West Virginia University suspends fraternity, students

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University has suspended a fraternity chapter and several students after a student fell while visiting at the fraternity house.
The university said 22-year-old senior finance major David Rusko of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, fell down stairs at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house on Saturday. WVU said in a news release that Rusko was left unconscious by the fall and was taken to a hospital.
The school said university police officers found that more than two hours passed between Rusko’s fall and a call made by fraternity members to 911.
The university issued individual interim suspensions and placed the SAE chapter on interim suspension. The school said additional students may face disciplinary action.

3 new members appointed to Marshall University board

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Marshall University says West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has appointed three people to the university’s Board of Governors.
They are retired Cabell County schools superintendent William A. Smith, WesBanco executive Geoffrey S. Sheils and BrickStreet Insurance attorney H. Toney Stroud. All are from Cabell County. They will serve three-year terms ending June 30, 2022.
Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert in a news release thanked outgoing members Oshel Craigo, Michael Sellards and Joseph McDonie for their service to the university.
The new board members are scheduled to be sworn in at the next Board of Governors meeting on Dec. 13.

Health official says hepatitis A cases on decline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A health official in West Virginia says there’s been a drop in the number of hepatitis A cases being reported.
The Gazette-Mail reports the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is now helping manage 10 to 15 hepatitis A cases a week, which is down from 50 to 60 cases per week at the peak of the outbreak.
Health department Director of Epidemiology and Emergency Preparedness Janet Briscoe said officials there have worked with hospitals and other partners to try to get vaccines to at-risk populations.
She said the agency has investigated over 1,000 cases of hepatitis A.
___
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

Tourism officials promoting W.Va. through ‘Fallout’ game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Tourism officials are hoping to promote West Virginia to a wider audience with the launch of Bethesda Game Studios’ “Fallout 76” video game.
Tourism officials heralded the game’s worldwide debut Wednesday with an event at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston.
The latest installment in the post-apocalyptic “Fallout” series is a prequel based in the Mountain State.
The state tourism website has an interactive map of West Virginia locations included in the game.
Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby says West Virginia “has never had a tourism opportunity quite like this.”
___
Online:

Fallout 76: Emerge and Explore West Virginia

Robotic pediatric spinal surgery is a first in West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia University surgeon has performed the state’s first robotic pediatric spinal surgery.
WVU Medicine said in a news release Wednesday that Dr. John Lubicky used a robotic surgical guidance system to perform the procedure to treat a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue and severe scoliosis.
Lubicky is chief of pediatric orthopedics at WVU Medicine Children’s.
The release said the robot is able to identify and access critical parts of the anatomy and safely insert implants into the vertebrae. Lubicky said the robot makes it possible to perform a procedure on abnormal anatomy that would be difficult with a traditional freehand method.
The release said the patient is recovering.

Impeachment focus back on W.Va. court after justice resigns

By JOHN RABY, Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Now that an impeached and suspended West Virginia Supreme Court justice has resigned, lawmakers are turning their attention to a panel of justices that had cut off pending impeachment trials.
After Justice Allen Loughry’s resignation, the state Senate wants to revisit an Oct. 11 order halting the Legislature’s efforts to impeach three justices as a violation of the separate of power doctrine. The court hasn’t scheduled a hearing on the Senate’s request.
The panel of acting justices ruled the Senate lacked jurisdiction to pursue Justice Margaret Workman’s impeachment trial. The decision also was applied to trials involving retired Justice Robin Davis and Loughry, who had petitioned the court to intervene.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Monday the focus now is on overturning “this ridiculous, crazy decision by the appointed Supreme Court that just breaks every judicial canon. It is a ridiculous decision that has far-ranging implications for the separations of powers.”
Carmichael said the Senate’s view on the court’s earlier decision is that the court can’t decide whether one of its members can be impeached.
“The court is not a party to this process,” he said. “It is within the constitution (to be) entirely left to the Legislature to determine the impeachment process.”
Loughry resigned effective Monday and is the third justice to leave the five-member court in recent months. Justice Menis Ketchum announced his resignation before the House of Delegates’ impeachment hearings. Davis retired after the House approved impeachment charges against her.
Loughry still faces sentencing in federal court for his conviction last month on 11 criminal charges, including wire fraud involving his personal use of state cars and fuel cards and mail fraud.
Workman, Davis, Loughry and Justice Beth Walker were impeached in August over questions involving lavish office renovations that evolved into accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. Some of the justices were accused of abusing their authority by failing to rein in excessive spending.
Walker was cleared of an impeachment charge at her Senate trial last month.
West Virginia voters last week passed a constitutional amendment that would give legislators the option of reducing part of the state judiciary’s annual budget. The chief justice currently has constitutional autonomy in deciding how the system spends the $139 million budget.
Two Republicans who were appointed as Supreme Court justices after the scandal broke, former House speaker Tim Armstead and ex-Congressman Evan Jenkins, won election to continue on the bench.
Armstead will complete the term of Ketchum through 2020. Jenkins will serve through 2024, when Davis’ term ends.
Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016, but the court’s impeachment scandal stirred political attacks. Some Democrats argued the court’s shakeup was a power grab by the Republican-led legislature.

AEP subsidiaries propose revised rate increase in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two American Electric Power subsidiaries in West Virginia are proposing a revised rate increase that would bring a 3 percent revenue boost.
Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power filed the request with the state Public Service Commission on Tuesday for a $44 million rate increase. That’s down significantly from the nearly $115 million rate increase sought last May.
Appalachian Power says in a news release the latest request would increase bills about $5.38 for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. It says customers using 2,000 kilowatt hours per month would see a $1.37 reduction.
The statement says the agreement uses changes in the federal tax law to reduce the impact on customers.

West Virginia revenue collections up again in October

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has seen another month of revenue collections over estimates, though receipts were not as strong as the last few months.
Gov. Jim Justice’s office announced over the weekend that General Fund revenue in October was $359.2 million, nearly $2.4 million over estimates and 1.5 percent above the previous year.
September’s collections were nearly $54.1 million above estimates. August’s collections were $33.4 million above estimates. In the first month of the fiscal year in July, revenue collections were $32.4 million above estimates.
Justice’s office said fiscal year-to-date collections of more than $1.4 billion are $122.3 million above estimates and 13.5 percent ahead of prior year receipts.
The governor’s office said October is the seventh consecutive month of revenue surplus over estimates.

Special session canceled after West Virginia justice resigns

By JOHN RABY, Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The resignation of a West Virginia Supreme Court justice recently convicted of federal charges prompted the governor Sunday to cancel a special legislative session that was to consider the justice’s removal.
It was the latest development in an impeachment scandal miring some past and present justices in varying accusations including abuse of authority and failure to rein in excessive spending that engulfed the state’s highest court for months.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s office said late Saturday he received a letter from Justice Allen Loughry and accepted his resignation effective at the close of business Monday. Justice had no further comment and Loughry’s one-sentence resignation letter didn’t elaborate.
Loughry was convicted last month of federal criminal charges including wire fraud involving his personal use of state cars and fuel cards and mail fraud. He has requested a new trial.
Last week Justice had called the special session for Tuesday, saying in a proclamation that it would consider removing Loughry from his post. Another proclamation Sunday canceled the special session in light of Loughry’s resignation.
Loughry couldn’t be reached for comment. His attorney, John A. Carr, said in an email he would have no comment.
Loughry and three other justices were impeached by the West Virginia House in August over questions involving lavish office renovations that evolved into varying accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. One of them, Justice Beth Walker, was cleared of an impeachment charge at a Senate trial last month.
The West Virginia Supreme Court last month effectively halted the Legislature’s remaining efforts to impeach the state’s justices as a violation of the separate of power doctrine. The court ruled that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to pursue its impeachment trial of Justice Margaret Workman.
The Senate had postponed Workman’s trial after the presiding judge didn’t show up following the court ruling. A panel of acting justices said the court’s decision to stop Workman’s impeachment hearing also applies to retired Justice Robin Davis and Loughry, who had petitioned the court to intervene.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, a Republican, lauded the resignation announcement Saturday.
“We appreciate that Justice Loughry has decided to do the right thing and step down from the Court,” Carmichael said in a statement.
Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016, but the court’s impeachment scandal this year stirred political attacks. Some Democrats argued that the court’s shakeup over spending and other issues was a power grab by the Republican-led legislature.
On Election Day, two state Supreme Court justices appointed to the court after the scandal broke won election to continue on the bench: Former House speaker Tim Armstead and ex-Congressman Evan Jenkins won those races Tuesday night, each defeating nine other candidates. They had originally been appointed by Justice to fill two of the seats on the state’s highest court pending the midterm election.
Armstead will complete the term of Justice Menis Ketchum, who announced his resignation on the eve of the House’s impeachment proceedings. The term runs through 2020.
Jenkins will serve until 2024, when the term of retired Justice Robin Davis ends. Davis also was impeached.

Dunlevy appointed to West Virginia Board of Education

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former West Virginia Board of Education member Robert Dunlevy has been appointed to the board again.
Gov. Jim Justice appointed the Wheeling resident to the board late last week. Dunlevy replaces Frank Vitale, whose term expired earlier this month.
Dunlevy previously served on the board from 2005 to 2014.
He is a manufacturing sales manager and is the board chairman for the Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley.