Around the State

1st female secretary of state turns 100

CHARLESTON — The first woman to hold a statewide officer in West Virginia has turned 100.

Helen F. Holt celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday.

Former Gov. Cecil Underwood appointed Holt as secretary of state in 1957 following the death of D. Pitt O’Brien. She served until 1959.

Holt also served in the House of Delegates from 1955 to 1956. She was appointed to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Rush Holt, following his death.

She also served in the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says Holt was a trailblazer in West Virginia.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller says she has spent her life serving others.



Abduction attempt similar to 3 others: Kenova Police Chief Ray Mossman says an attempted child abduction is similar to three other incidents in 2012.

A 10-year-old boy told Kenova police that a cargo van pulled up behind him Saturday as he was riding his bicycle. The boy said a man in the van asked him if he needed a ride. He refused and ran when the man started to get out of the van.

Mossman said that descriptions of the van and two male suspects are similar to those in three attempted abductions in Kenova and Wayne County in 2012.

The van’s driver is described as having a flat-top haircut and a long, gray beard. The passenger is described as having a chest-length, salt-and-pepper beard and a barbed wire tattoo on a wrist.



Woman to be charged after bodies found: A prosecutor says a West Virginia woman will be charged with two counts of illegally disposing of a dead body after human remains were found in a Summersville storage unit.

Nicholas County Prosecutor P.K. Milam said that arrest warrants were issued soon after state police discovered the two bodies last Wednesday. He says when troopers went to arrest 61-year-old Wanda Kiser, she had taken some pills. Milam said Saturday that Kiser is hospitalized and will be arrested when she is released.

Authorities had sought Kiser for questioning about an elderly mother and daughter missing from Alabama. Last month, Alabama authorities charged Kiser with 17 counts of forgery for allegedly cashing checks belonging to 105-year-old Mary Cobb and 84-year-old Wynona Delvecchio of Jasper, who were reported missing in 2003.



Jobless rates rise in 16 of 55 counties: Unemployment rates rose in 16 of West Virginia’s 55 counties in June.

WorkForce West Virginia said Friday that 30 counties saw a drop in jobless rates and rates were unchanged in nine counties.

Jefferson County had the lowest rates in the state at 4.1 percent.

Counties with the highest rates were Webster, 10.9 percent; Mason and Mingo, both at 10.7 percent; and McDowell, 10.4 percent.

West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in June, up slightly from June’s rate.


Company cited in fatal well pad blast: Federal regulators have cited a company whose worker died in an explosion at a Taylor County natural gas production site.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a serious citation to Central Environmental Services LLC.

The Feb. 15 explosion occurred on an EQT Corp. gas well pad near Flemington. Brian Hopkins was killed as he attempted to transfer briny wastewater from a tank into a truck. It’s a routine activity at drilling sites, and explosions are uncommon.

The OSHA citation alleges Central Environmental employees used headlamps that didn’t prevent sparks, fires or explosions.

Central Environmental Services is based in the Wood County community of Washington, and no one answered an after-hours call at the company Friday night.


UMWA workers at Patriot operations ratify pact: Members of the United Mine Workers of America have voted to ratify a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal.

The union said in a statement Friday night that current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky voted 85 percent to 15 percent in favor of the agreement reached late last week.

Some 1,800 members from 13 locals were voting.

Patriot said it wants the company to survive, and union President Cecil Roberts had said the deal may let that happen.

The settlement would restore most wage cuts that Patriot had sought as part of its reorganization.

Roberts says the deal also reduces the restoration of some benefits and the continuation of others.

Pension benefits for thousands of current retirees would be maintained, and active employees would continue earning pension credit.


DEP collects stream, lake water quality data: State regulators are compiling lake and stream water quality data for a report required by the Clean Water Act.

The Department of Environmental Protection submits the report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every two years. It includes a list of impaired waters that don’t meet water quality standards.

The DEP says the Division of Water and Waste Management is collecting data for the 2014 report.

The report also will include data collected by other state agencies, federal agencies, watershed associations, permitted facilities and others.

Anyone who has collected water quality data in West Virginia from July 1, 2008, through June 30 can submit it to the DEP. Oct. 18 is the deadline to submit data.

Data submission forms can be downloaded from the DEP’s website.


More evidence in sheriff slaying disclosed: A sexual assault investigation that occurred more than a decade ago could be evidence in the slaying of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum.

West Virginia State Police investigated allegations that Crum sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman in 2001 when he was Delbarton’s police chief.

State police concluded that the sex was consensual. No charges were filed.

A 2002 report on the investigation is included on a list of potential evidence filed by Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks in July.

Sparks said that he couldn’t discuss potential evidence.

Tennis Maynard is charged with fatally shooting Crum on April 3.

Maynard’s attorney, Richard Weston, said that the sexual assault allegations support the general nature of the defense. He wouldn’t elaborate.



No charges in barge-bridge accident: The U.S. Coast Guard says higher than normal water levels caused a barge to break free of its moorings and hit the Star City Bridge.

The Coast Guard said that no charges will be filed against the barge’s owner, CONSOL Energy, or Greer Limestone, which leases the barge.

The barge hit the bridge’s base around 7 p.m. last Tuesday. The bridge in Monongalia County was closed for about four hours while the Coast Guard and the state Division of Highways checked it for damage.

Greer Limestone’s lawyer, Robert Gwynne, says the company is thankful that damage to the bridge was minor. He says the company is taking steps to avoid such incidents in the future.

The bridge carries U.S. 19 across the Monongahela River.



Feds seek $1M from doctor convicted of fraud: Federal prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of more than $1 million from a Clarksburg dermatologist convicted of fraud and tax charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Cogar says in a court filing that’s how much 59-year-old Allen G. Saoud received from the fraud.

A jury convicted Saoud in June of 22 counts, including health care fraud, bankruptcy fraud, identity theft and filing false tax returns.

The jury found that Saoud schemed to circumvent his exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid to illegally obtain money. It also found that he lied to a federal agent about his medical practice and testified falsely under oath about the practice.

U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley has yet to rule on the prosecution’s request.

Saoud is awaiting sentencing.



Judge facing conspiracy charge: A West Virginia judge is accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes over five years, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

Authorities said none of the schemes panned out for Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, and he was charged late last week with two counts of conspiracy.

A second county official was charged with extortion in an unrelated case in yet another blow to an area still reeling from the assassination of its sheriff in April.

Mingo County, a coalfields community of about 27,000 people on the state’s southern border with Kentucky, has a long history of violence and government corruption.

It’s the home of the legendary feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families, and was dubbed “Bloody Mingo’’ when unionizing miners battled security agents hired by coal companies in the early 20th century.

In 1988, former sheriff Johnie Owens was convicted of selling his office for $100,000, and in February, a woman was charged with tipping people off about pending indictments while she served on the grand jury.

Thornsbury, 57, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

— Compiled with information

from the Associated Press

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