West Virginia Gov. picks family’s lobbyist for Senate seat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican Gov. Jim Justice is filling a West Virginia Senate vacancy with a Democrat who works as a lobbyist for his family’s companies.
Paul Hardesty replaces Democrat Richard Ojeda, who resigned to mount a long-shot run for the U.S. presidency. Justice announced his choice Thursday.
Hardesty is the managing member of a government relations firm whose clients include several Justice family companies. He also was president of the Logan County board of education, a position he resigned to take the Senate job.
Hardesty, who lives in Holden, was among nine Democrats who applied to fill the 7th District seat, which stretches across Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo and Wayne counties.

Sheriff: Deputies fired after investigation of traffic stop

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia sheriff says two deputies have been fired after an internal investigation of a traffic stop involving two state police troopers and a sheriff’s deputy in which a teenage motorist was seen being beaten.
Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller told The Journal on Wednesday that deputies C.S. Merson and Austin Ennis were terminated as the result of the investigation, but declined to go into details.
Allegations surfaced Nov. 29 when Gov. Jim Justice called for an investigation of two state police troopers following a traffic stop in which he said the troopers were seen on a dashcam video beating a 16-year-old male suspect.
The troopers were suspended without pay, and state police spokesman Reginal Patterson says the agency is still investigating.
Sheriff Keller says the fired deputies have a right to a hearing and one has been requested but not yet scheduled.
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Information from: The Journal, http://journal-news.net/

Proposed resolution supports congressional term limits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A House Delegate has sponsored a resolution that would add West Virginia to states that are signing up to support a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits.
Delegate Jeffrey Pack sponsored the resolution on Thursday and it has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. In a statement, Pack says the moved is to “drain the swamp of politicians who are out of touch with hard working West Virginians.” He says term limits are the best way to do that.
The resolution supports term limits for members of both the House and the Senate.
The organization U.S. Term Limits said if the resolution passes, West Virginia would become the 13th state to propose an amendment for congressional term limits.

Complaint: Teacher gave alcohol to teens involved in a crash

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A teacher is accused of giving alcohol and the keys to her vehicle to two West Virginia students who were later involved in a crash.
News outlets report 31-year-old Kandace Dick is accused of providing alcohol Wednesday to a 17-year-old and 15-year-old while at her job at Tug Valley High School.
A criminal complaint filed in Mingo County says that after giving the students the alcohol, Dick gave them the keys to her vehicle and let them drive to the gas station to buy food. It says the 15-year-old lost control and crashed. The teens were taken to a hospital to be treated for their injuries.
Dick was charged with offenses, including two counts of child neglect creating the risk of injury.
It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

Judge asked to block evidence in crash near playground

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia magistrate has been asked to block prosecutors from introducing evidence or witnesses during the trial of a man who overdosed in a car that crashed near a crowded playground.
The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports 33-year-old Bradley Stephen Wyrick appeared in court Thursday on charges in last year’s wreck.
Wyrick and 34-year-old co-defendant Tabitha Wyrick are accused of overdosing that July while inside a car that then crashed feet from a crowded Huntington playground.
The crash prompted state lawmakers to call for harsher penalties for drug crimes near places such as schools and parks.
Defense attorney Gerald Henderson says prosecutors failed to timely disclose discovery evidence and the trial date wasn’t properly rescheduled.
Tabitha Wyrick pleaded guilty in October to DUI and was sentenced to six months in jail.
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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

Supreme Court elections bill advances in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A House of Delegates committee has advance a bill that would require a runoff election for the West Virginia Supreme Court if no candidate receives more than 40 percent of the vote.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill Wednesday. It now moves to the full House.
The runoff would involve the two candidates who receive the most votes in the election. Nonpartisan Supreme Court elections are held in May. The bill would be effective with the 2020 election.
In separate November special elections, Tim Armstead won with 26 percent of the vote while Evan Jenkins won with 36 percent. Armstead’s seat expires in 2020.
Justice John Hutchison, who was appointed to the seat vacated by Allen Loughry, will serve until a 2020 special election.

West Virginia bill addresses slow left-lane drivers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginians have long complained about motorists driving at reduced speeds in the left lane of highways. Now a state lawmaker is doing something about it.
Delegate Gary Howell has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to drive in the left lane of a multilane highway while impeding other traffic.
Howell is chairman of the House committee on government organization. He says in a statement, “it’s time we crack down on these nuisance drivers.”
The bill would make the slow-driving practice a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine for a first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense.
Howell says the bill is a matter of public safety as well as driver convenience. He says many interstate accidents occur while motorists are trying to change lanes to get around a slower driver.

9 Democrats apply for vacant seat in W.Va. Senate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Nine Democrats have applied to fill a vacant seat in the West Virginia Senate.
The state Democratic Party released the list of names Wednesday in the 7th District. Sen. Richard Ojeda resigned last week to run for U.S. president.
The district’s Democratic Executive Committee is meeting Thursday in Chapmanville to vote on three names to submit to Gov. Jim Justice.
The applicants include Logan County residents Paul Hardesty, Susan Perry, Sheila Riddle, Ralph Rodighiero, Joe White, Harry Freeman and Art Kirkendoll; Harry Keith White of Mingo County; and Josh Watson of Lincoln County.

Democrats meeting to submit names for Richard Ojeda’s successor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Democrats in a West Virginia Senate district are seeking people interested in filling a vacancy in the state Legislature.
The 7th Senate District Democratic Executive Committee is meeting Thursday in Chapmanville to vote on three names to submit to Gov. Jim Justice to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Richard Ojeda’s resignation.
The retired Army paratrooper resigned last week to run for president.
People from Lincoln, Logan, Mingo and Wayne counties who are interested in serving can submit a resume and cover letter to brittni@wvdemocrats.com by noon Wednesday.

Officials: Fire that killed 4 children probably accidental

CLAY, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia fire marshal’s office says investigators believe a fire that killed four children was probably accidental.
The fire marshal’s office said in a news release there were smoke alarms in the house, located in Clay.
The news release said “investigators have ruled the fire to be undetermined in cause but most probably accidental.”
The four children who died were in the foster care program. The Department of Health and Human Resources said the initial home study revealed the home had working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors.
Officials said after the fire that the victims were a 6-month-old boy and three girls ages 3, 4 and 8. Their names haven’t been released. Officials said two adults and two children escaped the fire Saturday night.