The Voice of West Virginia
The 2024 West Virginia Primary Election is still nearly a year away, but 42 percent of the Republican members of the state Legislature have already publicly committed to support former President Donald Trump.
Boone County Republican Delegate Josh Holstein, with permission from the Trump campaign, secured commitments from 40 delegates and 10 senators to sign on to a letter endorsing Trump.
“I wanted to channel the voice of my constituents that are very strongly in support of President Trump,” Holstein told me on Talkline Thursday. “I thought it would be a good idea to show our support for the former President in his re-election run.”
Give Holstein this; he can read the room. Seventy-five percent of Boone County voters backed Trump in both 2016 and 2020. Statewide, Trump carried every county in both elections, with 69 percent of the vote both times.
As of today, Trump is the clear front-runner in the state. A recent poll by the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research found 54 percent of Primary Election voters favor Trump. The next closest candidate is Ron DeSantis with just nine percent.
“Most of the folks wanted to sign on rather quickly and were happy to do so,” Holstein said. “There were some who didn’t want to weigh into the primary. There were a few, maybe four, that told me they had a different candidate preference.”
The letter states, “We the members of the West Virginia State Legislature believe President Donald J. Trump is the proven candidate best capable to govern our country and secure a better future for all Americans.”
I take the legislators and Trump voters at their word that they believe the country is suffering under President Biden and the Democrats, and that it is essential to return to Trump as the guardian of “American energy independence, national security, fiscal responsibility, and the sanctity of life,” as their letter states. However, there is more to it.
One of the less endearing attributes of West Virginians is our habit of harboring grievances. Some may be well-earned, given a state history replete with hardship and injustices that have been passed down through generations.
But others are of our own creation. Media and political provocateurs trigger outrage, often about stories or issues that have little or nothing to do with our daily lives, but that make us feel as though we are under attack. And when you feel besieged, it helps to have someone on your side. Victims—real or imagined—look for advocates.
This is where Trump comes in.
As Trump said during a speech at CPAC last March, “I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution [emphasis added].” It is a perfect line for those who want more than a fair shake from their politicians; they desire revenge.
New York Times opinion writer Bret Stephens put it this way:
“The Trump movement isn’t built on the prospect of winning. It’s built on a sense of belonging: of being heard and seen; of being a thorn in the side to those you sense despise you and whom you despise in turn; of submission for the sake of representation. All the rest—victory or defeat, prosperity or misery—is details.”
Donald Trump and West Virginia were destined to find each other, and once that happened, they became joined in a way that only strengthens over time.
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WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — Accused murderer Timothy Kennedy is scheduled to make an appearance in Mingo County Magistrate Court Friday for a preliminary hearing but whether the hearing actually takes place remains to be seen.
Kennedy was charged last Friday after the shooting death of State Police Sgt. Cory Maynard. Kennedy has been in jail without bail. A circuit judge denied bond during a hearing on Tuesday.
Kennedy, 29, of Beech Creek, could appear for Friday’s scheduled preliminary hearing then choose to waive the hearing which would send the murder charge straight to the grand jury for consideration.
State Police Superintendent Col. Jack Chambers confirmed earlier this week that Maynard and another troopers were victims of an ambush attack from Kennedy after Kennedy had shot another man. The criminal complaint on file doesn’t give any specifics about either shooting.
Maynard, 37, was remembered in funeral services Wednesday. A procession that took 90 minutes to complete began at Mingo Central High School and continued to a funeral home in Chapmanville.
Friday’s hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Williamson.
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As news hit that former President Donald Trump has been indicted in a secret documents case, Republicans in West Virginia rushed to his public defense.
Most blasted the Biden administration over the historic and politically-charged indictment of a former president. The seven-count indictment has taken shape under special counsel Jack Smith, and grand juries in Washington, D.C., and Florida heard witness testimony.
“The federal indictment of President Donald Trump tonight is a new low, even for Joe Biden’s Justice Department,” stated West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Elgine McArdle.
“The United States of America is a Republic, which means that neither the whims of one man nor the passions of a mob, rule our nation. Rather, we are ruled by law. This Justice Department has weaponized the rule of law to hunt and persecute Biden’s political opponents.”
McArdle was one of several West Virginia political figures releasing statements about the indictment in the hours after Trump himself announced it on his Truth Social platform.
Jim Trusty, Trump’s attorney, said on CNN that the former president’s legal team hasn’t yet seen the indictment but received a summons via email. Trusty suggested the charges relate to the Espionage Act, obstruction, retention of documents and false statements. Trump said he’s been told to appear in federal court in Miami at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The allegations focus on hundreds of documents discovered at the Mar-a-lago resort where Trump lives. Trump is widely considered the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice criticized Trump’s prosecution on Twitter, while also making reference to a federal civil suit filed last week over millions of dollars in surface mining fines owed by his companies’ businesses.
Justice switched parties from Democrat to Republican at a Trump rally in Huntington in 2017. Now Justice is running for a seat in the very narrowly-divided U.S. Senate.
“The Biden Administration and the Democrats know they can’t beat President Trump and me unless they weaponize the federal government. Democrats will stop at nothing to defeat us and keep the presidency and their Senate majority. I will always stand with President Donald Trump!” Justice stated on social media.
Trump was indicted over a separate issue weeks ago by a grand jury in Manhattan on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments from 2016.
Former U.S. attorney Mike Stuart, who ran Trump’s West Virginia campaign in 2016, called the latest indictment “a dark day for America.” Stuart, a former state Republican Party chairman, now serves in the state Senate and is running in the primary for West Virginia Attorney General.
“The ‘Get Trump’ agenda has no bounds,” Stuart wrote on Twitter.
Trump remains very popular in West Virginia. Fifty members of the West Virginia Legislature this week signed a letter endorsing Trump’s presidential campaign.
In 2016, Trump got 68.5 percent of the general election vote in West Virginia, to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 26.4 percent.
In 2020, Trump got 68.6 percent of West Virginia’s general election vote, to Biden’s 29.7 percent.
Congressman Alex Mooney, who is running in a primary election against Justice for U.S. Senate, wrote on social media that “Biden’s DOJ has weaponized our nation’s Justice system and taken us down a dangerous path of no return. Every American should be concerned about this disgusting abuse of power and I am confident that President Donald Trump will prevail in 2024.”
West Virginia’s other Republican congressional representative, Carol Miller, also contended the indictment is politically-motivated.
“I never dreamed that the United States could resemble a banana republic like it is tonight. President Biden is yet again abusing his power to indict the leader of the opposition party in a clear political move to distract from his own crimes,” Miller stated.
“The American people know that this investigation is a farce and that President Trump is being politically targeted.”
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HAMBLETON, W.Va. — State officials including Governor Jim Justice, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, P.E, and others are set to break ground on a section of Corridor H.
A ceremony Friday will officially begin the process of the Section 3 project from Kerens to Parsons, one of five sections that make up the project along U.S. Route 48.
Corridor H is the only Appalachian corridor project out of six in the state yet to be finished. Justice said he had getting Corridor H worked on and completed at the top of his priority list.
“I really do believe that Corridor H will connect us to the whole northeast,” the governor said. “We absolutely need to complete it.”
The West Virginia Division of Highways said they expect the Kerens to Parsons section to be complete by late 2024. With it’s completion, Justice said more opportunities will pop up with it in the coming years.
“It’ll bring businesses and job opportunities off the chart,” he claimed.
Following the announcement of the groundbreaking, both U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito released statements, showing how pleased they were with the progress being made. The senators said for years they worked to bring in funding for the project.
“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, and in my role at the EPW Committee overseeing the Federal Highway Administration, I’ve consistently pushed for the completion of Corridor H and helped deliver funds to do so,” Capito said. “The groundbreaking of this key section between Kerens and Parsons marks a major milestone for this critical transportation project, and I’m thrilled for the positive impact it will have for years to come as we continue to expand and improve West Virginia’s roads and bridges.”
Since 2019 Senator Capito said she assisted in getting the Corridor H project funded properly. She announced a $100 million grant for the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) to support construction of Corridor H that year, and pushed to fund the Appalachian Development Highway System at $100 million annually.
For the section of Kerens to Parsons specifically, Capito brought in $12 million from the Department of Transportation in 2020.
In 2022, Capito, got $5 million for Corridor H as part of a Congressionally Directed Spending request.
Senator Manchin also put finishing Corridor H towards the top of his to-do list.
“I have been working to complete Corridor H since I was Governor,” said Manchin. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and lead negotiator of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), I have never stopped fighting to complete this critical highway.”
Manchin stated that he has helped gather $274,442,537 in federal funding so far for work on the major road project in West Virginia.
“I am proud to have secured more than $274 million in federal funding over the past several years to ensure the state of West Virginia has the resources necessary to get the job done,” he said.
Senator Manchin, a member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, secured the inclusion of his bipartisan Finish the ADHS Act in the IIJA in 2021, which will provide $1.25 billion in funding over five years, with nearly $200 million of that going to support the completion of Corridor H.
“Corridor H will spur economic development, further open up our outdoor recreation economy to tourists, and promote safe and secure travel for all West Virginians,” Manchin said. “Like most projects, it could not happen without a sustained bipartisan commitment from all West Virginia’s leaders and I will continue working with my colleagues to deliver for West Virginians.”
Around 15 miles of Corridor H remain to be completed.
The groundbreaking ceremony is happening at 11:00 a.m. at the end of Wolf Run Road off U.S. 219/U.S. 48 north of Hambleton, WV, just outside of Parsons.
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Story by Jim Bissett, The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Where there’s fire – there’s smoke.
Smoke, in this case, coming from a spate of wildfires that have raged across Canada for the past three days.
The meteorological byproduct has had most of America’s northeast making like a Martian landscape at sunset, as fire crews are still laboring to knock it all back.
While the orange-hued, dystopian-looking fallout of smoke has canceled school, flights and sporting contests across the urban climes, the Mountain State has remained relatively clear of it all.
At least so far, Tim Nurkiewicz said.
“Well, at this point, it really does depend on which way the wind is going to blow,” said Nurkiewicz, an air quality expert and director of the WVU Center for Inhalation Toxicology.
Besides, with hundreds of fires going unchecked and charring a swath almost twice the size of Massachusetts, no one, the researcher said, gets to keep a clean handkerchief so long as the flames keep kindling.
The potential for medical harm, Nurkiewicz said, is being carried in those massive plumes of smoke billowing up into the jet stream.
Not that there is such a thing as a benign, wood-blaze anyway, he added, no matter how cozy it all looks on the campground or in the fireplace at Christmastime.
Woodfires are always going to generate properties that are unhealthy for inhaling, he explained, such as benzene and formaldehyde.
That gets multiplied off the scale if it’s from a fire consuming thousands of acres with homes and buildings – and all the plastics and synthetics and all the other materials not meant to burn – that go with them.
To get a sense of the scale, he said, give a quick look to the mountains and trees in the distance during your work commute today on Interstate 79, he said.
The pastoral fuzziness you’re regarding is the haze of smoke from the north.
Which is also what you’re breathing in right now, he said.
Miniscule and microscopic particulate matter can nest in lungs and find its way into to the bloodstream, Nurkiewicz said.
That’s why he recommends wearing a facemask while those fires are still burning – even a high-duty KN95 model – if you’re going to be outdoors for an extended time.
“You don’t have to go crazy,” he said, “but right now it is a good idea to wear some kind of covering.”
It’s also a good idea to make a daily online check of https://www.airnow.gov/, he said.
The link will carry you to the home of the U.S. Air Quality Index, which tracks pollution in what we breathe nationwide. Conditions were favorable Thursday across West Virginia, though they were in 16 other states, according to the index.
What to expect
Look for the Morgantown area meanwhile to have bouts of haze from the fires at least through Saturday, AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said.
“You’ll have periods of three to four hours at a stretch,” he said, “and then it’ll clear up for a while.”
Things should be “considerably better” by Sunday, Kines said.
All smoke aside, AccuWeather is calling for a hazy high of 74 today, with a possible shower in the afternoon.
Saturday and Sunday will bring a mix of sun and clouds, with highs in the 80s both days.
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FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. — A Fayette County woman received a lengthy sentence for federal drug crimes.
Samantha J. Cody, 35, formerly of Glen Jean, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for conspiracy to deliver fentanyl and greater than fifty grams of methamphetamine and 1 to 15 years for delivery of methamphetamine.
Fayette County Circuit Judge Thomas H. Ewing ordered the sentences to be served concurrently. Cody will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison before she can be eligible for parole.
Judge Ewing said the sentencing was in part due to Cody’s involvement in a significant drug trafficking organization that had expanded into Fayette County.
Cody is one of three people who recently received sentences for their participation in the drug trafficking organization. She was one of the primary distributors for Heather Hewitt, the leader of the organization, who was sentenced to up 90 years in prison. Another member, Jarod Hendrick, was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison.
An investigation, which began in June of 2021 by the Central Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, found that Hewitt was the leader of the organization and had Cody and Hendrick assisting her in the drug distribution.
While using a confidential informant, the Task Force began making purchases of methamphetamine and fentanyl from the drug traffickers, including Cody, in August of 2021. She was involved in the distribution of large quantities of the drugs up until February of 2022.
Cody was arrested and found to be in possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine on February 19, 2022. Law enforcement seized over one pound of fentanyl, two pounds of methamphetamine, approximately three ounces of cocaine, and just over $250,000.00 from the Hewitt drug trafficking organization during that time.
Ledgers found documentation at the residence of Heather Hewitt and Jarod Hendrick that stated over 14 pounds of controlled substances were distributed. It was documented that Cody was personally involved in the distribution of over 1 pound of controlled substances.
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INSTITUTE, W.Va. — For some players, Saturday’s North-South Football Classic at South Charleston High School will mark their final time playing competitive football.
For others, the week leading up to the game provides an idea of what’s to come in the future. With players from both teams staying at West Virginia State throughout the week, those going on to play at the next level are provided in part with a glimpse of what it’s like staying on a college campus and developing a daily routine that football heavily factors into.
That’s the approach being taken by Joey Ramsey, who is representing St. Marys for the final time before he heads off to West Liberty to continue his career on the gridiron.
“I kind of feel like this gives me a little bit of firsthand experience of what it’s going to be like come August,” Ramsey said, “and it gives me a head start to know what to expect.”
Ramsey enjoyed a sensational senior season for the Blue Devils. He was often utilized in a variety of ways and proved effective in various roles, rushing for 1,169 yards and 15 touchdowns and catching 535 yards worth of passes and nine additional scores.
Ramsey was instrumental in leading the Blue Devils to a seven-win season and a berth in the 2022 playoffs as the team’s leading rusher and receiver. He averaged 8.4 yards per carry and better than 26 yards per reception and was equally vital to the team’s defense while recording 63 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Ramsey has the makeup of a player ready to take on the challenges that await in the Mountain East Conference. He is joining the Hilltoppers’ program as a tight end.
“It really helps coming in with the blocking schemes,” Ramsey said of his size. “I’m faster for my size, so I can run some routes and catch some balls, but I kind of have a head start with my size and obviously I’m going to get bigger.”
Because he was a proficient pass-catcher for the Blue Devils, Ramsey believes at least part of that can translate to a different position at West Liberty.
“My route-running will be really beneficial at the college level,” Ramsey said. “A lot of times, tight ends can be bigger and slower and I think my speed can help me.”
A running back and linebacker and SMHS, Ramsey was an early commitment to partake in the North-South Football Classic. Even after signing with the Hilltoppers after football season and earlier this year, Ramsey honored his commitment to play against other top seniors across West Virginia.
“I was one of the first ones on the original roster.” Ramsey said. “I’ve known I was coming down for a while. I stayed committed, came down and it’s been a good time.”
With an opportunity to meet players from different areas and schools, Ramsey, like many members of both squads, can form new friendships with teammates, opponents and coaches that will extend well beyond this week.
“We have fun when we’re not in practice, but when we’re in practice we really lock in and want to get better and learn the schemes,” Ramsey said. “The coaches have really done a good job of balancing having fun with keeping it serious at the same time.”
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. — Dispatchers in Cabell County reporting that a deputy involved in a head-on crash Thursday afternoon is doing okay.
The crash occurred on Cedar Crest Drive around 1 p.m. just outside of Huntington between the deputies cruiser and another vehicle.
According to Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, the deputy was taken to a hospital to be checked out. Dispatchers said no one was else has been taken to the hospital.
Cedar Crest Drive was closed but has since been reopened following the incident.
The cause of the crash has not been reported.
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— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall has picked up another piece in hopes of filling the void of its most productive players from last season not returning.
Kevon Voyles, a 6-foot-3 guard announced through social media he’s joining the Thundering Herd program. Voyles comes to Marshall from Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member Maryland Eastern Shore.
What God has 4 me is 4 me #Committed #4LVJ pic.twitter.com/P0kz9DZapP
— 4LVJ (@kvnglyfe_) June 7, 2023
Voyles’ arrival addresses backcourt needs for the Herd caused by the graduation of last year’s leading scorer, Taevion Kinsey, and the departure of four-year starting point guard Andrew Taylor, who is now at Mississippi State.
Voyles is a Cape Charles, Virginia native and was the Hawks’ leading scorer last season with an average of 12.9 points. He shot better than 49 percent overall, 71.7 percent from the free-throw line and just under 33 percent from the three-point line.
He played in 20 games during the 2022-2023 season for a team that finished 18-13 and 9-5 in the MEAC. Voyages started 16 contests, scoring a career-high 27 points with seven rebounds in 26 minutes against South Carolina State on January 21.
In his three seasons at Maryland-Eastern Shore, Voyles played in 72 games and averaged 8.3 points. During the 2021-2022 campaign, he was especially effective from behind the three-point line and shot better than 40 percent from long distance.
Voyles becomes the third addition by way of the transfer portal this offseason for Marshall, which already added Indiana State shooting guard Cameron Crawford and Texas State power forward Nate Martin.
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So much for a honeymoon.
West Virginia University Athletic Director Wren Baker’s first six months on the job have seen him drink more from a fire hose, than sip from a cup.
He unexpectedly had to deal with the Bob Huggins comment controversy and hire a women’s basketball coach.
Throw in the current turbulence of the transfer portal and NIL funding, and it has been an eventful debut.
In this episode, the “Guys” cover the major issues facing WVU athletics and get Baker’s look toward the future.
Other topics include conference alignment, the Iron Sheik and coffee preferences.
Three Guys Before The Game is sponsored by Burdette Camping Center — Komax Business Systems —- GoMart — and Lou Wendell Marine Sales.
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