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Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV


Sen. Manchin visits Charleston postal processing facility amid U.S. Postal Service review and expected operational changes to follow

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he doesn’t believe operations will be downsizing at the state’s only postal processing plant in Charleston, but the facility is going to be repurposed and possibly expanded upon.

Manchin spoke to reporters outside the Charleston Processing and Distribution Center before going in to meet with facility officials and workers Friday to discuss operational changes which are expected to be made there following a review from the U.S Postal Service. 

There have been concerns from the 800 workers at the plant, as well as members of the American Postal Workers Union Local 133 who represent them, of downsizing they heard that could come to the plant. They said this would leave some of the employees having no choice but to relocate as some of the facility’s processing operations would move to Pennsylvania, and that mail services would be delayed to residents.

However, Manchin said upon speaking with Postmaster Louis DeJoy, these are operational changes postal processing facilities across the country have been mandated to make in order to improve functionalities, and they are expected to improve the local facility, as well.

“This operation we have here in Charleston is going to be refurbished, there will be investments being made, and basically it’s to meet the market demands in making sure they are going to be able to go into the future and be competitive,” Manchin said to reporters Friday.

While he still remains unclear as to whether some employees will have to relocate following the changes, he was assured by DeJoy that there will be no lay-offs.

“I know there are going to be opportunities here and that means that the people here are going to have those opportunities and be able to expand on them,” he said.

Manchin said the United States Postal Service has been faced with challenges for a longtime as more mail delivery options have become available, and he said DeJoy and other postal officials have been charged with rectifying those challenges.

He said part of making USPS more modernized and market-driven is improving the postal services people most depend on, which he said will be there long after all of the other options people have fall by the wayside, because, the USPS is the public entity for the people.

“The demand that people have today for communications and how they get their medicine to their mail and everything in between depends on and has started with the United States Postal Service and still is greatly dependent upon,” he said.

Manchin said he was going to be finding out whether employees will have to relocate, as well as what the exact plans for the facility will be, whether it means expanding current processing operations or whether it will go in an entirely other direction.

He said he wants to be in those final decisions about what’s to come to the plant with Postmaster DeJoy and other postal officials who will be making them from the Whitehouse on down.

“I’ve been talking to Washington D.C quite a bit about operation here, so they know how much I’m involved and they know how much concern I have,” Manchin said. “This is our last processing plant we have here in the state of West Virginia, our Northern Panhandle area is going over to the Pittsburgh area because it’s a bigger market, we understand that.”

Manchin said the perfect scenario is that the plant expands and other postal operations are brought into it. He does know for certain that they have plans to invest into the Charleston facility.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Former Horace Mann teacher pleads guilty to misdemeanor battery

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former Kanawha County middle school special needs teacher pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery during a hearing Friday in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Anthony Wilson, center, was in magistrate court Friday. (Photo/WCHS-TV)

Anthony Wilson, 47, of Beckley, entered a plea deal with prosecutors and in exchange had a second charge, misdemeanor assault, dropped, according to a WCHS-TV report.

Wilson was sentenced to three months home confinement Friday. He was fined $147.00.

Wilson, who taught at Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston, was arrested in May 2021 following an investigation into complaints of abuse to students in his classroom.

Criminal charges against three aides in the classroom have already worked their way through the court system. Walter Pannell was sentenced to a year in jail, James Lynch was sentenced to two years in jail and Lillian Branham was sentenced to three months home confinement.

Wilson’s case never got beyond magistrate court. It was postponed at least a half dozen times.

The families of four of the students in Wilson’s classroom sued the Kanawha County school system. The case settled for $5 million.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

South Charleston police looking for shooter in First Avenue homicide

South Charleston police are looking for information on these two men. (SCPD)

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  A man is dead after being shot and killed in South Charleston.

South Charleston police said Anthony Souvanlasy, 37, of Charleston, was shot at around 5 a.m. Thursday.

Souvanlasy’s body was along First Avenue. He had been shot in the head.

Police said Souvanlasy had a bicycle with him at the time of his death.

Investigators are working to identify persons of interests. They did release the photos of two men Friday afternoon that they would like to speak to in connection with the shooting.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Police have little to go on in connection with Institute stabbing

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Information about a Friday morning stabbing in Kanawha County is extremely vague.

Authorities were called to a home on Pinewood Drive in Institute around 12:30. The victim had been stabbed, but investigators say he was uncooperative and would not reveal any information about the incident. Deputies aren’t even sure if it happened at the residence or elsewhere.

The victim refused medical attention from EMS which was dispatched to the scene.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

More than 40,000 people have attended holiday light show at GoMart Ballpark

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The Charleston Dirty Birds continue to have good crowds at the Holiday Light Show at GoMart Ballpark.

The Dirty Birds Rod Blackstone said they’ve had about 40,000 walk through the light display, take part in ice skating or ride the Ferris Wheel. There have visitors from more than 30 states who have go through.

Blackstone is urging residents to buy tickets online before you come.

“Because I’ve been in the box office, I’ve been at the gate to see how long the lines are,” Blackstone said during an appearance Friday on 580Live with Dave Allen.

He said the lines are long on weekend nights that are cool and crisp. He said crowds can get up to 5,000 on those nights. Crowds have been smaller on the weeknights.

“There are smaller crowds, it’s easier to get tickets and it’s easier to go ice skating,” Blackstone said.

Blackstone said the show is a big investment by Dirty Birds owner Andy Shea who wanted to promote a good community event.

There’s still enough time to get your look at the show, Blackstone said.

“Every night through January 1st and that includes Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day,” he said.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Charleston’s 2023 Christmas Parade was a success

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thousands of toy-inspired floats and themes made up the sights and sounds during Charleston’s 2023 Christmas Parade in what was expected to be the city’s biggest one yet.

Line up for the Toy Land-themed parade got underway along the Kanawha Boulevard Thursday evening.

“Every year I feel like it gets better and better,” Charleston resident Kim McQuain said while waiting for the parade to start. “It’s bigger every year, everybody comes out, and it’s really good for the community.” 

A multitude of school bands, teams and groups, churches, businesses, organizations, and even individuals filled up the colorful procession that made its way from Kanawha Boulevard, to Capitol Street, to Washington, to Summers Street before winding its way back around to the Boulevard.

The entourage of parade participants came out with floats and costumes displaying a variety of toy-related themes, including more traditional Nutcracker and teddy bear themes, along with Toy Story and Barbie themes.

One of the organizations MetroNews caught up with during the line up was Mountain Artist Democracy who supports local art, music and charities throughout the Kanawha Valley.

A spokesperson of the organization Gregory Fort said with what he believes to be around 1,500 to 2,000 spectators or more coming out to watch Charleston’s parade, it’s a good way for their group to get noticed.

“We’re really looking forward to it, this is a good way to get our name out, I’ve been in the parade for the last couple of years with a different group, so I’m happy to get ours in this year.”

He said along with the thousands of spectators, he believed this year’s parade was supposed to be bringing in over 200 entrants.

Alison Saunders with the group said she was particularly excited because this was her first time being in the Charleston Christmas Parade, and it was bringing back a sense of nostalgia for her from parades gone-by.

“I’ve always loved Christmas time and parades, and it’s kind of a way to track back, because I was in the marching band and stuff like that, so it’s a lot of fun to get back into it,” Saunders said.

McQuain was going to be in the parade representing Warner Law Offices, however, first she was waiting to see her daughter perform with the John Adams Middle School Band.

She said she is always happy to see the parade bring everyone together and get them in the Christmas spirit.

“I think it brings the community together, and I like the fact that it is at night too, instead of what it used to be during the day on a Saturday, you have a lot more people out, a lot more community people,” said McQuain.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Mountaineer Gas seeks contact with remaining 50 customers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mountaineer Gas says it’s going to send certified letters to approximately 50 customers on Charleston’s West Side in the coming days to make an appointment for inspection of their homes following the Nov. 10 water main break that resulted in a major natural gas outage.

Mountaineer Gas said it’s been unable to make contact with those remaining customers. It’s hopeful the certified letters will accomplish that. Customers can also call 1-800-834-2070 to schedule an appointment.

The utility also announced Thursday that it has filled 200 of the 270 excavation holes it had to dig to drain the water from its 46 miles of lines.

“Work will continue through next week on the streets and sidewalks, then residential excavation issues will be addressed,” the company said.

The utility said it still has to replace appliances in some of its customers’ homes.

“MGC has added additional HVAC contractors for a total of 12 in addition to MGC employees to restore customers appliances damaged by water in the gas lines. Depending on the amount of water in the appliances, each customer will have different restoration requirements,” according to Thursday’s news release.

Mountaineer Gas is crediting bills $75 for the outage.

Mountaineer Gas filed a civil lawsuit against West Virginia American Water earlier this week blaming the company for the gas outage. The water company called the action premature.

West Virginia American is currently offering customers up to $2,000 in damages sustained from the water break and natural gas outage.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Ranieri signs five-year contract to lead airport

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia International Yeager Airport Director and CEO is officially signing a contract locking in her role at CRW just in time for a new year of continued projects and more anticipated flight add-ons.

After being appointed to the current position in early September of last year, Dominque Ranieri signed her first contract as Airport Director and CEO in an Employment Agreement covering her time at CRW during a regular Board of Members meeting Wednesday.

Ranieri told MetroNews, similar to past Director Employment Agreements, the contract is for five years. Her base salary is $237,000 a year.

Dominique Ranieri

She said she was happy to sign the agreement as she loves serving the airport and leading an excellent crew of employees. Whether they are new staff members who have just joined the ranks or those who have been working there for over 40 years, Ranieri said they all make the facility what it is.

“Every single one of them cares about the future of this airport and the future of the state of West Virginia and making it the best it can be, so everyday is a fantastic day to come to work,” Ranieri said.

Ranieri is the airport’s first female director in its 75-year history. She served as CRW’s Assistant Director prior to the promotion.

This was the last meeting at the airport for 2023 and it also included a summery of everything the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority board has accomplished in a year.

Ranieri said this included a major transition of instating a new airline that continues to add flights to its schedule and bring in more revenue for the airport and the state. She said many hands played a role in getting it here.

“We’ve been able to do some amazing things just in the past year,” said Ranieri. “We have our new entrant Breeze Airways, and of course they’re here thanks to the collaboration of Governor Justice, Tourism Secretary Ruby, the City of Charleston and the Kanawha County Commission.”

She said she also had the senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and Congresswoman Carol Miller to thank for the continued support they’ve brought to the airport over the past year, as well.

Ranieri said so far, they have announced four flight routes through Breeze– Charleston, SC, Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL, and Tampa, FL– and she said they expect to be announcing more flight add-ons through the airline in 2024.

She said the board has also held over 29 meetings with airlines including their incumbents and other industry options over the course of this year.

Ranieri said with all of these new flights and potential new flights to come, this is also creating a wider customer reach.

“We’re seeing those passenger numbers come up from the dip that happened during Covid-19, so it’s great to welcome all of these passengers back and even new people,” she said.

In addition, Ranieri said they have multiple projects underway to enhance their facility and prepare for the future of aviation in West Virginia.

She said they are now gearing up for a very busy year ahead.

“We’ve been planning quite a few things this year that will come to fruition in 2024 and we look forward to continuing the trajectory that the airport is on,” said Ranieri.

This was the airport’s last board meeting for the year. Their next meeting will be held at the end of January 2024.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

West Virginia American Water begins accepting claims from customers impacted by Mountaineer Gas outage in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company says customers impacted by the Mountaineer Gas outage on Charleston’s West Side last month may be eligible for financial assistance.

Robert Burton

WVAWC President Robert Burton said they started accepting household claims by phone Wednesday. Affected customers are encouraged to call 1-800-243-2490 to begin the process.

Beginning Monday, Dec. 11, customers can visit the WVAWC office located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Charleston to speak with a claim’s handler in person. That location will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through next Friday, Dec. 15. Customers will be required to bring all verification documents.

Burton told the state Public Service Commission during WVAWC’s evidentiary hearing regarding a proposed rate hike request the company is willing to reimburse up to $2,000 per household in connection with the Mountaineer Gas disruption.

“They will be able to submit claims based on their gas outage for inconvenience, for nuisance and for out-of-pocket expenses. We will be reimbursing up to $2,000 depending on what all information they give during that process knowing that our customers have very much been impacted by the gas outage,” Burton said.

Customers should be prepared to provide identification, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses and a copy of their Mountaineer Gas bill or proof of residency, according to WVAWC’s website.

The company said receiving those benefits could impact a customer’s participation on some of the class action lawsuits. On Tuesday, WVAWC was sued by Mountaineer Gas for the Nov. 10 water main break that led to more than 1,100 natural gas outages on the West Side.

“We feel West Virginia American Water should be responsible for the significant costs incurred by Mountaineer,” Mountaineer Gas Senior Vice President Moses Skaff said in a statement.

The water main break filled over 40 miles worth of gas lines with water. Mountaineer has promised to foot the bill to replace damage appliances and will issue a $75 credit for customers on their next monthly bill.

WVAWV spokesperson Megan Hannah responded to the lawsuit Tuesday and said the water company “continues to reiterate that any speculation on the cause of its water main break or the Mountaineer Gas outage is premature until an investigation is complete.”

Hannah then went on to say that “WVAWC will fully cooperate with the Public Service Commission on its general investigation to determine the cause.”

“I can speak or speculate to what occurred on the gas company’s system or why they had a break or what happened there. I don’t want to do that here today,” Burton told the PSC Tuesday.

Gov. Jim Justice said during his statewide media briefing Tuesday he’s glad that WVAWC is stepping up to assist customers but continued to blame the water company for causing the outage.

More information on the claims process can be found HERE.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Charleston police continue to work double murder case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man told a car dealership Tuesday afternoon that he needed a car because he had murdered someone. A few minutes later Charleston police made a grisly discovery.

Nicholas David
Hanshaw (WVRJA)

Chief of Detectives Lt. Tony Hazelett said the door of the apartment at Vandalia Terrace was open slightly when officers arrived. He said they soon noticed a woman and boy were dead. They had been stabbed to death.

Police have charged Nicholas David Hanshaw, 38, with two counts of first-degree murder. Detectives said he killed his mother, Sherry Jean Russell, 62, and a 10-year-old boy, who Hazelett said was also a family member.

As for a motive, Hazelett was reluctant to release one at this stage of the investigation.

“We’re still looking at it and are investigating that right now. We’re trying to piece it all together,” Hazelett said.

The public can also help police, Hazelett said.

Tony Hazelett

“If you have any information on this family—something that may have caught someone’s eye a month ago about him or the family or anything. This is a very unusual case. Something that could help us piece it together, the motives, all of that,” Hazelett said.

The tips can be anonymous at 304-348-6480.

Hanshaw had blood splattered on his clothes when walked into the Dutch Miller dealership on MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston Tuesday afternoon and said what he said. Hazelett said confessions like this one have happened before.

“I’ve been here going on over 24 years and this probably makes the third one like this, similar, who has walked in and confessed to that,” he said.

Hazelett said it’s a tragic case and police won’t rush their investigation.

“Murder is all bad and when it involves a juvenile it takes a toll too on first responders. But it’s all bad and that’s why we are taking our time, going through all the evidence, going over everything in which we can piece them crime together for prosecution,” Hazelett said.

Hazelett said he wasn’t familiar with Hanshaw personally but he is known to other officers.

Hanshaw is being held in the Southcentral Regional Jail without bail.

Source: Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV