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Grant County’s newly elected assessor was sworn into office last week and will officially be stepping into the position at the beginning of next month.

Jerry Ours, who won his bid for the assessor position in the Nov. 8 election, will be stepping in to complete the remaining term of former assessor Ralph Layton. Layton retired from the position earlier this year. However, his retirement fell after the primary election period, meaning the seat could only be filled in the interim until a candidate was selected by the Grant County Republican Executive Committee and a general election was held.

The seat was then filled by interim assessor Keith Martin, who was selected by the Grant County Commission.

In West Virginia, county assessors are responsible for maintaining the surface property tax maps. This is an important role as it relates back to countywide tax requirements and property ownership data. Other recently elected county officials who won their seats will step into their positions on Jan. 1.

Ours was sworn in to the position prior to the Nov. 22 regularly scheduled meeting of the Grant County Commission.

Other meetings covered during the meeting included:

• Community member Jane Kite-Keeling addressed the commission about her concerns surrounding the recognition plaque hung in memory of former commissioner Jim Cole at the Grant County Ambulance Authority. Keeling said her issue with the plaque involved the fact that, prior to its purchase, the decision to honor Cole was not an agenda item on the commission agenda and was not voted on by the previous commission. She said she did not want the plaque taken down but did say she had issue with no other county owned building having a plaque in honor of only one commissioner. The decision to honor Cole, who passed away in office prior to the creation of the Grant County Ambulance, was decided by the former commission. However, when the issue was brought to the current commission, it was made an agenda item and voted by the present-day commissioners.

Editor’s note: Greg’s story was planned to be published in this week’s Press, but he passed away over the weekend. Because his story deserves to be told, we are printing in here with the family’s permission, in memory of him.

By Ravenna O. Redman

Director of Social Services

The employees of Grant Rehabilitation and Care Services have selected Gregory Bland as GRCC’s resident of the week.

Greg has been a resident of our facility since June 25, 2020. He was born on July 16, 1959, in Petersburg, to Billy Rush Bland and Hilda Elizabeth (Mauzy) Bland Henry.

Greg has an adopted sister and brother: Evelyn Ours and Joseph Bland; three brothers, Bobby, Billy Jr., and Jeff Bland; and one half sister, Beverly Goldizen.

Greg was in the middle of the children. His father did construction in D.C. and Virginia. His mother was a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, the relationship did not last. Greg, with his two brothers, were sent to live with their maternal grandparents, Carl and Elizabeth Mauzy, who raised them.

Both of his parents remarried. However, his mother passed away in a vehicle accident when Greg was 10 years old.

Greg attended elementary school at Dorcas Elementary and Moorefield Elementary, eventually graduating from Petersburg, High School. He would go to Antietam Bible College in Hagerstown, Md., completing his fouryear degree in pastoral studies.

While at Hagerstown, Greg stayed with a Mennonite couple as he pursued his degree.

Greg met his future wife, Carol, while he was in school, and they went to the same church. Carol stated, “I never imagined at first being with Greg, but suddenly it was there. We just loved each other.” Greg and Carol were married on Aug. 27, 1983. Carol said, “Greg would joke, saying I married him for pity’s sake, but then would say, no, she married me for love.” Carol admitted, “I married him for love.”

Greg began ministering to the community. His first church was at White Pine/ Kelly’s Chapel in Purgitsville. He went on to serve in various churches in the tri-county area: Knobley Church of the Brethren, Maysville Bible Brethren, Harpers Chapel Church of the Brethren, and Brake Church of the Brethren which is now the Brake Covenant Brethren Church. Greg also served as an interim pastor at First Baptist Church of Petersburg.

More than 4,500 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project. Volunteers are preparing to collect shoebox gifts during National Collection Week, Nov. 14 - 21.

Living Hope Baptist Church is once again the local dropoff site and will begin taking shoeboxes on Monday, Nov. 14

Their hours for Nov. 14 - 17 are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Nov. 18, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Nov. 19, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 20, 1 - 5 p.m. and Nov. 21, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other dropoff points in the area are Duffey Memorial United Methodsit Church in Moorefi eld, Valley Baptist Church in Mathias, Faith Mission Church in Wardensville, Living Faith Church in Franklin and Clinton Hedrick Community Building in Riverton.

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide since 1993. This year, OCC hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.

Individuals, families, and groups still have time to transform empty shoeboxes into fun gifts. The project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. Find a step-by-step guide on the How to Pack a Shoebox at www.samaritanspurse.org

“Now more than ever, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey visited Petersburg last week to update the area on multiple large lawsuits his office was overseeing and to ask for community input on local concerns. Community members gathered at the Landes Arts Center to meet with Morrisey last Monday, with representatives ranging from Grant Memorial Hospital, Grant County Bank, the Potomac Valley Transit Authority, local business owners and elected officials.

The most heavily discussed topic during Morrisey’s visit surrounded the distribution of settlement funds the state will be receiving as a result of lawsuits his office filed against multiple pharmaceutical companies for their role in exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

“Many of you may know that there is still a lot of national litigation, from nearly every state in the nation, against the opioid companies for the role they played in the opioid epidemic,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia has been out front leading in that area.”

Morrisey said West Virginia is set to get the largest settlement in the nation from these companies. Overall, the state will be receiving over half a billion dollars in settlements.

“We want to make sure this money is used to fix the problem,” Morrisey said. “We didn’t believe a settlement based on population was appropriate and thought it should be based on the intensity of the impact it has had on these areas.”

Medical research echoes Morrisey’s claims that West Virginia has been disproportionally impacted in the opioid epidemic. According to research published in the National Library of Medicine (by researchers Rachel Merino, Nicholas Bowden, Sruthi Katamneni, Alberto Coustasse) “the rate of overdose related to the use of licit and illicit opioids has drastically increased over the last decade in the United States. The epicenter has been West Virginia with the highest rates of overdoses accounting for 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people among the 33,091 deaths in 2015.”

This study was published in 2019.

“The number of people injecting drugs has increased from 36% in 2005 to 54% in 2015,” the research claimed. “The total US cost of prescription opioid abuse in 2011 has been estimated at $25 billion, and criminal justice system costs to $5.1 billion. The reasons for this opioid epidemic incidence in West Virginia have been a combination of sociocultural factors, a depressed economy, lack of education, and a high rate of prescribing and dispensing of prescription opioids.”

Morrisey said the goal to distribute the funds would focus on a comprehensive plan that targets the resources to the regions of the state that need the most help in battling back against the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid money is going to be big,” Morrisey said. “It is an opportunity to put systems in place. For example, you may need an extra deputy sheriff, you may need some extra help in funding mental health services. You may need to coordinate with other counties in the region to help make sure there are beds in rehabilitation facilities. There are a lot things I think can be done with these resources but it needs to be spent wisely.”

Morrisey explained that some of the funds won in the suit will be distributed directly to the counties and cities but the bulk of the funds will be placed with a new foundation that will vote on the money usage.

“3% of all the money that comes in will be held back by the state for litigation purposes,” Morrisey explained. “This is my way of trying to protect taxpayers in case someone tries to sue with offsetting claims, so we keep a little aside and if it doesn’t get used then it goes back to the counties and to the foundation. 24.5% will be sent directly to the cities and counties in the lawsuit directly and 72.5% will go into the West Virginia First Foundation. That is set up to ensure representatives from every region across West Virginia, six different regions, are represented.”

Each of the six regions will elect a voting representative to sit on the foundation (a registered 501C-4), along with five additional representatives chosen by the governor. Grant County will be represented as part of the Eastern Region, sharing its votes with Pendleton, Hampshire, Hardy, Morgan, Jefferson, Berkeley and Mineral counties.

“I recognize that Berkeley and Jefferson counties are not right next door to you here in Grant,” Morrisey said. “I know to some it will be a big difference. But what you want to do is work together on your county and regional needs up front, because that is what is going to get fueled into that statewide effort and really give you a voice.”

Morrisey said he hopes that the foundation will ensure the funds in the foundation will be a longterm, sustainable solution.

“The goal is to have money to holistically go after the problem from a supply side, educational and prevention side, from an accountability side and a law enforcement side,” Morrisey said. “And that is what the foundation is doing.”

Morrisey said that once the litigation closes, a statewide needs assessment will take place to determine funding priorities.

“I think this is going to be a really big deal for the eastern part of the state,” Morrisey said. “I know when I have come to Grant County in the past, I have talked to many of you and to people about the transportation problems, of sometimes driving to get to health care facilities, including mental health services. This is a rural area and we recognize that, so we need to make sure that the money is spent taking that into account and that Grant County and other regions of the state don’t get left behind.”

Morrisey said money will begin being distributed to the state from the settlements later this year or early next year.

Other topics discussed during the event included:

• An update on a lawsuit fi led by the office concerning the Waters United States rule. Morrisey referred the rule as “federal overreach,” saying it attempted to restrict small waterways on private property, making it diffi cult and expensive for property owners to build on their own land. Morrisey said the effort was going well, and that progress had been made under former President Donald Trump but had stalled by President Joe Biden.

• Concerns he had about the Environmental Social Governance Policy, which he said would put an undue burden on businesses and companies concerning their environmental policies.

• A brief update on multiple lawsuits and investigations, including election law cases, abortion legislation, charter school rights and suits defending the state’s energy sector.

I have a tip for the owner who is struggling to give their dog eye medicine. Our dog had cataract removal surgery earlier this year, and we’ve had to give him drops ever since. We’ve got it down! All you need are high-value treats given before, during and after the drops. Please feel free to share my suggestion. -- Jenny H. Asheville, NC

DEAR JENNY: Many thanks for the advice! Making “medicine time” less stressful and more positive is so important for pets. Folks, Jenny recommended a 100% meat dog treat, which is a great high-value snack. Look for a product like this in the pet store’s fresh food aisle. Peanut butter is another fave among dogs. One of my dogs is a huge fan of Doritos. (I have to hide them.)

Here’s some more tips for giving oral medication or drops to a dog or cat:

-- Work off some of your pet’s energy beforehand. Take the dog for a walk or have your cat play with a toy.

-- Make sure the pet is held safely. Place the cat on your lap and cradle your arm around their body, placing your hand on their chest. Have the dog sit or lie down at your feet (or in your lap), facing forward or to the side.

-- Stay calm and positive. Give your pet a small treat while being encouraging and petting them.

-- Give the medication as quickly as possible. Don’t force or rush the process, but gently open their mouth and pop the pill in as far back as possible, then rub the underside of their jaw and throat to encourage swallowing. If giving eyedrops, gently lift one eyelid and put in the drop, then repeat on the other side.

How do you give your pet their medication? Let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to permit a group of states led by Arizona and Louisiana to intervene in Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, a case in which a judge terminated the Title 42 policy. This policy is one of the last remaining tools at the southern border.

“We will keep fighting the Biden administration’s utter disregard for protecting our southern border,” Morrisey said. “Biden’s open border policy is a danger to our homeland, and we will do everything within the boundaries of the law to set this administration straight.”

Title 42 allows border officials to turn away migrants because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The policy has been in effect since March 2020 to turn away thousands of migrants to try and keep communicable diseases, like Covid-19, out of the country.

Without the intervention, Title 42 will cease to exist on Dec. 21, dramatically worsening the border crisis right before Christmas. As the states’ motion explains, termination of Title 42 will exacerbate “the costs imposed on the states. Allowing intervention will ensure those interests are represented.”

Joining Morrisey are the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are showing how dangerous a porous southern border is to Americans simply by doing their jobs. They seized record amounts of fentanyl and meth this year taken from members of the Mexican cartel and illegal immigrants.

“In just five separate inspections ahead of Labor Day weekend, for example, officers seized 625,000 pills in Nogales, Ariz., which borders Sonora, Mexico, Michael Humphries, CBP Director of the Nogales Port of Entry, said,” Just the News reported.

The seizures included 12,000 fentanyl pills, four pounds of powdered fentanyl, 34 pounds of methamphetamine, and five pounds of marijuana.

“Two milligrams, the weight of a mosquito, is lethal. A teaspoon holds about 5,000 milligrams, enough to kill 2,500 people. One pound of fentanyl, or 453,592 milligrams, could kill 226,796 people,” according to Just the News.

On Aug. 22, CBP agents seized the second-largest amount of fentanyl ever in the U.S. It was captured at the Nogales Port of Entry when the agents inspected an 18-wheeler and found hidden compartments with 1.57 million pills, 114 pounds of cocaine, 2 pounds of powdered fentanyl, and 13 pounds of heroin.

In July alone, CBP agents seized more than 2,100 pounds of powdered fentanyl. It was the largest amount seized in more than four years.

The record amounts confi scated were reported after seizures of fentanyl at the southern border jumped nearly 200% in July. In April, agents seized 1,300 pounds of powdered fentanyl, according to CBP data.

These are just a few examples showing how busy CBP agents have been this year. It is also a prime example of why we need to secure our border. It isn’t that we are trying to be mean to immigrants. We are protecting U.S. citizens.

Data from the CBP this year has shown agents also have been heading off record number of terrorists, another threat to the safety of American citizens.

“Border Patrol agents encountered 98 illegal migrants, a record high, whose names were on the terror watchlist at the southern border in fiscal year 2022, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data,” the Daily Caller reported. And these are only numbers from October 2021 to September 2022.

Yet, the Biden Administration continues to say the border is secure while taking actions that essentially invite illegal immigrants to the country. Officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, continue to proclaim the border is secure.

If you followed this year’s elections, at some point the question probably occurred to you: Why do people do this? The endless campaign events, the constant scrutiny… and increasingly, the very real and alarming threat of political violence. What drives someone to put up with it all?

I suspect that if you asked a roomful of politicians, you’d get a roomful of answers. For many people, there’s no single motivation, and in all my years of talking to other politicians, I’ve never found one reason that predominates.

But I have found some common threads. For one thing, it’s hard to find a more challenging job. The range and complexity of the problems an elected offi cial faces are astounding; I’ve never met a politician with a short to-do list.

Politics is as intellectually challenging as any occupation I can imagine, and when you succeed at somehow changing your community or state or country for the better, it’s also as satisfying.

One thing I can certainly say: I’ve encountered plenty of accomplished people in other professions who’ve told me that, after a certain point in their careers, they got a bit bored. Not once have I heard a politician say that he or she was bored. Stretched for time, certainly. Frustrated, often. But bored? Never.

I suspect part of the reason is that few other professions put you in touch with as many people of different viewpoints, lifestyles, backgrounds, and convictions.

If you’re really serious as a politician in the United States, you engage with conservatives, liberals, voters of every station in life, people of deep faith, people of no faith, and every possible ethnic identity. It’s one of the great attractions of the job: the chance to meet an unforgettable array of citizens.

In recent years, it’s sometimes seemed to me that more people each election are getting involved because they’re angry: They’re motivated by something the Supreme Court did, or they believe the people in power are taking their towns or states or the U.S. in the wrong direction.

But then I remember that negative feelings have always been a strong motivator—after all, we have a United States because people rose up against policies imposed on them by the king and British politicians.

The Parkersburg News & Sentinel

When West Virginia voters rejected Amendment 4 Nov. 8, those who had warned against such a change in oversight — the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, the West Virginia Education Association, the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, to name a few — breathed a sigh of relief.

With the vote, the state Department of Education remains the only such agency that does not have to submit rules to the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee.

But State Board of Education President Paul Hardesty took perhaps the best approach to the news:

“It is my desire to put this issue behind us,’’ Hardesty said. “It’s time for the (Department of Education) and the State Board of Education to work with the governor and the legislature to provide the best educational opportunities available for ALL West Virginia children. No more us-versus-them, but all of us working together every day to promote student achievement.’’

Hardesty went a step further saying there are “no more excuses,’’ and that we owe it to our kids to find “real solutions.’’

He’s right. No more distractions, no more excuses, no more tilting at socio-cultural windmills that do nothing but harm our kids, it is time for those who spend so much time telling us they care about children and the future of this state to do their jobs. Lawmakers, the governor, the state Board of Education — in fact, all of us — have to, as Hardesty put it, “roll up our sleeves.’’

We’ve been dead last for so long, it seems as though we have no hope. If we don’t work together now to pull ourselves out of the basement, we don’t.

Congressman Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., has already announced his plans to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for his seat in the 2024 election.

A mere week before his announcement, Mooney won the U.S. House of Representatives District 2 seat in this month’s general election, defeating Barry Wendell (D) and earlier defeating incumbent Rep. David McKinley in the Repubican primary after redistricting of the state condensed West Virginia’s three districts into two.

Even though McKinley was Grant County’s representative in the old District 1, we also received many reports from Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), the representative from the former District 3 in the southern part of the state (now the new District 1), as to her work on behalf of her district as well as the state of West Virginia. Not much correspondence from Mooney, though.

We hope that changes, since Mooney is now representing Grant County, but we wonder how much we’ll be receiving other than Senate campaign connected information from his office.

We believe everyone should take the opportunity to better their position in their chosen profession, however we’ve not seen much from the Mooney corner, even in the form of campaigning during this last election.

While his eye is on Sen. Manchin, he may have competition closer to home in the form of Gov. Jim Justice or Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, who both have suggested they may be interested in Manchin’s seat. Manchin has not yet announced his intention to seek re-election.

 But, as we all know, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” — Baseball legend Yogi Berra

Editor - Camille Howard;
News Editor - Erin Camp;
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Print Shop Manager - Richard Knight; 
Bookkeeping - Peggy Hughes;
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