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Late last month two Grant County residents were arrested in Hardy County on active warrants. The warrants, which were obtained by Senior Deputy Lambert following a drug investigation started by Child Protective Services (CPS) in Grant County. The arrest was performed by Sergeant Roden and Trooper First Class Schellhaus of the West Virginia State Police.

CPS first contacted Deputy Lambert once drug paraphernalia was located in the home where Bowdie Orlando Hinkle, 28, and Leslie Ann Kuhn, 40, resided.

During the preliminary investigation, Hinkle and Kuhn were found to be in possession of cocaine.

Once arrested, both Hinkle and Kuhn were arraigned by Grant County Magistrate Emory “Bill” Feaster Jr. and subsequently transported to Potomac Highlands Regional Jail.

On June 30, the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Company released an update on their recent response calls for the first half of the 2020 year.

According to the report, the department has seen a busy six months, with a total of 157 calls answered by Company 400.

“These fine men and women put in countless hours training and drilling to ensure the citizens of the community and surrounding areas have the best possible help available in their times of need,” a representative for the company said in the report.“With the current situation at hand with the virus we are facing, it has made it hard for any type of fundraising to be done. The rise in numbers also means a rise in expenses so the continued support that the community shows is awesome and as we start fundraisers here soon, all support is greatly needed and appreciated.”

The highest call volume handled by the department was in emergency medical service assists, which accounted for 39 of the department’s responses.

Other responses included: 32 motor vehicle accidents, 15 smoke investigations, eight structure fires and five mutual aid calls for structure fires.

Top responders for the year have been: Dalton Ours with 107 calls answered, Marshall Collins with 103 calls answered, Deputy Chief Nathan Keen with 100 calls, Chief Bobby Funk with 88 calls and Paramedic/Captain Hunter Whetzel with 72 calls answered.

“As always, a huge thank you to all members for their continued time and dedication to Co. 400,” the report said in closing. “Keep up the awesome work and thank you to all the individuals and businesses that continue to show amazing support for the PVFC Co. 400. The Fightin’ 400 looks forward to continuing to answer every call and continue to give the best help possible to the awesome community.”

In order to help recover some of the funding loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled multiple key fundraising efforts by the department, volunteers with the company held a bucket brigade over the holiday weekend.

The journey from city planner to homesteader and author

When moving to Peeper Pond Farm in rural Pendleton County, the most important thing for the Umlings was self-reliance. For David Umling, it had been a lifelong frustration after leaving his family’s dairy farm in New Hampshire to see a society so reliant on outside amenities. As time passed, the couple decided to take up the life of homesteaders, working to provide for themselves in as many ways as possible. After a search that led them all over the country, the two settled on the beautiful landscapes of West Virginia to call home.

“I grew up in a very traditional lifestyle, a dynamic of self-reliance, that was the core of my life for a long time,” Umling said. “Whereas I found the society I transitioned into was a money-based society, a society of dependency. Dependency on money, on other people and on convenience. The two societies are very distinctly different and a lot of people in cities never experience that self-reliance in any meaningful way and I think that is a shame.”

“I realized a lot of people here have lived the life I had,” Umling said. “To me, that life has meaning and that is why I am here. I may not have been born here but I am choosing to die here, because these are the people that I want to be around.”

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Vouchers are now being distributed to all 55 counties in West Virginia.

Vouchers are distributed by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).

Vouchers can be exchanged for fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs from participating farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs.

“As we have seen strains on the food supply chain from the COVID-19 outbreak, programs like the SFMNP become even more vital to a healthy food system. I am hopeful we can continue to see the same success we have seen in years past despite the current situation,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

“How we beat this pandemic is through good health and nutrition, especially for our senior citizens.”

Eligible seniors over the age of 60 can sign up at the Grant County Commission on Aging Family Services (Petersburg Senior Center), 111 Virginia Ave., 304- 257-1666, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Vouchers are distributed to seniors who meet certain requirements. Sign-ups for the program will be conducted via drive-thru, mail, or by an in-home care worker. All partnering senior citizen centers should have vouchers by July 2.

“The department works with a lot of great partners around the state to distribute these vouchers. If someone has a question or wants to check their eligibility, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local senior center or the department,” Leonhardt said.

Local farmers markets accepting vouchers are: Grant County Farmers Market, in the city parking lot on South Main Street and open Wednesdays and Saturdays 8 am – noon.

Also the White Barn Farm Market, South Main Street, Petersburg, across from the Grant County Press and open 10 a.m. – until sold, out starting in July.

By Anthony Izaguirre Associated Press

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice forced out the commissioner of his public health bureau on Wednesday, hours after he publicly questioned the accuracy of the state’s coronavirus data and detailed growing outbreaks in about a dozen counties.

The abrupt resignation of Cathy Slemp, who was also a state health officer, came after the Republican governor vented during a news conference that West Virginia’s active virus case-load may have been overstated.

“If we were on our game here, in DHHR and Dr. Slemp’s office, if we’re on our game and you’re listening to the governor say that there’s six active cases at Huttonsville and you’re looking at the reports that you’re putting together and sending them to me on active cases and your looking at Randolph County and they’re reporting a hundred-and-some-odd cases then you’re not doing your job,’’ Justice told reporters, without additional explanation.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the governor’s office said Justice had expressed his “lack of confidence’’ in Slemp to Bill Crouch, secretary of the state health department, who then asked for Slemp’s resignation. She resigned immediately, the statement said. In a separate statement, a spokeswoman for the health department said there were discrepancies related to virus caseload data at the Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County.

Slemp, who was a regular feature of the governor’s daily virus news conferences, has decades of public health experience. She was previously the acting state health officer and was the founding director of the state’s public health emergency preparedness and response programs, according to a biography on the state health department website. Slemp is also on the board of scientific counselors at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Justice, a billionaire coal businessman without previous political experience, had showered Slemp with praise as he hosted press conferences during the outbreak, often stressing that his aggressive plan to lift virus restrictions was guided by his health experts. Slemp did not appear at Wednesday’s news briefing.

In a resignation letter, provided by the state health department, Slemp urged officials to listen to science. “I encourage all to stay true to the science, to further work to engage and empower communities to address such an unprecedented situation collectively, to meet people where they are and to move forward together,” she wrote. “It is with mutual respect, support, a willingness to look at and understand both the science and the factors that drive them, and a dedication to moving forward together that will get the state through this together.’’

Meanwhile, virus outbreaks have emerged. At least 72 cases in 11 counties have been linked to tourism travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C. and about 70 cases have been linked to church services in three counties, the governor said.

The spikes come as states around the country report rises in cases, and as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have announced they would be mandating a two-week quarantine for travelers from hotspot states.

The governor has so far declined to strengthen West Virginia’s virus restrictions in response to the increases. He has repeatedly balked on mandating face masks in public spaces, as other governments have done, saying such an order would be politically divisive.

Instead, he has stressed that people should follow existing safety rules, encouraging people to get tested for the virus and to wear face masks. Justice has also asked that people avoid traveling to Myrtle Beach, which has seen cases rise in recent weeks, rather than ordering quarantines as people return from the popular resort city.

“I strongly, strongly would tell you that if you’re thinking of going to Myrtle Beach, rethink what you’re doing,” he said, adding that he hopes he doesn’t need to put restrictions on hotspot travel.

At least 93 people in the state have died from the virus and around 2,849 have tested positive, according to state health data.

A Petersburg man has pleaded guilty to attacking his then-girlfriend and purposefully strangling her in an attempt to take her cell phone. The woman, who was able to escape and call for help, said the attack was an attempt to stop her from calling the police.

Earlier this month, Kevin D. Dillow, 30, of 798 Haven Farm Circle, Petersburg, pleaded guilty to one count of strangulation, which carries a potential sentence of one to five years in prison.

Seven local fire departments responded to a fire on Thursday morning that destroyed a home in Petersburg.

Despite a year cut short by the pandemic, Petersburg High School hosted both an award ceremony and a graduation last week.

However, to ensure the events fell within guidelines given by the state, both were held at the Viking Memorial Field with graduates and attendees asked to remain six feet apart and masks were encouraged.

The Petersburg Volunteer Fire Company 400 appeared before the Grant County Commission last week to update the county on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on their operations.

During his report to the commission, Hunter Whetzel of the PVFC explained the funding for the company comes from three primary sources: donations from the community, a $12,000 a quarter input from the state and a $10,000 annual input from the county.

“The biggest impact has come from not being able to have a single fundraiser this year,” Whetzel said. “That is the majority of our income as a department.”

William Jonathan Turner, of Petersburg, was sentenced to 46 months incarceration for a firearms charge.

Turner, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of un-lawful possession of firearms in January.

Response to the U.S. Census is finally picking up steam in West Virginia with a reported 53.2% of the state’s population responding so far. Of that total, 34.9% of the responses were through internet reporting available at 2020census.gov.

While the numbers are starting to increase, the state is still behind its final 2010 reporting number of 59.1% and over 10% behind out neighboring state of Virginia (66.5%), Maryland (65.6%), Pennsylvania (64.9%), Ohio (66.3%) and Kentucky (65.2%).

Two men were arrested earlier this month after their vehicle was stopped in Grant County going more than double the posted speed limit.

On June 9, Deputy J.E. Rohrbaugh of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department was conducting road patrol on Corridor H when he observed two vehicles traveling at the speed of 119 mph near the Patterson Creek off ramp.

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© 2017-2018 Grant County Press

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