State News

WV MetroNews

The Voice of West Virginia

Hunters ready for 2024 spring gobbler season

FARMINGTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia spring gobbler season for 2024 will open April 15th and stretch for the following five weeks. Over the course of those days, a lot will change with the hunting dynamic and the environment of the West Virginia woods. However, Division of Natural Resources Game Bird Biologist Mike Peters noted it is still the first three days of the season which seem to be the most prevalent in the minds of hunters.

“It’s no different than deer season. The first three days of deer season are the big days and turkey season is the same way, the first three days are the days most people are out there,” he said.

Harvest data reflects the first three days are also when most of the spring gobblers are killed. But, Peters added, that’s unfortunate because there are a range of hunting opportunities and condition changes which allow the potential for success during the course of the five week season to ebb and flow. The woods you hunted on the first three days will be a vastly different place in five weeks.

“The biggest thing going on at this time of the year is green-up and leaf out. The dynamics are constantly changing from week to week and day to day almost,” said Peters.

The vegetation change impacts the ability to see turkeys and also to hear them. Leaves tend to muffle distant gobbles which may be much closer than you think by late in the season.

Historically the first week in particular can also present a weather challenge. Also like deer season, the challenge doesn’t impact the turkeys as much as hunters.

“If we have a really cold, wet, and windy opening day, the hunters just don’t go out like they would on a warm and sunny day. A couple of years ago we had snow on opening day and that really impacted the whole seasons harvest,” Peters said.

Another dynamic seasoned turkey hunters will know is the change in gobbler behavior. During the earliest days of the season, many gobblers may have a flock of hens to keep them occupied. They’ll be less inclined to care about your distant call. But, as time goes by, those hens will eventually be bred and head for the nest. As the hen numbers available to a gobbler diminish, his drive is still very much active and he may become even more receptive to hunters’ calls.

“They’re still raring to go and looking for hens. The hens are either incubating or are ready to start incubating, In my opinion it makes it easier to call in a big gobbler, so there are advantages to waiting. I know some traditional turkey hunters who like to wait until that last week because they think that’s their best change to harvest a bird,” Peters added.

Typically West Virginia hunters kill a two year old gobbler, which means the brood report from 2022 will be an important piece of information to determine the number of gobblers on the landscape for this year. According to Peters the data from the 2022 brood count was about average to slightly below average. He surmised the season forecast would be right about average as well.

The post Hunters ready for 2024 spring gobbler season appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

West delivers pair of clutch hits as WVU rallies past No. 17 UCF, 7-6

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Longtime New York Mets radio broadcaster Bob Murphy was often fond of saying that baseball is a game of redeeming features. After a critical fielding miscue in the fifth inning, WVU’s Kyle West redeemed himself twice in a 7-6 win over No. 17 UCF in the opening game of a three-game weekend series.

West, a Hedgesville High School graduate and former University of Charleston standout, allowed a ball to bounce over his head in left field for a ground run double in the fifth inning. UCF (21-10, 8-8 Big 12) scored three runs in that frame to take a 5-2 lead. However, West responded with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to pull the Mountaineers within a run.

In the seventh inning, West delivered a two-run triple to tie the game at 6.

“I just knew I hit it hard,” West said of his game-tying hit. “I was just hoping and praying it got down. And it did.”

“Drive in more than you let in. That’s the rule,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey. “He let one bounce over his head and they scored a couple. But he hit a two-run homer and a two-run [triple]. He won that battle 4-2.”

After West evened the score in the seventh, WVU took a lead they would not relinquish when a cue shot off the bat of Brodie Kresser was mishandled by the Knights. West scored to put WVU up 7-6. West went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in and three runs scored.

Staked to a one-run lead, David Hagaman was summoned from the bullpen. He allowed just an infield single and struck out five in two innings to collect his second save of the season.

“I felt pretty good. After I threw at Marshall, I felt like everything was going better,” said Hagaman. “I was pretty confident going into today and I’m hoping that’s a forward trend from now on.”

“That was really good what he did tonight in those conditions and against that team,” Mazey said. “Coming out with some of the best stuff he’s got, that was pretty impressive.”

The game was delayed 90 minutes at the start due to heavy rains. Occasional showers and gusty winds continued throughout the entire game.

“Nobody likes doubleheaders. They don’t. We don’t. The fans don’t. I’m glad we got it in. It wasn’t unplayable conditions. Being down by three in the middle of the game against a team in the Top 20 and to come back and win, it is really, really good,” Mazey said.

“The way we won, it was a team effort. To grind it out in the rain and the wind, it is not every day that you can create situations like that,” West said. “But when we train throughout practice, I think we do a really good job of giving us as players situations that we can use to fuel us in this type of environment.”

Carson Estridge (1-1) picked up the win in relief for WVU. He allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings of work.

Playing his first home game of the season after missing six weeks with a hamstring injury, JJ Wetherholt went 1-for-4 with an infield single. Morgantown High School graduate Aaron Jamison drove in the game’s first run in the second inning.

WVU starting pitcher Aidan Major allowed five runs in just under five innings of work.

The Mountaineers (20-13, 9-4 Big 12) stand a half-game behind Oklahoma for first place in the league standings. Game two of the series is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.

The post West delivers pair of clutch hits as WVU rallies past No. 17 UCF, 7-6 appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Jackson likes physicality along defensive line, wants unit to strive to continue building depth

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When West Virginia defensive line coach Andrew Jackson examines his position group in spring football, one attribute sticks out above the rest.

“We’re physical. I’ve had very talented groups here. This is the most physical group I’ve had,” Jackson said.

The physicality amongst the group is a trait the group has developed more over time, according to Jackson, who enters his fourth season with this title for the Mountaineers. He credited past and current offensive linemen on the team for helping mold his unit into a more physical one.

“Going against Zach Frazier all those years for some of the guys in the room, Doug Nester and Wyatt Milum, those guys spurring competition, and then pointing out good examples along the defensive line of how physicality can overcome a lot of things, those guys have truly embraced it,” Jackson said. “We’ve done a great job building that as an example on defense in general — not appearing to be soft and being able to put your hands and shoulder pads on people.”

The Mountaineers lost quality production off last season’s defensive line, including the likes of Mike Lockhart, Tomika Durojaiye and Jalen Thornton, while Jared Bartlett, a pass-rushing specialist at the bandit spot with a team-best 4.5 sacks.

However, in large part due to the depth the unit developed throughout much of 2023, there’s also a strong nucleus back that leaves Jackson with at least somewhat elevated expectations.

Sean Martin and Edward Vesterinen are the two most experienced defensive linemen and combined for 55 tackles with 27 and 28, respectively, while each appearing in all 13 games a season ago. 

Martin, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound native of Bluefield, and Vesterninen, at 6-3, 285, both have the size to hold up against the run and can mix in pass-rushing prowess.

Jackson credited Martin for growth throughout his WVU career, which has included becoming more vocal as a defensive veteran when in years past Martin wasn’t much for speaking up.

“If I passed out, Sean would be able to take over the coaching side of the room as well,” Jackson said. “The consistency piece has shown up since January and he’s in the best mental space he’s been in since I’ve been here.”

Vesterinen arrived in Morgantown as a man of few words as well, albeit for an entirely different reason.

“He came in not even really speaking English or able to speak football jargon,” Jackson said. “Now, he’s a class clown and hip on all the American stuff. He’s eating fast food, getting fat like the rest of us. As a technician, he’s grown so much and it looks like he’s been playing football for ten to twelve years now. He’s actually teaching the young guys now. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s great to see what he can do.”

But just as he often did throughout 2023, Jackson hopes to be able to rotate a plethora of players in and out along the defensive line, something that requires the unit to develop depth.

Fatorma Mulbah, a 6-4, 306-pound player on the interior who transferred from Penn State and enters his second season with the Mountaineers, is likely to play a pivotal role on the interior, as is Hammond Russell IV, a redshirt junior moving into his fourth season at West Virginia, but with limited game experience.

WVU’s Hammond Russell IV. Photo by Greg Carey

“Off the field, he’s taking care of himself much better,” Jackson said of Russell. “He’s going to class, doing the right things, eating the right things and he’s in great shape and a great mental space. Now the physicality and athleticism are showing up and he’s growing every day. He’s like a sponge. If I had to grade it [Monday], he’s having the best camp in my room.”

Jackson also spoke highly of Troy transfer T.J. Jackson and redshirt freshman Corey McIntyre Jr.

Both are versatile enough to play multiple positions along the line, and Jackson says he hasn’t yet settled on a spot for McIntyre.

“He has the best feet in my room. It’s just catching up. He wasn’t able to early enroll and came in during the summer, so strength and conditioning has been the biggest piece,” Jackson said. “He’s gotten in shape and you can’t not get stronger from the weight room in our program. Now he’s growing mentally and the game is able to slow down for him so that he’s able to play fast. Everything is clicking for him now.”

Jackson also wants to see other younger and less experienced players show throughout the spring that they’re ready to assume a more expanded role come fall, which would enhance the depth he so desires.

“Guys have to be ready to do it and create competition to push me to put guys into the game,” Jackson said. “But we’re trending in the right direction.”

The post Jackson likes physicality along defensive line, wants unit to strive to continue building depth appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Former labor organization officer in Beckley hit with sentence for embezzlement

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A Mount Hope man must spend five years on federal probation and pay back nearly $3,000 for stealing money from a labor organization.

On Friday, Jason Todd Weaver, 50, received his sentence which includes paying $2,896.78 in restitution for embezzlement of funds.

Weaver worked as the secretary/treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union Local 1509 in Beckley. Court documents show that on October 29, 2021, Weaver wrote out a check to himself for $352.62 from Local 1509’s bank account. Weaver signed his name as an authorized account signatory and forged the name of another union officer who was also an authorized account signatory. He then deposited the check into his personal bank account.

Weaver further admitted to embezzling $12,396.78 in union funds. He issued 17 union checks in total to himself and misused the union’s credit card 59 times between at least April 25, 2016, through November 13, 2021. Weaver has repaid $9,500 of the over $12,000 before pleading guilty to embezzlement.

U.S. Attorney Will Thompson announced the sentence Friday. U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentence.

The post Former labor organization officer in Beckley hit with sentence for embezzlement appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Dakan goes the distance, Silvers drives in four as Morgantown bests Musselman, 8-3

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In a game played in challenging conditions atop Chaplin Hill in Morgantown, the Mohigans pulled away late to defeat Musselman, 8-3. The game was scheduled on short notice. Both teams were scheduled to play a pair of games Friday in the annual McDonald’s Classic. However, school closings in Harrison County altered the tournament schedule.

Both teams battled through less-than-ideal weather conditions in a windswept, chilly rain at Mylan Park.

“I want to thank all of our fans that came out. This obviously has been a little bit of a challenging spring with the weather. For our fans to show up in the rain, the wind and everything like that, we are very grateful for the support we had today from them,” said Morgantown head coach Pat Sherald.

“We practice in conditions like this up on the hill at the Dale [Miller Field]. We just told our guys not to give up on any balls and make sure they stay with everything because you saw some balls today in the outfield that ended up in the infield.”

The teams traded runs in the opening innings. The Applemen (9-7) scored first before the Mohigans (11-3) answered with a pair of two-run innings in the first and second frames to take a 4-2 lead.

Staked to an early lead, Morgantown starting pitcher Hunter Dakan went the distance on the mound. Working quickly in the adverse weather conditions, Dakan scattered seven hits and struck out four batters.

“That’s his natural rhythm. He likes to get the ball on the mound and pitch. I know for me as a coach, I was grateful for that today and I think all of our position players were grateful for the pace that he manages on the mound for us.”

Koa Silvers led Morgantown at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBI. Weston Mazey stole home in the fourth inning to give Morgantown a 5-3 lead.

Kyle Lore led the offensive attack for the Applemen. He went 2-for-4 and scored a run.

The Mohigans will host George Washington and Berkeley Springs in the McDonald’s Classic on Saturday while the Applemen will play Brooke and Ripley.

Next weekend, Morgantown will host an eight-team tournament with games at Ken Kendrick Field/Monongalia County Ballpark and Dale Miller Field.

“We’re going to be able to bring in eight really talented teams. Having a turf field allows us to do that. So we are very grateful to have that in our program.”

The post Dakan goes the distance, Silvers drives in four as Morgantown bests Musselman, 8-3 appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Justice adds counties to state of emergency; DOH says dozens of secondary roads remain closed from flooding heading into weekend

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has added 14 counties to his original state of emergency issued after tornadoes and flooding hit the state last week.

The counties added Friday are connected to Thursday night flooding.

Joe Pack

The new counties include Boone, Braxton, Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson, Logan, Mingo, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wayne and Wirt.

There are now 26 of the state’s 55 counties under the state of emergency since the weather first started to hit on April 2.

A state of emergency generally clears red tape and allows for a smoother response to emergencies.

Meanwhile, the state Division of Highways says it will continue to assess and clean-up damage on its roadways across the state following the heavy rainfall that hit many counties Thursday night into Friday morning.

The DOH said that as of mid-afternoon Friday there remained 58 roads closed. Most of the closures were in Kanawha, Cabell, Jackson, Clay, Mason, Lincoln, Pleasants, Wood, Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Morgan, Brooke, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, and Wetzel counties.

DOH Chief Engineer of Operations Joe Pack said the rain came down hard and fast mostly north of Interstate 64.

“Such large amounts of rainfall are bound to cause flooding,” Pack said in a DOH news release. “In West Virginia, it’s not the volume of the water but the velocity that causes damage to roads.”

Pack said DOH workers cleared a drain by hand on I-64 near the state capitol Thursday night to allow standing water to drain. He said work Friday focused on removing downed trees, rocks and mud from the state’s highways. Many roads are still flooded. DOH crews will have to wait until the water goes down before their work can begin, Pack said.

Pack said there would have been more significant damage had not the agency stepped up its core maintenance efforts over the last few years.

“Water is our enemy,” Pack said. “Anything we can do to keep water away from our roadways is going to extend the life of our pavement.”

Roads closed at 2 p.m. Friday included:

Kanawha, Shale Road, culvert washed out.
Kanawha, Kanawha Two Mile Creek, culvert washed out.
Kanawha, WV 622, milepost 9.30, high water.
Kanawha, Holmes Branch Road, culvert washed out.
Kanawha, Sissonville Drive at Haines Branch, high water.
Kanawha, WV 214 at Willow Drive, tree and power lines in the road.
Kanawha, Frame Road, milepost 4.5, tree in road.
Clay, WV 16 at Hartland Bridge, high water.
Mason, Salt Creek Road, high water.
Cabell, Two Mile Creek at East Mud River Road, high water.
Cabell, Goose Creek Road, high water.
Cabell, Dry Creek Road, milepost 4.796, high water.
Cabell, West Mud River Road, milepost 0.01 to 0.40, high water.
Lincoln, Coal River Road, milepost 7, culvert washed out.
Jackson, Trace Fork Road, high water.
Jacskon, Middle Fork Road, milepost 7.05, high water.
Jackson, Homer Smith Road, high water.
Jackston, Lower Parchment Valley, high water.
Jackson, Liverpool Road, high water.
Pleasants, Middle Island, milepost 0.00 to 2.00, high water.
Ritchie, County Route 19, high water.
Ritchie, Prunty Road, high water.
Ritchie, WV 47, high water.
Ritchie, Cisco Road, high water.
Wirt, Fish Hatchery Road, high water.
Wirt, Burning Springs Road, high water.
Wirt, Sonoma Road, high water.
Wood, Walker Road, high water.
Wood, Stilwell Road, high water.
Wood, Nicolette Road, high water.
Doddridge, WV 18, milepost 18.78 and milepost 19.27, high water.
Marion, Lick Run Road, mudslide.
Monongalia, River Road, rock fall.
Morgan, Powerhouse Road low water bridge, high water.
Brooke, WV 67 at Pennsylvania state line, high water.
Brooke, Camp Run, high water.
Brooke, Castlemans Run, high water.
Marshall, Beelers Station Road, high water.
Marshall, Big Wheeling Creek Road, high water.
Marshall, Fish Creek in Lower End, high water.
Marshall, Dry Ridge Road, high water.
Marshall, Little Grave Creek, high water.
Marshall, US 250 at Cameron, high water.
Marshall, WV 2 at Long Run, high water.
Marshall, Bells Hill, high water.
Ohio, Peters Run Road at Skipper Lane, high water.
Tyler, WV 18, high water.
Tyler, Indian Creek Road, high water.
Tyler, Big Run Road, high water.
Tyler, McElroy Creek, high water.
Tyler, Sellers Road, high water.
Wetzel, Van Camp-Paden Fork Road, high water.
Wetzel, Mannington Road, high water.
Wetzel, Cappo Run, high water.
Wetzel, WV 2 at WV 7, high water.
Wetzel, WV 20 at Folsom, high water.
Randolph, 1876 Rich Mountain Road, lines down in road.

The post Justice adds counties to state of emergency; DOH says dozens of secondary roads remain closed from flooding heading into weekend appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

WVU BOG adopts rule for Campus Carry

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia University Board of Governors has approved the rules that will govern the implementation of the state’s Campus Carry law.

The rules adopted Friday will follow the law, WVU said.

Travis Mollohan

That law, approved by state lawmakers in the 2023 session and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice, allows a person, with a valid license, to carry a gun concealed on college campuses with some exceptions.

West Virginia becomes one of 10 other states in the country to enact the policy.

The BOG Finance and Administration Rule 5.14 defines deadly weapons and dangerous objects, identifies exception areas where deadly weapons and dangerous objects cannot be carried, provides informational resources, and details penalties for violations of the rule.

WVU Associate Vice President of Government Relations and Collaboration Travis Mollohan said the BOG has used all of the exceptions allowed by the legislation.

“All of the exceptions expressed in the law are part of the rule and part of where we will prohibit weapons on campus,” Mollohan said.

Mollohan estimated the cost to comply with the measure to be as much as $500,000, and that would be funded initially through the sale of university-owned property. In the future, Mollohan said they could be looking into alternate funding sources, including grants.

“Adequate security measures like metal detectors might be used at the stadium, Coliseum, or other venues,” Mollohan said. “And the storage lockers we are putting into dorms so the students can store their weapons there.”

Mollohan said next the communication blitz will begin to inform students, faculty, and the community about what campus carry means. That communication will include several groups across the campus, including student leadership.

“This coming week we will unveil our website, send out some information to our campus, and we’ll be talking to our Faculty Senate, Student Government Association (SGA), and staff counsel,” Mollohan said. “We’ll be spending the next few weeks and months communicating.”

In addition to exceptions, the rule also defines classes of people who are exempt from the rules, like members of law enforcement, military members, and judicial officials.

WVU exceptions to the law include:

–at an organized event in a stadium or arena with a capacity of more than 1,000 spectators

–a daycare facility on the university’s property

–in the secure areas of buildings used by law enforcement agencies

–in areas that have “adequate security measures,” such as metal detectors

–at a formal disciplinary or grievance hearing for a student or employee

–in single-occupancy offices

–at a primary or secondary education school-sponsored function taking place on campus

–at private functions on campus property

–in areas where possession of a firearm is prohibited by federal law

–on any WVU property where possession of a firearm is prohibited by state or federal law

–in areas where patient care or mental health counseling is provided

–in “high-hazard” and animal laboratories

–in on-campus residence halls, except for common areas including lounges, dining areas, and study areas.

Corey Farris

WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris said he’s heard from students on both sides of the issue as the July 1 implementation approaches.

“There are students on both sides,” Farris said. “Some students are pleased with the campus carry legislation and want to support it and there are some on the other side that are uncomfortable with it.”

Farris said the law will be the focus of future campus conversations with the community in the near future. This summer, Farris said they’ll have communication efforts designed to reach first-year students and families to address concerns they may have.

“We probably will have some online modules, we’ll have some campus conversations, we’ll discuss it with students and parents at orientation this summer,” Farris said. ” We’ll add more messaging over the summer and certainly as we get into fall.”

The post WVU BOG adopts rule for Campus Carry appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Loose barge strikes railroad bridge in Wood County

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. –– Wood County authorities said it was a potential catastrophe Friday morning when a barge got loose on the swollen Little Kanawha River and floated downstream.

The vessel, loaded with what appeared to be sand or gravel, drifted downstream and struck the bridge piling of a railroad trestle at Parkersburg.

“It could have been bad because if you look at the video, there are tankers going across the bridge at the same time it made contact,” said Mike Shook, Wood County’s Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Shook added the bridge has since been inspected and was found to be structurally sound. A tow boat on the Ohio River wrangled the loose barge and got it under control.

It’s another issue Wood County had to deal with amid the rising water. For a second straight weekend the Ohio River will be coming out of its banks and likely backing up the Little Kanawha River as well.

“Our problem is all the water coming from the northern panhandle down the Ohio River and it’s probably not going to crest until Sunday and then will slowly go back down,” Shook said.

Shook said this week’s flood has come so quickly, nobody was able to get ready.

“Last week the rise was nice and slow and everybody had plenty of time to prepare, last night (Thursday) this one just came on quick,” he said.

The post Loose barge strikes railroad bridge in Wood County appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

Some rain totals for April at record-setting levels

PITTSBURGH, PA — The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, which includes northern West Virginia as part of its forecast area, released rain totals Friday for the first 11 days of April.

“Month to date rainfall totals so far across the region…most likely rainiest Apr 1st – Apr 11th on record for most locations,” the agency tweeted.

In West Virginia, the Wetzel County community of Hundred leads the way with a recorded 6.73 inches of rain in April followed by Weirton at 6.34 inches, Mannington at 6.22 inches, Cameron at 5.71 inches and New Martinsville coming in at 5.48 inches.

The weather service said there are also a number of communities that have had more than four inches of rain so far this month in northern West Virginia including Kingwood (4.9), Aurora (4.7), Thomas (4.3) and Wheeling (4.16).

Morgantown has had 3.9 inches of rain so far this month.

The post Some rain totals for April at record-setting levels appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews

College-going rate slightly increases in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Less than 48 percent of the public high school graduates in the Class of 2023 in West Virginia were college students during the past year.

The findings were presented during a Friday meeting of the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

Zornista Georgieva

HEPC Director of Research and Analysis Zornista Georgieva the college-going rate for 2023 was 47.4 percent which is almost 1 percentage point higher compared to the 2022 graduating class.

“More than 7,900 high school graduate went to some form of post-secondary education both in-state and out-of-state,” she told the commission

MORE  See college-going rate dashboard here

According to the data, 36 out of the state’s 55 counties increased their college going rates in 2023.

Female students enrolled in post-secondary education at higher rates than male students. More low socioeconomic students also enrolled in college.

About 6.2 percent of students attended an out-of-state institution which a slight increase from 6.1 percent in 2022. About 41.2 percent remain in-state, which is slightly higher than last year at 40.2 percent.

Georgieva said the numbers show that high school seniors are more knowledgeable of higher education options because of school counselors, teachers and other outreach efforts from colleges and universities.

“I think this is a good trend that we’re looking at. I think it really speaks to the work that our high school counselors and high school staff are doing along with our institutions and our outreach folks,” she said.

Being able to increase the current rate by two or three students per high school will make a huge difference, Georgieva said.

“Two or three students may not look like a big number, but if we have 120 high schools across the state and two more students in each high school continue to further their education, that’s 240 more students going to college,” she said.

The post College-going rate slightly increases in West Virginia appeared first on WV MetroNews.

Source: WV MetroNews