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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was an emotional trip to the United States-Mexico border for Rabbi Victor Urecki.
The rabbi at the B’Nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston joined the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, a national community relations network, for a fact-finding trip to the border.
The group traveled to the Tuscon, Arizona/Nogales, Mexico and Urecki talked about his experiences on a recent episode of Metronews ‘Talkline.’
“I walked away heartbroken,” he said. “I walked away angry and frustrated. I had conversations with these people and these people were my parents. I cried constantly during this trip. We need to have a thoughtful approach.”
Urecki and the group wanted to be compassionate and find out why people seek the United States’ shores. He said he found out that more and more people are leaving their countries out of desperation.
“What we are seeing rampant human rights violations in Central and South America,” Urecki said. “We are seeing failing states. We are seeing because of our trade agreements, that has led to a decline in farming. Climate change has destroyed livelihoods and we have corporate governments.
“They have no chance, they are trying to find safety and refuge.”
He said he spoke with people trying to get into the United States from countries such as Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Venezuela.
“The border should be looked upon for those that are seeking freedom and opportunity, it should be a beacon of light,” he said. “For those seeking harm to our country, that should be a place the people are scared of. What we have created a situation on our southern border, is that people are seeing the opportunity but having that door shut.”
Urecki understood that the border is a complicated situation and said it did not start with the current national administration but during the 1990s.
He believes the three issues needed to be figured out at the border is the stabilization of countries in Central and South Americas, figuring out how climate change has affected the economy in those countries and approach the border with compassion and not militarization.
“Immigration is being looked at immigration as a criminal act,” Urecki said. “What we need to do is have a thoughtful process for those that are coming in legitimately, for safety. What’re our numbers? What as a country would we be allowed to accept?”
Urecki said the United States has over 7 million low paying jobs open that these immigrants would and could fill to support their families and escape their countries harm.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A man was shot and killed in Huntington early Saturday morning.
According to police, Sontezz Lomax, 39, of Charleston, previously of Huntington, was shot as he stood near the The Lantern bar at 817 4th Avenue. The shooting occurred at around 2:50 a.m.
Another person was hit by flying debris. The injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Huntington Police Department at 304-696-4420 ext 1025 or the Crime Tip Line at 304-696-4444.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Police Department will have extra patrols out this weekend following recent violence.
Police Chief Opie Smith issued the extra patrols citing recent gun violence.
Charleston police are working with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to apprehend people responsible for the recent crims.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police department at 304-348-8111.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Chemours chemical company has announced it will shut down a production unit in Belle, laying off 57 employees.
“This was a difficult decision, made following a thorough review and analysis of the line of business,” stated Robin Ollis-Stemple, spokeswoman for Chemours.
The 57 positions being eliminated are in the methylamines and methylamides production section. The company says increased cost to import the raw materials needed for production is the major factor in the closing.
The plant is located at the old DuPont property in Belle. Chemours was founded in July 2015 as a spin-off from DuPont. There are 207 employees at the Belle location.
The 723-acre former DuPont site is situated along the Kanawha River and has manufactured various specialty and agricultural products since 1926.
Other tenants at the Belle site also include Kureha, Optima Chemical Group, and Sentinel Transportation.
Kanawha County commissioners said they were very upset by the Chemours announcement.
“It’s a sad day for Kanawha County and the town of Belle,” Carper said. “I’m heartbroken to hear 57 hard-working chemical operators will lose their jobs.”
Commissioner Ben Salango made reference to employment that has shrunk in chemical manufacturing in the Kanawha Valley over the years.
“The Upper Kanawha Valley has been devastated time and time again by the loss of employment in the labor industry,” he said.
“We will continue to strive to provide economic strength, stability and growth in that area.”
Commissioner Hoppy Shores also expressed concern about the job losses.
“News like this never sits lightly on the hearts of the commission,” Shores stated. “My thoughts are with the 57 employees and their families.”
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dozens of individuals from all healthcare professionals will gather at the University of Charleston to learn all sides of the opioid epidemic.
The WV Drug Intervention Institute at the University of Charleston (UC) is hosting an Addiction Conference for Health Professionals from 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
“This is an opportunity to understand addiction and how it impacts the brain,” Bissett told 580-WCHS. “Also to make sure we are coming together from an interprofessional standpoint with medical doctors, recovery coaches, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants to talk about the continuum of care.”
Bissett said that while many of these professionals were trained properly in their fields, some were trained before the opioid epidemic became as impactful as it is on the Kanawha Valley.
Bissett said WV Drug Intervention Institute is fairly new but has taken this topic to heart.
“Our focus has been on that prevention piece, especially with school children. Also addressing these issues of stigma that is so pervasive in our community in Charleston and Kanawha County,” she said.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man is recovering from injuries after being shot in the leg on the city’s West Side.
Charleston PD said Robert Latner Brown, 32 of Charleston, was the victim of a shooting occurred in the 800 block of 6th Street shortly after 10 p.m.
A large number of shots were fired in the incident and bullet holes were found in a nearby apartment building and vehicle, according to authorities.
Brown is in stable condition at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Charleston Police Department at 304-348-8111.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man wanted in connection with an April shooting turned himself in on Thursday.
Franklin Thomas Davis, 30, was wanted for malicious wounding in connection with the incident in the 1600 block of Kanawha Boulevard East.
The shooting happened April 21 near Trinity Lutheran Church.
Erin Spradling, 36, suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
BELLE, W.Va. — The town of Belle has retained legal counsel to file litigation related to the opioid crisis.
Charleston attorney Rusty Webb will represent the town, according to a statement issued Thursday.
“The town of Belle continues to deal with the drugs in our communities and pleased to have Rusty Webb represent our town to rid these drugs from our town,” Mayor David Fletcher said. “There needs to be further remedies to facilitate not only the companies who distribute these drugs but to the user and we hope the court system will deal with many of these users in the future. We have more people die from drug usage than from guns around our area and it needs some legislation.”
Webb is representing other municipalities in similar cases, including Charleston, Dunbar, St. Albans and South Charleston.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Schools on Thursday released a new video showing the design of the new Herbert Hoover High School.
The new school, which will be on acquired property along Frame Road, will consist of a career-technical education wing as well as traditional high school facilities.
“We’re very proud of it,” said Chuck Smith, the school system’s executive director of facilities and planning. “I think it will be something that the citizens of Kanawha County will be very, very proud of.”
Williamson Schriver Architects is behind the design.
The new school will replace the institution destroyed in the June 2016 flood. Students have been taking classes in portable units since the fall of 2017.
FEMA held a meeting Wednesday regarding the draft environmental assessment of the property. Smith said no one at the meeting expressed any concerns about the use of the land.
“We’ve been through this before with the elementary school, and this one we were a little bit more comfortable with it,” he said. “It’s been through a thorough investigation as far as what environmental issues may have occurred, and we feel very confident with the way it is going forward.”
FEMA is continuing to accept public comments on its draft assessment through next Thursday.
Smith said they are aiming to begin timber work later this fall. The school is slated to open in the fall of 2022.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Any youth in the city of Charleston will have an extended period to apply for the new Charleston Youth Council.
Mackenzie Spencer with Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin’s office said the deadline to apply is now Friday, September, 27.
“We have been getting some stuff in, we’ve been getting some good feedback,” she told 580-WCHS. “We are just giving some people some extra time there in case someone didn’t hear about it and wanted to be a part of it.”
Goodwin announced the establishment of the Charleston Youth Council during the September 3 City Council Meeting. The initiative will engage teens in the Capital City and provide them a voice in developing public policy and community development initiatives.
Requirements to apply include living in Charleston and must be between 14 and 18 years old and a student somewhere either private or public.
To apply, visit charlestonwv.gov/youthcouncil. An applicant must download the application and get a parent or guardian signature.