Report: General retaliated against female sex assault victim


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal report says a West Virginia Army National Guard official gave a female officer poor marks after she reported that another male officer sexually assaulted her.

According to The Charleston Gazette-Mail ( ), the Department of Defense inspector general concluded that Brig. Gen. Charles Veit dealt a female lieutenant colonel an unfavorable evaluation “in reprisal for” speaking up.

The inspector’s office says it’s the first time it substantiated reports of reprisal for reporting sexual assault.

The Army Times published the report.

Previous reports say the lieutenant colonel was assaulted in 2006 in Arkansas. She reported it in 2010.

Veit gave the unnamed officer she had accused a positive evaluation and suggested his promotion.

A spokesman confirmed an Army review. The guard says it hasn’t received it yet.

The investigation didn’t find retaliation by the guard’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer.

After a year, WVU fracking project a ‘success’


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Those involved in a West Virginia University fracking project are praising its success after the first year.

The Exponent Telegram reports ( WVU began the Marcellus Shale Energy Environmental Laboratory project last June.

The study is meant to give a look at the hydraulic fracking process over five years.

Those involved in the project say it has put West Virginia and the school at the cutting edge of research.

Brian Anderson, professor of chemical engineering and director of the WVU Energy Institute, says two production wells were drilled last fall, along with a scientific observation well.

“Everything went swimmingly. Of course, some of the schedules were changed with the rain last June, but it was really a huge success during the stimulation drilling in the early part of the test,” Anderson said.

Anderson says he has spoken about the impact of the project in China, and that delegations from Colombia and Mexico have visited regarding the project.

“It puts us in a unique position to lead in this globally,” he said.

Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, said that’s exactly where the state should be.

“We should be at the cutting edge, we should be at the forefront, because the largest natural gas reserves in the world lie under Monongalia County, combined with Marcellus and Utica,” he said. “Hundreds of years of natural gas supply lies there. It is only appropriate that this would be the place such information would be garnered.”

Charleston animal shelter starts in-house veterinary clinic


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A Charleston animal shelter is trying to curtail pet overpopulation with an in-house spay-neuter program.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail ( ) reports that the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association has established an on-site veterinary clinic and an in-house spay-neuter program to prevent overcrowding of animal shelters.

The program is financed by money collected from dog taxes in Kanawha County.

Executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Chelsea Staley says the shelter received $40,000 from the fund, $10,000 of which was used to build the facility. She says building its own facility and hiring its own veterinarian will save the association $30,000 to $40,000 per year.

The veterinarian, Dr. Jamie Totten, will be providing spay and neuter services and will treat infections and other common ailments.

Teen’s drowning marks parents’ 2nd loss of child in a month


BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (AP) — An 18-year-old West Virginia man’s drowning marks the second loss of a child for his parents in the past month.

State Trooper R.A. Moss says Steven Earlo Morgan of Buckhannon was swimming with friends in the Buckhannon River in Upshur County when he went under the surface Saturday.

Morgan was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon.

The Exponent Telegram ( ) reports Morgan’s 19-year-old brother, Christopher, died last month. According to his obituary, Christopher Morgan died May 2 at his home.

They are the sons of Cheryl and Rex Dotson and Earlo Morgan, all of Buckhannon.

Steven Morgan’s visitation is set for Thursday at Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home, the same funeral home that handled his brother’s arrangements.

Ground-to-air fireworks now available in West Virginia


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginians will have access to a greater variety of fireworks under a law that debuts this week.

The law that goes into effect Wednesday allows for the use of some aerial fireworks. Those can be sold by businesses licensed by the state fire marshal and include rockets and artillery shells. Customers must be 18 and have a valid state identification.

In the past, residents had to travel out-of-state to obtain such fireworks.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill into law earlier this year expanding the type of fireworks allowed.

Municipalities can regulate the use of consumer fireworks within their boundaries.

Chris Wood named Davis & Elkins College president


ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) — Chris Wood has been named the 15th president of Davis & Elkins College.

The college’s Board of Trustees announced Wood’s selection Wednesday from among more than 60 candidates following a yearlong search.

The Huntington native’s appointment is effective Aug. 1.

The 51-year-old Wood currently is vice president for advancement at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware.

Wood succeeds Buck Smith, who served six of the past eight years and will retire again as president emeritus.

In a statement, Wood says while he has not been actively seeking a college presidency, he found that Davis & Elkins’ liberal arts education offerings, faith-based roots and location in his home state were “enticing and captivating.”

Wood has a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a post-graduate degree from Northwestern University’s theological seminary.

Water utility proposes surcharge for $88.8M spending plan


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Customers could pay a surcharge to support $88.8 million in infrastructure spending under a plan introduced by West Virginia American Water.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail ( ), citing documents filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission, reports that the proposal is expected to fund roughly $45 million in main replacements through the company’s water system by 2020.

The proposal also includes about $20 million for a 7-mile pipeline that would connect Weston to Webster Springs, a project that would equal more than 22 percent of the money spent under the proposed surcharge.

West Virginia American Water CEO Jeff McIntyre said the surcharge would help reduce the size and frequency of the company’s rate increases. He says it would also improve the reliability of the distribution system.

McIntyre said the distribution system serves more than 169,000 customers in 19 counties across the state.

The proposal comes months after the Public Service Commission approved an $18.2 million annual rate increase for the company.

Advocates for a Safe Water System, a group that is trying to organize a public takeover of the company, said the company has failed to show that the plan is the most cost-effective way to address the needs of customers.

Bullet manufacturer to build plant in West Virginia


QUINCY, W.Va. (AP) — An ammunition company announced plans Tuesday to build a bullet factory in southern West Virginia and add 400 jobs.

Ranger Scientific LLC officials said the company has acquired 1,000 acres on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine in eastern Kanawha County. The 150,000-square-foot facility will produce more than 500 million rounds of specialty rifle ammunition each year.

Ranger President and CEO Daniel Pearlson said the company chose West Virginia over six other states. According to media outlets, he said bullet manufacturing is expected to begin by 2018.

The plant will mass produce “harmonically tuned” rifle ammunition, which is used in Olympic and other international competitions as well as by expert hunters and in specialized U.S. military applications. Those types of bullets reduce weapon vibration during firing.

The ammunition will be available to both consumers and military customers. The company said military veterans would be among those hired at the facility.

The plant is big news in a state that has seen thousands of layoffs in the coal industry over the past year. West Virginia had the third-highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the nation at 6.4 percent in April. Alaska and Illinois had the highest at 6.6 percent.

“We’re proud of the business climate we’ve created in our state and look forward to seeing this project come to fruition,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement. “We’re always excited to see companies locate and expand in West Virginia, and Ranger Scientific’s plan to hire hundreds of West Virginia workers is great news.”

Ranger Scientific has been based in Austin, Texas, according to Texas secretary of state records. The company registered with the West Virginia secretary of state’s office on March 23.

“We’re proud to be an American company, based right here in West Virginia,” Pearlson said.

Exhibit on Sen. Byrd’s career opening at Tamarack


BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A traveling exhibit on the career of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd opens at Tamarack in June.

The Register-Herald in Beckley ( ) said the exhibit shares Byrd’s story as the longest-serving senator, his early life and entrance into politics and rise to leadership positions.

Raymond Smock is executive director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. Smock says the exhibit opens people up to tell their own stories about Byrd. Smock says the exhibit features aspects of Byrd’s career in which he helped West Virginia and helped preserve its natural beauty.

The exhibit will open at Tamarack on June 10 with a gala reception and will end its run on July 6.

The traveling exhibit was created to honor the 100th anniversary of Byrd’s birth in 2017.

Huntington officials: Needle exchange program succeeding


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — The city of Huntington says a program that allows drug users to trade in dirty syringes for clean ones is showing signs of success.

The program was established in September at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department and involves elected officials, health professionals, private businesses and members of the recovery community.

Recovery Point of Huntington Executive Director Matt Boggs said in a news release from the city that the program has had steady usage.

The exchange program offers educational materials and recovery coaches. The coaches are at the Health Department to provide peer support to anyone who seeks treatment Wednesday afternoons.

The release says city officials believe substance use and abuse trends will decrease due to the program and other efforts.