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Three Grant County residents have been sentenced for distributing Fentanyl, a deadly opioid, throughout the county.

“The amount of drugs seized during this investigation curbed a potential increase of overdose incidents and deaths,” said Grant County Sheriff B.W. Ours. “Investigations of this nature reaffirms my decision to assign a Grant County deputy as a full-time member of the task force.”

Last week, the Grant County Commission met with Tammy Kitzmiller of the Grant County Development Authority and Jack Maytum, a senior broadband analyst of Design Nine Inc., the company performing the Grant County broadband feasibility study.

Maytum told the commission the company was located out of Blacksburg, Va., and had coordinated approximately 250 studies for counties and municipalities, primarily in rural areas. During his meeting with the commission, Maytum pointed to multiple potential funding courses for future broadband opportunities, including an array of grants and loans.

He also provided advice on steps the county could begin taking to ensure high speed internet is more likely to be spread throughout the area.

“My advice today, is that if you are doing any road work or having road work done in the county, ensure there is conduit put on the road. The conduit can then support fiber which can be leased out to providers to help them provide services to other people. I would also advise the installation of wireless towers. Towers are an area where a county could see as a long term investment. Counties often get paid back for towers because service providers would put their gear on the tower, you would charge them rent and eventually you’d pay off any money that might be incurred from those new towers. So that’s another consideration to take.”

According to superintendent Doug Lambert, after their first round of funding from the Grant County Commission, the Grant County school district is continuing to focus on school safety and improving security.

“I feel it is important that we be as transparent as possible concerning how we spend our money and the money from the commission,” Lambert said. “So I think it is crucial to provide a community update on what we have done at this point to ensure our schools are safe, not only for our students, but for everyone. I think it is important for the community to know where their tax dollars are going.”

School safety has been an area of concern for many citizens in the county; the issue was a focal point during the most recent Grant County Board of Education election. Several months ago, the board also held a School Safety Summit and invited community members to address their concerns and give suggestions for improvements they would like to see. During the summit, many community members requested updated security technology as well a security officer inside the schools.

During last week’s meeting of the Grant County Board of Education, members from the Haunted Dream Haunt, a charity haunted house in Petersburg met with board members Kelly Roby and Carla Kaposy to give a $1,500 donation to Project Equip.

The haunted house runs throughout October with a portion of the proceeds going towards one local charity.

“We are already looking forward to 2020,” said Joni Mayle, who helps organize and run Haunted Dream. “We are excited to find another great organization to support. We will be reconstructing Haunted Dream in its entirety to provide a whole new round of scares for the community. We thank everyone for their support, our volunteers, our sponsors and Project Equip for allowing us to help support a great cause.”

Project Equip is a backpack program that provides meals to children on weekends and over school breaks.

The story of how one Upper Tract company and one rescued puppy are impacting a community

Later this month, small businesses from all over the area, including four from Grant County, will come together in Pendleton County for a holiday market at Swilled Dog Hard Cider.

Swilled Dog Hard Cider, a family owned cidery and tasting room in Upper Tract, is hosting the event with the goal of showcasing small businesses and supporting their growth in the community. The event is scheduled for Nov. 30, beginning at 3 p.m.

“There will be a variety of artisans and small businesses that we want to feature as part of the market,” said Kim Kirk of Swilled Dog Hard Cider. “That weekend is Small Business Saturday and we just want to encourage everyone to come out and support these community-based businesses for the holiday season.

This year marks the ninth year that America’s Adopt A Soldier® will reach out to America to ask for cards of thanks to share with our nation’s service members who are deployed and veterans who are in state veterans homes and hospitals.

“In 2018, over 200,000 care letters were shared,” said Mary Keeser, America’s Adopt A Soldier founder. “This year, the goal is to reach over 300,000, which would allow us to send at least four letters to every veteran in a veterans home or veterans hospital as well as to our deployed service members.”

“The cards and letters we receive are drawn or written by a diverse group of individuals, from 3 years-old to the over 100 years-old,” Keeser adds. From kitchen tables to classrooms, to businesses, to college dorms to faith-based establishments, the pens, pencils, crayons and pieces of paper used to create messages of hope, appreciation, unity and support will have a positive impact. The letters of care are truly the caring pulse of America towards our service men and women.”

To participate in the 2019 National Care Letter Campaign, mail your personal written and designed letter or greeting card to America’s Adopt A Soldier, 5400 Shawnee Road, Suite #300, Alexandria, VA 22312.

For more information visit: www.americasadoptasoldier.org or call 703-278-3718.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed documents to enhance West Virginia’s chance of recouping nearly $5 million in ongoing fraud litigation involving Frontier Communications.

The case involves alleged fraud in the spending of federal stimulus funds awarded to West Virginia in 2010 to expand broadband internet. Federal regulators already required the state to repay more than $4.9 million associated with the case.

The attorney general’s motion takes no position as to the claims against Frontier. Instead, it seeks to position West Virginia to recoup its $4.9 million payout, if a federal court were to find that Frontier’s conduct violated the False Claims Act.

“We must act now to assert our claim and protect West Virginia’s interest,” Morrisey said. “It is only right that West Virginia be made whole and another entity bear the costs, if it is proven that entity engaged in fraud. Anything less would amount to the federal government receiving double payment for the same underlying costs.”

Federal regulators, in allegations similar to the much broader litigation, required West Virginia to repay more than $4.7 million related to select charges and specific invoice processing fees set forth by Frontier, along with $244,200 linked to Frontier’s alleged deployment of 37 miles of excess fiber optic cable. The federal government argued those alleged actions violated the terms of the stimulus grant.

The ongoing litigation stems from a much broader complaint filed by Frontier’s competitor, Citynet. It seeks repayment by Frontier on behalf of the federal government.

West Virginia, the grant recipient, unsuccessfully appealed the federal government’s decision to seek repayment from state coffers. Frontier was the subrecipient of the grant.

The attorney general argues no existing party in the ongoing case represents West Virginia’s interest. He also contends not permitting West Virginia to intervene would substantially impair the state’s ability to protect its interest.

Justice Tim Armstead will be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

At the court’s last administrative conference, Armstead was approved as Chief Justice by his colleagues on the court. The court also voted to return to the one year rotation
of Chief Justice and designated Justice Evan Jenkins to serve as Chief Justice in 2021. Jenkins will serve as Chief Justice in 2020 whenever Armstead is disqualified from a case.

“I am honored to have the trust of my fellow West Virginians to serve on their Supreme Court of Appeals and to have the confidence of my fellow Justices to serve as Chief Justice in 2020,” Armstead said.

“This year has been a year of rebuilding and restoration for our court. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Beth Walker, our court has worked to build a stronger, more open and accessible court. I am excited to have this opportunity to build upon that effort in 2020 and will work hard to ensure our court system continues to earn the trust of the people of our state.

“Our judiciary is made up of many talented people who are dedicated to ensuring justice, following the law and upholding high standards of integrity. We owe it to the people of our state who have entrusted us with this responsibility to provide them a fair, efficient open and honest court system.

“One of the greatest challenges facing West Virginia is the effect of the opioid crisis has had on our families. Our court system plays a key role in ensuring that every child in West Virginia has a safe and healthy home and a loving family who supports and nurtures them. In 2020, we will continue to make their future a priority for our court.”

Armstead was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Jim Justice to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Menis Ketchum. He took office Sept. 25, 2018, and was elected Nov. 6, 2018, to retain the seat until the end of the term on Dec. 31, 2020.

Armstead became Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2015 and was re-elected in 2017. Prior to serving as Speaker of the House, he had been Minority Leader since 2006 and a member of the House since 1998. Prior to serving as Minority Leader he served as Minority Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

He began his public service career as a press intern for Gov. Arch Moore. He later worked as executive assistant to the Chief of Staff of Gov. Cecil Underwood. He served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge David A. Faber.

Armstead is a native of Clendenin and grew up in Gassaway. He is a graduate of the University of Charleston and West Virginia University College of Law. He has practiced law for nearly 30 years in West Virginia and taught Constitutional law at the University of Charleston. He and his wife, Anna, live in Elkview and have one daughter, a son-in-law, and a grandson.

Schools from all over the state proved last week that community trumps rivalry when an unexpected accident saw the Petersburg High School field house go up in flames. 

Smoke began to rise from the building in the late afternoon of Nov. 6, during one of the Vikings’ final practices of the season. While the school is yet unsure of the amount of damage done to the structure, it left the team without equipment or a field for their upcoming senior night game against the East Hardy Cougars. 

Last week the Petersburg City Council increased city regulations concerning disorderly houses, abandoned vehicles and overgrowth of vegetation in the city when they unanimously approved three new or updated city ordinances. The meeting also included the swearing in of two new part-time officers for the city, S. Wratchford and L. Greenwalt. 

Both Wratchford and Greenwalt are deputies with the Grant County Sheriff’s Department and will be assisting the city with their police presence.

The meeting included a second reading of all three ordinances, the most notable of which was the implementation of an ordinance addressing “drug and gang houses, houses of prostitution and other disorderly houses.” This regulation was discussed earlier this year when multiple community members attended a council meeting to voice concern with what they noted as an increase in illegal activity in Petersburg.

According to a release from the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, two individuals tied to recent citizen complaints in “the Field” area of Petersburg were arrested last week on multiple drug-related charges and outstanding warrants.

Late last month, the Grant County Visitors and Convention Bureau (CVB) welcomed their new director, Callie Taylor.

Taylor, whose family owns May Tree Farm in Grant County, brings with her a unique background in agri-tourism. She is a graduate of Petersburg High School and a Grant County native.

“I love Grant County and really enjoy whenever we have people come in from out of state and I get to suggest different things around the county they can check out and see,” Taylor said.

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© 2017-2018 Grant County Press

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