No Tuition Hike for 2017-18 at Glenville State College

Despite another year of appropriation cuts to higher education in the Mountain State, Glenville State College announced Thursday that it would not be increasing student tuition and fees to offset the difference. Backed by the College’s Board of Governors, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community members, incoming Glenville State College President Dr. Tracy Pellett made the announcement at GSC’s Waco Center.

The Free Press WV
With incoming Glenville State College President Dr. Tracy Pellett at the podium, Delegate Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay), GSC student Justin Woods, Board of Governors Chair Greg Smith, Student Government Association President Cameron Woods, and Delegate Brent Boggs (D-Braxton) listen to his announcement

“Someone has to stand up for West Virginia families. Someone has to show them the way to student success. Glenville State believes that, as a public institution, standing up for taxpayers is our responsibility. Therefore, on behalf of the Glenville State Board of Governors, on behalf of the people of this great state, I am here to say that Glenville State College will not cover state cuts by raising tuition and fees this fall. Indeed, we will make a symbolic tuition cut by $1 to promise our parents and students that we are dedicated to creating the best value by enhancing both affordability and quality,” said Pellett.

The new budget, which will automatically go into effect July 1 without the signature of Governor Jim Justice, slashes about $270,000 from what GSC received last year.

“We’re not ranked one of the top ten public colleges in the south by accident. We have improved our retention of first year students more than any other college in the state. Our graduation rate has improved more than any other college or university in West Virginia this past year. In addition, Glenville State has cut average student debt more than any other college or university in West Virginia in the past five years, more than a 20% decrease,” Pellett added.

The announcement followed a special Board of Governors meeting that was held to discuss the College’s budget and tuition and fees for the next academic year.

Public Service Commission Adjusts Wireless Enhanced 911 Fees

The Free Press WV

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia, as required by State law, has issued an Order that increases the wireless enhanced 911 fee from $3 to $3.34 per month, per subscriber, to become effective July 01, 2017.

A portion of this fee funds the 911 emergency services for each county in West Virginia.  County Commissions derive revenues to operate their enhanced emergency telephone systems from two different sources.  Counties are allowed to impose an enhanced 911 fee upon customers of local exchange service as well as voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service.  The second source of 911 revenue for counties comes from wireless enhanced 911 fees.

The Public Service Commission retains none of the fees and distributes the monies received according to specific instructions contained in State Law.  One million dollars is placed in a fund each year to subsidize the construction of wireless towers.  Ten cents of the amount collected per subscriber is distributed to the West Virginia State Police to be used for equipment upgrades for improving and integrating their communications efforts with those of the enhanced 911 systems.  Five percent of the wireless enhanced fees received by the Commission are deposited in a special fund established by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to be used solely for the construction, maintenance and upgrade of the West Virginia Interoperable Radio Project.  The remainder of the money is distributed to the counties according to the formula set forth in West Virginia Code.

According to State law, the Commission is required to conduct an audit of the wireless enhanced 911 fee every other year.  If the weighted average of the enhanced 911 fees exceeds the $3 per month wireless E-911 fee, the wireless E-911 fee must be increased to the weighted average of the enhanced 911 fees, but never increased more than 25% of the wireless E-911 fee.  Commission Rules provide that if it is necessary for the Commission to recalculate the wireless fee, the new fee would take effect July 01 of the respecification year.

More information, including the Order, is available on the PSC website: by referencing General Order 187.50

McKinley Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Access to Lifesaving Medicine

Patients’ Access to Treatment Act supported by coalition of patient advocacy groups

The Gilmer Free Press

Reps. David B. McKinley, P.E., (R-WV) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) introduced the Patients’ Access to Treatment Act (H.R. 2999), which will help improve access to specialty drugs for millions.

The Patients Access to Treatments Act (PATA) will give patients with chronic, disabling, and life-threatening conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer, access to innovative drug therapies. By requiring insurance to cover these critical drugs, millions of patients will be able to afford vital life-saving medicine.

“Millions of Americans suffer unnecessarily from chronic and disabling diseases because they are unable to afford critical treatments,” said McKinley. “The cost of these life-saving and life-changing treatments can be astronomical and out of reach even for families with good health insurance.”

“Researchers in North Carolina and throughout the country have made great strides to provide promising and innovative medical treatments,” said Butterfield.  “Unfortunately, working families struggle to afford the rising out-of-pocket costs of treatment, even with insurance.  This bill will make patient access to lifesaving medications more affordable.  I am proud to join Congressman McKinley in the introduction of our bill, and I thank him for his continued leadership on this measure.”

“As a rheumatologist, I see first-hand the importance of access to effective therapies, such as biologics or specialty drugs, on the lives of patients with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” said Dr. Angus Worthing, Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the American College of Rheumatology.  “These therapies provide relief for millions of Americans and can enable them to function and pursue their livelihoods.”

“Every day, high out-of-pocket costs stand between patients and the medications they need to win their battle against cancer,” said Lou DeGenarro, CEO of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). “The bipartisan Patients’ Access to Treatments Act would limit cost-sharing requirements for lifesaving medications and begin to break down the barriers to access for patients for the therapies they need. On behalf of the more than 1.2 million patients in the U.S. living with a blood cancer, LLS thanks Representatives McKinley and Butterfield for their leadership on this critical issue for patients, and we urge the House to stand with patients and quickly pass this bill.”

“We’ve met with hundreds of patients over the years and listened to their stories,” said McKinley.  “I know this legislation would improve the life for many families, for whom the price of these drugs is out of reach. We can give people a new lease on life by passing this bill.”

The Coalition for Accessible Treatments, which represents over 30 patient and provider advocacy groups, supports the legislation.

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Topless protest planned in West Virginia’s capital city

A topless protest is planned in West Virginia’s capital city despite the mayor’s request to reschedule.

Nearly 200 people have RSVP’d for “Free the Nip Top Freedom Rally” on Facebook. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones asked organizers on Wednesday to protest another day, accusing them of “seeking to parade naked in front of young children,“ as local arts nonprofit FestivALL has several kids’ events planned also on Saturday.

Organizers say they’re marching “for topless equality and the normalization of the female body.“ They said as parents they respectfully disagree with ways others raise children, but can’t allow their beliefs to prevent families’ enjoyment, and have pushed the original 5 p.m. start to 6:30 p.m., past the children-event’s end.

State law doesn’t prohibit women from exposing their breasts.

►  Capito says she’ll weigh Medicaid effect of health care plan

West Virginia Republican U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito says she’s reviewing the Senate Republican draft legislation to overhaul health care and has posted it on her website for constituents to read.

Capito says she’ll examine it “using several factors to evaluate whether it provides access to affordable health care for West Virginians.“

She says that includes those on the Medicaid expansion that West Virginia implemented under the Affordable Care Act that the new legislation will replace, as well as people struggling with drug addiction.

According to state health officials, West Virginia had about 100,000 Medicaid members with drug abuse diagnoses, half from the expansion covered at a cost of $113 million.

Under current law, the federal government pays 90 percent of their cost through 2020.

►  Secretary Warner Pleased with Trump’s Appointment of Wood County Clerk Rhodes to National Election Integrity Task Force

Donald Trump announced three additional appointments to the President’s task force to promote fair and honest elections. One of those appointments to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes, a Democrat who has served as county clerk since 2014.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner strongly recommended Rhodes for this position, citing Rhodes’ experience as a hands-on clerk who runs elections at the ground level.

“With Clerk Mark Rhodes, Trump has selected one of the most dedicated local elections officials in the entire country,” Warner said. “Having first won his elected position by a mere five votes, Mark Rhodes knows the importance of every vote, and he fights for election integrity at every step in the process.”

Luis Borunda, a Republican and the Deputy Secretary of State in Maryland, and David K. Dunn, a Democrat and a former member of the Arkansas legislature, were also nominated on Wednesday.

Warner noted that it is quite an honor for a small state like West Virginia to have a member on this 15-person Commission. “Mark Rhodes will insure that local county clerks all across America will have a strong, competent voice on this very important Commission,” Warner continued. “There are 3,144 counties in the United States, and Wood County can be used as an example of how to combine a small budget and hard work to conduct fair and accurate elections.”

Regarding the appointment, Rhodes said, “In West Virginia, voter registration accessibility and accuracy is paramount for local elections officials, and I am enthused to bring West Virginia’s perspective to the national stage.” Rhodes continued, “As a County Clerk working at the local level, I’m proud to represent West Virginia and the nation’s local election officials to ensure election integrity.”

When referring to over 1,100 invalid names Rhodes has removed from his county’s voter rolls since February, Rhodes said, “Using the tools provided by Secretary of State Warner, I was able to do in 10 minutes what it would have taken me 3 weeks to do before.” Rhodes cited the tools and technology now being provided by the Secretary of State’s office to assist clerks in their roll maintenance.

Trump established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity by Executive Order on May 11th. Click HERE  to read the May 11th press release from the White House.

Mike Pence will serve as the Chairman. Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach was appointed to serve as vice chairman. The commission also includes Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R), New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R), and Commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission Christy McCormick.

►  EPA to Help West Virginia Improve Health, Environment and Revitalize Local Economy

he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced that Montgomery and Smithers in West Virginia are among ten communities selected to participate in the Healthy Places for Healthy People planning assistance program. Healthy Places for Healthy People is a new initiative that helps communities leverage health care facilities to foster downtown revitalization and economic growth, improve health and protect the environment.

“Healthy Places for Healthy People will help Appalachia’s smaller towns integrate community health clinics and centers into their visions for long lasting economic development,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chairman Earl Gohl.  “Healthcare providers, businesses, and institutions all have a role to play in our Region’s sustainable economic future.”

In many communities, health care facilities can be catalysts for economic development, while investment in existing neighborhoods can improve walkability, protect air and water quality, encourage cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties, and conserve open spaces and natural resources.

Through Healthy Places for Healthy People, a team of experts will help community members and health care facility partners develop strategies and an action plan to address persistent needs, such as better health, improved public safety, basic infrastructure, and jobs. Partner organizations include community health centers (including Federally Qualified Health Centers), nonprofit hospitals, and other health care facilities.

In Montgomery and Smithers, Fayette County will partner with Montgomery General Hospital and New River Health Association (a Federally Qualified Health Center that runs a school-based clinic) to identify ways that the health and wellness sector can reinvigorate the regional economy and contribute to cleaning up blighted properties downtown.

EPA support for Healthy Places for Healthy People is provided through the Office of Sustainable Communities, which promotes locally-led, community-driven solutions that protect human health and the environment and strengthen local economies.

Support for Healthy Places for Healthy People also comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

►  FEMA releases figures on year long recovery in WV

A year after the catastrophic flood in West Virginia the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to calculate the cost.  FEMA case workers remain on the ground servicing flood victims in 18 counties where were declared federal disaster areas soon after the high water.

“A key part of our work has been to support the state and local communities as they identify grant projects to repair, restore or replace flood-damaged facilities that best support their communities’ needs,” said West Virginia Recovery Office Director Steve Ward.

During the past year 4,950 West Virginia flood victims have received $42 Million in individual and household assistance.  The breakdown of the funding includes $35.5 Million for housing assistance and $6.6 Million for other expenses like transportation, furnishings, and medical expenses.

More than $6 Million has been allocated to communities in the flood zone for rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the high water.  Another $213,160 was provided for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.  The allocation provided temporary jobless benefits to those whose job was lost or self employment business was disrupted by the flood waters.

The Recovery Office will also observe the solemn occasion on Friday to remember those who were killed in the high water with a pause in their work.

“We’re also marking the anniversary of the federal disaster declaration to remember those who died and to renew our commitment to the people of West Virginia,” said Ward. “We’ll continue, working with our State and local partners, to help flood survivors recover from the disaster and help their communities rebuild stronger, safer and more resilient.”

►  Flood Warnings Loom Prior to Deadly Storm Anniversary

The National Weather Service forecasts heavy rain across West Virginia starting late Thursday and continuing into early Saturday from Tropical Storm Cindy until another front pushes through Friday night into Saturday.

Meteorologists say the combination of systems could produce flooding during the day and night Friday.

They say stronger thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening also could bring damaging wind gusts.

The Kanawha County Commission says emergency officials are monitoring the forecast for rain showers expected late Thursday night in the greater Charleston area with heavy rain at times continuing into Friday and Saturday morning.

The storm comes on the anniversary of last year’s torrential rains and flooding and killed 23 people in West Virginia.

►  Justice to Sign Legislation to Increase State Road Funding

Governor Jim Justice is set to sign into a law today groundbreaking legislation that will increase funding for state roads.

Justice will sign Senate Bil 1006 today that increase funding for the State Road Fund. It does so by raising the flood on the average wholesale price for gas, creating a registration fee for cards that do not use gasoline and increasing the sales tax on vehicle purchases. It will also increase DMV fees.

The Law will go into effect July 1st.

►  Hearings Start in WV Drug Wholesale Lawsuit

The first hearing has been held in a lawsuit involving drug wholesale distributors accused of fueling West Virginia’s heroin epidemic.

Tuesday in Charleston a legal team for several West Virginia counties argued damages are necessary for opioids’ harmful impact on communities, alleging the firms breached their duty under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to oversee suspicious orders of prescriptions entering the state over the past several years.

Federal Judge David A. Faber said he doesn’t see how a dollar-amount could ever be put on that.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs, including McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., said only state and federal authorities can attempt to enforce the act and that the firms have no control over abuse once drugs leave their possession.


The Free Press WV

  • A new strategy for violent crime.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department has picked 12 cities for the new Public Safety Partnership, an assistance program aimed at reducing violent crime. To qualify for the program, cities were required to have higher levels of violence than the national average and a commitment to reducing it. Selections include Baton Rouge, LA; Kansas City, MO; and Buffalo, NY.    Politico

  • A statement from Sessions says the program will rely on “data-driven, evidence-based strategies tailored to specific local concerns, and by drawing upon the expertise and resources of our Department.”    Department of Justice

  • Sessions has retained longtime friend and conservative attorney Chuck Cooper to serve as his personal lawyer amid an expanding Russia probe.    The Washington Post

  • Since Trump’s election, 20 states have moved to criminalize dissent:    “In what is being called the “biggest protest crackdown since the Civil Rights Era,” Republicans in at least 20 states have put forward or passed laws with the intention of making protest more difficult and the punishment for expressing dissent more draconian since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.”    Common Dreams

  • U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told:    “In the Senate hearing, Department of Homeland Security and FBI witnesses told lawmakers they expect the Russian cyber-threat against the U.S. to ‘evolve’ — and that governments across the country must try to keep up as well. ‘I believe the Russians absolutely will continue to try to conduct influence operations in the U.S., which will include cyber operations,’ said Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.”  NPR

  • Pentagon Wastes Millions on Afghan Uniforms:    Can’t see the forest for the trees. A new government watchdog report revealed that the Pentagon has wasted as much as $28 million over the past decade buying Afghan army uniforms printed with a proprietary “forest” color pattern. The uniform, chosen by the Afghan Defense Minister, eschewed the free camouflage schemes owned by the U.S. military and was picked despite the fact that only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan is forested. The findings come as the U.S. considers sending thousands more troops to what has become the longest war in American history.    The Atlantic

Did You Know?

The Free Press WV


Four conservative GOP senators announce initial opposition to the measure but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems determined to muscle it through his chamber next week.


The president declares he never made and doesn’t have recordings of his private conversations with the ousted former FBI Director.


Theresa May say EU citizens will not be immediately kicked out of Britain when it leaves the union and says their fate will be a top priority in Brexit negotiations.


Amor Ftouhi, a 49-year-old from Tunisia, was a part-time caretaker at a Montreal apartment building who kept the stairwells clean, paid his rent and lived with his wife and children without making “any trouble,“ his landlord says.


The House minority leader tells reporters she is “a master legislator” and a “strategic, politically astute leader,“ pushing back against Democratic grumbling after a high-profile election loss.


The twister sprang from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy, which also caused rising tides in a coastal Louisiana calls that promoted evacuation calls.


Some jurors were concerned that prosecutors waited 10 years to charge him, expressing suspicion that politics had played a role in the case, one juror tells the AP.


The three-judge federal appeals panel rules that Brendan Dassey’s confession was improperly obtained.


Protections that have been in place for more than 40 years in the Yellowstone National Park area will be lifted this summer after government officials rule the grizzly population is no longer threatened.


The Los Angeles Lakers followed by taking Lonzo Ball as the draft started with a pair of freshmen point guards from the Pac-12 Conference.


The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer County Farmers’ Market invites families to come out for its second annual Summer Kids’ Day on Saturday, June 24, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at 720 North Lewis Street in Glenville.

Kids of all ages can look forward to hands-on crafts, silly games and prizes, and learning fun, including a look at ancient petroglyphs and the opportunity to create their own petroglyph art.

The Gilmer Public Library will be on hand to share the joy of reading.

Members of the Glenville State College sorority Alpha Theta Xi will be assisting in arts and crafts.

Girl Scouts Troop #32394 will provide free hot dogs, chips, and beverages (donations are appreciated to support the Scouts’ summer activities).

Fun door prizes will be awarded, and vendors will have special Kids’ Day items on hand. Stay updated on all GCFM events on Facebook at

For more information on the GCFM, email or call the Gilmer County Economic Development Association. 


The Free Press WV

Tech investor Bill Gurley is leaving the board of Uber

Gurley will be replaced with Matt Cohler, another partner at Benchmark Capital.

Snapchat reportedly paid over $250 million for an app that lets you track your friends

It’s called Zenly.

Alibaba’s chairman and founder, Jack Ma, thinks that new technologies could be a threat to more than just jobs

Ma said that new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence could lead to the third World War.

Google DeepMind is funding climate change research at Cambridge University

It wants to use artificial intelligence to slow down global warming.

Sean Parker has stepped down from Spotify’s board

He joined the board in 2010 after investing $15 million in exchange for 5% of the company.

Tesla’s head of its autopilot software left the company less than six months after he joined

His name is Chris Lattner.

Uber’s Travis Kalanick was in Chicago to interview a COO candidate when he got the letter demanding his resignation

Uber has been searching for a COO since early March.

Red-hot cryptocurrency Ethereum flash-crashed to $13 before bouncing back to $296

The tumble occurred in a matter of minutes.

Snapchat’s new maps feature shows you where your friends are

A trailer for the feature shows two women browsing a map in Snapchat and tapping on a nearby location to see friends sharing videos from an ongoing concert.

Imagination Technologies is up for sale less than three months after Apple said it didn’t want its chips anymore

The company has a market cap of around $450 million.

In USA….

The Free Press WV


►  5 Best, 5 Worst New Car Brands in America

If it’s time to look for a new car, we have good news for you: According to JD Power’s 2017 US Initial Quality Study, new-vehicle quality is at its best-ever level. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed JD Power’s scores for 32 car brands, which were based on problems experienced by owners in the first 90 days of ownership, to come up with the best and worst new cars in America. The five best brands:

  1. Kia (Hyundai Motor Group): 72 problems per 100 new cars in the first 3 months
  2. Genesis (Hyundai Motor Group): 77 per 100
  3. Porsche (Volkswagen Group): 78 per 100
  4. Ford (Ford Motor Company): 86 per 100
  5. Ram (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV): 86 per 100

The five worst:

  1. Fiat (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV): 163 per 100
  2. Jaguar (Tata Motors): 148 per 100
  3. Volvo (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group): 134 per 100
  4. Mitsubishi (Renault-Nissan Alliance): 131 per 100
  5. Land Rover (Tata Motors): 131 per 100

Click for the FULL RANKINGS.

►  FBI: Flint Airport Attacker ‘Has a Hatred for the U.S.‘

“Suffice to say, he had a hatred of the United States,“ Detroit FBI chief David Gelios says of Canadian citizen Amor Ftouhi, who is accused of stabbing a police officer in a suspected terrorist attack at Flint, Michigan’s airport. Ftouhi, a 49-year-old Montreal resident, has been charged with committing a violent act in an airport. “We’re seeking search warrants for electronic media, for his vehicle,“ but for now, “we view him as a lone wolf attacker,“ Gelios says. Police say Ftouhi yelled “Allahu akbar” before stabbing Lt. Jeff Neville in the neck. Authorities say Neville, who fought the attacker and brought him to the ground, is in satisfactory condition at a local hospital, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale has confirmed that Ftouhi, who entered the US legally five days before the Bishop International Airport attack, is a Canadian citizen, the CBC reports. “The officer and his family and colleagues are foremost in our thoughts and prayers,“ Goodale said in a statement Wednesday. He said Canada condemns the “heinous and cowardly attack” and the Mounties are assisting the FBI’s investigation. The Montreal Gazette reports that police have searched the apartment where Ftouhi is believed to have lived with his wife and children. The apartment building’s owner told reporters the suspect was a “very good guy” who had never been complained about in his six years living there.

►  Cop Found Not Guilty in Milwaukee Shooting

A Milwaukee jury needed less than two days of deliberations to acquit a former police officer in the on-duty shooting of a black man last year that sparked two nights of violence on the city’s north side. Jurors found Wednesday that Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide when he shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a brief foot chase following a traffic stop August 13, the AP reports. Smith had a gun when he ran, but the case hinged on whether he was a threat when Heaggan-Brown fired the shot that killed him. Body-camera video showed the officer shooting Smith once in the arm as he appeared to be throwing the gun over a fence.

The video showed the second shot—1.69 seconds later—hit Smith in the chest as he lay on the ground. Prosecutors argued Smith was defenseless at the time of the second shot because he had thrown the gun over the fence. Defense attorneys argued Heaggan-Brown had to act quickly to defend himself. Smith’s family members reacted angrily to the verdict, swearing and storming from the courtroom. Later, his father, Patrick Smith, said the killing was “in cold blood,“ but urged people not to react violently to the verdict. “I really don’t want them to act irrationally toward the cops, because all cops ain’t bad,“ he said.

►  Cosby Lawyer: Next Time, We’ll Get an Acquittal

Though it’s only been two days since a judge declared a mistrial in the sexual assault case of Bill Cosby, the comedian’s criminal defense attorney is already expressing confidence that his client will be acquitted if he’s tried again. “[W]e have a wonderful criminal justice system in this country,” Brian McMonagle told ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday. “Trust it, believe in it, and I’m confident that if this case is retried, he’ll be acquitted.” On Saturday, after six days in the courtroom followed by 52 hours of deliberation, the seven men and five women of the jury in Norristown, Pa., were unable to render a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Cosby, forcing Judge Steven T. O’Neill to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutors have declared their intent to bring a new case against Cosby, and O’Neill has said the second case could begin within months, reports the New York Times. The prosecution will likely spend much of that time filing motions to allow the testimony of 13 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, establishing a pattern that would likely bolster the case of their client, Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of assaulting her in 2004. Both sides would also benefit from knowing why the jury deadlocked on a decision in the first trial, but so far none of the 12 members has spoken on the record, though the Washington Post reports that one of the alternate members told a Pittsburgh radio station on Monday that if he had sat on the jury, he “would have voted to convict.”

►  Rock Band’s Court Win Bodes Well for Redskins

An Asian-American rock band called the Slants found itself on the winning side of a Supreme Court case Monday. The justices ruled that a 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights. The ruling is a victory for the Slants, but the case was closely watched for the impact it would have on the separate dispute involving the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name. Slants founder Simon Tam tried to trademark the band name in 2011, insisting he wanted to transform a derisive term into a statement of pride, but the US Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that it disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional; the prior administration then appealed, reports USA Today.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team’s trademark. A federal appeals court in Richmond put the team’s case on hold while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Slants case, reports the AP. Forbes calls the ruling “great” for the team. In his opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito rejected arguments that trademarks are government speech, not private speech. Alito also said trademarks are not immune from First Amendment protection as part of a government program or subsidy. USA Today observes that “the justices did not remove all discretion from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But they raised the bar for trademark denials.“

►  Investigators Criticize Mom Over Missing Boys’ Boat Trip

Investigators say the mother of one of two 14-year-old boys who vanished off the Florida coast in 2015 showed awful judgment in letting them venture out in a small fishing boat, but she will not face charges, reports the Palm Beach Post. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says Carly Black displayed an “egregious lapse of judgment and failure to exercise due care” that “had the effect of culminating in the disappearance of both boys who are now believed to have perished,“ per People. They accuse Black, mother of Austin Stephanos, of violating Florida’s child neglect and abuse laws. The state, however, is not pressing charges, because boating on the open sea is not considered an “inherently dangerous activity,“ and thus it would be too difficult to get a conviction.

Investigators say Black allowed her son and his friend Perry Cohen to take a “minimally-equipped” 19-foot 1978 SeaCraft without basic safety devices onto open water, even though she knew that Perry’s parents had forbidden him to do so without an adult present. The report also says Black waited more than two hours after she could not reach her son to notify Perry’s parents that the two were missing and didn’t even notify law enforcement or emergency personnel. Perry’s stepfather did that immediately after they got the call from Black. Those hours are deemed critical in the search for the boys. Their boat was found capsized by a Norwegian cargo ship near Bermuda several months later.

►  Freak Lagoon Accident Electrocutes 11-Year-Old Girl

Life vest, check. Adult supervision, check. She should have been safe, but a freak accident in a New Jersey lagoon took the life of an 11-year-old girl over the weekend. Police say the girl was electrocuted while swimming and playing on an inflatable raft behind a friend’s home in Toms River, reports the Asbury Park Press. The girl was with two friends when the incident occurred, and they were all wearing life vests as they swam and rafted in the lagoon under adult supervision, reports PIX11. A police statement says that after the girls touched the rail to a metal boat lift, an “electric current appears to have energized the equipment causing the injury.“ The girl was administered CPR on the scene, but died later at the hospital.

It’s not the first time such an accident has been in the news this year. Following the April death of Alabama teen Carmen Johnson, who was shocked while swimming near her family’s boathouse, CBS News explained that small levels of electric current in water can serve as a “silent killer,” especially in fresh water, where voltage can “take a shortcut” through bodies. And two more Alabama women are also believed to have been shocked to death in lake water, reports The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association advises against swimming in or near docks, marinas, and boatyards, while the parents of Johnson offered more tips on TODAY, like using plastic over metal ladders and making sure there is a ground fault breaker at docks.

►  2nd Man Indicted in Death of Teacher in 2005

A new indictment sheds light on the 2005 murder of a Georgia teacher. Authorities say Bo Dukes helped a friend remove the body of Tara Grinstead from her home, then brought it to his uncle’s pecan farm near Fitzgerald and burned it, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dukes isn’t charged in the actual killing. Prosecutors say his friend, Ryan Duke, killed the 30-year-old Grinstead—his former history teacher—in an apparent robbery, then asked Dukes to help him get rid of her body. Grinstead’s disappearance had remained a cold case for 11 years before a tipster came forward. Charred remains were found on the farm in February, around the time Duke was charged with murder, reports WRBL.

Dukes’ girlfriend, Brooke Sheridan, identified herself as the tipster last month, telling CBS News that Dukes told her about the murder and the disposal of the body. “I felt like I was gonna be sick. I didn’t know who I was staring at,“ Sheridan said, adding that putting Grinstead’s family at peace “was more important than his freedom.“ Dukes is charged with concealing a death, hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal, and tampering with evidence, per the Macon Telegraph. Duke, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty to charges including one count of malice murder and two counts of felony murder, per Fox 5.

►  The Inmates Could’ve Escaped. Instead They Called 911

As a Georgia correctional officer lay unconscious on the ground, six inmates surrounded him. Then one reached toward the officer’s belt and grabbed, not his gun, but his cellphone. As the inmate called 911, the others removed the officer’s bulletproof vest so they could perform CPR. “It wasn’t about who is in jail and who wasn’t,“ one of the inmates tells WXIA. “It was about a man going down and we had to help him.“ Polk County authorities say the officer was supervising a work detail at a cemetery last Monday, in 76-degree heat with 100% humidity, when he told the inmates he wasn’t feeling well and soon after collapsed.

“My guys were thinking the worst on their way over there,“ Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats tells WSB Radio. “When they got there, all the inmates were with the officer. All were accounted for. They took care of him.“ An inmate says the officer at first appeared as though he wasn’t breathing, though he regained consciousness about a minute later, with breaths coming “real heavy and real fast.“ The officer then received medical attention and is now doing fine, per WXIA. To thank the inmates, who “really stepped up in a time of crisis,“ the sheriff’s office provided them with a free pizza lunch. The officer’s family provided dessert.

In The World….

The Free Press WV

►  Pentagon Blew $28M on Iffy Afghan Army Uniforms

Just one week after defense chief James Mattis told a Senate panel the US is “not winning in Afghanistan,“ a new report reveals that the US wasted $28 million on the wrong kind of uniforms for Afghan army soldiers. In 2007, the Pentagon allowed the Afghan defense minister to pick expensive woodland-camouflage patterns from a private company rather than free camouflage schemes from the government, reports USA Today. This despite the fact that forest makes up only 2.1% of Afghanistan’s land area. The revelation is in a newly released report from Afghan special inspector general John Sopko. “This is just simply stupid on its face,“ he tells the newspaper. “If he thought pink or chartreuse was it, would we have done that?”

A decade ago, US military consultants decided the Afghan army needed a more distinct uniform, in part to make it harder for the Taliban to stage attacks in counterfeit uniforms, reports the Military Times. The consultants showed then-Afghan defense chief Abdul Rahim Wardak pictures of “forest” uniforms they found on the internet, and he “liked what he saw,“ according to the report. The Pentagon bought more than 1.3 million of the uniforms and 88,000 extra pairs of pants “without conducting any formal testing to determine the pattern’s effectiveness for use in Afghanistan.” The report comes at a sensitive time: Afghan troops are in the midst of a multi-front conflict with both the Taliban and an ISIS offshoot, and earlier this month Trump gave Mattis the authority to increase troop levels.

►  It Just Got Slightly Harder to Visit Machu Picchu

Travelers wanting a glimpse of Peru’s famed Machu Picchu will be restricted to visiting during morning or afternoon tours in a move aimed at conserving the site’s archaeological splendor, the AP reports. The new rules go into effect in July and will allow about 3,600 visitors to enter the ancient Incan citadel from 6am to noon and another nearly 2,700 people to explore during afternoon hours. Previously, travelers could spend the entire day taking in the world-renowned site. The changes are a result of a 2015 study by a US archaeologist and recommendations from UNESCO on how best to ensure that Machu Picchu isn’t hurt by rising numbers of tourists. Visitors will also be required to use a guide-led tour.

►  For First Time, NATO Stages War Games in Baltic ‘Weak Spot’

NATO has a weak spot along the Poland-Lithuania border, a 65-mile-long frontier in an area known as the Suwalki Gap that, if seized by Russia, would cut off not just Lithuania but Latvia and Estonia from the rest of the Western alliance. Over two days recently, the first large-scale NATO defensive drill was conducted there, Reuters reports. US and British troops ran the war games alongside troops from Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia, simulating a defense of the area despite the fact that Russia denies having plans to invade the Baltics. Lithuania’s intelligence service says Russia could attack the Baltics with as little as a day’s notice.

“The gap is vulnerable because of the geography. It’s not inevitable that there’s going to be an attack, of course, but ... if that was closed, then you have three allies that are north that are potentially isolated from the rest of the alliance,“ US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges tells Reuters. AFP further explains that the Suwalki Gap is “sandwiched between Russia’s highly militarized Kaliningrad exclave and Belarus, a close Kremlin ally.“ NATO began building up forces in the Baltic states after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in the Black Sea in 2014, a move that caused NATO to start viewing Russia as more of an adversary. Russia has claimed the build-up is making the area less stable.

►  The World Now Has a Record Number of Refugees

The world broke a grim record last year, with 65.6 million people living forcibly displaced from their homes, an increase of 300,000 over 2015. Most of those people—40.3 million—were displaced but still living within their own countries, per a new report by the UN refugee agency. The rest had fled their native countries, with that figure broken down into 22.5 million refugees and 2.8 million people “seeking asylum.“ Of the total 65.6 million people displaced, 10.3 million of them became so in 2016. The statistics reflect dire situations in countries such as Syria, which has been ravaged by a six-year civil war, and South Sudan, which, the UN report states, has suffered from a “disastrous breakdown of peace efforts.”

The New York Times reports that Syria produced the most refugees last year, with 5.5 million, while nearly 750,000 fled South Sudan. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees (2.9 million), with Lebanon taking in the most displaced persons relative to the size of its population (one in six), reports Thomson Reuters. One glimmer of good news in the UN report is that there has been a slowing in the growth of displacement worldwide. The number of people uprooted within their own countries was down slightly last year, as was the number of asylum seekers. Those numbers were offset, however, by an increase in the number of refugees to 22.5 million, the highest number reported since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office was formed in 1950.

►  Russia Threatens to Hit U.S. Jets Over Syria

Russia’s defense ministry says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria that venture west of the Euphrates River as targets after the US military shot down a Syrian Air Force jet on Sunday, reports the AP. Moscow also suspended a military hotline the two nations have used to coordinate air missions over Syria, reports the New York Times. Russia condemned the US downing of the Syrian government fighter jet as a “military aggression” and demanded a fuller explanation. The US has said the Syrian jet dropped bombs near its partner forces, but Syria said its jet was attacking ISIS militants.

“All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The downing of the warplane—the first time in the conflict that the US has shot down a Syrian jet—came as Iran fired several ballistic missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria in retaliation for two attacks by the extremists in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people. Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by ISIS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months.

►  Police Find Nazi Machine Gun During Routine Traffic Stop

Police have arrested a 40-year-old man in Australia after they found a Nazi sub-machine gun and 60 rounds of ammunition in the car he was riding in during a traffic stop. New South Wales police say they’re performing a forensic exam in order to determine whether the weapon can be linked to other incidents, and the man is being denied bail on a prohibited weapons charge while they do so. “It’s a very robust weapon,“ Shane Casey, senior curator at the Australian War Memorial, tells ABC Australia. “Anyone who is interested in Germany army history or the second World War would recognize this weapon immediately.“

Australia’s strict gun control laws require that all firearms be registered and that people who use them have a license to do so. Just last week, the country initiated a national gun amnesty in response to growing terrorism threats and the flow of illicit firearms across its borders, reports the BBC. Anyone found with prohibited weapons can face up to 14 years in prison or fines that exceed $200,000. In 1996, a similar amnesty went into effect in response to shootings in Port Arthur, Tasmania, that led to 35 deaths. After destroying 650,000 firearms in that amnesty, the BBC notes that gun crimes dropped quickly.

►  Blood Clot, Pneumonia May Have Killed Otto Warmbier

When Otto Warmbier was returned from North Korea last week after being held for more than a year, he was in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” but otherwise stable—until he died suddenly Monday. Now NBC News reports doctors are trying to figure out what happened. One expert says Warmbier’s family may have decided not to treat a medical issue—such as pneumonia, or sepsis, or a urinary tract infection—given that Warmbier was unlikely ever to recover from his vegetative state. Another says Warmbier may have suffered a pulmonary embolism, with his long flight from North Korea making a blood clot more likely. Here’s what else you need to know about Warmbier and North Korea following the 22-year-old’s death:

  • We should have more details on Warmbier’s death late Tuesday or Wednesday when the coroner releases initial autopsy findings, Reuters reports.
  • The Cavalier Daily reports the University of Virginia Student Council will hold a vigil for Warmbier at 9pm Tuesday on campus. “The thoughts and prayers of the University of Virginia Student Body are with the Warmbier family and all those who loved Otto,“ the council said in a statement.
  • Warmbier’s funeral will be held Thursday morning at Wyoming High School in Ohio, ABC News tweets.
  • Despite Trump’s apparent willingness to sit down with Kim Jong Un, experts say Warmbier’s death dramatically reduces—if not outright kills—chances for an improved relationship between the US and North Korea. “There is going to be a lot of anger,“ the director of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies tells the New York Times.
  • Time reports South Korean President Moon Jae-in condemned North Korea’s “unjust and cruel treatment” of Warmbier without outright accusing its government of murder. “We cannot know for sure that North Korea killed Mr. Warmbier,“ Moon said. “But I believe it is quite clear that they have a heavy responsibility in the process that led to Mr. Warmbier’s death.“


The Free Press WV


The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV    All the advice columns I’ve read recommend not moving in together before marriage – or at least not before you and your partner have been dating for a year. I get the logic behind that, but in real life, things rarely follow a perfect timeline. In my case, my boyfriend of six months, “Michael,‘’ has to move out of his house because his landlord is selling it. He has two months to find another place. We think it makes the most sense for him to move in with me. My apartment is plenty big. We’d both save money. We get along great and spend so much time together as it is.

Sure, I always thought I would wait a year before moving in with someone, too. But Michael and I have a great thing going. We have off-the-charts romantic chemistry, and we’re very compatible as friends. We’ve never even had a fight.

We have discussed our living styles and think we would make good roommates. We’re both in our mid-20s. What do you think? And please, with all due respect, I don’t want to hear that “why buy the cow’‘ line. I’m not writing to you for a lecture on marriage. — Roommates-to-Be

The Free Press WV    Dear Roommates: Imagine a house that has no foundation but just sits atop the dirt. It may have been carefully constructed, with sturdy wooden walls and a dazzling slate roof. But when a hurricane blows through and there’s nothing keeping the whole thing grounded, how long do you think that house will last?

No matter how great your chemistry with Michael, you don’t deeply know each other. No matter how sunny things are now, storms will appear on the horizon eventually. (By the way, I wouldn’t be so proud about never having had a fight. It’s healthy to have conflicts in close relationships. It means you’re both expressing yourselves.)

Convenience is not a good enough reason to move in together. Move in together when it’s because it’s the step you want to take in your relationship. You will never regret waiting; you’ll very likely regret not waiting.

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV    Would you please print a reminder to people who donate food to food banks/pantries not to donate expired food? The Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive happened recently, so we have been sorting the food. If the canned goods have expired within the past five months, there is still some shelf life; we put those items in the front of the pantry so the clients can take them if they want them.

But today we had to throw out a lot of food – things that expired anywhere from June 2004 (yes, 13 years ago) to December 2016. It seems the people who donated the expired food were looking for an excuse to clean out their cabinets. They should have thrown out the food long ago.

This made me sad. Do people really think pantries should distribute 13-year-old food to the hungry? — Pantries Across America

The Free Press WV    Dear Pantries: That is sad indeed. Folks, check those expiration dates before donating. And for your own health, clean out your cupboards more than once a decade.

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV    I am 44 years old and have been dating a 48-year-old man for 2 1/2 years. I met him three weeks after he got out of a 16-year relationship.

There are some things I need help with. For most of the time we have been together, he has been talking to other women – sometimes his ex-girlfriend – on Facebook. He has told these other women that he loves them and misses them; he sends them heart and kissing emoticons. He “likes’‘ their pictures on Facebook and leaves comments – for example, “Looking good!‘’ – along with heart emojis. The thing is that he barely ever says these things to me.

I see him only on weekends, and we have takeout and watch a movie. He barely ever holds my hand, and our sex life has all but stopped. He says he’s too tired. He makes me feel as if I am the one in the wrong. He thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to talk to all these women when he says about four words to me a day. He holds actual conversations with others. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen asleep beside him crying, and either he doesn’t notice or he doesn’t care. I just can’t handle this anymore. Should I just let him go and move on? If I did, I would most likely be alone. I am an amputee with not a lot of friends. I love him with all my heart, but I am tired of being walked all over. What should I do? — Confused in Small Town

The Free Press WV    Dear Confused: You know exactly what you should do. But before we address the issue of leaving this louse, I want to encourage you to work on your self-esteem and make friends. Get involved in your community. Check Meetup, a website that connects people through shared interests, to see what clubs are in your town, or even start your own!

Now, back to the louse. This man does not deserve the love and affection you’ve given him. I promise you that it feels much better to be single than to be with someone who doesn’t love you back. With time, you will find another mate. And do not sell yourself short in that regard. There is someone out there who will make you fall asleep smiling instead of crying.

The Free Press WV

The Free Press WV    This is in response to “Crybaby,‘’ who cries at everything. I have the opposite problem. I never cry. I feel things deeply, and I well up, but I never spill over. It might be an overestimate to say that I cry once a year. There have been times – e.g., funerals and when a sad story is being told – when tears have been the appropriate response and I have been the only one not visibly crying. It makes me feel as if I am perceived as cold and unfeeling, when that is not the case. It is just that I have a strongly developed resolve not to cry, for some unknown reason. “Crybaby’s’‘ problem embarrasses her, but my problem embarrasses me! — Dry-Eyed but Not Unfeeling

The Free Press WV    Dear Dry-Eyed: I’ve received many responses to the column with “Crybaby’s’‘ letter. But until yours, all of them had been from fellow criers who wanted to let her know she isn’t alone. Your perspective may help those excessive criers to feel thankful for their tears. You might want to talk with an ophthalmologist about your problem, in case it has something to do with the functioning of your tear ducts.

Governor Justice to Let Budget Bill Become Law Without His Signature

Governor Jim Justice said he plans to let the budget bill become law without his signature.

Justice announced his decision in a Wednesday press conference, calling the budget bill a “travesty.”

“I think we have a travesty,” Justice said. “I think as best as I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I can’t sign this.”

The budget represents the House’s vision from earlier that week with a few changes.

The budget stands at $4.225 billion, spending $85 million less than the current fiscal year. It does not cut the K-12 school aid formula or Medicaid health care waiver programs that benefit elderly and disabled residents.

The budget rearranges line items including surplus funds from lottery, excess lottery and takes about $12 million from the Senate’s savings account to fill in some of the effects to Medicaid.

It also does not include funding for the Save Our State fund, teacher pay raises, or tourism increases, as contemplated by the governor.

The bill cuts the entire budget for the Women’s Commission. It also makes some cuts to the Division of Culture and History and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Health Care Repeal: Playing Political Chicken With Our Lives

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is playing political chicken with our lives. Since he and the other Republicans in his 13-member working group are choosing to draft their bill to repeal health care in secret, it’s up to us to share the stories of those who will be affected by this disastrous plan.

The Free Press WV

I was finally able to get treatment.

Without Medicaid, I’d be dead.

Without Obamacare, I’d have gone bankrupt.

Don’t they care about people like us?

I’m not worried about myself – I feel compassion for the people who have been helped, and don’t want them to suffer.

These are a few of the themes that come through loud and clear in the more than twelve hundred comments we’ve received from all across the country in the first 24 hours after we asked people to share their health care stories with us.

Not One State

Not one state supports this disastrous plan to repeal health care, according to the New York Times. That includes Mitch McConnell’s own state of Kentucky.

It’s no wonder the plan is so unpopular, or that Senate leaders will do everything they can to keep the rest of its details under wraps. At least 23 million Americans will lose health coverage under the House version of the bill. By some accounts, there will be even deeper cuts under the Senate’s plan.

Getting a “win” on  the health care bill has become a matter of pride for Republican leaders in Congress, to the point that it blots out all common sense or room for common ground. They want to funnel tax breaks to their billionaire friends so badly that they’re willing to bargain away our health care behind closed doors.

Our Own Hearing

Just because McConnell refuses to hold hearings doesn’t mean we can’t demand to be heard. We’ve already started to share these amazing stories with you, and here’s the next installment of comments from real people who want their senators to put the lives of constituents – not corporations – first.

We’ll keep sharing these stories until our leaders hear their constituents’ voices as loudly, and as clearly, as we do.

I worked and then came down with Crohn’s disease and lost my home and car, but luckily Medicaid pulled me through a tight spot. I probably wouldn’t be alive right now without it.

  • – David R., Ohio

After a devastating car accident in which my upper arm was totally crushed, the bone was replaced by a titanium rod, which later failed. I lived in excruciating pain for years until I was finally approved for Medicaid. Medicaid not only paid for the surgeries I needed to repair my arm, it paid for the physical therapy which made it usable. Without Medicaid, I would still be living in chronic pain and would not be able to use my arm!  

  • – Michelle M., Florida

I am a recipient of Obamacare, and it is the only thing that I have to be able to afford my for-profit Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance premiums!  Without it, I would be exposed to possible financial ruin and lack of adequate care because I would not be able to afford to pay for treatment! I currently pay less than $50 a month for a Silver Plan. Without Obamacare, I would have to pay close to $1000 per month. I can’t afford that! Can the GOP “health” plan HONESTLY provide better care and low monthly premiums as my Obamacare plan can?  Respected and authentic organizations say “n,o” and so do I.

  • – Robert J., West Virginia

Medicaid has literally kept my family afloat. For two years before the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, while working in a job that didn’t provide coverage, I had to simply pray that I didn’t need serious medical care. I also went without maintenance care, which could have caused serious problems. I’ve recently started a job that provides me with insurance. However, my brother, cousins, and even my parents are in the same position as I was: the Medicaid expansion is the reason they have had health care access at all. They aren’t the “freeloaders” Republicans would like to make them out to be – they work, but simply aren’t provided with coverage through employment. Also, as my grandparents aged and required more and more care, they were aided by incredibly hardworking, in-home caregivers. These women were able to make ends meet for their own families because they qualified for Medicaid.

We should live in a society that allows us freedom from the constant fear of un-payable medical bills. The ACA has made great strides toward making this happen. Any steps backward, including the AHCA, are simply unacceptable.

  • – Amanda, Ohio

I lost everything in the recession of 2008 – job, house, credit, healthcare.I moved to Nevada  in 2011 and shortly thereafter benefited from the Medicaid expansion – thank you Governor Sandoval. I finally was able to obtain treatment for tumors, surgery was successful. Seeking better employment opportunities I moved to Tucson. I have full-time employment, but not a sustainable income. I am sixty years old, but I have no hopes of retirement anytime in the near future. I have pre-existing conditions and worries about and anger about health care. I am angry about the secrecy, about the lack of hearings. I am concerned about the haste. Any legislation that cannot withstand public scrutiny and rigorous debate is beneath a sitting U.S. Senator. The darkness you insist upon for the deeds indicate its shamefulness.

  • – Joan M., Arizona

My husband would’ve died from a heart attack if we didn’t have health insurance. Because of the ACA/Obamacare we only paid a little over $2,000.00. The hospital bill was $104,000.00. We paid $217.00 per month for our coverage. Plus his heart medication would’ve cost us $400.00 per month but was covered under the ACA/Obamacare so we paid nothing for it. We are now insured through his work. If he loses his job I’m afraid we aren’t going to be covered for anything.

  • – Theresa P., Nevada

~~  Sarah Chaisson-Warner ~~

In West Virginia….

The Free Press WV

►  Three unserved West Virginia counties to get broadband

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, announced a $3 million grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bring broadband internet service to more than 3,500 households and businesses in three West Virginia counties.

Capito’s office said the grant, plus $450,000 in local matching funds, will bring internet service to unserved areas of Barbour, Randolph and Upshur counties.

“Connecting West Virginia has always been top priorities of mine, and I’m thrilled that efforts like my Capito Connect plan are producing results that will help close the digital divide in our state,” Capito said. “This funding is a huge win for West Virginia and the residents and businesses in the tri-county region. I can’t wait to see the economic growth and opportunity this project will bring to our state, and I will continue working to provide similar opportunities across West Virginia.”
In 2015, Capito announced the Capito Connect plan to encourage broadband expansion in the state. Grant money can be used for constructing, acquiring or leasing property or lands used to deploy broadband service; roviding broadband service free of charge for two years to facilities such as public schools, fire stations and public libraries; and

improving, expanding, constructing or acquiring a community center to provide online access to the public.

“Today’s announcement is great news for the citizens of Barbour, Randolph and Upshur counties,” said Robert Morris, executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority and the West Virginia Wood Technology Center. “These funds will provide this region of the state with access to true high speed broadband service for residents and businesses.
“Access to broadband is a necessity for economic development and improving the quality of life for our citizens,” Morris said. “Randolph County is a gateway to many of our state’s most beautiful scenic attractions and providing visitors with the ability to remain connected will help grow our tourism economy. Senator Capito, through her Capito Connect Plan, was instrumental in helping the Central West Virginia Development Authority apply and secure these funds.”

During the 2017 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow communities to set up broadband cooperatives to land federal grant money for internet expansion. The law also would expand the authority of the state Broadband Council to plan and monitor internet growth, and streamline the process for expanding broadband service.

►  Neil of Kenna Named Tenth West Virginia Scholar

West Virginia MetroNews and West Virginia Wesleyan College has named Christopher Neil of Kenna and Ripley High School as the winner of the tenth annual MetroNews West Virginia Scholar competition during a luncheon held on Wesleyan’s campus today.  A rising senior, Neil plans to study biology and was awarded a full, four-year scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College to include tuition and fees, along with room and board, beginning in the fall 2018.

Madison Martin of Winfield and Winfield High School was named first runner-up and will receive a $5,000 four-year renewable scholarship to Wesleyan.  Second runner-up was River Myers of Fenwick and Richwood High School.  Myers won a $2,500 four-year renewable scholarship to Wesleyan.  Martin plans to study communication while Myers will enter the biology program.

The Free Press WV
Neil, Myers, and Martin

Other finalists included Kylee Casto of Given and Ripley High School, Presley Fisher of Ripley and Ripley High School, Chloe Hibbs of Springfield and Hampshire High School, Sydney Maxwell of Buckhannon and Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Madisen Miles of Clarksburg and Robert C. Byrd High School, Uriah Myers of Fenwick and Richwood High School, and Baylee Senator of Chapmanville and Chapmanville High School.

Scholarship funds for the West Virginia Scholar Award are provided by the Culpepper Wesleyan Scholars Award and by West Virginia Wesleyan College.  The Culpepper Wesleyan Scholars Award was established in 1991 as an endowed scholarship fund by Olive O’Dell Culpepper ’33 and C. Ross Culpepper ’30, and is continued today by Marvin ’51, Hon. ’06 and Elaine Karnes Culpepper ’54, Hon. ’06.

The MetroNews West Virginia Scholar Program is also sponsored by the West Virginia Hospital Association, ZMM Architects and Engineers, the West Virginia Forestry Association, Jim Goolsby and Ed Stike with RBC Wealth Management, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, and Friends of Coal.

Founded in 1890, West Virginia Wesleyan is a private residential college located in Buckhannon. The college offers 49 majors and graduate programs in athletic training, business, English creative writing, and nursing. Fourteen Wesleyan students have been selected as U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholars.

►  West Nile Virus detected in Cabell County

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department says it has received a positive sample of the West Nile Virus.

The department has been trapping mosquitoes and submitting them for testing.

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director of the CHHD, said they are now working to eliminate all possible mosquito breeding areas. He said residents should not be alarmed, but should be aware of the dangers of the disease.

“It can require hospitalization. It can cause long-term neurological problems after a severe case, so you don’t want to be that one person in the state of West Virginia that gets this disease,” he said.

West Nile is a virus that is spread by blood, causing flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or body rash, Kilkenny said.

“The mosquitoes take the blood of an animal or a person. When they bite another animal or another person, they can transmit that blood and that disease to the new host,” he said.

The department is urging residents to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites that can potentially cause illness. Kilkenny said residents can help cut down on the mosquito population by eliminating standing water — where mosquitoes breed.

“The habitat for mosquitoes around the houses is any standing water and that can be in clogged gutters, it can be in puddles, it can be in bird baths or the bottoms of flower pots,” Kilkenny said.

Other steps to avoid mosquito bites are listed below:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors.
  • Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.
  • Avoid high mosquito-biting hours during the day, typically around dawn and dusk.

►  WV House Speaker Armstead issues statement on Governor’s budget action

WV House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s decision to allow the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Bill to become law without a signature:

“I believe the Governor is doing the right thing in ensuring we avoid a government shutdown and easing our employees’ and citizens’ state of mind. We knew coming into this year that we would have to make tough decisions to balance this budget, and we heard the message from our citizens that they couldn’t afford the massive tax increases the Governor originally sought.

“While there are necessary cuts, and reductions are never easy for those affected, this budget is not the disaster scenario the Governor paints it to be. We worked hard to ensure the Medicaid and healthcare waiver programs that serve our poorest citizens were adequately funded. We protected funding for our public education system, and worked to minimize the cuts to our higher education institutions. The higher education reductions that did pass were much less than those originally proposed by the Senate.

“I believe this is a budget that reflects the economic realities we currently face. It controls government spending, requires our government to live within its means and does not raise sales taxes or general revenue taxes on our citizens. Just as our families have made difficult choices to balance their household budgets, we have done the same with their government’s budget.

“With a declining population and tax base, we can’t continue to spend more and more each year. Instead of raising taxes, we need to take the necessary and prudent steps to create jobs and stimulate our economy in order to reverse this trend.”

►  WV Senate President Carmichael issues statement on Governor’s action

WV Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, issued the following statement about Governor Jim Justice’s decision to allow the Budget Bill to become law without signature:

“I am thankful that Governor Justice will do the right thing and allow the budget to become law. The budget the Legislature passed spends about $85 million less than last year, and importantly, places no additional tax burden on our citizens. West Virginia’s dire financial situation will force us to make a choice in the future: We will have to continue making cuts to programs and services, or we must pass meaningful, comprehensive tax reform. It’s my hope that this responsible budget serves as the starting point for a conversation that will prove that tax reform can bring our state tremendous benefit. This budget provides security, certainty, and fiscal responsibility to the citizens of our great state.”

Tax Breaks for the Richest Central to GOP Healthcare Bill

The Free Press WV

West Virginia millionaires could see an average tax cut of close to $40,000 a year if the American Health Care Act becomes law, according to a new analysis. Those tax cuts would be paid for in part by removing more than 122,000 West Virginians from health-insurance rolls.

Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said Congressional Budget Office figures show the health bill that cleared the U.S. House is less about health policy than tax breaks for the top 3 percent of U.S. earners.

“The end result is 23 million people losing health-care coverage,“ he said. “The reason for that is to pay for $660 billion worth of tax cuts that overwhelmingly go to the wealthiest Americans.“

Supporters of the AHCA have said cuts to Medicaid and reversing the program’s expansion would reduce the federal deficit and lower health-care costs. The U.S. Senate has not yet made its version of the health bill public, but close observers say it closely resembles the House version.

The bill is opposed by the American Medical Association and American Nursing Association. The chief executive of the Charleston Area Medical Center called on employees of the state’s largest hospital to ask Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, to vote against the bill, in part because of its cuts to the state Medicaid program.

Essig said the majority of Medicaid recipients that could be affected are older folks and people with disabilities, pregnant women and children. He warned that bankruptcies due to medical bills, which have decreased under Obamacare, could be back on the rise.

“Real people will end up losing their health-care coverage, and that will impact people’s health, people’s lives and people’s bank books,“ he said. “We’re going to be going back to where we were, which I don’t think is where anyone wants to go.“

Under the Affordable Care Act, low- and moderate-income Americans have been able to get coverage due in part to a tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year, or $250,000 for couples filing jointly. Essig said insurance premiums for an average 64-year-old with an income of $27,000 would rise from $1,700 to more than $16,000 a year.

The analysis is online at

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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