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Major I-79 project in Marion County expected to start in June

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Work on a $72.5 million upgrade to I-79 in Marion County is expected to begin in June of this year. The multi-year project includes adding one lane in either direction and widening three bridges.

DOH District 4 Engineer says Swank Construction Company L.L.C. was the apparent low bidder and the project is expected to be awarded in May. Approximately $70 from the Roads to Prosperity bond program has been allocated to the project.

“It goes from Pleasant Valley to White Hall, that’s exit 135 to 132,” Cronin said,” It will be three sets of bridges, increasing to three lanes each and the roadway also.”

This is the largest road construction in the county and motorists will have to plan ahead and brace for construction-related delays. Or find alternate routes to avoid the possibility.

” It is set to start in Mid-June, is when we anticipate it to start,” Cronin said,” And it will probably end in September of 2024.”

Work is expected to slow during the winter months, but if weather is mild officials expect the contractor to maintain operations.

Unlike the recent warranty project on I79 from Star City to the Pennsylvania line this project is a conventional contract, unit price project that will be inspected as the work is completed for compliance with standards and specifications.

” This is a straight contract, it’s not a design-build or a warranty contract,” Cronin said,” This is a straight contract project.”

The next few years will undoubtedly be painful for area motorists, but the benefit to residents and businesses are expected to last for many years to come.

“I think it will end making so any businesses with freight will be able to get through there and also deliver to the area,” Cronin said,” It will increase travel time, it will increase capacity and it will decrease the amount of accidents with more lanes.”

According to Cronin, motorists should expect the unexpected in construction zones – lane changes, restrictions, diversions and sudden speed limit reductions. Dedicating 100-percent of attention to driving will likely prevent accidents and injuries to workers as well as the traveling public.

“We have to get people to pay attention to our workers and to our signs, stop looking at your phones,” Cronin said,” When you get to a work zone put your phone down, put your phones down all the time and drive your car.”

Watch for the orange barrels.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Marion County harm reduction program could be jeopardized by new law

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – When Senate Bill 334, the bill adding regulations to local harm reduction programs, takes effect on July 9 it will will seriously impact the program in Marion County, according to Health Officer Lloyd White.

The new law will add an ID from participants, a one-to-one needle exchange, a medical professional onsite and each program must complete an annual license process with local elected officials.

The annual licensing program includes new and existing programs. Programs must get approval from the county commission and sheriff in each locale.

“We’ll continue to operate our program until such time the law takes effect,” White said on WAJR’s Talk of the Town,” At that point in time, the day the law take effect we will pause out program until we can analyze if we want to continue or if we can continue.”

The new law also allows the Office of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification to assess penalties in the event provisions are violated.

“The penalties really concern me, from $500 to $10,000 that’s a pretty stiff penalty,” White said,” So, we’ll re-evaluate, but at this point in time If I had to make a decision right now about the future of our program- we certainly can’t continue it.”

White believes managing the new requirements would prove to be problematic for his staff as well as people who are participating.

“A lot of folks don’t have IDs- they’re transient, having clinicians onsite to offer services could very well be challenging,” White said,” Tracking the syringe one-to-one could be challenging.”

Harm reduction programs meet addicts where they are and accepts that they will use drugs. After accepting that, the program addresses the surroundings in an effort to create a safe environment and try to stop the spread of diseases like HIV.

” We’re simply saying these folks are already doing drugs, we just want to help you do it safer,” White said,” Because doing drugs safer does impact the quality of life and save lives.”

According to White, the Marion County program is funded with an $80,000 grant and 93-percent of the budget is dedicated to supplies. He says they have a needle exchange rate of more than 80-percent and they get people into treatment. He believes the program has limited the spread of dangerous diseases and has helped many people, including the residents of Marion County.

“We’re not looking at the benefits of those programs. I think we’re looking at only controlling the dirty needles or have a needle exchange program,” White said,” I think an overall harm reduction program should be all encompassing, we should tout the results of those programs and the fact it does save lives and truly get people off drugs.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Eric Tarr of Putnam County.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Charges filed in March Preston County shooting

VALLEY POINT, W.Va. – An unnamed suspect has been charged with first degree murder in the March 28 shooting death of Darren Bolinger, 52, of Valley Point.

At the time, investigators from the Preston County Sheriff’s Department called the incident “domestic in nature.” Bolinger was dead from a single gunshot wound when police arrived at the scene.

The suspect is in custody, according to police, but no names have been released.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Detroit man nabbed with 3 pounds of meth in Fairmont

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – A Detroit native is facing multiple charges after police found cash and three pounds of methamphetamine during a drug surveillance operation.

Detectives were watching a home in the 300-block of Blaine Street after receiving several complaints about drug activity. When a black Subaru when it left the residence police tailed it and attempted a traffic stop when the driver failed to stop at a stop sign.

The vehicle fled on U.S. 273 the onto I-79 southbound where speeds exceeded 130-miles-per-hour. The car continued, at one point passing cars on the shoulder, before crashing on the exit 132 ramp.

One of the occupants, Jason Sruggs, 38, of Detroit, Michigan, attempted to flee on foot but was quickly captured. Police say a large amount of cuurency, three pounds of methamphetamine and one once of fentanyl were recovered from Scruggs.

Scruggs is being held in the North Central Regional Jail.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Fairmont State Board of Governors discusses leadership during special session

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Last week, officials from Colorado Mesa University announced three candidates to be the next president of that institution. The selections were made from 64 candidates and include current president of Fairmont State University, Mirta Martin.

Monday morning the Fairmont State University Board of Governors met in special session.

“No actions or decisions were taken in executive session, just discussion about the subject at hand,” said David Goldberg, Chairman of the Board of Governors,” Which is Dr. Martin being a finalist of three at Colorado Mesa University.”

A press release from Colorado Mesa University says the top three will travel to Grand Junction for interviews during the week of April 26.

Martin came to Fairmont State in early 2018 after serving as president of Fort Hays State University in Fort Hayes, Kansas for about three years.

Chairman, David Goldberg, has released the statement below following an emergency meeting of the Fairmont State University Board of Governors on Monday, April 19.

While the Board of Governors only recently learned of President Martin’s candidacy for President at another institution, the Board is not surprised to hear that she is sought after for her expertise and knowledge within higher education.

As the third-largest institution in the state, Fairmont State’s mission has been solidified under President Martin’s leadership. We are a stronger institution now than three years ago, and that is a testament to the work of President Martin, our faculty, staff, and our incredible students. This year, Fairmont State University has recorded increases in enrollment and revenues and decreases in expenses. In addition, Fairmont State recorded the highest Composite Financial Index in the state among four-year state institutions. We have successfully navigated COVID-19 on our campuses without furloughing any of our employees and have continued to provide face-to-face instruction since August. When the community needs Fairmont State, we are always here to be a partner and beacon for promise and success within the mountain state.

We want to assure the entire Falcon Family, including our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and community, that the Board will work alongside Dr. Martin as this process unfolds.

The future of Fairmont State is strong, and we are confident in our ability to continue to soar to new and greater heights.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Fairmont State University rolls out plans for in-person commencement

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Fairmont State University has announced plans to hold in-person commencement exercises next week. Fairmont State Chief of Police and Director of Emergency Management, Matt Swain said the safety plan was developed with the executive leadership team and Marion County Health Officer Lloyd White.

“Trying to do everything we can to give these students a send-off,” Swain said,” In the safest way possible that still resembles some sense of normalcy for the institution.”

“Commencement is always special, but these students have raised the bar – they overcame unprecedented challenges and thrived throughout the pandemic,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University president. “I couldn’t be prouder of the efforts of our faculty and staff, who have put in long hours and come together to ensure we can safely celebrate our Falcon graduates together, in-person. We look forward to honoring their achievements and commemorating their resilience as they prepare to soar as Falcon graduates.”

Each graduate will receive two guest tickets for family members.

The staff and faculty have spent many hours planning for the event and identifying procedures to maintain safety during the five separate events that are planned.

“Sanitizing like we’ve continued to do, making sure everybody is staying a part and masking,” Swain said,” Try to keep these ceremonies short, sweet, but get to the point of giving these students the send off they’ve worked so hard for.”

These will be the closest thing to a normal gathering since the beginning of the pandemic for the Falcon Family.

“Something that the institution is doing and it’s very difficult on the staff and faculty of the institution is having five graduations,” Swain said,” So we can lower the numbers to be as safe as possible.”

President Martin is become known for her passion for the students, faculty, staff and lamented early in the pandemic that she felt as if she were living in a ghost town during the modified stay at home order.

“She was a big advocate for making sure we were trying to do what we can, so that’s why we brought everyone to the table,” Swain said,” She was very adamant that we give these folks a proper send-off.”

Swain said they are depending on families to follow the guidelines set forth by the university and endorsed by the Marion County Health Department.

“Have patience and understand the policy of two people and wearing a mask with social distancing,” Swain said,” So, we can have these events as safe as possible.”

Here is a schedule of events:

Friday, April 23:

Special Student Athlete Ceremony – 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 24:

School of Nursing – Commencement and Pinning Ceremony – 9 a.m.
School of Education, Health & Human Performance and Regents Bachelor of Arts – Noon
College of Science and Technology – 3 p.m.

Sunday, April 25:

College of Liberal Arts – Noon
School of Business and Aviation – 3 p.m.

The events will also be streamed online.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Court hearing set for suspect in Morgantown shooting

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The first hearing for the man accused of a shooting in Morgantown has been set.

Justin Lamar, 19, faces one count of malicious wounding after shooting another man in the shoulder in the parking of the Domino’s Pizza on Pleasant Street. The victim is expected to make a full recovery.

The hearing for Lamar will at the Monongalia County Justice Center Monday, April 26 at 11 a.m.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

West Virginia Research Corporation earns National Science Foundation grant

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito have announced $50,000 for the West Virginia University Research Corporation through the National Science Foundation.

“It’s great to see WVU at the center of research into technology that has the potential to save lives. This project aims to advance easy-to-use tech that can provide real time feedback to individuals performing CPR and could potentially improve survival of cardiac arrest both in and out of the hospital. I will continue to be a strong advocate for federal funding that supports projects like this in our colleges and universities right here in West Virginia,” Senator Capito said.

This funding will support a research project that seeks to develop technology to assist the general public, military, first responders, and medical professionals with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“The National Science Foundation continues to be a great partner for West Virginia and our universities. This research project will help design technology that is easy to use and will help guide and provide feedback for first responders, medical professionals and the general public performing CPR. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this important and life-saving research, and I will continue prioritize research and technology development conducted here in the Mountain State,” said Senator Manchin.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

Morgantown students advances to international science competition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Morgantown High school student will be one of two representing the state in an upcoming science and engineering fair.

Alice Guo from Morgantown High School and Alexandria Harper from Riverside High School in Belle will represent West Virginia during the 2021 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair virtually May 16-21. Both advanced to the international event by competing in the state Science and Engineering Fair.

Guo, a junior at Morgantown High School in Morgantown, West Virginia, was awarded top honors for her project titled, “Automated Recognition of Autism Based on Visual Analysis with Artificial Intelligence Techniques.” Guo also represented the West Virginia Science and Engineering Fair at ISEF 2019.

Harper, a freshman at Riverside High School in Belle, West Virginia, was awarded top honors for her project titled, “Chasing Fireflies: Creating a Firefly Sanctuary to Increase the Firefly Population.” This will be her first appearance at ISEF.

The pair will show their projects more than 1,800 ninth through twelfth graders from around the world competing for nearly $5 million in awards, prizes and scholarships.

“Our West Virginia students are an important piece of the puzzle when we talk about building the next generation of scientific innovators for our state,” State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said. “We are grateful to those who continue to inspire, celebrate and elevate young scientific superstars like Alice and Alexandria. These young ladies are a product of the tremendous science education we offer within West Virginia, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments.”

For more information click here.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV

WVU students dies in Friday afternoon incident

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University police have identified the man who died Friday afternoon on campus as Benjamin Pravecek, a 20-year-old business major from Harpers Ferry.

At 12:30 Friday afternoon MECCA 911 dispatched police and fire to University Avenue near University Place on a report of person who had fallen or jumped from a parking garage.

“We are grieving today,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “This tragedy reminds us how important the love, care and compassion we share with others can be. We have been in touch with Benjamin’s family and friends to offer our support during this difficult time, and we will continue to provide whatever resources and help are necessary.”

The investigation is ongoing, but at this point police do not suspect foul play.

“I want our students to know that we are here for you,” T. Anne Hawkins, clinical director of the Carruth Center, said. “If you need to talk, if you just want someone to be with you or if you know someone who may need support, please know that you are not alone.”

The Center offers individual counseling and 24/7 support at 304-293-4431, as well as a Crisis Text Line that is available 24 hours, seven days a week. Text WVU to 741741 to reach a live, trained crisis counselor.

Faculty and staff may seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.

Anyone with information that may assist in the investigation is asked to contact University Police at 304-293-3136.

Source: Local News | 104.5 FM & 1440 AM | The Voice of Morgantown | Morgantown, WV