The Voice of West Virginia
— By David Walsh
Milo Yosef scored in the first overtime to send Marshall past Charlotte, 2-1, in Conference USA soccer Saturday night in front of 1,546 fans at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, N.C.
Yosef found the net for the Golden Goal on a shot high to the right with Gabriel Alves getting the assist at 96:08. It’s Yosef’s third goal of the season and first game-winner. He now has 19 career goals and seven game-winners.
Marshall, the reigning College Cup champion, improved to 10-1-3, 4-0-2 in C-USA and second in the standings with 14 points. No. 18 Florida International (5-0-1) leads with 16 points.
The 49ers are 8-5-0, 3-3-0 in the league. Charlotte’s current win streak ends at four.
This was the fifth overtime of the season for the Thundering Herd.
No. 3 Marshall took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jan Erik-Leinhos at 24:33 on some quality touch passing between Vinicius Fernandes to Yosef who found Leinhos for a quick blast from outside the 18-yard box for his first goal of the season.
Charlotte got even at 26:39 on a goal by Delasi Batse. It was the first shot to get past Thundering Herd goalkeeper Oliver Semmle since Sept. 17 in a 2-2 double overtime tie against West Virginia.
Since then, the Herd and Semmle had posted seven straight shutouts, a program record for the school and Semmle (18 career shutouts). The Herd has given up just 11 goals on the season.
49ers keeper Daniel Kuzemka stopped five shots.
The Herd had to play a man down nearly the whole second half and overtime when Fernandes picked up a red card in the 55th minute. Charlotte’s Kameron Lacy received a red card in the 96th minute, 30 seconds before Yosef scored. Lacey got the red when he collided with Semmle in the 6-yard box.
The match featured 27 total fouls with 15 on Charlotte and 12 on the Herd. The 49ers got three yellows and the red and Marshall two yellows and the red.
With the victory, the Herd is now unbeaten in its last 17-straight C-USA matches, including the 2019 C-USA Tournament. The last time Marshall lost a conference match was Oct. 26, 2019 at Florida Atlantic by a 1-0 final. The streak is tied for the 15th-longest unbeaten conference stretch (including league tournaments) in NCAA history. The Herd is tied with Harvard (1969-71), Evansville (1989-91), Louisville (2009-11) and Stanford (2014-15).
Marshall’s next match is Saturday at home against South Carolina. It’s Senior Night for the Herd. Start time is 7 p.m. Marshall ends the regular season Nov. 5 at FIU.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State education leaders are revealing more details in a report focused on addressing structural problems at Lincoln County Schools.
Members of the state Board of Education approved the latest Special Circumstance Review of the school system conducted from Aug. 30-Sept. 3.
The team spent the past several months focusing on the county’s facilities and reported on 14 district-wide findings and 19 district-wide corrective actions. Those findings included problems with HVAC units.
“Multiple facilities have HVAC equipment that is operating past the equipment’s expected life span, about 12-15 years. There are some faculty concerns with heat or cooling,” Matt Hicks, director of the state Department of Education’s Office of Accountability, told the board last week during a meeting in Charleston.
The items also included restricting access to areas that posed safety risks.
“Most mechanical, electrical and custodial spaces were not properly maintained, had various levels of trash, clutter and unrelated materials that could restrict access to that equipment,” Hicks said.
Some school roofs need to be repaired too, Hicks said.
“Roofs across the country haven’t been appropriately maintained. We observed multiple examples of vegetation growth, different debris, obstructive roof drains,” he said.
The county is pursuing SBA loans for a potential consolidation of Duval Pre K-8 and Midway Elementary schools in Alum Creek. While that process plays out, Superintendent Jeff Kelley said they are focusing on safety. He told board members the repairs will be made by each individual school.
“Some of this stuff can be handled at the school by the school. Some of it is going to be county level stuff. Some of it is going to be bigger than that. We’ll prioritize those things,” Kelley said.
To view the Lincoln County report, CLICK HERE.
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Last week, Governor Jim Justice touted the last unemployment figures for the state. West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September was 4.6 percent.
Workforce West Virginia Acting Director Scott Adkins said employment now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.
“The 765,000 total employment is actually 1,900 more jobs than we had in September 2019,” Adkins said, “very significant.” He added that the number of unemployed West Virginians is 12,600 fewer than two years ago.
Unemployment surged during the pandemic to record highs as businesses shut down or reduced their workforce. At the peak of the pandemic, nearly 147,000 West Virginia workers filed for weekly unemployment benefits. That number is now down to just under 7,000.
Clearly, this is positive news for the state. It suggests that the state’s economy is improving rapidly as the pandemic subsides. However, there is a downside to the tight employment market: Businesses cannot find workers.
Look around the state and talk with business owners. They are finding it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to fill vacancies. Help wanted signs are everywhere and some businesses are offering signing bonuses to try to attract workers.
West Virginia already has the lowest labor participation rate in the country. Figures from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research show just 55 percent of the adult population is in the workforce. The national average is 62 percent.
Additionally, the “quit rate” of workers is surging. According to the Washington Post, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds “historic levels of people leaving jobs and a near-record number of job openings.”
Ben Ayers, a senior economist at Nationwide, told the Post, “It is a sign of health that there are many companies that are looking for work[ers]—that’s a great sign,” Ayers said. “The downside is there are many workers who won’t come back in. And in the long term you cannot sustain a labor market that’s as tight as it is right now.”
This discussion inevitably produces the argument that employers need to pay workers more, provide better benefits and flexible work schedules. Labor can make those demands because of the tight market.
However, most businesses in West Virginia and across the country are small. They are still coming out of the pandemic recession and are trying to keep the doors open. They cannot easily increase their payroll.
Governor Justice and his economic team are within their right to crow about the jobless rate. The state’s chief executive gets the credit for good news and the blame for bad news, regardless of their role.
However, the positive jobless rate belies the fact that West Virginia’s economy desperately needs more people to go to work here.
LOGAN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Logan’s 24-14 win over Chapmanville, which secured the Logan County championship for the Wildcats.
(Photo gallery courtesy of Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography)
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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Martinsburg’s 42-3 win over Jefferson.
(Photos courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy & David Pennock)
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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Shepherd’s 42-38 win over West Chester. The Rams improved to 7-1 (4-1 PSAC) with the victory.
(Photo gallery courtesy of David Pennock)
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney are seeking reelection to the House of Representatives. Only one, however, will have the chance to run in the 2022 general election as the Republican Party’s candidate.
The West Virginia Legislature earlier this month approved a congressional map with two districts, which reflects a change in population between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. Lawmakers split the state into northern and southern districts, placing Wheeling-native McKinley against Mooney, a resident of Charles Town. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., who resides in Huntington, has already announced her bid for a third congressional term.
McKinley, who has served in the House since 2011, said people need to be convinced he gets results as a legislator.
“We’re not just throwing bombs,” he said. “It’s not rhetoric. We get things done, and that’s where we’re going to go.”
During an interview last week on “MetroNews Talkline,” McKinley spoke about a recent stop in Berkeley County in which two people approached him about issues and the need for congressional help.
“We’re already moving on them,” McKinley said. “I want them to know, just like the people have in the 1st District, we get things done. We know how to make things happen that will help out the people of West Virginia.”
The new congressional map is split from east to west with Congressmen @RepMcKinley and Alex Mooney in the same district. McKinley talks about his matchup against Mooney to @HoppyKercheval. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/rRCj8VzWMZ
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) October 20, 2021
McKinley continued by saying it is not worth waiting until after the next election to start addressing problems outside his current district.
“Yes, you’re not part of my district yet, but I want them to have confidence that people in other parts care about this state,” he said.
Mooney, who joined the House in 2015, has touted his conservative beliefs as a reason people should support him.
“I’m proud of my conservative record,” he said on another episode of “MetroNews Talkline.”
“I think I stand out even among Republicans in my willingness to vote against spending so that we’re not getting out of balance and bankrupting this country. There’s a whole lot of other issues, and it will be for voters to decide.”
The House of Representatives Ethics Committee is reviewing a report in Mooney for using campaign dollars on personal expenses. A report notes Mooney spent thousands of dollars on fast food and lodging at West Virginia resorts.
Mooney said the expenses were made while meeting constituents. He added he is working with the Ethics Committee about questions into purchases.
“Most of what they are bringing up is me traveling in West Virginia, in my district meeting voters,” he said. “These are legitimate things to do and legitimate expenses.”
West Virginia 2nd District Congressman @RepAlexMooney talks with @HoppyKercheval about running against David McKinley in next year’s Primary Election. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/1sgt5Q1FTr
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) October 18, 2021
The new southern district will be the 1st Congressional District, while the northern district will be known as the 2nd District.
WELLSBURG, W.Va. — At this time next year, West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) District 6 Engineer Tony Clark is hopeful vehicles will be able to cross the Wellsburg Bridge.
Clark told MetroNews with the work that has been done since the bridge’s historic float into place and what is planned for next year, the end of October 2022 is the projected target range for the completion of the $131 million project in Brooke County. The bridge will connect the community of Wellsburg with Brilliant, Ohio.
It what many officials called an ‘engineering marvel,’ the 830-foot main span of the bridge was floated down the Ohio River and lifted onto its pilings in late April, a half year ago. It was built on the shoreline of the West Virginia side of the river in 2019 by Flatiron Construction.
Clark said for the past six months, crews have finished rebar and formwork for the approach decks to the bridge, leading up to the arch on the Ohio side. Concrete has already been poured for those decks.
He added that crews are now working on the same operation on the West Virginia side and doing formwork on the deck itself. Clark said it depends on the weather and temperatures if crews will be able to get the decks poured by the end of the year.
Clark admitted that work slows down in the winter months but not completely. He said crews will fill material on the Ohio side for the bridge going over Ohio State Route 7. The bridge ties into 3rd Street in Brilliant, Ohio and not Ohio Route 7.
“There will still be ongoing work but it won’t be as productive. Construction is never as productive in the winter as it is in the spring, summer and fall,” Clark said.
When the winter weather breaks, Clark expects crews to finish concrete on top of the bridges and the road work tying into either end on both states. DOH officials said construction crews must still complete a retaining wall and backfill on the West Virginia side of the bridge and finish pier work on the West Virginia side.
The project is a collaboration between the DOH and the Ohio Department of Transportation, Clark said, but the contract is handled through the DOH.
Awarded in 2016, the project is Flatiron’s first project in the state and West Virginia’s first alternative delivery project. Piers were already constructed and the bridge was raised to the necessary height then pushed upstream and lowered onto those piers.
Clark said the alternative delivery project was something the contractors approached the DOH about using.
“They proposed this to us. Now that we’ve seen it’s possible, we may incorporate that into future plans,” Clark said. “Even though river bridges only come up every 10 to 20 years.”
As part of the project, Clark anticipates West Virginia Route 2 to become three lanes for a stretch around the bridge. He said there will be a middle lane to turn out onto northbound Route 2 if you’re turning off the bridge. He also added that coming from the south to north, going onto the bridge, there will be a lane to turn onto the bridge. A potential traffic signal is to be determined.
“We’re going to push West Virginia Route 2 out towards the river and create a three-lane section there for about a mile in the bridge area,” Clark said.
Currently, motorists in a passenger vehicle traveling along West Virginia Route 2 or Ohio Route 7 are able to cross the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia on the Fort Henry Bridge in Wheeling or the Market Street Bridge, north of Follansbee and into Steubenville, Ohio. The distance between those two bridges is roughly 25 miles.
The Wellsburg Bridge idea was pushed for years, according to Clark, and was a dream of former Wellsburg Mayor Sue Simonetti who passed away on March 31.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice on Friday signed legislation allowing exemptions for coronavirus vaccinations, but the law will not go into effect until January.
The state Legislature last week passed the measure, which allows workers to provide documentation by a medical professional or notarized certification on religious beliefs to bypass a requirement to get vaccinated.
The bill will go into effect in 90 days.
“I know people have strong beliefs — you know, religious beliefs — or medical considerations, and I get every bit of that,” Justice said during Friday’s coronavirus briefing. “That was not part of my bill when I put it upstairs, but it was amended to say that we’re not going to go into effect until January ’22.”
Justice said he hopes employers will provide exemptions to employees despite the law not yet being effective.
“I know they will. I know they will,” he said. “They’re trying to stop this dreaded disease, they’re trying to do what’s right and everything, but at the same time, sometimes maybe in trying to look at the big picture, we don’t look maybe deep enough at the smaller picture.”
Multiple groups criticized the bill; the West Virginia Hospital Association and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce told lawmakers earlier this month that federal requirements would supersede the law once federal officials finalize rules.
Brian Dayton, the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for policy and advocacy, said the group is still in opposition.
“What was initially described when it was introduced as simply reciting what is in federal law is, in fact, much more broad than that,” he said last week on “MetroNews Talkline.”
“It’s really going to cause a lot of problems for employers in West Virginia, we believe, both that do have COVID-19 immunization policy and those that may not but may have done something to try to incentivize their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, argued the state law would complement federal regulations.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department reports the following updated COVID numbers for October 23, 2021. Today, 53 new cases of COVID were identified.
The vaccine exemption bill continues to bring in different perspectives and opinions. @BrandonSteeleWV describes to @HoppyKercheval why he supports this bill. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/GrjRVtELnC
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) October 21, 2021
“This is about giving people who have legitimate exemptions a pathway to make sure they are not losing their job,” he said.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties is continuing its annual fundraising campaign with the organization nearly halfway towards its goal.
According to campaign chair Tammie Alexander, the organization has raised $522,520 as part of its “We Can Move Mountains” effort. The campaign supports various health and education programs for families in immediate need of assistance.
“What we raise here stays here,” Alexander told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM. “We operate the local United Way office on a very lean budget, so when you contribute to the campaign, know that your money stays here in the local community.”
Alexander runs the campaign with an understanding of how it benefits people; she received assistance from the organization upon moving to Morgantown as a single parent. Since moving to Monongalia County, she received her law degree and joined the Steptoe & Johnson PLLC law firm.
“It played an important role in my professional development and my development as a parent,” she said. “The impact it made on my daughter and I is truly important and why I’m involved in this campaign.”
Alexander said individual and workplace contributions help ensure programs will be available to community members in the coming year.
“When you’re struck with some kind of obstacle — especially if it comes out of the blue and you just don’t know where to turn — that can feel so overwhelming and insurmountable,” she said. “Having the agencies that are supported by the United Way is so important.”
The organization has multiple events aimed at encouraging people to donate. One such opportunity highlights the relationship between the organization and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library; for a donation, residents can designate a friend, neighbor or family member to be “Partoned.”
“You can actually splatter posters of Dolly Parton in someone’s yard,” Alexander explained. ” It’s sort of like the flocking thing that different organizations have done, but this is a little bit cooler. You get pictures of Dolly Parton all over your yard.”
The organization is accepting donations at its website, https://www.unitedwaympc.org/.