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Some Regal residents find housing following apartment fire one week ago

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In the week since the Regal Apartments fire displaced dozens of residents in Charleston, some have already found a new place to live.

John Roberts

Mountain Mission Executive Director John Roberts told 580-WCHS Wednesday of the 35 families who were impacted about 15-18 residents have found housing, while others continue to explore their options.

Clothing donations since the Jan. 25 fire have been overwhelming in the best way possible, Roberts said.

“We are going to be able to bless a lot of these folks with all the closing they need,” Roberts said. “We even purchased new clothing for a lot of them.”

The biggest need right now is for housing items including furniture, towels, hygiene products and more. Roberts said the best way to get items like that to residents is to make a monetary donation.

“The next phase will really be making sure that they get into the apartments, that they have the necessities like a bed and a kitchen table,” he said.

Patriot Services Group, who manages the Regal Apartments, placed families at the Best Western Hotel in downtown Charleston at no cost while they assist with permanent housing solutions.

The Regal Apartment building was demolished just hours after the fire began. Carrie Hodousek/MetroNews

Roberts said once a resident finds a new apartment or home to live in, Mountain Mission will help them restock their shelves with necessary food items and other supplies.

“When they get into their apartments for the first time, their cabinets are going to be bare,” he said. “We are willing to go in there and help them get some food in their apartments and get them started on a good foot.”

No one was hurt in the fire, but many are still trying to process what happened. All 35 occupied units in the four-story building had to be demolished. Charleston firefighters ruled the fire as undetermined.

The American Red Cross was on the ground in the moments after the fire along the Kanawha Boulevard. Regional CEO Erica Mani said they have assisted 33 clients through their case management work.

Erica Mani

“We’re working with each individual even those things like ‘have you forwarded your address through the U.S. Postal Service?'” she said.

Mani said part of their role is to help with supplemental assistance rather than physical donations like food and water.

“They’re getting wonderful support from the community with food and items, but they do need to go out and purchase their own things. The Red Cross case work team wants to make sure that they’re able to do that,” Mani said.

West Virginia Health Right helped fill prescriptions for residents who needed it. United Way has also set up a fund to help the victims recover their losses.

Mani said these issues won’t be resolved overnight, but they can continue to help make a difference each day.

“This isn’t something that will be done this week. It will go on for a couple of weeks. It is a multitude of community partners who are coming together to make sure that those folks from the Regal Apartments are taken care of,” she said.

A spokesperson with the City of Charleston said the Building Commission has been working with the property owner to begin removing the debris from the fire scene this week depending on the weather.

Source: Local News | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

St. Francis on the move

CHRLESTON, W.Va. — A transition for WVU Medicine’s Thomas Health System Tuesday with the previously announced closure of the emergency department at St. Francis Hospital in downtown Charleston.

The ER services are being transferred to Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston.

“We are expanding our offerings here, expanding our critical care offerings, expanding our emergency department.” Thomas Health spokesperson Kristin Anderson said.

WVU Medicine announced earlier this month that the move clear the way for St. Francis to become what’s being described as “the state’s first full-service and comprehensive orthopaedic hospital.”

“This represents a tremendous opportunity to create a best-in-class, full-service orthopaedic hospital for the Charleston area and the southern region of West Virginia,” WVU President and CEO Albert Wright said at the time. “Patients can still receive the quality emergency care they have come to know and trust at Saint Francis on our Thomas campus in South Charleston.”

Thomas Health became full members of the WVU Medicine system on Jan. 1. Anderson said a review of offerings is underway.

“As part of that partnership, we are evaluating all of the services we offer and just analyzing how we can provide the best services and the services that are needed to patients in this region,” Anderson said.

Anderson said WVU Medicine/Thomas Health hope to have a growing impact on health care in southern West Virginia.

“We talk a lot about becoming a southern hub and a destination to serve, not only the Kanawha Valley and the Charleston area but all of southern West Virginia,” Anderson said.

The ER closure does not impact the One Day Surgery Center next to St. Francis on Donnally Street, It will continue to offer outpatient surgery options

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UC event shines light on human trafficking in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Federal law enforcement officials met with stakeholders Tuesday at the University of Charleston to discuss ways to combat human trafficking in West Virginia.

The event was hosted by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald said during a presentation West Virginia sees a lot of human trafficking, particularly of children, due to the state’s high poverty levels.

“Food and housing insecurity can make someone very vulnerable to traffickers who can promise to give them those supplies. They can feed them, they can give them a home, they can give them nice clothing,” Herrald said.

Special Agent Brian Morris with Homeland Security Investigations joined Herrald during the presentation and said an adult trafficker will manipulate a child to make them feel loved and supported.

“There’s no such thing as a child prostitute,” Morris said. “Either we’ve got sexual abuse, we’ve got something going on in the home or they’re running towards somebody that is giving them something.”

Many children who are trafficked for sex, money, drugs or other reasons don’t view themselves as victims, Morris said. The child is manipulated so much that, in some cases, the victim will call their trafficker their boyfriend or husband.

“I’ve done hundreds of interviews over my career and probably 25 percent of that they do so say ‘hey, listen that’s my man and he’s done nothing wrong to me.’ Usually they don’t want to prosecute, but without a victim, we don’t have a case most of the time,” Morris said.

According to data provided by Thorn.org, about 75 percent of minors trafficked after 2004 were advertised online including sites like Facebook and Craigslist.

The role of technology in trafficking has grown over the years, according to the statistics. Of those first trafficked in 2015, about 55 percent met their trafficker via text, website or app. Half of survivors said their trafficker was a stranger and that they met online.

Herrald said some children who are trafficked will post their own ads.

“Even if they put their own ad on Craigslist, every single person who tries to engage in commercial sex can be convicted of federal sex trafficking and we pursue those cases very aggressively,” she said. “The child has not committed a crime in that scenario, but every single adult who has been involved with her has.”

Herrald and Morris also went over warning signs for teachers, counselors and other adults to look out for. Morris advised peope to look out for strange tattoos on a child.

“They’re going to brand their property,” Morris said of traffickers who belong to gangs.

Other warning sings include a child who has multiple cell phones, frequent school absences, abrupt changes in behavior, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Source: Local News | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Putnam County drivers encountered slippery driving conditions Tuesday morning

WINFIELD, W.Va. — Putnam County received nasty weather causing problems early Tuesday morning.

There was a mix of rain, snow and ice, Putnam County Office of Emergency Services Director Mikyle White said.

“We had roughly 12 accidents the majority of them being on the U.S. Route 35 corridor,” White said.

Other parts of Putnam County were not as severely hit with the same weather.

White said the Route 35 seemed to be the dividing line.

“As you went east towards Kanawha County it was mostly rain, and most of the ice seemed to be on the west and north side of the county,” White said.

Putnam County schools closed Tuesday, Kanawha County schools operated on a two-hour delay.

With school closed Tuesday, White hoped there would be less traffic.

” We encourage everybody to take their time as they commute if they have to get out today,” said White.

The road conditions had greatly improved by mid-morning, White said.

Source: Local News | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Matthews called to be next fire chief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Craig Matthews has been tabbed to be the next Fire Chief of the Charleston Fire Department.

Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin made the announcement Monday and said, “Throughout his 25 years of service as a member of our Fire Department, Chief Matthews has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience which will serve him well in this new role.”

Chief Matthews joined the fire department back in May of 1997. For over 25 years, Matthews moved up in the ranks, most recently serving as a Battalion Chief.

Matthews has experience in fire suppression and emergency medical units, as well as some experience with rescue and truck companies.

After becoming the new Chief, Matthews said, “I am eager to continue leading the Charleston Fire Department in providing the citizens and visitors of our City with the most efficient and quality Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services.”

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Arrest in Clay County shooting death

DILLE, W.Va. — A Nicholas County man is charged with murder following the shooting death of his brother in Clay County.

Zachary Garvin-Ward

Zachary Trace Garvin-Ward, 21, of Birch River, is charged with murder in the Saturday death of Cory Tyler Garvin-Ward.

According to state police troopers, the two men were arguing over stolen property at a residence in the Dille community of Clay County when Zachary Garvin-Ward shot his brother in the chest. Cory Garvin-Ward died a short time later.

Zachary Garvin-Ward is in the Central Regional Jail without bail.

Source: Local News | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Restaurant Week kicks off in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Organizers of Charleston’s Restaurant Week say the event that returns this week to the Capital City has had a lot of success over the years.

Dickenson Gould, president of Buzz Foods, said the event started out at the end of Jan. 2014 as a way to help restaurants impacted by the water crisis get back on their feet.

“Once the water supply was cleared for consumption and people were allowed to go out to restaurants again, we said ‘hey guys we can cancel this event or it might be the perfect thing to help bring people back out’ and that’s exactly what it turned into,” Gould said on Monday’s “580 Live” heard on 580-WCHS.

Gould said the event has evolved over the years, but the offerings have generally remained the same.

“In this format, you’re going to get a choice of a first course. That might be salad, a soup or an appetizer. Then you’ll get a choice of two entrees and a dessert option,” he said.

The restaurants participating in this year’s event include:

  • 1010 Bridge Restaurant
  • Chop House
  • Adelphia Sports Bar and Grille
  • Jeff’s Curbside
  • Ristorante Abruizzi
  • The Pitch of Kanawha City
  • Soho’s at the Capitol Market
  • Lookout Bar and Grill
  • D.T. Prime
  • Ichicban
  • Tidewater Grill
  • Bricks and Barrels
  • Black Sheep Burritos
  • Bridge Road Bistro and Catering

Gould said restaurants want to showcase their best food options.

“They know and assume that they’re going to see a lot of first time patrons. One of the goals of this event is we advertise the menu so that there’s no questions about what you’re going to eat when you get to that dining room,” he said.

Gould said it’s also important to highlight Appalachian food culture.

“The more that we can celebrate what’s unique about this region, what we produce and what we grow here, the more successful we’ll be,” he said.

Charleston Restaurant Week runs through Saturday.

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St. Albans makes Forbes Advisor’s list of Best Places to Travel in 2023

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. — A West Virginia city is gaining international recognition.

St. Albans in Kanawha County recently made it onto Forbes Advisor’s list of “Best Places to Travel In 2023.”

Mayor Scott James said it’s a great honor especially because the list includes towns from all over the world.

“We’re in there listed with towns from Germany, England, South America, all over. It’s unbelievable,” James said on Monday’s “580 Live” heard on MetroNews flagship station 580-WCHS in Charleston.

Edinburgh in Scotland, Carcassonne in France and Tasmania in Australia, were also among the towns to make the list.

James said the mention will put St. Albans on the map and generate more tourism.

“I think this is going to help us draw more people to our community and make it a better place,” he said.

Forbes Advisor wrote, “whether you want to get out and enjoy nature or stay in town and explore the restaurant scene, this Mountain State gem is great for a relaxing getaway.”

The publication also mentioned the history of the area and the native tribes that once inhabited the region, “including the Adena, Fort Ancient, Moneton and Shawnee.”

James said St. Albans has a lot to offer.

“A lot of outdoor activities, being on the river, hiking or biking. They did mention the restaurant scene. We’ve got a lot of, what I call, unique dining experiences that are family owned. They’re not chains,” he said.

Forbes also gave some tips when traveling to St. Albans.

“Consider using a Capital One travel card to book an Airbnb in St. Albans or nearby Charleston and then redeeming your miles to offset the charge,” Forbes wrote. “Want to rack up rewards on your dining credit card? Start your day with coffee at Coal River Coffee Company, then in the evening, hit up The Tap for a wide selection of craft beer and a bar-b-queterie board.”

The full list of cities and regions can be found HERE.

Source: Local News | WCHS Network | News • Sports • Business | Charleston, WV

Man injured in shooting, son not charged initially

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police say information from a Monday morning shooting at a house on Wertz Avenue will be turned over to prosecutors to decide if charges should be filed.

Detectives said they learned that Doug Crowder, 59, of Montgomery, entered his son’s home at about 9:30 a.m. and approached his son in a “threatening manner.”

Police said the son took out a gun and shot toward Crowder. He was struck once in the chest.

Charleston police said the son stayed on the scene, called Metro 911, and rendered aid to his father.

Crowder is in stable condition at a Charleston hospital.

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Jackson sheriff says quick action helps avoid possible violence at school

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger said anytime there is a situation involving a school it immediately becomes the top priority.

“Regardless of what you’re doing at the time, it becomes secondary to a school incident. You drop what you’re doing and dive right into it,” said Mellinger in a conversation with MetroNews Affiliate WMOV in Ravenswood.

Mellinger’s deputies were alerted by Jackson County School Superintendent Will Hosaflook Sunday to a potential threat at Ripley Middle School. They followed up and confronted the young boy who had allegedly threatened to commit a school shooting on Monday in a post to social media. He was taken into custody in a rural part of Jackson County and his electronic device confiscated.

Mellinger said it was a completely credible threat and the youngster was definitely sincere in his desire to go through with the intentions he had expressed.

“Even though this stopped short of being a catastrophic event, it certainly was well on its way to becoming that. Had it not gotten the attention it got early on, we could be looking at a whole different headline,” he said.

He added, it’s an important example of “see something, say something.”

“It’s better than to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. When you have that vital information, you as the administrator or law enforcement agency, you have the ability to independently analyze it and decide whether we need to look into this or not,” he said.

The boy was taken into custody and remains lodged in a juvenile detention facility. Mellinger said there were no other outstanding threats to students or teachers.

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