Around the State

Inmate escape prompts security review

MORGANTOWN — Security procedures at a federal prison camp in northern West Virginia are under review following an inmate’s escape.

The search for 42-year-old Eugene Nicholas Cobbs is continuing. The U.S. Marshals Service says Cobbs walked away from FCI Morgantown on April 10.

FCI Morgantown spokeswoman Marilyn Veltri says that security procedures and policies are being reviewed. The review will determine whether any changes are necessary to improve the facility’s safety and security.

Cobbs crashed a small plane loaded with drugs in Wheeling and fled in 2004. He was captured in 2008 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute and for flying without an airman’s certificate.

The Marshals Service says Cobb likely had help escaping.

 

MARTINSBURG

New children’s museum: West Virginia’s newest children’s museum is opening soon in Martinsburg.

The For the Kids By George Children’s Museum is part of the Washington Heritage Trail, a 136-mile scenic byway through Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

The museum makes connections to George Washington’s adventures with hands-on and interactive exhibits.

A dedication ceremony is set for May 11 at the Martinsburg Roundhouse.

The 6,400-square-foot features a lifelike statue of Washington paddling a canoe, a theater and 3-D map, a LEGO model of 1920s-era streetscape and the 3-D bike simulation theater, where children power up their bike generator to watch a video.

 

WILLIAMSON

Motorcycle ride to honor slain sheriff: A motorcycle rally in Mingo County will take on a special meaning this year.

The Rally in the Valley set for this weekend in downtown Williamson will hold a motorcycle ride to honor the late Sheriff Eugene Crum.

The Sheriff Eugene Crum Memorial Poker Run will be held starting at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Organizer Paul Price of the Sidney, Ky.-based club Appalachian Brotherhood says the route is still being worked out. He expects at least 200 motorcyclists will participate.

Price says the cost is $15 per motorcycle. Proceeds will benefit the sheriff’s department.

Crum was fatally shot on April 3. His widow, Rosie, was appointed interim sheriff the next day.

The Rally in the Valley debuted last year as a one-day event.

 

CHARLESTON

Housing agencies receive employment funds: Eight local housing agencies in West Virginia are getting federal funding to help residents find jobs.

U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall say the goal is to help people who are struggling to become self-sufficient.

Housing authorities in Benwood, Clarksburg, Lewisburg, Delbarton, Parkersburg, Elkins, Fairmont and Huntington will share more than $248,300 in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

— Staff, wire reports

 

 

Broadband project nears completion: Frontier Communications is wrapping up work on projects expanding high-speed Internet across the state.

A new state report shows 583 miles of fiber-optic cable has been installed to schools, libraries and other public facilities. Seven miles of cable remains to be installed. Frontier also is installing 85 miles of fiber-optic cable to link West Virginia University and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. Six miles of cable remain to be installed.

The work is part of the state’s $126.3 million federal stimulus project to expand broadband service. Frontier is to receive about $45 million for its work. As of last Friday, the state had paid the company $9.6 million.

“The Office of Technology is in the process of working with the grant implementation team to ensure accuracy and documentation of all invoices and payments,” Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown told the newspaper.

Holley-Brown said Frontier bills the state when it completes fiber construction at each location.

“A large proportion of the Frontier fiber builds has been invoiced, and some of those are being processed for payment,” Holley-Brown said. “However, … they do not submit the invoice until all work on that specific build is completed.”

A Frontier spokesman referred questions to the state officials overseeing the federal stimulus project.

Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato notified the federal government last fall that West Virginia expected to have $9 million left over from the $126.3 million project. State officials last week revised the estimate to $4 million in unspent funds. Any money that isn’t spent will be returned to the federal government.

 

Housing agencies receive employment funds: Eight local housing agencies in West Virginia are getting federal funding to help residents find jobs.

U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall say the goal is to help people who are struggling to become self-sufficient.

Housing authorities in Benwood, Clarksburg, Lewisburg, Delbarton, Parkersburg, Elkins, Fairmont and Huntington will share more than $248,300 in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

$1M Powerball ticket sold in W.Va. still unclaimed: A winning $1 million Powerball ticket has yet to be claimed a month after it was sold at the Little General convenience store in Beckley.

But manager Hana Lilly said that hasn’t stopped people from claiming it’s theirs.

The winning numbers for the March 16 drawing were 3-7-21-44-55, and the Powerball number was 16.

The winning ticket matched each of the first five numbers.

Lilly says chances are good that an out-of-state driver bought the ticket while passing through. Or the buyer could have lost it.

West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside it’s rare for big prizes to go unclaimed.

But there’s still time. The winner has until Sept. 16 to claim the prize.

 

BUCKHANNON

Man acquitted in toddler’s death: A Buckhannon man has been acquitted of causing the death of his then-girlfriend’s toddler son.

An Upshur County Circuit Court jury reached the verdict last Friday in the trial of 24-year-old Johnathon Andrew Clyde Queen.

Queen was charged with child abuse resulting in death. Twenty-one-month-old Chandler Andrew Oberg was pronounced dead at a Morgantown hospital in August 2010.

Media outlets reports prosecutors argued the child’s brain injuries were intentional, but a forensic pathologist called as a defense witness testified there weren’t definitive signs the child died from shaken baby syndrome.

 

DAVIS

Small plane crashes in northern W.Va.: Authorities say a small plane with three people on board crashed in northern West Virginia.

Tucker County emergency services spokesman Chris Stadelman said the plane went down last Friday about a mile from the Windwood Fly-In Resort near Davis. The resort has a 3,000-foot runway for private planes.

Stadelman said the pilot was extricated from the aircraft and the two others got out on their own.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen described the plane as a Cessna 172 that crashed at 12:40 p.m. The cause of the crash and the plane’s origin and destination weren’t immediately determined.

 

DUNMORE

Fire tower cab to be available for lodging: A former fire tower built on a platform atop a 3,400-foot peak in West Virginia’s Seneca State Forest will soon be available as a lodging venue.

The idea of converting the Thorny Mountain tower cab came from West Virginia State Park system regional administrator Bob Beanblossom.

He says the 14-by-14-foot living space will be available to rent for $50 a night through the Seneca State Forest office at Dunmore. Work is expected to be completed in June.

According to Beanblossom, beds, water and firewood will be provided, and there’ll be a picnic table, grill, fire ring and pit toilet at the tower’s base. A solar lighting and battery charging system will be installed.

The tower was built in 1935. Seasonal observers worked and lived there until 1988.

 

HUNTINGTON

2 Marshall students to share role of mascot: Two Marshall University students will share the role of the school’s mascot for the 2013-2014 school year.

A panel of university judges chose both Ben Heil and Drew Navy to fill the role of Marco following auditions Sunday at the Memorial Student Center.

Heil and Navy were the only students who showed up for the auditions. But they both impressed the judges.

Marshall chief of staff Matt Turner said that the university needs two Marcos because of the costumed bison mascot’s busy schedule.

It’s not unusual for Marco to make 60 to 70 appearances during the school year, including groundbreakings, homecoming festivities, private functions, student recruitment events, and football and basketball games.

Heil is a freshman from Dayton, Ohio, and Navy is a junior from Huntington.

 

— Compiled by Robert Smith with information from the Associated Press

 

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