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So, Where Does the Governor of WV Reside?

It turns out that where the Governor of the State of West Virginia lays his head at night is a constitutional question.

The State Supreme Court has ruled that a state lawmaker’s lawsuit to force Governor Jim Justice to live in Charleston should proceed in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) brought the suit as a private citizen, arguing that Justice is violating the state constitution’s provision which states that the Governor and other members of the Board of Public Works, “shall reside at the seat of government” during their terms in office.

Justice lives in Greenbrier County and commutes to work.  His attorneys argue that the term “reside” is open to interpretation and that the judiciary would exceed its authority if it tried to regulate the comings and goings of the Governor.

But in an opinion authored by Justice Evan Jenkins, the court found that the term “reside” is not ambiguous.

“We now hold that, for the purposes of the residency provision located in Section 1, Article VII of the West Virginia Constitution, ‘reside’ means to live, primarily, at the seat of government and requires that the executive official’s principal place of physical presence is the seat of government for the duration of his or her term in office,” Jenkins wrote.

Jenkins also included some history in his opinion, referencing the specific debate among the state’s founders over the residence and salary of the Governor.  Jenkins quoted a Delegate Brown from Kanawha County who said the Governor should live at the capital “so we may at least find him.”

Brown could not have known it, but he was prescient. Sponaugle’s initial complaint was rooted in the contention that Justice did not come to work regularly. “He just wasn’t showing up,” Sponaugle, who is an attorney, said during oral arguments before the State Supreme Court last month.

That was not an uncommon complaint among the Governor’s critics.  However, that has been somewhat muted by Justice’s regular briefings from the Capitol since the pandemic hit last March.  Additionally, Justice won re-election with 65 percent of the vote, suggesting a majority of voters are satisfied with his job performance regardless of where he lives.

However, the provisions of the constitution are not subject to the whims of popular opinion, so even though the public may not be overly concerned about Justice’s living arrangement, the case is going forward.

The issue now resides with Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Charles King, and each side will have a chance to gather evidence they will want to present.   This could include specific records of when Justice was at the capital and for how long.

Based on what the State Supreme Court has said the term “reside” means, Justice may want to think about packing an overnight bag.

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New manufacturing agreement to bring up to 1,000 jobs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice and various business leaders on Monday announced a business deal years in the making that could bring up to 1,000 manufacturing and technology jobs to West Virginia.

DST Innovations and Blue Rock Manufacturing agreed to establish a new facility for developing energy cells. The manufacturing base will be located in Morgantown with a second-phase expansion planned for southern West Virginia.

“The new development is at the forefront of green technology,” Gov. Jim Justice said during a virtual press conference, “using existing organic materials, such as coal, and creating new clean energy storage solutions.”

DST Innovations, which is headquartered in Wales, and the West Virginia-based Blue Rock Manufacturing have been working on the agreement for three years.

“We will be so pleased to have so many jobs,” Blue Rock Manufacturing’s Mary Anne Ketelsen said. “We need them, and I can’t think of a better place to bring jobs other than West Virginia.”

Justice stressed the impact the jobs could have on growth involving other businesses.

“Can you just fathom what coming to West Virginia with 1,000 jobs means to this state? Coming to West Virginia with the possibility of growing to 1,000 jobs?” he said. “Now, it may take real time for you to get there …. but absolutely, the multiplier effect of those jobs is unbelievable.”

The facility is part of an international $1.4 billion natural energy project; products created in West Virginia will be utilized at Dragon Energy Island in South Wales for energy generation.

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Capito joins GOP legislators in urging transition; GSA makes resources available to Biden

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is among a growing group of Republicans that support starting the presidential transition process.

Capito on Monday issued a statement on the Nov. 3 election, noting President Donald Trump has been unsuccessful in changing the projected results and has few opportunities remaining to challenge vote tallies.

“I have been clear that President Trump — like any candidate for office — has the right to request recounts and to raise legal claims before our courts. However, at some point, the 2020 election must end,” Capito said.

“The window for legal challenges and recounts is rapidly closing as states certify their results in the coming days. If states certify the results as they currently stand, Vice President Joe Biden will be our next president and Senator Kamala Harris will be our next vice president.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Capito’s statement came hours before the head of the U.S. General Services Administration contacted Biden regarding resources related to the transition. Both announcements were issued more than two weeks after multiple news outlets projected Biden as the winner.

President Donald Trump did not concede to Biden on Monday, but the president tweeted he ordered the act in the best interest of the country. Administrator Emily Murphy told Biden the decision was her own.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she wrote. “To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”

Capito, who won a second term earlier this month, said she is proud to have supported Trump and pleased with the work of congressional Republicans.

“Working together with President Trump and his administration, we lowered taxes, confirmed three outstanding Supreme Court Justices and hundreds of well-qualified judges, improved our trade policies to favor American workers, strengthened our border security, and reversed the Obama Administration’s job killing regulations,” she said. “Those are significant achievements, and they underscore what our state’s voters clearly conveyed on November 3rd.”

Trump and his allies have argued against the projected outcome and asserted unsupported claims of voter fraud. Trump’s legal team has been unsuccessful in trying to overturn the election results.

“While some irregularities and fraud have been found and should be punished, there is no indication that these are widespread enough to call into question the outcome of the election,” Capito said. “I firmly believe in our electoral system and in the power of the voice of the people.”

Capito noted Biden and Harris should receive briefings on national security and the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a smooth transfer of power on Jan. 20.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., extended his congratulations to the Biden campaign on Nov. 7. Gov. Jim Justice refused to acknowledge Biden as president-elect during a Nov. 11 coronavirus briefing, and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey signed onto a U.S. Supreme Court brief about Pennsylvania accepting absentee ballots after Election Day.

Republican Reps. David McKinley and Carol Miller have been quiet about the presidential election. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., rejected Biden as president-elect on a Nov. 12 episode of “MetroNews Talkline.”

Three of Capito’s Republican colleagues — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — also on Monday called for the transition to begin.

Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore)

“I voted for President Trump, was a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio, and I believe his policies would be better for Ohio and the country,” Portman wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed.

“But I also believe that there is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election. It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.”

Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged support over the weekend.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted Monday to certify the election results, moving Biden a step closer toward receiving the state’s electoral votes.

Election officials in Georgia will begin a recount this week following a Trump request. Leaders on Friday certified the results showing Biden as the winner.

The Biden-Harris Transition Team spent Monday announcing nominees for various positions, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state and former Secretary of State John Kerry as a representative on climate change.

The Wall Street Journal reported Biden will nominate former Federal Reserve Secretary Janet Yellen to led the Treasury Department.

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Coal miner dead in Kanawha County incident

DAWES, W.Va. — A Boone County coal miner is dead following an accident at a Kanawha County mine Monday morning.

Gov. Jim Justice and first lady Kathy Justice released a statement, saying Taylor Meldin Halstead, 20, of Bob White died after an injury at Panther Mining LLC’s American Eagle Mine in Dawes.

“Cathy and I are deeply saddened to learn that we lost one of our incredible West Virginia coal miners today,” the statement said.

“This is especially devastating news so close to the Thanksgiving holiday. We can never appreciate our miners enough for the brave and important work they do every day to power our homes, state, and nation. Cathy and I ask everyone across the state to join us in praying for Taylor’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

The man was first reported injured underground at around 11:21 a.m. to Metro 911. He was rushed to a local hospital.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin tweeted out statements Monday:

Absolutely awful, especially this close to Thanksgiving. Charlie and I send our heartfelt condolences to Taylor’s loved ones. We’ll be praying for his family.

— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) November 23, 2020

Gayle and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Taylor Meldin Halstead, who died today at the American Eagle Mine in Kanawha County. This terrible news is especially heartbreaking during the holidays. Please join us in praying for Taylor’s family

— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 23, 2020

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The Game Within The Game – Episode 26

Welcome to one of the best sports weeks of the year. With football, football and more football on the schedule, host Brad Howe and longtime Vegas oddsmaker/risk analyst Dave Sharapan went deep on the NFL including:

*What did we learn from week 11 in the NFL

*Are the Eagles a ‘stay away’ team for the rest of the season?

*MNF (Rams at Bucs) preview, including a first TD scorer prop bet to consider

*Thanksgiving Day NFL games preview

*The week 12 NFL line that made the guys say ‘be careful’

All of that and more in the latest episode of The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.

New users on DraftKings Sportsbookremember  to use code METROGAME for a special sign up bonus offer.

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Caravan drives through Charleston to remember COVID-19 victims, raise awareness

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dozens of West Virginians expressed condolences to the families of victims of COVID-19 and expressed concern for virus relief spending on Monday.

Protestors in cars drove from Laidley Field in Charleston to the state Capitol and circled the grounds as part of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival happening nationwide in 23 states.

A car honors a COVID-19 victim in West Virginia.

Cars in the caravan were painted with signs of the victims and statements for federal, state and local officials. The goal, per release, was to demand a smooth and open transition of power and lift up the moral policies needed immediately and in the first days of the new federal administration.

Pam Nixon, the co-chair of Poor People’s Campaign in Charleston told MetroNews that it’s a week of mourning all over the country before the Thanksgiving holiday. As of Monday, 667 West Virginians have died due to COVID-19.

“So many people in the United States and in West Virginia have died from COVID and we just want to remember them. So many homes are going to have empty seats at the table,” Nixon said.

Participants were able to join the event online with a mourning wall for COVID-19 victims and a petition demanding short and long-term action from the White House and Congress.

Nixon said many at the protest in Charleston have been pressing Gov. Jim Justice and state legislators to spend what remains of the CARES Act money given to the state. She said local businesses, those who have lost jobs and schools need the money to survive.

“This isn’t just an eight or nine-month thing. It’s more than likely going to continue next summer before we get a vaccine to everybody,” she said.

Other states participating in the day include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

A release about the event said: “Ending the suffering of our families and communities is a moral mandate to all who are tasked with governance now and in the new year. Calls for cooperation cannot compromise with injustice.

“Our political leaders must reject a politics of austerity and meet their commitment to visionary policies that address human needs and cultivate human capacities. They must overcome the divisions caused by hunger, poverty and racism in the richest country in the world. America must direct its resources and creativity towards the poor and most marginalized rather than lobbyists, insurance companies, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and wealthy corporations.”

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Neal Brown: Oklahoma is ‘playing as good as any offense in the country right now’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Oklahoma faces an uphill battle to return to the College Football Playoff and that path likely includes a spate of upsets in other ‘Power 5’ conferences. After back-to-back losses against Kansas State and Iowa State to open up Big 12 play, the Sooners have won five in a row and throughly dominated Oklahoma State, 41-13 Saturday night in Norman.

“They definitely are playing their best football here in the last month,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “Some of that is Spencer Rattler maturing. A freshman quarterback with that talent he has, he is going to improve and he definitely has.

“They are playing as good as any offense in the country right now. Are they better than last year? I don’t know. They were pretty damn good last year too.”

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley celebrates during a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via USA TODAY Sports)

The Sonners are averaging 50.2 points per game in their five-game win streak. Much of that damage has come in the first quarter. Brown had the stat readily available during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference.

“They are 124-17 in the first quarter. I don’t know if I have ever seen that. They get explosive plays early. They are able to mix it up and are a little different every week. And their speed is at a different level than other teams you play week in and week out.”

“I think it is just really good pregame and halftime speeches,” said Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. “That’s a joke, trust me. You guys know I don’t believe much in those. We have played well early, which has been a strength of this team the majority of this season. I was proud honestly how we played in the fourth quarter the other day.”

Oklahoma’s defense has made strides as well during the second half of their schedule. They have yielded 14 points or less in 3 of their last 4 games.

“Their front four is imposing,” Brown said. They are probably the best from four in our league. Ronnie Perkins on Saturday night played at an elite level.

“And I think their corners have steadily improved as they have gone on and they have been able to play more man coverage. I think that has benefitted them as well.”

Brown is seeing positive signs that linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo could return to the lineup after missing the TCU game due to injury.

“He ran last week and he is going to practice the early part of this week,” Brown said. “We are hopeful. Not yet ready to say he is a go but we are hopeful.”

West Virginia’s regular season finale at Iowa State on December 5 has been designated with a six-day window by the Big 12 Conference, meaning that the kickoff time and television designation will be announced this coming weekend.

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Justice hints at county-specific covid response, urges caution at Thanksgiving

Gov. Jim Justice again urged West Virginians to be cautious about the coronavirus as numbers continue to escalate just prior to traditional Thanksgiving gatherings.

Justice said he does not want to order more shutdowns, as he did in the spring. But he suggested his administration may consider targeted efforts in counties with heightened virus numbers.

That could mean “that we take a pinpoint selection, a specific county, and we may have to look at specific modifications in a specific county to try to slow this thing down.”

Justice announced 28 covid-related deaths since is most recent briefing on Friday.

“It ought to get every single one of our attention,” he said, “because we all know what’s going on across our nation.”

“So please remember all these people in your prayers, your thoughts, especially over this Thanksgiving period we’re about to enter into.”

That’s a total of 667 covid-related deaths in West Virginia.

West Virginia on Monday reported 636 new coronavirus cases in the prior 25 hours, with a positivity rate of 4 percent. Justice described that as “a little, teeny bit better.”

But the state recorded a record high of 463 covid patients in the hospital and another high of 136 in intensive care units.

Similar spikes are happening across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week advised against traveling for Thanksgiving gatherings.

“We tell you over and over, as far as Thanksgiving, we want you to be with your families for sure,” Justice said. But, “it would be much, much better if you were with the family members that you’re with all the time and maybe look at postponing some travel.”

Justice urged West Virginians to get a coronavirus test prior to Thanksgiving, no matter their plans.

There are five counties displayed as red on West Virginia’s DHHR map, the highest designation of virus levels. Those are Marshall, Brooke, Mineral, Berkeley and Wirt counties. There were 18 counties shown as orange, just a level down.

Dr. Clay Marsh

“The infection rate going up is not only limited to the red counties,” said Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s coronavirus response coordinator.

“What that tells us is that despite all the testing and despite all the contact tracing that in some areas covid is spreading fast enough that perhaps some focused and precise strategies will need to be done so we can start to reduce the spread of the disease.”

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Three Guys Before The Game – WVU Basketball Preview (Episode 246)

If the analytics are correct get ready for a memorable WVU basketball season.

On this episode, Brad Howe explains why WVU is one of eight teams nationally that meet the criteria for a Final Four appearance. The computer likes the Mountaineers, but what other areas must improve for prediction to become reality?

The “Guys” answer listener questions and calls on WVU basketball and football.

The crew returns Friday with their Oklahoma football preview and update on the Bad Boys Mowers Crossover Classic.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Three Guys Before The Game is brought to you by Mardis Gras Casino and Resort, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Burdette Camping Center. Look cool by wearing Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, subscribe below.

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Hospitals keeping close eye on COVID-19 numbers

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 continued to climb Monday in West Virginia.

David Goldberg

The state Department of Health and Human resources listed them at a pandemic-high 463. The agency said 136 people are being treated in ICU and 60 people are on ventilators.

Mon Health System President and CEO David Goldberg said they are watching the numbers closely and the remain well within capacity to treat COVID patients.

“I can tell you today that I have about 12 patients across our four hospitals that are COVID positive,” Goldberg said during an appearances on MetroNews “Talkline.” “Two in ICU and two on ventilators.”

Each of the four hospitals have a review team that monitors the daily information from the DHHR, as well as reviewing schedules to make sure the organization can safely provide elective procedures, according to Goldberg.

“If we get a point where we believe we don’t we have capacity, which by the way do, we will reduce any elective procedures that might need a hospitalization to follow, but we’re not at that point by any means across the Mon Health System.”

David Goldberg, President and Chief Executive Officer at @MonHealth, talks with HoppyKercheval about how everything is going within Mon Health, and how everyone is holding up. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) November 23, 2020

Additionally, hospitals are also involved in the planning for vaccine distribution. Goldberg said they anticipate playing a major role in the area to administer the vaccine.

“We are coordinating, we do have freezer capacity that is in place when the vaccine becomes available,” Goldberg said. “The state, I think in their wisdom, is coordinating appropriately to make sure our first level responders get vaccinated first and then work our way out, but we’ll be prepared.”

Following the closure of the Fairmont Regional Medical Center, Mon Health System announced plans to build a 19,000 small format hospital with approximately 20 beds valued at $20 million. Work is also underway to expand out patient services from a location in the Fairmont Technology Park. Goldberg said Monday the project is progressing.

“Not only are we building our hospital, but we’re expanding outpatient services at the technology park,” he said. “We had a ribbon/groundbreaking a few months back and that will be up by late spring, early summer with extended and expanded primary care, rehabilitation, cardiology and other surgical specialties.”

According to Goldberg, hospital stays are much shorter today than in the recent past due to value based care and the pandemic has added aspects that compliment and will likely change the delivery of treatment.

“You don’t have to be in hospital, or stay in hospital for a long period of time to get the care you need,” Goldberg said. “So, I think in the next couple of years you’re going to see more done in the home with tele-medicine and remote monitoring.”

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