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Poll: After El Paso and Dayton, small majority of West Virginians favor semi-automatic gun ban

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia voters are divided over policy to regulate semi-automatic guns, according to the latest version of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll.

Participants in the survey were asked, “Are you for or against a law that would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns, known as assault rifles?”

The poll showed that 53 percent responded that they are for such a policy while 47 percent would be against it.

The West Virginia Poll was conducted between August 14-22 with a sample of 501 registered voters. The overall confidence interval for the survey is +/- 4.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

So, considering the margin of error, the divide on regulating semi-automatic weapons may be awfully close.

Rex Repass

“There’s not a big statistical difference between 53 percent and 47 percent if we want to be frank about it,” said pollster Rex Repass, president of Research America Inc., which conducts the West Virginia Poll.

The West Virginia Poll was completed just shortly after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, on August 3, and in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4.

“So, from that perspective, I’m not surprised its 53-47,” Repass said of the West Virginia Poll.

The West Virginia Poll asked the same question in 2013, with similar results. At that point, 44 percent were in favor of making semi-automatic guns illegal with 42 percent opposed and 14 percent not sure.

Semi-automatic guns fire a bullet each time the trigger is pulled and also perform all the steps necessary to prepare it to discharge again.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law in 1994 but expired in 2004. Loopholes in the law have prompted debate over how effective it was.

In El Paso, a gunman at a Walmart shot and killed 22 people, apparently targeting immigrants with an AK-47 that was bought legally. In Dayton, nine people were killed in a downtown nightlife area before the shooter was killed by police. The weapon there was an AR-15-style pistol, also purchased legally.

Since those tragedies, gun control policy has been a major part of public discourse.

Among the policies under public discussion are background checks and red flag laws that would give courts more authority to confiscate weapons from people considered a threat to themselves or others.

Joe Manchin

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed support for expanding background checks to cover private sellers on the internet, advertisements and gun shows. Friday on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” he described talking with President Donald Trump about that topic.

But when Manchin was told about the West Virginia Poll results about semi-automatic guns, he suggested passing such legislation would be unrealistic.

“It’s not even realistic to even be talking about that when we can’t even get my Republican friends to talk about basic background checks,” Manchin said. “That’s another day and a complete other discussion.”

A recent national poll by Monmouth University showed 56 percent favoring a semiautomatic weapons ban with 38 percent opposing.

But when asked about a mandatory buyback program, only 43 percent were in support with 53 percent opposed.

The Monmouth poll was conducted by telephone from August 16 to 20, 2019 with 800 adults in the United States. Again, that was just shortly after the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.

Regulation of semi-automatic weapons drew sharp responses during last week’s Democratic presidential debate.

Candidate Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, was particularly forceful in saying “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

O’Rourke had been asked to clarify his position on gun control. “You know that critics call this confiscation. Are you proposing taking away their guns? And how would this work?” the moderator asked.

O’Rourke described meeting a mother whose 15-year-old daughter bled to death in El Paso as ambulances were overwhelmed.

“We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore,” O’Rourke said.

Other presidential candidates, like Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, did not advocate for forcing current owners to forfeit such weapons.

But Klobuchar did speak in favor of an “assault weapons” ban, as well as magazine limitations. She proposed starting with a voluntary buyback program.

The most realistic approach, she suggested, is starting with bills that are stalled right now in the U.S. Senate.

“You know what else unites us? And I’ll tell you this. What unites us is that right now, on Mitch McConnell’s desk, are three bills — universal background checks, closing the Charleston loophole, and passing my bill to make sure that domestic abusers don’t get AK-47s.”

Methodology Statement
Results of this edition of MetroNews West Virginia Poll are based on interviews conducted between August 14-22, 2018 with a sample of 501 registered voters in West Virginia including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters. Data collection was completed online with purchased sample of registered voters.

Registered voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were sampled for the survey and modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

When using sample of registered voters and online data collection it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed. However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.4 percentage points based on the 501 interviews. The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question.

The purpose of the West Virginia Poll is to provide a snapshot of opinion and timely voter views in the Mountain State. The media sponsor of the West Virginia Poll is MetroNews Radio Network.

Rex Repass is director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc. Repass is responsible for questionnaire design, the respondent screening and selection process, data tabulation, statistical analysis, and reporting of results.

The MetroNews West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan survey of public opinion conducted by Repass and Research America Inc. The West Virginia Poll has been directed by Repass and conducted periodically since January 21, 1980. The name The West Virginia Poll is a trademark owned by Research America Inc., all rights reserved.

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Purdue Pharma declares bankruptcy, first step in proposed settlement with opioid-damaged communities

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma has filed bankruptcy, the first step in a proposed settlement with states and more than 2,000 local governments that filed suit over devastation caused by the opioid epidemic.

The drug giant’s board of directors voted Sunday evening to move forward with the bankruptcy.

The company would dissolve, forming a trust that would continue to produce Oxycontin as well as overdose “rescue’’ drugs that would be distributed at no cost to communities across the country.

And under the proposal with states and local governments, the bankruptcy would include a structured settlement, providing greater certainty than a normal claim might.

“We are hopeful of and expectant that a growing number of states will see this is a much better outcome for them than for us to go into the swamp of litigation that would basically eat up all the resources of the company,’’ Purdue Chairman Steve Miller stated.

All told, the deal would be worth $10 billion to $12 billion, media outlets were reporting. The proposed settlement does not include an admission of guilt.

Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia has been one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced in March a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family,which owns the company.

Morrisey last week confirmed that he is among the attorneys general from 27 states and territories in favor of the settlement.

“It is my intent to make sure that this agreement — any agreement — has accountability with the Sackler family with Purdue and that West Virginia is able to take an additional step in fighting this opioid epidemic,” he said.

But Morrisey said West Virginia could be pulled out of any agreement if it starts to seem like it wouldn’t benefit the state.

“I can pull West Virginia out of the framework at any time,” he said last week. “But the price of not participating in the bankruptcy process now would have cost our office a place to influence any final settlement. So I think this is the best way to protect our state’s interests.”

Attorneys General in some states are not taking part. Those include Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

The Attorney General’s Office in New York has said it uncovered about $1 billion in wire transfers between the Sackler family and international financial institutions, an allegation that the family has tried to shield its wealth from lawsuits.

“While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct,” New York Attorney General Letitia James stated.



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Victim identified in Capital City shooting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man was the victim of a deadly shooting reported Saturday night in the Capital City.

On Monday, Charleston Police identified that man as Daniel Lymon, 26, also known as “PJ” Lymon.

Lymon was shot in the head while driving a car on Charleston’s West Side Saturday night, wrecked the car near the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and 7th Street after he was shot and later died.

Another man in the car took off running.

Lt. Autumn Davis, spokesperson for the Charleston Police Department, said on Monday’s “580-LIVE with Danny Jones,” heard on 580-WCHS, a MetroNews affiliate, investigators needed help finding the shooter.

“Anybody who has any information, they can always remain anonymous. We just need the information,” Lt. Davis said.

The Charleston Police Department can be reached at 304-348-8111.

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‘Game Changer’ campaign on opioids ready to kick off with summit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An opportunity for students, parents and school leaders around the state to become “game changers” when it comes to opioid abuse is here.

The two-day West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission-MVB Bank Opioid Awareness Summit gets underway Tuesday in Morgantown followed by a day in Huntington Wednesday as part of the launch for the WVSSAC’s ‘Game Changer’ program.

‘Game Changer’ began in June by the WVSSAC to raise the awareness of the state’s opioid crisis through prevention, compassion and recovery efforts in schools.

Joe Boczek, the organizer for the Game Changer summit told MetroNews that this 5-to-10 year plan is different from most others because it is a comprehensive plan.

“There are prevention programs already in place in the schools,” he said. “Then you go to education with recovery, compassion, and treatment in recovery.”

The summit in Morgantown will be held at the WVU Coliseum and in Huntington at the Cam Henderson Center on the campus of Marshall University in front of thousands of students. High school and middle school students unable to attend will have the chance to stream the events.

Boczek said the summit will be both enjoyable and informative as they will have counselors on hands at the event, youth empowerment speakers such as Shaun Derik and former NBA star Chris Herron tell his story about opioid abuse.

One of the most important parts of the ‘Game Changer’ plan that the summit will focus on is recovery, according to Boczek.

“To provide an opportunity for someone in recovery to come out and potentially get money to help them start their education and then to get jobs,” he said.

The campaign will include a website,, which will make things available like posters, Game Changer T-shirts and stickers proclaiming “I’m A Game Changer.”

It’s being done in conjunction with Governor Jim Justice; Dr. Steven Paine, State Superintendent of Schools; Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC); along with the cooperation and support of Dr. E. Gordon Gee, West Virginia University President; Shane Lyons, WVU Director of Athletics; Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert, Marshall University President; Mike Hamrick, Marshall Director of Athletics; Larry F. Mazza, CEO and President, MVB Financial Corp.; and Donald T. Robinson, Chief Financial Officer, MVB.

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Family searches for answers after veteran’s suspicious death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Linda Shaw’s eye focused on one word in her father’s autopsy report.


“First thing you see in bold print is homicide. It’s midway down the page, and that’s what you see first,” Shaw said in an interview with MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

The Shaw family is among about 10 dealing with the unthinkable — mysterious deaths at the VA hospital in Clarksburg.

Air Force veteran George Shaw, 81, needed treatment for low blood pressure and symptoms of dehydration. But his symptoms plummeted unexpectedly and he died.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” Linda Shaw, his daughter, remembered thinking. “There is no way on God’s green earth that this should have happened.”

Veterans received assurances of medical care for the rest of their lives. But families are now living with horror and sorrow that they died of unnatural causes while trying to receive care.

The FBI and the Office of Inspector General for the Veterans Administration are investigating. Like other families, the Shaws have hired a lawyer, David Glover of Clarksburg. And U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has promised to push until there are more answers.

The Shaws remain stunned about what has happened.

George Shaw served 28 years in the Air Force as a communications specialist. After retiring from the Air Force, he took a job for eight years working at the VA hospital in Clarksburg.

He and his wife, Norma, married in 1959. They had three children, nine grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren. Patriotism and military service run in the family.

“Dad encouraged us to serve,” Linda recalled. “I remember when I was 18, hemming and hawing about it. And you know what, Uncle Sam kind of help raise me for 18 years. Uncle Sam helped provide.”

Shaw was also active. He had been a hunter and a fisherman. He and Norma participated in a bowling league.

“He bowled two weeks before he went in the hospital,” Norma said.

Photo from the Shaw family

Air Force veteran George Shaw died unexpectedly in 2018 at the VA hospital in Clarksburg. His family says his death was a homicide. He is shown here with his wife, Norma.

He went to the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center on March 22, 2018. He had some chronic conditions — dementia and heart problems. But in this instance, he was just feeling a little bit weak.

“They were going to give him some fluids, build him back up,” Norma said. “He was in good spirits. He wanted to come home. He missed his dog.”

But on the morning of March 26, he took a turn for the worse.

“His sugar had dropped, he wasn’t doing anything, he was just dying,” Linda said. “Overnight, he went from robust for his age to dying and it’s a shock. The only thing I could think of was, ‘What’s going on with my dad? Why is this happening? What happened to make him like this?'”

Shaw was transferred to hospice.

Nothing made sense.

“Nothing. We had no explanation as to what did happen,” Norma said. “He just regressed. He couldn’t feed himself. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t go to the bathroom by himself.”

By April 10, he had died.

The family celebrated his life and started dealing with the hole left in their lives.

“There was no explanation at any point about why my father’s health declined so rapidly. So you go through the shock and disbelief and grieving,” Linda said. “And months and months pass and you still think this should not have happened.”

Then, in July 2018, the FBI reached out to the Shaws.

“They were investigating my husband’s death and investigating some other mysterious deaths at the VA around that same time,” Norma said. “I couldn’t believe what was going on.”

Investigators returned in late summer 2018 to get permission to have George Shaw’s body exhumed.

The exhumation occurred this past January. His body was sent to Dover Air Force Base, and the autopsy was performed shortly after that.

This past July, the family received a copy of the autopsy.

Four injection sites were found — two on the left arm, one on the right and another on his right thigh. Each tested positive for insulin, according to the autopsy report.

Yet Shaw had no history of diabetes or prescribed insulin administration. Insulin can cause fatal blood sugar crashes.

“When they said it was a homicide, my sister and I were like, ‘We knew it.’ We knew he never should have died. We knew there was something wrong,'” Linda said.

Despite the confirmation, she remains staggered.

“How could this happen? How could it happen at the VA? How could it happen at someplace I trust, someplace that I get my care? How can I go back?” she said. “We’ve got to make sure this never happens again to anybody anywhere, not just to our family.”

No one has been arrested yet.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia has described a thorough investigation that is closer to its end than to its beginning.

The Shaws indicated confidence in the investigators.

“I believe the FBI and the OIG’s investigation will point to one person of interest, and that individual is most likely responsible for the deaths. I say most likely because the evidence is not in yet,” Linda said.

“These boys are dotting every I and crossing every T, and I say let them do it. Let them do their investigation however long it takes. Let’s get the truth out there. Let’s get the individual or individuals who are responsible. Let’s get them accountable. Let’s let justice be justice.”

Manchin, who visited the VA hospital a couple of weeks ago, is getting impatient. He wants to hear more from the Veterans Administration.

“They have been clammed up tighter than a clam,” Manchin said last week on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “Things aren’t squaring up. I am very much concerned. I am very much upset.”

Manchin serves on the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs. He says that committee will investigate.

“Hopefully next week, we can get things in motion,” Manchin said. “If we have no end in sight, we’re going to start our own.”

The Shaws are still trying to process what has happened.

“My family and the families of the other victims have been betrayed. We have been betrayed by the healthcare system that we trust, that we trusted for a good portion of our lives,” Linda said.

“We have been betrayed by the VA as an institution to have allowed my father to have been murdered in his bed.”

Linda and George Shaw would have shared a milestone anniversary this past summer.

“For this to happen, I just … you can’t replace him,” she said. “We would have been married 60 years this past June, and that was taken away from me.”

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Division of Corrections job fairs begin Tuesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation will host a series of job fairs over the next two months about positions within the system, beginning with an event Tuesday in Martinsburg.

People interested in working as correctional officers or other staff will be allowed to sign up at the events and even take a basic physical agility test, perform a drug screening and have their credentials checked.

“Basically, we can get the ball rolling for them right there at the event,” said Lawrence Messina, who oversees communications for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Messina said it is a great time to consider a career in corrections; the starting salary for officers will increase to $30,664 in July 2020. Officers who complete one year of employment are guaranteed a promotion and a 7% pay increase.

Gov. Jim Justice approved a $6,000 raise for officers over three years, with the final raise happening next July. The raises are in addition to the 5% raise for state employees.

Messina said the pay increases have helped recruitment efforts.

“Our initial look at the numbers suggests that we have been able to hire more starting correctional officers than have left, and that was true during the just-completed fiscal year and it appears to be the case so far this fiscal year,” he said.

The first career event will take place Tuesday at the Martinsburg Workforce West Virginia office. Six other events will be held through Nov. 7:

— Oct. 1 at the Parkersburg Workforce West Virginia office.
— Oct. 1 at the Saint Marys Correctional Center and Jail.
— Oct. 3 at the South Central Regional Jail and Correctional Facility.
— Oct. 15 at the Elkins Workforce West Virginia office.
— Oct. 29 at the Clarksburg Workforce West Virginia office.
— Nov. 7 at the Summersville Workforce West Virginia office.

Each event will go from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The minimum requirements include a high school diploma, a valid driver’s license and passing a physical agility test and a drug screening.

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The Mountaineers ‘defining moment’
West Virginia Mountaineers tight end Logan Thimons (42) reacts after blocking a punt against North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday.

A little over a week ago, Mountaineer Nation was notably and appropriately subdued.  Nothing about the embarrassing butt whipping at Missouri looked like what Mountaineer fans have come to expect from their team.

The Mountaineers have often played more talented teams, but WVU football has always been regarded as hard-nosed.  You don’t get pushed around like the schoolyard wimp.  You go down fighting.

It was dispiriting.  Head coach Neal Brown was disappointed by the effort, but he made a point to say he was not discouraged.  Trust the climb.

At his weekly press conference Brown spoke candidly about telling the truth, showing players the video and being honest about who did and who did not meet expectations. Multiple changes along the offensive line due to injury, sickness and poor performance sent fans searching the depth chart for the unfamiliar names of new starters.

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning delivered the ultimate insult to some of his players, calling them “nice guys.”  Maybe that contributed to WVU safety Josh Norwood’s ejection for targeting, but Koenning did say defensive players have to be a little bit crazy on the field.

Oddsmakers did not believe West Virginia could make enough significant improvements in a week to knock off North Carolina State.  The Wolfpack were a touchdown favorite.  I was with them.  I had not seen anything after two games to suggest that the Mountaineers had a chance.  I’m with Neal Brown on Trust the Climb; I just figured it was going to be a long, hard slog.

And perhaps it still will be. Being a prisoner of the moment after bad games and good ones is dangerous. However, Brown was confident enough after the 44-27 demolition of NC State to call the game a “defining moment.”

“This was really early for one, but it was a defining moment,” Brown said.  “Things didn’t go well last week.  How we responded in the week was what was on the field today.”

A previously non-existent running game produced 173 yards.  The rebuilt offensive line not only cleared paths for runners, but also gave Austin Kendall time to turn in a performance of 27 of 40 for 272 yards and three touchdowns along with one interception.  Sam James, who has quickly emerged as Kendall’s go-to receiver, caught one-third of all passes.

The Wolfpack offense came into the game averaging 525 yards, but WVU’s no-more-nice-guy defense held NC State to 369 yards and only 4.3 yards per play. The Wolfpack averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, while WVU averaged 6.1 yards per carry.

Last week, WVU was “bum rushed” by Missouri, but just a few days later and after what can only be called a masterful coaching job, WVU Gold Rushed NC State right out of the stadium.  Country Roads never sounded so good.

Neal Brown’s resume includes upset victories at Troy—an improbable 24-21 victory at LSU in 2017 and a 24-19 win at Nebraska last year. Saturday’s win at home against NC State does not rank with those, but it was an upset, not only the final score, but also in how the Mountaineers played compared with the previous two games.

The definition of a “defining moment” is “an event which typifies or determines all subsequent related occurrences.”   Brown’s decision to characterize Saturday’s win in that way bodes well for Mountaineer Nation.

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Projected repair costs at Charleston’s Yeager Airport still not clear after short landing earlier this month

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A total of 57 blocks of emergency stopping material will have to be replaced at Charleston’s Yeager Airport after a small plane landed short of the runway on the night of September 4th, a damage report has shown.

Terry Sayre, the director of Yeager Airport, said the EMAS system — made up of foam blocks — worked properly during the emergency situation.

EMAS stands for engineered materials arrestor system.

“The first part of the damage occurred at the end of the EMAS bed where the plane impacted the bed and skidded about 100 feet into the EMAS bed and came to rest at about a 30 degree angle,” Sayre said.

“We credit this with saving another life, definitely.”

Inspectors with Safran, the EMAS manufacturer, visited the airport on Friday, September 6th to survey the damage.

The damage report from the company was returned last week but did not include a projected cost for repairs, according to Miller.

Sayre said he was hoping to have that before this Wednesday’s meeting of the Yeager Airport Board.

In addition to the EMAS repair costs, “We incurred lots of other costs for the emergency response, the recovery of the aircraft. We had probably at least 20 employees here that night working along with the Air Guard, fire department, wrecker service.”

No commercial flights were affected and the stopping system itself is still usable.

“There’s 200-some feet towards the runway and all around where this plane just marred the tops the blocks, but they’re still intact and functional,” Sayre said.

The pilot walked away from the problem landing without any injuries.

It happened less than a month after a rebuilding of the EMAS system was completed at Yeager Airport following a 2015 hillside collapse.

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Company being sued by The Greenbrier calls it ‘legal bullying’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Greenbrier’s federal lawsuit against an insurance adjuster over damage claims from the 2016 flood amounts to an intimidation attempt, according to an executive with the company.

Neil Kahn

“Unfortunately, this kind of legal bullying is a standard tactic used by Justice-owned companies to try to get out of paying what they owe to contractors, lawyers and even the government,” said Neil Kahn, executive vice president of Goodman-Gable-Gould.

The Greenbrier filed its lawsuit in August in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Lawyers for The Greenbrier contend that the insurance claims adjuster did not do enough to help pursue compensation from damage following the flood.

“GGG acted as if they were dealing with a roadside motel, not the historic and architectural landmark that is the Greenbrier hotel,” stated Richard Getty, a lawyer representing the resort.

Office of the Governor

Jim Justice

The Greenbrier, owned by the family of Gov. Jim Justice, is a 240-year-old resort in White Sulphur Springs. Justice’s annual ethics disclosure lists more than 90 businesses in the family’s portfolio of resorts, coal companies and agriculture.

The Justice companies are involved in a variety of other legal actions over finances. In one case, the Justice companies filed suit against the federal Office of Surface Mining, apparently preempting a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The origin of The Greenbrier’s lawsuit against its insurance adjuster was when hotel and surrounding properties were damaged by historic flooding in 2016 and the hotel operators filed insurance claims to aid recovery.

The resort entered into an agreement with GGG about July 7, 2016.

The Greenbrier was seeking compensation after that year’s flood damaged the hotel’s roof, the casino, a brand new chapel and the tennis stadium.

The damage also included revenue losses at the hotel and its golf courses, plus the cancellation of the Greenbrier Classic pro golf tournament, normally held that week.

And the lawsuit contends the catastrophic event hurt future revenue, affecting plans for a new ski area, a new golf course and residential expansion.

Lawyers for The Greenbrier contend GGG failed to properly calculate the resort’s business operation losses “and refused to correct and revise those calculations, despite the plaintiff’s demands that it do so.”

Goodman-Gable-Gould says it completed professional work that was overseen every step of the way by representatives from The Greenbrier.

“The process was completely transparent,” Kahn said. “Every submission — the analysis, the detailed spreadsheets — was reviewed multiple times by representatives of The Greenbrier.”

Representatives of The Greenbrier have contended for months that the insurance payouts were inadequate to cover the losses.

Lawyers for The Greenbrier say the recoveries totaled about $39 million and were obtained “with extreme pressure and assistance from Plaintiffs.”

GGG suggests the $39 million that was collected from insurers was just what came in up to a certain point.

“It was not a final settlement,” Kahn said. “It was a sum certain as of that date.”

When operators of The Greenbrier demanded in September, 2017, that GGG file suit against the insurers because of their refusal to negotiate and settle their claims, the insurance adjuster refused, the resort’s lawyers say.

Kahn says a lawsuit isn’t the responsibility of the insurance adjuster.

“They do allege that, and it’s puzzling because we are not lawyers,” he said. “We can’t sue anybody, initiate a lawsuit against anybody.

“We’re not a law firm, and the decisions to pursue legal actions are The Greenbrier’s, not GGG’s.”

The Greenbrier wound up suing dozens of insurers itself this past January. But that lawsuit was thrown out of federal court a few months later because the insurers never received official notice.

By late fall of 2017, The Greenbrier operators terminated the services of GGG, saying it hadn’t lived up to its duties.

Except GGG says it wasn’t informed of the termination.

“The Greenbrier never communicated why they chose to finish the project without GGG,” Kahn said. “The only notification GGG received was a carbon copy of a message to insurance companies stating that GGG was no longer representing the Greenbrier.”

Lawyers for The Greenbrier say GGG was compensated but that $609,515 remained in dispute. That money is in an escrow account. The Greenbrier, through its lawyers, says GGG is not entitled to the money.

In GGG’s view, that money represents compensation for work that it had done prior to the breakup with The Greenbrier. As money came in from insurers, GGG contends, The Greenbrier was supposed to pay for the work out of the escrow fund.

“Yet the ownership of the Greenbrier has yet to live up to its obligations under that agreement,” Kahn said.

He said the insurance adjustment company is examining its legal options.

“We are analyzing that with our attorneys,” Kahn said. “We hope it wouldn’t be necessary to countersue.”

He says the situation didn’t need to come to this.

“It’s just regrettable that The Greenbrier has taken this tack,” he said.

“It seems to be a standard tactic that they take what what we feel is a scorched earth strategy to avoid paying a contractual obligation. We believe that is what’s going on here, not the manufactured obligations that they put forth in their complaint.”

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Caperton, Hardy see potential of petrochemical industry

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Austin Caperton says when it comes to the Governor’s Downstream Jobs Task Force, the main purpose is selling the state to the petrochemical industry.

“We’ve got support from the U.S. Department of Energy. We certainly have the governor’s support, and we have the president’s support,” he said.

“We already have a cracker going in across the river in Pennsylvania. There’s a possibility of another cracker. These crackers create products that go to other large manufacturing facilities that create products that go to further manufacturing facilities.”

Gov. Jim Justice announced the task force in August, which will focus on the anticipated job growth related to the petrochemical industry in Appalachia, and named Caperton as the head of the body.

“We want to make sure West Virginia gas and its liquids create jobs in West Virginia and not somewhere else,” Caperton said on a recent episode of MetroNews “Talkline.”

West Virginia Department Environmental Protection

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Austin Caperton

Caperton and Department of Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy, who is also on the task force, spoke at last month’s West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting and Business Summit about their goals for the body, which includes encouraging energy companies to come to the Mountain State.

Hardy said there could be a rejuvenation of the petrochemical industry in the state, including in the Kanawha Valley where he is from.

“Twenty percent of what we’re producing locally — when I say locally, I mean the Appalachian storage field — will be going to the Shell facility in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. That facility is huge,” he said. “The fact that it’s being built and the state of Pennsylvania has invested potential tax credits of up to $1.65 billion indicates what a giant facility that will be.”

Ohio has invested $47 million in a similar site in Belmont County.

“It’s petrochemical products that are going to have tremendous downstream opportunities,” Hardy added.

Hardy said 80% of what the facility will produce will go to plants around the Gulf of Mexico.

“According to the Department of Energy, (it’s) 23% cheaper to make the product here rather than ship it to the Gulf,” he said. “Right now, there’s enough demand for one and a half crackers today based on the production a day. Additional crackers to the one in Beaver County.”

The Energy Department noted in July an “Appalachian petrochemical renaissance” would bring more than $30 billion in capital investment, create more than 100,000 permanent jobs and increase annual business revenue by $30 billion on an annual basis.


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Source: WV MetroNews