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Logan collects 14 hits, takes Point Pleasant to the limit in regional

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Logan scored four runs in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie as the Wildcats kept their season alive with a 7-3 win at Point Pleasant in the Class AA Region IV tournament.

The decisive frame was started with some ‘small ball’. Garrett Williamson led off the frame with a bunt single. Tyler Fenwick followed that up by reaching on a bunt as well. A throwing error allowed Williamson to score all the way from first base and the Wildcats kept the lead the rest of the way.

“That’s what we do. Can we hit? Sure we can. We can run like crazy. We’ve got seven guys in our lineup typically that are sprinters,” said Logan head coach Kevin Gertz.

“We bunt and put pressure on people. And in high school ball, that is tough to defend.”

The Tigers scored three more runs in the fifth take stretch their lead to 5-1. Point Pleasant cut the deficit in half with a two-run sixth inning. However, the Wildcats answered with two more runs in the seventh.

Logan (24-6) pounded out 14 hits in the contest. Fenwick earned the win for the Wildcats. He pitched into the sixth inning, scattering six hits while striking out five batters.

“He gutted it out. And it was tight for a long time. But he just wasn’t giving in.”

Chad Burnette collected the final four outs for the Wildcats, retiring four of the five batters he faced.

The regional series shifts back to Logan Wednesday at 6 p.m. for the decisive game. The winner will advance to the state tournament. Gertz’s starting lineup on Tuesday included six sophomores.

“For a year and a half to two years, they have killed themselves in the weight room. So our sophomores are as strong as a lot of juniors or seniors. That has made a huge difference.”

Konnor Lowe went 3-for-4 for the Wildcats with three RBI. Korbin Bostic, Dawson Maynard, Fenwick and Aiden Slack also had multi-hit games for Logan.

Tanner Mitchell went 3-for-3 with an RBI for Point Pleasant (21-9). Riley Oliver and Joel Beattie also drove in runs for the Big Blacks. Point defeated Logan 5-4 Monday evening in the series opener. They had won three consecutive postseason games by one run.

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The Politics of Boundaries

The 2022 election in West Virginia will be about campaigns, fund raising, political ads, debates, and policy disagreements.

But now, the election is about boundaries, as in the lines that separate the political districts within our state.

Every ten years, each state uses new Census data to reapportion congressional and legislative districts based on population.

West Virginia’s process is underway.  The House of Delegates and the Senate have appointed bipartisan committees—24 members from the House and 9 members from the Senate—to do the work.

Lawmakers are expected to hold a series of public hearings across the state.  Citizens will have an opportunity to give their input on anything associated with redistricting, such as which communities should be included in a district or divided into separate districts.

By late August, the Census should have delivered to the state preliminary population figures broken down into Census blocks.  These are the smallest population units.  West Virginia had over 135,000 Census blocks in the 2010 Census.

The final numbers will not arrive until late September.

Once those figures are available and the public comments have been taken, staff members in the House and Senate will begin drawing their respective districts. The staffers will use specialized mapping software called Maptitude.

The company says its software allows users to “visualize data in new and different ways, unearth geographic patterns hidden in your data, and convey that information in a straightforward manner.”

The Senate mapping may be just simple tweaking. The House redistricting will be more complicated since it is moving to all single-member districts, increasing the number of districts from 67 to 100.  The process could be particularly contentious in Monongalia and Kanawha Counties where multi-member districts will be split, likely pitting incumbents against each other in the next election.

Meanwhile, a joint legislative redistricting committee will redraw the congressional boundaries. West Virginia is losing a representative because of population decline so the state will be bifurcated.  That will produce a head-to-head primary election battle in 2022 if all three Republican incumbent members of Congress run for re-election.

Lawmakers will gather in special session later this year to consider, potentially change, and ultimately approve the new boundaries. They are facing a tight deadline.

The 2022 election is on November 8.  The state Constitution requires that a Delegate or Senator live in the district they serve for at least one year before elected to the seat.  So, the legislature wants to finish redistricting before this November in case an individual needs to relocate to be eligible to serve.

Marking lines on a map of our state is not very compelling political news.  But how and where those boundaries are drawn will ultimately have a significant impact on the political makeup of our state.

 

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WVU football home games will return to full capacity this fall

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Coming off a season where fans from the general public were permitted in attendance for just three home games at Milan Puskar Stadium, West Virginia University officials announced Tuesday that full capacity crowds will be welcomed in for WVU’s six home games in the 2021 season. Additionally, full stadium operating procedures, pregame tailgating in the stadium parking lots and the complete gameday experience will return.

“I want to thank our fans for their patience and understanding throughout the past year,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “Not only is this great news for Mountaineer Nation and our student-athletes, but it adds to the excitement and anticipation for Mountaineer football. A full stadium of 60,000 fans is exactly what our team deserves, and what our fans have been wanting.

“I also want to thank our University, local and state officials for their work throughout the past year. We certainly have been in good hands with their advice and leadership,” Lyons added. “I can’t wait for this fall to again see the rows of tailgaters, experience the thrill of the Mantrip and the roar of a packed stadium singing “Country Roads.”

Due to COVID protocols in 2020, less than a thousand fans were in the stands for the first two home games against Eastern Kentucky and Baylor. Capacity was later increased to 12,500.

WVU will open their home schedule on September 11 against Long Island. Games against Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas will follow. All Mountaineer athletics venues will welcome fans back at full capacity starting with the first home events in August.

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Bridgeport scores 7 with two outs, tops Morgantown to gain advantage in regional series

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Neither team had an advantage on the scoreboard when Bridgeport and Morgantown resumed the first game of their Class AAA Region I series Tuesday at Mylan Park.

While the contest was scoreless in the home half of the third inning, BHS was able to bring back starting pitcher Christopher Harbert, who had thrown 29 pitches before rain stopped the action Monday. The Mohigans, meanwhile, were unable to rely on ace pitcher Quincy Thornton, who because of 57 pitches thrown Monday is unable to take the mound again until Thursday.

Although the matchup remained without a run until the fifth inning, Bridgeport struck for seven two-out runs over the final three innings to claim a 7-3 victory.

“We had some botched plays on the offensive end, but we still scored seven runs and did everything with two outs,” Bridgeport coach Robert Shields said. “I commend our guys for scoring with two outs. My hats off to our kids locking in and doing what they’re supposed to do there. They age me, but they keep finding a way.”

The win gives BHS (31-3) a chance to finish off the best-of-three series at home Wednesday, while the Mohigans (21-5) need two consecutive wins to earn the spot in the state tournament.

“We have to come back tomorrow, try to wipe this game out so we can go on to the next step,” Shields said.

The Indians produced five straight two-out hits in the fifth inning off MHS pitcher Reed Bailey to score four runs. Frank Why got it started with a single, which was followed by a Ryan Goff single. Nate Paulsen’s infield single to third allowed Why to score the game’s first run, before JD Love ripped a single to left that brought Goff home.

Aidan Paulsen then delivered a critical two-out double to left, allowing Nate Paulsen and Trent Haines to score.

“Yesterday we didn’t really hit the ball like we should’ve,” Aidan Paulsen said. “Today, coming in we had a little more intensity, which we need to keep throughout the whole game instead of just when we’re hitting the ball. When we got up, everyone is piecing balls and we’re playing Bridgeport baseball. We did some hitting before the game and everyone was feeling good.”

Bridgeport’s Aidan Paulsen steals second before Morgantown’s Quincy Thornton can apply the tag. Photo by Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

Morgantown answered back with three runs in the fifth off Harbert to draw to within one run. Ryan Fluharty led off with a double and after Ty Galusky drew a walk, Fluharty scored on Thornton’s double.

Zach Brennan and Domenic Colasante followed with RBI groundouts to make it a 4-3 game, but the Mohigans got no closer.

“I wanted him to pitch to contact and go out by out to get out of it,” Shields said.

Despite a failed suicide squeeze in the top of the fifth that resulted in Ben McDougal being tagged out at the plate, the Indians doubled their lead when Cam Cole scored on a wild pitch.

Harbert retired the side in order in the sixth and McDougal delivered a double to left that was misplayed in the air and allowed Aidan Paulsen and Cam Rubenstein to score for a 7-3 lead in the seventh.

“They scored all their runs with two outs and didn’t give away any at bats,” MHS coach Pat Sherald said. “Great two-strike hitting. We gave up a ton of two-strike outs and that’s a testament to their team and how they competed and made the plays when they had to.”

Harbert sat down Morgantown in order in the seventh to finish off the complete game effort that spanned two days.

Harbert struck out seven, walked three and surrendered five hits in seven innings.

“He’s a gutsy kid that wanted the ball and was determined to win this ball game,” Shields said.

Bailey allowed seven runs on nine hits and struck out three in four innings.

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Ritchie County opens regional with 7-2 win over Madonna

(Highlights and photos by Teran Malone)

ELLENBORO, W.Va. — Ritchie County defeated Madonna 7-2 in the opening game of the Class A Region I regional tournament. The Rebels will visit the Blue Dons Wednesday in game two of the best-of-three series.

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US GAO: Biden did not break law with border wall order

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Government Accountability Office announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s decision to freeze funding for a southern border wall and halt further construction did not violate federal law.

The agency stated in a report that the executive order was a “programmatic delay,” countering Republican arguments that the president’s decision violated Congress’ authority to control government spending.

Biden ordered on his first day in office construction funds to be redirected and future work paused. The GAO noted the funds for the current fiscal year had yet to be obligated, and the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget showed investigators the delay of almost $1.4 billion is necessary for performing required environmental assessments and consultation with stakeholders.

“Delays associated with meeting statutory prerequisites and determining funding needs in light of changed circumstances constitute programmatic delays, not impoundments,” the GAO stated in its report.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Forty senators — led by Republicans Richard Shelby of Alabama and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — requested a GAO review of the president’s action in a March 17 letter. The lawmakers cited the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 — which clarifies Congress’ power to control government spending — and tied Biden’s policies to an increase in migrants attempting to enter the United States at the southern border

Other Republican lawmakers sent letters with a similar request.

The GAO noted Biden’s order is different from former President Donald Trump’s 2019 decision halting security assistance to Ukraine, in which the Office of Management and Budget did not identify a reason for taking a different approach than the Department of Defense’s plan.

“OMB asserted that the delay was associated with a need ‘to determine the best use of such funds,’ but OMB did not provide any support for why DOD’s plan for the funds did not reflect the best use of the funds,” the report stated.

“Nor did OMB identify any other legal requirements that needed to be met before the Ukraine security assistance funding could be spent. Instead, in its response to us, OMB described the withholding as necessary to ensure that the funds were not spent ‘in a manner that could conflict with the President’s foreign policy.'”

The GAO did suggest congressional committees require the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget to submit plans on using the appropriations for the current fiscal year.

Shelby and Capito criticized the GAO’s decision, accusing the agency of having separate rules for Democratic and Republican presidents.

“The decision splits hairs to justify actions that, just two years ago, were determined to be contrary to ‘the faithful execution of the law,'” the senators said.

Shelby and Capito added the watchdog agency’s decision does not change the situation at the border, noting more than 633,000 migrants have been caught attempting to illegally enter the United States since the Biden presidency began in January. More than 87,000 individuals have been released into the United States, “many never to be heard from again.”

“We hope our colleagues in Congress recognize this overreach by the executive branch and don’t excuse it just because they are in the same political party,” they said.

Shelby serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Capito is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Biden administration has called on Congress to cancel all funding appropriated for border wall projects and the money instead be dedicated for “modern, privacy-protective, and effective border management measures like enhanced technology between points of entry and improved infrastructure at Land Ports of Entry.”

The Department of Defense announced last week more than $2 billion in unobligated construction funds will go toward projects at bases and military facilities.

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John Marshall finishes off University, claims regional opener 2-0

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — John Marshall pitcher Kadence Pettit ensured the two-run lead her team built Monday stood when the Monarchs resumed their Class AAA Region I opening game at University.

Pettit struck out 13, including four over the final 2 2/3 innings upon the game’s resumption Tuesday to finish off the shutout and key the Monarchs to a 2-0 victory.

“I’ll take that every day to go play a three-inning game with a two-run lead,” Monarchs’ coach Ed West said. “They stepped up and did the job. Kadence pitched a really nice game.”

JMHS (20-6) will have a chance to secure a spot in the state tournament Wednesday when it welcomes the Hawks (16-11) for the second game of the best-of-three series.

“We’re at home, a little bit of an advantage there,” West said. “But we know the job is not done yet. This is certainly a step in the right direction and a huge advantage, but hopefully we’ll play well tomorrow.”

After rain forced the contest to come to a stop Monday, UHS had a runner at second with one out in the home half of the fifth inning to start play Tuesday.

Pettit struck out the next two batters to keep the Hawks scoreless.

“She’s experienced and knows what’s going on,” West said. “I reminded her that the No. 9 batter was up (to start Tuesday) and that’s a big out before the top of the order. She stepped up and pitched really well.”

While the Monarchs were unable to muster offense over the sixth and seventh innings, they didn’t need to with Pettit in the pitching circle. She worked around a one-out single in the sixth from the Hawks’ Lauren Huebsch, who was stranded at second.

Pettit then retired the side in order in the seventh to seal the win. She allowed five hits in the shutout.

Tessa Wise scored on a groundout for the Monarchs in the fourth and Payton Tucker touched home in the fifth on a Shelby Koontz bunt single.

Autumn Stemple took the tough-luck loss for the Hawks despite striking out 11 Monarchs over seven innings of strong work.

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West Virginia University will be fully open when fall semester begins

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University and its campuses in Morgantown, Keyser and Beckley will be fully open when the fall semester begins in August, university officials announced Tuesday.

University officials cited declining active coronavirus cases and ongoing vaccination efforts as reasons for the policy; the state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Tuesday 2,710 active coronavirus cases, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 956,000 West Virginians — around 61% of eligible people 12 years old and older — have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.

Students, staff and faculty are not required to be vaccinated by the time the fall semester begins, but the university is encouraging everyone to receive vaccine doses. Students have to verify their vaccine status with university housing by Aug. 1.

People who do not verify their vaccine status will have to comply with re-entry coronavirus testing and random sample testing, as well as quarantine for at least 10 days following close contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus. They will also have to wear a face mask around other people.

On-campus activities will no longer be subject to vaccination milestones, however Food Fest and Fall Fest will not take place in previous formats until a 70% vaccination rate is achieved.

The university also plans to announce Thursday incentives for getting vaccinated.

Fully-vaccinated individuals will not have to wear a mask inside university facilities or outdoors when around other people, but masks will be required on university transportation through at least Sept. 13 because of federal guidelines.

The West Virginia University Athletic Department also confirmed Tuesday that Milan Puskar Stadium will allow 100% capacity for football games with full stadium operations, pregame tailgating and other gameday activities.

“I want to thank our fans for their patience and understanding throughout the past year,” athletics director Shane Lyons said in a release. “Not only is this great news for Mountaineer Nation and our student-athletes, but it adds to the excitement and anticipation for Mountaineer football. A full stadium of 60,000 fans is exactly what our team deserves, and what our fans have been wanting.”

The West Virginia University football team has six home games during the upcoming season; the first game will be Sept. 11 against Long Island University.

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Justice ‘not going to turn loose’ of pending Viatris closure

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday public officials are continuing to explore possible opportunities for the Viatris manufacturing facility as nearly 1,500 workers face losing their jobs.

Layoffs are slated to begin July 31 and continue through next March as Viatris focuses on moving its operations to overseas facilities. Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer subsidiary Upjohn merged into Viatris in November 2020, and the new company announced the layoffs the following month.

“I am absolutely not going to turn loose of the Mylan situation until we have flipped every stone,” Justice said during Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing. “I am too hardheaded to give up.”

Both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature passed resolutions earlier this year calling on elected officials and labor organizations to prevent the plant’s closure. Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, has proposed dedicating $25 million in coronavirus relief money for incentivizing a company to Morgantown.

Justice noted Tuesday the state has offered funding to encourage a company to use the facility.

“Everybody knows how hard everybody is trying, and everybody is trying everything in the world,” the governor said.

“We hold out real hope for a pharmaceutical company that we’re working with. We hold out real hope for other leads our Commerce department are working with.”

Justice said West Virginia’s federal lawmakers are also exploring how to protect the Viatris jobs to be cut.

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Albert pleased by judge’s decision on unions’ injunction over ‘Paycheck Protection Act’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Fred Albert of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia (AFT) is pleased with the recent decision by a Kanawha Circuit judge to put a halt to a new state law that forbids employers from deducting union dues from public employees’ paychecks.

Albert appeared on Tuesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline,’ one day after the decision by Kanawha Circuit Judge Tera Salango on House Bill 2009.

Fred Albert

“We’ve felt all along that this was an attack on the freedom of our members, the freedom to chose to join our union and the freedom to have their dues deducted from their paycheck,” he said.

The law was going into effect this Thursday. The union Albert represents, along with a handful of others, say the bill was passed and signed into law solely in retaliation after the statewide teacher strikes of the past few years.

Host Hoppy Kercheval asked Albert if there was evidence that this was a retaliation by Republicans for the strikes.

“As Judge Salango said, they didn’t hide their dislike for labor unions,” he said. “They made comments in the media about their dislike for labor unions and dislike for the union bosses. Even our governor has called us union bosses.”

.@AlbertFralbert speaks with @HoppyKercheval about Judge Tera Salango’s decision halting a state law that forbids employees from deducting union dues from public employees’ paychecks. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/cGFUztz1Ji

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 15, 2021

As MetroNews reported on Monday, Salango said, “I do find and believe the petitioners will suffer irreparable harm without this injunction.

“The governor and many members of the Legislature have not hidden their dislike for the labor unions. There have been open attacks on the unions in the media, and they are welcome to criticize whoever they please but when a law is passed that treats a certain group differently from others, then it should be subject to additional scrutiny.”

Albert is hopeful there will be a permanent injunction on it. He said it takes too much manpower to take dues from paychecks in other ways and would be an unnecessary change.

He even predicted a loss in membership in the early days following the law going into effect.

“In the interim, we would have rough days ahead because we would take some financial loss. Until everyone understands that we are in a new method of collecting news,” Albert said.

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