CHARLESTON — State highways officials say West Virginia’s bridges are safe despite dozens that are in disrepair and at risk of collapse if hit hard enough in the wrong place.
An Associated Press review of federal records found that 178 West Virginia bridges are classified as “fracture critical” and “structurally deficient.” Experts say the combination of red-flag categories is particularly problematic.
The federal government requires states to inspect bridges at least every two years, a mandate inspired by the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio that killed 46.
Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker says inspections are done more frequently if specific problems or deficiencies are found.
Bridge named for slain troopers: An Interstate 79 bridge near the Clay and Roane county line has been named in honor of two slain West Virginia State Police troopers.
Family members of Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman attended a dedication ceremony on Thursday at the Wallback/Clay exit ramp.
Workman and Bailey were shot Aug. 28, 2012, near the interstate exit by Luke Baber, who pulled a handgun hidden in his pants as he sat in the backseat of a cruiser. The Oak Hill man was later killed in a shootout with another officer.
New election system: West Virginia’s Election Commission has certified a new voting system for use in state elections.
The commissioners voted unanimously Friday to accept the new system made by Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.
Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Jake Glance says the system features new technology that will enable counties to count ballots faster and more accurately.
Glance says counties will have the option to purchase the new system.
Under state law and the federal Help America Vote Act, voting systems must be tested to verify security and accuracy at both the federal and state level. A federal commission already has certified the system.
Coal emissions: The coal industry is bracing for new federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants fired by coal.
The rules are expected to emerge by week’s end from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to media reports. The EPA is expected to set carbon dioxide emissions limits for new plants that would effectively prohibit future construction.
West Virginia politicians say the new rules support their contention that there is a so-called national war on coal.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin vowed to lead the battle against regulations he calls an overreach by the government.
But some see the new rules as a nudge by the EPA to move along development of technology to capture a big portion of carbon dioxide emissions.
Man sentenced in extortion scheme: A California man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for trying to extort tens of millions of dollars from a West Virginia coal company executive and others.
Aspiring actor Vivek Shah of West Hollywood, Calif., was sentenced Wednesday in Beckley federal court. He pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring threatening communications in interstate commerce and seven counts of mailing or sending threatening communications through the mail.
The 25-year-old Shah was charged with threatening to kill relatives of Foresight Reserves owner Christopher Cline if he refused to pay $13 million.
Other families targeted were those of film producer Harvey Weinstein; Playtone film producer Gary Goetzman; Relativity Media founder Ryan Kavanaugh; oil heiress Dannine Avara; Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky; and Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula.
Fatal beating case sent to grand jury: A grand jury will consider the cases of two men accused of killing a Wheeling Jesuit student from Pennsylvania.
An Ohio County magistrate found probable cause on Thursday to send the cases to the next grand jury, which convenes in January.
Tyler Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and 24-year-old Jarrett Chandler of Winnfield, La., are accused of killing 21-year-old Kevin Figaniak of Perkasie, Pa. Prosecutors say Figaniak was beaten during an argument on Aug. 31 and died from his injuries the next day.
Wheeling police detective Daniel Holmes testified during Thursday’s hearing that Figaniak and a friend were walking to campus when they encountered Peacock, Chandler and a third man.
New museum exhibit: A new exhibition at a West Virginia University museum explores the lives of miners and their families in the old coal camps of Appalachia.
“Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp” focuses on four components of coal communities: commerce and the company store, religion, domestic work and social pursuits.
The exhibition features historical artifacts and photographs depicting life at the coal camps that sprang up across Appalachia from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.
The exhibition will be on view through July at the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum.
— Compiled with information
from the Associated Press