The Associated Press

1MORGANTOWN — A ban on electronic cigarettes and vaping products has started at West Virginia University.

The WVU Board of Governors in February approved the ban that took effect last week. The policy applies to WVU properties in Morgantown, Beckley and Keyser.

The only exception will be in designated smoking areas at large athletic events.

Students found in violation of the policy are subject to conduct proceedings and sanctions. Faculty and staff members would also face disciplinary actions, while visitors in violation will be asked to leave campus.

The university passed a smoking ban earlier this decade.

 

Lawmakers ask

for control of $37M opioid settlement

2CHARLESTON— A group of West Virginia lawmakers want control of a recent $37 million opioid settlement with the drug distributor McKesson.

Members of the House of Delegates asked the attorney general to let the legislature to divvy up the money so it can be used for opioid treatment programs, rather than on administrative costs.

West Virginia settled its lawsuit with McKesson in May. The state had accused the company of shipping millions of suspicious painkiller orders to the state as it was being ravaged by the opioid epidemic. McKesson has denied any wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s says his office looks forward to working with the legislature and the governor to return the McKesson money to the state to ``attack the drug epidemic holistically.’’

 

Trump grants

disaster declaration after floods

3CHARLESTON — President Donald Trump has granted a disaster declaration request for flooding in portions of West Virginia in late June.

Gov. Jim Justice says in a news release five counties can receive federal assistance for public recovery efforts.

The storms on June 29 and 30 caused widespread flooding to homes, businesses and infrastructure. The declaration for public assistance is for Grant, Pendleton, Preston, Randolph and Tucker counties.

The funding for state and local government entities and eligible nonprofit groups offers reimbursement for emergency work and to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities.

The declaration also provides cost-sharing assistance to support efforts that prevent or reduce long-term flood risks.

 

Missing girl found

in Texas, father

arrested

4FAIRMONT — Authorities say a 4-year-old West Virginia girl has been found unharmed in Texas and her father has been arrested more than a week after she was reported missing.

A U.S. Marshal’s Service news release says Gracelynn June Scritchfield was found last Thursday in Pecos, Texas. News outlets report the statement says her father, 26-year-old Arlie Edward Hetrick III, was arrested on West Virginia and federal warrants. He’s being held in the Reeves County, Texas, jail pending a hearing. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Alex Neville says the girl appeared to be in good health and has been turned over to child protective services. An Amber Alert was issued for the girl on July 22 after she was reported missing in Fairmont.

 

Green Bank

Observatory to

continue operations

5GREEN BANK — West Virginia’s Green Bank Observatory will continue operating under the National Science Foundation.

Green Bank Observatory Director Karen O’Neil announced the foundation’s decision in a statement Tuesday.

The foundation had been evaluating options for the observatory, ranging from collaboration with outside partners to continue its science and education mission to demolishing it.

The foundation, which in 2012 provided 95 percent of its funding, has been reducing its financial support. Associated Universities Inc. has operated the observatory since 2016.

O’Neil says the foundation acknowledged the observatory’s high scientific value. She says the focus will be to ensure the facility remains competitive, produces high quality science and maximizes access by the U.S. astronomy community.

The observatory includes a 100-meter diameter radio telescope, astronomy and astrophysics instrumentation, office and laboratory buildings, a visitor and education facility and lodging facilities for visiting scientists.

Judge tosses college assault suit amid more rape charges

6CHARLESTON — A federal judge says a lawsuit brought by a former Marshall University student has failed to show the school could be held legally liable for allegedly mishandling an on-campus rape case.

District Judge Robert C. Chambers filed an order explaining that he threw out Alicia Gonzales ‘ case because it didn’t show Marshall was ``deliberately indifferent.’’

Gonzales says she was raped in 2016 by fellow student Joseph Chase Hardin. He was convicted of battery in the case.

Her civil suit said the school had botched a disciplinary process and let Hardin remain on campus.

A college spokeswoman says Marshall is satisfied with the decision and has maintained the school followed state law and federal regulations in the case.

Hardin was expelled last month after new sexual assault charges emerged .

Blackjewel’s coal

assets sold at auction

7CHARLESTON — Contura Energy has made a successful bid of $33.75 million at an auction for the assets of three Blackjewel LLC mines in Wyoming and West Virginia.

The results were announced Sunday and are subject to a federal bankruptcy judge’s approval Monday in Charleston.

Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy’s bid was an increase from its original offer of $20.6 million as the stalking horse bidder for the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in Scarbro, West Virginia. They’ve been closed since Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 1.

The results did not indicate whether any mines would reopen and enable hundreds of idled miners to return to work. Contura Energy did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

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