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The United States Senate Appropriations Committee, announced this month that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a total of $35,384,899 to West Virginia to combat the opioid epidemic. President Donald Trump also announced these grants at the White House.

The first grant for $28,027,511 was awarded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of its State Opioid Response grants.

The language in the bill prioritize states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. West Virginia is eligible for a larger portion of funding than the state would have been eligible for had West Virginia’s senator Shelley Moore-Capito not secured such language. This funding is a direct result of this language. In March, the committee announced the first round of funds for this program, which amounts to $14,630,361.

The second grant for $7,357,388 was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of a three-year cooperative agreement known as the Overdose Data to Action (OD2A). The purpose of the program is to advance the understanding of the opioid epidemic and improve prevention and response efforts.

Capito serves on the committee.

“Federal funding like this plays an important role in contributing to the fight to end the drug epidemic that is devastating so many families and communities across West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “I helped change the state grant formula in the Labor-HHS government funding bill, and the benefits of that change are evident today with the distribution of this second round of resources. Making sure these funds are available is one of my top priorities as a member of the appropriations committee, but it’s even more important to me that these funds are going to states like ours with the greatest needs. That’s exactly what my changes to the state grant formula make possible. I am glad to see this critical funding come to our state and will continue to advocate for these much-needed resources.”

Michael Lee Gray, II, of Marshall, Va., has admitted to his involvement in a drug distribution conspiracy, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Gray, 29, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Gray admitted to working with others to distribute methamphetamine from August 2017 to June 2018 in Mineral, Hardy, and Hampshire Counties and elsewhere.

Gray faces up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of up to $1 million. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Omps-Botteicher is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, The West Virginia State Police, and the Potomac Highlands Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force investigated.

The investigation was funded in part by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

By Anthony Izaguirre Associated Press

A West Virginia lawmaker has been charged for kicking a door into a statehouse staffer and elbowing a delegate because he was mad about racist signs at the Capitol, authorities said.

A criminal complaint filed Friday charges Democratic Del. Mike Caputo with misdemeanor battery for the incident in March.

Caputo has admitted to kicking the door because he was upset about a display outside the House chamber on “WV GOP Day’’ that falsely linked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Police said Caputo was “talking loud and saying nasty things’’ as he walked up to the chamber and forcibly pushed one of the doors, causing it to hit a House doorman. The staffer sought medical attention at a hospital, according to the complaint. It is unclear if he was injured.

Caputo then pushed Del. Sharon Malcolm with his elbow after telling her to get out of his way, police said. Malcolm, a Republican, initially said she wasn’t hurt but has since said that she experienced pain and is still under a physician’s care for her injury.

A voicemail left at Malcolm’s office was not immediately returned.

In a text message Monday, Caputo said “I have already apologized for losing my temper that day, but I certainly didn’t intend to physically hurt anyone, and don’t believe I committed a crime.’’ His lawyer declined to comment.

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore released a statement saying the accusations against Caputo are “a politically motivated scheme.’’

The anti-Muslim imagery, shown during the legislature’s official GOP day, drew a harsh spotlight on the state.

The display included literature that warned of “The Islamization of American Public Schools’’ and “The Four Stages of Islamic Conquest.’’ Prominently featured was an image of the burning World Trade Center juxtaposed with a picture of Omar, one of the first Muslim congresswomen ever elected.

“‘Never forget’ _ You said,’’ was written over the Twin Towers. On Omar’s picture, a caption read, “I am the proof you have forgotten,’’ incorrectly linking her to the 2001 attacks.

The group whose name appeared on a sign next to the display, ACT for America, has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization issued a statement saying it was not behind the images after they circulated on social media.

“No wonder why I am on the `Hitlist’ of a domestic terrorist and ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ is written on my local gas stations,’’ Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, wrote on Twitter in response to the images. “Look no further, the GOP’s anti-Muslim display likening me to a terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them!’’

The state Republican party issued a statement saying they do not endorse “speech that advances intolerant and hateful views.’

Promising guaranteed pay raises and clear career paths, West Virginia is recruiting correctional officers and staff through a series of upcoming job fairs.

Seven one-stop career events are scheduled across the state through Nov. 7. These events will allow recruits to sign up on the spot. Minimum qualifications include a high school diploma, a valid driver’s license and passage of a physical agility test and a drug screening.

Thanks to a series of pay raises, the starting salary for correctional officers is $28,664 and will rise to $30,664 on July 1, 2020.

In addition, officers who complete one year of employment are guaranteed a promotion and a 7% pay hike, bringing their annual salaries to $32,810. Pay increases further, to $35,106, after one year in that promoted position and the officer advances further up the ranks. 

Besides these multiple raises and the revamped career path, the benefits package for starting officers is around $13,776. It includes comprehensive indemnity health insurance, term life insurance, and a defined benefit pension plan.

Positions are available throughout the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation system, which includes West Virginia’s prisons, regional jails and juvenile facilities. While each event is tailored for the facilities in its region, job fair attendees can seek employment throughout the system.

Upcoming One Stop Career Events (each is 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.):

Sept. 17: Martinsburg Workforce West Virginia office, 200 Viking Way

Oct. 1: Parkersburg Workforce West Virginia office, 300 Lakeview Center

Oct. 1: Saint Marys Correctional Center and Jail, 2880 North Pleasants Highway

Oct. 3: South Central Regional Jail and Correctional Facility, 1001 Centre Way, Charleston

Oct. 15: Elkins Workforce West Virginia office, 1023 N. Randolph Ave.

Oct. 29: Clarksburg Workforce West Virginia office, 153 W. Main St.

Nov. 7: Summersville Workforce West Virginia office, 830 Northside Dr.

By Joselyn King The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register

Pre-candidate filings in West Virginia provide a glimpse at how the 2020 primary election ballot might look in the Mountain State.

While candidates for office can’t officially file to be on the 2020 ballot until mid-January, there already are 14 pre-candidates wanting to be governor; five for the Supreme Court of appeals; officially four for commissioner of agriculture, and three for the 1st District seat in the West Virginia Senate.

Filing as a pre-candidate permits the candidate to raise campaign funds for office, but doesn’t mean they may necessarily file to run in 2020.

Candidates will start filing for the 2020 election in West Virginia beginning Jan. 13, 2020, and they will have until Jan. 25 to submit the required paperwork.


Among the 14 pre-candidates for governor are six Republicans, four Democrats, two Independents, one Libertarian and one Constitution Party candidate.

Gov. Jim Justice — elected as a Democrat in 2016 — has filed as a pre-candidate on the GOP ballot. His most recent campaign finance report shows his total contributions for the election cycle at $57,650, and a balance in his campaign coffers of $13,071.

Another Republican in the race is businessman H. Wood “Woody” Thrasher of Bridgeport, who previously served as commerce secretary under Justice. His finance reports shows expenditures already of $356,756, and a remaining campaign balance of $53,402.

Others filing as pre-candidates for the GOP nomination for governor are Shelby Jane Fitzhugh of Martinsburg, former Delegate Mike Folk of Martinsburg, Rebecca Mareta Henderson of Parkersburg and Charles R. Sheedy Sr. of Charleston.

On the Democrat side, pre-candidate for governor Stephen N. Smith has raised $295,098 this election cycle, and shows a balance of $122,082. He previously served as director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.

Other Democrat pre-candidates for governor are Jody Murphy of Parkersburg; Cecil Silva of Morrisvale; and Edwin Ray Vanover of Bluefield. Independent pre-candidates seeking the governor’s office are Quintin Gerard Caldwell of South Charleston, and David Sartin of Kermit. Erika Kolenich of Buckhannon has filed as a Libertarian; and Larry Trent of Gilbert, as a Constitution Party candidate.

Seeking The Bench

The seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court currently occupied by justices Tim Armstead and Margaret Workman are up for re-election in 2020, and represent full 12-year terms on the court.

A third seat — currently held by Justice John Hutchison — also will be on the ballot. It carries an unexpired four-year term.

Armstead and Hutchison have filed as pre-candidates, as have Jim Douglas, William K. Schwartz and Joanna I. Tabit. None of the pre-candidates have declared for which seat they will run, but they must decide that at the time of their official filing.

Candidates for Supreme Court in West Virginia now run as non-partisan candidates. As such, those selected to serve will be elected on the primary ballot.

Local Circuit Court Judges David Hummel and Michael Olejasz have filed as pre-candidates for office, though Hummel hasn’t indicated for what office he will run.

Hummel’s finance statement shows him raising $31,921 during the last election cycle, and having a campaign balance of $20,692.

Olejasz, meanwhile, indicates he will seek re-election as 1st Circuit judge. His finance report shows him with a balance of $97,879.

Other State Offices

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of Charles Town, a Republican, has filed as a pre-candidate in 2020. But he hasn’t declared for which office he will run.

Meanwhile, Beckley lawyer Samuel Brown Petsonk, a Democrat, has filed as a Democrat for attorney general.

Also filing as a pre-candidate in 2020 without stipulating an office is Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt of Fairview, a Republican. Leonhardt’s finance report shows him with $50,918 in his campaign coffers.

Roy Ramey of Lesage has filed pre-candidacy in the race as a Republican, as have Democrats Patricia Bunner of Fairview, William E. Keplinger Jr. of Moorefield and David E. Miller of Tunnelton.

Treasurer John Perdue, a Democrat, has filed as a pre-candidate for treasurer, as has Republican Riley Moore of Halltown. Moore — a former member of the House of Dele- gates — is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., and the grandson of former Gov. Arch Moore.

Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican from Morgantown, has filed pre-candidacy for re-election. Republican Tyrin Mykal Smith-Holmes of Huntington has filed as a pre-candidate for the office, as has Brent Pauley of Barboursville.

The race for the 1st District seat in the West Virginia Senate also shows signs of having competitors.

Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, has filed for re-election, and also filing as a pre-candidate in the race is Republican Jack Newbrough of Weirton. Newbrough previously sought a U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

Brandon M. Evans of Weirton has filed as an Independent in the race.

Carla J. Jones of Fairview, meanwhile, is a Democrat pre-candidate for the 2nd District State Senate seat. Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, up for re-election in 2020, recently was arrested for soliciting prostitution.

Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, has filed as a pre-candidate for re-election to the 1st Delegate District seat, and also filing in that race is former Delegate Mark P. Zatezalo of Weirton.

Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, and Republican Charles F. Reynolds of Moundsville, are pre-candidates seeking the 4th District seat.

Delegates David Pethtel, R-Wetzel and David L. Kelly, R-Tyler, have filed for their respective seats in the 5th and 6th districts.

And former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant of Charleston, a Democrat, has filed as pre-candidate for an undeclared office. She previously has made runs for governor and U.S. Senate. Her most recent finance report shows a campaign balance of $4,181.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Depart- ment (GCSD) released an update last week concerning new laws in place on vaping.

Vaping is a common term used for the act of inhaling vapor produced by a vaporizer or electronic cigarette (e-cigarette.) Generally, the vapor is produced from a material such as an e-liquid, concentrate, or dry herb.

Usage of these products has been heavily discussed throughout the county over the past year as the Grant County Board of Education released policy updates that placed vaping in the same category as tobacco and made using the vape products a punishable offense for students on school grounds.

Last week, the Grant County Commission received an update on courthouse cyber security and the ever-present goal of preventing hackers from accessing or stealing county documents. 

County Clerk Seymour Fisher addressed the commission, presenting an email his office had received.

The email, which claimed to be from Grant County 911 Director Peggy Bobo-Alt, requested that the clerk’s office provide her with a direct deposit form.

“Can I email or fax it back?” the email asked. “I hope I am not late for coming payroll.”

However, on closer inspection, Fisher realized the email was sent from a publicworks.me email and did not match Alt’s county address.

The Hampshire County Veterans Foundation’’s annual Veterans Appreciation Festival and Freedom Ride rolled through Petersburg last week with more than 100 cyclists stopping for a break at Tri-County Honda.

The event is a fundraiser for the program and includes food, drinks and an auction. Petersburg was one of multiple stops on the trip, others including Romney, Wardensville and Capon Springs.

On Sept. 5, multiple Grant County agencies participated in a search for a missing hiker on the North Fork Mountain Trail.

The man, Paul Fox, was hiking in the area when he became disoriented and lost his way along the trail. His absence was noticed by Ed Fischer, owner of the North Fork Mountain Inn. Fox was staying at the inn when he left for his hike.

Community members, organizations and faith-based groups came together over the past two weeks to spread awareness on those who have lost their lives to the drug epidemic and mental health issues.

On Aug. 31, representatives from the Potomac Highlands Guild and The Russ Hedrick Resource and Recovery Center, as well as multiple other agencies, worked to organize a day of awareness at the Landes Arts Center in Petersburg.

Awards school five computers

A group of Petersburg Elementary School students show U.S. Sena- tor Shelley Moore-Capito the classroom’s new computers.

A few classrooms in Petersburg Elementary School will now be working with new technology thanks to The Computers for School program and Senator Shelley Moore-Capito.

The program allows each senate office to donate five computer systems to five schools within the state. After review, Capito selected PES as one of the five West Virginia schools to be awarded the new HP 8300 systems, complete with monitors, keyboards and mice.

The Intelligencer

Wheeling News-Register

State Sen. Mike Maroney was arraigned Wednesday in Marshall County Magistrate Court on charges of conspiracy, house of ill fame/assignation and prostitution over his alleged involvement in a Glen Dale-based prostitution ring.

Magistrate Mark Kerwood set Maroney’s bond at $4,500. Maroney was released on his own recognizance.

Glen Dale police on Tuesday filed an arrest warrant for Maroney, 51, a Republican from Glen Dale. The criminal complaint filed in conjunction with the arrest details text message conversations from May 14 through June 13 between who authorities allege is Maroney and Cortnie Ann Clark.

Glen Dale police arrested Clark, 30, on June 14 and charged her with operating a house of ill fame/assignation and prostitution.

According to the complaint, the first contact between Maroney and Clark happened May 14, and quickly moved into the two discussing rates for Clark’s services.

“Is tonight OK?” Maroney allegedly texted Clark on May 14.

“Yeah, it’s $120 a (half-hour), $190 for” an hour, Clark allegedly replied.

That conversation continued into the early morning hours of May 15, at which time Clark allegedly asked Maroney to text her his picture. He initially declined, and Clark allegedly told him she could not meet with him without a photo.

According to the complaint, Maroney told her, “OK, sorry, I could be a regular. ... I drive by Glen Dale on my way home and would like to have an occasional stop.”

At the close of that conversation, shortly after 1 a.m. on May 16, police said, Maroney sent her a picture. In the photo, police said he was looking directly into the camera, smiling and wearing a light blue polo shirt. After he sent the photo, he allegedly texted Clark, “Now can I stop by?”

Police said they compared the photo sent to Clark to one from Maroney’s driver’s license, and believe it to be the same person.

On June 5, according to the complaint, Maroney texted Clark shortly before midnight and asked, “Can I stop by for a massage? Quick in-and-out.”

The two also discussed engaging in sex in a car, with Clark allegedly telling Maroney she could do a “car date” for $120. After the alleged encounter, Maroney texted Clark that he was “very nervous about (having sex) in a car.” He also discussed a later meeting date with her at her rental house.

The last text between the two allegedly happened June 13, when Clark sent a suggestive photograph to Maroney.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Maroney were unsuccessful, as his cell phone remains in possession of Glen Dale authorities. Paul Harris, Maroney’s attorney, was in court Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.

Seven men have also been charged with conspiracy, house of ill fame/assignation and prostitution in connection with the investigation. They are Albert Richard Ingram, 80, of Moundsville; Eugene Joseph McClure, 52, of Moundsville; Spencer Phillip Atkinson, 30, of Wheeling; Justin Matthew Stocklask, 29, of Moundsville; Christopher Ryan Bartsch, 36, of McMechen; Seth Anthony Renzella, 41, of McMechen; and Zackory Slade McGee, 43, of Wheeling.

Ingram pleaded guilty Tuesday to the prostitution charge and received a $170 fine and was put on probation for one year, while the house of ill fame and conspiracy charges were dismissed.

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