News Around the State

Justice family companies agree to settlement with regulators

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Five of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s family companies have paid their bills after agreeing to a discounted settlement over payment of coal transportation fees.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Justice’s companies paid $175,282 to the West Virginia Public Service Commission. According to PSC documents, that amount was about $32,800 less than they were originally charged.

The companies are Bluestone Industries Inc., Chestnut Land Holdings, Kentucky Fuel Corp., Nufac Mining Co. Inc. and Orchard Coal Co.

The companies entered into the joint stipulation and settlement agreement in October. They paid the fees in four installments, the last of which was due Thursday.

The settlement includes “tonnage fees,” which would otherwise help repair roads that are heavily trafficked by coal trucks, and administrative sanctions that stemmed from failing to report, or inaccurately reporting, coal shipments.

Signs being vandalized in Daniel Boone National Forest

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — Forestry officials are asking for the public’s help to find people who have been vandalizing signs in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

London District Ranger Jason Nedlo told news outlets that spray-painted graffiti began appearing on U.S. Forest Service signs, boat ramps, and parking areas early this fall. Nedlo says about 10 signs have been defaced, many with vulgar words or images.

Officials say many of the signs are meant to help people enjoy the forest by highlighting recreational sites, but some signs are directional and regulatory.

He says cleaning signs is laborious and time-consuming and replacing them can cost up to $1,000.

Nedlo says anyone who sees vandalism occurring or has information about the recent spate of graffiti should contact the forest service or police

State: Technology upgrade to benefit social services staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say a technology upgrade will allow state social workers to spend less time on paperwork.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says about 1,800 social workers and social services staff will receive tablets to replace laptop and desktop computers. Cabinet officials say the upgrade will save time and allow staff to better serve children and families.

The staff provides child welfare and adult safety services that require them to make welfare checks and supervised visitations. They also attend court hearings and case meetings. They’ll use tablets to enter case information and stay connected to their offices.

Officials say about 200 tablets were assigned to Jefferson County in the initial allocation of devices.

The project is a collaborative effort between the cabinet and the Commonwealth Office of Technology.

2 inmates at Ky. jail die in 4-day span

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police are investigating the second death in four days at the Boyd County Detention Center.

News outlets report 36-year-old inmate Charles Shawn Finley of Ashland was pronounced dead at a hospital Sunday. He was among several inmates who overdosed.

Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond says fentanyl is suspected in Finley’s death. An autopsy is planned.

On Thursday, 40-year-old inmate Michael L. Moore of Ashland was found dead at the jail. The cause of his death remains under investigation.

The jail has experienced various issues in the last two years including a riot, escapes and fatal overdoses. The state Department of Corrections removed dozens of prisoners from the jail after the inmate-led riot had shut it down.

Man pleads not guilty to killing woman at Ky. hotel

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man who police say confessed to killing an Arizona woman in a hotel room has pleaded not guilty.

Florence police say 26-year-old Amanda D. Webster was found dead Saturday. News outlets report 32-year-old Jesse A. James rented the room. He was arrested after giving police fake names at a cinema, where he was reportedly acting strangely.

WCPO-TV reports James repeatedly said “not guilty” as a Boone County judge read the charges against him Monday. His aunt, Mildred Scherder, told the station James suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Police haven’t confirmed the illness.

Aurelia Webster says her niece moved to the area around three months ago. She was from Cameron on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona.

James’ bail is set at $1 million. A public defender will be appointed.