Courts juggle Crossings Mall lawsuits from June 2016 flood

By: Lacie Pierson, Staff Writer | Posted: April 10, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail

Nine months after the bridge into Elkview’s Crossings Mall was re-opened, four lawsuits for and against the owners of the shopping plaza have been directed to federal bankruptcy court.

As of this month, lawsuits involving the liability of Crossings Mall owners, their shareholders and their insurance company have been referred to U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, according to court records.

A fifth and separate lawsuit, which the owners, Tara Retail Group, filed in August against the West Virginia Department of Transportation, was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in March at the request of attorneys for both sides, according to court records in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Steven Thomas, of Kay Casto & Chaney in Charleston, represents Tara Retail Group, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2017.

Tara Retail sued the DOT in August, claiming that the state was responsible for rebuilding the bridge to the shopping center that was washed away during the June 2016 flood.

Attorneys for the DOT argued that it was Tara Retail’s obligation to rebuild the bridge.

The bridge to Crossings Mall was reconstructed during spring and fall 2017 after its contractor, David Alvarez, of Applied Construction Solutions, agreed to pay for its construction up front, in exchange for being a priority creditor in the bankruptcy case.

The bridge re-opened in July 2017.

Thomas said Tara Retail’s claims against the DOT were denied twice in circuit court, meaning a trial would be the only way for the company to assert its claim that the state was responsible for the cost of rebuilding the bridge.

“That means we would have to prevail in our case against the state, and then take that judgment to the [West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission],” Thomas said.

The process altogether could take years, Thomas said, and would be a distraction from Tara Retail’s bankruptcy proceedings.

To that end, attorneys for both sides filed a stipulation of dismissal on March 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

With attorneys’ full attention to bankruptcy proceedings, the remaining lawsuits related to the flooding at Crossings Mall were referred from the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia to the bankruptcy court in the Northern District of West Virginia, where Tara Retail’s bankruptcy case is proceeding.

The cases were referred to bankruptcy court after attorneys agreed that all of the cases have in common a significant amount of evidence and financial records that are at-issue in Tara Retail’s bankruptcy case before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patrick M. Flatley.

During a hearing on April 5, Christopher Schueller, of Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney of Pittsburgh, said the cases were being referred to bankruptcy court to allow Flatley to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, meaning he will make rulings on certain evidence in the case before it goes to trial.

Once the pretrial issues are resolved, the intent would be to send the cases back to the Southern District court, where they would progress to trial.

Three of the cases will stay in bankruptcy court and progress as Schueller described. Flatley said during the hearings that the cases hadn’t been transferred to his court, as of April 5.

Those three cases include claims against the mortgage trust for Crossings Mall, collectively represented by U.S. Bank National Association. Wells Fargo Commercial Mortgage Servicing and Gold Coast Partners LLC, landlord and manager or the plaza, also are named as defendants.

One of the cases is a class-action lawsuit that involves people who suffered property damage at Crossings Mall or downstream from the failed culvert bridge and people who were stranded at the plaza after the flood.

A second lawsuit was filed by The Elswick Co. LLC, the holding company for Anytime Fitness at the plaza. In the lawsuit, the company seeks damages for loss of income and opportunity to continue operations, as well as expenses incurred while the business was closed because the bridge was out.

The third case was brought by an Elkview woman who claimed property damage from the failed culvert.

A fourth case was filed in U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia by U.S. Bank National Association against Tara Retail.

The association claims William A. Abruzzino and Rebecca A. Abruzzino, owners of Tara Retail, defaulted on their $13.65 million loan after the flood. The association sought $13.4 million, plus interest and legal fees, from Tara Retail.

Tara Retail filed a counterclaim saying the association denied them $24,000, in January 2016, to replace the bridge, and that lack of support to replace the structure contributed to the damage caused by the flood.

Tara Retail also said it was up to date on loan payments before the June 2016 flood and the loss of the bridge led to Crossings Mall tenants not being able to make lease payments, which subsequently led to Tara Retail not being able to make loan payments.

During the April 5 hearing, Flatley gave attorneys a 21-day window to either withdraw a motion to refer the fourth case to bankruptcy court or to file a motion to have the case dismissed from bankruptcy court because the circumstances of that case weren’t similar enough to the other cases for it to be grouped with them.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

Mooney and Warner visit Clay County, listen to local feedback

(Left) Congressman Alex Mooney; (Right) WV Rural Development Director Kris Warner

Posted: April 10, 2018 | Source: Clay County Free Press

US Congressman Alex Mooney visited Clay County on April 6, 2018, to have a roundtable discussion with community members including Fran King, member of the Clay County Commission; Greg Fitzwater, President of the Clay County Commission; Dave Mullins, President of the Board of Education; Jason Hubbard, Town of Clay Mayor; as well as many others in attendance. (more…)

Charleston chef finds freedom to move at new Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge

Chef Noah Miller prepares main courses, including pan-roaster halibut, seared sea scallops, eggplant-wrapped swordfish and beef fillet, at Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Charleston for its soft opening Tuesday. Craig Hudson, Gazette-Mail photos

By: Maria Young, Features Editor | Posted: Mar. 24, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail (Full Article and Photo Gallery)

Watching Chef Noah Miller whip up a meal for a restaurant full of hungry patrons is like watching a ballet — or maybe a hip-hop performance — that’s been carefully choreographed around searing flames, glistening knives and lots of breakable glass.

(more…)

Federal Funding Awarded to Further Economic Development in W.Va.

Photo Courtsey: Matt Rourke, Associated Press

By: Liz McCormick | Posted: Mar. 20, 2018 | Source: WV Public Broadcasting

Federal funds have been awarded to four West Virginia organizations focused on economic development.

Those four agencies include the Region 7 Planning and Development Council, the Planning and Development Councils in both the Eastern Panhandle and the Mid-Ohio Valley, and the Marshall University Research Corporation. The groups will split an award of $310,000.

That money comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito made the announcement in a news release Tuesday.

Both senators agree the grant will help West Virginia create more jobs and invest in infrastructure that could attract new industries to the state.

The bulk of the funding will go to the Marshall University Research Corporation and will provide technical assistance and research tools to help increase long-term regional competitiveness and economic diversification.

Individual Awards Listed Below:

  • $70,000 – Region 7 Planning and Development Council, which comprises the counties of Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Randolph, Tucker, and Upshur.
  • $70,000 – Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council, which comprises the counties of Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, and nine municipalities.
  • $70,000 – Mid-Ohio valley Regional Planning and Development Council, which comprises the counties of Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Richie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt, and Wood.
  • $100,000 – Marshall University Research Corporation and partners.

Clendenin’s Shafer Equipment to Attend EXPO

CLENDENIN, WV (The Clendenin Leader) – Shafer Equipment, LLC of Clendenin, will be in attendance and will have an exhibition booth available at the 2018 West Virginia Construction and Design Exposition to be held on March 21-22 at the Charleston Civic Center. Referred to simply as “EXPO”, this is the only West Virginia trade show for the construction, engineering, and architectural industries. Attendees will be present from over 25 states and multiple countries, and it will draw nearly 5,000 regional attendees. It is one of the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi.

Attendees of this show are Architects, Engineers, HVAC Practitioners, Landscape Architects, Lawyers, Surveyors, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators, and more. EXPO has become a meeting ground for numerous trade associations and professional societies as well. Various seminars will be available, many offering continuing education credit.

Shafer Equipment will be located at Exhibition Booth #724 and would like to extend an invitation to all attendees, to stop by and visit, plus sign up for their raffle; a chance to win a Full Day Lower New River Rafting Trip for Two People at Adventures On The Gorge!

EXPO charges no admission fee to qualified attendees. Qualified attendees are those directly engaged in construction; design; public works or infrastructure construction and maintenance; others actively engaged in procurement of these goods or services; owners demonstrating a need for these goods and services; trade professionals and others who play a role in supporting the design and construction industries. For more information on EXPO, visit their website at http://wvexpo.com.

Established in 2011, Shafer Equipment is a family owned and operated heavy equipment company that offers sales, rentals, parts, and service, of heavy equipment for pipeline, construction, and environmental work. They serve customers throughout West Virginia, as well as Southeastern Ohio and Southern Pennsylvania. Shafer Equipment is a full-service dealer for Terramac crawler carriers, and they stock a diverse selection of specialty attachments such as hydroseeders, personnel carriers, tack welders and more, which mount to the unit’s chassis. They are also an Okada attachment dealer with a wide range of Okada Hammers in various sizes. In addition, they provide parts, service and warranty repairs for Cummins certified engines and carry a wide variety of top of the line Excavators, Komatsu, CAT, John Deere Pipelayers, and Dozers as well.

Shafer Equipment, LLC is located at 1420 Bufflick Road, Clendenin, WV. For more information visit their website at www.shaferequipmentwv.com or you may contact them at 304-548-4300.

Frontier seeks injunction against striking WV workers

Frontier Communications workers and supporters demonstrate outside the Frontier building in Charleston on March 5. About 1,400 Frontier Communications employees in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, have been on strike since March 4. On Thursday, Frontier asked a judge for an injunction against the striking workers. CRAIG HUDSON | Gazette-Mail file photo

By: Max Garland and Lacie Pierson, Staff Writers | Posted: Mar. 15, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail

Frontier Communications asked a judge Thursday to stop its striking workers in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, from engaging in what the company calls “rampant unlawful activity,” as well as abuse of other Frontier employees, including workers brought in to fill the strikers’ jobs.

(more…)

Toys R Us closing all US stores, including four WV locations

By: Max Garland, Staff Writer | Posted: Mar. 15, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail

Toys R Us is planning to close all 735 of its U.S. stores, including its four West Virginia locations, the iconic toy retailer announced Thursday.

The company has stores in Charleston’s Southridge Centre, Vienna, Bridgeport and Barboursville. The Charleston and Vienna locations also house Babies R Us stores.

(more…)

Clendenin Leader Now Hiring: Regional Sales Managers

Looking for rock star sales managers.

The Clendenin Leader is currently accepting applications for Regional Sales Managers for advertising and business services in the Elk River Valley and surrounding areas and national accounts.

This is a 1099 commissioned sales position.

Qualified applicants must be self-motivated and have a LEADER mentality.

Send your resume to clendeninleader@gmail.com.

The Clendenin Leader is an equal opportunity employer.