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Photo gallery: WVSLA Division 2 Lacrosse: Hedgesville sweeps state titles

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Photo galleries from the WVSLA Division 2 State Championship games. The Hedgesville girls defeated Martinsburg in overtime, 8-7. The Hedgesville boys defeated Mountain State, 17-9.

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UPD plans scenario-based training in Morgantown this month
Cpt. Matt Swain

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The University Police Department will hold training exercises in the coming weeks on the Morgantown campus.

Captain Matthew Swain directs the Training, Investigations, Dispatch divisions and will lead these exercises designed to prepare officers to quickly respond to a wide variety of situations.

“We at the West Virginia University Police Department take training very seriously,” Cpt. Swain said. “We want to make sure we’re staying up to date and that our officers receive top notch training so they are prepared for any situation.”

Swain said the field problems will be more like drills that require an immediate coordinated response. The simulations could be anything from a verbal argument to a non-compliant suspect with a gun.

“We’re going to throw a lot of different scenarios at our officers, at our dispatchers to make we’re preparing them for situations that could occur,” Cpt. Swain said. “We hope that never do, but we always want to be prepared.”

Swain said they are moving the focus away from active shooter scenarios, but it is still taught. These exercises could deal with legally armed suspects involved in disputes that refuse to cooperate.

“This year with campus carry coming we want to make sure we’re training our officers how to handle other situations,” Swain said.

The days and times of the sessions will be held until the last possible moment to preserve the training value. One focus of the exercise is to test the ability of officers to gain control and de-escalate a situation.

“Every call is going to be a little bit different. There will be some involving weapons, there will be some focusing on de-escalation,” Swain said. ” Making sure our officers are prepared to talk to individuals are be prepared to not escalate a situation.”

Swain said they will communicate via social media and official channels so people will have some advance warning. Some safety personnel will also be in and around the exercise to inform those who might be nearby.

“If they hear folks screaming and things like that it will be clearly marked and labeled where we’ll be,” Swain said.” We’ll have a bunch of safety officers around making sure everything is taken care of so everybody knows it’s a training scenario.”

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Monongalia County commissioner wants to reset homeless outreach efforts

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom says he wants to heal old wounds to build trust among members of the homeless community.

Tom Bloom

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” he responded to calls for a meeting with municipalities in the county and non-profit organizations to find solutions.

“So, if we’re going to get together, we need the right people in the room,” Bloom said. “The bottom line is this: whether it’s the state or a non-profit, somebody is going to have to step forward and solve this problem.”

The wounds, he said, were caused by the Diamond Village encampment off Pennsylvania Avenue along Deckers Creek and the aftermath of the Home for the Holidays program. Diamond Village came with a wave of drug and property crime in the neighborhood, and significant damage was reported to rental properties during the Home for the Holidays program.

“That is the big effect that Diamond Village had—you lost the landlords that were willing to help; you’ve got people screaming and yelling at each other and not solving the problem.”

Before Diamond Village, Bloom said the working relationship between the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties, and the city of Morgantown was far from perfect, but things did get done. The Home for the Holidays program placed nearly thirty people in homes in a 30-day period.

“When the four of us would work together, we could move slowly, but here’s the first thing: we need solutions, not complaints,” Bloom said.

One of the barriers to getting into treatment for many is the $1,000 cost to enter the West Virginia Sober Center. Bloom has encouraged those workers to apply for opioid grants from the commission to cover the cost of 20 people entering treatment. The program includes wrap-around services to keep the person on the road to recovery after initial treatment.

“I know it isn’t 120, but if you start at 20 and start small, you can grow that,” Bloom said. “Then someone may have another suggestion.”

Reorganizing the local efforts to help those in need will be a process that will result in a reliable system but won’t bring immediate gains. Finding small efforts like the $1,000 grant program for people to get into treatment can ultimately develop a series of services that can be offered.

“We’re not going to solve the opioid problem; we’re not going to solve the homeless problem right away,” Bloom said. “What we need to do is start working in our community to find what will help those individuals in need.”

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Appalachian Power seeking proposals for renewable energy and battery energy storage resources

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power is trying to meet its future clean energy needs.

The company says they are seeking proposals for renewable energy and battery energy storage resources. Three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were issued Friday for wind, solar, battery energy storage systems, and renewable energy certificates.

Aaron Walker

Under the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), Appalachian Power must meet annual escalating Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) requirements in order to deliver 100% carbon-free energy to its customers in Virginia by the year 2050. The company is also looking for bids for solar and battery energy storage resources in West Virginia due to Senate Bill 583.

“The advertised RFPs play an important role in helping us meet our clean energy commitments,” said Aaron Walker, Appalachian Power President and COO. “These projects will also support local communities by generating jobs and tax base.”

The first RFP requests bids for up to 800 megawatts (MW) of wind and/or solar resources. It also mentions co-located and standalone battery energy storage systems. Appalachian Power will look to acquire completed projects or ones in the development stage through one or more purchase and sale agreements (PSAs). The company says they prefer projects located in Virginia or on eligible sites in West Virginia.

The RFP reads, “Eligible sites in West Virginia are those previously used in electric generation, industrial, manufacturing or mining operations, including, but not limited to, brownfields, closed landfills, hazardous waste sites, former industrial sites, and former mining sites. Facilities must achieve a commercial operation date of no later than Dec. 15, 2028, and be within the PJM region and/or interconnected to the Appalachian Power distribution system.”

Only resources that interconnect to PJM and are at least 50 MW in size for wind and solar and 10 MW in size for standalone battery energy storage systems qualify to be considered. Resources that interconnect to the Appalachian Power distribution system must be at least 10 MW in size.

The second RFP requests bids for up to 300 MW of solar and/or wind resources from one or more long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). Under a PPA, the company enters into an agreement for the energy, capacity, ancillary services, and environmental attributes including renewable energy certificates (RECs) from facilities located within the PJM region and/or interconnected to the Appalachian Power distribution system. Resources must be at least 50 MW in size for wind and 5 MW in size for solar and be operational by Dec. 31, 2028 to be considered.

The third RFP focuses on renewable energy certificates (RECs). A REC is a market-based instrument issued when one megawatt-hour of electricity is generated and then delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource. All RECs purchased must be produced from eligible energy resources, per the RFP.

Bidders may submit proposals for contract terms between five and 30 years starting on Jan. 1, 2027. Alternative terms will also be considered.

RFP participation criteria, required forms, and other information sought by businesses can be found online at www.appalachianpower.com/rfp. Proposals must be submitted by July 16, 2024.

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PSC chairman blasts federal air pollution control rule

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Public Service Commission Chair Charlotte Lane is urging a federal court to halt the application of a proposed federal air pollution control rule until it can be fully litigated.

Charlotte Lane

Lane on Wednesday filed a 27-page document in support of the lawsuit. She encouraged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to grant a stay of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to implement new carbon emissions standards on July 8.

“The targets and technologies mandated by the Final Rule are an obvious pernicious effort to ensure the shutdown of coal-fired power plants in less than six years when they could otherwise operate for sixteen years or more,” Lane stated. “The Final Rule does not simply encourage, but effectively mandates, early retirement of coal-fired, baseload, dispatchable generation that is necessary to maintain the reliability and resilience of the electric power grid.”

Lane said the rule’s goals are unrealistic, it would threaten electric power reliability across the nation and would destroy West Virginia’s economy.

“I cannot imagine a worse plan for providing adequate, reliable, safe and affordable electricity service than the premature retirement of reliable base load dispatchable steam-driven power plants and substituting for that lost capacity and energy up to ten times more megawatts of less reliable intermittent power supplies as will result from the EPA Final Rule,” Lane stated.

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FestivALL to return for 10 days in the Capital City

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s once again time to embrace the culture in the Capital City as it becomes a work of art for ten days.

FestivALL Charleston makes its return for the 20th year starting Friday, June 14. It will showcase over 90 events across the city featuring music, art, theater, dance, literature, and culinary arts.

FestivALL Executive Director Mackenzie Spencer said after two decades of holding the event in the city, it’s truly a milestone they are excited to celebrate.

Mackenzie Spencer

“We’re so excited to see everybody come out, support artists, support entertainers, support local businesses, and really just be able to create those memories and have a great time in our city,” Spencer said.

FestivALL favorites will make their return again this year, including the Sunrise Carriage Trail Walk, Mountain Stage performances, the Shakepearoke with the Rustic Mechanicals at Short Story Brewing, the two-day Capitol Street Art Fair and the Children’s Art Fair, as well as the Youth ArtBus. This year, the Art Fair will showcase over 80 artists.

Some new and old programming this year includes a FestivALL Princess Art Exhibit showcasing costumes and props at the Kanawha County Public Library, Dance FestivALL that will feature famed-Broadway choreographer and performer James Kinney, and Recycle the Runway with Dress for Success.

In addition, the Community Keys artist-piano project will also make its return this year after not being held since 2015. Spencer explained a little bit about what the project entails and where festival-attendees will be able to find it.

“We’re going to bring in artists and actually commission them to make pianos into works of art and have them throughout our city, so we’re going to have one at the Capitol Market, we’re going to have one at GoMart Ballpark,” she said.

She said they are also excited for the Clay Center to be hosting a longtime Charleston artist in an exhibit this year, the Charly Jupiter Hamilton Retrospective exhibit, because he was a prominent contributor of FestivALL and they wanted to make sure the exhibit took place during the event.

Spencer said last year was FestivALLs’ first year fully returning to normal after the Covid-19 Pandemic forced them to take the event virtual and then hybrid for a couple of years.

She said it has felt good to be able to make the transition back into normalcy for the event.

“We are excited to be fully back in person, fully back to all of the programming that we know and that we love but also adding some new favorites in and also bringing back some old favorites that may have fallen by the wayside in years past in honor of the 20th,” she said.

A host of sponsors help put on FestivALL every year. Some of them this year include The City of Charleston, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, West Virginia Humanities Council, the State of West Virginia, Maier Foundation, Ford, Encova, Annie & Gaines Wehrle Charitable Fund, among many others.

Spencer said Charleston has such a vibrant art, music, and theatrical scene already, and to be able to condense it into one huge community event is something truly remarkable.

“To be able to showcase that local talent and to be able to bring all of our friends and neighbors together and bring that sense of community to Charleston is just so important,” said Spencer. “And to be able to bring in acts that are nationally and internationally recognized also brings the perspective of things that you may not see in Charleston otherwise.”

You can find out more about FestivALL, see the full programming and event schedule, and sign up to be a volunteer here.

Print schedules will also be available throughout the city at FestivALL event locations, restaurants and hotels.

FestivALL will take place June 14-23.

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Rose credits modestly funded Senate victory to hard work, sticking to the issues

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Despite being massively outspent, Chris Rose defeated two-term state senator Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, in the May primary election by more than 2,800 votes in his first run for political office.

Chris Rose

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Rose said the campaign was won on hard work and face-to-face contact with voters in the district that covers three counties and portions of three others. Campaign finance reports show Rose spent $54,282.66, compared to $1,187,298.43 spent by Maroney.

“Hopefully this race is an example to people that you don’t have to have a lot of money; you just have to have the will and the willingness to get out there and fight to make that difference,” Rose said. “The fact that we were willing to go out and meet the voters at their homes made all the difference at the end of the day.”

The district encompasses all or portions of Monongalia, Marion, Doddridge, Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel counties, and Rose believes he has knocked on more than 4,000 doors during the campaign.

“Three gentlemen in a pickup truck are traveling this district, a very large six-county district,” Rose said. “Door knocking and having front porch conversations with voters, getting to know the people in the district, hearing their needs and concerns, and hearing what I stand for.”

Rose said he will support policies that encourage energy production and snub policies that provide subsidies for renewable energy. Energy produced from wind and solar is only competitive because of government subsidies, according to Rose.

“Free market capitalism is what built this country and made it great,” Rose said. “When we have that same approach with our energy, we have a lot of energy jobs in the state of West Virginia, and we have to get back to that—we have to do what we can to get government out of the way to let the energy sector do what it does.”

Some of the issues Rose talked with voters about were Maroney’s voting record on energy-related issues, and his campaign materials referred to Maroney as a “phony conservative” who does not have Christian values.

“He had a very poor attendance record, and when he did show up, he supported things like the Green New Deal, and we’re an energy district—we have a lot of coal, oil, and gas in the district, and they felt like they were being betrayed with their tax dollars funding the Green New Deal,” Rose said. “They definitely didn’t like some of his other votes on social issues.”

Rose does not face a challenger in the November election, but he has plans to continue the campaign pace and voter engagement through the summer.

“I don’t have a general election opponent, but I feel like I need to be out with the people, introducing myself to them and thanking them for their vote,” Rose said. “Obviously continuing to have those conversations about the wants and needs in the district because that’s what good public servants do.”

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Boys State Track: Huntington leads in Class AAA, Winfield & Buffalo also own slim leads

(Photos by Teran Malone)

Meet results

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two of last year’s three state champions will take leads into the final day of the WVSSAC Boys Track and Field state championships. Huntington leads a tightly-bunched field in Class AAA. The defending champs scored 40 points on Day 1, putting them ten points ahead of MSAC-rival Hurricane. 23 of Huntington’s points came in the long jump. Mikey Johnson defended his title. Carmello Sheffield was second and Avonte Crawford came in fourth.

Hurricane won two events, the shuttle hurdle relay and the 3200 meter run. Ty Steorts won the final event by over ten seconds.

University is tied for third place with 26 points. The Hawks set a new state record in the 4×800 meter relay. Ethan Conroy, Jacob West, Tyler Umbright and Drew Zundell set the new mark at 7 minutes, 47.66 seconds.

Cabell Midland is tied for third with the Hawks. Cohen Jordan won the pole vault at 14 feet.

In the high jump, Woodrow Wilson’s Ryan Mutkar was the winner at 6 feet, 10 inches.

The stage is set for a pair of future WVU football players to square off in sprint finals Saturday. Jefferson’s Keyshawn Robinson and Princeton’s Dom Collins qualified for the finals in the 100 and 200 meter runs.

In Class AA, Winfield has 35 points, eight points ahead of Point Pleasant. Justin Lipscomb crossed first in the 3200 meter run and the Generals also won the 4×800 meter run.

Point checks in with 27 points. They claimed victory in the shuttle hurdle relay.

Dakota Hamrick of Berkeley Springs cleared 13 feet to win the pole vault. And Dakota Dammyer of East Fairmont won the shot put with a toss of 54 feet, 2 inches.

And the defending champion Bison from Buffalo own a 35-33 lead over Magnolia through six of 18 events in Class A. Nicholas Pitchford won the 3200 meter run and he ran the anchor leg on the victorious 4×800 meter relay.

Williamstown stands third. Aiden Corbett won the shot put with a throw of 53 feet. Josh Biggs of Petersburg won the discus. Trinity’s Chase Livengood won the long jump and Greenbrier West won the shuttle hurdle relay by nine-tenths of a second over Moorefield.

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Girls State Track: Williamstown, Winfield & Morgantown in position to defend titles

(Photos by Teran Malone)

Meet results

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three state champions are in position to defend their titles at the WVSSAC Girls Track and Field Championships. In Class AAA, Morgantown shared the title with Jefferson last year. The Mohigans have a 17-point lead through six of 18 events. MHS racked up points in the two distance events. They finished second in the 4×800 meter relay. In the final event of the day, the Mohigans finished 1-3-5 in the 3,200 meter run with Madeline Gump pushing late to win by .29 seconds.

Parkersburg is second. The Big Reds won the shuttle hurdle relay for the fourth consecutive year.

In other event finals, University won the 4×800 meter relay. The Hawks stand third overall. Mya Baruwa of Parkersburg South defended her title in the high jump. Riverside’s Cianna Groom won the discus and Jazmyn Taylor of Jefferson won the long jump with a leap by 18 feet, 0.75 inches, a quarter-inch ahead of Spring Valley’s Haleigh Crum.

Winfield is well on their way to a title defense in Class AA. The Generals have a 25-point lead on Frankfort atop the field. The Generals won the shuttle hurdle relay and they finished 1-2 in the pole vault with Abbie McGhee clearing 9 feet, 4 inches to win.

Oak Glen’s Hannah Kliner won the 3200 meter run. Frankfort cruised to victory in the 4×800 meter relay by over seven seconds and Nicholas County’s Adriene Truman won the high jump.

In Class A, Williamstown is in good position to claim their fifth consecutive title. The Yellowjackets lead Doddridge County by eight points heading into Saturday. Alyssa Sauro defended her title in the 3200 meter run and she ran the anchor leg on the victorious 4×800 meter relay team.

A’Kaia Williams earned ten points for Doddridge County with a win in the shot put at 35 feet, 8 inches. The Bulldogs trail their conference rivals, 48-40 heading into Day 2.

And the other two event victories in Class A were claimed by Wetzel County schools. Hundred’s Areonna Zarco’s winning  discus toss covered 111 feet, 2 inches. And Paden City crossed the line first in the shuttle hurdle relay, winning by a second over the runners-up from East Hardy.

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Fit + Active Schools Face-off returns to State Culture Center

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Six elementary schools and three middle schools around the state are facing off to see who’s the fittest.

The West Virginia Department of Education held its Fit + Active Schools Face-off Friday at the State Culture Center for its third year.

WVDE Physical Education Coordinator Josh Grant said the groups of elementary and middle schools compete in an eight exercise and four round workout routine for the event.

“It puts them against other schools to see what schools are the fittest and they’re judged on their form, their rhythm, their intensity, their stamina and their transitions,” Grant said.

Trinity Hill and Kendall Long were two students competing with their team from Peterstown Middle School in Monroe County.

“It’s a pretty cool experience to be here,” said Hill.

“Yeah, we worked hard to get here,” Long added.

They explained what all they were doing as part of the face-off.

“We do pushups, butt kicks, planks, jumping jacks, plank rolls, butterfly crunches,” they said.

Grant said the competing schools were selected to participate in the event by submitting a virtual entry of them doing the exercises and they trained throughout the semester to get there.

Along with Peterstown Middle, the other schools taking part in the face-off included: Frametown Elementary School in Braxton County, Overbrook Elementary and Richmond Elementary in Kanawha County, Roosevelt Elementary in Mason, Teays Valley and West Teays elementary schools in Putnam, Roosevelt Middle School in Mason County, and Teays Valley Christian Middle School in Putnam County.

In addition, students got to watch a performance by the Village of Barboursville Magic Jump Rope Team.

Grant said the focus of the event is on promoting children’s wellness, health, and team-building initiatives.

“A neat thing about this event is that it shows students that once they compete here they can be active for life,” Grant said. “I think we need to showcase wellness in our state and just encourage students to be healthy and active, and this is just a great way to show what it takes to work as a team, and they have what it takes inside of them to be fit and healthy for life.”

Judges from SHAPEWV, CrossFit Coal, the West Virginia Grind Basketball Team and West Virginia University were scoring the team’s on their performances during the face-off.

Grant said both groups of elementary and middle schools would be receiving first, second, and third places within their categories.

He explained what was in it for the winning schools.

“It’s going to come with monetary prizes, all of the students get a t-shirt, gold, silver, bronze medals, a banner to hold in their gym and a trophy,” said Grant.

First place winners Friday were Frametown Elementary from Braxton County and Teays Valley Christian Middle School from Putnam County.

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