The Associated Press

1CHARLESTON — Two grants totaling more than $900,000 are supporting new West Virginia Family Treatment Courts aimed at helping children and parents affected by substance abuse disorders.

The four courts were authorized by a new law this year. A state Supreme Court news release says they’re set up to protect children and help parents who’ve been involved in abuse and neglect proceedings due to substance use, before they permanently lose custody.

Treatment court teams from Boone, Ohio and Randolph counties have been attending training in Charleston this week. The release said one of the grants funded the two-day session.

The West Virginia Health and Human Resources Department’s Office of Drug Control Policy provided a nearly $340,000 grant and the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Office awarded a grant of about $597,000.

Tourism officials

began fall foliage


2CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s fall colors are starting to show, and the state Tourism Office has started providing weekly updates and a live tracker map online.

The agency says foliage in the state’s higher elevations is about a week away from peak, with maples showing the most color. Scattered color is appearing in the Eastern Panhandle, Allegheny Mountains and New River Gorge. Fall colors are expected to move throughout West Virginia during the next six weeks.

Tourism officials say people spotting colorful scenery are posting photos on social media from around the state using the hashtag “AlmostHeaven,’’ and the photos are added to the Tourism Office’s map online .

The agency’s weekly foliage reports are prepared in partnership with the state Division of Forestry.

Crowd mostly favors bill to redesignate New River Gorge

3FAYETTEVILLE — A bill to redesignate the New River Gorge National River as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve got a mostly favorable response during the first public meeting on the proposal.

News outlets report some expressed concerns about the amount of hunting land that would be withdrawn under the bill, but a majority of the overflow crowd raised their hands when asked if they support the direction of the bill.

The meeting held last week was hosted by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller.

They said the redesignation was sought because rebranding as a national park is expected to increase visitation without raising costs. Hunting would not be allowed in the area designated as a park, but it would be allowed in the preserve.


Charleston mayor won’t rename Christmas parade

4CHARLESTON — The mayor of West Virginia’s capital city quickly withdrew a decision to change the name of the annual holiday parade after intense backlash from church leaders.

News outlets report Mayor Amy Goodwin announced on Oct. 7 that she planned to rename the “Charleston Christmas Parade’’ the “Charleston Winter Parade’’ to demonstrate that Charleston is an inclusive city.

Officials from several churches quickly criticized the decision and said they wouldn’t attend. State Senate President Mitch Carmichael released a statement calling on the mayor to allow citizens to exercise their freedom of religion.

Goodwin publicly reversed her decision on Thursday. In a Facebook post, she said ``the kind of vitriol that has come forth’’ over the name change has been “disappointing and hurtful.’’

Farmers quadrupled their hemp crop this year

5MORGANTOWN — Farmers more than quadrupled West Virginia’s industrial hemp crop this year.

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt’s office says about 130 farmers grew 641 acres of industrial hemp in 2019, up from 155 acres in 2018.

And more’s coming: The department’s statement says more than 400 applications have been submitted for the 2020 growing season, double last year’s numbers.

Licensed grower Mary Hastings said it’s great news for farmers, showing real potential for profit.

Hemp is a type of cannabis from the same plant species as marijuana that mostly lacks intoxicating compounds. It’s used to make textiles, plastics and cannabidiol products.


Marshall suspends sorority over drug, hazing claims

6HUNTINGTON — A college in West Virginia has suspended a sorority over allegations of illegal drug use and hazing.

Marshall University announced last week a cease-and-desist order against the Delta Upsilon chapter of Delta Zeta, suspending all chapter actives, meetings and social events.

University President Jerome Gilbert says the university is now investigating the allegations. No further details about the allegations were immediately provided.

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