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CAMPBELLS CREEK, W.Va. — The owner of a popular eastern Kanawha County restaurant which burned down earlier this year is on the road to recovery. Paco Ellison said they are slowly making progress on rebuilding the Dairy Winkle on Campbell’s Creek after a fire destroyed the place January 11th.
“We’re taking baby steps every day, but we’re moving forward every day,” said Ellison.
According to the owner they’ve rewired the entire building, installed new heating and cooling equipment, plumbing has been refurbished and soon they’ll rough it all in with the drywall work. They’ll also be installing equipment and painting the place in the coming days.
Ellison vowed to rebuild the day the accidental fire destroyed the restaurant which is a gathering spot for many in the community. He’s had a lot of help along the way and has tried to mind his finances by doing most of the work himself or with anyone willing to help out.
“Had I brought in a team of contractors I could have been done by now, but most of the work has been done by myself and volunteers. I can’t say enough about people who continue to give me stuff and help me out,” he explained.
Ellison anticipated the rebuilding work should be done and the restaurant ready to reopen by late July. However, he said he’s also hoping he’ll be able to find a new staff.
“I think three is all I’m going to have returning and they are all itching to come back, but I’m going to need another dozen because I’m wanting to open for breakfast,” he said.
However, he noted everybody is looking for help and wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to build a new staff for the popular eatery.
INSTITUTE, W.Va. — In a respectful way to get rid of old, worn out flags, community members gathered in Institute for an annual Memorial Day ceremony.
The Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery was again the meeting grounds for the 10th annual flag retirement ceremony, where hundreds of military, state, and American flags are burned in a manner of honor and dignity.
President of the Donel C. Kinnard Honor Guard, Donald Ryan said that the flags brought in have seen various U.S. conflicts and were carried by those who have fought and died for the country, and this is a way to honor them.
“First of all, our group, we honor veterans who have given the final, their lives, whether it be during active duty or at retirement,” he said.
Ryan went onto say that the flags represent what the veterans stand for.
“This flag is what they fought for and what they died for, and we do our best to honor them,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the flags are brought in by community members throughout the year, whether to the cemetery’s honor guard or various VFWs around the area.
Cemetery Director, Jamie Cochran, who introduced the flag ceremony Monday, said Memorial Day is a good day to retire these flags to as a display of the honor they leave behind.
“As a symbol of our freedom in this country, it is important to properly retire flags out of respect for what they mean to all Americans,” said Cochran.
People gave their flags over to members of the honor guard, who then placed them onto the flame one by one, saluting as they did so.
Ryan said they expected to be conducting the flag retirement all day Monday and still will not have burned all of the flags they’ve received.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston’s downtown library has celebrated its one-year anniversary of being open and operational ever since it went through renovations.
The largest library in West Virginia, the Kanawha County Public Library underwent a $32 million renovation project that began in June 2020. The library closed down in March of that year and was temporarily relocated to the Town Center Mall.
The library was reopened to downtown Charleston on May 9, 2022.
A few of the big changes for the multi-floor library were the addition of 20,000 square feet of new space as well as the Sky Bridge that goes across Quarrier Street.
Erika Connelly is the Director of the Kanawha County Public Library System. She said it’s been a very good first year back following the changes and improvements to the facility.
“The public’s response has been a little overwhelming,” said Connelly. “I feel like we’re about 80% of where we were prior to COVID, which I’m told is above the national average for libraries.”
Coming with the additional space at the library, Connelly said their new meeting rooms are getting used constantly by visitors.
“We had one public use room, now we have upwards of 20 in this building,” Connelly said.
With that additional space, Connelly said those in the library are using the building in more ways than one and not just for browsing books.
“We’re constantly seeing visitors using the library in a different way,” she said. “They’re treating the library as a community center or as an extended living room.”
Other changes for the library include handicap-accessible doors on both ends of the building as well as an art section which Connelly said is a brand new addition from the library foundation. The library also features a coffee shop, children’s area, and other conference and study rooms.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The new head of the state department of health is a familiar face to Charleston and Kanawha County.
Dr. Sherri Young was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to fill one of the three secretary positions of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Three new cabinet secretaries were named by Gov. Justice last week. Dr. Cynthia Persily was named as secretary of the Department of Human Services, Michael Caruso as secretary of the Department of Health Facilities, and Dr. Young as secretary of the Department of Health.
Young has spent a lot of her professional work in Charleston, most notably as the director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department where she helped Kanawha County during the time of the COVID pandemic. Young was most recently Associate Chief Medical Officer for CAMC hospitals.
Now, she will lead the entire state’s health department. Young said she sees this position as a huge opportunity.
“I see a lot of opportunities there,” Young said about getting back into the public health sector. “I’m excited to work with secretary Persily and secretary Caruso.”
Young said that a lot was learned about the community during the time of the pandemic, which she believes has shaped her into a good choice to lead in this new role.
“Through COVID, we got to see a lot of great response with how we handled the pandemic, the public health response was phenomenal.”
Young said there’s still work to do on the health care gaps in West Virginia.
“As far as closing gaps and making sure people are getting their cancer screenings and right treatment, we have a lot of work to do,” she said.
When addressing these issues, it needs to start at a young age, according to Dr. Young. She wants to make sure young children are learning at an early age the ways to properly take of themselves from a health perspective.
“We need to get out in the communities and teach them better ways to take care of themselves,” Young said. “If we don’t start somewhere, it’s going to be a never ending cycle.”
House Bill 2006 was passed earlier this year which divides the DHHR into the three separate agencies.
The full division of the DHHR will take effect in 2024.
CROSS LANES, W.Va. — A hobbyist in Kanawha County has created a unique tribute to the crew of a B-25 bomber who died in West Virginia.
Allen Harmon of Cross Lanes is a history buff and was intrigued when he learned about the crash of the military aircraft at Spruce Knob in 1950.
“They crashed up there on June 14th at 3:30 in the morning. They were on their way back to Hill Air Force Base in Utah from Pennsylvania. Somehow, they got off course and flew straight into the tallest mountain in our state,” said Harmon.
Harmon did a lot of research and managed to find and visit the crash site where parts of the plane are still strewn about. A farmer had hauled off one of the engines years ago, but a friend located it about ten years ago and gave Harmon the base of one of the propellers. Harmon, who is a scale model builder, went to work incorporating the authentic material he had collected into a memorial to the nine men who perished on the flight.
“I took a piece of plywood and mounted the propeller hub on it. Then I took pieces of the aluminum I found on the hillside where the plane crashed and straightened those out and put them on the board. I had a plaque made at a trophy shop with all of the men’s names and ranks,” Harmon explained.
He built a 1/32nd scale model of the exact B-25 involved in the crash. Through military archives he was able to find the plane’s exact numbers and markings to put on the model. He also learned the names of the crew members who died. He attempted to contact some of the families through the years, but had no success.
“I tried to contact those who had applied to the military for honorary markers, but they were all dead,” he said.
The crew members were from all over the United States. Harmon decided to display the memorial in model shows around the country which he attends as a tribute to the men who died. The model has won three awards in the past year.
“People really enjoy it when I take it to shows. I built it as a memorial to those guys. I don’t care if it wins a prize, I’m just happy to have it to help remember those guys who gave their lives,” he said.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A special prosecutor could soon get involved with the investigation of Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Adam Petry confirmed his office has requested a special prosecutor to look into an incident at Daniel Boone Park in Charleston earlier this month.
Carper’s youngest daughter previously acknowledged an allegation of misconduct against her father was related to his health. Carper, 71, has been hospitalized after having quadruple bypass surgery on May 18.
“Unfortunately, an allegation of inappropriate conduct has been made against my father while he was apparently parked in a vehicle at or near Daniel Boone Park on Monday,” Virginia Carper stated on May 19, the day after his surgery.
The statement went on to say, “My father’s illness and his apparent confusion have been misinterpreted as being something inappropriate. My family and I regret this awful misunderstanding.”
Virginia Carper said her father’s surgery was promoted by a heart attack he had on May 15, the same day investigators have been looking into.
Earlier this month, MetroNews and other news organizations filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the City of Charleston and with Metro 911 for incident reports and recordings of 911 calls from Daniel Boone Park on May 15; however, those requests have been denied pending an investigation.
“The information you are requesting is part of a pending investigation and, therefore, is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” the City of Charleston responded at the time.
Metro 911 responded, “We cannot provide you with the requested recordings at this time as there is an ongoing investigation. As such, Charleston Police Department has requested that the recordings not be released at this time.”
Carper has served on with the Kanawha County Commission since 1996 and is a law partner at Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler.
KANAWHA CITY W.Va. — A local college organization is ensuring patients are getting the extra care and support they need at CAMC Cancer Center.
The West Virginia State University Yellowjacket II chapter of the Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship presented a check worth $700 towards that effort to the CAMC Foundation Friday.
The funds come from a benefit concert that the organization held at WVSU on April 29. Phi Groove member Kenneth Williams said it feels good to give back to those in need.
“We just love reaching out to those who can’t help themselves, that’s just very important to us and what our organization likes doing, giving back to our community, it’s the most important thing to us,” he said.
Williams said it was the first time the WVSU organization had held a fundraiser for the cancer center.
The group hosted local singer and rapper Tajai Holmes for the benefit concert, or as he goes by on stage, Jai’Rahd.
The fellowship is known for promoting academic awareness, ethical standards, and unity among men in college programs, but Williams said this particular fundraiser was specifically inspired by a special person to Phi Groove.
“He was a brother of ours, his name was Edgar Randall, he had cancer a few years back and we want to honor him and his family, and so moving forward we want to continue to have fundraisers raising money for the cancer center,” Williams said.
President of CAMC Foundation, Bryan Cummings said as CAMC Cancer Center receives some of the highest numbers of cancer patients throughout the state, any support they can get is always appreciated.
“We are very thrilled to be the recipient of such a great undertaking in the community, we’re always trying to find partners able to help us better our patient care, here in Charleston and across the state,” Cummings said. “So, knowing that this group held a concert in honor of cancer patients being treated here at the CAMC Cancer Center is a big honor for us to be receiving the rewards of their hard work.”
He said the funds raised go toward many different needs. Not only do they go to the purchase of new, state-of-the-art equipment and resources for the cancer center, but Williams said funds also go to medication assistance for patients who need help meeting prescription costs, and to survivorship programs that help with providing physical and psychological resources for the patients recovering from cancer.
After the Phi Groove Social Fellowship announced that they were going to continue to help out the cancer center through future benefit concerts, Cummings said CAMC is happy to see their support grow.
“We always like to take these that get off the ground and really build them so that they can continue to be impactful in the future, so we’re thrilled to be a partner with them moving forward,” he said.
Cummings said CAMC has a Community Giving Program that invites individuals and organizations around the area to donate funds raised through holding local concerts among other events whenever possible.
NITRO, W.Va. — The Nitro Athletic Complex was supposed to open just in time for Memorial Day weekend, but residents will need to wait a few more days to take a dip in the new swimming pool.
City leaders held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning to welcome the $6.3 million facility.
The pool will not be open until 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt.
“When we did our final walk through this morning, we did discover an issue that has to be addressed. The water levels are going to have to be dropped some and it’s going to take two sunny days to do it so they’re going to come in today and tomorrow to address those issues,” Casebolt said.
In additional to the pool, other major upgrades include a new welcome center, a splash pad, tennis and pickleball and courts.
Casebolt said the facility complements what’s already in the area.
“We have made a large investment in our city park by updating the fields, so these two complement each other real well. The city park is adjacent, so this will be a recreation complex for the citizens of Nitro for many years to come,” he said.
One event that was planned for Saturday has been postponed. A hamburger cookout and giveaway has been rescheduled for next Saturday, June 3.
Musical guest The Esquires still plan on performing at the Nitro Sports Complex this Saturday at 7 p.m. There will also be fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
NITRO, W.Va. — The City of Nitro is getting ready to open a new sports complex.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Nitro Sports Complex will be held Friday morning, which will be followed up with a grand opening celebration of the complex and pool opening on Saturday at 11 a.m., according to city spokesman Joe Stevens.
Since breaking ground on the over $5 million sports complex last August, the pool had been one of the first projects as part of it to get underway, and Stevens said everything is now ready at the pool area besides the slides. He said they were delayed due to supply chain issues but will be coming later next month.
Stevens said Saturday’s celebration will come complete with Nitro High School students helping to serve the first guests of the new pool hundreds of burgers from a local chef.
“The really cool thing about it is, one of the councilmen, the city council at large, Bill Javins is known for providing hot dogs at our Halloween Hoedown, I mean he just throws out the grill and we have free hot dogs, well, this Saturday beginning at noon, he is the chef of 1,000 free cheeseburgers,” Stevens said.
Park Avenue in front of City Park will be shut down Saturday for the event, and a stage will be set up for The Esquires beginning at 7 p.m. and a fireworks display beginning at 9:30 p.m. Stevens expects a large crowd to attend.
He continued to tell MetroNews that he’s happy to see positive development happening not only in the Nitro community but through the efforts Mayor Kay Summers is leading in Clendenin, as well as in other communities throughout the region.
“It’s really cool, and it’s really neat what Mayor Goodwin is doing here in Charleston, what Frank Mullins is doing in South Charleston, all the way through the Kanawha-metro Valley area, you’re seeing good things happening,” he said.
Stevens said Nitro has been just one of the communities tearing down dilapidated buildings that had no longer served a purpose and had created an eyesore to residents. He said the project is now opening up a conversation of new potential to come to the area.
“There’s a lot of really good space out there that Mayor Casebolt and City Planner Reed are both hearing from businesses saying, ‘hey, we see the space, we are interested,” said Stevens.
Stevens said the tennis and pickleball courts at the Nitro Sports Complex are ahead of schedule and are expected to open sometime next month in June. He also said they plan to host the first major tournament at the new complex in mid-July– The Kanawha County Metro 911’s First Responders Tournament.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After pleading guilty to conspiracy to burglary in connection to a murder, A D.C. man will serve now time at a facility in Greenbrier County for young adult offenders.
On Thursday, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers sentenced Davone Foote Jr., 22, to the Anthony Correctional Center for conspiracy to commit burglary.
The burglary and murder stem from an incident at a residence on Bigley Avenue on March 13, 2022. Foote and Mikeo Wooteon, 21, of Dunbar, were charged for the shooting death of Keyshawnta St. John, 21, of Charleston.
The shooting took place after a failed burglary attempt was committed by the two suspects and St. John.
Wooten has plead guilty to second-degree murder in St. John’s death. Foote was originally charged with first-degree murder.
According to an attorney for Foote, he has already served 14 months in jail, making him eligible for probation. Judge Akers said probation or parole given to Foote would dishonor the victim, St. John. She asked that Foote continue his education while at the Anthony Correctional Center.
The educational program at the Greenbrier facility can last for six months and result in obtaining a GED, according to Akers.