The Voice of West Virginia
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The South came out sizzling in Friday’s North-South All-Star Girls Basketball Classic at South Charleston Community Center.
Behind nine early points from Greenbrier East’s Cadence Stewart, six of which came on a pair of three-pointers, the South jumped in front of the North, 14-6.
From that point forward, the North was dominant, rattling off 15 unanswered points in the first half and never looking back while building a 19-point halftime lead en route to a 101-68 victory.
“Some butterflies to start the game and South punched us in the mouth first, but we went on the 15-0 run and we really settled in,” said North coach James Beckman of East Fairmont. “After that, we hit the ground running. It was fun to watch.”
The North dressed 14 players to the South’s nine, and by halftime, all but one North player scored. When all was said and done, every member of the North roster dented the scoring column.
“It was a lot of fun. We rotated the ball,” said North guard Ana Young of Pendleton County, who finished with 17 points on a game-high eight field goals. “We were unselfish and we were looking to get everybody that ball for a chance to score.”
The stretch of 15 unanswered points began with the second of Sydney Baird’s four triples, cutting North’s deficit to 26-25.
After three points from St. Marys’ Zoe Davis, Bridgeport’s Gabby Reep made a jumper to give the North a four-point lead. Tucker County’s Kadie Colebank soon added one free throw, a follow-up basket and two more foul shots to make it a nine-point lead, and a driving bucket by North Marion’s Olivia Toland made it 37-26 for the game’s first double-digit Marin.
Late in the opening half, North scored 11 consecutive points to continue adding to its lead. Wheeling Park’s Sophie Abraham accounted for six points during that stretch, while Baird made a triple and Reep connected on an elbow jumper.
“Fourteen kids played in both halves and we kept the rotation a couple minutes because all of them started on their [high school] team. There’s so much talent out there and just tried to keep the combinations going and impose our will,” Beckman said.
North, which dressed five more players than South, went to halftime leading 57-38, despite Stewart leading all players with 14 points.
Stewart picked up where she left off to start the second half, connecting from behind the arc to make it a 16-point game. But she never scored again, and South managed only nine more field goals the rest of the way, while North pulled away for good.
Robert C. Byrd forward Avery Childers ran off seven straight points as part of a 9-0 spurt, and Young continued to make her presence felt to help her team continue playing with a comfortable lead.
Young converted a layup off a steal, then scored from close range again moments later, and after Reep followed with a layup of her own, North was clinging to a 79-52 advantage.
Baird led all players with 18 points and garnered North MVP honors. Young and Reep (10) were the other double-figure scorers in the victory, while seven other North players scored at least five points, including eight apiece from Colebank and Childers and seven each from Abraham and Ritchie County’s Rebekah Rupert.
“If you play a worse team, sometimes you don’t get as much ball movement, so I think it’s better to play on an elite level,” Young said.
Stewart’s 17 points led to her garnering South MVP honors. James Monroe’s Adyson Hines added 12 points in defeat, Logan’s Natalie Blankenship scored 10 and Ripley’s McKennan Hall contributed eight.
South was limited to 14 two-point field goals, while North managed 30.
“Some girls had different philosophies on how to play and some were zone only or man or junk defense,” Beckman said. “They adapted well to my man-to-man philosophy and mindset.”
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TUCKER COUNTY, W.Va. — Work on Section 3 of the Kerens to Parsons project on Corridor H (U.S. Route 48) officially started with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.
Governor Jim Justice along with officials from the West Virginia Department of Transportation joined in for the ceremony in Tucker County.
“My goal is for all of Corridor H to be under contract before I leave office,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to finish this road.”
It’s the third of five sections between Kerens and Parsons to be worked on. The projects completion is projected for the fall of 2025.
A successful bid of $49,488,494 was made by A.L.L. Construction Inc. of Mount Storm on the sections of Corridor H. More than seven million yards of dirt are expected to be moved by crews to prepare the section of highway for construction and paving. Grading and drainage work will also take place on an approximately three-mile stretch of the section beginning near the Cheat River Bridge.
Once completed, the Cheat River Bridge will be among the longest bridges in West Virginia, at 3,300 feet. The four-lane bridge will link the 15-mile stretch of Corridor H between Kerens and Parsons with the Parsons and Davis section.
“As I’ve said over and over, the single most important project in our state right now is Corridor H,” Gov. Justice said. “Corridor H will connect all kinds of communities, from Parsons, to Kerens, to Davis, to the state line and far beyond so we can bring more and more prosperity to all of West Virginia.”
When it’s finished, Corridor H will connect Interstate 79 in Weston, WV, to Interstate 81 in Strasburg, VA.
“Not only will this project employ a bunch of people, but travelers will continue to spend all kinds of money in these communities long after construction ends,” said Justice.
There are currently 113 miles of Corridor H open to traffic. 31 miles are left to open, with 15 of those miles under active construction.
Approximately $1.93 billion has been spent on Corridor H, with an estimated $1 billion-worth of work still left.
Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, and Chairman of the Corridor H Highway Authority Robbie Morris, were also a part of the ceremony Friday afternoon.
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UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Nearly 1,000 first responders and community members from Morgantown and surrounding areas remembered fallen Morgantown police officer Zane Breakiron in services Friday in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Breakiron, 34, a Morgantown PD K-9 officer, died in an off-duty vehicle crash on June 3 near the Pennsylvania state line. Breakiron lost his life three days before he would have celebrated his seventh year of service in Morgantown.
His final dispatch was aired at Abundant Life Church just as the service was getting underway.
“For the City of Morgantown and the first responder community, we are sad to report that after many years of service, Officer Zane Breakiron has completed his last and final call.,” the dispatch said. “He will be remembered for his dedication, bravery, and his contagious smile. He has returned home to the Lord to fulfill his new duty as an angel to watch over his family, his friends, and fellow men and women in blue. Officer Zane Breakiron will forever be in our hearts. The final call for Morgantown officer Zane Breakiron is complete on June 9 at 1001 hours.”
Breakiron’s father and brother delivered eulogies, and Associate Pastor Mark Scott delivered a message and shared memories with those in attendance.
Zane had been an active member at the Abundant Life Church for more than two decades and has helped in many capacities. Scott explained that Breakiron’s death sent a shock wave through the congregation, which was still reverberating with disbelief.
His brother Zack reflected on a big brother who was always supportive, and yes, they fought. But he said the fights were a result of competitiveness that had boiled over and were never out of animosity.
Breakiron’s father Garett, said the morning Zane was killed, they were to go clay shooting that day. Garret said he called Zane at 7:30 a.m. to confirm the trip, but there was no answer.
The stories that were shared all pointed to Zane’s commitment to his family, work family and church family.
His father shared a memory about a tattoo his son proudly wore and shared on his arm.
“If you ever saw Zane’s arms, don’t look at the tattoos, but he had one that was written in Greek; it was Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me,” Garret Breakiron said. “I asked Zane—why did you put it in Greek? He said, Dad, people ask me what that means, and that’s my “in” to tell them about Jesus Christ. What a man.”
A small portion of the procession for fallen Morgantown police officer Zane Breakiron pic.twitter.com/ulUx3OfYyg
— Michael G Nolting (@YourNewsguy) June 9, 2023
His law enforcement family remembered Zane as a compassionate officer who was always willing to help members of his team. Breakiron was known to share his faith, even with subjects he had taken into custody. In one instance, he sought out a smaller version of the Bible for a prisoner and delivered it, not knowing if the offender would even open it.
“It’s amazing but not surprising to hear the stories about Zane and it just reaffirms something I already knew and I think we all knew,” Morgantown Chief of Police Eric Powell said after the ceremony.
Police officers, EMTs, firefighters, and correctional officers from the region attended and formed a procession following the ceremony that stretched for more than a mile. Also, people attended from as far away as Florida and Texas.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The criminal indictment involving former President Donald Trump was unsealed Friday afternoon and it contains 37 criminal counts.
It’s alleged Trump willfully retained classified documents and obstructed justice in doing so. Some of the documents focused on the military weaknesses of the United States and some of its allies.
Special Counsel Jack Smith gave a brief statement about the indictment Friday afternoon.
“This indictment was voted by a grand jury by the citizens in the Southern District of Florida. I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the charges,” Smith said.
He said no one is above the law.
“We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone,” Smith said.
He concluded by saying he looks forward to taking the case to trial. He took no questions.
The news about the indictment first broke Thursday night.
Former U.S. Attorney for Southern West Virginia and current state Senator Mike Stuart, R-Kanawha, criticized the fairness of the investigation during an appearance Friday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
“It appears to be just the further targeting of President Trump and it appears to be a ‘get Trump at all cost’ effort by DOJ,” Stuart said before the indictment was unsealed.
Stuart, a former Trump appointee, said the American people are asking why Trump is getting indicted for the same conduct engaged in by other presidents and public officials.
“They see this as a ‘get Trump’ agenda,'” Stuart said.
What are @MikeStuartWV‘s thoughts regarding the indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump? Senator Stuart was a guest today on MetroNews Talkline with @HoppyKercheval. pic.twitter.com/l3yanp50zs
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 9, 2023
Stuart referring to President Joe Biden who also was found to have some classified documents in his possession in connection with his prior positions. The FBI has said the investigation continues.
West Virginia U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito told The Hill newspaper Thursday night that she hoped the Justice Department would be nonpartisan.
“I don’t have full faith in them at this point,” Capito said.
She also told The Hill the DOJ faces a backlash from Republican voters.
“I think they’re going to be upset, it’s a targeted thing,” Capito said.
Recent polls continue to show Trump as being wildly popular in West Virginia.
MORE How West Virginia GOP leaders reacted to initial news
Stuart said “there ought to be equal application of the law across the board for Hillary Clinton, for Hunter Biden, for President Biden and for President Trump. It ought to be the same.”
Stuart said there were alternate ways to go about getting the classified documents.
“We’re indicting a former president of the United States, a candidate for president of the United States, for confidential documents. I don’t think the American people are going to buy it,” Stuart said.
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — On the last day on the job for 39-year veteran Martinsburg Police Chief George Swartwood, his successor has been named.
Erin Gibbons, who most recently served as deputy chief, will assume the role officially Sunday.
Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said Gibbons has already served Martinsburg for 17 years.
“Chief Gibbons possesses a thorough understanding of critical issues and priorities currently affecting Martinsburg and our police department. I am confident that Chief Gibbons will implement
programs and initiatives that increase public trust, equity, accountability, constitutional policing and address public safety in our city,” according to Baldwin.
Gibbons has been deputy chief for three years. Prior to that he served as an officer with the department beginning in 2006 and rising through the ranks to corporal beginning in 2019.
“Chief Gibbons is an accomplished officer who possesses administrative, supervisory and instructional experience. He has assisted the Martinsburg Police Department with direct oversight of operations, policies and budget oversight,” Baldwin said.
For his part, the new chief says he is “extremely grateful and honored for the opportunity to lead the employees and sworn officers of the Martinsburg Police Department and serving our community.”
“I am excited to continue and improve our efforts to align the Martinsburg Police Department with 21st century policing, strengthen public trust, improve officer wellness, and demonstrate accountability and transparency all while maintaining a standard of professionalism and respect to members of this community. I have had the privilege of working with the dedicated men and women of the Martinsburg Police Department for almost two decades. I can personally attest to their professionalism, passion and proficiency.”
Before coming to Martinsburg, Gibbons was a correctional officer at the Eastern Regional Jail from 2002-2006. He’s a Navy veteran.
On Thursday night, Chief George Swartwood was lauded by the mayor and other leaders in the city.
Mayor Kevin Knowles said he had known Swartwood for 15 years.
“Everybody on this force and in this city is his family. He grew up here. He believes that this city is the best city in the state, and maybe even the world according to him. George is going to be very well missed.”
It was an emotional day for the outgoing chief, as he reflected.
“All 39 years were with the City of Martinsburg. It’s been an absolute great profession, a great job. I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I have the best police department in the entire country ,” Swartwood said. “I’ve got the best officers ever. It’s been a great ride.”
“It doesn’t seem like 39 years ago,” Swartwood said, reflecting that his first day was April 15th, 1984. “If I could, I’d do it all over again.”
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Huntington institution celebrated a major milestone Friday. Jim’s Restaurant turned 85.
Jim Tweel opened the restaurant in the same location in 1938. It’s still owned by the Tweel family today.
“Being a restaurant and surviving for 85 years in the same family is pretty historical,” said current owner Larry Tweel who still runs the shop with is wife Sally.
“There are some restaurants that have survived that long, but not very many. We are only surviving because of the wealth of talent my dad was able to recruit from 1938 until he died in ’05.” he added.
As part of the Friday anniversary, the menu was scaled back along with the prices for the day. The menu for Friday included a small spaghetti special for $4, which included salad, bread, and cake. The only other menu items for the anniversary were a hamburger for $2, cheeseburger for $3, French fries for $1, and all drinks $1. All meals on Friday came with cake.
Tweel noted one of the key figures in the restaurant’s history was a young African American named C.M. Gray known as “Bunny” who was hired by his father in 1940. According to Tweel, Bunny left the restaurant to join the service where he learned how to cook. When he finished his service he returned to Huntington and wanted to go back to work for Tweel.
However, fearing limits at that time by being African American, he only wanted the job if he would be allowed to advance as far as his talent would take him. Jim Tweel wholeheartedly agreed and for many years, Bunny was a fixture at the restaurant and served as the manager and helped run the operation.
“As a pair they were as good as you could want for restaurant management and Bunny was as vital to this restaurant as anybody has ever been, and I hate to say it but that probably includes my dad,” said Tweel.
Jim’s has always been a fixture in Huntington and hosted some big names through the years. Those included John F. Kennedy who ate there when he campaigned for President during the historic 1960 primary in West Virginia. The restaurant was also part of the set of the movie We Are Marshall in 2006.
–MetroNews Affiliate WRVC Radio and Kindred Communications contributed to this story.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Longtime Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom says he plans to retire from the bench at the end of the month.
Bloom, who was first elected in November 2000, handed in his resignation Friday, effective June 30.
Bloom told MetroNews it’s a good time to retire.
“I had decided I was not going to run for reelection (in 2024) and I thought so long as I was not going to do that I may as well give people the opportunity to run next year and give them as much time as possible,” Bloom said. “It seemed a good time for a transition.”
Bloom was a Kanawha County commissioner from 1986-2000. He decided to seek a seat on circuit court when Kanawha County Circuit Judge Andrew MacQueen decided to retire.
“It seems like yesterday I was the new kid on the block now I’m the most senior judge in Kanawha County,” Bloom said.
Bloom’s retirement completes a cycle of sorts. When his replacement is appointed, it will make five new judges in the seven-judge Kanawha County circuit since 2014.
“I feel good about the decision because we have almost a whole new bench and really a bunch of good qualified people and I feel like I’m leaving the Kanawha County judiciary in very good hands,” Bloom said.
Gov. Jim Justice will eventually appoint a replacement for Bloom. That replacement will serve the remainder of his term which runs to Dec. 31, 2024. The seat will be up for election, a full eight-year term, next May.
Bloom said a lot has changed in circuit court in his nearly two dozen years on the bench.
“My first year on the bench there were 97 abuse and neglect cases filed in Kanawha County, last year there were over 800 cases filed in Kanawha County,” Bloom said. “That’s a wrinkle on top of all the other work a circuit judge has.”
Bloom noted Kanawha County has very busy criminal and civil dockets.
Bloom said he wants to remain active in retirement including taking on senior judge status and doing some mediation work.
“I’m really looking to doing mediations. I’ve obviously done a lot of that in helping resolve cases that were before me over the years. I think that’s a meaningful thing for people to have a say over how their cases are resolved,” Bloom said.
Bloom’s resignation leaves Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, who took the bench in 2002, as the most veteran Kanawha County circuit judge.
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. — While no injuries were reported, a vehicle crash which led to the shut down of a portion of U.S. Route 35 in Putnam County Wednesday night and early Thursday morning called for a lot of clean up.
Photos from the wreck posted by Putnam 911 Office of Emergency Management show a box trailer semi truck that hit a disabled flatbed tractor trailer hauling a 40′ container, knocking the container off the flatbed and littering what looks to be thousands of coffee cups.
Photos from the motor vehicle accident that shut down a portion of US RT 35 late Wedenesday night and early Thursday morning. No injuries were reported. #putnam911oem pic.twitter.com/oNR8DNFPgb
— Putnam County 911 Emergency Management (@Putnam911OEM) June 9, 2023
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WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — The Mingo County grand jury is the next step for criminal charges against the man arrested in the shooting and killing of West Virginia State Police Sgt. Cory Maynard.
Timothy Kennedy, 29, waived his preliminary hearing during an appearance Friday in Mingo County Magistrate Court in Williamson.
The decision to waive sends the first-degree murder charge to a grand jury which will decide if there’s enough evidence to indict Maynard. A special grand jury could be called to consider the case.
Kennedy’s attorney requested discovery information from prosecutors during Friday’s hearing.
State Police have said Maynard, 37, was killed in an ambush attack last Friday in the Beech Creek area.
“They were ambushed. Sgt. Maynard was hit and wounded. Another trooper that was with him did return fire, but did not hit the suspect,” State Police Superintendent Col. Chambers said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Maynard and another trooper responded to the area after getting a call about a shooting. Authorities said Kennedy shot Benjamin Baldwin, 39, of Matewan, with a rifle. Baldwin remains hospitalized. Kennedy has yet to be charged in connection with that shooting.
Kennedy remains in the Southwestern Regional Jail without bail.
Maynard was remembered in funeral services Wednesday.
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WHEELING, W.Va. — Police say charges are pending in a deadly motorcycle crash in Wheeling.
According to Wheeling police, Missy Ann Grubba, 44, of Wheeling, died early Friday morning when the motorcycle she was a passenger on crashed into a concrete barrier at Exit 1B on Interstate 70.
Police said the man operating the motorcycle was injured and taken to Wheeling Hospital.
“Alcohol is believed to be a factor and charges are pending,” police said.
Police said Grubba was ejected from the motorcycle and died at the scene.
The deadly crash took place at around 1:20 a.m. Friday.
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