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West Virginia recently helped reach a multistate settlement shutting down a for-profit company that allegedly misled consumers about its support for military service members.

Hearts 2 Heroes Inc., doing business as Active Duty Support Services Inc., made door-to-door sales of “care packages,” which they would ostensibly send on behalf of patriotic Americans to service members overseas.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey alleged the company violated state consumer protection and charitable solicitation laws by misrepresenting the nature of the business, misrepresenting the delivery of care packages purchased and misusing donated funds.

“No company should prey upon the generosity of patriotic West Virginians who want to support our military servicemen and women,” Morrisey said. “We stopped this unlawful practice to ensure no consumer is taken advantage of.”

In West Virginia, at least 514 residents gave checks to company representatives. At least 56 checks written to the business had the words “charity,” “contribution” or “donation” noted in the memo section, indicating consumers clearly believed they were donating to a legitimate charity.

The case alleged the care packages were delivered to military bases in the United States and not overseas as represented, if they were delivered at all.

Hearts 2 Heroes’ staff allegedly misrepresented themselves to consumers as veterans or volunteers. Some staff also allegedly “skimmed” cash donations for personal use.

The multistate settlement requires termination of the business and bans its owners from engaging in charitable solicitations or working for a charitable organization.

West Virginia reached the settlement with Hearts 2 Heroes along with the attorneys general of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

By Phil Kabler HD Media

Having evidently decided it needs help dealing with the daunting task of fixing the state’s crumbling secondary roads, the West Virginia Division of Highways opened bids Thursday to hire consultants to assist in the effort.

According to the request for quotes, the division is seeking an “open-end contract for consulting services to assist with coordination and oversight of the governor’s secondary road maintenance initiative.”

The winning bidder will have to have a minimum of two employees with at least 15 years’ experience and “extensive knowledge of the Highways department management structure and operations; Highways personnel needs; budgeting and project management; governmental and legislative affairs; knowledge of equipment used for highways maintenance activities; and private sector contractors for highways maintenance.”

The contract will require extensive travel statewide “to co-ordinate with both district and county (Highways) offices regarding roadway maintenance, status of road projects and related equipment needs.”

Live birds of prey are coming to West Virginia state parks and forests this late summer. The Wings of Wonder – West Virginia Birds of Prey program is presented by Three Riv- ers Avian Center (TRAC) of Brooks, West Virginia.

The one-hour program, which is free and open to the public, introduces attendees to six live birds of prey native to the Mountain State. Each bird is presented on the glove, one at a time, along with a conversation about the history of the animal’s rehabilitation as well as its habit and habitats.

“The opportunity to see a hawk or owl up close never grows old,” said Kanawha State Forest Superintendent Chris Bartley. “Wings of Wonder is a popular program that engages all ages. TRAC helps the audience understand the importance of raptors and encourages questions and provides answers.”

Kanawha State Forest hosts TRAC Sept. 14 as a finale for the Margaret Denison Fall Nature Walks weekend.

“Wings of Wonder - West Virginia Birds of Prey” schedule

• Twin Falls Resort State Park – Aug. 24, 7 p.m.

• Audra State Park – Aug. 31, 7 p.m.

• Kanawha State Forest – Sept. 14, 1 p.m.

• Pipestem Resort State Park – Sept. 14, 7 p.m.

• Tygart Lake State Park – Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

About West Virginia State Parks

West Virginia’s state parks and forests are the vacation destination of choice for more than 7 million people each year. Made up of 35 parks, 9 forests and two rail trails, the West Virginia State Parks system provides endless opportunities for family fun and adventure.

Make memories that last forever. Book your adventure at www.wvstateparks.com.

West Virginia State Parks is managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, a division of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

Timothy Peer, of Springfield, was sentenced to five years probation and fined $24,000 for violating permits and discharging untreated sewage from his sewage treatment plant.

Peer, 56, was the owner of Mountainaire Village Utility, LLC, a sewage water treatment plant serving the residents of Mountainaire Village near Ridgeley.

Peer owned and operated this business from early 2008 to July 2016. Peer pled guilty to one count of knowing violation of permit conditions and one count of false statements on discharge monitoring reports in April.

From 2014 to 2016, Peer admitted to failing to maintain the treatment plant, resulting in untreated and undertreated sewage being discharged into the North Branch of the Potomac River, violating the Clean Water Act and his permit. Peer also admitted to falsely reporting quarterly testing on the wastewater from the plant.

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia urges everyone to “Call Before You Dig.” By law, you are required to call West Virginia 811 at least 48 hours before you break ground on any job that involves digging. That law applies to individuals tackling home projects as well as contractors working on public or private property.

“Everyone needs to be aware of the importance of calling 811 before they dig,” said PSC Chairman Charlotte R. Lane. “Whether you are a homeowner or a professional contractor, always call 811 before you begin to dig. The 811 call is free, and it helps to protect you, your property and our underground utility infrastructure.”

“Every time you dig, you run the risk of hitting an underground utility, even if you only dig a few inches,” Lane said. “Striking a natural gas pipeline, a wire or a cable can result in utility service outages, which can leave you liable for costly repairs or significant legal fines. Even worse, a line strike can cause serious personal injury or death.”

Lane pointed out that the depth and location of utility lines can move over time as the ground freezes and thaws, as tree roots grow or after a large amount of rain. “So, even if you have had an area marked previously, you still need to call 811 before you dig.”

Lane added, “After you call, the 811 team will notify the utility companies at no cost to the customer. Within 48 hours, each company will send locators to your project site to mark the locations of underground facilities with flags, stakes or paint. Once the buried facilities have been accurately marked, you or your contractor can begin digging safely. This protects you, your property and West Virginia’s underground utility infrastructure.”

For more information about West Virginia 811, visit www.wv811.com or www.psc.state. wv.us and click on the 811 link.

The final two individuals indicted by a federal grand jury for organizing and participating in a multi-county fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine distribution ring pleaded guilty for their role last week.

Dennis James Miller, 44, of Moorefield, has admitted to his involvement in the operation, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

Overall, Miller confessed to distributing more than 64 grams of fentanyl and more than 69 grams of 100% pure methamphetamine from January to June in Grant County and elsewhere.

Jared Judy, 29, of Petersburg, admitted to distributing more than 69 grams of 100% pure methamphetamine in May in Berkeley County.

Bob Milvet, the chief executive officer of Grant Memorial Hospital, appeared before the Grant County Commission last week to provide a quarterly update on the hospital. Through his presentation, Milvet said the hospital was working on multiple updates, including to the facility, as well as the services provided. He also pointed to positive up-turns in the hospital’s financial performance.

“Overall, I believe the hospital is slowly growing out of several years of dealing with volume declines as well as lagging and sluggish financial performance,” Milvet said. “There is no question we have had a bad couple of years in those two areas. When we start to have patients drive by our facility, we lose revenue.”

Milvet said one of the focuses of improvement for GMH has been growing the hospital within the community and striving to keep local residents comfortable remaining in the area for treatment as opposed to traveling to other hospitals.

“We have made decisions for the sole purpose of keeping business here locally in this community,” Milvet said. “That is how we will keep the hospital thriving in the future.”

According to an update given by CMTA Energy, the Grant County Board of Education is now seeing smaller electric bills due to countywide updates, including a large solar array that is now powering Petersburg Elementary School.

In the seven-month update, the board was informed that since making the changes, the county had saved approximately $86,400 in energy to the school facilities. These saving are the result of more effective technology and a nearly $18,000 correction in the county’s electric bill that was discovered previously by the company.

The CMTA representative explained that, due to the recent updates, Grant County has moved to the top 15% of the most energy efficient schools in the state. This point was echoed by facilities director Brent Nelson, who said the county was recently mentioned at a conference he attended as having one of the most improved energy systems in West Virginia.

Superintendent Doug Lambert said he was excited about the update, pointing to the changes as having multiple benefits not only for the schools but for the county.

Also speaking during the meeting was Maysville resident, Larry Porter, who addressed the board on their school safety efforts.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Department issued a reminder last week, cautioning drivers to slow down when driving near school zones.

“Please slow down and watch for buses,” the department cautioned. “Last year in the nation was one of the worst for children being struck and near misses loading on the buses.”

Beyond the danger presented to the students, drivers were warned that they could potentially lose their licenses and receive a fine for illegally passing a school bus.

They also encouraged local parents to take action in educating their children on basic safety topics.

“Parents, talk to your kids about bus stop safety on strangers, as well as looking for cars before going to the bus,” the department said. “Just because the stop sign is out, cars may still keep coming due to not paying attention.”

This is also a discussion that was echoed in this month’s meeting of the Petersburg City Council, with multiple complaints being expressed to the council concerning speeding in the areas surrounding Petersburg Elementary, Petersburg High and South Branch Career and Technical Center.

On Aug. 8, Sergeant K.R. Thorne of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to Sheetz in Petersburg for a male who was reportedly under the influence of illegal drugs.

Upon the officer’s arrival, he observed a male standing at the counter, who was later identified as David Juan Phares, 30, of Petersburg.

Last week, nearly a dozen citizens attended the regularly scheduled Petersburg City Council meeting to express their ongoing concerns with rising crime in the city, specifically in the region of Petersburg referred to as “The Field.”

The citizens asked to remain anonymous, due to possible retaliation seen by others speaking before the council in the past about the issue. One citizen said that one of the speakers in a past meeting even received property damage in retaliation.

“We are all here to talk to the council about a lot of issues we see in the east side of our community,” said one speaker. “Drugs run rampant down there and we have such an issue with drug houses.”

One speaker said they often sit out on their front porch and routinely see drug deals occur in front of nearby homes, namely rental properties.

Carole Taylor

Five women were chosen as 2019 West Virginia Women in Agriculture for their lifetime of work in the industry. The inductees were honored by Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt during a reception at the State Fair of West Virginia, on Aug. 11. From raising cattle and poultry to running a greenhouse and mentoring students in 4-H and FFA, these women are out- standing in their fields.

“Women now make up 38 percent of our state’s farmers,” said Leonhardt. “As more women consider agricultural careers, a lot of thanks is due to those who paved the way. These five women have had a tremendous impact on our state’s agricultural sector, as well as helped inspire the next generation of farmers.”

The WVDA began honoring Women in Agriculture in 2010. Since then 51 women, including this year’s honorees, have been recognized for their significant contributions to the agriculture industry.

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