WVU College of Law and Marshall University receive money for project 400

The WVU College of Law and Marshall University have each received $1 million to launch a Joint Consumer Assistance Project for West Virginians.

“This is great news for the state,” said Gregory Bowman, dean of the College of Law. “Using legal research, scholarship and outreach, we plan to provide publications on consumer rights and remedies that will help our state’s residents.”

WVU law professors and students working on the project will analyze consumer regulations and make policy recommendations to state agencies and the state legislature. They will also help lawyers and organizations who protect the consumer rights of West Virginians.

“This program is a perfect example of higher education’s power to improve West Virginians’ lives,” said Gordon Gee, president of WVU. “West Virginia University is proud to partner with Marshall University in protecting consumer rights through research, outreach and public policy advocacy.”

“We are pleased that we will have the opportunity to work in synergy with WVU to deliver consumer-related programming for West Virginians,” said Jerome A. Gilbert, president of Marshall University. “Our universities will support each other in this new joint project to help our citizens know their rights as consumers.”

The Joint Consumer Assistance Project was established by attorneys involved in Swiger v. Amerigas, a significant consumer class action case involving over 14,000 West Virginians. The attorneys representing all of the parties agreed that any remaining funds not claimed by the class members would be used for consumer-oriented programs in the state, including the Joint Consumer Assistance Project.

A winter heating assistance program operated by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources also received unclaimed funds from Swiger v. Amerigas. That program helps residents who are unable to pay for fuel to heat their homes.

Swiger v. Amerigas and the use of the remaining excess funds was approved by Senior Judge Robert B. Stone of the Monongalia Circuit Court.

The donation was spearheaded by Clarksburg consumer attorney David J. Romano, a 1977 WVU College of Law graduate who was lead counsel in Swiger v. Amerigas. His vision for use of the excess funds was to provide relevant consumer information and “how to” materials so that hard-working West Virginians would have resources available to empower them with information necessary to protect their property and be aware of their rights.

“The Joint Consumer Assistance Project will establish and maintain a website with consumer information and tips, as well as reference to laws and regulations that will help persons with such issues navigate what are sometimes complicated matters,” Romano said. “There is also a plan to develop an interactive site that can assist West Virginians who, due to cost, must represent themselves in consumer disputes.”

The donation to WVU College of Law was part of A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University, which ended on December 31, 2017. The campaign raised more than $1.2 billion for WVU.

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Hillside collapse closes off River Road 1172

MORGANTOWN — Part of a hillside has collapsed on River Road about a couple hundred yards from the entrance to the Monongalia County Dog Pound.

Trees and mud have blocked off the road and brought power lines down.

The road has been closed off while Mon Power and DOH officials are at the scene working to clear the road.

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They are urging caution since the hillside is still moving and has not completely settled.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Preston officials declare state of emergency due to road conditions 7270

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission has declared a countywide state of emergency because of “deplorable” road conditions that exist all over the county.

The proclamation was made at 10 a.m. April 19.

“Enough is enough,” Preston County Commission President Craig Jennings said in a release.

“The road conditions in Preston County have gotten so bad that they pose a danger for motorists, commercial traffic and first responders,” Jennings said.

The problems go beyond available local resources, he said.

“Just a patch job won’t fix our problems. The roads here need immediate attention,” Jennings said. “It isn’t our local guys. They are working hard with what is handed them by the state. Our local crews can’t even put up a sign in the right-of-way to alert folks of what’s ahead without getting permission from District 4.”

“We are in a true emergency here,” Jennings said. County commissioners, “believe under the circumstances that our only option to get the help needed from the state is by declaring that Preston County is in a state of emergency.”

The declaration, “will stand until these roads are fixed,” Jennings said. “We are not backing down.

Under the declaration the county is asking the state to address these primary roads with black top, ditching and by removing the canopy above the roads:

  • W.Va. 92 north from U.S. 50 to Newburg.
  • U.S. 50 from Laurel Mountain to the intersection of W.Va. 72.
  • W.Va. 72 from Rowlesburg to the bottom of Caddell Mountain toward Kingwood.
  • W.Va. 26 South from the intersection with W.Va. 7 in Kingwood to Howesville.
  • W.Va. 7 through Terra Alta.
  • W.Va. 26 north from Bruceton Mills to the Pennsylvania line.

Mon Commission discusses county ambulance issue 1197

MORGANTOWN — WVU Hospitals (WVUH) does not intend to sign on to the countywide mutual aid agreement governing ambulance services unless it mandates emergency calls are dispatched to the closest available ambulance.

WVUH spokesperson Amy Johns offered the above in response to conversation held during Wednesday April 18’s regular meeting of the Monongalia County Commission.

A number of residents, largely representing the Blacksville area, addressed the commission in recent weeks asking that the newly formed WVU Hospital’s HealthTeam squads — stationed at  points around the county  — be allowed to respond to outlying areas instead of a Mon Health EMS squad dispatched from Morgantown.

Ambulance dispatch in the county is governed by a mutual aid agreement. It identifies Mon Health EMS as the county’s primary provider. If Mon EMS can’t respond, secondary providers JanCare or Star City Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance are dispatched.

The commission previously told Mon Health EMS that it had until April 6 to respond to WVU Hospitals’ request to reconsider the agreement, which, the commission said, it did.

“The HealthTeam has been given invitation to join the rotation,” Commissioner Ed Hawkins said, adding, “The ball is now in their court. It is up to them to sign the agreement, which they have not at this time.”

However, Johns said WVUH isn’t interested in being the third backup to Mon Health EMS — particularly if its vehicles are closer to the emergency. That, she explained, is why the money and effort were invested to place units in Westover, Blacksville, Clinton District and Cheat Lake.

“WVU Hospitals has urged both Monongalia Health System and the County Commission to adopt a new 911 system, which will call upon the closest available ambulance to respond to a 911 medical emergency.  WVU Hospitals will sign whatever agreements are necessary in order to put such a system in place,” Johns explained to The Dominion Post via email.

“WVU Hospital will not sign the Mutual Aid Agreement sent to it by Monongalia Health System, which would make WVU Hospitals the third back-up for Monongalia Health System’s ambulances, even if WVU Hospitals’ ambulances are seconds away from a 911 medical emergency.”

The current mutual aid agreement expires in June 2019.

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting, a proclamation from Gov. Jim Justice was presented in recognition of the recent passing of former county commissioner and longtime WVU Extension Services Agent Asel Kennedy. Kennedy died April 6.

Delegate Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, presented the proclamation to Kennedy’s widow, Nancy, after offering his own remarks.

“Everything he did in life was done with a great gusto. He really gave 100 percent to everything he done. That’s just the way did lived his life,” Statler said, adding, “Boy, how do you replace a guy like that?”

The commission also:

  • Pledged up $1,000 to assist county employees interested in sponsoring a flag in Cheat Lake Rotary’s upcoming 2018 Flags for Heroes program.
  • Heard from County Assessor Mark Musick, who said personnel from the assessor’s office are out doing field reviews in Granville, Osage and Westover and will soon be in Morgantown’s 4th and 5th wards as well as District 8 (Morgan).

Also, new construction is being reviewed countywide.

Musick said representatives from his office will be in county vehicles and wearing identifying attire.