Marino pleads no contest to shoplifting charge
by James Fisher
A Clarksburg city councilman and Harrison County Schools assistant principal
pleaded no contest Wednesday to shoplifting and paid a $110 ticket to the
City of Bridgeport.
Frank Marino, 48, was scheduled for a 6 p.m. hearing Wednesday in Bridgeport
Municipal Court for allegedly shoplifting $8.58 worth of items from Phar-Mor
on Dec. 13.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Marino changed his plea from not guilty to
no contest and agreed to forfeit the $110, said Bridgeport City Attorney
A plea of no contest means that Marino did not admit guilt but stated
that he would offer no defense. Marino could not be reached at his home
or his business Wednesday night for comment.
School officials backed Marinos decision.
We are pleased this is behind him and it wont impact one iota
his employment, said Harrison County Assistant Superintendent William
R. Allen Gorrell, principal at Nutter Fort, called the
shoplifting ticket a travesty and said he was also glad the incident
had been put to rest. Gorrell said he never believed that Marino was guilty.
The only comment I have is that I have known Frank Marino for 20 years
and have always known him to be honest and forthright, Gorrell said Wednesday.
I am shocked that anyone would say differently.
Both Gorrell and Ashcraft said they believed Marinos decision to not
fight the ticket was based on advice from his attorney, Gregory A. Morgan.
Morgan previously called the incident a huge misunderstanding.
We believe when the facts are in, he will be exonerated, Morgan said
Morgan could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
In December Phar-Mor employees stopped Marino after an electronic detection
device sounded a store alarm, according to police.
Marino was allegedly observed removing a necklace and telephone coupler
from his pocket.
Lewis schools seek sewer service
Weston told it can annex Wagoner Elementary if
by Torie Knight
A member of the Lewis County Board of Education has told Weston City
Council that the board is willing to have Charles Wagoner Elementary School
annexed into city limits if that means the board can have city sewer service.
Board member Willie Parker told council that sewer service was critical
to the schools plans. For now, the school system is borrowing a temporary
sewage system from the Ritchie County Board of Education.
We will be more than happy to become residents of the city of Weston,
Parker said, adding that the board would allow both the elementary school
and Lewis County High School to be annexed into city limits.
The elementary school is located along McGuire Park Road off U.S. Route
33, and is part of a section of land the city had proposed annexing last
year. The city withdrew its request to annex that property at the Nov.
30, 1998, Lewis County Commission meeting because of pending financial
Councilman Jon Tucci asked the school board this week whether it would
be willing to have the elementary school annexed if the city provided sewer
services. The city already provides services to Lewis County High School
at Bendale, which also is outside city limits.
Tucci had said he didnt want the city to keep extending sewer
service if it were to areas outside city limits that didnt want to be
annexed. For that reason, he was prepared to vote against approving the
$9 million sewer bond that will soon be before council.
About $6 million of the bond is for the citys wastewater treatment
plant. The other $3 million would go toward extending sewer services to
the McGuire Park area and to nearly 150 acres of commercial property right
outside city limits along U.S. Route 33.
Weve been planning since day one that sewer would be available,
That was enough for Tucci.
The idea is a lot of small towns will annex roads first just to get
their finger in the door, Tucci said.
Although council couldnt take action on Parkers request because an
ordinance hasnt been sent to council from the sanitary board yet, members
assured the board they understood the importance of sewer service to the
I believe we understand the situation, Councilman Charles Wilson
Parker said the Lewis County Board of Education will proceed with the
assumption that sewer service will be delivered.
Despite the fact that Charles Wagoner Elementary School does not border
city limits, it can be annexed, Weston City Attorney Christy Smith said.
She said cities can follow a shoe-string annexation process in which
council can annex bits and pieces into the city without taking all the
land in between.
Lawmaker pleads for tobacco tax
by Troy Graham
CHARLESTON Describing his recently deceased mother as a drug addict
who was addicted to tobacco and nicotine since the age of 15, House Judiciary
Chairman Rick Staton made an impassioned plea Wednesday to keep tobacco
out of the hands of children.
Staton urged the state Legislature to adopt a 25 percent tax on smokeless
tobacco while telling the story of his mothers battle with cigarettes
and lung cancer. Statons mother died on Jan. 20, during the second week
of the legislative session.
Addressing the House of Delegates, Staton, D-Wyoming, told lawmakers
the only way to keep tobacco out of the hands of children is to make it
cost prohibitive through taxation.
West Virginia already has one of the highest percentages of smokeless
tobacco use in the nation. Teachers in Wyoming County have told Staton
that smokeless tobacco use among children is continuing to rise because
it is easier to hide, he said.
Since his mothers death, many delegates have asked Staton if they
could do anything to help.
To those of you who have asked if there is anything you can do, Im
here to tell you there is, he said, as he urged adoption of the tax. Today
I think we should stand up for kids.
The tax has received little support since the governor proposed it
in his State of the State address.
Those people who believe in the governors proposal have not been
heard from, said Underwood spokesman Dan Page. I think in the next few
weeks youll see the support to keep these kinds of products out of the
hands of children.
The governor has proposed a 25 percent excise tax on the wholesale
price of smokeless tobacco. The bill has not yet been introduced.
If we can take one step to remove tobacco from the hands of children
we may be saving their lives, Page said.
Statons emotional speech had a noticeable effect on an attentive House.
Several delegates wiped tears from their eyes, and Statons voice faltered
as he also fought back tears.
Staton described how his mother, who smoked unfiltered cigarettes,
lost a third of her lung to cancer in the 1980s and was forced to wear
an oxygen mask to breath on her death bed.
As a lawyer, Staton said he never believed in the tobacco lawsuits,
one of which West Virginia settled against several tobacco manufacturers.
Staton said he believed smoking was a lifestyle choice and he was hesitant
to support taxation in the past. But his mothers experience opened his
eyes to the effects of tobacco when children start using it at an early
age, he said.
We need to look to the next generation and not the next election,
Following the speech, several local delegates said they would support
It took a lot of guts to stand up and do that, said Delegate Sam
Cann, D-Harrison. Depending on the form, I could probably support it.
Delegate Barbara Warner, D-Harrison, said it only makes sense to tax
We tax cigarette smokers, so why not smokeless tobacco? she asked.
Theres got to be a way to help these children stay away from tobacco,
said Delegate Frank Angotti, D-Harrison.
Harrison man on trial for alleged ax attack
by James Fisher
A Harrison County man testified in circuit court Wednesday that another
man beat him with an ax and bit off half his ear during an altercation
in March 1998.
Clarence Yeager Jr. has been charged with malicious wounding for the
incident. He is accused of hitting Brian Bell in the shoulder and leg with
the ax and biting Bells ear.
Bell testified Wednesday that the attack left him permanently injured.
He has plates and screws in his leg, and he is embarrassed about his ear,
Defense Attorney Greg Elam contends that Yeager was only defending
himself after Bell tried to attack Yeager with a knife.
The fight started when Bell allegedly asked Yeagers then-girlfriend,
Carol Moore, to smoke marijuana with him, Elam said.
Moore testified Wednesday that Bell did make the request. Shortly after
that, Yeager asked her if she wanted him to set Brian (Bell) straight.
I told him no, dont worry about it, let it go, she testified.
The actual sequence of events surrounding the incident was unclear
from testimony Wednesday. Witnesses also gave conflicting testimony about
whether Bell was armed with a knife.
Debra Hall, the owner of the trailer in Meadowbrook where the incident
occured, testified that Yeager came to her residence and he and Bell began
to argue and wrestle around inside her home.
She told them to take it outside, she testified, and the two men
left the trailer. However, Hall testified she did not see the rest of the
Josh Bennett, Bells cousin, testified that only Yeager left the trailer
and Bell stayed inside. He testified Yeager picked up the ax and came to
the doorway, where the two men again began to argue.
Yeager then struck Bell in the shoulder and the leg with the ax, Bennett
Hall testified she couldnt remember if Bell had a knife. Bennett testified
he could not tell from where he was sitting if Bell had a knife. Bell testified
he did not have a knife.
Police searched around the residence three separate times but did not
find the knife, West Virginia State Police Trooper Reginald Patterson testified
Moore testified Yeager went to the house and asked Brian to step outside.
The two argued on the front lawn, she testified, and then Bell went
back into the trailer. Yeager stepped up on the porch and picked up the
ax, she testified.
I heard him tell Mr. Bell to put it down, get back, stay back,
she testified. She then left the area to find Yeagers brother and did
not see the rest of the altercation.
She returned a short time later and Yeager exited the trailer. She
testified he had blood on him and that he said it was Bells blood.
She also testified that Yeager had a cut on his arm and told her that
Bell had cut him with a knife.