SCHERR – A nearly five-mile section of Corridor H is open to traffic.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other officials were on hand for Friday afternoon’s opening of the section between Bismarck and Scherr in Grant County.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation says the new $65 million segment completes the Bismarck to Wardensville section, which accounts for more than one-third of the 143-mile four-lane highway.
A 16-mile section from Davis to Bismarck is under construction and will bring the total mileage of Corridor H open or under construction to nearly 108 miles.
Corridor H was first proposed in 1964. When it’s completed, it will connect Interstate 79 near Weston with the junction of Interstates 81 and 66 in Front Royal, Va.
Rec center dedicated: The new $2.1 million W. Randy Smith Recreation Center has been dedicated.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation and the W. Randy Smith Family Fund provided most of the funding for the project.
The foundation is a charitable fund established by Smith, the former Berkeley sheriff who won a $79 million Powerball jackpot in 2010. He chose the $44 million cash option and pocketed $30 million after taxes.
The recreation center is located on the Musselman High campus. The Berkeley County School Board donated land for the facility. The donation saved the parks department an estimated $1 million.
The building includes a large gym with two full-sized basketball courts.
32 nabbed for meth: West Virginia State Police said they’ve arrested 32 people in the southern part of the state for manufacturing methamphetamine in the past month.
Officials announced the arrests during a news conference in Beckley, which they hope will draw attention to what they say is a growing problem in the region.
West Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said investigators were tipped off to many of the meth labs through the public and by informants.
The arrests resulted in about 75 felony charges and the seizure of more than $1,000 in cash. In some instances, police also found heroin and marijuana at the meth labs in Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, Braxton, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Fayette and Summers counties.
In 2012, state lawmakers passed a law intended to slow down the proliferation of meth labs. It limits the purchase of pseudoephedrine, commonly known sold under the name Sudafed, to three boxes per month and 20 per year.
Despite the restrictions, state police say individuals often work together to get the additional ingredients.
Said Trooper L.W. Price: “It takes four or five people to get together and they’ll all take different ingredients. One man can buy a box of a Sudafed and another man gets the Drano.”
Intervention in gay marriage case: Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is intervening on behalf of a county to defend the state’s ban on gay marriage.
New York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Huntington in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple.
Lambda Legal has filed a similar lawsuit challenging Virginia’s gay marriage ban.
Big litter haul: State officials say more than 700,000 pounds of litter were removed from West Virginia’s roads this year as part of the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
More than 4,000 volunteers took part in the fall event, removing more than 200,000 pounds of trash from state roadways. The state’s other big event – the spring cleanup in April – had more than 8,000 volunteers who collected more than 517,000 pounds of litter.
Figures for the fall cleanup were released late last week.
Capitol’s Christmas tree: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and first lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin are honoring military families who have lost a loved one in combat.
Officials say the “Gold Star Families Recognition” tree will be displayed in the State Capitol Building in Charleston along with a “First Responders Recognition” tree.
Tomblin says the Gold Star tree honors the memory of the military members lost in combat and pays tribute to the families left behind.
Youth Services problems surface: A legislative audit says the Bureau for Children and Families has failed to meet statutorily required reporting requirements for its Youth Services Program.
The program is intended to help children with homelessness, drug abuse, legal issues and other woes.
The audit says the bureau doesn’t have data to determine the effectiveness of interventions for more than 80 percent of youth services cases. The audit says the data for the other 20 percent of is not specific to the Youth Service Program and includes children in ongoing Child Protective Services cases.
Opposition to hospital buy: Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick says the city would have to make cuts to its police and emergency services departments if the planned purchase of a hospital is completed.
McCormick says the for-profit Williamson Memorial Hospital generates business and occupation taxes for the city.
If Appalachian Regional Healthcare completes its purchase of Williamson Memorial, the nonprofit ARH wouldn’t pay those taxes, the mayor said.
McCormick says business and occupation taxes make up 36 percent of the city’s revenue.
Last month, ARH announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire the 76-bed acute care hospital from a subsidiary of Health Management Associates. The acquisition is expected to be completed in February.
– Compiled with information from the Associated Press