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American Lung Association “concerned” for West Virginia youth after latest vaping report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The American Lung Association is “concerned” about the next generation of West Virginia following a report released last week by the state Department of Health and Human Resources on e-cigarette use among youth.

The report showed the state’s youth use of e-cigs has jumped in the past two years to a 35.7 percent usage rate, more than one-in-three.

“The American Lung Association is very concerned that we are at risk of losing another generation to tobacco-caused diseases as the result of e-cigarettes,” Sarah Lawver, American Lung Association (ALA) advocacy director told MetroNews.

According to the ALA, West Virginia leads the nation in adult smoking rates at 25.2 percent and high school smoking rates at 10.3 percent. State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp told MetroNews previously that the new youth numbers release rose 150 percent in the past two years.

Lawver said the ALA believes there are several proven policies to decrease tobacco use that the legislature and state officials should act on.


Sarah Lawver

One is the increase in tobacco and prevention control funding. According to Lawver, West Virginia allocated $500,000 toward such programs last year, but the Center for Disease Control says best practices for the state would be to spend $24.4 million.

Lawver said for every dollar spent on prevention in a state, the state is saving $55.

“By investing in these programs, they’ll be able to gain some of that loss both in the 4,200 West Virginians who lose their lives every year due to smoking-related death and due to the healthcare costs that are associated with smoking,” she said.

Lawver said a second policy would be to change the tobacco taxes. She said e-cigs are not taxed in a model way

She is hoping that more can be done on a state level in this legislative session.

“This e-cigarette epidemic has provided the momentum and the need to finally implement strong policies,” Lawver said. “We are looking forward to working with our partners at the state level and our partners at the legislature.”

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Western Kentucky tops Marshall for second time this week

— By David Walsh

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — More points in the rematch, but the same outcome.

Western Kentucky used a late first-half surge to open up a 13-point lead, then held off numerous Marshall charges in the second half to defeat the Thundering Herd, 91-84, on Saturday. The contest was held in front of a 6,270 fans inside E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Hilltoppers rallied from a 19-point first-half deficit to knock off Marshall, 64-60, Wednesday at Cam Henderson Center in Huntington.

Western Kentucky, now 14-6 and 7-1 in Conference USA, extended its winning streak to five in a row. 

Marshall (9-12, 3-5) has dropped four of its last five games.

Taevion Kinsey scored on a layup with 4:15 left to cut the deficit to 81-77. WKU responded as Taveion Hollingsworth hit a pair of free throws and Jared Savage scored on a folo to push the lead to 85-77. The Hilltoppers held the Herd off from there.

“It’s been the story of our season,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We’re right there. I know what it is, I get tired of saying it. We’ve got to learn how to win. I look out on the floor again and see two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.”

Western Kentucky led 50-40 at halftime, the second-most points scored in the first half this season. The Hilltoppers had 54 on Nov. 18 against Campbellsville. 

“Our guys had those moments, they don’t play as well, but we’re finding ways with different people,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Different guys making plays at the right time. It’s kind of who were are. Play together and make adjustments.”

Hollingsworth had 18 points to lead six players in double figures. Savage finished with 16, Jordan Rawls 15, Josh Anderson and Carson Williams with 14 each and Camron Justice 11.

Kinsey netted 16 points to pace Marshall. Jarrod West had 15 and 11 assists for a double-double, Marko Sarenac netted a career-best 15 along with Andy Taylor’s 15. Iran Bennett, the Herd’s 6-foot-9 big man, had just two points and he battled foul trouble each half.

“The killed us on the fast break,” D’Antoni said of WKU’s first-half run. “We have to talk and get back. We didn’t communicate. Marko’s starting to play. He’ll be a factor before it’s all over.

“Growing up is a problem. Freshmen you see one game and do not see them the next. We’ve got to even out our production. We’ll gain maturity as we go through the season.”

Marshall has two games this week in Florida. The Herd visits Florida International on Thursday at 7 p.m. The trip ends Saturday at Florida Atlantic. Tip is 3 p.m.

WKU is now 18-12 all-time vs. the Herd and Stansbury is 5-4 against Marshall. 

This was the first time Western Kentucky played a league opponent in consecutive games in the regular season since doing so with Middle Tennessee in 190-71.

The Herd is now 0-9 when trailing at intermission.

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I-79 north reopened near Weston after road damage

WESTON, W.Va. — Officials with the state Division of Highways have reopened Interstate 79 northbound at Weston Sunday morning.

The interstate was shutdown on Saturday morning “due to significant damage to the interstate” and remained closed for hours.

The DOH announcement on shutting it down was:

“Both lanes of I-79 North in this area are expected to remain closed for several hours today as crews work around the clock to make repairs.”

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Old hangars being torn down at Morgantown airport

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The director at the Morgantown Municipal Airport said a Pennsylvania-based contractor is paying the facility to tear down an old T-hangar.

Airport Director Jon Vrabel said contractors like Safeco Environmental of Dilliner, Pa. are interested in the steel that’s part of the hangars.

“The buildings are all steel and the steel is very high quality due to the age,” Vrabel said. “When you look at reusing that steel, it has a value. So, we’re actually being paid to take the buildings down because of the value of the steel.”

The airport will receive $500, according to Vrabel.

T-hangar structures were part of the original airport configuration.

“The old T-hangars are about 80 years-old. they’re no longer being used,” Vrabel said. “A couple years ago we built a new T-hangar facility on the property, on the east side of the property, opposite of the terminal building.”

He said it would cost too much to remodel them.

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Huntington-Cabell opioid case up for status hearing Monday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The next step for a significant lawsuit in connection with the opioid crisis could be learned in a status hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

U.S. District Judge David Faber is now residing over the city of Huntington and Cabell County lawsuit versus three large drug distributors, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health.

The case has gone back and forth in federal court from West Virginia to Ohio but a Cleveland federal judge recently sent the case back to the Mountain State.

The lead plaintiff’s attorney, Paul Farrell of Huntington, has been saying for months he wants a trial against the distributors of opioids instead of a settlement.

“The origins and the fueling of this epidemic were manmade, and they were made by people who made decisions that are just unforgivable,” Farrell during an appearance last October on MetroNews “Talkline.” “I want the world to understand what they did to our hometown and what the long-term consequences are. This is not something they can run from.”

Ferrell said the number of pills sent into West Virginia is unforgivable.

“We have communicated in as blunt language as we can that they sold 10 million pills of opium into our hometown every year for 15 years,” Farrell said in that “Talkline” interview. “They broke it, and now they have to fix it.”

Faber could set a timeline for a trial during Monday’s hearing. It’s scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

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Morgantown developers look at plans for Richwood Avenue to Mileground

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –A deal between two Morgantown developers could open the door to long-term redevelopment project.


David Biafora

The deal is between Metro Property Management, owned by David Biafora and James Giuliani Enterprises LLC.

Biafora recently told WAJR Radio News the deal could close by the end of the second quarter of this year.

“At this point, one of our companies has a contract to purchase between 9 to 10 acres off Richwood Avenue from James Giuliani and his family,” Biafora said. “A few different companies that have acquired assets over the years, and he would like to retire at this point.”

Biafora believes this will be a community partnership to revitalize an important part of the city.

“Sunny Side Up, Morgantown Area Partners, the city, county, representatives from WVU, we would like to see how we consummate a deal over the next year or two,” Biafora said. “And see what is needed for the city and all the people.”

Biafora said they are exploring a wide range of housing options, not just housing tailored to the needs of WVU, along with a mix of businesses.

“This will most likely by a public/private partnership, it will pay taxes, it will do good for everybody,” Biafora said. “The cooperation of everybody to revitalize this end of town.”

Biafora said the development remains in the planning stages, but they have big expectations.

“We will probably look at doing a TIF and hopefully working on getting cooperation. We’re working to get support to run a road all the way up to the Mileground,” he said.

Biafora stresses this is a long-term commitment that will include input from the public.

“It’s going to be a very large project, it could be $50, $60, $70, $80 million, who knows what it will be,” Biafora said. “It will trickle up to the Mileground and the entrance into town and a neighborhood. We have to take our time and do it right.”

Biafora said his efforts will benefit greatly from preliminary conceptual plans and design completed by the Giuliani family.

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Williamstown stays unbeaten with 75-55 win over Wheeling Central

NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. — Highlights from Williamstown’s 75-55 win over Wheeling Central Catholic in the 12th Annual Magnolia Rotary Challenge.

(Highlights by Teran Malone)

Williamstown (14-0):

Eli Inman – 28 points

Sam Cremeans – 17 points

Colton Luther – 10 points

Wheeling Central Catholic (11-5):

Ryan Reasbeck – 31 points


Full tournament scores:

Cameron 65, Paden City 39

Madonna 66, Tyler Consolidated 45

Williamstown 75, Wheeling Central Catholic 55

Beallsville, Oh. 53, Magnolia 33 (Girls)

Magnolia 65, Valley Wetzel 36


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NO School Spirit winners tout dangers of underage drinking

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration says Mt. Hope Christ Academy is the winner in the agency’s 7th annual NO School Spirits PSA (Public Service Announcement) contest.

The educational program challenges students to produce a short video highlighting the dangers of underage drinking.

ABCA Commissioner Fred Wooten said he expanded the recognition to fourth and fifth place in this year’s contest because of the large number of entries.

“Clearly the program is successfully serving a great need and public interest continues to grow. The contest was very competitive this year with many high-quality video entries,” Wooten said.

The agency said nearly 400 students in 38 high schools and middle schools participated.

Mt. Hope Christian Academy receives $5,000 for its first place finish. Nitro High finished second and will receive $2,500. Two separate entries from Cabell Midland High School finished third ($1,000) and fourth ($750). Students at Independence Middle School in Raleigh County were the fifth place finishers and will also receive $750.

The winning video will be broadcast on radio and television stations this spring during prom and graduation seasons.

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Charleston Catholic comes from behind upsets AAA top-ranked Cabell Midland

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — First-year Charleston Catholic Coach Hunter Moles said he told his players at halftime of Saturday night’s game against unbeaten Cabell Midland that it wasn’t over despite the Irish trailing by 15 points.

“I told them we were still in the game and all we needed were a few stops,” Moles said after he watched his Class A team come from behind and upset the AAA Knights 70-64.

Moles’ team looked stunned as it headed into the locker room after Cabell-Midland (12-1) ended the second quarter on a 17-0 run. Catholic (9-3) led 31-29 with about 3:00 left in the half. But Midland turned on the gas and had a 46-31 advantage at the half.

The Irish got it going in the third quarter. After giving up an initial basketball to the Knights Catholic went on their own double digit run cutting the lead to 55-51 at the end of the quarter.

A seven-point run to begin the fourth gave the Irish a 58-55 lead with five minutes remaining. They were able to hang on and secure the victory.

Catholic followed Moles’ instructions and got stops in the second half. Knights leader scorer Chandler Schmidt, who scored 18 in the opening half, didn’t score a point in a frustrating second half. Catholic junior Zion Suddeth was matched up with Chandler most of the time. Suddeth was also leading the charge offensively. He scored all of his 18 points in the second half.

Midland, the top-ranked team in this week’s MetroNews Power Index, was able to erase an 11-point fourth quarter deficit on the road at Beckley earlier this week but couldn’t work its magic again. The Irish hit some big free throws down the stretch including a pair late from since Marshall Pile.

Along with Chandler Schmidt’s 18, the Knights wer led by KK Siebert’s 16. Palmer Riggio had 13.

The Irish four player sin double figures led by Aiden Satterfield with 19, Suddeth 18, Thomas Blaydes 13 and Pile’s 10.

The only remaining undefeated teams in boys basketball are Shady Spring, Pendleton County, Greenbrier West and Williamstown.

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Lincoln nets 11 triples in win over Tucker County

SHINNSTON, W.Va. — Four Cougars scored in double digits and they drained 11 3-pointers in a 76-40 win over Tucker County.

Lincoln broke open a close game at halftime with an impressive third quarter effort. The Cougars led 32-27 at the break before outscoring the Mountain Lions 27-6 in the third.

“I thought we did a good job taking advantage of our opportunities,” said Lincoln head coach Rob Hawkins. “When they had wide open threes they were taking it. We took advantage of some mismatches when we had it. We did a good job finding open people and running stuff when we were supposed to.”

Victoria Sturm led all scorers with 24 points.

“Vic can score in so many ways. She runs the floor well. We posted her up a couple times. She gives a great effort every night.”

Allison Rockwell scored 15 points while Brynne Williams added 13. Emily Jett chipped in with 10.

“They played off our bigs and Allison and Brynne can shoot it. Brynne had a big first half shooting the three and Allison had a big second half shooting the three.”

Terra Kuhn led the Mountain Lions (9-5) with 20 points.

Lincoln (9-4) suffered narrow losses to Winfield and Fairmont Senior this week and they will host North Marion (13-1) in a key Big 10 Conference contest Tuesday evening.

“This is a week to prove how good we are. We need to go in Tuesday and compete and get one of these games. If we want to be considered one of the elite teams in the state, at some point we are going to have to beat one of the elite teams in the state.”

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