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CHARLESTON — The West Virginia treasurer’s office will hold two auctions for unclaimed property at the State Fair this month.

The auctions will take place at 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 and Aug. 21 in Fairlea, the office said in a news release.

Among the items up for bid are rare coins, currency, jewelry, and other collectibles. They will be on display throughout the fair at the treasurer’s office booth located in the West Virginia Building at the fairgrounds.

Banks or law enforcement turn over the items to the office’s Unclaimed Property Division when lawful owners cannot be located. Proceeds from the auction remain in an individual’s name for claim in the future.

“These items are often forgotten about or left abandoned,” state Treasurer Riley Moore said. “These auctions help convert these collectibles into the highest cash value possible for someone to claim in the future. They’re also a treasure trove for collectors.”

 

WVU aims to reach 80% COVID-19

vaccination rate by Sept. 1

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MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University is asking its students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated for the coronavirus as it tries to keep pace with the rest of the state.

The university will develop additional enforcement and safety protocols for unvaccinated individuals if WVU does not reach an 80% rate of full vaccinations for its employees and students by Sept. 1. Those measures include increased testing frequency and penalties for failure to comply with COVID-19 related requirements, WVU said last week in a statement.

Vaccinations are not required but are strongly encouraged for WVU students and employees.

The statement said 59% of WVU faculty and staff and 60% of students on the Morgantown campus have verified they are fully vaccinated. WVU said 59% of its employees and 34% of students on the Beckley campus are fully vaccinated, compared to 28% of workers and 26% of students on the Keyser campus.

About 57% of state residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to health figures.

Students and employees who have verified they’ve been vaccinated will not be required to undergo COVID-19 testing at the semester’s start.

WVU previously announced plans to full open its campuses this fall.

 

University pays

account balances for nearly 3,000 students

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INSTITUTE — A university in West Virginia used federal relief funds to pay off account balances for nearly 3,000 students who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

West Virginia State University paid off balances for all degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students from March 13, 2020, through the summer 2021 term, news sources reported. The school used $816,000 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which covered tuition, housing and other fees.

“We understand the past two years have been a hardship for our students and their families and we wanted to take this action to help ease their financial burden,” university Vice President and Chief of Staff Ericke S. Cage said in a statement. “We did not want an unpaid balance owed to the university to be a reason that someone chose not to continue with their education.”

The funds will be automatically applied to eligible student accounts, officials said.

 

Services held for

serviceman from World War II

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THOMAS — Services are set this week for a West Virginia service member who died during World War II.

The remains of Navy Patternmaker 1st Class Stanislaw F. Drwall are set for burial in his hometown of Thomas in Tucker County, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a news release.

A graveside service was held last week at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, according to Hinkle-Fenner Funeral Home in Davis.

Thomas was 25 when the USS Oklahoma was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor. The battleship quickly capsized and 429 crew members died, the agency said.

The remains of crew members who could not be identified were exhumed from a Honolulu cemetery in 2015. Scientists used DNA and other analysis to identify Drwall’s remains. He was accounted for on March 25, the agency said.

It was the second such service last week in West Virginia. A funeral was held Aug. 6 for Army Cpl. Pete W. Conley of Chapmanville. The 19-year-old went missing during the Korean War and his remains were identified in June 2020.

 

Flags fly at

half-staff to honor soldier killed in war

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CHARLESTON — U.S. and West Virginia flags on state-owned facilities flew at half-staff Friday in honor of a West Virginia soldier killed in the Korean War.

Memorial services were held Friday for Army Cpl. Pete W. Conley of Chapmanville. His remains were identified last year and returned to West Virginia this week, news outlets reported.

Conley was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. The 19-year-old’s unit was attacked in North Korea and he was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950. Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered.

In 2018, North Korea turned over 55 boxes purported to contain the remains of American service members killed. Scientists used DNA and other analysis to identify Conley’s remains.

Conley was buried in Pecks Hill, W.Va.

 

Former coal lobbying group chief named to PSC

 

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CHARLESTON — The retired longtime president of the West Virginia Coal Association has been appointed by the governor to a three-member commission that regulates state utilities.

Bill Raney was named by Republican Gov. Jim Justice to a six-year term on the Public Service Commission, according to news sources.

Justice, a businessman who owns and operates coal mines, appointed Raney last week.

Raney is poised to succeed Brooks McCabe, whose term expired at the end of June and did not seek another term. The appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Justice also appointed the commission’s other two members, Charlotte Lane and Renee Larrick.

Raney retired from the Charleston-based coal industry lobbying group in January after serving as its president since 1992. The group promotes the passage of state laws favorable to the coal industry.

 

Two arrested in Mountain Valley Pipeline protest

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LAWN — Law enforcement officials say two people have been arrested after they were found chained to pipeline construction equipment in Greenbrier County.

Local news outlets report that the two were found Friday morning in the Dawson area secured to pipeline equipment with chains and a welded pipe.

According to the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s office, local fire department officials helped extract the pair, who were below ground level in a hole. Deputies say one individual voluntarily climbed out, while the other refused and had to be lifted out.

The two have both face charges of trespassing, obstructing an officer and conspiracy. It was not immediately known if they had an attorney.

Known as the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the project has faced various legal challenges from environmental groups because construction has led to violations of regulations meant to control erosion and sedimentation.

The 303-mile pipeline will take natural gas drilled from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and transport it through West Virginia and Virginia.

 

National Science Foundation awards $982,000 for WVU projects

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MORGANTOWN — The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $982,000 for two research projects at West Virginia State University, the state’s two U.S. senators announced.

“The National Science Foundation continues to be a strong partner for West Virginia universities and colleges through their support for critical research and efforts to foster educational opportunities for students across the Mountain State,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said in a news release.

Such grants are important to research at WVU, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.

“West Virginia University continues to be a national leader when it comes to research, technology, and developing and promoting STEM-related careers,” Capito said in the release.

One award is for $756,318, to study the relationship between microorganisms and soil carbon. The project will provide learning opportunities for over 100 high school students in rural West Virginia.

The foundation awarded $226,347 for a project to develop code to learn more about the origins of heavy elements in the universe, the release said.

 

Ex-W.Va. mayor pleads guilty in flood recovery funds probe

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RICHWOOD — A former mayor in West Virginia has pleaded guilty to stealing federal relief funds meant to rebuild his city after a massive 2016 flood.

Ex-Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, 70, pleaded guilty Monday in Nicholas County Circuit Court to one count of obtaining money, property or services by false pretenses, state Auditor John B. McCuskey said. He was accused of pocketing $2,444 from the city of Richwood.

When the charges were announced in March 2019, McCuskey described his investigation as a whirlwind that began by looking at Baber’s actions and quickly grew into a citywide accounting of where the federal flood recovery money went.

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