Around the State

Litter cleanup collects hundreds of tons

CHARLESTON — More than 450 tons of cast-offs were collected by nearly 14,000 volunteers during West Virginia’s annual spring cleanup.

Sponsored by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the litter collection was the result of two programs: Make It Shine and Adopt-a-Highway.

The April programs were sponsored by the DEP’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan. Both programs broke records for the number of volunteers.

Volunteers for the Adopt-A-Highway cleanup removed 474,250 pounds of trash from 1,626 miles of state road.

More than 438,000 pounds of litter were collected as part of nearly 150 Make it Shine projects throughout West Virginia over the first two weeks of April. The litter included more than 1,565 tires.



McDowell Co. plans prison expansion, seeks funds: McDowell County officials want to expand the Stevens Correctional Center to house an additional 144 state inmates.

The McDowell County Economic Development Authority recently acquired a structure behind the prison for the expansion.

The project is estimated to cost $4 million.

Authority director Peni Adams said that county officials are working to find funding for the project.

McDowell County converted an old hospital into the prison in 2006. The county manages the prison under an agreement with the state.

The prison currently can hold about 322 inmates.


Police say mom left newborns with hospital: West Virginia State Police say no charges are planned against a Mingo County woman who dropped off her newborn twins at a hospital.

The woman initially told police that another woman left the twin boys in a basket on her porch. She claimed there also was a note asking that the infants be taken to Welch Community Hospital.

Sgt. J.S. McCarty said Thursday that the woman was actually the infants’ mother.

He says the woman told police that she didn’t think she could care for the infants. So, she took them to the hospital in Welch.

He says police believe there was no criminal intent.

The infants are now in the custody of Child Protective Services.



Ex-employee charged with stealing from W.Va. DOH: A former West Virginia Division of Highways employee faces charges of stealing about $200,000 worth of property from the agency.

An anonymous tip led to the arrest of 55-year-old William Robert Smallwood of Martinsburg.

Smallwood was arraigned last Friday in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on a felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses. He remains free on $20,000 bond.

According to court records, the stolen items included a plasma cutter worth about $4,000.

Smallwood is accused of taking the items over several years while working as a storekeeper for the DOH’s District 5 operations in Berkeley County.

Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker says Smallwood is no longer a DOH employee.

— Compiled with information from the Associated Press


Sheriff’s Office settles arrest lawsuit: The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has paid $50,000 to settle a wrongful arrest lawsuit.

Lisa Lynn Bennett sued the sheriff’s office after she was arrested in January 2012 and charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle. The lawsuit said Bennett didn’t commit the crime.

The lawsuit alleged that a deputy was negligent in his investigation and swore out a criminal complaint which was erroneous.

As part of the settlement, the sheriff’s office agreed to testify in support of expunging the charge and to send a letter of apology to Bennett.

Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said that Bennett’s arrest was regrettable and shouldn’t have occurred.



Boy found decomposing in blanket; mom jailed: A West Virginia woman whose 8-year-old son was found decomposing inside a blanket was in jail Friday on felony charges of child neglect causing death.

State Police say the boy was found during a welfare check by hospice workers Wednesday night and may have been dead for days. He was a special-needs child who had suffered from a disease called Hurler Syndrome, which affects the organs and causes them to shut down.

Troopers say 38-year-old Valarie Brown failed to get her son, Levi, the care he required. The results of an autopsy will determine whether additional charges are filed.

Authorities say Valarie Brown initially claimed the boy wasn’t there, then allowed officials inside but told them not to hurt Levi. A second child who lives in the home was not present at the time.

Braxton County Magistrate Robert Hamil set Brown’s bond at $100,000 cash. She was being held at Central Regional Jail.

It was not immediately clear whether she had an attorney.

Some neighbors tell media outlets they didn’t even know Brown had two children.

Paul Cogar says Brown mostly kept to herself but showed odd behavior, wandering around at night talking to herself.


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