Local News – WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Multiple cars are damaged and a driver is injured following a crash on Lee Street in Charleston.
Dispatchers said a driver hit several cars that were parked near the intersection of Brooks Street and Lee Street East Wednesday night.
Lee Street East has been closed temporarily to clear the wreck.
The condition of the driver is unknown at this time. Speed is believed to be a factor in the crash.
POCA, W.Va. — An electrical worker in Poca sustained severe burns following a mishap involving an electrical box.
The incident happened inside the Tyler Mountain Water Distribution Center located in the Rock Branch Industrial Park in Poca Wednesday afternoon.
The man was transported to the Cabell-Huntington Hospital’s Burn Unit. The worker suffered burns to his arms. No other injuries were reported.
Fire officials with the Poca Volunteer Fire Department say the incident is under investigation. The Nitro Fire Department also responded to the call.
DUNBAR, W.Va. — A Dunbar man received his sentence Wednesday for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in 2021.
Sean Patrick Boyd Jr., 26, was sentenced to five years of federal probation for receipt of stolen money. He must also pay $23,817.79 in restitution. Boyd owes $17,227.79 of that amount after turning over $6,590 in seized assets.
Boyd admitted to a scheme to defraud the PPP out of $20,832 in COVID-19 relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act.
Court documents show that Boyd applied for a PPP loan on behalf of his purported business, “Sean Boyd” on April 18, 2021. He falsely stated in his application that his fictitious business was in operation on February 15, 2020, which was a requirement to qualify for a PPP loan.
Boyd also admitted to submitting a false IRS Form 1040, Schedule C, which claimed that his fake business had earned $99,996 in gross income during 2019.
On May 24, 2021, Boyd withdrew $10,000 of the fraudulent loan proceeds from his bank’s branch in Nitro after his loan application was approved and $20,832 was electronically transferred to his personal bank account.
United States Attorney Will Thompson announced the sentencing Wednesday.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Real estate and development professionals in Charleston are learning about new initiatives to support the need for more housing in the Kanawha Valley area, including an incentive program that would provide up to $50,000 in cash rewards to build new and affordable housing in the region.
They met for the first of two community input meetings hosted by the Charleston Land Reuse Agency (CLRA) to not only learn about the New Construction Incentive Program, but also voice their concerns on the needs and barriers of housing redevelopment.
Wednesday’s meeting was a Developer Roundtable event to discuss the initiative. A City Planner for the City of Charleston, John Butterworth explained more about the incentive program that he said would provide a lot of new opportunities for building new, affordable homes in the area.
“We’re providing $35,000 for the development of new single- family homes within the city, and an extra incentive of $15,000 for development on lots owned by the Land Reuse Agency, so a total of $50,000,” Butterworth said.
He said they are also working on an application to the state for the BUILD WV Housing Development Tax Credit District. This designation would allow for new construction and redevelopment tax incentives to stimulate investment in the city.
Wednesday’s event included a presentation by Bowen National Research about the regional housing study that was conducted last year and was funded by Advantage Valley, a regional economic development organization.
The study found that there were a total of 621 available homes in the current housing supply throughout the region, an availability rate representing just 0.4% of homes. In comparison, the availability rate of healthy and well-balanced housing markets is between 2.0% and 3.0%.
In Kanawha County, the study found that the total available number of housing units was the highest out of all of the ten counties represented in the study at 269 available homes.
Bowen National went on to reveal that there are 57 sites in the region that were identified as potential future residential locations, which they said such sites are necessary in order for the housing market to expand.
Butterworth said as many homes are becoming more and more outdated across the city, there is definitely a need to build new ones.
“We’ve got an older housing stock, we need to build new, safe, affordable homes for working families and individuals here in the City of Charleston and that’s really where the Land Reuse Agency has focused their efforts on, acquiring properties for single family redevelopment, but also conservation and increasing quality of live in neighborhoods,” he said.
After the City of Charleston established the Land Reuse Agency back in 2019, the organization has been working to acquire vacant and abandoned lots throughout the city to potentially be used for future real estate opportunities.
Butterworth said Wednesday’s meeting was specifically geared toward people working in real estate, development, and construction who can help bring the new vision of residential redevelopment to the Capital City. He said their feedback is the missing piece to the puzzle in getting the redevelopment initiatives fully underway.
“We need to hear from our development and real estate community, we need to know what the challenges are and we need to know what they think the potential solutions are so we can work to bring those sort of resources to the table, without that dialogue, I don’t know that we’re going to be successful, so that’s what we’re here to do today,” said Butterworth.
The agency’s next public input session is set for next Wednesday, February 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Roosevelt Community Center. It will provide the opportunity to learn about the current work of the CLRA and provide feedback regarding neighborhood priorities.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. — A man is in custody for an alleged sexual assault of a 13-year-old.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department said they received a sexual assault complaint from the victim earlier this month, claiming that Underwood requested sexually explicit images be sent to his phone. The victim provided a graphic description of the sexual abuse during a forensic interview with investigators.
Devon Lee Underwood, 55, of East Bank, was arrested on Tuesday. He’s been charged with third-degree sexual assault, distribution and exhibiting of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian, or person in a position of trust to a child. Underwood is the victim’s stepfather.
Underwood was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court. He’s now held on a $300,000 cash-only bond.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Police announced Wednesday that an internal investigation is underway to determine if city police officers handled a Tuesday night traffic stop of state Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston appropriately.
A CPD statement said a caller to Kanwha County Metro 911 said Wriston driving erratically on the East End of Charleston at about 11 p.m. City officers stopped him on Interstate 77 near the Leon Sullivan Way exit a few minutes later.
“The driver was identified as Jimmy Wriston,” the CPD statement said. “Mr. Wriston was not charged or cited for any traffic or criminal
offense at that time.”
Gov. Jim Justice confirmed during his Wednesday media briefing that Wriston was pulled over while driving a state vehicle and then allowed to continue to drive.
“From what I was told Secretary Wriston was pulled over and let go and then let continued to drive,” Justice sad. “If that is the case I’m sure the police did their job properly.”
Several media outlets received an email, photos and a video from the traffic stop on Interstate 77 near Daniel Boone Park in Charleston.
Justice said there’s no attempt from his office to cover anything up.
Justice said he just learned about the incident a few minutes before his briefing.
“To say he was pulled over and issued a DUI or whatever like that, from what I know right now that’s not the case,” Justice said. “You know how I feel about this and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Justice added there is no excuse for drunk driving.
“There is nothing whatsoever as far as an excuse that we should have an employee of the state of West Virginia driving a state vehicle under the influence of alcohol that is pulled over and issued a DUI,” Justice said.
MetroNews has reached out to the state Department of Transportation for comment on the incident.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An avian flu case has been confirmed in Kanawha County.
The state Department of Health said it’s the first case of avian flu, H5N1, in a non-commercial backyard flock in West Virginia since 2006.
The department said the public health risk is limited to those who had direct contact with the birds.
The avian flu does not spread easily among humans, officials said.
The virus spreads easily among poultry through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure.
“This virus has been previously identified in surrounding states, it is important to note that the risk of transmission to humans is very low and limited to those with direct contact with the birds,” state Health Officer Dr. Matthew Christiansen said.. “If you have concerns about your exposure or symptoms, you should isolate at home and contact your primary care doctor and local health department.”
Christiansen said the situation would continue to be followed.
The state Department of Agriculture said does not impact poultry, meat or egg products.
“The WVDA will continue to work with USDA-APHIS on monitoring and follow all protocols to protect our valuable poultry industry,” state Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said. “The best strategy any bird owner has against this disease is prevention. It is essential to continue taking preventative measures to protect flocks from wild birds where the disease occurs naturally and follow other biosecurity measures to prevent the spread.”
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. — A discussion on personal safety amongst St. Albans residents and law enforcement agencies tries to keep the bond in the community and surrounding areas strong.
Representatives from West Virginia State Police, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department and St. Albans Police stopped by the St. Francis School in St. Albans Tuesday night to talk with residents who may be concerned or have questions they want answered about the safety of the area.
Paul Niedbalski helped organize the meeting. He is Pastoral Council President at St Francis of Assisi in St. Albans as well as District Master for the state of West Virginia with the Knights of Columbus. Niedbalski said he felt like it was a good time to start something like this in his community.
“This was needed in St. Albans,” said Niedbalski. “We haven’t had something equivalent to a town hall meeting like this with the various government agencies and I thought this would be a great program to start.”
He was pleased with the turnout and expects to hold a similar meeting sometime down the road.
“It was a good response and if we have it again I’m sure we’ll double it,” Niedbalski said.
Of the issues brought up by local residents, homelessness and mental health issues were mentioned more than once. Both things are something law enforcement deal with on a weekly, if not a daily basis.
“Mental illness is a big factor in crime and what police agencies have to deal with in this area,” said Niedbalski.
Niedbalski said the relationship with the community and local law enforcement has always been great. He’s been a resident of St. Albans for more than 40 years.
“During that time, our relationship has always been strong,” he said.
A discussion on personal fire safety will be held in St. Albans next month.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. — Kanawha County dispatchers said a fire in a home has displaced adults and five children.
The fire broke out at a home on Bridgeview Drive near Lincoln Drive right before 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Dispatchers said the children and adults were able to get out of the home safely.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man was sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison Tuesday after robbing a video lottery parlor in Nitro last year.
Travis McDaniel, 41, entered Jolie’s on Main Avenue last July. He got away with about $1,900.
McDaniel was sentenced Tuesday by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango after pleading guilty last month to second degree robbery.
Police said McDaniel used an airsoft pistol in the robbery. It was found behind Jolie’s.