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WVU set to host 5-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Saturday

(Neal Brown pregame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Oklahoma remains the one team that West Virginia has not been able to conquer since joining the Big 12 in 2012. The Sooners have had their way against the Mountaineers in eight consecutive meetings. Most notably, OU’s last visit to Morgantown on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018 bolstered the Heisman resume of Kyler Murray and denied the Mountaineers a spot in the Big 12 title game as the Sooners prevailed 59-56.

The five-time defending Big 12 champions control their own destiny for a return trip to the conference championship game on December 19. West Virginia stands in their way Saturday night in a primetime matchup on ABC.

“A tremendous challenge for us, an opportunity and a challenge for us this week. Oklahoma has been the standard in our league,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown.

“It is a Saturday night game at Mountaineer Field and it will be the first one that I have had the privilege to coach in. We haven’t played a night game, period, in two years. Our guys are excited about that. And I hope our fans, whatever number we can get in here, I hope they will show up. And not only show up but be loud and create atmosphere.”

Oct 31, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown walks down the field (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

“You’ll have a little bit more adrenaline going at the beginning of the game,” said WVU quarterback Jarret Doege. “I think once a couple of plays are played, that kind of wears off and it turns into a normal football game. But it is obviously exciting to play at night under the lights. I wish all the fans could be there. But to me it is going to be a normal game.”

After a stretch of five games in five weeks, the Mountaineers are coming off their final bye week of the regular season. WVU defeated TCU 24-6 on November 14 in their best defensive effort of the season.

“We are definitely more rested and healthy than we were heading into the TCU game. We were a tired group. We played hard but we had to adjust some things as we went through the week. Last week was more about rest and recovery. We got some work done on Oklahoma but not a ton,” Brown said.

“As much as anything, we got to clear our minds mentally. Because we have not only Oklahoma but Iowa State and finals and all of those things coming up.”

The bye week was timely for junior running back Leddie Brown. Brown is averaging 24 touches a game this season and accounted for 164 yards on 25 touches against the Horned Frogs.

West Virginia Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown (4) carries (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

“I think Leddie feels good,” Brown said. “He will practice at full strength this week. The bye week came at a really good time for him. He played and played well against TCU, he just didn’t have that extra gear. I feel like a couple of those runs where he broke out, he had a chance to go score a touchdown if he was fully healthy.”

Saturday’s matchup pits the Big 12’s top offense in Oklahoma (45.5 points per game) against the league’s top defense in WVU (17.8 points per game). It is also a matchup of the league’s top two signal callers in passing yards per game. OU’s Spencer Rattler leads the Big 12 with 2,319 yards and 22 touchdowns.

“As a runner comparable to other guys in this league, the thing (Rattler) does better than everybody else up to this point that we have seen is how he throws when he is on the run,” said WVU co-defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley. “In the run game, he does enough to keep you honest. But when he does either a designed run and then throw and break the pocket due to pressure, his accuracy on the run is the best we have seen to this point.”

“What it seems like to me is that he is someone who is more comfortable,” Brown said. “He is playing more within the system. He still is able to create and extend plays but he doesn’t look like he is forcing the ball into some bad situations.”

Since allowing 45 points to Texas in a quadruple overtime victory on October 10, the Sooners are allowing 16 points per game. They held Oklahoma State to just 13 points Saturday night in the Bedlam game.

Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Shane Illingworth (16) throws as Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Nik Bonitto (11) grabs his leg (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

“What concerns us the most is their ability to change fronts, to shift the front, the angle and penetrating aggression of the front. Those things are the concerns and the things we have to scale down and have to fight back against,” said WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker.

“Our offense is going to have to fight against allowing them to be as penetrating and disruptive, pre and post-snap.”

During a normal year, players would be hosted for pre-Thanksgiving dinners at homes of their position coaches in addition to the regular team celebration. This year, the Mountaineers will gather on campus Thursday while socially-distanced.

“They eat well all the time,” Brown said. “But they will eat well this week. We have been doing all of our team meals in the IPF (Caperton indoor practice facility) and spreading out. We have eight-foot tables with two guys at each table and facing opposite ways. So we’ll do that on Thanksgiving. We will have a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the guys Thursday after practice.”

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Nicholas County man enters guilty plea in connection with wife’s murder

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Nicholas County man entered a plea Tuesday after he had been charged in connection with his wife’s death.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman accepted Arthur Owen Woods’ guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter in front of a socially distanced courtroom. Woods appeared via video.

Woods was charged in the death of Starina Woods, 34, in May 2019 and pleaded not guilty. Starina Woods went missing in March 2016, shortly after the couple moved to Charleston. According to investigators, Woods never reported his wife missing, telling authorities she had left for Ecuador.

Arthur Woods

In October 2016, authorities were investigating her disappearance as a homicide. Her body has never been found.

MetroNews previously reported on the case where investigators said that Starina Woods voiced concerns about being in an abusive relationship. Authorities discovered bloodstains at the couple’s home on Lance Drive in Charleston during the investigation.

In 2018, Woods was charged for using his spouse’s debit card until the bank froze the account.

Woods will be sentenced to a state correctional facility for a determinate term of no less than three or more than fifteen years. December 3 at 10 a.m. is the date and time of the sentencing as part of the binding plea.

Woods is incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail.

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CAMC nears peak of covid hospitalizations in surge just before Thanksgiving

Charleston Area Medical Center is coming close to its peak number of covid-related hospitalizations, right before Thanksgiving.

The hospital chain peaked in mid-September with 82 hospitalizations, said CAMC spokesman Dale Witte. In the weeks after that, the number dwindled to about 40 or 50 hospitalizations.

“CAMC has seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 inpatients during the past few weeks,” Witte said today.

On Monday, he said, about 67 covid patients were in the hospital.

Today that number shot up to 80.

“The biggest message to the community is to help flatten these occasional spikes by wearing your mask properly, socially distance yourself from others and frequently wash your hands,” Witte said.

Hospitalizations have been going up steadily statewide for weeks.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources coronavirus dashboard shows 463 daily hospitalizations, which is an all-time high.

At the beginning of November, there were just 254 hospitalizations, and at the beginning of October there were 164.

DHHR shows 129 covid patients in intensive care units and 51 on ventilators.

A widely-cited model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, shows West Virginia with 3,032 hospital beds available and 196 ICU beds available.

The state gets its numbers from the West Virginia Hospital Association, which represents medical centers around the state.

Earlier Tuesday, the association told MetroNews the record numbers of hospitalizations aren’t yet straining capacity.

But officials with the association warned that the current surge doesn’t appear to be at its peak yet.

“In recent weeks, it is a little more concerning that it has been,” said Tony Gregory, vice president of legislative affairs for the West Virginia Hospital Association.

MORE: ‘This surge hasn’t peaked yet,’ hospital association official says of state COVID-19 patient demand

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FDA commissioner says agency will strike a balance in reviewing vaccine applications

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells MetroNews the FDA will attempt to strike a balance with its consideration of vaccines for the coronavirus.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn was a guest Tuesday on the MetroNews Morning News. Hahn said the FDA has received Pfizer’s emergency use operation application for its vaccine. Hahn said FDA scientists are reviewing it.

“Our criteria for authorization of these applications is very similar to what we would use for approval of a regular application and they’re very high standards for both safety and effectiveness and the quality of the vaccine,” Hahn said. “Our scientists will look at these vaccines and they’ll do the numbers crunching themselves and we’ll make our own conclusions.”

After that, the FDA will use an external advisory committee from experts around the country, which Hahn said is a public process.

“We’ll use their advice before we make a final decision,” he said.

On today’s #WVMorningNews 🌄, @SteveFDA with @US_FDA joined @JeffJenkinsMN to talk about the next steps in #COVID19 vaccine development & authorization. Here is the interview: https://t.co/YJsrY6md8M @WVMetroNews

— Shauna Johnson (@ShaunaJWV) November 24, 2020

Moderna and AstraZeneca are expected to soon file their applications for emergency use operation.

Hahn said he anticipates the FDA will move at a good pace on the applications.

“We, FDA, will not authorize a vaccine that we wouldn’t want to give to our own family. That is of critical importance. We want to balance that with the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic, people are dying, people are sick and we want to prevent as much infection as possible and a vaccine is the best way doing that,” Hahn said.

The FDA boards meets next on Dec. 10 and could approval the Pfizer vaccine then.

Hahn, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said the quickness of how the sponsors have come up with vaccines is impressive.

“It just shows you want America can do when we put our minds to it,” he said. “In particular, the first two vaccines that were announced in terms of effectiveness, that’s just an example of a private-public partnership and what can occur,” Hahn said.

Hahn it’s likely many West Virginians won’t be able to be vaccinated for several more months so there’s no reason for them or anyone else to let their guard down against the virus.

“So in the meantime we have to continue these efforts to prevent the spread,” Hahn said.

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‘This surge hasn’t peaked yet,’ hospital association official says of state COVID-19 patient demand

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The reported number of people being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals in West Virginia remained at a pandemic high of 463 in Tuesday reporting from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

“Although we’re at record level in terms of hospitalizations, we’re not yet in the position that other states are in, like in the Midwest,” said Tony Gregory, vice president of legislative affairs for the West Virginia Hospital Association.

Of the people in hospitals because of COVID-19, DHHR information showed patients in intensive care totaled 129 with 51 on ventilators.

The ICU and ventilator numbers were down some from records set earlier in the week.

However, “The reality is this surge hasn’t peaked yet in West Virginia and it appears we are looking at months until it does,” Gregory cautioned.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was projecting hospital demand for COVID-19 treatment in West Virginia would reach its highest levels in the entire coronavirus pandemic in January.

That was only a projection that was subject to change.

The West Virginia Hospital Association is a not-for-profit organization representing 59 hospitals and health systems across the Mountain State.

As of Nov. 24, Gregory said hospitals had the staff and equipment to manage patient loads.

Healthcare providers, he said, used slower periods during the summer to stockpile personal protective equipment, PPE, and to plan for different potential surge scenarios.

Gregory said lessons have also been learned from other states.

Those with the West Virginia Hospital Association remain part of a cooperative effort with state, local and hospital officials to coordinate the maintenance of bed space at larger hospitals while also supporting smaller community hospitals.

“We’re just exploring all avenues to ensure we have capacity throughout the entire state,” Gregory said.

Officials with both WVU Medicine and Mon Health System provided capacity updates during recent appearances on MetroNews “Talkline.”

If necessary, facilities had the option of again ramping down elective procedures, as was done in the early days of the pandemic, to address COVID care and staffing demands, but Gregory said that was not happening at this point.

Surge plans could also be implemented, additional COVID-19 units could be opened or more staff deployed.

“In recent weeks, it is a little more concerning that it has been,” Gregory said of COVID patient numbers.

“We’re confident that the tireless work by our 46,000 healthcare professionals puts West Virginia hospitals and health systems in the best possible position to move swiftly when presented with a surge of COVID patients while still being able to safely maintain non-COVID services.”

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Season preview: Mountaineers enter season with elevated expectations

— by Taylor Kennedy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The upcoming college basketball will be one that will require a lot of patience. There have already been teams suspending activities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The West Virginia men’s basketball team is coming into this season with high expectations. Mountaineer head basketball coach Bob Huggins compared this year’s team to the 2010 Final Four team. That is a high ceiling. 

As WVU’s first regular season game approaches, let’s take a look at the team as a whole then break down the players.

Team

In the Big 12 preseason rankings, out of all 10 teams, the Mountaineers come in preseason ranked third in the league. They are behind preseason favorite Baylor and Kansas at second.

This is the highest preseason rank since the 2018-19 season. WVU was preseason ranked third, and the Mountaineers finished that season 15-21.

Since the 2016-17 season, WVU has been preseason ranked in the top-three in the Big 12 four times. The only time the Mountaineers were not preseason ranked in the top three came last season when they were fifth.

Speaking of preseason rankings, the Associated Press (AP) poll came out a few weeks ago. West Virginia cracked the list at No. 15. This is the fifth time in the Bob Huggins era that his team has been in the preseason AP Top 25.

In the history of Mountaineer men’s basketball, they have been in the preseason rankings seven times in school history. The first came back in the 1962-63 season under George King. The leading scorer that season was WVU legend Rod Thorn.

New Faces

There will be five new players on this year’s Mountaineer roster. Three of those are hopeful to see the floor significant time this season.

Isaiah Cottrell is one of three players listed as 6-foot-10. The other two are Derek Culver and Seny Ndiaye (newcomer). Cottrell comes into WVU having spent his prep career in the southern part of West Virginia at Huntington Prep. He was listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN, and he was ranked 75th on the ESPN top 100 high school recruits. He averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks last season with Huntington Prep.

Taj Thweatt will become the fourth player from the state of New Jersey to play under Bob Huggins. Thweatt signed with the Mountaineers back in November 2019. He spent his high school basketball career at Wildwood Catholic High School. There, Thweatt averaged 18 points and seven rebounds as a senior. He was a two-time Boys Player of the Year according to The Press of Atlantic City. Thweatt finished his career with the Crusaders with over 1,700 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Kedrian Johnson is the only junior college (JUCO) transfer in this season’s recruiting class. Johnson is a JUCO transfer from Temple College in Temple, Texas. According to 247Sports.com, Johnson was listed as a three-star recruit and ranked the 17th best JUCO prospect in this season’s recruiting rankings. He finished his sophomore season ranked fourth in the country in points per game with 26 points.

Seny Ndiaye is the second prospect on WVU’s roster to come from Huntington Prep. At Huntington Prep, Ndiaye averaged five points, six rebounds, and three blocks. He signed with the Mountaineers in July 2020.

The last newcomer is Jay Moore. Moore spent his high school career with Greater Beckley Christian. He tallied over 1,800 career points with the Crusaders. Moore announced he was coming to West Virginia earlier in the year.

Second-Year Guys

There are six second-year guys that are projected to have big years with the Mountaineers. 

Gabe Osabuohien, Arkansas transfer, made his impact immediately on the defensive end for Huggins. Osabuohien led WVU in deflections (148) and charges (23). He also recorded 34 steals and nine blocks.

Miles McBride is coming off an impressive freshman season. McBride was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman team a season ago. He played in all 31 games averaging 10 points per game. He finished second on the team in double-figure performances with 16. One of his best performances came against Ohio State where he scored 21 points, and gave a Jordan shrug after a circus shot.

West Virginia Mountaineers guard Miles McBride (4) dunks the ball during the second half against the Baylor Bears at WVU Coliseum. (Photo by Ben Queen/USA Today)

Taz Sherman was one of two new JUCO transfers on last season’s team. Sherman started in four games, and he was one of the more reliable free throw shooters. He led the team in free throw percentage shooting 86%.

Sean McNeil was the other new JUCO transfer last season. McNeil played in 28 of the 31 total games last year. McNeil led the team in made three-pointers with 29. He scored 13 points twice last season. The first came against St. John at Madison Square Garden, and the other came on the road at Texas.

Jalen Bridges is the lone West Virginia native on this year’s roster. Bridges is a Fairmont native. He was redshirted last season, and he did not appear in a game. In high school, he led the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears to two state championships. Bridges also won the Bill Evans Award, which is the state player of the year award in West Virginia.

Fairmont Senior graduate Jalen Bridges (Photo by Eddie Ferrari)

Oscar Tshiebwe shined in his first season in the old gold and blue. Tshiebwe was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, and he was an unanimous selection for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team and Newcomer Team. He finished his freshman season leading the team points per game (11), rebounds per game (9), and total offensive rebounds (128). Tshiebwe was named to the 2020 preseason All-Big 12 team.

The veterans

There are only three remaining players from the 2018-2019 team. Think about that, out of all 15 players on that team only three remain. Those players are Derek Culver, Jordan McCabe, and Emmitt Matthews Jr.

Derek Culver is coming off an impressive sophomore season at WVU. He was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. He started in 25 of the 31 games last season, and he averaged 10 points and nine rebounds. Culver finished second on the team in double-figure performances with 15. He recorded six double-doubles last season.

West Virginia Mountaineers forward Derek Culver (1) grabs a rebound (Photo by Ben Queen-USA Today Sports)

Jordan McCabe started in 29 of 31 games last season while averaging 14 minutes per game. He reached double figures twice, both coming in conference play against Kansas and Texas. He finished fourth on the team in free-throw percentage shooting 76%.

Emmitt Matthews Jr. started in all but one game last season. Matthews record eight double-figure performances. He posted a season-high 18 points in WVU’s season finale against fourth-rated Baylor. Matthews finished his sophomore season averaging six points and four rebounds.

West Virginia’s first game is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. against South Dakota State. It will be the first ever meeting between the two. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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DHHR: Active COVID-19 cases approach 14,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 approached 14,000 in numbers released Tuesday morning by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

The agency confirmed 969 new cases contributing to 13,940 active cases. That includes 463 hospitalizations, the same as Monday, with 129 patients in intensive care and 51 patients on ventilators.

The DHHR also confirmed 15 additional deaths Tuesday including a 94-year old male from Wayne County, a 78-year old female from Cabell County, a 70-year old male from Fayette County, an 80-year old male from Mineral County, a 74-year old female from Marshall County, a 90-year old female from Mineral County, a 35-year old female from Ohio County, an 84-year old female from Marion County, an 87-year old female from Wood County, a 92-year old female from Ritchie County, a 79-year old male from Wood County, a 70-year old female from Kanawha County, an 81-year old male from Kanawha County, a 70-year old male from Mineral County, and an 83-year old male from Mingo County.

Overall deaths since the pandemic started are now at 682. There have been 61 deaths in the past seven days.

The overall positivity test rate has moved to 3.51% while the daily rate is now at 4.8%.

Tuesday’s COVID-19 county alert map has Wirt, Ritchie, Marshall, Mineral and Berkeley counties in the “red” high spread category. There are 44 counties with at least one “red” metric.

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., November 24, 2020, there have been 1,048,077 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 42,083 total cases and 682 deaths. https://t.co/CkwFiGH1oW pic.twitter.com/WXZ02dK2ZZ

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) November 24, 2020

Overall confirmed cases include: Barbour (357), Berkeley (2,799), Boone (593), Braxton (103), Brooke (566), Cabell (2,640), Calhoun (62), Clay (107), Doddridge (114), Fayette (1,065), Gilmer (192), Grant (307), Greenbrier (412), Hampshire (288), Hancock (569), Hardy (212), Harrison (1,156), Jackson (667), Jefferson (1,206), Kanawha (5,316), Lewis (226), Lincoln (385), Logan (1,006), Marion (757), Marshall (1,070), Mason (367), McDowell (585), Mercer (1,252), Mineral (1,028), Mingo (939), Monongalia (3,107), Monroe (342), Morgan (238), Nicholas (309), Ohio (1,357), Pendleton (100), Pleasants (76), Pocahontas (107), Preston (479), Putnam (1,710), Raleigh (1,441), Randolph (646), Ritchie (133), Roane (152), Summers (260), Taylor (279), Tucker (112), Tyler (127), Upshur (454), Wayne (930), Webster (54), Wetzel (378), Wirt (92), Wood (2,236), Wyoming (618).

Free COVID-19 testing is available today in Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Cabell, Grant, Hancock, Jackson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Mineral, Mingo, Morgan, Ohio, Putnam, Ritchie, Taylor, Wayne, Wood, and Wyoming counties.

Barbour County

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Myers Clinic, 3 Health Care Drive, Philippi, WV
12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Belington Clinic, 56 N. Brandenburg Street, Belington, WV
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Junior Volunteer Fire Department, 331 Row Avenue, Belington, WV

Berkeley County

12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Hedgesville High School, 109 Ridge Road N., Hedgesville, WV
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Shenandoah Community Health, 99 Tavern Road, Martinsburg, WV
4:30 PM – 8:00 PM, Dorothy McCormack Building, 2000 Foundation Way, Martinsburg, WV

Boone County

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Boone County Health Department, 213 Kenmore Drive, Danville, WV

Brooke County

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Brooke Middle School, 5 Bruin Drive, Wellsburg, WV

Cabell County

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Cabell-Huntington Health Department, 703 Seventh Avenue, Huntington, WV

Grant County

10:00 AM – 3:30 PM, Union Education Complex, 52 Tiger Drive, Mt. Storm, WV (School at Mt. Storm)

Hancock County

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, JD Rockefeller Vo Tech, 80 Rockefeller Circle, New Cumberland, WV

Jackson County

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Ravenswood Senior Center, 511 Washington Street, Ravenswood, WV

Jefferson County

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Shepherd University, 164 University Drive, Shepherdstown, WV
12:30 PM – 3:30 PM, Jefferson County Health Department, 1948 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV
4:30 PM – 6:30 PM, Washington High School, 300 Washington Patriot Drive, Charles Town, WV

Lincoln County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Lincoln County Health Department, 8008 Court Avenue, Hamlin, WV
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, White’s Plaza, Hamlin Piggly Wiggly, Hamlin, WV

Logan County

3:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Tracy Vickers Community Center, 68 Boise Street, Chapmanville, WV

Marshall County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Marshall County Health Department, 513 6th Street, Moundsville, WV

Mason County

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Wahama High School, 1 White Falcon Way, Mason, WV
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, RC Byrd Locks, Apple Grove, WV

Mineral County

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mineral County Fairgrounds, Route 28, Fort Ashby, WV
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Mineral County VoTech, 981 Harley O Staggers Drive, Keyser, WV

Mingo County

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mount Hope Freewill Baptist College, Old County Road, Dingess, WV
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Williamson Health and Wellness, 173 East 2nd Avenue, Williamson, WV (Under tent)
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Hurley Drug Company, 210 Logan Street, Williamson, WV (by appointment; call 304-235-3535)
1:30 PM – 5:00 PM, Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department, 1 Firefighter Lane, Williamson, WV

Morgan County

12:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Warm Springs Middle School, 271 Warm Springs Way, Berkeley Springs, WV

Ohio County

11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Valley Grove Volunteer Fire Department, 355 Fire House Lane, Valley Grove, WV
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Warwood Fire Station 9, 1301 Richland Avenue, Wheeling, WV
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Wheeling Island Fire Department Station 5, 11 North Wabash Street, Wheeling, WV

Putnam County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Teays Valley Church of God, 185 Connection Point, Scott Depot, WV

Ritchie County

11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Ritchie County High School, Ritchie County School Road, Ellenboro, WV (pre-registration: www.ipsumcovidresults.com)

Taylor County

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, First Baptist Church of Grafton, 2034 Webster Pike US Route 119 South, Grafton, WV

Wayne County

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Wayne County Health Department, 217 Kenova Avenue, Wayne, WV

Wood County

12:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Parkersburg High School, 2101 Dudley Avenue, Parkersburg, WV (pre-registration: www.ipsumcovidresults.com)

Wyoming County

11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Council on Aging at Maben, 695 Mountaineer Highway, Mullens, WV

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Holiday retail sales forecast projects increased spending in pandemic

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An increase in retail sales of between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent compared with 2019 was what the National Retail Federation was forecasting for the U.S. holiday shopping season in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Our industry has evolved fast and furious,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association.

Bridget Lambert

Lambert talked with MetroNews on Tuesday, a day after the National Retail Federation released its holiday forecast which is typically issued in October.

The projected growth in this year unlike any other is in line with last year’s increase of four percent and the average holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent during the past five years.

“Consumers have shown they are excited about the holidays and are willing to spend on gifts that lift the spirits of family and friends after such a challenging year,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

The NRF analysis includes online and other non-store sales minus automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

It’s based on indicators including employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, consumer credit, previous retail sales and weather.

For those employed, NRF cited a strong stock market, rising home values and record savings with help from this year’s stimulus payments as contributors to optimism among shoppers.

Some people have also spent less money this year on personal services, travel and entertainment.

“Given the pandemic, there is uncertainty about consumers’ willingness to spend but, with the economy improving, most have the ability to spend,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist.

“Consumers have experienced a difficult year but will likely spend more than anyone would have expected just a few months ago.”

Lambert said evidence of that was already showing in West Virginia.

In some cases, “We recognize that citizens do have additional funds and more disposable income than they did and we are seeing them spend that in the retail marketplace right now,” Lambert said.

For NRF, the holiday season is defined as the period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.

However, at many stores, the push for holiday shoppers began much earlier this year.

Black Friday and other promotional events launched four to six weeks ahead of typical retail schedules at a time when COVID-19 store safety protocols remained in place.

As estimated 42 percent of consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than usual.

Along with the bigger stores, “We need to remember our Main Street merchants. They’ve struggled some this year to get back on their feet after being closed down earlier,” Lambert said.

“They will also be offering great holiday deals this season and their expert customer service they offer all year long.”

Compared with the third quarter of 2019, e-commerce sales were up 36.7 percent, according to NRF.

“Customers are now using online, curbside pickup, in-store delivery and delivery to the door and the delivery service companies are also seeing a boost,” Lambert said.

Kleinhenz, with the NRF, said rising coronavirus case numbers were a concern nationwide.

“There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season,” Kleinhenz said.

“After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday.”

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Young boy killed in Logan County fire

KISTLER, W.Va. — A three-year-old boy died in an apartment complex fire Tuesday morning in Logan County.

The fire began at about 3 a.m. at the Buffalo Creek Apartments on Route 16 at Crown near the community of Man, according to Logan County Office of Emergency Services Director Bill Weese.

“One apartment was fully involved and it spread to the other apartments pretty quick,” Weese told MetroNews from the scene of the blaze. All eight apartments were destroyed.

Investigators believe the fire began in the apartment where the young boy was located. A woman in that apartment was injured and taken to a hospital. There was no early word on her condition.

Weese said any fatal fire is tragic but especially when it involves a young child and it’s close to a holiday.

“That makes it even worse on all the fire crews and everybody,” Weese said.

FATAL FIRE UPDATE: The victim in this morning’s fatal fire in Buffalo Creek has been confirmed to be a 3 year old male. One adult female sustained injuries, condition unknown at this time. The fire’s cause is still under investigation. NFI

— WVState Fire Marshal (@WVFireMarshal) November 24, 2020

Seven of the 8 connected single-story apartments were occupied at the time of the fire. Weese said the Red Cross was there to provide assistance.

“A lot of the residents went to their families,” he said.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene Tuesday morning to begin an investigation. Weese said local firefighters did their jobs.

“They tried their best to contain it and make sure everyone was evacuated from it and then started the long process of extinguishing the fire,” he said.

Fire crews from Buffalo Creek, Man, Logan County No. 2 and the City of Logan were on the scene along with the Logan County Emergency Ambulance Authority and the Logan County Sheriff’s Department.

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Source: WV MetroNews

Caresource MetroNews Top Plays – Week 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Check out the top plays from around West Virginia in the second week of the high school football playoffs

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Source: WV MetroNews