CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Public Port Authority board, during a meeting Wednesday, gave Wayne County officials until the end of the month to submit proposals to save the $32 million Heartland Intermodal Gateway facility from being sold.
At the beginning of the Port Authority meeting at the state Capitol Complex, Transportation Secretary Byrd White said the implications of a long-term lease on the facility just became too complicated, so the board thought it would be best to sell it.
However, after hearing pleas from members of the Wayne County Commission in attendance, the board moved to postpone a decision on the public sale of the facility.
The Heartland Intermodal Gateway is a 100-acre road-to-rail cargo transfer station at Prichard in Wayne County. As the only intermodal facility in West Virginia, the complex uses giant stacking machines to move 20-and 40-foot cargo containers between rail cars and flatbed trucks.
White said funding for the facility has run out and that's the main reason there was discussion of selling it.
Wayne County commissioners at the meeting informed the board why they thought the facility shouldn't be sold, but instead stay in Wayne County and help both the county and state economically.
"We're invested in that facility," said Commissioner Jeff Maddox. "We're a 40,000-population county. Our economy is not the greatest in the world, like many other counties in West Virginia, and the idea of taking an asset such as this and selling it — potentially for pennies on the dollar just to wash your hands of it — we think is a grave error."
"Do not move today to proceed with the sale of the property
until we're absolutely sure that there is not someone out there that wants a long-term relationship, so that we can use that for what it's intended for, and that's for us and Wayne County to grow," said Robert Pasley, Wayne County Commission president.
After consideration of the Wayne County commissioners' comments and discussion among the board members, three motions were given.
The first motion was to postpone consideration of selling the facility until the next meeting.
The second motion was to accept proposals for a long-term lease on the property and meet again in a few weeks to evaluate those proposals.
The third motion was to solicit bids for the sale of the property for an auctioneer or a real-estate agent to sell the property, while also soliciting bids for a lease of the property.
"At least if we don't get a decent lease proposal, we're that far down the road on selling it," White said. "It's just following both paths at the same time."
The board gave Wayne County commissioners until Aug. 30 to have proposals on the facility ready.
The board will meet in the first week of September to further discuss the future of the facility.
HUNTINGTON — At a table for eight tucked beside the kitchen doors, four caregivers and four residents from Madison Park Healthcare sat with their drinks and salads before their spaghetti arrived.
What would have otherwise been another quiet weeknight — like any other night — was special for the residents of the Huntington retirement community, many who have dementia. That one Wednesday night out with a simple spaghetti dinner and a glass of iced tea marked the first time many had been out in public in months.
Some might not have been fully cognizant about where they were, what to order or if a few stray noodles landed in their lap.
But that's exactly the clientele Jim's Steak & Spaghetti set out to serve as it hosted the Tri-State's first dementia-friendly day — designed to relieve the social stress and stigma that many dementia patients face in a public setting, which often discourages them from getting out at all.
"For some of our residents, this is the first time they've been out since they've come to Madison Park, so this is a big deal," said Diana Jones, Madison Park life enrichment coordinator, surrounded in the booth by those eating their first restaurant meal in months, maybe years.
"They live in a small box, so to open the world back up to them, you're giving someone back the life that they had before."
Seemingly everyone who came in had a personal story to share of how dementia had touched them. Husbands brought in their wives and vice versa. Children brought in their parents. Caregivers brought in those kept virtually shut in.
Jim's staff was specially trained to
consider the needs and quirks associated with dementia patients, but as co-manager Bradley Tweel put it, they're dementia-friendly every night.
"People who have come in today have been very supportive and appreciate that someone would do something like this, and we've been happy to support it," Tweel said.
Being the first restaurant to host a dementia-friendly night was an easy choice for the Tweel family, which has owned and operated Jim's since it opened 81 years ago. The late founders, Jim and Sally Tweel, both had dementia later in life.
Jim's will continue to have dementia-friendly nights on the first Wednesday of each month.
The promotion was organized by Dementia Friendly Huntington, in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association of West Virginia, as a proof-of-concept that considering those special needs is a worthy endeavor, in both an egalitarian and business sense. The concept had been pitched to several other local restaurants — warmly regarded but never implemented — until Jim's committed to hosting the first event, said David Nesbit, founder of Dementia Friendly Huntington.
At times, Jim's was so busy, you'd think it was serving strawberry pie again — and a packed night at a landmark restaurant is a huge step forward for the now 13-month-old movement.
"We're not going to be there until dementia-friendly nights aren't news. When that happens, that's when we've made it," Nesbit said. "We're looking for people and businesses who will put dementia on their agenda, because there is so much more that we can do for the community, the state and the country than what we're doing now."
Staff from the Alzheimer's Association spent the day outside Jim's with information and resources. When they arrived at 11 a.m., right when the restaurant opened for lunch, people were already waiting in line to eat, said Nikki Miller, special events coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association.
Nobody works their whole life expecting to be struck with dementia in twilight, and a night like Wednesday is a token that they're still cared for, Miller said.
"We just want people to know that they're still a part of this community," she said. "You don't want someone to spend their whole life in this city, work in this city, retire and then not be able to enjoy their golden years."
More than 5 million Americans have dementia, with an estimated 70% of elderly cases caused by Alzheimer's disease, and it's projected to affect millions more as the population ages. There is no cure or means to treat the disease.
For more information on Dementia Friendly Huntington, visit the group's Facebook page or call Nisbet at 859-509-2367.
HUNTINGTON — Two Huntington murder trials have been scheduled for later this year after previous continuances had delayed the cases in Cabell County court.
Andrea Glenda Moore, 18, is charged with murder in the June 13, 2018, shooting death of Joann Dawn Saunders Childers, 32, a mother of five from Huntington, at Marcum Terrace.
Moore also is charged with malicious wounding in the shooting of Stephen Christopher Smith, an employee of the Huntington Housing Authority who was mowing grass at the time he was shot.
Her co-defendants, David Moore and Kenard Moore, are both charged with being accessories.
Vickie Lester, executive director of the Huntington Housing Authority, previously said an altercation began June 12, 2018, at an off-site convenience store on Olive Street among a group of people. The altercation continued into the next day and resulted in the afternoon shooting.
Moore is accused of fleeing the scene and was not arrested until June 14, two days after the shootings. David Moore is accused of helping her flee, while Kenard Moore is accused of hiding the alleged murder weapon.
Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard set the trio's trial for 9 a.m. Sept. 24. The defendants' attorneys said they were still waiting for some evidence to be exchanged in the case before they would be ready to go to trial.
While Andrea Moore was a minor when the shooting occurred, the murder charge was filed against her as an adult. She was offered a plea deal to second-degree murder with a sentence of 20 years, but she rejected the offer.
In a separate, unrelated case, Howard set an Oct. 28 trial date for Antwon Starkey, who is accused of gunning down a youth football coach in 2017.
Starkey, 30, was charged with murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the death of Kafrederick "Bae Bae" McEachin, 25. Starkey shot McEachin on Dec. 12, 2017, at Huntington Mart on Hal Greer Boulevard in broad daylight.
In an interview with police after the shooting, he said he had shot McEachin after he heard the victim was connected with the shooting of his 14-year-old stepdaughter two weeks prior. Starkey's attorneys added that the defendant believed McEachin had also targeted both Star-key and his wife.
Assistant prosecutor Sharon Frazier and defense attorneys Jack Dolance and Abe Saad both said Wednesday they were having difficulty reaching an agreement as to what the defense's expert witness will be allowed to testify surrounding Starkey's state of mind and provocation and what a "reasonable person" would have done in Starkey's perceived situation.
Howard had indicated the witness could not testify as to what a reasonable person would have done but could testify about provocation, but Frazier argued the two overlap each other.
Frazier said prosecutors also want to obtain an expert witness prior to trial to counter the defense's witness.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.