WHEELING — President Donald Trump is expected to visit West Virginia later this month for a re-election fundraiser.

The private fundraiser is being hosted by Robert E. Murray, the president and CEO of Murray Energy, according to news sources. It is scheduled to take place at WesBanco Arena on July 24.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw will be in attendance.

Trump officially kicked off his 2020 campaign at a Florida rally last month where he told a crowd of thousands that Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.’’ Less than 24 hours later, the national chairwoman of the Republican Party announced that Trump had raised $24.8 million.

 

NASA renames

facility in honor of human ‘computer’

FAIRMONT — A NASA facility in West Virginia has been renamed in honor of a native of the state whose calculations helped put men on the moon 50 years ago.

Katherine Johnson was portrayed in the film “Hidden Figures’’ and is now 100 years old. She did not attend Tuesday’s ceremony in Fairmont but was represented by two of her daughters, Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore.

News outlets report elected officials, the NASA administrator and a former astronaut were at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility.

Johnson worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, as a human “computer.’’

Last year, Johnson was honored by alma mater West Virginia State University with a bronze statue and scholarship dedication.

 

National Guard

helping clean up flooded towns

ELKINS — Conditions are beginning to return to normal in the state’s eastern highlands following flash flooding this weekend.

The heavy flooding in Randolph, Tucker, Pendleton and Grant counties blocked roads, damaged an elementary school, closed a U.S. Forest Service visitor center and marooned a kayaking father and son on the Cheat River.

West Virginia National Guard soldiers this week were assessing damage, clearing debris, and providing drinking water to residents. All major roads in the flood-damaged counties had reopened by Wednesday although some smaller roads were still closed.

In the Monongahela National Forest, the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center reopened but its water system remained inoperable and portable toilets were brought in.

Forest Service personnel were also assessing damage to nearby roads and trails.

 

DHHR looking to outsource foster care system

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia agency says it is seeking an outside vendor to take over the state’s foster care and adoption system.

The Department of Health and Human Resources released its bid for the managed care organization. The move is billed as a way to help streamline care for children in state custody and adoptive families.

DHHR deputy secretary Jeremiah Samples says the three-and-a-half-year contract would be about $200 million per year.

The state’s move to an MCO comes after lawmakers passed a bill requiring DHHR to transfer children in foster care to an MCO by January 2020.

This came after the Department of Justice threatened to sue the state over possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act within its foster system.

 

Teen swimmer’s body found in New River

BEAVER — Authorities say the body of a 16-year-old boy has been found in a West Virginia river.

A National Park Service news release says the boy had been swimming with two other people in New River Gorge National River on Friday morning when he got caught in the swift current and was swept downstream.

The park service says the boy’s body was found at around noon by search and rescue divers.

Officials say the  body was located in 14 feet of water, about 200 yards downstream from where he was last seen. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The boy was not immediately identified.

Officials say the New River is a high-volume river with swift currents and a rocky bottom. Water levels and river conditions can change quickly.

3 inmates die in past week at separate jails

CHARLESTON — Officials in West Virginia say three inmates at separate regional jails died in the past week.

There was no indication of foul play in any of the deaths.

Andy Malinoski of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety told WCHS-TV that Amanda Kessick was found unresponsive early Friday and died at Western Regional Jail in Cabell County.

The department said Mark Anthony Wartenburg of Scott Depot died Saturday at South Central Regional Jail.

Malinoski said Janson Davenport was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday night at the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County and died about an hour later despite lifesaving attempts.

 

Fireworks sales

continue to

disappoint

CHARLESTON — Fireworks sales in West Virginia continue to bring in less revenue than predicted.

The fireworks safety fee brought in just under $644,000 in 2018. When the 6 percent sales tax is added, total tax revenue from fireworks sales comes to just under $966,000. That’s about one-third of the $2.8 million in annual revenue the Tax Department projected when the Legislature legalized fireworks sales in 2016.

The 2019 Fireworks Safety Fee Report says the 12 percent fireworks safety fee could be contributing to low sales. It notes that neighboring states of Ohio and Kentucky collect only sales taxes on fireworks purchases.

The report also notes that fireworks retailers in nearby states have permanent, year round locations.

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