CHARLES TOWN (AP) — Two West Virginia school bus drivers who were suspended for attending a rally for President Donald Trump in the nation’s capital have been cleared of wrongdoing following hearings, an attorney said last week.

Attorney John Bryan, who is representing the employees in a separate lawsuit against the Jefferson County School District, said one employee was cleared Tuesday and the other on Wednesday. No evidence was presented against them, Bryan said.

Bryan said he is still proceeding with the federal lawsuit against school Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson. Bryan is representing bus drivers Tina Renner and Pamela McDonald. The lawsuit said Renner and McDonald’s actions were protected under the First Amendment when they traveled last week to Washington to support Trump.

Renner and McDonald rode on a charter bus Jan. 6. After hearing Trump speak at a rally, they walked to the U.S. Capitol, remained in an area designated for public occupation and did not participate in illegal activities, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said attending the rally was unrelated to the bus drivers’ employment and they had enough leave days available to attend the rally.

Renner and McDonald each received a phone call after returning informing them that they would be placed on paid administrative leave. Both also received letters from Gibson.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered when a mob violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol after the rally, and police fatally shot a woman during the riot. Three others died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.


West Virginia to

get nearly $120

million for testing, 



CHARLESTON — West Virginia will see an infusion of $103.1 million in federal funding to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, the state’s U.S. senators said on Tuesday.

The state will also get nearly $16.2 million toward distributing the coronavirus vaccine. The money comes from a massive coronavirus relief package.

“In order for West Virginia to remain a leader in COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, federal resources are necessary to support these efforts,’’ Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement.

West Virginia said it had administered 93,481 vaccine doses as of Jan. 12, with 13,764 people having received both doses.

“This funding will help West Virginia ensure vaccines are administered to every West Virginian who wants one as they become available and will support the testing and contact tracing programs,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said in a statement.




meet and vote on

legislative leaders


CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers met at the state Capitol on last week to formally begin a mask-mandatory legislative session.

Legislators conducted housekeeping matters and elected leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate before adjourning until mid-February.

Del. Roger Hanshaw, a Republican from Clay County, won another two-year term as speaker of the House. Sen. Craig Blair, a Republican from Berkeley County, became the new president of the upper chamber after his predecessor lost in the GOP primary last June.

Blair said that expanding broadband access and reducing personal income taxes are his top priorities.

“No idea will be off the table,’’ he said in his first speech to fellow senators.

In the general election, high GOP turnout credited to President Donald Trump’s drawing power elevated down-ballot Republicans in the state and gave the party a statehouse supermajority.

Republican Derrick Evans, who won his race for delegate in an upset victory in November, resigned last week after federal prosecutors charged him with entering the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.

Another lawmaker who joined Washington, D.C., rally, Republican state Sen. Mike Azinger, said on a radio show on Monday that the crowds loyal to Trump were “inspiring and patriotic.’’ The senator has not returned multiple emails asking whether he entered the U.S. Capitol with rioters.

Lawmakers will return on Feb. 10 for a 60-day session.

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