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Most parts of West Virginia bracing for first significant snowfall of season

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The first significant snowfall of the winter season is set to hit the Mountain State Monday into Tuesday.

While the weekend had been calm weather-wise, a strong storm system is approaching Sunday night into Monday and will dump rain across the state all day Monday.

Nick Webb, a National Weather Service (NWS) Charleston meteorologist told MetroNews that temperatures will then fall and the rain showers will turn to steady snow showers Monday night.

“Once this system pulls north on Monday, it’ll wrap cold air behind it and we will gradually see a switch to snow Monday afternoon from west to east, ” he said.

Webb said the lowlands and river valleys may see up to two inches of snow into Tuesday with northern parts of West Virginia and mountainous regions seeing more. He said there are many factors into the accumulation of the snow.

“Once you get into the lower elevations, we are dealing with surface temperatures, ground temperatures. We are going to be dealing with half an inch to an inch of rain on the front end of this system. We will have to take that into account as well,” Webb said.

Sunday morning snow forecast update:

Periods of snow are forecast for Monday night into Tuesday. Some accumulations are probable. Accumulations will occur first on grassy & elevated surfaces, but some slick spots on roads may occur by late Monday night #wvwx #ohwx #kywx #vawx

— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) November 29, 2020

A slow warming trend will occur for the second half of the week with high temperatures climbing back into the 40s.

Webb said the national center for the NWS forecasted seasonal probabilities for the Kanawha Valley and predicted a greater chance of above-average temperatures for the winter.

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Active COVID cases above 16,000 in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed 1,152 cases of COVID-19 in its report Sunday.

Active cases of the virus in the state are now at 16,370.

The DHHR also confirmed the deaths of a 49-year old female from Harrison County, a 73-year old male from Kanawha County, a 47-year old female from Kanawha County, a 79-year old female from Kanawha County, an 82-year old male from Kanawha County, a 91-year old female from Cabell County, a 97-year old male from Putnam County, a 68-year old male from Wood County, a 97-year old female from Greenbrier County, a 97-year old female from Mineral County, and an 84-year old male from Marion County.

The statewide death total is 729.

“The loss of life weighs heavily not only on families and friends but also on the healthcare workers responding to this deadly virus,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR Cabinet Secretary. “Our hearts break with one another, and we must work to stop the spread of this virus so that we can heal together.”

Mineral, Marshall, Wirt, Mason, and Wyoming are red on the COVID-19 alert map Sunday morning.

Cases per county: Barbour (405), Berkeley (3,189), Boone (645), Braxton (116), Brooke (642), Cabell (2,881), Calhoun (77), Clay (117), Doddridge (122), Fayette (1,154), Gilmer (203), Grant (358), Greenbrier (499), Hampshire (325), Hancock (694), Hardy (276), Harrison (1,387), Jackson (695), Jefferson (1,353), Kanawha (5,659), Lewis (241), Lincoln (424), Logan (1,049), Marion (883), Marshall (1,214), Mason (474), McDowell (621), Mercer (1,330), Mineral (1,255), Mingo (984), Monongalia (3,307), Monroe (374), Morgan (287), Nicholas (345), Ohio (1,525), Pendleton (104), Pleasants (93), Pocahontas (173), Preston (620), Putnam (1,968), Raleigh (1,583), Randolph (689), Ritchie (177), Roane (180), Summers (273), Taylor (339), Tucker (140), Tyler (139), Upshur (508), Wayne (1,018), Webster (68), Wetzel (411), Wirt (111), Wood (2,547), Wyoming (746).

1/3 @WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., November 29, 2020, there have been 1,122,438 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 46,997 total cases and 729 deaths.

— WV Department of Health & Human Resources • 😷 (@WV_DHHR) November 29, 2020

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Scholarship applications down in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Applications for college scholarships are down compared to this time last year, with Sarah Armstrong Tucker of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission blaming the coronavirus pandemic for the difference.

Tucker, the commission’s chancellor, noted to MetroNews while the deadline for the PROMISE Scholarship is in March, the number of submissions is below pace.

“This time last year, we had more than 6,700 students who had already filled out their PROMISE applications,” she said. “This time this year, we are around 2,300 students.”

The PROMISE Scholarship provides up to $4,750 annually to students for covering college tuition and fees at West Virginia institutions.

Sarah Armstrong Tucker (File)

“The way that the application used to get filled out in a lot of our high schools is that guidance counselors and teachers would take all of the seniors to a computer lab at one time. Everybody would fill out the PROMISE Scholarship application together,” Tucker explained. “That can’t happen right now.”

Tucker said with increases in homeschooling and virtual learning, fewer students are hearing about scholarship opportunities.

“Those students aren’t getting a guidance counselor sitting in front of them saying, ‘OK, it’s time to fill out your PROMISE application right now,'” she added.

Tucker said declining scholarship interest is not a West Virginia problem but a nationwide issue.

“I think so many people are focused on the here and now because they have to be,” she said. “They have to be focused on how do they keep their community safe and how do they keep themselves and their family safe. They’re not thinking about their future, but their future is going to come.”

Tucker noted with the holiday break in December, families should talk about financial assistance.

“Take this time when we can’t be out and about with folks and fill out those FAFSA and PROMISE applications,” she said. “Find out what it means to go to college and how much money you have in order to be able to go.”

The state Higher Education Policy Commission learned earlier this month overall student enrollment decreased by 2.8% from last fall to this season, and freshmen enrollment fell for a fifth straight year.

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Evans looks forward to calling West Liberty University home

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. — Although Dr. W. Franklin Evans had only been to West Virginia a handful of times before this year, he said he felt right at home in the Mountain State during the interview process for the president position at West Liberty University.

Evans and his two young children will officially be able to call West Virginia and the Ohio County campus home beginning in the spring semester after he was named the institution’s 37th president this month.

Evans will be the first president in West Liberty’s 183-year history to be a person of color when he assumes the presidency on Jan. 1, 2021. The 58-year old is the current president of Voorhees College and has 25 years of experience in education.

Dr. W. Franklin Evans

“Being selected president of this historic 183-year old institution is amazing. I am honored and humbled to have been selected to lead the institution and begin its next chapter,” Evans told MetroNews.

Evans, an African-American, said the response of him becoming a president in West Virginia that is a person of color has given him an understanding of its significance. He calls it a win-win for the university because his record speaks for itself and diversity is key to a healthy institution.

“I hope that my presence there will be such that others will want to be a part of West Liberty University whether the person is black, white, Hispanic, Asian. That this is an institution that is welcoming and embraces diversity,” Evans told MetroNews.

“I think my appointment as the president speaks to those levels.”

Evans will succeed Dr. Stephen Greiner who has served as president since January 2016. Greiner, a Weirton native, announced his retirement in Nov. 2019 where he planned to leave on June 30 of this year. His retirement was delayed as the presidential search faced many hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a relaunch of a presidential search this fall, Evans was the first of four finalists to visit campus and did so on Oct. 29 and 30. The Augusta, Georgia native said he felt comfortable in meeting with the president’s cabinet, speaking with staff across campus and having meals with students and community partners in those two days.

Evans said he will be an engaged president with feet on the ground all over campus. The former athlete himself said he is looking forward to supporting athletics and extracurricular events. He said he heard of the Hilltoppers in years past because of the nationally ranked basketball program.

He called West Liberty “the total package” in terms of having rising academic programs including P.A. and dental hygiene, athletic programs and community partnerships.

“You will see me at football games, at basketball games, at soccer events. I am going to be very presidential, I will not scream too much but you will know that I will be a part and engaged with what is happening,” he said.

Prior to being named president at Voorhees, Evans served as interim president of South Carolina State University (SCSU), in Orangeburg, S.C., where he also served as the provost and chief academic officer.

Other positions held in higher education are vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va. He also has worked at Elizabeth City State, J. F. Drake State Technical College, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Tennessee State University. Evans said he was offered the position of provost at Bluefield State in 2013.

He said his engaging spirit is why enrollment exceeded its goal, fundraising increased, which Evans calls “friend-raising” and alumni support rose at SCSU. Voorhees, a private, historically black college in Denmark, South Carolina, was awarded a $13.3 million grant for three years to implement Rigorous Instruction Supports Equity (RISE) by the U.S. Department of Education in October under Evans.

“I understand the importance of being an institution that is far-reaching and connects with a lot of different stakeholders and a lot of different types of students,” Evans said.

“I am hoping I can bring that same type of spirit to West Liberty University.”

West Liberty, like most higher education institutions, has adjusted its schedules and campus protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic. Students on the hilltop had their last day of class, both virtual and in-person, on Tuesday before leaving for Thanksgiving break. Students are not returning back to campus after break until January 19 when the spring term begins.

The university pushed back the start of the spring term and canceled spring break in an effort to keep students and staff safe from the virus.

The final exams for the fall semester, like many courses during the year, will be virtual from November 28 to December 4. Evans said he is impressed with the COVID-19 plans in place by Greiner and the university and sees no changes to what has already been implemented for the spring term.

“There has already been a plan that has been implemented. We will continue to implement that plan. Certainly, we will make modifications if we need to,” he said.

Evans and his two young children will reside on the campus of West Virginia’s oldest public university in the President’s home, Colonial Heights.

In 1994, Evans, a fourth-generation college student, earned a doctoral degree in higher education administration from Georgia State University. He earned a degree in journalism, middle childhood education, curriculum, and instruction, as well as administration and supervision from Georgia State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in entomology from the University of Georgia in 1984 and said he is a Georgia Bulldogs fan.

West Liberty said Evans is active in the NAACP, Black Family Preservation Group, the National Association of Black School Educators, and Toastmasters International and has served on the boards of the Sickle Cell Association, Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis Club International, and the AIDS Action Coalition. He is an ordained elder with the Church of God in Christ.

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Morgantown to cleanup homeless camp Monday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A much-talked-about homeless encampment near Deckers Creek in Morgantown will be the subject of cleanup efforts Monday.

Ron Dulaney (File)

When officials attempted to close the Greenmont camp back in July campers moved from private property to adjacent land owned by the city.

The camp was initially established on private property in February and became home to more than 20 people. As agencies like the West Virginia Coalition to end Homelessness and Bartlett Housing Solutions helped those people find housing, camp advocates continued to move more people in, depleting the resources of the agencies.

According to Morgantown Mayor Ron Dulaney, police, social services agencies and city employees will work with any remaining residents Monday and give them two hours to remove belongings.

“They will be there to assist folks in terms of collecting their belongings, for anyone who’s there at that time,” Dulaney said. “I should also mention it has been posted since the 12th of November that the camp would be closed on November 30.”

After two hours, the team will comb the area for items of value that will be stored for the owners by the Morgantown Police Department until Dec. 14.

When 25 campers moved onto city property in July the city made a commitment to work with social service agencies to get each a housing offer,” Dulaney said.

“Five were never actually observed there by the social service agencies and they’ve been down there dozens of times,” Dulaney said. “Ten were housed, four, at least earlier this month were in jail at that time and six left on their own accord.”

Camp organizers said they have reversed more than 50 overdoses at the camp. In late October, Rebecca Colgan, 23, was found unresponsive in the camp with no pulse and a used needle was lying next to the body with fresh blood in the syringe. She died later at a local hospital.

Neighbors have complained about the drug activity during the life of the camp, as well as a reported increase in property crime.

“Who wants to see other human beings on the verge of life and death in agony and ill, if you will,” Dulaney said. “That cannot be an easy thing to observe or witness on a day-to-day basis.”

Dulaney insists the city and local agencies want to provide housing, treatment and services to help the people, but on city property in an established neighborhood may not be the appropriate location.

“I also empathize with the people that live near the camp that do have children who are experiencing what could be traumatic observations for some young people,” Dulaney said.

Cleaning up a camp doesn’t dissolve the problem, nor do the people. Finding real solutions before homelessness and treating people with substance abuse problems is the goal of the many agencies working with the city.

“What we’re trying to do is pull people together in a collaborative way to work more effectively to try to prevent this to begin with or certainly prevent homelessness, and to the extent that we can prevent and treat addiction when we have opportunities to do that,” he said.

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St. Marys celebrates second state title, 5 hours after leaving the field

ST. MARYS – Some five hours after St. Marys’ 21-7 win over Pendleton County in the Class A Semifinals, the lights at Bill Hanlin Stadium were turned out one more time in 2020 as the Blue Devils players, coaches and a handful of fans gathered to wait official word on what everyone already assumed, St. Marys had won its second Class A State Championship. 

As temperatures dipped toward the freezing mark on the banks of the Ohio River, Blue Devil players took to the field for a final time. The sense of excitement and uncertainty that quickly replaced the celebration following the win earlier in the day, still lingered. Players released their anxious energy with impromptu games on the field amongst themselves, everything from “Duck, Duck Goose” to “Tag.” For others, excitement evolved into frustration and disappointment knowing the 2020 season was about to come to such an unceremonious ending. 

The 2020 Class A State Champions No. 4 (10-1) St Marys. @MetroNewsPrep #wvprepfb

— Teran Malone (@TeranMaloneMN) November 29, 2020

Finally, at 8:45 pm, senior Jason Clayton delivered the message to his teammates, that due to the color-coded map the Super Six was cancelled and St. Marys had been declared the Class A State Champions. 

“It was stressful waiting on the results to see what happens. Either way, it was good with me,” said senior Cyle West. 

Clayton’s attempt to read the remainder of the statement from the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission was quickly drowned out by a roar of cheers from his teammates and the handful of fans who returned to learn the news. As Prince’s “Purple Reign” blared on a portable stereo someone had brought on the field, the surreal experience of the day started to set in. 

“They can say whatever they want but we’ve been out here putting in the work, practicing every day, running hills, doing everything we need to do to get the job done,” stated senior Brayden Wilson.

St. Marys’ players and coaches were well aware of the situation heading into the semifinal matchup with Pendleton County, that Saturday’s game could end up being the defect state championship game.

Ritchie County, which just a week ago upset Greenbrier West to advance to the semifinals, had turned “red” on the Department Health and Human Resources’ daily COVID map on Saturday and there was almost no chance that would change when the state Department of Education Map was released at 5 pm. 

“We saw the map came out and we knew this could be the state championship game and we had to go out and play like it was out last. We didn’t have another game if we won,” explained senior Brennan Boron.

With the uncertainty now gone, excitement once again filled the stadium and the celebration was on. School officials organized a spur of the moment parade, complete with a police escort through town to honor the team’s accomplishment in a season many thought may never happen at all. 

“I said all along, before the playoffs even started, there would be an asterisks on the season, regardless of who won but it still doesn’t take away from the accomplishment those guys were able to earn,” expressed Coach Jodi Mote. 

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Randolph County buck turns out to be one tough customer

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — The best time to be in the woods hunting is the same as the best time to be on the water fishing. Whenever you have time. Tanner Burns is a school teacher and his time is limited. He knew he would have Veterans Day off so he planned to go hunting on a plot of ground in Randolph County.

But Veterans Day 2020 was an ugly day. Former Hurricane Eta was depositing all she had left on the hills and hollows of West Virginia. Burns, undaunted, headed out.

“I got the day off, I’m going, I don’t care if it is raining,” Burns said on West Virginia Outdoors.

Listen to “Tanner Burns talks about his Old Man of the Mountain on W.Va. Outdoors” on Spreaker.

It was a smart decision. He arrived at his spot and checked the S-D card in his camera.

“I saw a buck had been in there an hour before I checked the camera and he had been in there all morning going in and out of a thicket chasing this doe. I could tell, he was locked down on this doe. She was in heat and he was tending her,” Burns said.

He also knew from experience, the process would last two or three days.

“I knew he was still in the area and I had a chance at him. That evening I actually laid eyes on him and he was still with that doe, but I couldn’t get close enough to him,” he said.

The window of opportunity wouldn’t be open long. Burns knew what he had to do. He called in and took a personal day from school the next day. He went into the woods an hour before daylight. Conditions were miserable. Burns explained he hung his stand in the fog, hoping he was properly positioned. Only ten minutes after he settled into position a lone doe came walking out of the thicket.

“It looked like his doe and I figured he wasn’t far behind her and then I heard a loud grunt coming out of the fog. It was all I could do not to come out of that tree,” he laughed.

The big deer came out of the mist, but in the thick fog there wasn’t enough daylight to make the shot. The pair went back into the thicket. Burns knew he would probably get another chance and in about ten minutes spied the doe a second time walking through an opening at about 35 yards.

“I got turned around and situated and sure enough I saw his antlers coming through the woods. I was so worked up I can’t even remember settling the pin. When I shot my first reaction was, ‘Man I just heart shot that deer.’ It looked perfect,” he said.

“You just don’t expect an eight year old deer to come walking out of the fog,” — Tanner Burns

However, perfect wasn’t exactly the case. The lighted nock on Burns’ arrow was dancing though the fog hanging off the side of the massive buck. It kept getting further and further away. Burns watched his buck stop at about 70 yards and waited for him to crash. All he could see was the light and the longer it was visible the less confident he became in what he thought was a perfect shot.

“I bailed out of the tree planning to shoot him again if I had to,” Burns said. “But on the ground I lost my vantage point.”

A sinking feeling came over him as he slowly trudged through the fog, struggling to see 10 feet in front of him.

“Finally, I looked behind a log and I see his while belly moving up and down as he took his last breath,” he said.

Burns was right he had put the arrow through the bottom part of the deer’s heart and he still managed to run almost 100 yards. It turned out he was an eight year old buck and one tough rascal. A friend of Burns who had been after the same buck had a picture of him at age 5 after he was shot with a crossbow. The wound healed. He was also shot in the neck with a rifle around age three. The bullet had only grazed him, but left a scar.

“This deer had been through it and the guy who had actually named him ‘Scar’ for all he’d been through,” he said.

Burns admitted some emotions rolled out as he called his dad to tell him. It may not have been the biggest deer, but the brute had lived a long and eventful life.

“He’s not the highest scoring deer, but what made it special was he was an eight year old deer, in Randolph County where people hunt them pretty hard.”

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St. Marys stops Pendleton County, 21-7

ST. MARYS, W.Va. — With Pendleton County trailing St. Marys by seven points and facing fourth-and-goal from the Blue Devils’ 1-yard line late in the third quarter, Wildcats’ coach Zac Smith was left with little choice but to try for a touchdown.

Unfortunately for Smith, Pendleton quarterback Isaiah Gardiner was stood up short of the goal line, giving the fourth-seeded Blue Devils the ball back. Two plays later, St. Marys senior Darrien Bortey delivered a play that won’t soon be forgotten, breaking off a 99-yard touchdown run that allowed the Blue Devils to double their lead en route to a 21-7 victory over the eighth-seeded Wildcats at Bill Hanlin Stadium.

“I kept my legs driving,” Bortey said. “I knew this may be my last game as a senior, so I wanted to do whatever I could to get in the end zone and that’s what I did.”

Normally, the win would give St. Marys a spot in the Class A title game against nearby rival Ritchie County. However, with the statewide COVID-19 map Saturday evening showing Ritchie County in red, the Rebels are unable to play, preventing them from getting a rematch with a Blue Devils team they lost to 34-26 back on Sept. 18.

St. Marys was named Class A champion later Saturday by the WVSSAC, giving the Blue Devils their second state championship.

“We were thankful to play and come away with a huge victory today,” Blue Devils coach Jodi Mote said. 

The game-changing sequence came moments after Gardiner’s 19-yard pass to Ryan Mitchell on fourth-and-4, which put Pendleton (7-3) at the St. Marys 4. The Wildcats were unable to score on four running plays inside the 5, giving St. Marys (10-1) the ball back with 1:23 to play in the third quarter.

Fifty-seven seconds later, Bortey reached the end zone and the third of three successful point-after kicks by Jonathan Morrison gave the Blue Devils the two-touchdown lead.

“It’s a game of inches,” Smith said. “Two yards, a couple fourth down plays and we can’t convert and execute. They execute on a couple big plays and that’s the difference. Should have, could have, would have, you’d like to have a couple of those calls over again and say what if. That’s a good football team and program and they know how to win.”

The Wildcats were held without a first down on each of their next two series, and although they approached the red zone with inside of 4 minutes to play, Gardiner was intercepted by Ben Long, allowing the Blue Devils to essentially seal the win with 3:39 remaining.

One week after knocking off Midland Trail 52-49 in a quarterfinal, the St. Marys defense displayed all sorts of improvement. With the game scoreless early in the second quarter, the Wildcats took over on their own 15. On the next play, Gardiner was intercepted by Blue Devils’ quarterback/linebacker Brennan Boron, who returned the pick 22 yards for the game’s first score 9:20 before halftime.

“We challenged our defense,” Mote said. “Our coaches did a great job and the kids did a great job. Defensively, we struggled last week, but this week our defense stepped up and was able to help us out.”

After falling behind, Pendleton gained 68 yards on its ensuing series, but Gardiner was stopped short on a run on fourth-and-goal from just inside the Blue Devils’ 2.

“The defense made some huge plays, but the two fourth down stops were special,” Mote said.

Still, Pendleton forced St. Marys into a punt that allowed it to start at the Blue Devils’ 41 with 1:28 to play in the opening half. Two plays after Gardiner’s 34-yard pass to Braden McClanahan, Mitchell rushed for a 7-yard touchdown, which combined with Josh Alt’s point-after kick, tied the contest at 7.

The game was only knotted for the next 21 seconds as the the Blue Devils marched 55 yards in three plays and went back ahead on Boron’s 29-yard TD pass to Logan Rice 51 seconds before the break. 

St. Marys took the 14-7 advantage into halftime and held Pendleton scoreless the rest of the way.

While the Blue Devils notched their sixth straight win, the loss snapped the Wildcats’ six-game win streak 

“I hate it for my team and especially for my seniors,” Smith said. “We just didn’t have enough on a couple plays and that’s the difference.”

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Fairmont Senior runs past Bluefield, 21-19 in state semifinals

(Photos by Marcus Constantino)

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Fairmont Senior put the ball in the air only five times, using a ground-heavy attack to defeat Bluefield 21-19 in a Class AA semifinal matchup at Mitchell Stadium.

“It was the game plan coming in,” said Fairmont Senior head coach Nick Bartic. “We wanted to establish the run. Once we were able to do that, we stayed with it. All week, we really challenged the offensive linemen. They accepted that challenge and it looked great.”

Gage Michael opened the scoring for the No. 6 Polar Bears (10-2) on their first possession, capping a lengthy drive with a 2-yard touchdown tote. FSHS led 7-0 after one.

“It was huge to set the tone right off the bat,” Michael said. “You always want to do that in every game, but especially against these guys who can score at any moment.”

The Polar Bears doubled their lead early in the second quarter when Michael found Alex Brophy in the end zone on a 32-yard strike. Bluefield answered before halftime after a Gillis Walker interception. Brandon Wiley capped a 17-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. The Beavers trail 14-6 at halftime.

BHS scored on their opening possession of the second half when Jaeon Flack scored from 2 yards out, cutting the Bluefield deficit to 14-12. The Polar Bears marched right back down the field and freshman Dylan Ours scored on a 2-yard run. Fairmont led 21-12 through three quarters.

The Beavers scored with 2:30 to play when Carson Deeb tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ryker Brown, making the score 21-19. Fairmont Senior freshman Jayden Cheriza however recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Polar Bears ran out the clock with consecutive first downs.

“We played one of the toughest schedules in the state. So I knew we were battle tested — Spring Valley, Musselman and Bridgeport, all those very tough Class AAA teams. I knew we could get the job done tonight,” Michael said.

The Polar Bears left Mitchell Stadium assuming they would be named Class AA state championships for the second time in three years. The opposite semifinal between Oak Glen and Robert C. Byrd was canceled by the Saturday 5 p.m. state COVID metrics map.

“There may be an asterisk by this in the record books. And that is fair with the way everyone was affected. But at the same time, we had to deal with the same adversities to get through the season. It feels unfair for the guys that didn’t get an opportunity to play,” Bartic said.

“That said, for our program, being able to play Bluefield at Mitchell Stadium, from last season to redeem ourselves and even out the series and get a win here… this validated our postseason right here.”

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22 counties red or orange on map, although Justice had already called for extended break

The state covid map that came out tonight has only minimal effect on the coming school week because Gov. Jim Justice had already called for an extended Thanksgiving break.

Justice has called for all schools to begin this week in remote learning, with those in green, yellow and gold able to return to in-person or blended learning models on Thursday, Dec. 3.

The governor made the decision for a longer break out of concern that families would gather, resulting in further spread of virus right as school was originally set to resume.

Nevertheless, the Saturday map that determines school status for the coming week depicted five counties as red, the highest levels of covid-19 in communities. Those were Mason, Mineral, Ritchie, Wirt and Wyoming counties.

Another 17 counties were orange, the second highest levels of covid. Orange dictates a shift to remote learning.  Extracurricular activities are limited to conditioning only and sport-specific practicing is not permitted.

The c0unties shown as orange were Berkeley, Boone, Brooke, Doddridge, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Harrison, Jefferson, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Pocahontas, Putnam, Taylor, Wayne and Wood.

MORE: Unless current policy is changed, No Super Six games will be played due to Saturday’s COVID map release

The county color announced each Saturday will be in effect until the following Saturday with the exception of a county turning red during the course of the week.

A data review panel of health experts did make some adjustments to the map.

  • Hancock County: Moved from orange to gold due to data validation and one case updated with the correct county of residence.
  • Harrison County: Moved from gold to orange due to data validation, 14 cases updated to confirmed status and two cases updated with the correct county of residence.
  • Jefferson County: Moved from gold to orange due to data validation and one case updated to confirmed status.
  • Logan County: Moved from yellow to green due to data validation and lab results updated to the correct county of residence.
  • Ritchie County: Moved from orange to red due to turning red on the DHHR 10:00am Saturday map.
  • Upshur County: Moved from yellow to gold due to data validation, eight cases updated to confirmed status and two cases updated with the correct county of residence.

The data contributing toward the Saturday Education Map is based on data from the DHHR’s County Alert Map as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, November 26, 2020. This cut off time is used to give time to verify the accuracy and completeness of all data to be utilized in the Saturday Education Map.

To view the Saturday Education Map, visit The COVID-19 dashboard is located at

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