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Hairston keys Bluefield’s improvement, 6-2 start

Bluefield’s 6-2 start to the season has by highlighted by its ability to thrive defensively, with the Beavers allowing fewer than 48 points per game.

There has also been a direct correlation with the production of RJ Hairston and the team’s success. The sophomore is averaging 17 points in the six victories and seven in the two setbacks.

Recently, Hairston is playing his best basketball of the season, having scored 42 points over the last two games and serving as a major factor in the Beavers’ ongoing three-game win streak.

“Our team is getting good,” Hairston said. “The chemistry is improving and everything.”

Hairston keyed the Beavers to a 46-37 victory last Tuesday at Oak Hill by leading all players with 21 points and 11 rebounds. It helped Bluefield’s go-to player overcome an eight-point performance in a 52-51 setback to the Red Devils earlier this season.

In the Beavers’ most recent victory, 72-54 at Graham (Va.), Hairston had his second 21-point effort in as many games.

“He’s going to be something special,” veteran Bluefield head coach Buster Large said. “He’s 6-4 and-a-half, and 15 years old. He loves the game, and he works hard at it. He’s only going to get better and better. He’s not by himself. [Starting guard] Caleb Fuller is only a junior, [starting point guard] Sencere Fields is a sophomore, so we’re going to be OK.”

With his mix of size and skill, Hairston is effective in the high post or low post. He proved especially problematic for the Red Devils in the most recent matchup, showcasing offensive ability away from the basket and producing nearly half of his team’s offensive output.

“My jumper was looking good tonight, but usually it’s not always on,” Hairston said. “That’s what I really want to touch up on and get to the three ball and expand the floor more. There’s a few things I can touch up on.”

Bluefield’s RJ Hairston goes up for a shot against Poca during the 2021 state tournament. Photo by Eddie Ferrari

Hairston has plenty of time to get there, but after garnering valuable experience on the Beavers’ 9-10 Class AA state tournament qualifying team last season, he has upped his game to another level.

“It was a real big jump. It took me a minute to get into it, but once I got into it, it really helped me out going from last season into this season,” he said.

While his team wasn’t at full strength for the rematch with Bluefield, Oak Hill head coach Benitez Jackson took notice of Hairston’s improvement from when the team’s met back on December 14.

“We knew he’s going to be a problem for us every time we play him,” Jackson said. “He’s big, strong and athletic and he hit a couple foul line jump shots on us. Most of the time, he did a lot of things just being aggressive, going and getting rebounds. We’ve preached being more physical on the boards and Princeton killed us by being physical on the boards. A couple times, we were kind of soft going for the basketball and not boxing out hard enough. You do that, guys like him will wear you out, because he’s too quick off his feet and too strong for that.”

With the Beavers one victory away from matching last season’s win total, Large likes the trajectory his group has taken through the season’s first six weeks.

“We’ve improved tremendously in the last few weeks and we’re trying to stay healthy like everybody else,” Large said. “This thing is getting real interesting now. I hope we can survive this and I wish everybody else good things, because I hate to see teams getting shutdown and not able to play.”

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Veteran James Monroe squad pushing the pace in 9-1 start

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — At the midway point of the regular season, the Mavericks of James Monroe have firmly established themselves as one of the top Class A boys basketball teams in West Virginia. Matt Sauvage’s club has just one blemish on their record, with that loss coming to the top-rated team in Greater Beckley Christian. In a recent four-day span, the Mavericks defeated Region III rivals Webster County and Greenbrier West by a combined 39 points. Both of those teams could stand in their way of a trip to the state tournament in Charleston.

“It is always good against regional opponents to get in there and get some wins early on. Most of all, we are finally getting our team back healthy again. It was good to get the boys up there together and seeing them create that,” Sauvage said. “To get those two wins was good for the team and confidence going forward.”

A pair of Mavericks are averaging over 20 points per game in the first half of the season. Senior guard Shad Sauvage and junior forward Eli Allen form a formidable backcourt-frontcourt combo and they account for over half of the team’s scoring.

“They are almost the perfect combo for you if you are looking for an up-and-down game. Eli is a slasher and he is going to get to the hole. If you are going to play him one-on-one, he can get to the hole just about any time he wants. He is going to draw a lot of help, which helps Shad out. Shad is more of the perimeter shooter. If his guy draws off to help on Eli, that leaves Shad open. They play off each other and it has worked out really well so far.”

Senior Cam Thomas provides needed frontcourt help for the Mavericks. He is averaging over 12 points and eight rebounds per contest.

“We are smaller this year. With having his presence in there, he is playing a few more minutes for us. Since he has come back from his injury, he is averaging a double-double. We are going to need that continuing on.”

James Monroe led Class A in scoring a year ago, averaging 77.6 points per game and they are just a shade off those numbers this winter. When at full strength, Sauvage says he always wants to see his team push the pace and get out in transition as much as possible.

“We are trying to get up and down the court. We are trying to use our athleticism and our quickness to our advantage.”

Despite going 17-2 last winter and earning a No. 1 seed in their sectional, the Mavericks were edged out of a state tournament spot in the regional round. Sauvage and his returners have not forgotten the dissappointment.

“I am not going to say the boys and the coaches ever really got over it. They used it as motivation. This offseason has probably been the best we have had.

“The boys are sometimes talking about the state tournament. As a coach, I keep saying, ‘Hey, let’s figure out what the next game is and let’s take care of it. Let’s enjoy the journey because sometimes it is not about the destination. Let’s enjoy the journey and have fun while we are doing it’.”

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Parkersburg, Snowshoe pick up among highest snow totals from Izzy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Snow totals across West Virginia from Winter Storm Izzy varied perhaps even more than normal.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said warm air in advance of the storm and isolated snow bands created the variation.

Snowfall totals from the main storm, not counting the northwest flow snow today. These are from the reports that were submitted to us, and used in conjunction with the National Remote Sensing Center’ snow analysis map. Some amounts may not represent what you received. pic.twitter.com/DFFYsoaXkT

— NWS Blacksburg (@NWSBlacksburg) January 17, 2022

The weather service said the Morgantown area picked up 4 inches of snow while a section of Marion County measured 5.5 inches.

Weirton had 9 inches of snow while Wheeling, 30 miles down the Ohio River had 7.

There were 10.5 inches in Parkersburg, 8.5 in Ripley, 7.5 in Huntington and generally 6 inches in Charleston, Bluefield and Lewisburg.

Eastern mountain counties also had a range of accumulation. There was 8.8 inches in Canaan Valley in Tucker County while the Snowshoe Resort in Pocahontas County reported 14 inches of snow by late Monday afternoon.

Using the reports that you’ve sent us, here’s a map showing how much snow fell yesterday evening into early this afternoon.

Due to the advancing warm air yesterday, dry air, and convective snow bands, not everyone (even in the same county) experienced the same amount. pic.twitter.com/7DWWYhnE9k

— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) January 17, 2022

January has already produced nearly 20 inches of snow in some areas that haven’t gotten than much in several years.

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The Game Within The Game – Episode 115

Brad Howe and longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Dave Sharapan offer up their best bets for the week ahead, including:

*Monday night NFL wildcard preview: Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams

*Best prop plays for Arizona – LA

*NFL previews for this weekend: Bengals vs Titans, 49ers vs Packers, Bills vs Chiefs

*Favorite college basketball plays for Monday night (January 17)

*Dave’s favorite NHL play for Monday night (January 17)

All of that and more on the latest The Game Within The Game presented by DraftKings.

New users click here DraftKings Sportsbook… and use code METROGAME for a special NFL playoffs sign up bonus offer you can use this weekend.

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Public hearing on abortion bill draws strong views, personal stories

West Virginia citizens spoke out about a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks in West Virginia.

During a public hearing in the House of Delegates chamber, than 20 speakers addressed that bill plus another that would make it illegal to transport and sell aborted fetal organs in the state. The bill mirrors a Mississippi law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Most speakers expressed views against the 15-week ban, although several spoke in favor of it. Each speaker got 2 minutes.

The 15-week ban passed the House Health Committee last week and next goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

“This is yet another attempt by legislators to regulate abortion out of existence,” said Loree Stark, legal director for ACLU West Virginia. She noted a stay on enforcing the Mississippi law while it is under federal review. “The enforcement of an unconstitutional law comes with a substantial risk of litigation.”

Emily Womeldorff of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic also argued against the bill. “Politicians have no place interfering in anyone’s pregnancy decisions or taking away our personal freedoms,” she said.

Margaret Chapman-Pomponio of West Virginia Free opposed both bills. “Indeed, this is a somber occasion,” she said. “What kind of message does this send to young people and to people who might have considered locating in West Virginia?”

Some speakers relayed personal experiences about how policies had shaped their lives.

Rita Ray, 80, said she was a pregnant high school student in Kentucky before Roe vs. Wade guaranteed the right to abortion. Ray said she was told to go to an alley, where a woman who could perform the procedure would meet her. She described the experience as terrifying.

“Too many women and girls died needlessly because they were denied safe reproductive healthcare,” she said.

Philip T. Dunn said he was the youngest of three brothers, and his mother endured difficult pregnancies. “My mom chose life in 1957,” he said.

“To me, life is precious. Sometimes the life you save today, you may not realize what’s involved or what that entails until years later.”

Tony Hodge of Putnam County said he was disheartened to hear suggestions in the House Health meeting last week that some babies might be better off aborted than in West Virginia’s foster care system. Hodge said he had been in the foster care system and went on to make a fulfilling life in West Virginia.

“As Americans, we believe that life is an inalienable right given to us by our creator,” Hodge said, echoing lines from the Declaration of Independence.

Following Dec. 1 oral arguments, a ruling by Supreme Court justices could roll back what was established in the earlier Roe vs. Wade case, as well as the related Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.

Mississippi’s law established a statewide ban on abortion after 15 weeks. That’s weeks earlier than what Roe vs Wade established, with viability at 23 or 24 weeks — or longer in cases where the patient’s life or health is at risk.

Other states, including Florida, have been moving to get in line with laws like Mississippi’s. Other states, like Vermont, will be change their laws to ensure access to abortion.

In West Virginia, House Bill 4004 still has a long path through the Legislature. It now goes to the House Judiciary Committee before any consideration by the full House or the state Senate.

.@wvhouse hears testimony on abortion bills.. @WVMetroNews Capitol Report @AARPWV
listen here https://t.co/DxM07dAsot

— Jeff Jenkins (@JeffJenkinsMN) January 17, 2022

 

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Demonstrators block Charleston road to urge Manchin to take action on legislation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several protesters were cited by Charleston Police on Monday after blocking a portion of Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston while asking U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and others to support various federal legislation.

The around a dozen protesters, which gathered at the intersection of Court Street and Kanawha Boulevard close to Charleston City Hall, refused to leave the roadway. Some protesters sat down on the road.

A news release stated the protesters gathered to urge Manchin to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and “fix the filibuster.”

On MLK Jr. Day, over a dozen West Virginians took to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Kanawha Blvd in WV’s capitol city, calling on @Sen_JoeManchin to protect democracy and voter rights. Many were arrested. Courage for us all.

More photos: https://t.co/DZZGKDYxVC pic.twitter.com/KC6x1jFYe4

— Joe Solomon (@engagejoe) January 17, 2022

Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt released a statement to MetroNews on Monday:

“At approximately 1:00pm today Charleston Police Officers responded to the intersection of Court Street and Kanawha Blvd. to address a group of protestors sitting in the roadway.  Community Policing’s Hybrid Commander, Lt. Dave Payne and members of Patrol Division’s Charlie Shift communicated with the protestors and explained how they were violating laws/ordinances.  After multiple warnings arrests were made.  Nine (9) arrestees were taken into custody without incident and brought into the Booking Division for processing and to give all parties a much needed warm up.  All were arraigned through Charleston Municipal Court and released.”

On Tuesday, several West Virginia organizations including Race Matters West Virginia, Charleston Chapter of the NAACP, West Virginia Faith Table, are hosting a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Virtual Voting Rights Rally. The groups will be joined by the King family and demand Manchin to pass legislation on voting, a release stated.

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Mountaineers look to get back on track, hand No. 5 Baylor third straight loss

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Less than a week ago, West Virginia’s 5 p.m. Tuesday matchup with Baylor at the Coliseum was thought to present an opportunity for the Mountaineers to play the nation’s No. 1 team, a title the Bears held until Monday.

Following consecutive home losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State last week, Baylor is No. 5 in The Associated Press Top 25, though those results have done nothing to lessen the perception WVU head coach Bob Huggins has of the defending national champion.

“They’re not a whole lot different,” Huggins said. “Their guards may not shoot it quite as consistent as they did a year ago, but they’re good. They can create really good shots for themselves and they create for others. Their two bigs have gotten much better. They have a freshman who plays on the wing at 6-foot-6 [Kendall Brown] and he’s really athletic. combine it with [Matthew] Mayer, who’s every bit of 6-10 and plays on the perimeter, they’re hard to match up with.”

The Bears (15-2, 3-2) struggled offensively in both setbacks, being held to 41 percent shooting and 62 points against the Red Raiders, and managing only 54 points on 31 percent shooting in the most recent defeat to the Cowboys. BU made only 10-of-30 two-point field goals against OSU.

“You just don’t get a break in this league,” Huggins said. “We were in the Big East when I got here, and there were teams that quite honestly were a break. There’s no breaks in this league and the travel in this league is hard. There are a lot of variables and sometimes you miss shots. They went through a stretch where they weren’t making shots as consistently. We seem to do that by the half.”

In its most recent game at Kansas, West Virginia struggled to make shots in both halves. Although the Mountaineers went to halftime having made only 7-of-31 field-goal attempts, their deficit was two points. WVU then shot 10 of 32 after halftime and struggled to maintain its level of defense from the first 20 minutes as the Jayhawks pulled away to win comfortably, 85-59.

The loss came four days after the Mountaineers (13-3, 2-2) put together one of their better performances this season in a 70-60 victory against Oklahoma State.

“The Oklahoma State game was the closest full 40 minutes we probably played all year,” WVU guard Sean McNeil said. “In the second half, we had a lull for five or six minutes where we were up 16 and they cut it to seven or eight, but other than that, that was the closest to a 40-minute game that we’ve played throughout.

“The Kansas game, we competed really in the first half. Basketball is a game of runs in general, but playing in Allen Fieldhouse and the crowd that they have there is obviously special, we knew they were going to throw punches and we had to continue to respond. We did that well in the first half, but in the second half, we came out extremely flat and stopped playing. But we’re back home now and have [Sunday and Monday] to prepare for a really good Baylor team and a great opportunity ahead of us.”

The Mountaineers are a perfect 10-0 at home thus far, while Baylor has won each of its three road games against quality competition — Oregon, Iowa State and TCU.

Tuesday’s matchup pits two of the top 40 scoring defenses in all of college basketball. Baylor, surrendering 59.9 points per game, ranks 19th, while WVU is 39th allowing an average of 62.8 points.

WVU has encountered more issues offensively, with the Mountaineers scoring 59 points in both Big 12 losses and averaging a shade under 65 points in four league games.

Huggins believes improved rebounding could create more opportunities in transition, which in turn should allow his team to attempt shots of a higher percentage. However, that will be anything but easy against the Bears, who rank in the top 15 nationally with a +8.6 rebounding margin per game.

“You have to rebound it, outlet and run. We have had a hard time rebounding it and it’s hard to run when you don’t rebound,” Huggins said. “We haven’t rebounded it as consistently as we need to. It’s hard to work on outlet passes and those kind of things for a very long time, because you have so many other things you have to do.

“In our league, people play a lot of variety of things. Baylor is not going to just play man-to-man. They’re going to play zone. They’re going to press. Everybody in our league does that to see if it sticks and if it sticks, they’ll stay with it.”

To improve its offense, West Virginia needs to get leading scorer Taz Sherman back on track. Sherman is averaging 18.9 points, but over his last five contests, he’s averaging 13 points on less than 34 percent shooting. Forced to miss the Big 12 opener at Texas while in COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Sherman has struggled since, scoring 32 points on 11-of-33 shooting in three conference games.

“He’s not 100 percent yet,” Huggins said. “I’m not a doctor. I can’t put a percentage on it, but I know he’s not where he was.”

McNeil, at 14.3 points, is the team’s second-leading scorer, while Jalen Bridges has increased his production of late to average 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. Point guard Malik Curry shows a 7.9 scoring average after his 23-point effort in the loss at Kansas, while all-important reserve forward Gabe Osabuohien leads the team with 5.9 rebounds.

Baylor guard James Akinjo (11) drives to the basket past Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Kevin McCullar (15) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor has four players averaging double-figure scoring, led by 6-1 guard James Akinjo’s 13.9 average. Akinjo, in his first year at BU after previously playing at Georgetown and Arizona, has 97 assists — more than double Sherman’s total of 40, which leads the Mountaineers.

Fellow guards LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler average 13.1 and 12.1 points, respectively. Brown (10.6 ppg) and Mayer (9.1 ppg) round out the team’s top five scorers.

Baylor benefits from plenty of production from its taller players as well. Jeremy Sochan, a 6-9 freshman, is averaging 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, a 6-8 forward, leads the team with 7.8 rebounds to go wth 7.9 points, while 6-10 Flo Thamba has a team-high 18 blocked shots.

“That’s why they’ve had the run that they’ve had,” Huggins said. “They have really good players.”

The Mountaineers are hoping to avoid two losses in a row for the first time this season, and with a trip awaiting Saturday to No. 18 Texas Tech, WVU finds itself in the middle of what would likely be considered its toughest three-game stretch.

“Whenever you take the beating that we took in Lawrence,” Huggins said, “everybody is kind of foaming at the mouth to get to play again.”

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Three Guys Before The Game – Kansas Review & Baylor Preview (Episode 346)

Little time to think about a forgettable weekend for the Mountaineer basketball team.

WVU played poorly Saturday against Kansas and now faces another top-ten challenge.  No. 5 Baylor visits the Coliseum Tuesday afternoon. 

The defending national champion Bears, who were the nation’s only remaining undefeated team, surprisingly lost two games last week.  Can the Mountaineers, who are undefeated at home, hand Baylor its third consecutive defeat?

The “Guys” dive into those questions along with a series of basketball and football listener questions.

Brad, Hoppy and Tony return Thursday with a Baylor review and preview of Saturday’s date with No. 18 Texas Tech. 

Three Guys Before The Game is sponsored by Burdette Camping Center, Komax Business Systems   and Caesars Sportsbook.  Don’t forget to check out Three Guys merchandise.

Never miss an episode, subscribe below.

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County leaders discuss issues, put together goals at annual legislative conference

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — County commissioners around the state expressed concerns and gathered ideas from one another during an annual meeting of county leaders in Charleston Monday.

The County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia is holding legislative meetings through Tuesday at the Embassy Suites, as county leaders put together an agenda for the 2022 regular legislative session and lay out goals for the future.

The group, which gathered both in person and virtually, heard from West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and U.S. Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) on Monday morning. U.S. Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) spoke to the crowd Monday afternoon.

“It’s a good time for our commissioners and their staff to come together and have a discussion about issues with counties and how to problem solve and share information,” Jennifer Piercy, Executive Director of County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia (CCAWV) told MetroNews.

CCAWV legislative briefing and & HJR3 panel discussion took place Monday. HJR 3, Property Tax Modernization Amendment, will be on 2022 General Election ballots as a constitutional amendment to be approved by the public. The resolution could allow lawmakers to lower personal property taxes, including on vehicles.

Piercy said there are concerns from counties on how counties would be funded with those changes.

“It will be on the ballot in Nov. 2022 at the election. Citizens will be allowed to go in and vote. If it passes, it will give a future legislature the ability to open up that section of property tax code and go in and make changes,” she said.

Agnes Queen, a Lewis County Commissioner and the President of CCAWV led the legislative briefing panel. She said county leaders are also concerned with the regional jail bill, where an increase for the daily rate counties pay for inmates could happen in July.

Agnes Queen

In 2021, the House and Senate approved a bill that froze the daily rate that counties pay for inmates at $48.25. The per diem was scheduled to increase to $55 a day on July 1. Queen said the counties are pushing for another freeze. She said it would cost Lewis County an additional $100,000.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding was also a main topic of discussion. Queen said Lewis County is receiving $3.9 million, enough for “shovel ready projects” in the county. Piercy said her organization has been pushing information out to the counties in recent months on how the funding can be spent.

Queen said with many important issues on the table for counties, now is the time to come together.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the ticket you’re on, your’e the people. We are not an R or a D. Once you’re elected, you’re the people. You should be working for the people, not the party,” Queen said.

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Thousands without power in southern West Virginia as Izzy moves east

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Crews from Appalachian Power are working to get outages restored across the company’s West Virginia Service Territory. By mid-morning Monday, Winter Storm Izzy had left more than 25,000 outages in the region.

“At 8 p.m. last night we had about 800 customers with no power, but 8 a.m. today we had 24,000. So when everybody went to bed, the storm just kept on coming and when people woke up they had problems,” said company spokesman Phil Moye.

 

Winter storm Izzy hit the Mountain State yesterday afternoon and continued to causing trouble across WV. What do we know so far about Izzy’s impact? @WVOutdoors gives an update to @HoppyKercheval. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/T8jRz1pquh

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 17, 2022

More than half of the outages were situated in Kanawha County. The bulk of the rest of the outages were scattered across Lincoln, Cabell, and Wayne Counties. They seemed to follow the track of the winter storm.

“It was a wet snow in some areas, and the weight of the snow is bringing down limbs and that’s what’s causing us problems, “he said.

 

As winter weather starts to impact our area, just know that we have AEP and contract crews staged and ready to roll if power outages do occur.

Visit https://t.co/UusEUWZg3O to sign up for outage alerts in your area. pic.twitter.com/8UWxS0MUEE

— Appalachian Power (@AppalachianPowe) January 16, 2022

Moye said the company however had plenty of manpower to tackle the problems. Additional personnel were brought into the West Virginia service area from other parts of the company ahead of the storm. They’re now working through the long list of outages to make the repairs.

Mon Power and Potomac Edison reported fewer than 500 outages and most of those were in Calhoun and Clay Counties in central West Virginia.

Monongalia County digging out 

Monongalia County MECCA 911 Jim Smith said his county was digging out after several inches of snow.

“This event was well advertised,” Smith said. ” People knew it, people prepared for it and people just planned on staying home during the storm.”

As of noon, most roads are still snow covered, slick and hazardous. Interstates range from wet to slick in spots, but passable.

“Our roads are still snow covered, they are still very slick,” Smith said. ” I would not recommend going out just yet.”

According to Smith, they provided emergency radios to DOH crews working in the region so they could assist where needed.

“So they could monitor emergency traffic going on,” Smith said.” That way, they could respond even quicker if they heard an emergency call going out.”

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