What is The Greenbrier, the resort GOP members were headed to when their train hit a truck?

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 1:35 PM

What Is The Greenbrier?

A train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in the mountains of West Virginia struck a truck Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, according to authorities.

The Amtrak train was carrying members of Congress, their wives and staff members to The Greenbrier resort in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, when it struck a garbage truck that was apparently on the track.

According to Capitol Police, there were no serious injuries to anyone on the train. The person killed was on the garbage truck, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Republican members of Congress were on the chartered Amtrak train on their way to a retreat where Vice President Mike Pence was to speak Wednesday night and President Donald Trump was to appear on Thursday. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and several Cabinet members, plus 35 U.S. senators and 180 members of the House of Representatives, were to be at the three-day gathering.

The retreat at The Greenbrier, a resort that sits on some 11,000 acres, is an annual affair for GOP members of Congress. The resort has a storied history that includes stints as a hospital, a holding place for Axis diplomats during World War II, and the site for a secret bunker built to keep top members of the government safe in the event of a nuclear war.

 Here’s what to know about The Greenbrier (from The Greenbrier website):

  • Guests came to the area where The Greenbrier sits as early as 1778 to “take the waters.”
  • Retreats at the property began in the 1830s when politicians, lawyers, planters and others would gather. The retreats took place in the summer, according to The Greenbrier, because the mountains offered relief from the heat.
  • Five sitting presidents stayed there between 1830-1861.
  • By 1858, construction began on the first large hotel on the site. It was known as “The Old White.”
  • Both sides stayed on the grounds of the hotel during the Civil War.
  • The Greenbrier closed during the Civil War.
  • The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchased The Greenbrier in 1910, and by 1913 it has expanded the hotel to include mineral baths, a golf course and a new hotel.
  • The resort grows in popularity among the wealthy. Joe and Rose Kennedy honeymooned there and President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent a holiday there.
  • The resort sees another major renovation in 1922.
  • In 1941, the U.S. State Department leased the hotel for seven months to relocate German, Japanese and Italian diplomats and their families from Washington, D.C., “until their exchange for U.S. diplomats similarly stranded overseas.” A year later, the U.S. Army purchased and converted the hotel into a 2,000-bed hospital known as Ashford General Hospital.
  • In 1946, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the hotel from the U.S. government, renovated it and reopened the hotel in 1948.
  • In the 1950s, amid increasing alarm over a possible nuclear attack, the federal government asked The Greenbrier if it could build an “Emergency Relocation Center,” a bunker that would house the president and/or members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack. The Greenbrier owners agree and built an underground facility code-named “Project Greek Island.” The bunker remained classified and mostly unknown for 30 years. The bunker was decommissioned in 1992.
  • The Greenbrier was purchased in 2009 by Jim Justice. Justice, at the time, was an entrepreneur. He is now governor of West Virginia, who prior to his election in 2016, announced at a Trump rally in Huntington, West Virginia, that he was changing parties to become a Republican.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 14: A resort employee passes by the Hotel Blast Door, which weighs 18 tons and serves as an entrance to a former government relocation facility, also know as "the bunker," at Greenbrier Resort July 14, 2006 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The bunker, codenamed "Project Greek Island" and planned by the Eisenhower Administration, was a 112,000 square-foot shelter constructed beneath the Greenbrier Resort's West Virginia Wing, to serve as a relocation site for members of the U.S. Congress and associated staff in the event of a nuclear attack on the U.S. soil. The facility was built between 1958 and 1961 and was maintained in a state of operational readiness until the government terminated the lease with the resort in 1995. The bunker will be reopened for public tours on August 20 after a two-year-long renovation. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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George Zimmerman, unemployed, $2.5M in debt, gets public defender in latest legal battle

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 7:55 PM

George Zimmerman testified September 2016 about the man he said shot at him during an alleged road-rage incident in 2015. (Via WFTV.com)
George Zimmerman testified September 2016 about the man he said shot at him during an alleged road-rage incident in 2015. (Via WFTV.com)

A judge in Seminole County, Florida, has granted George Zimmerman a public defender to represent him in his latest legal battle.

>> Read more trending news

Zimmerman told the judge that he’s indigent, unemployed and has $2.5 million in debt and liabilities, according to court documents.

Zimmerman is facing a misdemeanor stalking charge that was filed by the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office earlier this month.

A sheriff's report said an investigator, Dennis Warren, contacted Zimmerman in September on behalf of Michael Gasparro, who is making a documentary on Trayvon Martin. The series is being produced by rapper Jay-Z.

Zimmerman allegedly told Gasparro, "Help Dennis out and give him a heads up. I'm going to find him. And I'm bringing hell with me."

He allegedly texted Gasparro and said, "Dennis is a (expletive) who bothered my uncle in his home. Local or former law officer, he's well on his way to the inside of a gator as well. 10-4?"

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the indigent applications are rarely scrutinized by the court because they are done under oath.

“As long as you can show your liabilities outweigh your assets, you are maybe entitled to a public defender and you are maybe entitled to the cost of defense,” Sheaffer said.

Zimmerman is scheduled to be in court May 30.

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of the 2012 shooting death of Martin, an unarmed teenager. of unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin.

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Sandy Hook families sue Infowars' Alex Jones over hoax claims

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 4:11 AM

Fast Facts about Radio Host Alex Jones

Family members of six victims of the deadly 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and an FBI agent have filed a defamation lawsuit against Infowars' Alex Jones over his claims that the massacre was a hoax.

>> Sandy Hook parents accuse Alex Jones, Infowars of defamation, seek damages

According to The Associated Press, the suit, filed Wednesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, says the plaintiffs were harassed and threatened because of his claims. They seek "monetary and punitive damages, attorney fees and other costs," the AP reported.

This is just the latest legal action against the conspiracy theorist over his Sandy Hook statements. He is facing two similar lawsuits filed last month in Texas.

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Jones has not publicly commented on the most recent lawsuit, but said last month that even though he initially "questioned the PR and the talking points that surrounded the Sandy Hook massacre," he soon "began to believe that the massacre happened, despite the fact that the public doubted it."

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sandy Hook parents accuse Alex Jones, InfoWars of defamation, seek damages

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 12:36 PM

Fast Facts about Radio Host Alex Jones

The parents of children who died in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have accused conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and InfoWars of defamation and seek damages in excess of $1 million.

>> Read more trending news

Two lawsuits filed on behalf of Neil Heslin, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa allege that Jones and his media organization spread false information related to the tragedy.

One of the suits also names Jones’ employee, Owen Shroyer, as a defendant.

Heslin’s suit arose from accusations InfoWars made in 2017 that Heslin was lying about holding his son’s body and seeing a bullet hole in the child’s head.

“This heartless and vile act of defamation re-ignited the Sandy Hook ‘false flag’ conspiracy and tore open the emotional wounds that (Heslin) has tried so desperately to heal,” a petition filed in Travis County District Court said.

>> Related: Man sues Alex Jones, InfoWars for $1 million, says they defamed him in Fla. shooting

The second suit was filed after InfoWars aired programming that claimed an interview De La Rosa did with CNN was faked, and pushed it as “evidence” of a government cover-up.

“Those statements in 2017 were part of a long history of lies peddled by Jones,” said Mark Bankston, the attorney representing the plaintiffs. “Our clients have been tormented for five years by Mr. Jones’ ghoulish accusations that they are actors who faked their children’s deaths as part of a fraud on the American people. Enough is enough.”

The pair of lawsuits marks the third to be filed against Jones and his company in recent weeks.

>> Related: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones apologizes for spreading fake 'Pizzagate' story

Marcel Fontaine is suing Jones for more than $1 million after he used an image of Fontaine that portrayed him as the shooter who killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February.

Fontaine is a Massachusetts resident with no ties to the deadly shooting.

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Rape victim wins $1 billion verdict in civil suit against security company

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 2:11 AM

Hope Cheston (left) and lawyer, Chris Stewart, during a news conference after Cheston was awarded $1 billion in a civil lawsuit.
Hope Cheston (left) and lawyer, Chris Stewart, during a news conference after Cheston was awarded $1 billion in a civil lawsuit.(WSBTV.com)

A Georgia rape victim was awarded a $1 billion settlement verdict Tuesday by a Clayton County jury in a civil lawsuit, according to court documents.

Hope Cheston, who is now 20 years old, sued a security company whose employee, Brandon Lamar Zachary, was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The rape occurred in October 2012 when Cheston was 14. 

Hope Cheston, who is now 20 years old, sued a security company whose employee, Brandon Lamar Zachary (pictured), was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison.(Clayton County Sheriff's Office)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s policy is to not name rape victims, but Cheston has chosen to speak out after the verdict. 

“Sexual assault is sexual assault,” Cheston said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s not right, and it needs to be punished.”

She said the verdict was a pleasant surprise that validates her struggles and emotional pain.

>> Read more trending news 

“For the longest (time), I thought it would be pushed under the rug and no longer mattered ... but come to find out 12 strangers feel like what I went through and my story and how I feel six years later is worth a billion dollars,” Cheston said.

She originally filed the civil suit against the apartment complex, HACC Pointe South Inc., the property management company, Hammond Residential Group, Inc., and the security company, Crime Prevention Agency Inc.

HACC Pointe South Inc. and Hammond Residential Group Inc. were eventually dismissed from the suit.

The State Court of Clayton County ruled in Cheston’s favor against the security company, handing her the huge settlement, according to a statement from her attorney. 

“This is a huge victory for women,” Cheston’s attorney, Chris Stewart, said at the news conference.

Stewart said Crime Prevention Agency Inc. has since changed its name to International Security Agency Inc., which he said has prompted a subsequent lawsuit.

“You can’t change names or try to hide from your responsibility,” Stewart said.

Zachary, who is now 28, was arrested on charges of rape, statutory rape and child molestation, according to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office. 


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