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Museum commemorates D-Day anniversary

ASHLAND — Veterans and World War II history buffs gathered at the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center in Ashland on Thursday evening to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day by learning about the ins and outs of how the day went down in history as a turning point during the war.

The event was presented by the Eastern Kentucky Military History Society. Bob Long, a retired U.S. Army Reserve veteran, gave a presentation that outlined the nuts and bolts of how D-Day was executed.

Long explained weaponry and other equipment soldiers carried, and how they wrapped their guns in plastic bags to carry them to shore. The presentation also outlined the heavy machinery involved in the invasion.

On a larger scale, Long illustrated and explained what military strategy choices were made during D-Day and why the leaders made those choices.

"They had to deceive the enemy to make them think they were going somewhere else, and they chose Normandy because of the different ways they could attack," Long said.

Also on display at the Highlands Museum is an exhibit titled "Ashland Goes to War," which consists of memorabilia and photographs of war-time activities. It even includes Adolf Hitler's last bedside telephone, which wound up in Ashland because J. Howard Marshall II, who was president of the Ashland Oil & Refining Co., was appointed by Harry S. Truman to serve as a general counsel for the American delegation of the Reparation Commission. The commission was to determine how Germany was to pay for the damages it inflicted during the war.

Bill Martin, a volunteer at the museum and World War II history enthusiast, said he hopes when people come to the museum to see the exhibit or listen to a presentation, they realize the great sacrifice that was made for their freedom.

"A lot of young lives were just cut so short," Martin said.

Martin said he was intrigued by the service men who would come around his house to visit his four sisters when he was growing up, and ever since he heard their stories, he has been interested in the happenings of World War II.

The Eastern Kentucky Military History Society meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Highlands Museum.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.


MU Memorial Student Center to transform this summer

HUNTINGTON — Summer tours and freshman orientation will look a little differently at Marshall University this summer as the heart of campus, the Memorial Student Center, closes as workers transform it from the current 1970s aesthetic to a more modern spot for students in 2019.

The approximately $4.3 million in renovations include an overhaul of the food court in partnership with Sodexo, updates to the campus bookstore in

partnership with Follett College Stores, and a modernization of the student center lobby. Sodexo and Follett are covering the renovation costs of their respective areas.

Students may not recognize the student center when they return for classes in the fall. The food court will open into the lobby. The floating staircase on the food court side will be removed and a new staircase will be placed on the other side of the lobby. The new, modern staircase will lead upstairs but also to the basement.

Tootie Carter, director of business operations at the Memorial Student Center, said the hope is more students will end up in the basement, which houses a recreation area, meeting space, the LEAD Center and other student organizations.

"I think students may go down there for curiosity's sake and then join a club, that kind of thing," Carter said.

Built in the early 1970s, the Memorial Student Center, like the fountain that sits outside on the plaza, is dedicated to the 75 university football players, coaches and supporters who died in the plane crash. The memorial fireplace, which burns continually through the winter when the fountain is turned off, will remain but will get a facelift by being reclad in concrete. The memorial mural will be moved and placed in a recessed, lighted area that Carter thinks will make it stand out even more.

One of the bookstore's two entrances from the lobby will be removed to make room for a performance space, which Carter said will allow more events to take place in the lobby and give outdoor events an option in case of inclement weather. He said they anticipate the new space will be a popular spot for events, as other new event spaces always book quickly.

The lobby will also get new flooring, new fixtures, new railings and maintain all the resources students need, like charging ports and a directory for campus, Carter said.

"I think in the long run this will be a huge recruitment tool for our students, but really parents," Carter said. "We have a lot of commuters who stay here all day long, and this will be a comfortable, safe space for them to be. Then we have orientations and this could be a make or break point on what school they will choose."

Along with the new open-concept dining space, the food court will house all new vendors. The Chick-fil-A will become full service and local favorite La Famiglia will provide brick oven pizza and made-to-order pasta. Steak and Shake, which Sodexo tested on campus with a food truck, will move in, along with Huntington Market, a Boston Market-type eatery, and a Simply To-Go station with pre-made food.

When the food court changes were first announced, Taco Bell was included, but the popular fast food chain declined due to proximity of its other already established restaurants, Carter said.

Each vendor in the food court will have its own designated cash register, which Sodexo district manager Mike Greenfield said will increase the speed of service. Greenfield said they will also have more cashiers working as a result.

Sodexo is spending a little over $2 million on the renovations.

The bookstore is also getting a facelift, which is nearing completion. The new store design will be similar to that of the Stadium Store in the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, and a dressing room is being added. Bookstore manager Mike Campbell said the store will remain fully functional for the summer sessions.

Carter said this is just phase one of renovations, with future plans to renovate the bathrooms and other spaces in the student center. He said they dream big.

The bookstore and food court renovations are set to be complete by Aug. 1. The lobby will be mostly finished by the time the fall semester starts, but the new staircase and railings won't be finished until October.

The Memorial Student Center is now closed, but Carter said despite the issue with the stairs and railings, the building will be ready for student access for the fall.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.


Man pleads not guilty in retaliation shooting
Adkins allegedly shot into home of daughter's killer, defense attorney's vehicle

Adkins

HUNTINGTON — The father of a homicide victim pleaded not guilty during a preliminary hearing Thursday in connection with a shooting spree that endangered the lives of those connected to the convicted murderer.

Gregory Allen Adkins, 64, of Branchland, West Virginia, was indicted by a Cabell County grand jury last month on seven counts of wanton endangerment.

Adkins is the father of Kayla Adkins, a 26-year-old Lincoln County mother who was found dead behind an abandoned barn near Salt Rock in 2016.

Gregory Adkins is accused of firing five shots into the home of Vanessa Chapman, convicted murderer Corey Seth Chapman's wife, on April 23, 2018. He is also accused of firing two shots at a vehicle near the Huntington office of Glenn Conway, Corey Chapman's defense attorney.

He appeared before Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul T. Farrell on Thursday and agreed to waive the reading of his indictment. He then entered a not-guilty plea.

Farrell set a July 18 status conference hearing and asked defense attorneys and prosecutors to begin sharing discovery evidence. Farrell also denied a motion filed by Gregory Adkins' defense attorneys to return property seized by the state. It is unclear what property he had requested.

Defense attorneys Adam Campbell and Joseph Spano and Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Gabehart were all specially assigned to the case. There was a conflict of interest because the victims and the Cabell County Prosecutor's Office were all connected in the murder case.

Gregory Adkins remains on home confinement with supervision on a $250,000 bail.

At the time of the April 23, 2018, shootings, Corey Chapman had been awaiting trial for Kayla Adkins' murder for more than 19 months.

Corey Chapman, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and concealment of a deceased human body in August 2018 and was sentenced to 41 to 45 years in prison, the maximum allowed by law. He is serving his sentence in Northern Correctional Facility.

Kayla Adkins was last seen Nov. 1, 2016, leaving the Harts area in Lincoln County. Three days later, her body was found by a search party of friends in a trough behind an abandoned barn on Hickory Ridge Road, just northwest of Salt Rock.

Chapman was charged with her murder two weeks later after he gave a statement to police stating the two had gotten into an argument about the status of their relationship and he placed her in a "reverse bear-hug" hold, a move he claimed was just meant to calm her down. She died of a broken hyoid bone in her neck due to strangulation.

He then hid her body in the watering trough, threw her cellphone into a river and returned her keys to her vehicle before returning to his normal life.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.


WV Corrections offers recruits guaranteed pay raises

HUNTINGTON — Would-be correctional officers and staff in West Virginia can score a $2,370 pay boost, in addition to locked-in raises both this year and next, if they join the state payroll by June 30.

All correctional employees will receive a $2,000 pay raise July 1. That will bring the starting salary of an entry-level correctional officer, for instance, to $28,664.

But the 5% hike for all state employees passed during the last legislative session will deliver the extra $2,370 for potential recruits — if they join the state payroll before the current budget year ends.

Correctional employees are also guaranteed an additional $2,000 raise July 1, 2020. The benefits package for starting officers, meanwhile, is valued at $13,776. It includes comprehensive indemnity health insurance, term life insurance and a defined benefit pension plan. Accompanying these benefits and multiple raises is a clear career advancement path for officers.

Gov. Jim Justice proposed the pay raises in 2018 in response to a staffing crisis in the state's regional jail system. The hope was the pay increase would entice more to join the ranks of correctional officers. In June 2018, after the first pay increase implementation, the correctional system had filled 67% of its vacancies since March, though there were still 125 vacancies in the regional jail system.

There are currently about 145 open correctional officer positions across the 10 jails, for a vacancy rate of 18%, said Lawrence Messina, communications director for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. He said while vacancies and turnover remain challenges, one promising indicator is that about 100 more entry-level officers (COIs) have started than have departed so far this budget year.

The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation held its final hiring event Thursday, in Elkins, before the new state budget year begins July 1. Corrections and Rehabilitation previously held one-stop career events at Clarksburg, Parkersburg and Charleston.

More information is available at https://dcr.wv.gov.