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Marshall falls short at Florida International in 8th straight loss

— By David Walsh

Florida International collected a rarity Thursday night — a win over Marshall.

The Panthers took a 68-57 lead with 4:51 to play and held off a late Thundering Herd rally to prevail, 70-66, at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami. This is just their second win all-time against Marshall in 13 meetings.

On the flip side, Marshall made the late charge and cut the lead to 70-66 with 20 seconds left. However, the visitors turned the ball over twice so they couldn’t take advantage of the Panthers missing the front end of the bonus twice in the closing stages of a matchup of the two winless East Division teams coming in.

Marshall’s skid goes to eight with its next attempt Saturday down the road at Florida Atlantic. Tip is 4 p.m. The Herd is 7-11 overall and 0-5 in Conference USA.

This is the second longest skid for Marshall under coach Dan D’Antoni. The longest is nine, which came in his first season. The Herd’s last win this season came on December 11 at Eastern Kentucky.

“Untimely mistakes,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got an eight-point lead, them on the ropes and then bam — perplexing. We’re looking good, moving forward and then get into puzzling plays. We’ve got a chance, but don’t play well in stretches.”

Tevin Brewer’s three-point basket with 4:51 left gave FIU a 68-57 lead. But after Taevion Kinsey made 1-of-2 free throws with 54 seconds left, the Herd deficit was only 68-64. Brewer got fouled with 27 seconds to play and made both free throws for a 70-64 lead. The Herd’s Andrew Taylor scored on a follow with 20 seconds left to get within 70-66.

Then came the FIU misses at the foul line and turnovers by the Herd in the closing seconds.

Brewer, the team’s top scorer, led FIU (11-7, 1-4) with 19 points. Javaunte Hawkins netted 17 off the bench and Clevon Brown had a double-double with 16 points (8 of 11 from the field) and 11 rebounds. The Panthers, who improved to 8-1 at home, led in rebounding, 44-30. FIU also had decisive advantages in bench points at 22-5 and points in the paint, 38-26.

Kinsey led Marshall with 25 points, five more than his average. He passed former Herd great Leo Byrd in career scoring during the game.

“Taevion played extremely well. He creates a lot of problems,” D’Antoni said. “I’m sure Taevion feels a lot of that responsibility. We’ve got to get other people to get up with him.”

Taylor had 15, Obinna Anochili-Killen 11 and David Early 10.

But Marshall’s shooting woes continued (24 of 60 from field, 6 of 25 from three). Marshall began the night 14th in three-point shooting in the league.

David Early is learning the ropes and point guard, and was 3 of 10 overall and 2 of 7 from three. Early led in steals with three and had one assist and one turnover.

“It could be a lot of reasons. One you don’t have a real true point guard,”D’Antoni said. “David, we’re trying to convert him over there. Can’t come out with one assist, one turnover at point guard especially in a wide open game like this. We’ll keep working at it. Got to give him a chance.”

Marshall held a 53-48 lead with 11:28 left. The Panthers then went on a 10-0 run to go up 58-53. Hawkins ended that spurt with a pair of treys and the Herd had to take a timeout with 8:39 left.

“We hesitate at times,” D’Antoni said. “Keep the ball in front (on defense). All of a sudden we get deep, they drops two threes and boom.”

Florida Atlantic defeated Western Kentucky, 78-69, Thursday night at home. The Owls will be going for a regular season sweep after they beat Marshall, 90-77, on January 8 in Huntington.

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House Bill Prevents Mask Mandates in Schools

House Republicans are advancing a bill in the West Virginia Legislature that would prevent schools from imposing certain restrictions and requirements to deal with Covid.

HB 4071, the Parent and Student Health Rights Act, prohibits school systems from requiring masks for students or school employees.  The legislation also says schools cannot impose mandatory Covid testing on asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic students or school employees or require a quarantine unless the individual has tested positive.

The bill passed the House Education Committee Wednesday 18-6 and now goes to the Judiciary Committee.

Delegate Jordan Maynor (R—Raleigh) is the lead sponsor of the bill. He said the purpose of the legislation is to leave decisions on how best to deal with Covid to families. “I’ve heard overwhelmingly from my district.  I think it’s time to empower parents, empower individuals to start making these decisions,” Maynor said during committee debate.

The legislation is going to be popular with parents who have grown frustrated with masking, social distancing and other measures taken in the public schools to try to slow the spread of the virus. Policy and enforcement inconsistencies have also contributed to parents’ aggravation.

The parental rights issue has caught on. In neighboring Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin ran his gubernatorial campaign on the issue, buoyed by Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s gaffe when he said during a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Of course, parents have rights, as well as responsibilities, for their children—no one disputes that—but local school boards and administrators have responsibilities as well. In West Virginia, the education system is charged by the Constitution with providing a “thorough and efficient system of free schools.” That broad requirement must include the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.

This bill ties the hands of the local boards. It specifically prohibits public schools from adopting a policy that helps ensure the wellbeing of students and staff.  It usurps “local control” of schools, which was always a mantra of West Virginia Republicans in the Legislature… at least until now.

Some who support the bill argue that empowering parents to make masking decisions is the ultimate in local control. However, what if parents asked the local board to impose a mask requirement? If this bill became law, the board would be prevented from doing so.

Voters choose local school boards to oversee the operation of the schools in their county. If citizens do not like the policies or decisions of the board or individual members, then voters have the option of putting someone else in their place.

The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly recommends that anyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, wear a well-fitting face mask when in public,” and that includes school. “In addition to protecting the child, the use of face masks significantly reduces the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections within schools and other community settings.”

Naturally, having the right mask and wearing it properly is critical, especially now since the omicron variant is more contagious than delta.

Local school boards and administrators can evaluate the conditions in their county during this pandemic, listen to what health officials say, consider the input from parents, teachers and staff, consider all options and then make the best decision for their community.

House Bill 4071 specifically takes away one of the options that is proven to help slow the spread of the virus.

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Parkinson’s registry, new insulin bill approved by House Health Committee

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House Health and Human Resources Committee passed a pair of bills Thursday afternoon at the state Capitol.

House Bill 4276 would allow WVU to create a Parkinson’s Disease Registry and House Bill 4252 that would lower the cost of diabetic-related equipment and insulin.

George Manahan

George Manahan suffers from Parkinson’s and is the director of the Charleston Parkinson’s Support Group. He testified that researchers worldwide are hampered in their efforts because there is not a clear understanding of how many people have Parkinson’s. He said the registry will give researchers more data to better direct their efforts.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation is now working with each individual state to try to set up this registry so they can feed the CDC this information that will be made available to researchers around the world,” Manahan testified. “In order to find a cure or better therapies.”

He said there are advancements being made in treatments, but there is no cure for brain disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, difficulty walking and maintaining balance.

“There’s a new drug out, and you put it under your tongue to dissolve, if you look at me I’m shaking, it would stop the shaking almost immediately,” Manahan said.

A disease registry provides a tool for clinicians to track clinical care and outcomes. Through the registry, treatments and outcomes would be available to researchers all over the world. The shared information can help researchers refine current treatment options or try new techniques to improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

“The dirty little secret is that there are 1 million people in country that have Parkinson’s, but we don’t know that,” Manahan said. “There’s no registry to tell you how many people in West Virginia have it because they go by averages.”

House Bill 4276 was passed out of the committee to the House with recommendation to pass.

In 2020, lawmakers passed House Bill 4553 that capped insulin costs at $100 and no equipment cost assistance. During that session, the bill passed the House with a $25 cap but the Senate changed it to $100. By the time the bill arrived at the House later in the session there wasn’t much time to fight the change and maintain hopes the bill would pass.

Barbara Fleischauer

House Bill 4252 proposes to cap the cost of a 30-day supply of insulin at $35 and $100 for devices, including blood testing kits for ketones. A ketones test can warn a person with diabetes of a high blood sugar condition that could trigger a medical emergency.

“It allows for life saving treatments using insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors that really will enable people to live longer and healthier lives,” Monongalia County Delegate Barbara Evans-Fleischauer said.

Insulin pumps can cost up to $7,000 and glucose monitoring devices can cost up to $900.

House Bill 4252 was passed out of the committee to the House with recommendation to pass.

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Committee agrees with parents, updates classroom video recording law

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County couple is behind efforts to update a fairly new state law in connection with video recording special education classrooms in West Virginia.

Craig and Beth Bowden appeared before the Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon in support of SB 261 which would update a bill originally passed by lawmakers in 2019.

Nancy Boggs
Photo/CPD

The Bowden’s son, Trenton, 9, was abused at Holz Elementary in Charleston last September. His teacher at the time, Nancy Boggs, 66, was indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury on 23 counts of battery and one count of verbal abuse of a noncommunicative child.

His parents told lawmakers the video of one day showed their son and two other children being slapped across the face, having their heads slammed on desks, some students were thrown to the floor and one student was forced to eat lunch on the bathroom floor.

The bill, amended and passed by the committee Thursday, includes language that calls for more frequent viewing of the classroom video.

“That’s very important,” Craig Bowden told committee members. “That opens up the door for it to actually be a tool to detect this abuse.”

The current law prohibits school officials from regularly monitoring the classroom video.

Amy Nichole Grady

The language, including in an amendment from Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, says a school administrator is to review the video for no less than 15 minutes, no less than every 90 days.

Trenton Bowden was unable to tell his parents what happened in the classroom, Beth Bowden told committee members.

“We have to be able to provide them a voice in their schools,” she said. “They cannot provide a voice for themselves and without monitoring these recordings this abuse will continue to happen. We’re seeing it.”

Craig Bowden said the goal should be to quickly stop the abuse.

“Only God can get rid of evil in this world. This is going to happen again. I promise you and I don’t think you’d argue with me about that. So what we need to do is find out about it as quickly as possible and put a stop to it as quickly as possible,” he said.

Another approved amendment would require video to be kept for up to a year.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Boggs resigned her teaching position Nov. 1, 2021. She is scheduled to stand trial in April.

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Federal judge dismisses Bulger family lawsuit against Federal Bureau of Prisons

WHEELING, W.Va. – U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in Wheeling has dismissed the lawsuit brought by the family of Whitey Bulger against the government.

Whitey Bulger 2011 mugshot

The leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang was serving two life sentences plus five years for numerous racketeering charges and 13 murders when he was transferred to USP Hazelton in October 2018.

Bulger, 89, was placed in the general population and was beaten to death within hours of his arrival at the Preston County facility. 

Bulger’s family called the facility violent, volatile and understaffed in the lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)in 2020.

Bailey ruled federal law precludes the family’s ability to sue over the Federal Bureau of Prison’s decision to transfer Bulger to Hazelton. In the ruling he said, “Through its frequent legislation in the areas of prison housing and prisoner litigation, Congress had many opportunities to create a damages remedy for situations where a housing decision leads to injury. But it did not do so. Instead, it has repeatedly limited judicial authority to review BOP housing decisions and to entertain claims brought by prisoners.”

Bulger had served time at federal prisons in Florida and Arizona before his transfer to USP Hazelton.

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Williams awaits opioid trial decision from federal judge

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Mayor Steve Williams says he doesn’t know when U.S. District Judge David Faber will announce his decision in the landmark opioid case but he’s ready to move forward no matter the result.

Steve Williams

Williams, spending time this week in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” he has faith in the judicial system along with faith and a “great respect” for Judge Faber.

“Any decision that’s going to be made I think you naturally accept,” Williams said.

It’s believed Faber is getting close to announcing his decision. He heard weeks of testimony during a bench trial last year.

Huntington and Cabell County claim three large opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, helped fuel the epidemic by dumping 100 million pills into the region over a decade.

Williams said he’s hopeful the judge has recognized the past damage the epidemic has caused but also the future damage.

U.S. District Judge David Faber

“We need to be able to have the resources, not to look over our shoulder at the problems we’ve had and correct those wrongs, but to look forward and abate the problems and make sure this never, ever happens in our communities again,” Williams said.

The distributors all said during the trial that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controls the supply of drugs and their instructions were followed. The defense also pointed at budget decisions made by the City of Huntington to cut funding for law enforcement and a drug task force.

Judge Faber has placed several documents into evidence in recent days which may be an indication that he’s getting close to announcing his decision. Williams said he’s not sure but he’s willing to live with what the judge decides.

“It always aggravates the devil out of me when individuals go to court, expecting the court to serve their purposes, but when it’s ruled against them, they bellyache about how the decision was made,” Williams said.

.@HuntingtonMayor is on-site at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. What is being discussed at this nationwide meeting? Mayor Williams joins @HoppyKercheval to discuss the meeting. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nm85Y pic.twitter.com/MyVH8PFDPy

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 20, 2022

During the trial’s closing arguments in late July, a defense attorney said Huntington and Cabell County spend less than $150,000 a year on drug treatment but they are seeking $2.5 billion in damages.

Paul Farrell (Photo/WV Record)

Lead plaintiff’s attorney Paul Farrell told MetroNews afterward the implication by the ‘Big 3’ is the plaintiffs are a “bunch of pillbillies who want a pay check.”

“If we haven’t established that our hearts are in it then I think we’ve failed,” Farrell said.

Williams said Thursday he understands the city may not get everything it’s seeking but at least they’ll be able to move on.

“If it’s not nearly as much as we had asked or nothing, okay, that’s the judgment and we’ll move forward and at least we have a path we know we have to take in the future to make sure this never happens again,” Williams said.

Williams testified during the trial and said again Thursday it was important for the city to get its day in court.

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The Game Within The Game – Episode 116

Brad Howe and DraftKings’ Julian Edlow offer up best bets for the NFL playoffs (divisional round) and preview this week’s college basketball games.

*Is Tennessee the most disrespected #1 seed in recent memory?

*Would you be in on this +500 prop play for the Bengals – Titans game?

*Previews and best bets for all four NFL divisional round games

*Five prop plays to consider this weekend

*The guys build two different college basketball moneyline parlays for Monday night (January 20)

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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Former WVU post player Jeremy Bodkin hopes to lead Pendleton County back to Charleston

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two decades after wrapping up a productive playing career at West Virginia University, Franklin High School graduate Jeremy Bodkin has returned to his home county to lead one of the top Class A teams in the state. Bodkin is in his first season leading the Pendleton County Wildcats, a team that advanced to the state title game a year ago.

“It is something I always wanted to do,” Bodkin said. “I didn’t know it would be this early. I say early, I am not that young but I am young enough to do it and enjoy doing it. But it is something I have thought about for a long time. I got the opportunity and I took it.”

Bodkin remained in Morgantown following his graduation from WVU in 1993. He was a basketball referee and also served as an assistant coach at Preston prior to his return to Pendleton County.

Dating back to the start of the 2019-2020 season, Pendleton has posted a record of 47-3. The Wildcats took a 40-game win streak into last year’s Class A state title game. The Wildcats fell to Man, 43-36 in the final.

“You go 40-1 over two seasons and everybody is gunning for you. You make the championship game and play very well in it,” Bodkin said. “It was a learning curve for them and a learning curve for me. I’ve got one starter back from last year’s team. They graduated six guys. These kids have really — give them credit, they have really responded to how I am coaching and the change of offense.”

Bodkin replaced Ryan Lambert, who has been named Principal at Brandywine Elementary School.

“Ryan did a great job in the nine years he was here. He did a great job of teaching them. Kids want to learn. They are sponges and they want to learn. My first couple practices, I was telling them something and they looked at me like I had three heads. Once they understood what I was trying to tell them — my verbiage was a bit different than what Ryan’s was. We were saying the same thing, just in a different way. When they figured that out, they really came along.”

Tanner Townsend (left) is Pendleton County’s lone returning starter from the 2021 Class A runner-up team (Photo by Eddie Ferrari)

The Wildcats are 7-2 and they are currently on a six-game winning streak. Senior Tanner Townsend [14.2 points per game] is the team’s lone returning starter.

“You can’t do anything without Tanner. He gets you into the offense. He is good on defense and he is a smart kid. He is a heady kid. I don’t think you can give a better accolade than being a smart and heady player. He can flat out shoot it. You leave him open and he is going to knock it down.”

Cole Day [11.1 points per game] is one of three double-digit scorers for Pendleton. Junior Clayton Kisamore leads the team in scoring. He averages 15.6 points per contest.

“[Kisamore] is a big surprise. He is leading us in scoring right now. We’ve got three guys that are really meshing together and they play well together.”

Bodkin played four seasons at WVU from 1990-1993. The native of Upper Tract in northern Pendleton County scored 581 points and pulled down 361 rebounds as a Mountaineer. He was given the nickname “Big Cat from Upper Tract”.

“I am not sure where that came from. I really don’t know because I couldn’t jump and I couldn’t run very fast. But I will take whatever I get.”

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June 6 trial date set over Capitol riot charges against Morgantown resident Tanios

A federal judge has set a June 6 trial date for Morgantown resident George Tanios and his alleged accomplice Julian Khater, who are accused of working together to assault U.S. Capitol police officers with pepperspray.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan of Washington, D.C., said it’s important to move the case toward trial because Khater remains in a crowded jail system that continues to be affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Tanios was released on bond and is on home confinement.

“It concerns me that we’re not getting this to trial, so I want to get it done,” Hogan said.

Tanios and Khater are among  725 arrested in various crimes for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Judge Hogan asked about any other discussions to resolve the cases, referring to plea deals. Lawyers for the defendants acknowledged those discussions, but said nothing has been resolved so far.

Hogan said establishing the trial date might be a motivating factor. “It focuses people once we have a trial date, to get the work done,” he said.

George Tanios

Tanios is accused of obtaining and carrying the pepperspray, and Khater is accused of spraying it at officers, causing them to be injured and resulting in a distraction that enabled others to breach a bike rack barrier outside the Capitol. One of the officers, Brian Sicknick, later died but a medical examiner ruled the chemical spray was not the direct cause.

Tanios and Khater are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Tanios has pleaded not guilty.

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.

West Virginians facing federal charges of entering the Capitol that day are former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane.

Barber and Cartright have pleaded guilty. Cartright was sentenced to serve a month in jail, and Barber’s sentencing is still ahead.

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Three Guys Before The Game – Texas Tech Preview (Episode 347)

It’s time to hit the road again for the Mountaineer basketball team.

WVU plays at Texas Tech Saturday at noon.  The Red Raiders (14-4) are one of the nation’s surprise teams.  

Despite the departure of head coach Chris Beard and a large chunk of its roster, the No. 18 Red Raiders are in second-place in the Big 12.

On this episode, the “Guys” preview the matchup and review Tuesday’s loss to No. 5 Baylor. Listener questions and comments complete the show.

Join the crew Monday for their weekend recap and preview of next Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma.

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.

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