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The Voice of West Virginia

Pride of West Virginia gets new director

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University has a new leader for its marching band program.

West Virginia University

Cheldon Williams

Cheldon Williams will become associate director of bands on Aug. 1. Williams most recently was a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. He previously served as interim associate director of bands at New Mexico State University, director of bands and orchestras at J.P. Taravella High School in Florida and associate director of bands at Cypress Bay High School, which is also in Florida.

Williams will be responsible for directing the university marching band, the Pride of West Virginia, as well as conducting the symphonic band and overseeing athletic prep bands.

“Our marching band is not only music majors, but it’s comprised of students across the whole university,” said Michael Ibrahim, director of the WVU School of Music. “I know he’s looking forward to meeting everyone that’s part of that community.”

Williams is an alumnus of Florida State University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. He recently received a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Texas at Austin.

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State turns video slot machines back on; barriers in place

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A big money maker for the state of West Virginia is up and running following a two-and-a-half month shutdown because of the coronavirus.

More than 7,000 video lottery machines were turned back on Saturday morning following an order by Gov. Jim Justice that allows the industry to restart operations.

LVL (Limited Video Lottery) is the program that oversees the slot machines in small community parlors, bars and fraternal organizations. More than a half million dollars a day is wagered on them. They bring in $200 million in revenue a year to the state.

File

John Myers

The locations of those machines look a lot different today than they did when they were forced to close the third week of March. State Lottery Director John Myers said retailers either have to separate their machines by six feet or construct a barrier between them.

“We’ve asked that they make those out of safety glass, plexiglas or a solid piece of plastic,” Myers told state Lottery Commission members earlier this week.

Myers said if the barrier is homemade it has to be framed. Photos gathered by MetroNews shows some retailers have used PVC pipe as their frames.

Myers said the barrier cannot obstruct the view of the Lottery’s security cameras.

“It has to be a transparent barrier where we can see through it and that we can see that there’s not underage play and there’s no machine tampering going on there,” Myers said.

The LVL retailers also have to follow cleaning requirements. Myers said they have to wipe down the machines and barriers when players leave.

“The main goal is that no one gets the virus and we have to shut down again,” he said.

Casinos preparing 

Casinos face some of the same challenges as LVL sites but they do have more room to work with. Myers said some are moving video lottery machines into auditoriums to create a larger footprint, proving the six-foot spacing that’s required.

But Myers said he doesn’t expect the casinos to reopen at full capacity when it comes to the number of machines because it’s likely all of the barriers won’t arrive by Friday.

There are also requirements for table games. Chairs will have to be removed from the gambling tables to allow six feet between players. Myers said only the dealer will be allowed to handle the cards so games will be played where cards are face up. He said there are also cleaning requirements when players change out.

“I expect casinos to focus more on the video lottery side at the beginning,” Myers said. “Table games may not open right at the start.”

Food serving guidelines will also be in place including the serving of prepackaged food and drinks in disposal cups.

Casinos are planning to provide masks.

Myers said the Lottery Commission should not expect the same number of players and the same amount of revenue from casinos, at least not at the beginning. He said it comes down to customer confidence.

“Say they typically on a weekday had a thousand people there, customer confidence may not be at a level that would allow them (the players) to come back into the building at the same level,” Myers said.

The shutdown of casinos and LVL retailers cost the state nearly $100 million in gambling revenue in March and April. The impact for May will probably be an additional $60 million or more.

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Efforts underway to reopen Harrison County senior center next month

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department continues working with officials from the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center on reopening the facility by the end of June.

Harrison County Senior Citizens Center board member Bill O’Field told MetroNews-affiliate WAJR-AM the health department will have to review a reopening plan.

“The biggest concern is seniors are in the high-risk population for COVID-19,” he said. “All of the centers have to be very careful about how we reopen.”

After the plan is approved, the center’s board of directors will meet to adopt the plan as it means policy changes for the facility.

“Our seniors’ health and safety are our top priority,” said Beth Fitzgerald, the center’s executive director. “The plan will include each activity and area within the center using CDC guidelines and the state of West Virginia guidelines for reopening.”

Staff and volunteers have continued working in senior centers. O-Field noted staff who conduct wellness check calls.

Seniors have already received around 505 total food boxes in March and April.

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DHHR reports 75th COVID-19 death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — COVID-19 has claimed 75 lives in West Virginia.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, the 75th death was recorded in Fayette County. A 96-year-old man is that county’s fourth victim.

Bill Crouch

“We join the family in grieving for this West Virginian,” state DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said Saturday morning.

There have now been 95,890 coronavirus tests given in West Virginia since early March with 1,974 confirmed case. The DHHR said that’s a cumulative positive test rate of 2.06 percent. The state currently has a daily positive test rate of 1.10 percent.

Cases per county as of Saturday morning include:

(Case confirmed by lab test/Probable case): Barbour (9/0), Berkeley (293/11), Boone (9/0), Braxton (2/0), Brooke (4/1), Cabell (59/2), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (2/0), Fayette (46/0), Gilmer (10/0), Grant (11/1), Greenbrier (9/0), Hampshire (28/0), Hancock (16/2), Hardy (39/0), Harrison (39/1), Jackson (136/0), Jefferson (172/5), Kanawha (222/2), Lewis (8/0), Lincoln (6/0), Logan (17/0), Marion (50/0), Marshall (28/0), Mason (15/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (13/0), Mineral (42/2), Mingo (5/1), Monongalia (122/11), Monroe (6/1), Morgan (17/1), Nicholas (8/0), Ohio (41/0), Pendleton (10/2), Pleasants (3/1), Pocahontas (20/1), Preston (20/5), Putnam (35/0), Raleigh (15/1), Randolph (129/0), Ritchie (1/0), Roane (9/0), Summers (1/0), Taylor (8/0), Tucker (4/0), Tyler (3/0), Upshur (6/1), Wayne (98/0), Wetzel (8/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (50/3), Wyoming (3/0).

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 10:00 a.m., on May 30, 2020, there have been 95,890 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 1,974 total cases and 75 deaths. #SaferAtHomeWVhttps://t.co/sTmIjxQKUr pic.twitter.com/1VO0HuVr4X

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) May 30, 2020

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Marshall resets academic calendar with second wave of coronavirus in mind

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert says the school’s fall semester on-campus will end just before Thanksgiving followed by a week of online classes and final exams online.

Marshall University

Jerome Gilbert

Other universities have announced similar moves in hopes of stopping any possible spread of a second round of the coronavirus.

Gilbert announced the plans in a letter to the university community Friday.

Marshall plans to begin in-person classes Aug. 24. When students leave for Thanksgiving break they won’t return to Huntington until the start of the spring semester now set for Jan. 19, 2021. They’ll take a final week of fall semester classes and final exams from home.

Gilbert also said Marshall is eliminating its 2021 spring break week and classes will be held. Final exams are scheduled to end April 30, 2021.

Gilbert said a more detailed plan with social distancing and sanitation guidelines will be released later this summer.

West Virginia University could announce changes to its academic calendar. The WVU Board of Governors meets Tuesday.

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Police believe man drowned in Tygart Valley River

GRAFTON, W.Va. — Authorities in Taylor County believed a man drowned in the Tygart Valley River Friday night after jumping into the water while fleeing police.

Grafton police said they were trying to apprehend the man in the area of Fanny Street and Grand Street. He wouldn’t stop.

Emergency crews searched the water until about 2:30 a.m. but the body was not recovered. The search was expected to resume Saturday morning.

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Shea Campbellā€™s college football career to continue

(Citynet Sportsline interview with Shea Campbell)

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Shea Campbell waited a long time to take the field in a college football game. So maybe it should come as no surprise that the Morgantown High School graduate and former WVU linebacker has decided to add another chapter to his college football story.

After wrapping up his tenure with the Mountaineers in November, Campbell did not completely exhaust his college eligibility despite being in the WVU program for five seasons. Though he is no longer eligible at the Division I level, Campbell can still play at the Division II or Division III level because he only was enrolled at WVU for nine semesters. Ten semesters are allowed at the D2 and D3 levels.

Campbell was informed of this option while preparing for WVU’s pro day, which was eventually canceled due to the pandemic.

“I knew I wasn’t a big prospect so I knew pro day is where I was going to have to succeed, excel and catch somebody’s eye. That’s really where I was doing it,” Campbell said.

“When I was training, we had a coach who is now at a Division II school and he texted me and he said, ‘Hey, how many years did you play?’ I only played two. He said, ‘Did you graduate in nine semesters?’ I said, ‘Yeah’. He said, “Hold up. Give me five minutes and I am going to give you a call’.”

Campbell hasn’t yet decided where he will play this fall.

“I want to play against the best still. I want to be able to challenge myself and at the end of the day I want to look back and say, ‘I wanted to play the the top level of Division II and still dominate.”

Campbell came to WVU in the fall of 2015. He redshirted that season and did not play over the next two seasons. Campbell finally broke through in his redshirt junior year of 2018, playing in eleven games while making six starts. He was tied for eighth on the team with 40 tackles.

“Being able to start the last six games for the 2018 team with Will Grier and all them, that was probably the highlight of my career.

“That’s something I will never forget and I will always cherish that.”

Campbell was once again a productive player as a senior, taking the field in eleven games. He saved his best performance for last, making a season-best eight tackles in West Virginia’s season finale victory at TCU.

“It is difficult. It can be very discouraging at times. I had my moments and there were times I thought I was going to quit. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to make it. For me, I saw the goal at the end and I know I was capable of doing it. So I am just happy it went the way that it did and I am happy the person that I am was able to be successful.”

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Shea Campbell tackles Sean Riley in the Camping World Bowl.

When his college eligibility officially expires after his next semester, Campbell says coaching may be his next angle on the game.

“I found I have a knack for the game and I can really see the game mentally and I can break it down. I have studied enough film where I feel if I go into coaching I can pass down what I know and help other people and be successful in that aspect.”

Campbell’s uncle is former NFL and NCAA basketball official Gene Steratore. Steratore is now an analyst for CBS and Turner Sports. Campbell believes his rapport with referees stems from his bloodlines.

“Every official I saw, it was always, ‘Hey, how are you doing? It is a beautiful day to play football’. It was never, ‘Hey, what are you looking at?’ I just always wanted to make conversation. Obviously when we were getting ready to play I would lock back in but for the five or ten seconds I would communicate with them, it was always friendly. Because I know what they go through.”

With on campus visits on pause due to the pandemic, Campbell may have to choose his final college destination without an in-person trip.

“I am not ready to hang it up, especially because I still have a lot of gas in the tank right now. For me, it was a why not situation.”

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76 residents, staff of Wayne County nursing home recover from coronavirus

WAYNE, W.Va. — Seventy-six people associated with the Wayne Nursing & Rehabilitation Center have recovered from the coronavirus.

Thirty-eight patients and 38 employees that previously tested positive have recovered. The test of one employee remains pending, and the person is in quarantine at home. Nine patients died.

The nursing home said Friday it had acquired enough testing kits to test all employees and patients in April.

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Excessive rain causes more hillsides to slide into state highways

CLENDENIN, W.Va. — The state Division of Highways is dealing with a number of slides after a week full of rain.

It appears it will take several days to clear Blue Creek Road at Country Lane in northern Kanawha County. The initial slide took place overnight Thursday but additional rain Friday sent more debris into the roadway.

The DOH has been working all week on a major slide along county Route 42, Middle Fork Road, in Jackson County.

DOH crews have been working 12-hour days since last Saturday to clean-up the debris and stabilize the hillside.

The slide impacts traffic to and from Rippling Waters Campground. The DOH said it hopes to get one lane open soon. The road is currently closed.

 

The slide near state Route 42 in Jackson County.

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More than 1,500 tests given on first day of third round of free COVID-19 testing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 1,500 people were testing for COVID-19 Friday in five West Virginia counties.

It’s the third round of two-day testing events that began earlier this month in 10 counties targeted by the Justice administration.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources put preliminary testing numbers Friday evening at 378 individuals tested in Berkeley County; 396 in Jefferson County; 402 in Kanawha County; 210 in Mineral County; and 200 in Morgan County.

Testing will continue tomorrow in all five counties from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

.@WVGovernor‘s initiative to increase testing: 378 individuals tested in Berkeley Co, 396 Jefferson Co, 402 Kanawha Co, 210 Mineral Co, 200 Morgan Co. Please note preliminary numbers. Continues tomorrow. https://t.co/ti1E6aowdE @WVNationalGuard @WVHHOMA https://t.co/3ScUrXmLXy pic.twitter.com/yslThnqrqW

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) May 29, 2020

The events are free and open to all residents with a particular focus on minority community members and other vulnerable residents.

The test results should be back within a few days.

Testing sites Saturday include:

Berkeley County: Musselman High School, 126 Excellence Way, Inwood

Jefferson County: Hollywood Casino, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town

Kanawha County: Shawnee Sports Complex, One Salango Way, Dunbar

Mineral County: School Complex, 1123 Harley O. Staggers Senior Drive, Keyser

Morgan County: Warm Springs Middle School, 271 Warm Springs Way, Berkeley Springs

The DHHR will also have two testing events Saturday in Randolph County in connection with recent positive cases at Huttonsville State Prison. Those are set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Valley Health Care in Mill Creek and Davis Medical Center in Elkins.

Drive-through #COVID19 testing will be available in Randolph County, WV on Saturday, May 30, 2020, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Valley Health Care in Mill Creek and Davis Medical Center in Elkins. There is no charge for testing.@WVNationalGuard pic.twitter.com/D0zKo6GMxW

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) May 29, 2020

Meanwhile, the DHHR released new COVID-19 numbers Friday evening.

There have now been 93,872 total tests with confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 1,972. There have been 74 deaths.

The state’s cumulative positive test rate is 2.10 percent. The daily test rate Friday was 2.50 percent.

The state reports 1,274 recovered cases of COVID-19 and 624 active cases. There are 33 people hospitalized, 14 in ICU. Eight of those patients are on ventilators.

Cases per county include:

Case confirmed by lab test/Probable case): Barbour (9/0), Berkeley (293/11), Boone (9/0), Braxton (2/0), Brooke (4/1), Cabell (59/2), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (2/0), Fayette (46/0), Gilmer (10/0), Grant (11/1), Greenbrier (9/0), Hampshire (28/0), Hancock (16/2), Hardy (39/0), Harrison (39/1), Jackson (136/0), Jefferson (172/5), Kanawha (221/2), Lewis (8/0), Lincoln (5/0), Logan (17/0), Marion (50/0), Marshall (28/0), Mason (15/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (13/0), Mineral (42/2), Mingo (5/1), Monongalia (122/11), Monroe (6/1), Morgan (17/1), Nicholas (8/0), Ohio (41/0), Pendleton (10/2), Pleasants (3/1), Pocahontas (20/1), Preston (20/5), Putnam (35/0), Raleigh (15/1), Randolph (129/0), Ritchie (1/0), Roane (9/0), Summers (1/0), Taylor (8/0), Tucker (4/0), Tyler (3/0), Upshur (6/1), Wayne (98/0), Wetzel (8/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (50/3), Wyoming (3/0).

.@WV_DHHR reports as of 5:00 p.m., on May 29, 2020, there have been 93,872 total confirmatory laboratory results received for #COVID19, with 1,972 total cases and 74 deaths. #SaferAtHomeWVhttps://t.co/6dszYSzzDc pic.twitter.com/hu7SZuGK7x

— WV DHHR (@WV_DHHR) May 29, 2020

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