W.Va. suit accuses diocese of knowingly employing pedophiles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s attorney general has sued a local Catholic diocese and its former bishop, claiming they knowingly employed pedophiles.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the suit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Michael Bransfield on Tuesday.
The suit alleges the diocese and Bransfield chose to cover up arguably criminal behavior and says the diocese employed admitted sexual abusers and priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse without adequate background checks.
A diocese spokesman didn’t return a voicemail message, and no one responded immediately to a voicemail left with a phone number listed for Bransfield.
Earlier this month, Catholic Church officials announced they were imposing ministerial restrictions on Bransfield after an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed adults and committed financial improprieties. He resigned last year.

Judge tosses Ohio’s lawsuit against gas pipeline developer

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — A judge has tossed out a lawsuit Ohio filed against the developers of a $4.2 billion natural gas pipeline that stretches from West Virginia to Michigan.
The lawsuit sought to force the builders of the Rover Pipeline to pay fines for what Ohio regulators said were numerous water pollution violations during the pipeline’s construction.
A county judge in Canton ruled earlier this week that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had waived its right to regulate construction under the Clean Water Act.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners argued it was up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to enforce environmental laws during construction.
A spokesman for the Ohio attorney general’s office tells The Repository in Canton the state is reviewing the decision and is considering its next step.
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Information from: The Repository, http://www.cantonrep.com

Lawsuit over sex assault investigation at Marshall settled

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A lawsuit over how Marshall University handled an investigation into a sexual assault has been settled.
A former student sued the West Virginia school last year, arguing that Marshall violated Title IX, related regulations and its own policy. The lawsuit said the woman repeatedly told a male student to stop assaulting her and that a witness corroborated those statements. It says Marshall didn’t follow Title IX’s requirement to protect complainants before an investigation’s final outcome.
According to the lawsuit, Marshall’s student conduct director said the student was found not responsible. It says there had been no hearing, despite a requirement for one.
The Herald-Dispatch reports the school never filed a response to the lawsuit, and university spokeswoman Leah Payne declined to comment on the litigation, including the amount of the settlement.
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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

Earth Day program scheduled next month in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is having an Earth Day celebration next month.
The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 23 at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia in Charleston.
The program is being produced by the agency’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan Make-It-Shine Program.
Educational displays and activities promoting Earth Day and environmental matters will be available to individuals and school groups. Federal, state and local agencies as well as environmental groups will be among the exhibitors.
More than 300 students are expected to attend. To register a school group to attend or for more information, contact Travis Cooper at (304) 926-0499 extension 1117, or by email at Travis.L.Cooper@wv.gov.

West Virginia education forums set to start

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia education officials are kicking off a series of public hearings as part of preparations for an upcoming special legislative session.
The first of seven forums is set for Monday night at Cabell Midland High School in Ona. Others being held this week are scheduled for Tuesday night at Mount View High School in Welch, Wednesday at Capital High in Charleston and Thursday at Woodrow Wilson High in Beckley.
Each forum will start at 6 p.m. and will include discussions in small groups on core education issues.
Gov. Jim Justice called the special session to address teacher pay raises and other education issues. He’s asked legislators to meet with teachers, parents and other stakeholders before returning to Charleston later this year.

Trial set for parents accused in death of neglected child

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — A trial date has been set for a West Virginia couple charged with murder and neglect after authorities said their toddler appeared to have been starved to death.
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Christy Moore and Corey Moore are now scheduled to stand trial May 14. The delay was due to Corey Moore’s attorney requesting a mental evaluation that’s set for Tuesday.
A Mercer County Sheriff’s report says the couple told authorities the toddler had a cold and lost nearly 20 pounds. Detective Sgt. S.A. Sommers says the parents told authorities the boy refused to eat. Prosecutor Georgia Sitler has said the couple’s three other children also appeared malnourished.
Relatives John and Janet Adkins have been charged with similar offenses.
Authorities expect to receive the toddler’s autopsy report this week.
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Information from: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, http://www.bdtonline.com

West Virginia teen jumps into politics with city council run

By MATT COMBS, The Register-Herald undefined
OAK HILL, W.Va. (AP) — At 17 years old, Colby Lopez isn’t a typical teenager.
Instead of the latest trends, gossip and graduation just months away, the teen from Oak Hill has shifted his focus to running for Oak Hill City Council for the city’s Ward Two.
“For someone so young, business and politics is what I care about,” said the high school senior, who will be attending the West Virginia University Institute of Technology in the fall. “For some reason, I’ve just never been interested in what most people my age really would be.”
To those who question his age, Lopez points out that Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, who Lopez said were two of the most popular presidents, also were the nation’s youngest presidents.
“Young people should always be in government,” Lopez said, adding that the younger generation can better understand the modern world.
While running for local politics, the student said his interest in how government works was sparked by politics at the national level including the most recent presidential race.
“Everyone talks about politics now, even in high school,” Lopez said.
While interested in national politics, the student believes his positions can help benefit the city that he has lived in since the first grade.
Lopez is running on a platform of infrastructure, education, health care, community policing and a program he calls “Profits for the People.”
Under that proposed program, the city will take abandoned buildings, monetize them and share the profits from the ventures with the city’s residents.
The high school student compared his proposed program to a program in Alaska, where residents receive a check from the state from revenues it receives from oil extraction.
Lopez believes that a program like Profits for the People will set Oak Hill apart from others in the area, and will draw in new residents and help keep ones that are tempted to leave.
“Even in my own friend group, there’s a lot of people that don’t want to stay here in Oak Hill,” the candidate said. “But I just have to do something because I’m not that type of person.”
Along with his proposed program, Lopez pointed to the infrastructure improvements as an economic booster.
“Business won’t even look at the location if it doesn’t have the infrastructure,” Lopez said.
Along with infrastructure, Lopez pointed towards having an educated workforce as a necessity.
“I believe that infrastructure and education goes a really long way with the economy,” Lopez said.
With his age, Lopez said that he believes he can bring a fresh perspective to Oak Hill’s government.
“I just don’t feel like the current council is doing enough,” the candidate said. “I think they have started to try and make it look like they’re doing stuff. It’s my opinion, and a lot of my friends, that this is just a fake attempt to make it look like it where the election is happening.”
To a question on tourism, Lopez said that the tourism industry could help boost the town’s economy, but that tourism wasn’t a cure-all.
“Tourism itself isn’t going to build an economy,” the candidate said. “While we should try our best in the tourism industry, we should also do as much as we can in addition to that.”
To that, Lopez said the task at hand would be a personal responsibility.
“I’d personally try my best, on my own, trying to go anywhere I could to bring business here,” the candidate said.
Another issue that Lopez said he was concerned about was what to do about the opioid epidemic which has hit West Virginia particularly hard.
“The opioid epidemic is a very big problem and it’s going to be difficult to tackle,” Lopez said. “We need to look at every single point of the epidemic and tackle each individually. If we try and tackle the whole thing all at once, it’s going to be a monster of a battle.”
As a candidate for Ward Two, Lopez also said that the environmental problems involving Minden must be solved right away.
Lopez’ father migrated to the United States from Mexico as a child, and cannot vote although he is a permanent resident. And his mother simply has not voted. Despite being the son of two non-voters, Lopez said the reception about his candidacy from his family and friends has been warm.
“A lot of them are excited about it,” the student said of his fellow classmates.
While noting that the city has an uphill climb, Lopez believes that it may have a bright future.
“With the current council, I don’t think it will be too successful,” Lopez said. “But I believe with me and some of the other great people running, because there are a lot of people running, that we could put Oak Hill on its path to success.”
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Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com

Manchin only Democratic senator not to endorse LGBT bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democratic senator who did not co-sponsor an LGBT anti-discrimination bill.
The Register-Herald reports 44 Democratic U.S. senators and the two independent senators that caucus with them have signed onto Senate bill 788. The bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon would add LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Manchin did not sponsor a similar proposal in 2017. A spokeswoman for his office declined to comment to the newspaper.
West Virginia’s other U.S. senator is Republican Shelley Moore Capito. She also did not co-sponsor the bill.
West Virginia ACLU Executive Director Joseph Cohen said he was “sorely disappointed” that neither of the state’s U.S. Senators endorsed the proposal.
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Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com

Former coal baron Blankenship sues media, claims defamation

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — Former coal baron Don Blankenship is suing several news outlets and media personalities, claiming he was defamed during his failed bid for a U.S. senate seat in West Virginia.
Blankenship’s suit was filed Thursday in Mingo County, West Virginia. It names The Associated Press among other large media companies.
Blankenship says news organizations waged a concerted plot to destroy him by erroneously labeling him as a convicted felon or saying he was imprisoned for manslaughter.
Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which owned a mine where a 2010 explosion killed 29 workers. He spent a year in federal prison after being convicted of conspiring to break mine safety laws, a misdemeanor.
Blankenship is seeking $12 billion in damages.

Gov. Justice signs budget with teachers’ raises earmarked

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has approved a $4.6 billion state budget that has money earmarked for a potential teachers’ pay raise.
Justice says he signed the fiscal year 2020 budget on Thursday.
State lawmakers passed the budget earlier this month, setting aside funding for a 5 percent teachers’ raise in an unappropriated line item that will be addressed in a special session on education.
The Republican governor called the special session and has asked for legislators to go out and seek input from teachers, parents and others before returning to address the raises and additional education issues.
It’s unclear exactly when the legislature will come back, but Republican leadership has signaled lawmakers might reconvene in late spring or early summer.