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Video gambling parlors will get to try out new machines under pilot project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some Limited Video Lottery locations in West Virginia have had the same slot machines for more than 10 years but that will change soon.

John Myers

State Lottery Director John Myers has announced pilot project that will allow permit holders to test out new machines for up to 90 days before deciding whether they want to buy them.

“What we’re hoping to do here is exchange old machines in the field for new models that the operators and retailers can try in their locations,” Myers said.

It’s going to be a welcomed option, according to West Virginia Amusement & Limited Video Lottery Association Executive Director Michael Haid.

“There’s a bunch of new machines out that are really expensive, some are upwards to $20,000 a piece and this (the 90-day trial) will give us the ability to try these machines out before we pull the trigger on buying them,” Haid said.

Michael Haid

Haid, who has been working with Myers on the specifics of the pilot project, said currently if a permit holder wants a new machine it’s a one-for-one replacement with the old machine.

“In the past they’ll take that machine out and they’ll have to crush (destroy) that machine and I’ll have to try the new machine. The problem is what if my players don’t like that machine? The machine is $15,000,” Haid said.

The 90-trial should help resolve the guessing game on what new machines players like and don’t like.

There are restrictions as part of the pilot project including only one new machine per location, the change has to be a swap out, one for one and if the operator/retailer has less than 30 permits they can only have one machine in trial.

The pilot program begins Oct. 1 and sunsets Dec. 31, 2022.

LVL permits are scheduled for their 10-year rebidding in 2021.

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Active coronavirus cases surpasses 3,800

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of active coronavirus cases in West Virginia is more than 3,800 according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Sunday data release.

State officials have recorded 3,854 active cases, in which the department received 190 new cases since its Saturday report.

The number of deaths increased to 334; the deaths of a 70-year-old female from Kanawha County and a 72-year-old male from Kanawha County have been connected to the pandemic.

Kanawha and Wayne counties are the highest-rated counties on the state’s county alert system map; both counties are at the orange level.

The department also updated its data for cases in counties: Barbour (56), Berkeley (995), Boone (218), Braxton (13), Brooke (113), Cabell (804), Calhoun (25), Clay (35), Doddridge (25), Fayette (615), Gilmer (46), Grant (161), Greenbrier (127), Hampshire (107), Hancock (150), Hardy (90), Harrison (365), Jackson (264), Jefferson (431), Kanawha (2,651), Lewis (38), Lincoln (167), Logan (617), Marion (269), Marshall (173), Mason (142), McDowell (84), Mercer (415), Mineral (174), Mingo (376), Monongalia (1,999), Monroe (149), Morgan (55), Nicholas (102), Ohio (373), Pendleton (53), Pleasants (17), Pocahontas (59), Preston (154), Putnam (559), Raleigh (520), Randolph (252), Ritchie (13), Roane (49), Summers (54), Taylor (126), Tucker (26), Tyler (16), Upshur (77), Wayne (395), Webster (8), Wetzel (55), Wirt (12), Wood (364) and Wyoming (115).

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Nicholas County BOE to consider 4-day instruction schedule

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — There’s a growing number of students and parents in Nicholas County who originally chose a blended learning model to begin the school year who now want to be in the classroom more.

Donna Burge-Tetrick

The Nicholas County Board of Education meets Monday and will take up a request from Nicholas County School Superintendent Donna Burge-Tetrick to try and meet those desires.

Burge-Tetrick said there are now a lot of students want to come to school four days a week.

“We have the option of two days a week and four days a week depending on space and we’ve had such an overwhelming request for students to attend, I’m just going to ask my board if it’s okay to bring all of them back four days a week,” Burge-Tetrick told MetroNews.

Burge-Tetrick said she believes the desire to change is less about connectivity problems with remote learning and more about favoring the traditional classroom setting.

“I think we’re servicing people (with online learning) really well but a lot of times people don’t know if distance learning or virtual learning is right for them until they try it,” Burge-Tetrick said. “So we gave students the first three weeks to try it out and see what fits best for them.”

Gov. Jim Justice has said repeatedly the instruction plan in connection with COVID-19 is a local decision. He repeated that at last Friday’s media briefing.

“I promise you with all my soul that we’re trying to do everything we possibly can in working with the local people to make the right moves in each one of these counties,” Justice said.

Burge-Tetrick said she’s hopeful her school board will give her the okay to tweak Nicholas County’s plan.

“We have a lot of students who realize they learn better if they’re face-to-face in school and I want to try and accommodate that and I’ll see if my board feels comfortable in letting me do that,” Burge-Tetrick said.

Nicholas County is green on this week’s COVID-19 school alert map.

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Fairmont citizens circulating petition to recall councilmembers

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A group of Fairmont residents is circulating a petition to remove two members of the Fairmont City Council for comments the elected officials made online.

The petition is aimed at recalling Councilmembers Barry Bledsoe and David Kennedy, in which both have received criticism for posts targeting political figures and communities.

Organizer David Ice said residents are concerned about the city’s image, and the language of Bledsoe and Kennedy could discourage businesses from moving to Fairmont.

“We’re labeled as a friendly city, and with them making those remarks, that doesn’t make us a friendly city,” he said. “That put us a bad city.”

The Fairmont City Council voted earlier this month to rebuke Bledsoe following social media posts in which he called Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris a “hoe” and referred to state Delegate Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, as “satanic.”

Bledsoe did apologize for his comments on Harris but said his criticism of Walker was because of her pro-abortion stance.

“Anything that I said that they don’t like wasn’t racist and it wasn’t even unfriendly,” Bledsoe told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM. “It was simply a matter of responding to political issues.”

The council in January and July voted to censure Kennedy for racist and sexist language used on social media.

“Taylor County communists were sponsors of Fairmont City Council Petition, that recall petition has one motive, to silence myself and Bledsoe,” Kennedy said online. ” Put us out of the way of certain subversive group will have almost total power to make the decisions for the city. As conservatives we pose real threats to their radical work. If we are gone nobody will come forward in the future to take there lies, slander, abuse, and corruption. We’ll fight this fight until the end and my term ends in two years.”

Kennedy and Bledsoe have two years each on their terms.

“If any group can simply take up arms and try to remove a politician because they don’t like his stand, that could lead to a bad future,” Bledsoe said.

Ice said he and other residents will go to various homes and ask people to support the petition.

“We’re going to do petition drives and go door-to-door,” he said. “With COVID-19, we will do social distancing and everything.

According to the Marion County Clerk’s Office, the petition needs 2,461 for the recall to be successful. All signees must be Fairmont residents and have registered to vote in the November 2018 election.

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Sunday notebook: Neal Brown laments ‘extremely disappointing performance’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A comfortable season-opening win for West Virginia and a stressful come-from-behind win for Oklahoma State last Saturday set the stage for what was expected to be a competitive Big 12 opener in Stillwater.

And for 58-plus minutes, West Virginia stayed within shouting distance of one of the premier programs in the Big 12. The shorthanded Cowboys did just enough to improve to 2-0, while the Mountaineers showed why they still have far to climb to find themselves in the top half of the conference.

Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown (4) (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

“We were an undisciplined football team today. That is on myself and it is on the coaches. We talk all the time about WVU not beating WVU,” said head coach Neal Brown.

“We got into this game into an environment that had pressure against a good opponent, and we had some adversity. I don’t think we reacted very well.”

West Virginia was penalized 12 times for 106 yards. Those penalties included a delay of game on the opening play of a possession in the second quarter. The Mountaineers also burned a timeout on the first play of a possession in the third quarter.

“We had twelve penalties, gave them ten points on offense. A fumble, scoop-and-score and then a procedure penalty on 3rd-and-1 that gave them the ball back right before half.”

Leddie Brown (Photo courtesy of OSU)

In the second quarter alone, West Virginia committed 7 penalties for 65 yards. Although Leddie Brown was perhaps the most productive offense player for WVU, he too was a part of the penalty pileup. After a 19-yard run, he spun the ball on the ground, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct flag.

“I was surprised because last year in the Kansas game I did the same thing and it wasn’t a penalty,” Leddie Brown said. “That was a hundred percent on me. After that drive I apologized to my teammates on the sideline.”

“I thought Leddie ran hard,” Neal Brown said. “We can’t have the penalty that he had. That is a selfish penalty. He is a leader on the team. He was a captain for the game. We can’t have the penalty. With that said, the effort and the strain that he plays with is what we need across the board.  He played physical and ran the ball hard and broke tackles. I thought he was just this close to breaking a couple more. I thought he competed.”

Brown carried the ball 26 times for 104 yards in his second consecutive 100-yard performance.

The Mountaineers also left three points on the field when a snap was mishandled on a 39-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

Winston Wright (Photo courtesy of OSU)

Winston Wright scored West Virginia’s lone touchdown on a 70-yard connection from Jarret Doege. Outside of that explosive play, WVU averaged just 3.6 yards per play on their other 78 snaps.

“We just have to come ready to work Monday and just get better,” said Wright. “We need to just keep doing what we were doing and make those plays next time.”

West Virginia’s defense was responsible for only twenty points allowed and many teams would sign up for that in any game in Stillwater. On this day however, the Mountaineers suffered their sixth consecutive loss to the Mike Gundy-led Cowboys.

“Give credit where credit is due. They came out and executed better than us,” said WVU senior safety Alonzo Addae. “Obviously I have faith in my guys and know we will turn it around next week for Baylor.”

Statistically, West Virginia’s two most productive players on defense were senior transfers. Addae and Tony Fields each had nine tackles. Fields collected WVU’s lone turnover of the game with an interception in the third quarter.

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Missed opportunities haunt WVU in 27-13 loss at Oklahoma State

(Neal Brown postgame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the second year in a row, West Virginia outgained Oklahoma State. But the Mountaineers were once again limited to 13 points in a 27-13 loss at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

A 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 7:44 of the fourth quarter clock and ended with a 23-yard Chuba Hubbard touchdown run secured OSU’s sixth consecutive win against the Mountaineers.

“Before we can win big games, we have to quit losing them,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “This was a big game. Let’s not mix it up.

“I am not pleased with how we coached. I am not pleased with how we performed. I am extremely disappointed.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cowboys quickly struck in the second quarter as backup running back L.D. Brown broke free for a 66-yard touchdown tote, giving OSU a 7-0 lead.

Chuba Hubbard (30) runs the ball tackled by West Virginia Mountaineers linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo (7) (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

Less than three minutes later, a promising West Virginia drive was thwarted when Tyren Irby recovered a fumble from a strip sack of Jarret Doege and returned it 56 yards for a score. The Cowboys doubled their lead to 14-0. An Alex Hale field goal extended the Cowboy lead to 17-0 with 5:02 to go in the half.

“I was really frustrated at halftime,” Neal Brown said. “Just because of how we ended the half.

“I just thought we lost our compose and we didn’t handle adversity well in the first half.”

West Virginia was quick to respond. Doege hit Winston Wright on a 70-yard scoring strike, cutting the Mountaineer deficit to 17-7. OSU however drove deep into WVU territory and a Hale field goal pushed their lead to 20-7 at the break. Wright caught 4 passes for 103 yards.

“All week we had been preparing. Our coaches gave me things to look for and I just applied them,” Wright said.

“Winston Wright and T.J. Simmons, those two guys did a nice job against man coverage. We missed some throws,” Brown said.

WVU’s defense clamped down on the Cowboys and Evan Staley booted a pair of field goals in the third and fourth quarters to cut the Mountaineer deficit to 20-13 with 9:01 to play. But the Cowboys went on a lengthy, game-clinching drive to double their lead to 27-13.

“They ran 41 times for 200 yards. You run for 200 yards, you are going to win most of them,” Brown said.

WVU outgained OSU 353-342, but for the second year in a row, the Mountaineers were unable to capitalize on their opportunities in the red zone.

“Once you cross into that 30-ish (yard line) range, they were able to score touchdowns and we didn’t,” Neal Brown said.

Doege completed 20-of-37 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. Leddie Brown rushed 26 times for 104 yards.

“The run game had to be a big factor for us to have a chance to win,” said Leddie Brown. “I was just trying to get vertical and get as much as I can.”

OSU Starting quarterback Spencer Sanders went through pregame warmups but was unable to play after suffering an ankle injury last week. True freshman Shane Illingworth completed 15-of-21 passes for 139 yards and an interception.

Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Shane Illingworth (16) passes against the West Virginia Mountaineers (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

Tony Fields led the Mountaineer defense with nine tackles and an interception.

Oklahoma State fumbled four times and recovered each. Three of those fumbles were inside their own 30-yard line.

“I think you make your own breaks,” Neal Brown said. “We had opportunities to get on all of them really. We just didn’t do it. We have to look back and see where we can get hats to the ball.”

“We would have loved to take advantage of those opportunities,” said WVU senior defensive back Alonzo Addae. “The ball didn’t bounce our way today. It is definitely frustrating.”

“(OSU) knows how to win close games,” Neal Brown said. “They understand how to make the routine plays and not beat themselves. And we are not at that point now. That is the rude awakening of this game. We are not at that point. How do we handle the next week? How do we come back after not playing and not competing like we need to compete against one of the top teams in our league?”

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Capito applauds Barrett pick for Supreme Court; Manchin issues plea to slow down

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., says she looks forward to meeting U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “and will consider her based on her merits as West Virginians would expect me to do.”

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., urged a slowdown for the process.

“I will not vote to confirm Judge Coney Barrett or any Supreme Court nominee before Election Day on Nov. 3,” Manchin stated. “I urge my Republican friends to slow down, put people before politics, and give their constituents a chance to vote.”

West Virginia’s two senators are demonstrating the debate America is about to have over the open Supreme Court seat just weeks before the General Election.

Barrett is being considered for the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon, who died a little more than a week ago.

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump appointed Barrett to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago just three years ago. Both Capito and Manchin voted to confirm her to the federal bench.

Before that, she taught law at the University of Notre Dame for 15 years and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump introduced Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday evening and alluded to controversy over the timing.

“I’m sure it’ll be extremely noncontroversial,” Trump said, meaning the opposite.  Then he referred to the contentious confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “We said that the last time, didn’t we?”

Trump said, “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. Should be very easy. Good luck. It’s going to be very quick.”

Controversy has swirled over proximity to the upcoming General Election, as well as the Senate GOP majority’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in 2016.

Voting for the General Election has already started in some states. West Virginia’s early voting period begins in less than a month, Oct. 21.

On March 16, 2016, Capito said the election cycle should be concluded before the Supreme Court nominee was considered.

“Before a Supreme Court justice is confirmed to a lifetime position on the bench, West Virginians and the American people should have the ability to weigh in at the ballot box this November. My position does not change with the naming of a nominee today,” Capito said in 2016.

At that point, Capito concluded, “With just a few months until the election, West Virginians should have an opportunity to express their views and elect a new president who will select the Supreme Court justice.”

In a statement today, Capito did not specify a timetable to consider Barrett’s nomination, but indicated support.

“She has demonstrated a strong commitment to the rule of law and to carefully considering the text and history of the Constitution,” Capito stated today.

“I look forward to meeting with Judge Barrett soon as the Senate moves forward with the confirmation process and will consider her based on her merits as West Virginians would expect me to do.”

With the Garland nomination in 2016, Manchin had said the nominee should get a hearing.

Today, Manchin said he would “review Judge Coney Barrett’s legal qualifications and judicial philosophy just as I have done with every Supreme Court nominee that has come before the Senate during my time as a Senator.”

But he warned not to go so fast.

“Rushing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee weeks before a presidential election has never been done before in the history of our nation and it will only fan the flames of division at a time when our country is deeply divided,” Manchin stated.

“I cannot support a process that risks further division of the American people at a time when we desperately need to come together.”

Governor Justice

Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican who often talks about his close relationship with the president, praised Capito’s support for the nomination and said Manchin should take the same position.

“My sincere congratulations go out to President Trump on an outstanding selection for the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s career is proof that she is committed to upholding our Constitution and the rule of law,” Justice stated.

“I want to thank Senator Capito for her commitment to considering this nomination based upon her merits. I also want to encourage Senator Manchin to support this excellent selection by our President, Donald J. Trump.”

Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, also a Republican, also issued a statement about Barrett’s nomination.

“I urge the Senate to put aside partisanship, give Judge Barrett swift consideration and confirm someone who obviously has the qualifications to sit on our nation’s highest bench,” Morrisey stated.

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No red on latest school map; Kanawha and Wayne are orange and still have no classroom instruction

West Virginia’s coronavirus map that determines whether classroom instruction can occur for the next week had no counties in red and just a couple — Kanawha and Wayne — shown as orange.

That means those two counties must continue with remote learning and can’t yet have extracurricular activities.

More counties were gold. That means in-person instruction can occur with heightened precautions including face coverings for students in grades 3 and above. Extracurricular activities are permitted only in that county or with other gold counties.

Gold counties included Fayette, Logan, Mingo and Summers counties.

All other counties were green or yellow.

The map is based on data through midnight Thursday, then reviewed by a panel of state health officials.

This Saturday’s version of the map was affected by a change made by state leaders. Early versions were determined by daily positive covid cases on a rolling average and adjusted for 100,000 population.

Gov. Jim Justice announced an adjustment to allow county status be determined by percent positive cases instead.

“Whichever metric, whether it’s the infection rate or the percent positive rate — whichever of those two metrics is better — will be the metric that’s applied for the color code of the county,” Clay Marsh, the state’s coronavirus response coordinator, said Friday.

A daily map at the Department of Health and Human Resources website on Friday showed most of the state on green, reflecting that change.

There were also several instances of adjustments by a panel of health officials who review the map before it is released every Saturday evening.

  • Barbour County: Moved from yellow to green as the percent positivity is less than 3% over a 14-day average. Barbour County was assessed with a 14-day average rather than a 7-day average due to the number of total cases in the 7-day average being below 20.
  • Wyoming County: Moved from gold to yellow as the percent positivity is less than 3% over a 14-day average. Wyoming County was assessed with a 14-day average rather than a 7-day average due to the number of total cases in the 7-day average being below 20.
  • Monongalia County: Moved from yellow to green using the percent positivity rate due to the exclusion of isolated students at Arnold Hall at West Virginia University.
  • Fayette County: Moved from orange to gold using the percent positivity rate due to four cases being transferred to another county during data validation.
  • Boone County: Moved from orange to yellow using the percent positivity rate due to six cases being transferred to another county during data validation.
  • Morgan County: moved from green to a yellow based on two additional cases being included as new cases for Morgan County for a 7-day average based upon county of residence.

Editor’s Note– the review panel originally moved Marshall County from yellow to gold but later Saturday night returned it to yellow status after further review. Marshall County will be yellow for this week of school construction. 

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16 games scrubbed in Week 5, many teams can reschedule in gold counties

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the midway point of the high school football arrives this week, 16 games have been removed from the Week 5 schedule as a result of the weekly COVID protocols map that was posted on the WVDE website Saturday afternoon.

Kanawha and Wayne counties are in the orange category, meaning that their teams can practice but not play.

Five counties are in the gold category: Fayette, Logan, Marshall, Mingo, Summers. Teams in those counties can play in-county opponents or schools from other gold counties.

Canceled games (involving teams in orange counties):

  • Capital at Cabell Midland
  • South Charleston at George Washington
  • Huntington at Spring Valley
  • Herbert Hoover at Chapmanville
  • Liberty Raleigh at Wayne
  • Nitro at Logan
  • Poca at Sissonville
  • Tolsia at Tyler Consolidated
  • St. Albans at Riverside

Canceled games (involving teams in gold counties, they can reschedule):

  • Mingo Central at Greenbrier East
  • Tug Valley at Pike Central(KY)
  • Man at Buffalo
  • Midland Trail at Nicholas County
  • Greenbrier West at Meadow Bridge
  • Oak Hill at Pikeview
  • Summers County at Independence

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Photo gallery: WVU faces Oklahoma State in Big 12 opener

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Photos from West Virginia’s Big 12 Conference opener at Oklahoma State.

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