said.
Republican Sen. Brian Hill, who co-sponsored the bill, stressed a need to move rapidly on the legislation.
“It’s imperative that Ohio moves quickly so our farmers can take advantage of a domestic hemp marketplace to catch up with other neighboring states,” Republican Sen. Brian Hill, who also co-sponsored the bill, told The Blade of Toledo.
This bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Man indicted in slayings of 3 people in Ohio

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) — A man who authorities say killed three people in early February has been indicted in southern Ohio on charges that could result in a death sentence if convicted.
The Chillicothe Gazette reports 39-year-old James Rinehart Jr. was indicted Friday in Ross County on charges that include aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Rinehart is accused of fatally shooting 46-year-old Leann Potts, 63-year-old Thomas Littler and 50-year-old Rick Adams. Potts and Littler were found shot to death in their home. Adams, who is Potts’ brother, and a woman were shot inside Adams’ home. Adams later died at a hospital. The woman was critically injured but survived.
Ross County Prosecutor Jeff Marks says it’s “hard to tell” why they were shot.
Online court records don’t indicate whether Rinehart has an attorney.

Ohio police chief apologizes to family of man fatally mauled

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police chief has apologized for the delayed response of two officers in providing first aid to a man fatally mauled by a dog in 2017.
The Dayton Daily News reports Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl called the mother of 60-year-old Maurice Brown to apologize for the failure of two officers to immediately render help to Brown after he was attacked by a pit bull. Biehl says the officers neglected their duties.
An internal investigation showed the two officers waited nine minutes before trying to help Brown. An internal affairs report says a police supervisor told investigators he was “horrified” after watching a dash cam video showing the delayed response.
One of the officers retired three weeks after Brown was mauled. The other officer received a memorandum regarding training.
Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com

Abandoned state forest mine now habitat for threatened bats

By RICK STEELHAMMER, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — More than a century after the last shift of miners and final load of coal exited a hillside portal overlooking Middlelick Branch in what is now Kanawha State Forest, work has resumed at the entrance to the long-abandoned mine.
On March 16, 41 volunteers formed a brigade line on a steep hillside above KSF’s Shooting Range Road to pass 20-foot sections of steel, ranging in weight from 47 to 300 pounds, from a roadside offload site to the mine entrance via a human conveyor belt.
This weekend, a smaller group of volunteers is helping maneuver the steel bars into the entrance of the old mine. There, Kristen Bobo and Jim Honaker are welding them together to form a bat gate — a floor-to-roof series of bars designed to keep people out while maintaining access and air flow for hibernating bats. Among known occupants of the mine is the northern long-eared bat, listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bobo is one of only two specialists in the nation authorized to install bat gates at caves, mines and archaeological sites on federal, state and tribal lands. Based in Tennessee, she covers the eastern part of the country.
“These gates are species-specific,” she said on Friday, after she, Honaker and a half-dozen volunteers muscled a 298-pound bar that will serve as the bat gate’s base into the mine portal.
“This gate will have 5 3/4-inch spacing between bars, and the bars are shaped to create the right kind of air flow for the bats that hibernate here,” Bobo said. Fifty years of research went into making gates that provide continued cave and mine access to bats and keep them healthy while keeping people out, she said.
Bobo worked for three years with Roy Powers, a Virginia engineer who built more than 300 cave gates during his career and was regarded as the nation’s top expert in the field.
Despite the portal’s remote location and low-profile entry space, ample signs of human presence were found inside the mine before work on the gate got underway.
“A lot of trash and stuff like bedsheets and clothes had to be removed,” said Doug Wood, a retired Department of Environmental Protection biologist, who leads the Kanawha State Forest Foundation’s Bat Conservation Education Project, which arranged for Bobo and Honaker to erect the bat gate.
“By keeping people out, we won’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt inside the mine, and there will be less of a chance for spreading diseases harmful to bats, like white nose syndrome,” Wood said.
The project’s roots can be traced back to the permitting process for the controversial KD No. 2 mine, which began operating in 2014 on a hillside across Shooting Range Road from the old KSF mine portal and was ordered closed by the DEP two years later following a series of permit violations.
Surveys to check for the possible presence of endangered or threatened species were conducted on the site of the planned 413-acre surface mine in the summers of 2005 and 2009. The earlier survey turned up the presence of a pregnant northern long-eared bat and six pregnant or lactating bats of other species. During the 2009 survey, the presence of a northern long-eared bat maternity colony was found. Of 36 NLEBs captured in the survey, 17 were found to be producing milk for their pups.
“But northern long-eared bats weren’t listed as threatened or endangered then,” Wood said, allowing the permit process to move forward.
White nose syndrome, a fungal disease deadly to many bat species, particularly NLEBs, began to appear at West Virginia hibernation sites in 2009. By 2013, researchers found that the population of NLEBs occupying hibernation caves in the state had been cut nearly in half. In some northeastern states, where white nose syndrome first appeared, NLEB populations have dropped by as much as 99 percent.
“Less than five percent of them are surviving, but they seem to be holding their own,” said Bobo.
In 2015, the year NLEBs were designated a threatened species, the Kanawha Forest Coalition, Mary Ingles Trail Blazers and Kanawha Trail Club funded a spring emergence bat survey in the vicinity of the abandoned mine portal. There, biologists captured a healthy female NLEB.
The capture proved that winter hibernation of NLEBs was taking place in the vicinity of the surface mine in addition to the summer maternity colonies documented in 2009.
The three groups of KSF users planned “to use that information to get the DEP to toe the line in preventing threatened bat habitat from being destroyed” at the KD No. 2 mine site, Wood said.
But by the end of 2015, mining activity at KD No. 2 was on hold, and had not resumed by the time a consent order with the DEP shut it down permanently the following year.
In addition to threatened NLEBs, endangered Indiana bats have turned up in Kanawha State Forest surveys. In all, nine of the 14 bat species known to occur in West Virginia have been found in KSF.
The forest’s impressive number of resident bat species and the presence of a bat hibernation site used by NLEBs and several more common species in the former deep mine prompted the Kanawha State Forest Foundation to turn the situation into an educational experience.
With funds provided by the Maier Foundation, the C.C. Dickinson Family Giving Circle, and the Hot Rod Devils’ “Rock the Park” event, the Kanawha State Forest Foundation created its Bat Conservation Education Project.
Through the project, Wood has given presentations on bat restoration and conservation at Kanawha State Forest to science classes at West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston, as well as to Kanawha Valley Master Naturalists. Nearly half the volunteers taking part in the bat gate project have been students from the two universities.
The project is also responsible for a now-complete volunteer-built quarter-mile trail to the gated mine portal and installing six interpretive signs along the path to tell the story of KSF’s bat diversity, its mining history, endangered and threatened species protection and restoration, and white nose syndrome.
The trail will be named in honor of Kevin Dials, KSF’s former superintendent, who recently accepted a new position in Mercer County. A dedication ceremony will take place later this spring.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

Passion from pain: Finding strength for joy in recovery

By MATT WELCH, The Journal undefined
INWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — Sitting in a solitary confinement cell inside Jessup Correctional Facility, Tiffany Koch found the strength to make a change.
Serving a prison sentence for crimes that stemmed from consistent drug use, Koch overhead correctional officers remark on how the solitary confinement wing inside the Maryland prison was filled with “drug addicts.”
“Something clicked when I heard that,” Koch said years later, reflecting and speaking to students at Musselman High School on how drug addiction impacted her life. “That’s all I was to anyone — a drug addict. I knew that if I wanted to keep getting high, I had to accept that this was my reality. Can I accept coming in and out of prison for the rest of my life?”
The short answer for Koch was “no.” But, by her own admission and her growing story, it wasn’t easy.
Koch, 26, found a way to rid her life of drugs, however, and now enjoys what she considers a life of happiness — she’s married, taking care of her three kids in a house she owns, driving vehicles she owns and working as an EMT for Berkeley County.
“I have a great support system,” she said. “I care about this community. That’s why I came back.”
There was a time in her life when she wondered if she would ever come back. There were other times that she wondered if she’d ever make it out alive.
Her drug of choice was heroin. It stemmed from a teenage lifestyle of acting out and smoking cigarettes. It later turned to weed. Then to pills. Then to snorting heroin. And finally shooting up.
None of it was ever part of her plan for her life, she said.
At 6, Koch was abused by her then-stepfather. It wasn’t until she decided to run away from home in her pre-teen years that anyone found out; her mother read a note Koch had tucked away in a drawer in her room, detailing the events of her abuse.
With the abuse now out in the open, Koch struggled even more to live what most could consider a normal life.
“I wish I could put into words how intense the abuse was, but it’s hard to get people to comprehend it,” she said. “I don’t even think I could comprehend it at the time.”
While she is up front about not making excuses for her drug addiction, Koch said that the abuse — along with the court proceedings — impacted her mental health.
“It was very drug out, and I had to go on the stand more than once. That’s a lot for anyone, especially a pre-teen, teenager,” she said. “I was trying to be a normal teenager, but I was also trying to make it to court on time.”
She was in and out of Brooke Lane, a short-term mental health facility, as a child. She considered herself a “super angry child” and “emotionally all over the place.” She was harming herself, and she spent a year away at House of Hope, a girls home.
Then, her stepfather was released early from his sentence that stemmed from the abuse case, and a combination of fear and bitterness came over Koch, triggering a “whirlwind of issues.”
“I just gave up,” she said. “I was tired of trying to be a good child. I just believed I wasn’t good. I think with what someone else’s actions did to me, I thought it was my fault.”
Next thing she knew, she was partying, drinking and smoking weed. She later wound up pregnant at age 16, and, for a little while, began to get things back on track and felt she was doing what she needed to do to be a young mother.
Then she graduated from smoking weed and found pills.
“That was like a whole new ballgame for me. I saw my friends doing it, and they were fine,” she said. “Something changed in my brain, and it became all I cared about. I just wanted to get high. It overpowered me very quickly.”
Then pills weren’t enough. So she moved to heroin under the same mentality — her friends were doing it and they were fine.
It was not fine, though.
The first time she tried it, she was with friends in the Food Lion parking lot in Inwood. By the time her friends drove next door to the gas station, it had hit her.
“I remember thinking to myself that I’m in so much trouble because I enjoyed it so much,” she said. “People wouldn’t do drugs if it didn’t make you feel good. But if I knew the consequences that came with getting high, I never would have given drugs a second thought.”
By her own admission, her life went from “fun for a short amount of time” to “the darkest mentality that I’ve ever been in.”
Three to five months later, she began shooting up. Despite being “terrified,” she kept doing it.
“I remember praying, saying, ‘Please don’t let me die.’ I just wanted to get high, but I didn’t want to die,” she said. “Then, instantly my life became a living hell. Once I started shooting heroin, I didn’t care about anything but heroin.”
The expanded drug use led to crimes — mostly stealing. She remembered getting caught stealing for the first time, “then it was like they knew me, and I got caught all the time.”
Her mother “didn’t play with her,” and kicked her out, and she bounced in and out of jail, while stealing food just to eat and sleeping in her car.
By this time, she’d overdosed twice — having to be brought back once by Narcan. Her lifestyle caused her mother to call the television show “Intervention” to come film her and ultimately offer her treatment.
“They followed me around and I was like, ‘Man, this feels like ‘Intervention.’ But then I convinced myself that I was high and paranoid. They told me it was a documentary for the town about drugs. I just cared that they told me they would pay me,” she said. “Then they offered treatment. It was the biggest relief I’d ever felt. I was so tired.”
Koch spent five months in Arizona before coming back with the plan of taking care of open warrants out for her arrest.
But that never happened either.
She returned to the area and then fled to North Carolina for two months and went on a binge before finally turning herself in.
“I was so exhausted that going to prison sounded better than living the way I was living,” she said. “So, I got belligerent on as many drugs as I could and hoped I could kill myself. Didn’t work, so I turned myself in.”
For the various charges pending against her, Koch was sentenced to 18 months in a Maryland prison, where one of her cellmates was a twice-convicted murderer.
She found drugs in prison, though, and it eventually landed her in solitary confinement, where the light ultimately clicked for her.
So, when she got out, she went back to Arizona for treatment and eventually wound up working at the rehab facility.
“I took it seriously this time. I was ready to enjoy life,” she said. “I did everything they told me to do.”
She met her now-husband at the facility and worked on her past traumas. After a few years, she returned to Berkeley County, “started from the bottom” and put the pieces of her life back together.
“Today, after ‘Intervention’ has aired six or seven years ago, I own my own house, we have multiple vehicles, I take care of my kids, I have a career, I have a good marriage, we have awesome animals,” she told the students at Musselman. “I say these things not to be boastful, but to show people that it is possible to come out of addiction and live a normal life.”
Koch has now spoken twice to students at Musselman High School, and she never shies away from telling her story.
She took a pair of posters with her to the school. One showed close friends or family of close friends that she knows who have died from drugs. Another poster showed the faces of those who had died in the past year. In total, the number is 102 people.
“I’m not different than the people in these pictures; I just somehow didn’t die,” she said. “There’s only three ends to drugs: prison, death, or somehow getting out of it.”
Koch urged the students at Musselman to not be as “hardheaded” as she was.
“A life of addiction is way more than you can bargain for. I say that because I care. If I can keep one person from going down that road, it’s worth it,” she said. “This is a small town and I see people I know all the time. Now, I know that I’ll never see some of them again.”
Today, Koch spends her time as an EMT, saving the lives of those who fall victim to drugs, among serving on other calls.
She once felt she needed drugs to feel a rush. Now, she gets that from the passion she feels with her work.
“I get very fixated on things. Today, I’m fixated on doing good. I like to do good, and I like to give back,” she said. “I lived a chaotic life, and I miss (the chaos) sometimes. So, I like the excitement of not knowing what I’m going into with a 911 call.”
Information from: The Journal, http://journal-news.net/

W.Va. mayor, police chief charged with embezzlement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The mayor, former mayor, police chief and former clerk of a West Virginia city have been charged with embezzlement after an investigation into financial mismanagement and the misuse of federal funds meant to rebuild the city after a massive flood.
Officials on Friday announced the charges against Richwood Mayor Chris Drennen, former Mayor Bob Henry Baber, police Chief Lloyd Allen Cogar and former clerk Abigail McClung.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether those charged had attorneys. A city spokeswoman declined to comment.
State Auditor John B. McCuskey described his investigation as a whirlwind that began by looking at Baber’s purchasing card spending and quickly blossomed into a citywide accounting of where the more than $3 million in federal flood recovery money went.
Standing in Richwood City Hall before a crowd of angry residents Friday, McCuskey said much is still unclear.
“What we know is where they didn’t go,” he said of the federal dollars. “And anybody can walk down main street in Richwood and see where they didn’t go.”
He said that only about $400,000 of the federal money went toward flood recovery, with the rest unaccounted for.
Charging documents paint an unflattering picture of financial mismanagement across the city.
Cogar, the police chief, made what appear to be personal transactions with a governmental purchasing card, including an expenditure of more than $2,000 at a tire shop he owns, according to a criminal complaint. McClung, the former clerk, wrongly issued herself a check for 208 hours of vacation time before she left her city job.
The auditor’s report offered more damaging details.
The city didn’t keep track of the federal money, diverted funds away from their intended use and shelled out almost a quarter of a million dollars for consultants to help the city with the grant, according to audit. It also says Drennen and others were allowed unfettered discretion to pay themselves, family and friends nearly $500,000 after the flood.
In June 2016, thunderstorms drenched the region with as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain. A river that runs alongside Richwood swelled over, leading to flooding of more than 5 feet (1.5 meters). At least 23 people died, more than 200 homes were damaged or destroyed and infrastructure throughout the city was wrecked, according to the auditor’s report.
“While certain public officials touted the Richwood recovery as an example of what a small community can do if they pull together,” the report reads, “it may now find itself serving as an example of greed, dysfunction, and what not to do following a natural disaster.”