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Fundraising underway for all-inclusive playground at Mylan Park

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – SteppingStones in Monongalia County is raising $2 million to build an all-inclusive, barrier-free playground for all ages at Mylan Park.

Stepping Stones Executive Director Monica Marietta said the playground will be in the heart of Mylan Park near Miracle Field, the all-inclusive baseball diamond with a rubberized surface similar to what the new playground will have.

“We want children with disabilities, adults with disabilities to be able to play with their cousins, their siblings and their grandparents so this is a place for everyone to play not just for children with disabilities,” Marietta said.

The park will feature smooth surfaces and easy access throughout. Marietta said it will be an area available to the entire community to promote physical activity for those dealing with a disability.

“There’s going to be a combination of rubber surface and turf,” Marietta said. “So, no mulch, no rock and nothing that will cause a tripping hazard.”

In addition to surfaces, the playground will also feature amenities that people with disabilities can access on their own. Independence is something they want to promote while still encouraging family and group activities.

“Our merry-go-round is actually sunken into the ground, so you walk right onto it,” Marietta said. “There’s no jumping on it, you can roll a wheelchair or walker right on it, so if grandma and grandpa can’t their legs up they can just step right on it.”

Commissioners in Monongalia County have agreed to match up to $300,000 in donations with county funds and SteppingStones has received a $50,000 grant from the Milan Puskar Foundation.

“Things are starting to happen and move very quickly,” Marietta said. ” We’re hoping our prayers are answered and we get all the funding together for this playground very quickly and we could potentially break ground on this playground in the spring of 2023.”

To contact SteppingStones for more information call 304-983-STEP(7837) or email [email protected] or click here.


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Arrest made in Fayette County murder case

HILLTOP, W.Va. — A Fayette County man is in custody after being charged in connection with a Nov. 21 shooting death.

Kayce Simms

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department said Kayce Simms, 20, of Mount Hope, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ashtin Owens, 37, of Scarbro. His body was found in a residence at the Mountain Air Mobile Home Park in Hilltop.

Simms is being held in the Southern Regional Jail without bail.

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Recently resigned circuit judge publicly admonished for courtroom behavior

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — A now resigned West Virginia circuit judge has been publicly admonished by the state Judicial Investigation Commission.

Former judge David Hummel

David Hummel, who was circuit judge in Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties until he resigned last week, violated the Code of Judicial Conduct nearly a half dozen times. The state Judicial Disciplinary Counsel voted 7-0 that probable cause existed in each of the violations.

As part of the case, Hummel accepted the admonishment and agreed to never seek judicial office again in the state.

One of the violations had to do with Hummel pulling out a gun in open court during a March hearing in Wetzel County. An attorney said Hummel unholstered the gun when she was trying to have him removed from a gas royalty case because of a possible conflict of interest.

Another charge from the JIC, said Hummel brought a 7-year-old girl to tears when he accused her of lying during a hearing on an abuse and neglect case. He accused the girl’s six-year-old sister of plotting with the mother to falsify allegations against the father.

Hummel later dismissed the case against the father.

There will be no other formal discipline against Hummel from the JIC because he chose to resign.

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Price is right: Led by tailback’s record-setting effort, Independence handles Herbert Hoover 42-7 for first state championship

WHEELING, W.Va. — Throughout the 2022 season, Independence followed a similar recipe for success to remain unbeaten: Production from tailback Judah Price behind a stellar offensive line and exceptional defensive play that was sometimes overshadowed by the Patriots’ ability to score in bunches.

That formula worked again Friday in the Class AA final, and as a result, Independence wrapped up an unbeaten season to secure its first state championship in football.

The second-seeded Patriots got a new Super Six record 376 rushing yards from Price combined with another strong defensive showing to race past No. 9 Herbert Hoover for a 42-7 victory at Wheeling Island Stadium.

“We’ve been saying all year he’s special,” IHS head coach John Lilly said. “A lot of people kept saying, ‘Well he’s special against chump teams.’ Well he did all this against Bluefield, Herbert Hoover and Fairmont Senior. He’s a special young man. I also have to tip my hat to an offensive line that blocked for a Kennedy Award winner last year [Atticus Goodson] and now they blocked for Judah, too. That offensive line is special, too.”

On the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Price displayed his surplus of speed and quality vision on a 94-yard rushing touchdown that also gave the state’s all-time single-season scoring leader the longest play in Super Six history.

“Hopefully there’s not a flag and score the touchdown,” Price said of his thought during the scamper that covered nearly the entire length of the field.

After the two-point attempt failed, Independence (13-0) was left with a 20-0 lead 3:34 into the second half.

That score stood until the fourth, before Price raced 12 yards for a TD on the second play of the frame. It followed his 37-yard run, and combined with Price crossing the goal line on the two-point try, enabled the Patriots to up their advantage to 28-0 with 11:24 remaining.

“Nobody’s been successful [slowing him down]. He’s a good player and the best player in Double-A,” Huskies’ head coach Joey Fields said.

Hoover (10-3) answered with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Dane Hatfield to Andrew Rollyson to prevent the Patriots from recording their seventh shutout this season, but it was too little, too late for a team that had its 10-game win streak stopped after an 0-2 start to the season.

“That’s a good football team that deserves the championship,” Fields said. “I’m happy for coach Lilly and his staff. I’m so proud of this team and community. You could see Elk River pride tonight and they fought with us until the end. I’m proud of how our team responded and fought and we had opportunities to win the game at times.”

Quarterback Trey Bowers scored his second touchdown and Independence’s fifth of the contest on a 41-yard run, before Price ran in the two-point try to make it 36-7 with 6:21 to play.

When Independence got the ball back for what proved to be its final possession, Price scored his fourth touchdown of the contest and 51st of the season on a 6-yard run that capped the scoring.

It was also during that series that Price broke Wheeling Central’s Gino Bianconi’s Super Six record of 355 rushing yards from the 2011 Class A final.

Earlier in the game, Price broke the Class AA Super Six rushing mark previously held by Bridgeport’s Dylan Tonkery, who amassed 314 yards in the 2014 title game.

“That is insane,” Price said. “People were asking me if I had any more records to break and I had no clue I was going to do anything like that. That’s crazy.”

Although Independence’s opening drive ended with a turnover on downs in the red zone, the Patriots forced a three-and-out to immediately get the ball back at the Huskies’ 35-yard line.

Five plays later, Price reached the end zone from 3 yards, and he did the same on the two-point try to give IHS an 8-0 lead at the 3:06 mark of the opening quarter.

Hatfield’s 20-yard pass to Jacob Burns allowed Hoover to convert on fourth-and-17 on its ensuing sequence, and the Huskies continued to march as they worked their way inside the Patriots’ 10.

But on second-and-goal from the 7, Price continued to show he’s more than a running back and ripped the ball from Hoover tailback Randy Hughart, while also recovering the fumble to give Independence the ball at its 5.

“We missed on some opportunities offensively and of course Judah is going to make plays on the other side of the ball as well,” Fields said.

Price’s 43-yard run and Bowers’ 27-yard pass to Cyrus Goodson keyed a 95-yard drive on the ensuing series, which ended with Bowers plunging into the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The two-point play was unsuccessful, leaving the Patriots with a 14-0 lead 5:13 before halftime.

On Hoover’s next possession, Hatfield was stopped at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots’ 36, which kept the score 14-0 at the intermission.

“Our defense has been awesome and it should be. We had nine starters back and they did a good job,” Lilly said. “They’ve been that way all year. We haven’t hardly given up touchdowns all year. They’re just hard-working, good kids.”

The IHS defense was equally dominant in both halves, allowing 70 yards over the first two quarters and 67 over the final two.

The Huskies managed only 31 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

Hatfield had a solid passing performance in defeat as he hit on 14-of-22 throws for 106 yards. 

“We know he’s a great quarterback and he’ll be back up here again. The kid is that good,” Lilly said. “But tonight was our night and the kids had a great game plan and they stuck to it. I’m really proud of them.”

Price carried 32 times in his record-setting effort, while Bowers had a strong effort as well with 15 rushes for 118 yards. Bowers also completed 6-of-10 passes for 54 yards.

“Everyone blocked for me and it’s so surreal really how well everyone did today, how we executed and how we prepared all week,” Price said.

Price and Hatfield were named Most Outstanding Player from their respective teams.

One year after falling short against Fairmont Senior in its first Super Six appearance, the Patriots produced the ending they desired to finish off an unbeaten campaign that saw them largely unchallenged in every game with the exception of a 20-12 victory in the postseason opener against Bluefield.

“It’s one thing to say you’re going to make it back and it’s another thing to make it back,” Lilly said. “We dodged those minefields with a lot of seniors staying focused that long. This is a very special bunch.”

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Postgame video recaps: Independence 42, Herbert Hoover 7 (Class AA final)

(MetroNews broadcast highlights)

WHEELING, W.Va. — Check out postgame video recaps from Independence’s 42-7 win over Herbert Hoover in the Class AA championship.

(Greg Carey and Joe Brocato break down the game) 

(Postgame “Round of Sound”) 

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Joyful Night celebration Saturday evening at state capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The annual Joyful Night celebration hosted by Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice will take place Saturday night at the state capitol.

The celebration, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will include the light of the state Christmas Tree and musical performances involving groups from across the state.

The Christmas Tree Lighting will take place at 6 p.m. This year’s tree was donated by Christmas Tree Farmer Jim Rockis from his property in Morgantown.

There will also be activities taking place inside the state capitol. Trees inside the capitol are decorated to honor Gold Star Mothers, members of the Armed Forces, and First Responders. The Red Cross will also have a table with a card for our members of the military currently in service.

Saturday night’s event will be streamed

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Man wanted in Louisiana murder shot and killed on WV Turnpike

CAMP CREEK, W.Va. — A Louisiana man wanted in connection with his girlfriend’s shooting death and abduction of the couple’s 6-month-old child in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot and killed by West Virginia State Police along the West Virginia Turnpike Friday morning.

Napoleon Crane

The Advocate newspaper reported Napoleon Crane, 29, died in a “shootout” with troopers after a traffic stop near the Camp Creek exit in Mercer County. Crane’s vehicle, which police said was stolen, had been part of a nationwide Amber Alert.

State police confirmed the officer-involved shooting Friday afternoon. A news release said state police were alerted by authorities the suspect (Crane) was in West Virginia. The car was later spotted off the Camp Creek exit.

“When troopers approached the stolen vehicle the suspect retrieved a firearm from the vehicle and fired the weapon. A trooper returned fire. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene,” the release said.

The child was in the backseat uninjured, state police said.

Crane allegedly killed Da’Ja Davis Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge. Her body was found in a parked vehicle. The death was the 95th homicide in East Baton Rouge this year, the Advocate reported.

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Winners of six straight, Marshall welcomes old rival Ohio

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The hot streak continued for Marshall’s basketball team Wednesday as the squad won for a sixth straight time, defeating Akron, 68-57.

The second half of a Mid-American Conference double dip for the Herd (6-1) comes Saturday afternoon when an old rival in the Ohio Bobcats visits the Cam Henderson Center.

The game tips off at 5 p.m. and will be shown by ESPN+.

Marshall’s win streak is close to a month in length and has featured double-digit victories in each of the six wins.

Taevion Kinsey and Andrew Taylor are the top scorers, which is hardly unexpected for two veteran leaders. What is more impressive is the work of two true freshmen — 7-foot-1 center Micah Handlogten and 6-8 forward Jacob Conner.

Handlogten was a defensive wall against Akron with six blocks, three steals and nine rebounds. Conner was equally also effective against the Zips with nine points and two steals. He made all six of his free-throw attempts.

“These players are listening and they’re tuned in,” veteran head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “They’re committed to this school, to the program and to themselves.”

The Herd’s next test comes in an Ohio squad coming off a 113-44 defeat of Cincinnati-Clermont.

The game has been announced as a “White Out” and the Herd is hoping for a crowd near or at full capacity.

Marshall and Ohio have plenty of history as past Mid-American Conference competitors.

Ohio leads the all-time series, 57-49. The squads met in Athens last season and the Bobcats won, 75-65. The last meeting in Huntington was the season before, which Marshall won.

Former Marshall assistant Jeff Boals is in his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. He has a 63-35 with the Bobcats.

The Bobcats are 4-3 and their other wins are against Cleveland State, Eastern Illinois and Alabama State. Ohio had close road losses to Belmont and Michigan, with the game against the Wolverines going into overtime. The Bobcats also dropped a game to Detroit Mercy.

Guard Miles Brown and graduate forward Dwight Wilson each average 12.3 points to lead OU. Junior guard Jaylin Hunter averages 9.9 points. Wilson is averaging 10.7 rebounds, while sophomore forward AJ Clayton chips in with 7.4 boards.

The Bobcats shoot 46.4 percent from the field, just under 36 percent from behind the 3-point arc and nearly 70 percent from the free throw line. Ohio is out-rebounding the opposition by over 8 per game.

After playing five of the first seven games at home to start the season, Marshall starts a three-game road trip after the Ohio game next Thursday at Duquesne. Contests at Robert Morris and UNC-Greensboro follow.

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Former Harrison County contractor sentenced in multistate fraud case

CLARKSBURG, W.Va.- A Harrison County contractor will spend 10 years in prison and pay more than $500,000 in restitution for wire fraud in connection with his home improvement businesses.

Bradley Glaspell, 48, of Salem, admitted to stealing more than $500,000 from more than 70 customers as the owner and operator of Over the Top Roofing, LLC, and Helping Hands Home Improvement.

“Mr. Glaspell was a shady contractor who took advantage of West Virginians who paid him up front and trusted that he would do the job,” U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said. “His dishonesty caused many to be left with unfinished projects and I’m pleased that he will spend the next ten years behind bars.”

Glaspell advertised himself as a licensed contractor on social media when in fact he was not.

Glaspell scammed customers in Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Randolph, Ritchie, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur, and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, and Washington and Fayette counties in Pennsylvania.


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Man who killed Capital’s KJ Taylor will spend rest of life in prison

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit says the best way to protect society from Dekotis Thomas is to remove him from society.

Tabit sentenced Thomas, 21, to life in prison without parole Friday for the April 2021 shooting death of Capital High School senior KJ Taylor.

“KJ” Taylor starred at Capital High School.

“In the interest of the protection of the public and in protecting society, in my view sir, it is best to permanently remove you from it and I’m going to sentence you to life without mercy,” Tabit told Thomas during a video hearing.

Thomas pulled up in his vehicle on the West Side of Charleston and deliberately fired several shots toward where KJ Taylor was standing and then fled the scene. Police have said that Thomas meant to shoot another person who was close by. Tabit said Friday that man was Keyshawnta St. John. St. John was killed earlier this year in a separate incident. Two defendants are scheduled to be in court Monday for that crime.

KJ’s mother–Tara Richmond–said even though Thomas may have been aiming for someone else there’s no excuse for what he did to her 18-year-old son.

“KJ might not have been the target cause KJ didn’t run the streets. I knew there was no reason for anyone ever to want to kill KJ but I will never in my life get to see KJ again,” Richmond said.
“KJ will never ever be able to give me a grandchild. Me and my husband are left on this earth alone. You took everything from us, everything, I have nothing. I have nothing.”

Joanna Tabit

Taylor’s cousin, Wayne Harris, said he looked up to KJ.

“He was a good person,” Harris said choking back tears.

Thomas gave a brief statement as part of his request for life with mercy. He said he never meant the shooting death to happen.

“I want to apologize to the family for their loss. I hate that they have to go through this. The spirit will always be with them every step of the way. I will forever keep them in my prayers. It was never my intention to hurt KJ,” Thomas said.

Tabit told Thomas his criminal history told a different story. She said he meant to kill St. John and before that was charged in the 2019 shooting death of 28-year-old Antwan Curnell of Dunbar on Interstate 77 at the northbound Westmoreland Road exit. The charge was dropped as part of the plea bargain agreement.

“I’ve seen no acceptance of responsibility whatsoever. You’ve not admitted to killing anybody, not KJ, not Antwan, and I know there’s a hand in just two but I suspect there’s more than that,” Tabit said.

The judge said in the end Thomas took a productive life from the world.

“You have robbed so many of his life and so many people of the love and joy that he brought them and would bring them had he had the opportunity to continue to live,” Tabit said.

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