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North Marion edges Fairmont Senior, 56-52

Greg Carey/

Fairmont Senior’s Marley Washenitz attempts a shot against the defense of North Marion’s Katlyn Casino.


RACHEL, W.Va. — Not much went right for North Marion the first six minutes of the fourth quarter Friday against Fairmont Senior.

The Huskies saw their 10-point lead turn into a 49-46 deficit, and the Polar Bears had seemingly all the momentum in the Class AA Region I, Section 2 title game.

But with one shot, junior guard Karlie Denham changed the complexion of the contest. Denham’s three-pointer from the corner with 1:50 left tied it at 49 and ignited a 10-3 Huskies’ run to close the game in a 56-52 victory over the Polar Bears.

“Not thinking and just shooting the basketball,” Denham said. “I got it and I knew I was open. I wasn’t really thinking about the score. I just knew we needed points.”

After Denham’s triple pulled North Marion (23-1) even, Fairmont Senior (19-5) had a chance to regain the lead, but Morgan Lilley missed two free throws with 1:29 remaining.

Denham then gave the Huskies the lead for good with two free throws, and Taylor Buonamici doubled the advantage by sinking a pair from the charity stripe with 25 seconds remaining following a Polar Bears’ turnover.

Denham added two free throws to up the lead to six with 14 seconds, and although Laynie Beresford answered with a triple, Denham made 1-of-2 at the line with 1.5 seconds to play to preserve the win.

“We just had to settle down, relax and not force things,” Huskies’ head coach Michael Parrish said. “We took a couple bad shots down the stretch, but in a game like this that’s going to happen and we were lucky to prevail. We made some big free throws to pull it out.”

The Huskies were largely in control throughout their third victory in as many matchups with Fairmont Senior this season.

Although the Polar Bears began the second quarter on a 6-0 run and tied the game at 15 after consecutive buckets from Emily Starn, Denham responded with two threes to put NMHS on top by six.

It was also the start of a 13-3 North Marion run to end the half, one that featured a triple from the Huskies’ Olivia Toland as well.

“Defensively, we did a great job in the first half and held them to 18 points,” Parrish said. “We kept them out of the paint.”

The Huskies led by at least six throughout the third quarter and outscored the Polar Bears 8-4 over the final half of the period for a 42-32 advantage. Buonamici had eight points in the quarter to help her team maintain its double digit lead.

But North Marion, which had 13 second-half turnovers, immediately saw its lead cut to six following consecutive baskets from Marley Washenitz to start the fourth.

Washenitz added two more field goals moments later and Starn scored off a steal to tie the game at 44 with 5:36 left.

After the Huskies went back on top by two, Washenitz scored five straight points, before Denham responded with the critical trey.

“We kept our heads and we knew that we’d beaten them before and all we needed to do was play our game,” Denham said.

The win allows North Marion to stay home Thursday for a regional co-final against Petersburg. Fairmont Senior, meanwhile, will look to secure its spot in the state tournament when it plays at Frankfort.

Buonamici had 23 points and made all five of her foul shots, while Denham scored 20 points and was 9-of-11 on free throws. North Marion finished 18-of-24 at the line, while Fairmont Senior was 7-of-15.

North Marion’s Katlyn Casino was also vital in the victory, finishing with 12 rebounds and eight blocks.

Washenitz had 23 points and 12 boards, while Starn scored 11 points in the loss.

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Beckley dominates Greenbrier East to claim sectional title, 78-55

FAIRLEA, W.Va. — Woodrow Wilson dominated in the paint and used a strong third quarter surge to defeat Greenbrier East 78-55 in the Class AAA, Region III, Section 2 title game. The Flying Eagles will host George Washington in the regional round Tuesday while the Spartans will have to hit the road for South Charleston.

Five players scored in double figures for Beckley (17-6). They were led in scoring by Cloey Frantz’s 18 points. Liz Cadle scored 16 and freshman Keanti Thompson added 10.

WWHS’ post players had their way on the inside. Jamara Walton scored a dozen points while Victoria Staunton had a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.

“We feel like that is our strength even though we have some great guards,” said Woodrow Wilson head coach Brian Nabors. “We have to go inside for us to be successful and we have to go inside-out. I am just proud that our bigs stepped up and did exactly what we told them to do.”

Greenbrier East (20-4) led 15-14 after the first quarter but Beckley surged ahead in the second and took a 39-30 halftime lead. East closed within seven points early in the third quarter but a 9-0 run later in the frame gave Beckley a double-digit lead that they would never relinquish.

“The key to the third quarter was just keeping our heads,” Nabors said. “We stayed locked in and we didn’t want to look back. We just set a goal that we weren’t going to allow them to make any runs. And if they made a run, we were going to withstand it with our defense. And we did that.”

The Spartans were led by Haley McClure’s 20-point effort. Amya Damon added a dozen points.

These teams split their regular season meetings. The Flying Eagles were defeated 46-40 on February 11th after an altercation with fans brought the game to an early end with about six minutes left to play.

“We felt like the last game we played that we didn’t get a fair shake and it was just unfortunate,” Nabors said. “They were really anxious to come out and prove that we could win this game.”

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House approves grease trap bill with minor changes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Friday to improve the security of grease collection traps at restaurants.

Eighty-five delegates approved increasing fines from $5 to $50 per day for businesses with unsecured grease trap lids. Fifteen lawmakers were absent during the vote.

Senate Bill 240 stems from an incident last November in which a child fell into a grease trap at the Southridge Shopping Center in Kanawha County.

Kara Cvechko, the child’s mother, was able to get her daughter out with the help of two other children.

The Senate will have to reconsider the bill because of House amendments.

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Victim in Huntington fire identified

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Huntington woman died Thursday in a house fire on Charleston Avenue.

City officials identified 75-year-old Theresa Sue Wilson as the victim of the blaze.

The fire was reported after 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1600 block of Charleston Avenue.

An investigation is underway.

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Fairmont men arraigned following murder of WVU student

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two Fairmont men were arraigned Friday after allegedly shooting a West Virginia University student early that morning.

Terrell Linear, 21, and 20-year-old Shaundarius Reeder each face a first-degree murder charge for the incident. Both suspects appeared in magistrate court Friday afternoon.

The two men allegedly arrived at College Park Apartments with Eric Smith, 21, of Clementon, New Jersey, early Friday morning. The three people engaged in an altercation and Smith ran away from the other two individuals.

According to a criminal complaint, Linear told investigators he got two handguns from the car, giving one to Reeder.

Linear also told authorities he knocked on doors “so people could watch” him shoot Smith.

Surveillance footage captures Linear and Reeder leaving the scene less than a minute after the shooting happened.

“t’s always a tragedy when a young person loses his life,” said Corey Farris, West Virginia University’s dean of students. “Our hearts go out to his family, those students and others who knew him. Our main priority right now is offering support to our campus community.”

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Adding criminal cases, House Judiciary approves intermediate appeals court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With an amendment that would add criminal cases, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would establish an intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia.

That adds more responsibility and more expense to the court.

Passage by a 15-10 vote through the committee is a major step for Senate Bill 275, a concept that has found support in recent years in the state Senate but no path through the House of Delegates.

Charles Trump

“I’m grateful to this committee that you’re giving it consideration and attention,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, a supporter of the legislation who testified on Friday before the House Judiciary Committee.

“This is four or five years on that bill, lots of variations, but I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t think it was important to the future of the state.”

The House Judiciary Committee started discussing the bill on Friday morning, took a break for a floor session and continued debating it into Friday afternoon.

Tom Bibby

The argument for an intermediate court of appeals is to provide another layer of certainty for cases to be reviewed.

“If you want people to come into this state you’re going to have to have some kind of predictable outcome,” said Delegate Tom Bibby, R-Berkeley.

“One thing this intermediate court is going to do, is you are going to have predictability.”

Chad Lovejoy

Its passage doesn’t mean everyone was for it.

“It will mean delays for West Virginia citizens,” said Delegate Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell.

Citing a decreasing caseload in West Virginia’s court system, he concluded, “I respectfully say this court is unnecessary.”

The intermediate court would take on cases between the circuit court and Supreme Court levels. Those include civil lawsuits, family court appeals, workers compensation appeals and, now, criminal appeals.

The intermediate court is envisioned as two districts, northern and southern, with three judges on each panel.

The judges would be voted into office by citizens to serve 10-year terms. The terms would be staggered, and the judges wouldn’t be eligible for reappointment. The pay would be $130,000 a year.

The House Judiciary Committee, even prior to discussion, specified that the first judges would be elected in 2022 with the court starting up in 2023.

The other big change in House Judiciary was adding criminal cases.

Brandon Steele

That was an amendment proposed by Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, who had raised the issue earlier.

“Would you agree from a philosophical standpoint it’s important for a criminal defendant to have that extra layer of appeal?” Steele had asked Trump prior to introducing the amendment.

He was able to persuade most committee members of that.

Moore Capito

“Nothing is more important than life and liberty,” said Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha.

But it comes with an increased monetary cost.

Steele had asked for a new fiscal note from the state Supreme Court. The cost estimate went up by about a million dollars a year from a prior fiscal note.

So the first-year cost is estimated to be $8.5 million.

“Because of the addition of criminal cases to the intermediate appeal process, additional staff attorneys would be required,” according to the fiscal note. “The additional staff attorneys were not included in the previous Fiscal Note for SB275.”

Steele said he isn’t worried about the cost.

“I don’t think this is going to increase cost that much,” he said.

Advocates have suggested some of the intermediate court’s cost would be offset by the consolidation of other current court system functions.

For example, a fiscal note from the Office of Insurance Commissioner calculates that eliminating the Office of Judges that reviews workers compensation cases would represent a savings of $2.5 million.

That didn’t quite jibe with Brad Crouser, chief administrative law judge of office of judges.

“I hate to dispute that. It’s all speculative, quite frankly,” Crouser said.

He said those workers compensation case require developing expertise and 30 to 35 employees to handle evidence, motions, orders and briefs.

“I’m thinking the savings are less than that amount,” he said.

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Kanawha man indicted on 10 criminal counts for violent crime spree

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man arrested after a violent crime spree earlier this month that included the murder of an elderly woman and the shooting of a Charleston police officer was indicted Friday on 10 criminal counts.

Kanawha County prosecutors decided to bypass a preliminary hearing for Joshua Andrew Drennen, 27, of Clendenin, and instead took the case straight to a grand jury which met this week in Charleston. The indictments were handed up Friday afternoon.


Joshua Andrew Drennen

The panel indicted him on counts of murder, attempted murder, malicious assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of assault during the commission of a crime, attempted first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle, malicious wounding, first-degree robbery, and petit larceny.

Drennen was released from CAMC General Feb. 20 after being hospitalized since Feb. 11. He was shot twice by CPD Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto during the string of incidents.

The shooting came after Drennen allegedly murdered Barbara Steele, 77, in her West Side home and then allegedly carjacked a vehicle at the nearby Walgreens parking lot. Police said he then attempted another carjacking before encountering Casto near the Go-Mart near the Washington Street exit of Interstate 64.

Casto fired two shots at Drennen after Drennen attacked him with an antique flat iron, according to investigators.

READ: The full criminal complaint against Drennen

He has been held without bail in the South Central Regional Jail in connection with the murder charge.

Drennen will be arraigned in the near future by a Kanawha County circuit judge and a trial date scheduled.

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Treasurer’s office presents largest unclaimed property check in state history

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former resident of Mercer County is more than $1.7 million richer on Friday, courtesy of unclaimed property in the state.

West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and his office presented Thomas Hunter and his wife with the largest individual unclaimed property check in state history, totaling $1,780,824.57, at the state Capitol.

“It’s exciting when your staff works so hard and is able to reach out and find individuals in this state money,” Perdue told the media.

The unclaimed money came from a trust set up by his parents which included liquidated stocks and dividends from various communications and energy companies, according to the treasurer’s office.

Hunter told the media he knew his parents had some investments.

“My parents passed away and eventually the funds ended up with the treasurer’s office. It wasn’t really a surprise, the amount of money was probably a little surprising,” he said.

Hunter said he worked with the treasury department’s Unclaimed Property Division.

According to Perdue, there have been 20 checks that his department has returned in the state to individuals and businesses of over $250,000, totaling around $9 million.

Along with the division’s location in Kanawha City in Charleston, Perdue encouraged all citizens to check out the treasury’s unclaimed property bulletin that comes out every Fall and Spring.

“They are really easy to work with, respectful and honest,” Hunter said of the division. “They will tell you what the process involves and if you follow their lead and direction, you’ll eventually get what is coming to you.”

Hunter, whose parents also grew up in Mercer County, said he has a few plans with the money including retiring early. He said a lot of it will go towards others.

“I have some young people in our family and I am an educator, so I want them to have an opportunity to get an education as well. My wife and I plan to help them out,” he said.

“Then I am going to give to some charities that my parents gave to.”

The state’s Unclaimed Property program currently holds approximately 2.2 million accounts worth $304 million, according to a release.

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Senator searches for $2 million to help with W.Va. coronavirus preparation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senator Ron Stollings, a doctor who is also running for governor, is looking for $2 million to help West Virginia’s preparation for a possible coronavirus outbreak.

“Where it comes from is not important,” said Stollings, D-Boone. “It’s just that we get some money, even if it’s the rainy day fund.”

Stollings made his remarks at the end of Friday’s Senate floor session. The Senate has been moving its proposed budget of more than $4.5 billion.

The trouble is, Stollings and others said, there’s not much give. Senators have other priorities such as an additional $10 million to eliminate a wait list for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to receive care at home.

This is already a flat budget year, and West Virginia’s constitution calls for a balanced budget. So Stollings is trying to identify an ounce of funding that might head off a pound of cure while the world braces for a possible epidemic.

“I think it’s really important for us to allocate this $2 million so we can get ahead of this coronavirus,” he said. “We need to do something now. We need a plan now.”

Governors and legislators in several states have proposed pumping millions of dollars into programs to combat the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness, according to The Associated Press.

President Trump has requested an additional $2.5 billion to combat the virus, while congressional Democrats have proposed nearly four times that amount.

The Centers for Disease Control says person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it.


Dr. Cathy Slemp

So far there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia and no patients were in the process of being tested or were otherwise under investigation for the illness, Dr. Cathy Slemp, West Virginia state health officer, said this week on MetroNews “Talkline.”

In West Virginia, the immediate health risk was said to be “low,” but that had the potential to change quickly.

“As we begin to think about the potential for community spread, now’s the time to prepare around that and so that starts to engage all of us,” said Slemp, who is also commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health in the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

“Just like you would prepare for snowstorms or other kinds of things, it’s worth taking those steps to make sure.”

Dr. Cathy Slemp, Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health and State Health Officer gives @HoppyKercheval her insights on preparations for coronavirus. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 27, 2020

States like Texas, Washington, Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky are assembling plans to get ready for the coronavirus.

Isaac Sponaugle

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, asked during a House Finance meeting on Thursday afternoon whether the state budget in any way reflects additional funding to prepare for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus.

“I am concerned about this budget. We are going into a recession, and we have absolutely no money set aside for our health departments,” Sponaugle said.

“This is starting to become an epidemic. We haven’t done anything or spoken about it whatsoever. We have got to be very serious about this as a state when it comes.”

Sponaugle added, “It would be helpful if the governor’s people would come here and advise the Legislature on where we need to assist.”

Two million dollars is a conservative amount, Stollings said in an interview prior to the Senate floor session. He said it’s just startup funds for “communication, education, messaging and some equipment.”

Stollings said there has not been enough public discussion about West Virginia’s preparation so far.

“We absolutely need to be thinking and planning for this coronavirus,” he said. “It’s a virus that’s going to get out into the public. We can’t stop it. There’s no treatment for it. There’s no vaccination for it. So mostly what we have to do is have a statewide plan and excellent communication system between all the health departments.”

He concluded, “If we can’t limit the spread then this could be very impactful. And we’re not ready, I don’t think, at this point.”

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Photo gallery: Martinsburg claims sectional title with win over Spring Mills

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photos from Martinsburg’s 64-38 win over Spring Mills in the Class AAA, Region II, Section 1 championship game. The Bulldogs will host Hampshire in the regional round Tuesday, March 3 while the Cardinals will visit Jefferson.

(Photos courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)


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