Around the State

Bluefield leaders want ‘County Roads’ as W.Va.’s state song

BLUEFIELD – The city of Bluefield is hoping to lead a renewed push to declare John Denver’s 1971 hit, “Take Me Home (Country Roads)” as West Virginia’s newest state song.

The city’s board of directors this week will consider a resolution to adopt the song as the official state song of Bluefield in an effort to encourage state leaders to make it the official anthem as well.

Said Mayor Linda Whalen: “I believe this song is the one most people identify with West Virginia. We wanted to take the lead in this project.”

Whalen said the song provides an accurate description of the Bluefield area and the state overall.

“It’s a very positive description of the state,” she said. “It makes people feel good about the state.”

State lawmakers have considered adopting the song alongside “The West Virginia Hills” by Ellen King and H.E. Engle, “This is My West Virginia” by Iris Bell and “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” by Julian G. Hearne Jr. – all adopted by the Legislature during West Virginia’s centennial year.

CHARLESTON

Joblessness on the rise: Unemployment rates rose in 53 of West Virginia’s 55 counties in December.

WorkForce West Virginia said Friday that Brooke and Pocahontas counties reported lower jobless rates during the month.

Jefferson and Monongalia counties have the lowest rate in the state at 4.8 percent. Clay County’s 14.9 percent rate is the highest.

West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up two-10ths of a percentage point from November’s rate.

Charge in 1999 strangulation: An inmate in Tennessee will soon face charges in a West Virginia murder that occurred in 1999.

Police in Kanawha County say Daniel Turner has been indicted in the death of 41-year-old Terry Clark. He was found strangled to death and naked on the side of U.S. 119 near Walton in Roane County.

Officials say Turner was indicted by a grand jury after investigators matches his DNA with evidence from the crime scene.

Now in federal prison in Tennessee on gun and drug charges, Turner is set to be extradited for arraignment in Kanawha County on Feb. 1.

HUNTINGTON

Food bank embezzlement: The former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank is facing charges that she embezzled more than $23,000 from the organization.

Authorities say Leigh Anne Zappin was arrested Friday and charged with one count of embezzlement and eight counts each of forgery and uttering follow an investigation by the West Virginia State Police.

The 56-year-old had worked at the food bank since 2008 – initially under a community service program for a prior embezzlement conviction – and then as its leader from fall 2010 to Oct. 3, 2012. The nonprofit food bank helps the needy in 17 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

BELLE

2 infants taken: Police in Kanawha County say deplorable living conditions in a mobile home have prompted the removal of two infants.

Sheriff’s Capt. Sean Crosier says arrest warrants have been issued for the infants’ mother, 23-year-old Jody Lynn Wisen, and her boyfriend, William Clayton Booth, 31, of Cabin Creek.

Crosier says the Department of Health and Human Resources received reports that the infants didn’t have proper food, care or clothing.

When deputies went to the home Thursday night, Crosier said they found coffee filters allegedly containing methamphetamine. He said Wisen and Booth now face charges related to possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

MORGANTOWN

Chicken fight: A West Virginia chicken farmer who sued the Environmental Protection Agency over threatened water-pollution fines isn’t ready to stop fighting.

Last month, EPA withdrew a violation order against Hardy County resident Lois Alt. She’d sued EPA over new rules aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld says the government believes the lawsuit is now moot.

But Alt and the West Virginia and American Farm Bureaus disagree. They don’t want to dismiss the case without further action by EPA.

They contend the underlying issues still must be addressed because they could affect chicken farmers nationwide.

Ihlenfeld asked U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey to put pending motions for summary judgment on hold Thursday while the parties discuss what actions may get Alt to dismiss her case.

BRANCHLAND

Toddler killed in kitchen: West Virginia State Police have identified a Lincoln County toddler who died last week after a stove tipped over and pinned him.

State Police say 2-year-old Chevy Waughtel was found underneath the stove Jan. 14 at a residence in the Branchland area. Investigators believe the stove tipped over after the boy climbed atop it. State police say the floor beneath the stove was deteriorating and unstable.

A family member supervising the boy and several other children was asleep when the accident occurred. Child Protective Services have removed the other children from the home.

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