W.Va. lawmakers finalizing budget tapping reserves
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia lawmakers are working out kinks in a budget that gives public workers raises and digs into reserves.
The House of Delegates and Senate are meeting this week to finalize the state spending plan for next fiscal year.
House members have firmly opposed increases in taxes, like cigarette or sales taxes. House Speaker Tim Miley has said a significant reason is that members are up for re-election this year.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the House proposed tapping $83.8 million from the state's $922 million Rainy Day Fund. The Senate wants to take $125 million.
The proposals also aim to bump the pay of public employees, including $1,000 salary increases for teachers and 2 percent raises for school service personnel.
The next fiscal year begins July 1.
Feds attribute W.Va. pipeline blast to corrosion
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal investigators say corrosion caused a 2012 pipeline rupture and explosion in West Virginia that destroyed several homes and cooked a stretch of Interstate 77.
A report released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board says investigators found severe external corrosion that reduced the thickness of the pipeline wall to about 30 percent of its original thickness. The pipeline was installed in 1967 and last inspected in 1988.
According to the report, the rupture likely would have been prevented if the pipeline had been inspected with an inline tool.
No one was seriously injured when the buried 20-inch line owned and operated by Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. ruptured Dec. 11, 2012, near I-77 in Sissonville.
A spokeswoman for Columbia's parent, NiSource, says the company is committed to operating safely.
WVA CORRUPTION CHARGES
Ex-Mingo Co. magistrate to be sentenced Monday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A former Mingo County magistrate is heading back to court for sentencing on a federal vote charge.
Dallas Toler pleaded guilty last December to charges that he illegally registered a convicted felon to vote in the 2012 primary election. He's being sentenced Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Toler faces up to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors are asking the court to impose a longer sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Ruby says in court filing that Toler was a judicial official whose crime occurred in a place where public corruption has been endured for too long.
Ruby says Toler also got involved in cocaine distribution while out on bond.
Higher ed agency approves WVU's selection of Gee
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has approved Gordon Gee's appointment as West Virginia University's permanent president.
The commission's decision came Monday during a special meeting in Charleston. The university's Board of Governors had voted last week to amend the search process and name the 70-year-old Gee as president.
Gee was named interim president after Jim Clements left for Clemson last November. Gee also served as WVU's president from 1981 to 1985.
Gee also served two stints as president at Ohio State. He retired from Ohio State in July 2013 after he criticized Roman Catholics, Notre Dame and former Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema, who now coaches at Arkanas. The remarks were made in December 2012 to Ohio State's Athletic Council.
BLUEFIELD PILL INITIATIVE
Defendant in W.Va. pill crackdown sentenced
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - A Princeton man convicted in a crackdown on prescription drug trafficking will spend more than year in prison.
Bobby Michael Short Jr. pleaded guilty last November to drug distribution charges. He was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Bluefield to 15 months in prison.
Prosecutors say Short and two co-defendants sold hydromorphone pills to a confidential informant in and around Mercer County. Hydromorphone is a prescription painkiller.
The charges stemmed from the Bluefield Pill Initiative. Launched in 2011, it targets prescription drug trafficking in Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties.
Ex-W.Va. federal corrections officer sentenced
FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - A former federal corrections officer has been sentenced on a drug charge to up to 15 years in prison.
Media outlets report that James Butcher of Fayetteville received a one-to-15-year sentence Monday in Fayette County Circuit Court. Judge Paul Blake Jr. also ordered Butcher to pay a $5,000 fine.
Butcher had pleaded guilty in January to a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance.
He was employed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Beckley at the time of the offense. He was arrested in August 2013.
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