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Man wanted in Clay County shooting death turns himself in

CLAY, W.Va. — A Clay County man turned himself in to state police Monday after being charged with murder.

Gary Wayne Moore, 48, of Lizemores, showed up at state police headquarters in Clay a few hours after troopers said they were looking for him in connection with the Sunday night shooting death of James Stone, 47, also of Lizmores.

Troopers said Moore came to Stone’s home on Hubbard Lane near Lizemores around 9 p.m. Sunday. The two got into an argument which escalated into a physical altercation. According to troopers, Moore left the home and retrieved a firearm from his truck, returned to the house, and shot Stone in the chest as he stood on the front porch.

Moore then fled the scene.

Troopers issued on a bulletin to be lookout or a 2005 dark colored Chevy Silverado with WV plates 3XY652.

Moore was scheduled to be arraigned and lodged in jail Monday evening.

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Wheeling Park ends season on top of MetroNews Girls Power Index

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Wheeling Park retained their top spot in the final edition of the MetroNews Girls Basketball Power Index. The Patriots (19-3) were idle this past week.

Frankfort (21-1), North Marion (21-1), Greenbrier East (19-3) and Parkersburg (17-5) comprise the rest of the top five.

Woodrow Wilson (16-5), Winfield (20-2), Martinsburg (16-5), Huntington (15-7) and Fairmont Senior (18-4) complete the rest of the top ten.

Summers County (16-6) remains the leader among Class A schools. The Bobcats have the highest strength of schedule rating in Class A and they check in at No. 22. Parkersburg Catholic (22-0) is 25th and Huntington St. Joseph’s (20-1) is 27th.

(Note: Only regular season results are figured into the index)

Final Girls Power Index

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House passes similar legislation to Senate’s ‘Tebow’ bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Monday, the House of Delegates passed a bill that would allow homeschool students to play public school sports if certain requirements are met.

HB 3127 is similar to the state Senate’s ‘Tebow Bill’ that was passed a few weeks ago but has a few key differences. SB 31 allows students in non-West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (SSAC) private schools to play public school sports.

House Education Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, read through the bill before passage on Monday explaining that all homeschool students would agree to comply with all disciplinary rules of the SSAC and the county board in which the homeschool student lives.

Students would also agree to obey all rules of the SSAC governing awards, all-star games, parental consents, physical exams, vaccinations, and counties that employ random drug screenings to high school athletes, according to Ellington.

“The committee substitute also provides that if a homeschooled student leaves a member school during the same school year, the same transfer protocol as any member to member transfers,” he said.

Joe Ellington

“In addition, if there are any reasonable fees that may be charged for the student to participate, they can employ.”

Ellington further said that the SSAC is on board with the transfer rules in the House’s bill. If the student is in public school and then transfers to home school they would have to sit out a year.

“That has been one of the concerns the SSAC has had for kids that were failing out, claiming to be homeschooled, meeting the requirements and going back in somewhere else. This strengthens that,” he said.

To be eligible under this bill, a home school student must be enrolled in one virtual school course through their county school system or state Department of Education. The current rule from the SSAC allows virtual school students to participate in sports if they take four virtual classes.

SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan previously stated that reducing it to one course in the House bill was a compromise to get the transfer language in the bill.

Other requirements for the bill include the student would only be eligible to play for a school in his or her attendance zone, show academic growth on standardized testing along with meeting age and other eligibility requirements.

Morgan County Delegate Daryl Cowles was the other person to speak on the bill before the vote. He said it’s a win-win for the state as homeschooling is the only option for some students and they deserve every right to play.

Daryl Cowles

“They are learning life lessons,” he said. “Sportsmanship, leadership, disappointment, victory, teamwork, fellowship, friendship, discipline. That’s what we are talking about.

“With these additional students, homeschool, private school whatever it may be, I think our communities and state will be winners across the board.”

The bill now heads to the Senate but will likely be stalled for a few days as crossover day is Wednesday in the legislature. The roll call on the vote Monday was 61-38-1.

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Tennessee man pleads guilty, sentenced in connection with 2018 CAMC shooting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Tennessee man who attacked two police officers while trying to escape a Charleston hospital two years ago this month pleaded guilty Monday to four criminal charges including attempted murder.

SCRG

Bryan Ogle

Bryan Ogle, 33, of Sevierville, Tennessee, was in custody on Feb. 8, 2018, at Charleston Area Medical Center General following an incident in Montgomery, when he tried to run from police. The pursuit through the hospital ended in a stairwell where Montgomery police officer John Perrine and Charleston officer Christian Harshbarger caught up with him. Kanawha County Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers said Ogle made it clear he wasn’t going to cooperate.

“The defendant knocked Officer Perrine off of the stairs. Officer Perrine hit his head on either the ground or the wall, all was surrounding concrete, and (Perrine) suffered a head injury and at the time that Officer Perrine was down, Mr. Ogle used that opportunity to disarm him and shoot Officer Harshbarger.

Harshbarger’s body camera deflected one of the shots, Akers said.

“Had the BWC (body worn camera) not been there the damage to Officer Harshbarger would have been extensive,” Akers said. “The bullet would have entered lower than his bulletproof vest. It would have entered his low abdominal region and would not have been deflected by the vest.

Ogle pleaded guilty to attempted murder, escape, assault in the commission of a felony and battery. Kanawha County Charlie King sentenced him to the maximum sentence of six to 30 years in prison.

Ogle didn’t speak during Monday’s hearing when given an opportunity by Judge King and that was acknowledged by Officer Harshbarger when he spoke to the court.

“You were given an opportunity to speak and you didn’t even say you were sorry,” Harshbarger said.

“Well, I’m sorry,” Ogle said.

“Officer Harshbarger did not appear to believe him,” Akers said.

Ogle also faces federal charges that include being a prohibitive person in possession of a firearm. He remains at the South Central Regional Jail.

Both Perrine and Harshbarger continue to work as police officers.

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Pairings set for girls basketball sectional tournaments

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Pairings and schedules are set for girls high school basketball sectional tournaments around the state. Competition begins Friday, February 21st and continues through Saturday, February 29th.

Class AAA Region I, Section 1

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 3 Brooke at No. 2 John Marshall, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Brooke/John Marshall winner at No. 1 Wheeling Park, 7 p.m.

Class AAA Region 1, Section 2

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Buckhannon-Upshur at No. 1 University, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Preston at No. 2 Morgantown, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at highest seed

 

Class AAA Region II, Section 1

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Hedgesville vs. No. 1 Martinsburg

No. 3 Spring Mills vs. No. 2 Musselman

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at highest seed

Class AAA Region II, Section 2

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 3 Washington vs. No. 2 Hamsphire

Washington/Hampshire winner vs. No. 1 Jefferson

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at highest seed

 

Class AAA Region III, Section 1

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 4 St. Albans at No. 1 George Washington

No. 3 Capital at No. 2 South Charleston

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seed

Class AAA Region III, Section 2

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Riverside at No. 1 Greenbrier East

No. 3 Princeton at No. 2 Woodrow Wilson

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seeded team

 

Class AAA Region IV, Section 1

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 3 Ripley at No. 2 Parkersburg South

Friday, Feb. 28

Ripley/Parkersburg South winner at No. 1 Parkersburg

Class AAA Region IV, Section 2

All games at Hurricane

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 1 Cabell Midland vs. No. 4 Hurricane

No. 2 Huntington vs. No. 3 Spring Valley

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship

 

Class AA Region I, Section 1

Monday, Feb. 24

No. 6 Berkeley Springs at No. 3 Grafton

No. 5 Philip Barbour at No. 4 Keyser

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Berkeley Springs/Grafton winner at No. 2 Petersburg

Philip Barbour/Keyser winner at No. 1 Frankfort

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seed

Class AA Region I, Section 2

Saturday, Feb. 22

Weir 52, Oak Glen 42

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Weir at No. 1 North Marion, 7 p.m.

No. 3 East Fairmont at No. 2 Fairmont Senior, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seed, 7 p.m.

 

Class AA Region II, Section 1

Saturday, Feb. 22

Robert C. Byrd 40, Liberty 34

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Robert C. Byrd at No. 1 Lincoln, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Elkins at No. 2 Bridgeport, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at highest seed, 7 p.m.

Class AA Region II, Section 2

Saturday, Feb. 22

Herbert Hoover 66, Clay County 44

Roane County 53, Nicholas County 50

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 3 Herbert Hoover at No. 2 Braxton County, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Roane County at No. 1 Lewis County, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship game at highest seed, 7 p.m.

 

Class AA Region III, Section 1

All Games at Wyoming East

Mon, Feb. 24

No. 2 Westside vs. No. 3 Oak Hill, 6 p.m.

No. 1 Wyoming East vs. No. 4 Independence, 8 p.m.

Wed, Feb. 26

Championship game, 7 p.m.

Class AA Region III, Section 2

Sat, Feb. 22

James Monroe 71, Shady Spring 66

Tuesday, Feb. 25

at Princeton

No. 3 River View vs. No. 2 Bluefield, 5:30 p.m.

No. 4 James Monroe vs. No. 1 PikeView, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

at Princeton

Championship, 7 p.m.

 

Class AA Region IV, Section 1

Monday, Feb. 24

No. 6 Poca at No. 3 Nitro, 7 p.m.

No. 5 Point Pleasant at No. 4 Sissonville, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Poca/Nitro winner vs. No. 2 Wayne, 7 p.m.

Point Pleasant/Sissonville winner vs. No. 1 Winfield, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship, 7 p.m.

Class AA Region IV, Section 2

All games at Chapmanville

Saturday, Feb. 22

Logan 60, Scott 37

Lincoln County 68, Man 41

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Logan at No. 1 Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 3 Lincoln County vs. No. 2 Mingo Central

Saturday, Feb. 28

Championship

 

Class A, Region I, Section 1

Friday, Feb. 21

Valley Wetzel 71, Hundred 38

Tuesday, Feb. 25

at John Marshall High School

No. 3 Madonna vs. No. 2 Cameron, 6 p.m.

No. 4 Valley Wetzel vs. No. 1 Wheeling Central Catholic, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

at John Marshall High School

Championship, 7 p.m.

Class A, Region 1, Section 2

Saturday, Feb. 22

Tyler Consolidated 43, Paden City 33

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 3 Magnolia at No. 2 Ritchie County

No. 4 Tyler Consolidated at No. 1 St. Marys

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest remaining seed

 

Class A, Region 2, Section 1

Saturday, Feb. 22

Notre Dame 45, South Harrison 31

Doddridge County 70, Tygarts Valley 31

Clay-Battelle 35, Trinity 34

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Clay-Battelle at No. 1 Gilmer County, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 2 Doddridge County, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at highest seed, 7 p.m.

Class A, Region II, Section 2

Saturday, Feb. 22

Moorefield 91, Paw Paw 2

Pendleton County 56, Harman 23

Union 36, East Hardy 36

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 4 Union at No. 1 Tucker County, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Pendleton County at No. 2 Moorefield, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship at Petersburg High School, 7 p.m.

 

Class A, Region III, Section 1

Monday, Feb. 24

No. 5 Richwood vs. No. 4 Webster County

Wednesday, Feb. 26

No. 3 Charleston Catholic vs. No. 2 Midland Trail

Richwood/Webster County winner vs. No. 1 Pocahontas County

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seeded team

Class A, Region III, Section 2

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 5 Meadow Bridge vs. No. 4 Montcalm, 7 p.m.

No. 6 Mount View vs. No. 3 Greater Beckley Christian, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Greater Beckley Christian/Mount View vs. No. 2 Greenbrier West, 7 p.m.

Meadow Bridge/Montcalm winner vs. No. 1 Summers County, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seed, 7 p.m.

 

Class A, Region IV, Section 1

Friday, Feb. 21

Williamstown 83, Wirt County 44

Wahama 49, Ravenswood 39

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 3 Williamstown at No. 2 Calhoun County, 7 p.m.

No. 4 Wahama at No. 1 Parkersburg Catholic, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28

Championship at highest seed, 7 p.m.

Class A, Region IV, Section 2

All games at Hurricane H.S.

Saturday, Feb. 22

Tug Valley 94, Hannan 46

Tolsia 60, Sherman 32

Buffalo 50, Van 48

Tuesday, Feb. 25

No. 3 Tolsia vs. No. 2 Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.

No. 5 Buffalo vs. No. 1 Huntington St. Joseph’s, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27

Championship, 7 p.m.

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Bowlsby: Big 12’s opinion on one-time transfer exception coming in March

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Big 12 will not join the Big Ten or ACC in making a statement about allowing all athletes to transfer without sitting out a year — at least not until the conference athletic directors have a chance to meet next month in Kansas City during the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

“We haven’t met to talk about it yet. We’ll do that at the basketball tournament,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on Monday. “Our ADs are talking to our coaches, and we’ll talk with our ADs at the March meeting.”

Bowlsby was in Morgantown on Monday for the unveiling of a new library at Mountainview Elementary, which was renovated with a $50,000 grant from the Big 12 and the College Football Playoff Foundation.

Within the past two weeks, the Big Ten and ACC have both come out in support of streamlining the currently convoluted process by which athletes must secure waivers in order to play immediately when transferring to a new school. Without a NCAA waiver, transfers must sit out a year of competition unless they are graduate students.

The Big Ten and ACC are advocating that all athletes have immediate eligibility for a one-time transfer, eliminating the need for a waiver. This is already the case in all sports but football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s ice hockey.

“I have my thoughts, but as the commissioner I’m not really entitled to my own position,” Bowlsby said. “It’s going to be an amalgamation of what our athletic directors, chancellors and presidents want. I’m here to represent their positions.”

Last week, the NCAA announced it has formed a Transfer Waiver Working Group to formally consider making the change, lifting a moratorium that had been placed on the issue last fall.

If the proposal passes, athletes will still need to receive a release from their previous school, leave that school in good academic standing, maintain academic standing at their new school, and leave their old school under no disciplinary suspensions. A waiver process would remain in place for students who attempt more than one transfer during their college careers.

What’s next for Name, Image, Likeness

Bowlsby recently appeared at a Senate hearing over the issue of Name, Image and Likeness that’s facing the NCAA.

Many Congressional leaders and several state legislatures are pressuring the NCAA to allow student-athletes to be compensated from third-parties. Bowlsby is among the officials in college athletics arguing that any changes must be implemented carefully.

He gave the following answers to questions about the issue on Monday.

What’s the next step forward in the NIL process?

It’s been an ongoing challenge. We’re spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill trying to edify the elected officials on what the challenges are. I think one of the things we’ve made progress on is they now understand with the national recruiting environment, you can’t have 50 separate state laws. The manner in which they bring order to that is called preemption. I think there’s a well-shared belief that federal preemption that would give us a uniform law is required.

You also mentioned anti-trust exemption while you were on the Hill…

Preemption is very difficult to get at the federal level. One of the few things that’s even more difficult is anti-trust exemption. And yet we believe that institutions acting together to make rules is the way that it ought to be done.

I don’t know that anybody invites Congress into it with a lot of enthusiasm, but having said that there are roles for government to play and try to bring order to a circumstance that’s difficult to bring order to, especially if rules are put in place that are then challenged in court. I don’t think you want to go there for everything, but there are some circumstances where you have to have some protection to act as what you call cooperation and collaboration and the plantiff’s attorneys call it collusion. That’s the environment in which we find ourselves.

Does it seem inevitable that we’re moving in a direction that will include compensation?

We need to always be willing to modernize the rules. Clearly there’s a hue and cry for a liberalization of what student-athletes should be able to do, which is the same as other kids on campus. But it can’t be pay-for-play and it shouldn’t be a proxy for pay-for-play. That’s not what college is.

If you want to be paid for your participation, there are places you can do that. They have their own rules.

We’re very different from the NBA, the NFL or Major League Baseball. We don’t have a draft that says where you will play. Likewise, we’re not like the Olympics where you’re playing for the country that issues your passport. It’s a different animal altogether, and the fact there’s 1,200 schools involved in it makes it very different from the professional ranks. You can do things with an anti-trust exemption and 30 franchises that you can’t do with our environment.

On the message that’s been shared thus far

We’ve done a good job of articulating what we don’t want to happen. Now we need to turn around and put in place the architecture for what we do want to happen.

Bowlsby on Big 12 Now

The Big 12’s streaming partnership with ESPN-Plus remains a point of contention in West Virginia, as Bowlsby learned first-hand when grilled by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito during his Senate testimony.

From the halls of Congress to the shelves of the Mountainview library, Bowlsby stayed on-message in defense of his league’s new creation.

“Disney has made a huge investment in digital distribution. There’s the bundle with Hulu and Disney Plus and ESPN Plus… As a standalone, there’s 8 million subscriptions with ESPN plus, and of that 8 million I guess over 1 million are Big 12-related.

“The technology is good. The delivery is good. There are places that have access to good enough broadband, but if you’re in a rural area and don’t want to invest in more expensive broadband, you’re probably going to have trouble with buffering issues.”

He says the issues with Big 12 Now pale in comparison to those faced when the Big Ten and Pac-12 Networks were rolled out.

“This has been much smoother,” he said. “In the case of the Big Ten Network, there was a five-game window where you couldn’t get Ohio State football in central Ohio. People were livid. This has been very different.

“I think we’re on the right side of technology. The digital platform is where it’s going. The cable universe is shrinking 1.5-2.5 percent a year. It will bottom out in the 50-60 million household range. A lot of that will be taken up by digital consumption.”

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Whayne and Walker close ranks under new name

Company video announcing name change

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After operating under the same umbrella for the past decade, Walker Machinery and Whayne Supply will now become a company operating under the same new name moving forward. The new brand will be Boyd Cat, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

Boyd Cat

President and CEO Monty Boyd

“As we have for the last decade – and as we will continue to do for years to come – we are one great team ready to move forward the right way. Boyd CAT customers can continue to expect the best level of service and parts expertise and equipment solutions,” said President and CEO Monty Boyd.

Whayne Supply and Walker Machinery are two of the oldest Caterpillar dealerships in the United States. founded in 1913 ad 1950 respectively. Since merging in 2010, the two companies have provided Caterpillar parts, equipment, and service across West Virginia, Kentucky, southern Indiana, and southeast Ohio.

“Our customer-first philosophy has been the foundation of Whayne and Walker since day one. The legacies and traditions of both those great companies live on through our business today – and we will not abandon them, but
continue to build on them.” said Boyd.

The name change will be in effect immediately across both internal and external parts of the company. The full process of the name change and branding is expected over the next 12 to 24 months. The company says all current staff members will remain in place.

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Teamsters reject AHF Products contract, next move is unclear

 

BEVERLY, W.Va.— Members of the Teamsters Union Local 175 at AHF Products in Randolph County continue to work without contract. The rank and file employees rejected the companies latest offer on Sunday 369-26.

The plant employs about 500 workers who are ready to go on strike, but the union would rather continue negotiations according to Local 175 President Ken Hall.

“I’ve been doing this for 33 years and this is the most bizarre situations I’ve ever seen. The company doesn’t seem to know what they want. They move forward as if they want to reach an agreement, and then just stop. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Hall.

Hall said when he delivered the news of the rejection to the company he was speaking to the plant manager on Sunday who had only a couple of phrases he was allowed to offer to Hall in the conversation. One of those phrases was the company wants to resume negotiation, but without any preconditions.   It seemed to be the exact same statement Plant Manager Blaine Emery gave to the media in regard to contract talks.

“The contract has expired. We do not want a strike and are willing to come to the table as long as the union does not place preconditions on those negotiations. It’s business as usual at this point,” read the statement from the company.

“If a contract is voted down 93 percent, you can’t expect to come back in and make the same offer expecting a different outcome. I explained that to him. I don’t know what they’re doing and everything here is different than I’ve ever seen,” Hall said.

The proposal which workers rejected offer a one-time bonus of $1,100 along with an hourly pay increase of 45 cents. However, the contract would have frozen the pension plans and driven up health insurance rates. According to Hall, the contract wanted to raise healthcare costs on workers 92 percent over the next three years.

“I’m very, very concerned. I told the plant manger they need to figure out what they’re going to do because we’re willing to come to the table and this isn’t going to be settled without coming to the table. We went up there with the intent of going on strike, but we decided to give them a few days if they can come to their senses,” said Hall.

There is no indication from the Teamsters how long they are willing to work without a contract or bargaining talks.

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House passes bill allowing state oversight of big development projects in very small towns

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that could allow the state to assume oversight of big tourism development projects in very small towns.

Senate Bill 657, allowing designation of tourism development districts, passed the House of Delegates 88-11 with one absence. Although the Senate has already passed the bill, it is going back there to work out some changes instituted by the House.

There was little discussion of the bill on the House floor on Monday, except that Delegate John Doyle spoke against it and Delegate Marshall Wilson expressed skepticism but concluded he had little choice but to vote for the bill.

The Tourism Development Districts bill is likely to affect Hill Top House, a long-discussed hotel renovation project in Harpers Ferry.

The act would enable the state Development Office to spearhead a project under certain conditions. The Department of Transportation is required to provide support, including acquiring and developing streets and roads.

The bill would apply to Class IV municipalities of fewer than 2,000 residents. And it would apply to projects with investments of more than $25 million, in historic districts and qualifying for state tourism tax credits, which have their own requirements.

The project most immediately affected would be Hill Top House, a historic property that was purchased by developers including Karen and Fred Schaufeld in 2007

The hangups on the project have been over how Hill Top House would interweave with the town’s zoning and the residential neighborhood where it is situated. For example, Hill Top House developers have wanted to buy and alter some public streets running through the hotel property.

John Doyle

Doyle, D-Jefferson, argued against the bill by saying it doesn’t respect Harpers Ferry’s historic status as the site of John Brown’s raid and more.

“I think we should defeat this bill,” Doyle said.

“We are about to pass a bill that eliminates all references to historic preservation in, of all places, Harpers Ferry.”

On Friday, Doyle had proposed an amendment that would have allowed for a local referendum, but it was defeated.

Marshall Wilson

Wilson, I-Berkeley, expressed reservations about the possibility of state government overriding the governments of small towns.

But he made reference to a still-unresolved election in Harpers Ferry that could swing how town council approaches the project. The state Supreme Court is reviewing a dispute over whether four votes in last summer’s close town council election should have been counted.

So Wilson said he would have to support this bill.

“Meanwhile, I stand in support of this bill because it is the only path available to us at this point to uphold the natural rights of the residents of Harpers Ferry who would like to see a project in their town that has been blocked by local officials with inordinate power,” he said.

Separately, in Harpers Ferry on Thursday night, town council voted to pursue both binding arbitration with the Hill Top House developer and legal action concerning the legality and constitutionality of the bill flowing through the Legislature.

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Both sides of Bible courses bill heard at House public hearing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the House Education Committee heard debate go back and forth during a public hearing on a House bill that would allow elective courses on the Bible in public schools.

HB 4780, permitting a county board of education to offer those elective courses is on second reading on Monday.

The public hearing was nearly split between speakers for and against the bill. None were younger than Malco Cohen, a third-grader at Piedmont Elementary School in Charleston.

Cohen, who told the House Chamber he was Jewish, said the bill is just wrong. He spoke on his personal experiences and got emotional.

“My little brother and I are the only Jewish kids at our school,” Cohen said. “One-day last year at my after-school program, the teachers taught us about Jesus and made us pledge allegiance to the Bible. It made me feel very worried and confused. I felt like I was doing something wrong.”

Cohen went on to say he believes that the bill would force children to have a tough time like he had.

“They said me and my little brother shouldn’t have been there while they were teaching about the Bible and Jesus. They said from now on they would send me and my little brother to a room by ourselves when they talked about the Bible and Jesus.

“That solution seemed so, so stupid to me. How would you feel if you sent to a room all by yourself just because you were Jewish?”

Multiple speakers that supported the piece of legislation quoted the Founding Fathers and the history of the Bible in the United States. West Virginia resident Kevin Foster was one of those people.

“James Madison said the bible is the best book in the world, he was a signer of the Declaration,” Foster said.

“Patrick Henry said the Bible is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed. John Jay, the president of the Congress, said by conveying the Bible to people, we certainly do the most interesting act of kindness.”

West Virginia resident Bo Burgess said it makes sense that the Bible is taught in schools.

“The Bible is the best selling book of all-time, having been sold over 5 billion copies,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you want the youth of America to be exposed to the best selling book of all-time?”

“The father of public education, Benjamin Rush who was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said the Bible should read in our schools and preference to all other books.”

The text in the current legislation, currently a committee substitute, states that the purpose of the course is to teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding the development of American society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.

It further stated that the course is meant to familiarize students with the contents, history and literary style of the Hebrew Scriptures or New testament. If passed and signed into law, the courses would only be taught in grades nine and above.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio, a vestry member of St. Johns Episcopal Church in Charleston, spoke on behalf of college professor and vestry member Maggie McCabe against the bill, citing flawed educational reasons.

“Educational time is very important to assist in forming the minds of young people. Religion is a personal faith commitment that does not need to be mandated to individuals by the government,” Pomponio said of McCabe’s statement.

Sam Hickman, Executive Director of WV Chapter of National Association of Social Workers said the bill is the opposite of diversity in schools. He believes it would be a step backward.

“HB 4780 does nothing but help a dominant belief system impose those beliefs on others. The study of comparative religions is already allowed in our schools,” he said.

A third reading and passage vote on the two-page bill is expected on Tuesday. Crossover Day in the state legislature is on Wednesday.

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Source: WV MetroNews