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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. 

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.

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.

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.

WRECKAGE - An image captured from the accident on Route 48 last week in which a Virginia driver collided with a rock truck. The driver of the vehicle lost his life in the incident and the driver of the truck was taken to Grant Memorial Hospital.

Last week, a Virginia man lost his life in Grant County following a vehicle accident due to a heavy fog on Route 48/ Corridor H.

Those in need of auto work now have a new option in Grant County with S&W Automotive Repair in Petersburg. 

S&W is an all-around mechanic shop that covers everything from maintenance services and repairs to tire work. 

The business is owned and run by Ismeal Sanchez, a long-time Grant County resident and lifelong mechanic. Helping Sanchez in the business are George Barr and Bev Hall, who say Sanchez is not only a great mechanic but also a great person to work alongside.

“We are a family here,” Hall said. “Izzy treats us like family, not employees and that tells you so much about what kind of person he is.”

Barr agreed, saying the focus of S&W is on customer satisfaction and ensuring everyone has ac cess to affordable auto work. 

“It’s something you work for,” Barr said. “If you treat your customers the same as you want to be treated, you will always keep your customer. And that is what we aim to do.”

S&W is located in the old Petersburg Motor Company building behind Your Sister’s Closet and Mountaineer Auctions. It is across the street from Alt’s Furniture near Summit Community Bank. 

For more information on the services they offer, contact 681-892-0222.

Grant County’s ongoing work to push back against the drug epidemic is continuing to receive state attention with a representative from National Public Radio (NPR) attending and recording the recent meeting of PITAR.

PITAR is a community coalition of public and private citizens, organizations, groups and churches striving to reduce drug use in the area and ensure resources are available to those in recovery. 

During the meeting, which was held on Oct. 24, Raj Masih of the Potomac Highlands Guild (PHG) presented information concerning a state opioid response initiative called “A Community Call to Action.” The initiative is expanding and increasing access to medical assisted treatment and recovery options, such as Vivitrol, and focusing on at-risk populations, such as veterans, pregnant women, those with mental disorders, blue-collar workers and LGBTQ community members. Beyond medical assistance, the initiative will bring an increase in Fentanyl test kits available, medication disposal options, doctor education programs on the prescription of opioids and lifesaving overdose treatment kits, including Naloxone. 

A potential chemical leak from the now-closed Verso Paper Mill in Luke, Md., has local environmental officials concerned about potential contamination to the Potomac River region. 

According to a report released by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and officials from Verso, Maryland and West Virginia environmental officials are working with the company to identify the source and substance seeping into the river. 

A group of teachers, administrators, business owners and elected officials gathered at Petersburg High School last Tuesday to discuss the goal to expand career readiness and after graduation preparedness in the county. 

The initiative is being spearheaded by business owner and president of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, Kirk Wilson. 

During the meeting, Wilson stressed the need for students to not only be willing but also prepared to participate in the work force after completing their education.

“We cannot find skilled labor in our valley,” Wilson said. “It is difficult to find skilled labor in our state and a lot of that is because students are not pursuing these in-demand careers.”

Editor - Camille Howard;
News Editor - Erin Camp;
Advertising Manager - Tara Warner Pratt; 
Graphic Designer - Jesse Hedrick;
Print Shop Manager - Richard Knight; 
Bookkeeping - Peggy Hughes;
Circulation - Mary Simmons

© 2017-2018 Grant County Press

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