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Photo gallery: Martinsburg claims sectional title with win over Spring Mills

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Photos from Martinsburg’s 64-38 win over Spring Mills in the Class AAA, Region II, Section 1 championship game. The Bulldogs will host Hampshire in the regional round Tuesday, March 3 while the Cardinals will visit Jefferson.

(Photos courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)


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Senate is working out budget battle over disability waivers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate is working out an emotionally-charged budget issue over funding for the home care of disabled people.

Gov. Jim Justice had promised an additional $20 million meant to eliminate a waitlist for the intellectual and developmental disabilities waiver, which allows for home care, rather than institutionalization.

When the Senate Finance Committee introduced its budget proposal this past week, the IDD waiver program was allocated half that, $10 million extra.

Justice issued a statement a day later, saying that amount is unacceptable.

Now, as the budget moves through the full Senate, that difference seems to be working out.

Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, has an amendment that would add another $10 million, bumping the full amount from $98.5 million to $108.5 million. That’s the full amount Justice sought.

“Let’s get this clarified,” Blair said in a floor speech today.

He said the amount had been lowered at first because there was no other give in the budget for other additional priorities.

“This was never an attempt to keep people from receiving services,” Blair said. “The point of the matter is we have finite resources.”

Officials with DHHR confirmed the agreement.

“We had discussions this morning with Chairman Blair and there will be a floor amendment in the Senate to add that funding back into the program at the governor’s requested amount,” Jeremiah Samples, the deputy director of the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“So we’re grateful to the Senate and the House and absolutely appreciative of the governor.”

During Friday’s Senate floor session, lawmakers voted to move the budget bill on to its third reading while keeping the right to amend it. So that lines up for passage during a session on Saturday.

Roman Prezioso

Senate Democrats also said they would offer an amendment to provide the full $20 million additional funding for the IDD waiver.

“Some families have been waiting a year or more to be approved for this funding,” Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, stated on Friday morning.

“We are going to help these families.”

Justice announced during his 2020 State of the State Address that DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch and Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy had found a solution to fund the elimination of the waitlist.

The IDD waiver program gives individuals the choice of receiving support and services in their home and community instead of in an institutional setting. The cost of services provided by the IDD waiver is 46 percent lower than the cost of services provided by an intermediate care facility for individuals with developmental disabilities, the administration says.

Elimination of the waitlist would allow 1,060 additional West Virginians, including more than 600 children, to receive services meant to help with home care of children with disabilities.

About 4,800 people are currently served by the waiver.

“These are absolutely the most vulnerable citizens in West Virginia,” Samples said today on “Talkline.”

“This funding is to keep these very vulnerable, very needy individuals out of institutions in their communities and with their families.”

.@JeremiahSamples, West Virginia Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the IDD Waiver Program. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 28, 2020

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Big 12 Power Index: Jayhawks assume their normal position in league

Fun as it may have been to watch Kansas go on a streak of a dozen years without a Big 12 regular-season title, the hopes of that were likely dashed when the Jayhawks beat Baylor last Saturday to pull into a tie for first place.

The Bears have two conceivable losses left on the schedule — against Texas Tech and at West Virginia — while Kansas probably only has to worry about the season finale at Texas Tech.

Barring any pre-March Madness, both the Jayhawks and Bears should be in line for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

1. Kansas (25-3, 14-1) Last week: 2

The lob to Udoka Azubuike was an unstoppable weapon for the Jayhawks against Baylor. If there’s a third meeting in Kansas City, the Bears will have to find a way to defend it without getting torched elsewhere.

2. Baylor (25-2, 14-1) Last week: 1

The top of your league is pretty dang good if the No. 2 team has lost two games all season by a combined six points.

3. Oklahoma (17-11, 7-8) Last week: 5

The Sooners snapped a three-game losing streak with a convincing 65-51 must-win over Texas Tech. Saturday’s game at WVU will show whether Oklahoma is worthy of keeping the No. 3 spot, or if beating the Red Raiders was a flash-in-the-pan.

4. Texas Tech (18-10, 9-6) Last week: 4

The Red Raiders are one of the oddest profiles of any NCAA tournament hopeful. Texas Tech is 20th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, yet only 3-9 against teams in the all-important Quadrant 1. Under the old RPI system, they’d be 56th — squarely on the bubble.

5. West Virginia (19-9, 7-8) Last week: 3

It was an incredibly ugly week for the Mountaineers, who dropped a pair of games against teams they had beaten by a combined 70 points at home. But given this team’s bizarre mood swings based on location, the next two Saturdays against Oklahoma and Baylor could end up with happier endings than you’d expect.

6. Texas (17-11, 7-8) Last week: 6

Texas is playing better than WVU or Tech at the moment, but one can’t forget about the first part of the schedule. If the Longhorns can somehow get to 20 wins by the end of the Big 12 tournament, they may just sneak into the NCAA tourney and save Shaka Smart’s job.

7. Oklahoma State (14-14, 4-11) Last week: 7

The Pokes will be a tough out in the Big 12 tourney, as they proved once again by upsetting Oklahoma last weekend. Baylor in particular probably wouldn’t be thrilled with this as a matchup in the Big 12 quarterfinals with a potential No. 1 seed at stake.

8. TCU (15-13, 6-9) Last week: 9

The Horned Frogs are squarely on the bubble thanks to their win over West Virginia — the NIT bubble. You’ve got to finish .500 to get in, and with games left against Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma that’s going to be a tricky proposition.

9. Iowa State (12-16, 5-10) Last week: 8

It seems counterintuitive to have the Cyclones beneath the Frogs after beating them head-to-head this week. But their 30-point home loss to Texas Tech was a bit more telling of where this team is at in the pecking order right now.

10. Kansas State (9-19, 2-13) Last week: 10

The Wildcats have last place on lockdown, looking even worse than their half-man/half-mascot over the course of their current eight-game losing streak.

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Preps for COVID-19, the novel or Wuhan coronavirus, continue in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The risk of getting the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or the Wuhan coronavirus, remained “low” in West Virginia as the month of February closed.

On a national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were expanding testing guidelines for COVID-19 to include anyone with flu-like symptoms who recently traveled to China along with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran.

Most of the cases, thus far, in the United States had been imported, health officials said.

A note of warning, though, came from Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director for the CDC’s National Center for Emerging Diseases, about what was called “an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.”

“We, as a country, as our communities, do need to start to prepare for the fact that we’re going to see community transmission in the United States,” Braden said.

Earlier this week, Dr. Cathy Slemp, West Virginia state health officer and commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health in the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said those preparations for multiple possibilities were already well underway in the Mountain State.

In Braxton County, Sissy Price, nursing director and administrator for the Braxton County Health Department, said they were providing information about illness prevention to residents while remaining in contact with other state, county and local officials about the possible threat.

The Braxton County Health Department serves 14,000 residents.

“Most of our population is 65 and older, so most of the calls and concerns I get and my staff get are (about) how is the COVID, or the coronavirus 2019, spread,” Price said.

“We share facts and not fear.”

In other countries, COVID-19 has largely spread through person-to-person contact but, in some instances, there has been community spread, meaning infections in people who were not sure how or where they became infected.

As of Friday morning, the CDC has confirmed one unknown source case in California.

“Provide yourself with enough knowledge and scientific-based knowledge (about COVID-19),” said Price.

She recommended and local health departments for accurate information currently and during any potential future outbreaks.

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Biser: Mohigans must deserve to win


MORGANTOWN – Coaches often talk about a culture of “expecting to win,” so much so it can often go in one ear and out the other, dismissed as coach’s speak. But when a coach insists his team must “deserve to win,” your ears perk up.

When Sean Biser took to the podium for the first time as the head football coach for Morgantown High School, he dropped a line that should have grabbed the attention of every player on his new team. Before Morgantown can expect to win, it must deserve to win.

Biser, admitted he borrowed the phrase from Mohigans’ boys basketball coach Dave Tallman, but the approach speaks to the type of culture he instilled during his 16 seasons at Keyser. Biser’s Golden Tornado teams missed the playoffs just twice and finished runner-up in 2012.

“They’re going to have to learn to trust me and I’m going to have to learn to trust them and I think that’s going to happen as we get to know each other,” noted Biser.

Morgantown has always expected to win.

It was a dominant force in Class AAA, winning four state titles between 2000 and 2006. However, the Mohigans are now 14 years removed from their last state championship and haven’t won a playoff game since 2016 when they reached the semifinals. Most of the current Morgantown players were either in diapers or not even born the last time the Mohigans hoisted the state championship trophy.

So, what makes a team worthy of expecting to win? According to Biser, it starts far away from the Friday night lights. Deserving to win begins in the weight room.

“The number one place to make that happen is in the weight room,” Biser said. “You’re going to build some toughness, some work ethic and a camaraderie in there you can’t get anywhere else.

“We’re going to do what’s right. We’re going to what’s right on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.”

Biser plans to implement the Wing-T offense he ran at Keyser, the same base offense Morgantown ran to perfection in its championship seasons of 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006. The throwback offense requires toughness and discipline that Biser believes is learned during workouts when no one but teammates and coaches are watching.

“We’re going to build our team to be physical and fast and we’re going to do that through our strength and conditioning program,” Biser said. “We’re going to build our culture through the weight room. If you’re not willing to go in and work hard in the weight room, we’re not going to be successful on the football field.”

Coaches are ultimately measured by wins and losses, but Biser brings an unquantifiable quality to the job that was on full display in the outpouring of support from the Keyser community after he was named the new coach in Morgantown.

His impact on the community and former players can’t be measured in any statistical category, and if Biser can have a similar impact in Morgantown, wins won’t be far behind.

Leave no doubt that Biser deserved the chance to lead a proud Mohigan football program striving to regain the prominence it once enjoyed in Class AAA and that under his leadership Morgantown will deserve to win.

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WVU student killed in housing complex shooting; 2 Fairmont men charged with murder

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A WVU student from New Jersey was shot and killed at a campus housing complex early Friday morning.

According to WVU Police Chief W.P. Chedester, Eric J. Smith, 21, a sophomore, from Clementon, New Jersey, was found dead in a hallway outside an apartment at College Park Apartments just off Willey Street on WVU’s downtown campus.

Chedester said the shooting happened some time before 4 a.m.

“When officers arrived at College Park they found the victim outside the apartment in the hallway,” Chedester said Friday on MetroNews “Talkline.” Smith used to live at the complex.

Granville Police arrested two suspects without incident at Walmart at 5605 University Town Center just after 4 a.m. One of them had a gun, Chedester said.

Authorities have charged Terrell Linear, 21, and Shaundarius T. Reeder, 20, both of Fairmont, with first degree murder. Neither is a WVU student. Both were to be arraigned Friday afternoon in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

William “W.P” Chedester, West Virginia University Police Chief, talks with @HoppyKercheval about the shooting this morning at College Park just off Willey Street. The shooting occurred this morning at approximately 4 a.m. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 28, 2020

Smith was majoring in multidisciplinary studies.

“It’s always a tragedy when a young person loses his life,” WVU Dean of Student Corey Farris said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to his family, those students and others who knew him. Our main priority right now is offering support to our campus community.”

Chedester said police were quickly on the scene Friday morning.

“Multiple agencies responded to support our department at the scene,” Chedester said.  “We appreciate their cooperation as our investigation continues.”

Chedester said the investigation is in the early stages and a motive is not known.

“We’re speaking with people in the complex and were nearby,” he said. .

College Park Apartments is a public-private partnership with WVU that caters to WVU students.


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Mingo County woman struck and killed by train along U.S. 52

NAUGATUCK, W.Va. — A woman was hit and killed by a train near Naugatuck on Thursday.

The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department said Alyson Davis, 35 of Naugatuck, was struck by a Norfolk Southern train around 4 p.m. in an area along U.S Route 52.

Officials said no foul play is suspected.

Both the sheriff’s department and railroad detectives are investigating the incident.

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UAB beats Marshall for second time this season, 88-80

— By David Walsh

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – More points this time, but the same result.

UAB opened an 18-point lead late in the second half and held off a Marshall comeback to defeat the Thundering Herd, 88-80, Thursday night at Bartow Arena in the second game in Conference USA bonus play. 

The Blazers won the first meeting, 61-50, on Jan. 11 also at Bartow Arena.

Marshall staged a furious rally late in the second half and cut the lead to 84-78 when Taevion Kinsey drilled a three-pointer with 1:05 to play. 

But the Blazers prevented the Herd (14-15, 8-8 C-USA) from scoring again until Kinsey dunked with time expiring.

“We played a lot better than the first time,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said on his postgame radio show. “They made some tough shots. They did what they had to do to win. We had the shots, but are not making the plays needed.

“Got to get a little better at key points in the game. Started pressure earlier to see if they’d turn it over. We learned a lesson for a ball game down the road. That was the team they predicted we saw tonight.”

Tyree Scott-Grayson enjoyed a big night for UAB (17-12, 8-8 C-USA). He scored a team-high 19 points (7-of-10 shooting), had eight rebounds and five assists. Will Butler added 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds for a double-double. Jalen Benjamin hit for 14 points, Tavin Lovin with 12 and Kassim Nicholson 10.

UAB made 31-of-64 shots and 4-of-11 from three-point range. The Blazers hit 22-of-34 free throws. They had the edge on the boards, 49-33, and in bench points, 24-12.

The Blazers led 48-42 at halftime and took control of the game about midway through the second half. Nicholson’s jump shot at the 12:06 mark gave UAB a 60-53 lead and started an 18-5 run that ended with Benjamin’s three-pointer with 6:15 remaining. Nicholson scored six points during the decisive surge, including a dunk with 9:36 left that gave UAB a 71-58 edge.

UAB had a comfortable 81-64 lead following Scott-Grayson’s two free throws with 3:40 remaining, before the Herd scored six straight points. The Blazers built their lead back up to 84-70 with 2:14 left, before Kinsey and West accounted for eight straight points in a span of 53 seconds.

Kinsey, the Herd’s top scorer with a 15.9 average, led the way with 22 points and seven assists. Big man Iran Bennett avoided foul trouble this time and totaled 17 points and six rebounds. Jarrod West had 12 points and Andy Taylor 11. Taylor and Mikel Beyers also had six rebounds. 

Marshall made 29-of-67 shots, including 12-of-28 from behind the arc. The Herd, last in the league in free throw shooting, converted only 10-of-18 tries.

UAB now leads the all-time series 22-8. The Blazers are 12-3 against Marshall at Bartow Arena.

Marshall will have Saturday and Sunday off and get back to work Monday. The Herd’s next game is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home against FAU.

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One dead in house fire in Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — One person is dead as the result of a house fire in Huntington on Thursday evening.

Fire officials said the blaze broke out around 7:30 in the evening in the 1600 block of Charleston Avenue.

No other injuries were reported.

According to WSAZ-TV, an elderly woman was killed in the fire.

An investigation into the blaze is ongoing.

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Favorites, bracket busters & toughest sectionals in Class A boys hoops

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato take a look at the favorite, the bracket buster and the toughest sectional tournament as the Class A postseason is set to begin.

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