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WVU President Gordon Gee sounds off on proposed football playoff format

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first steps in a lengthy process to expand the College Football Playoff system are underway and West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee will be a voice in the discussions that could triple the size of the playoff field from four teams to twelve.

Gee, who formerly served two stints as the president at Ohio State University, was a vocal opponent of creating the original playoff setup while at OSU.

“I voiced my concerns publicly about the fact that I thought a playoff would harm college football. Well, I lost and I was wrong, which is not the first time,” Gee said on MetroNews Talkline Monday morning.

“We have been losing fan support and a number of other things. As with everything in life, we are in a fast forward world right now. This is probably the best solution to creating more interest in college athletics.”

.@gordongee joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the 12-team college football playoff proposal. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 14, 2021

The proposed format will give first round byes to the teams seeded one through four. Teams seeded fifth through twelfth will play in on-campus first round games, setting up quarterfinal games on January 1 or 2. It is likely that traditional bowls will host games as they have previously done.

Gee is a member of the CFP board of managers. He says the CFP management committee sub-group that crafted the proposal looked at several options and the 12-team model gained the most traction.

“They came up with sixty permutations about this. They did think about six and eight and ultimately twelve. The reason is that we have the ‘Power 5’ conferences and then the ‘Group of 5’. We wanted to make sure we could get as many people on board without a lot of rancor.

“Secondly, one of the things that was most persuasive to me is that when you get closer to the end of the season, only a few teams are really in the hunt for being able to be in that four-team scenario. With twelve teams, there could be upwards of 30 to 40 teams that could still be in the hunt in October and November. That increases the possibility of college football having more fan support but also making it more exciting and more competitive.”

If there are no changes to the 12-game regular season schedule, college teams could play as many as 17 games. Gee says the academic component will be a significant topic of discussion on June 22.

“That’s one of the things we looked very carefully at. We will be talking about that a week from tomorrow when we have our meeting. The subcommittee has worked very hard at decreasing the amount of conflict we are going to have with academic calendar. That obviously is very important.”

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Bonus photo gallery: Class AAA state track and field meet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More sights from the final day of high school track and field season, which culminated with Jefferson’s girls and Parkersburg’s boys winning team titles at University of Charleston Stadium.

(Photos by David Pennock)

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Cleanup is ongoing from weekend flooding at Burnsville library

BURNSVILLE. W.Va. — Motorists on I-79 ran into an unusual site in Braxton County Friday night.

A deluge of rain rain off the mountain, causing a mudslide. The mudslide blocked the culvert and diverted water runoff into the middle of the northbound lanes. It isn’t very often the interstate is flooded, but that was the case on Friday. Not far away folks at the Burnsville Public Library had their own set of problems as water was coming through a back wall.

“We had in some parts of the back room we have about a half inch in the library,” Library director Beth Anderson told MetroNews Monday.

Books and equipment stored on shelves were saved, but anything stored on the floor was water logged and lost. Fortunately, Anderson said that didn’t amount to too much.

“The carpeting is saturated and we’ll have to pull up the carpet, but it doesn’t appear any of our collection or items were damaged. We did lose some book sale books,” she explained.

Crews were busy working to air out the building with fans and get up the dirty carpet as quickly as possible on Monday.

According to Anderson, they used to have backups from a storm drain which couldn’t handle big storm runoff near by. However, she said that problem was fixed back in 2019 and Sunday’s high water was from a new source which came as a surprise.

“We believe it’s probably storm runoff. We’re only a little place from where the interstate was closed. It must have gotten hit hard, but honestly we can’t pinpoint where the water came from, ” she said.

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Calhoun County cleans up after wet weekend

GRANTSVILLE, W.Va. — Volunteer fire fighters in Calhoun County didn’t get much rest through the weekend. Passing storms on Friday night set the stage for three days of heavy rain which caused flooded roads and homes.

“The National Weather Service told us we got two inches in 30 minutes,” said Calhoun County 911 Director Julie Sears.

The storms were county wide, but the heaviest and most constant downpour was on the northern end of the county. Roads were flooded, culverts washed out, and many were stranded. As for damage to private property there were reports of basement flooding and lost gardens, but according to Sears there’s been nothing catastrophic.

“We did not have any reports of it being in the living space of homes,” she explained.

Sunday’s heavy storm was accompanied by high winds which knocked down a lot of trees and created widespread power outages. There was one tree which fell across a road and landed on a garage. Nobody was injured, but the home incurred significant damage.

“We have a lot of debris on the roads where there was just so much water coming off the hillsides that it  washed into the roads. We’ve had the fire departments out there trying to sweep it off the roads. It was a lot,” she said.

The Division of Highways is working to remove the debris and get those roads reopened today. Only a handful of secondary roads remain blocked, but all need some attention from washouts. There are line crews all across the county working to restore power. A quarter of the Calhoun County’s population had no electricity Monday morning. The outages for a good period of time included the county’s 9-1-1 center which operated on generators.

“Right now it’s just recovery mode. Hopefully we’ll be back to 100 percent very soon,” Sears added.

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DHHR: Active COVID-19 numbers now below 3,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia fell below the 3,000 mark for the first time since late last summer in numbers released Monday by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

There are now 2,799 active cases including 205 newly confirmed cases since last Friday. The last time there were less than 3,000 cases was Sept. 8, 2020.

The DHHR also reported four new deaths in Monday’s report including a 78-year old male from Grant County, a 95-year old male from Morgan County, a 51-year old male from Wayne County, and a 79-year old female from Greenbrier County.

There have now been 2,853 deaths COVID-19 related deaths in West Virginia since the pandemic began.

Hospitalizations due the virus have dropped to 132. The last time it was that low was Aug. 17, 2020.

Vaccination numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show 53% of the state’s overall population have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The state will have its first drawing in its vaccination lottery contest– Do It for Baby Dog — later this week.

The registration deadline is Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. for the first drawing. The winning names will actually be drawn Thursday with the winners announced next Sunday. Prizes include $1 million in cash, two trucks, 25 weekend state park getaways, guns and lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. The drawings will take place weekly through early August.

Those who have had at least one COVID-19 shot can register. The registration is at the ‘Do It For Babydog’ website.

DHHR reports as of June 14, 2021, there have been 2,947,986 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 163,144 total cases and 2,853 deaths.

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) June 14, 2021

Overall confirmed cases per county include: Barbour (1,511), Berkeley (12,786), Boone (2,168), Braxton (1,000), Brooke (2,246), Cabell (8,851), Calhoun (377), Clay (541), Doddridge (636), Fayette (3,542), Gilmer (879), Grant (1,306), Greenbrier (2,882), Hampshire (1,916), Hancock (2,838), Hardy (1,564), Harrison (6,128), Jackson (2,222), Jefferson (4,773), Kanawha (15,448), Lewis (1,275), Lincoln (1,584), Logan (3,267), Marion (4,621), Marshall (3,533), Mason (2,047), McDowell (1,612), Mercer (5,105), Mineral (2,970), Mingo (2,718), Monongalia (9,386), Monroe (1,203), Morgan (1,223), Nicholas (1,890), Ohio (4,303), Pendleton (723), Pleasants (959), Pocahontas (680), Preston (2,952), Putnam (5,309), Raleigh (7,036), Randolph (2,834), Ritchie (755), Roane (656), Summers (857), Taylor (1,270), Tucker (545), Tyler (738), Upshur (1,956), Wayne (3,186), Webster (543), Wetzel (1,384), Wirt (455), Wood (7,921), Wyoming (2,034).

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Wyoming County woman charged with arson and attempted murder
Bridget Cozort

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Wyoming County woman is charged with arson and attempted murder for a fire last month in the community of Kopperston.

Bridget Avonelle Cozort, 30, of Kopperston, was already in jail when the new charges were leveled by the State Fire Marshal.

Investigators side Cozort was living with the two victims, both women, who asked her to move out on May 21st. A day later investigators said she set fire to the curtains in the living room of the home as she left while the other two women were still inside.

One of the victims discovered the fire and called 911, then alerted the other victim and both women escaped safely. The fire department was able to contain the fire to the room where it originated.

Cozort was arrested May 28th on unrelated charges out of Wyoming County. She’s been in the Southern Regional jail. Her bail is now set on the new charges at $100,000.

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Photo gallery: Class AAA state track and field meet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2021 state track and field season came to a close Saturday with the Class AAA meet at University of Charleston Stadium. Parkersburg’s boys and Jefferson’s girls left with the team titles.

(Photos by Greg Carey)

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MetroNews This Morning 6-14-21

Calls are growing for the state Democratic Party Chair to step down. Two shootings from the weekend in Mercer County are under investigation. Deliberations in the penalty phase of Morgantown murder trial today. Weather creates a lot of headaches for West Virginia this weekend and the National Guard is celebrating milestones as only the guard can. Students seeking the Promise Scholarship are afforded more time and in sports, high school baseball and softball play move to the regionals. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 6-14-21” on Spreaker.


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Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center set for busy summer, fall as entertainment industry makes a comeback

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A flurry of announcements in recent weeks by the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center has fans of all entertainment genres excited for what’s ahead and a sign the industry is roaring back to life following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patrick Leahy, the General Manager of the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center (CCCC) told MetroNews now is the time for the entertainment industry as state and national guidelines for the virus are easing and more people are getting vaccinated.

“Around the first of February is when the industry started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and started planning for shows to take place in the fall and into next year,” Leahy said.

In the past week alone, CCCC officials have announced musical acts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Preist and Foreigner and comedian Jeff Foxworthy arriving in Charleston this fall.

It’s on top of the scheduled comedian acts of Jim Gaffigan and Bert Kreischer and musical guests James Taylor, Jason Aldean, Aaron Lewis and Stateliners, The Avett Brothers, Brantley Gilbert, and Chicago for this fall and winter.

Leahy, who also works as the Director of Booking for the facility said the planning for the fall began in November 2020 with sourcing and negotiating. He said the activity pace picked up the last few months.

Patrick Leahy

He credited the broader relationship of the new management group of CCCC, Oak View, for shows being booked in Charleston quickly once restrictions were easing. He said there has been more access to information of who is touring, what they want to achieve and how to make a compelling argument for coming to Charleston.

“This market has a great history, has great concert history. We are telling the story of why Charleston,” Leahy said.

VIEW: The complete schedule for the CCCC

For Leahy, he said it’s important for a community venue such as CCCC and its branch venues to reflect the community. Event officials have tried to offer a variety of programming so everyone is interested.

“We are confident that we are able to attract a broad spectrum of events whether musical, sports, family, and more,” he said.

Aside from the rock and country announced for the fall, the Charleston Municipal Auditorium is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration with hip-hop artists Yung Bleu & Mooski on June 18. Leahy noted there is also plans to extend its contemporary Christian footprint. Officials are also thrilled with the ticket sales for Blippi, the Musical, for children.

On the sports angle, CCCC is set to host a nationally televised event in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) July 17-21. The games feature star alumni of college basketball programs, including WVU and Marshall, playing for $1 million on the ESPN family of networks.

Leahy said national exposure for Charleston is an important detail for future bookings and economic development.

“Companies that are looking at opportunities to do business in the marketplace are looking for the same kind of amenities and activities that other cities have,” Leahy said.

Leahy said 127 events at were held at the CCCC from March 2020, when the pandemic began, into June of this year. But not many came with the excitement of these future events knowing there should be full crowds and live atmospheres.

The CCCC is aggressively hiring people to work on the events and facilities staff preparing for those much larger crowds.

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Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for West Virginia

During the state legislative session earlier this year, McDowell County Delegate Ed Evans rose on the House floor to speak about the conditions back home.  As our Brad McElhinny reported, the Democrat from Welch was near tears as he described the challenges in his community.

“This week, Thursday, we closed Walgreens.  Who closes a Walgreens? We closed Walmart.  We closed Magic Mart. We’ve closed everything,” Evans said.  “You all have no idea what my people go through.”

McDowell County is one of the most economically depressed counties in the state.  It once was a thriving coal mining county with a population of over 120,000.  But coal mining dried up.  People moved away or died off.   Now fewer than 20,000 people live there.

There are no jobs to speak of.  Nearly three-fourths of the school children live in a household where no one is getting a paycheck.

Fortunately, the public-private initiative Reconnecting McDowell is making a difference.  The effort has brought together more than forty organizations that are committed to a long-term effort to improve education and create a more hopeful economic future.

But that won’t solve all the problems.

The challenges in McDowell County are also found in other parts of the state, especially in communities where coal mining has disappeared, and coal-fired power plants have closed. They need help.

Yes, I know President Ronald Reagan’s quote about the nine most terrifying words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  However, who else is going to help?

The private sector is not without its altruists, but businesses are reluctant to go it alone when the challenges are so monumental—lack of a trained and dependable workforce, poor infrastructure, scarce housing and amenities for employees.

Delegate Evans is one of the members of the newly-formed Coal Communities Comeback working group chaired by Delegate Mark Dean (R-Mingo).  The bipartisan group will fan out into struggling communities, gather information, and develop revitalization plans.

The biggest difference between this effort and many other revitalization efforts over the years is the funding available.  Federal money is pouring into the state and communities, hundreds of millions of dollars for water and sewer projects, broadband, road work, utilities, housing, job training, clean energy research, education, health care, on and on.

Throwing money at a problem does not necessarily translate into a solution, and economic central planning is notoriously flawed and wasteful. However, this massive influx of money is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to, at a bare minimum, make these communities more livable.

Economic opportunities may follow.  However, even if they do not, at least the quality of life for our fellow citizens in these communities will be better.





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