W.Va. appeals court upholds ruling; Murderer to remain in jail 328

MORGANTOWN — A murderer will remain in jail after the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (WVSCOA) upheld a ruling made in Monongalia County Circuit Court.

Danielle Hilling was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Ebony Brown on New Year’s Day 2006, following five days of trial.

She petitioned the appeals court, saying the circuit court ruling was wrong in denying her most recent petition for habeas corpus.

Hilling first filed an appeal following her April 2007 conviction. That appeal was refused in May 2008. She followed with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was denied without an evidence hearing. The denial was appealed to the WVSCOA, which upheld the lower court’s ruling.

A second petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court. That petition claimed ineffective counsel in April 2017, and in March, the petition was again denied by Judge Russel Clawges, who oversaw Hilling’s trial.

Reasons behind the denial include a lack of expert opinion or any other testimony to be given at a hearing and a lack of identified evidence to be introduced in support of the petition, the WVSCOA decision said.

The Supreme Court found all three of Hilling’s claims — that the circuit court erred in denying a motion to expand the record, finding an omnibus hearing was unnecessary and denying habeas — invalid.

“The circuit court thoroughly addressed each of these three claims in its order denying petitioner habeas relief,” the order states.

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Preston wants residents to take survey about broadband service 40

To take the survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/9ZHG5Q2 or stop at the PCEDA Office 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday above Clear Mountain Bank in Kingwood or call 304-329-2299 by May 7.

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA) needs help with its application to expand broadband in Preston County.

“We are going to submit a broadband grant to USDA for a partnership between us and Digital Connections for Digital Connections to run fiber in northern Preston County,” said Robbie Baylor, executive director of the PCEDA.

As part of the application, PCEDA is asking Preston County residents to complete a 10-question survey about their access to broadband. It should take less than three minutes to complete, Baylor said.

And she has a good idea what the results will be.

“With the exception of Kingwood, speed isn’t that great in Preston County,” she said.

Public input is required as part of the grant. By the middle of last week, 174 people had completed the survey.

If the application for the $3 million grant is approved, PCEDA estimates broadband service would be upgraded for nearly 11,000 people in the county, in 2,556 households. The grant requires a match of $450,000.

The grant application itself is a three-inch thick document. PCEDA applied last year as well and came close to being funded, Baylor said. The application is due by May 14.

Digital Connections is a locally owned company. It owns PRODIGI, a fiber to the home product.

Tim Wotring said the company, “was established in 1994 as a CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier).” It provided voice and data services throughout West Virginia and into Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In 2012, the company began to focus on building fiber in Preston County and we came up with a new name to market its fiber services: PRODIGI.

“Since 2012, PRODIGI has built over 100 miles of fiber throughout the Bruceton area and into Kingwood,” Wotring said in an email.

It has nearly 700 customers active on the network and is building fiber in the Bruceton area and will soon be building fiber in Terra Alta and Alpine Lake Resort.

“If awarded the grant, we would build over 80 miles of fiber network into rural areas of Preston County,” Wotring said.

The grants aren’t new, but they are being better funded by Congress, Baylor said. “I think they’re beginning to see there are areas that truly are not being served.”

Follow The Dominion Post on Twitter @DominionPostWV. Email Kathy Plum: kplum@dominionpost.com.

Kingwood dad brings Emmy to Career Day 45

KINGWOOD — Kingwood Elementary kindergartener Levi Kisner’s dad is not the guy whose presentation on career day you want to follow.

That’s because Christopher Kisner won an Emmy for his work in the 2016 Summer Olympics. And he brought it to career day Friday.

Kisner, 35, works for NBC now as a camera operator, but years ago he attended school in these same halls. And he, his wife Michelle and Levi still call Kingwood home, though last year Christopher spent 211 nights in hotels and flew about 120,000 miles.

The son of Joel and Nancy Kisner of Kingwood, Christopher Kisner is a 2000 graduate of Preston High School. That’s also the year he began working for ABC, after a family member who worked as a “cable puller” got hurt at his graduation party and recommended Kisner to step in for him.

“I turned 18 the day of the game on my first show, which was in Canton, Ohio, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game,” he said.

At the end of the night, he was offered a job, if he was willing to ride the truck, rather than fly.

He was “awestruck,” he recalled of that first game, which also happened to be in the highly rated Monday Night Football slot.

“And just to see how many people — the crew was about 180 people — for a game and just to see how much money is sunk into it, and the size of the crew and everybody is rushing around and to see how somehow it all came together and became a television show,” he said.

He stayed with ABC through the 2005 football season, when they did Super Bowl 40 in Detroit. ESPN took it over then. NBC offered the entire crew a job, and Kisner accepted.

At the time he had begun shooting “city scenics” that are shot in advance and shown during the games. By 2014 he was doing camera work full-time.

“It’s just fun to see how everybody reacts differently to a camera,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. You get to be really creative on some of the shows.

“The worst part of it is the 40 degree weather, pouring down the rain, and everybody’s stress factor goes up anyway when that happens.”

Since 2005 Kisner has also done the video headshots of players shown at the start of the show. That has turned out to be fun, he said. “For the most part I’ve probably met every player on every team we’ve covered.”

A WVU alumnus, having attended electrical engineering school there 2004-2008, he enjoys talking to former WVU players who made the big time.

He has always worked in sports. His favorite shows to do are poker shows. “It’s not live, so the stress factor is so much lower,” Kisner said. “And the players are fun to be around.”

Right now he’s preparing to work at the Kentucky Derby.

Despite the travel, Kisner prefers to maintain his residence in his hometown.

“I like it here,” he said. “I love the small town atmosphere. I spend so much time in all these big cities, and it’s nice to get on a plane and come home and leave it all there,” he said. “It’s a nice place to raise a family.”

Michelle Kisner, who was formerly of Youngstown, Ohio, compares Kingwood to Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.

“He enjoys the travel,” Michelle Kisner said.

And though he has the Emmy, there are things most people don’t know about the award. The entire technical team received one for its Olympic work, all 3,000 of them. And winners have to buy their statuettes for $485 each.

A sticker on the bottom of the statuette says that the Emmy remains the property of the Academy of Television Arts and Science National Academy of Television Arts and Science Academies. It cannot be sold or disposed of by him or his descendants, and must be returned in that case, and the academy will store it in the recipient’s honor.

Levi is nonchalant about the whole thing. His favorite sport to watch is horse riding, he said. He plays baseball and has a green belt in hapkido, a form of martial arts. And sometimes he takes pictures.

“I did a photo that was seriously funny last year,” he said. “But I’m not going to tell you what it was.”

Follow The Dominion Post on Twitter @DominionPostWV. Email Kathy Plum: kplum@dominionpost.

com.

First Family STEM Night a success in Preston 34

TERRA ALTA — Parents, grandparents and students gathered around various tables filled with projects from Legos to virtual reality at Terra Alta Elementary last week.

This was the first Family STEM Night. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. The purpose of STEM activities is to teach students to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers.

Lori Baker, school improvement specialist, said STEM brings technology to students. She said the STEM bus was made available to students and the community Thursday.

“The goal is to have it (the bus) out in the community this summer when school is out,” Baker said.

Mary Martin, technology integration specialist for Preston County Schools, said she works with students and teachers. She said this year all fifth graders received a laptop from county schools.

They will keep the laptop through their school years.

“The activities are all hands-on,” She said. “Students learn more with hands-on. A student might have trouble with math, but that student could go into coding class and keep up with the other students.”

Science teacher Samantha Funk said the teachers and faculty are focusing on next year’s standards. She said family night provided 15 hands-on activities available for all grade levels.

Krista Nazelrod, a third grade teacher, showed off OSMO, a tablet like device that interfaces with an iPad. She said each child in her class had his or own profile.

“It lets you choose an activity level,” she said. “The student has to use seven shapes to make the picture on the screen. A camera inputs their work. Once the shape is complete it moves up to the next level.”

Nazelrod said along with pictures, OSMO also has letters and numbers.

“It helps build critical thinking,” she said.

Jim Davis, dean of students at the school, challenged those stopping at his table to make the tallest tower they could out of mini marshmallows and spaghetti.

Abby Rose Sisler and WVU 4-H Extension Agent David Hartley offered students an experience in entry level virtual reality. The students could have a virtual underwater experience or visit the Great Wall of China.

Dolly Everly, who accompanied her grandson Jalin Everly, said she believed family STEM Night was a good idea.

Amber Fitchett and her daughter Emma, a pre-K student, said it was their first time to a STEM program. Both enjoyed the experience.

Susan Baker looked on as her son Braydon Baker played with the Legos. “This is cool,” he said.

Follow The Dominion Post on Twitter @DominionPostWV. Email: newsroom@dominionpost.com.