The Associated Press
1CHARLESTON— Inmates in West Virginia prisons now have access to specially designed tablet computers.
News sources report the tablets are provided at no cost to taxpayers by Global Tel Link through its inmate banking services contract with the prison system.
The tablets give the prisoners access to email, video visitation, electronic books, music, games and movies. They lack a normal Internet browser but do allow access to select websites, including educational and career sites.
Some apps cost money but free apps include Khan Academy, featuring 7,000 videos on such subjects as math, science, history and economics. Another is CareerOneStop from the U.S. Department of Labor, offering career, training, and job search resources to assist with offender re-entry.
All apps and websites are approved by the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The devices will soon help inmates submit requests, file grievances and order from the facility commissary.
West Virginia’s tablet program began as a pilot at the Saint Mary’s Correctional Center last year. Then-Superintendent Patrick Mirandy said he saw the tablets improve facility safety.
DCR Regional Director J.T. Binion agreed.
“The tablets give inmates the incentive to behave and follow the rules, so they don’t lose this privilege,’’ Binion said. This has seemed to improve inmate morale overall.’’
bracing for potential $100M budget cut
2CHARLESTON — West Virginia officials are readying for a potential $100 million cut to the state budget.
Revenue department secretary Dave Hardy on Friday said the governor has asked the agency to prepare for the possible cut, saying they want to be ready for all fiscal scenarios.
The move comes after Republican Gov. Jim Justice quietly announced that the state came in nearly $30 million under its revenue estimates in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. Justice frequently touts positive financial figures for the state and has said his plans for the economy are working.
Hardy says officials have had 21 budget hearings in the last two months where agencies have been asked to find areas that could be cut. He says no specific amount of cuts have been determined.
400 school buses among those affected by upcoming recall
3CHARLESTON — West Virginia officials say 400 school buses will soon be recalled over concerns their seat backs may lack sufficient cushioning to prevent injuries.
A nationwide recall is set to begin in December. Education Department spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said the state’s bus dealer is locating the affected vehicles. Most are being left in service for now.
Manufacturer Thomas Built Buses said there’s an increased injury risk for unrestrained passengers if their knees hit the seat in front of them during a front-impact crash. The company, a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks, said it’ll add additional material to seat backs.
West Virginia doesn’t require most school buses have seat belts.
An Oct. 4 National Highway Safety Administration report says more than 53,000 buses across the country could be affected.
Police release names of 2 killed in fiery plane crash
4SUMMIT POINT — Authorities have released the names of two men who died in the fiery crash of a small airplane in West Virginia.
State Police Cpt. Shallon Oglesby issued a statement Friday identifying the victims as 70-year-old Clinton Terry Powers and 67-year-old Randy Lee Garcia. Both men are from Inwood.
The men died last Thursday when their single-engine aircraft crashed in Summit Point, an unincorporated community near the state’s border with Virginia.
Oglesby says the 1960 Mooney M20A plane was fully engulfed in flames and both men were dead when authorities found the wreckage in a field. Powers was piloting the plane and Garcia was a passenger.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the two men were the only people on board the aircraft.
The crash site was about 7 miles (11 kilometers) southeast of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg, though the plane’s origin and destination weren’t immediately released.
The FAA will investigate, and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the accident.
Former WVU coach Holgorsen, ex-wife named in rental
5MORGANTOWN — A landlord has filed a lawsuit alleging former West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen and his ex-wife owe two months of back rent and fees for cleaning and repairs.
Rodney Poland filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Monongalia County Circuit Court, according to news sources.
The lawsuit says the day the lease was signed for the Cheat Lake home, Dana Holgorsen agreed by text message to pay the rent.
It says the home was rented to Candice Holgorsen for $2,500 a month, that back rent is owed for July and August 2019 and nearly $20,000 is owed for cleaning and repairs.
Dana Holgorsen was hired at Houston in January.
A message left for Holgorsen through the Houston athletic communications office wasn’t immediately returned. Candice Holgorsen does not have a listed telephone number and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
for murdering mayor accused of killing
6ELKINS — The man convicted of murdering War, West Virginia, Mayor Thomas Hatcher is now accused of killing a fellow inmate.
A criminal complaint says Earl Click was covered in blood and readily admitted to killing Allen Longwell last week at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, according to news sources.
The complaint filed by State Police Trooper R.C. Watson says Longwell was found on his back with multiple stab wounds. A long metal rod that had been filed to a point was found nearby.
Click is charged with first degree murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
In 2014, Click was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy in Hatcher’s death. He was sentenced to life in prison with the recommendation of mercy and one to five years of incarceration.
7CHARLESTON — A West Virginia county magistrate is resigning five months after he was indicted on federal charges.
The state Supreme Court says in a news release that Gilmer County Magistrate Alton Skinner II will step down Friday.
Skinner and Lewis County Magistrate Roger D. Clem Jr. were suspended without pay after their May indictments on charges including fraud and obstruction of justice. A federal judge this month rejected a proposed plea agreement.
The charges against the two involve E-Z Out LLC, a bonding company that prosecutors say is run by Skinner’s family. Clem is accused of taking court actions favoring the company and presenting the company to detainees without providing other bond options. Similarly, Skinner is accused of having his family attend arraignments of detainees who weren’t told about other bond options.
Sorority reinstated after investigation into drugs, hazing
8HUNTINGTON — Marshall University has lifted its suspension of a sorority after an investigation found insufficient evidence of hazing and drug use.
The West Virginia college on Friday announced that it has removed its cease-and-desist order against the Delta Upsilon chapter of Delta Zeta.
The school did not release details of the allegations before it suspended the sorority’s activities, meetings and social events two weeks ago. The chapter’s national organization had been notified and asked to participate in the college’s investigation.
Marshall issued a short statement on Friday saying the sorority has had its rights and responsibilities reinstated.
capsule opened at former orphanage
9LEWISBURG — A former West Virginia orphanage that now operates as treatment center for youth has celebrated its 100-year anniversary by opening a time capsule.
The 91-year-old capsule presented at a Friday celebration at Lewisburg’s Davis Stuart contained a Bible, photos and newsletters that describe the facility in 1928.
Davis Stuart now operates as a court-ordered rehabilitation center for at-risk teens with a Department-of-Education run school on a 574-acre campus.
Greenbrier Historical Society executive director Nora Venezky was on hand to examine the time capsule. She said, “It was really great just to be able to pull it apart to see what’s in it.’’
Davis Stuart will continue to celebrate its centennial over the next year and gather items to put into a new time capsule.