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A Grant County grand jury convened late last month and returned a total of 16 indictments, including assualt, reckless driving and grand larceny.

The indictments returned included:

Trevor L. Carr, 20, of 261 Haven Farm Circle, Petersburg, was indicted on charges of fleeing from an officer with reckless disregard. Carr’s charges stem from an incident in March in which officers with the West Virginia State Police were conducting road patrol on Route 42 in Petersburg.

As Grant County’s positive COVID-19 cases continue to increase, the county has reported what is considered to be its first coronavirus related death.

Sandria Glasscock, the county’s public information officer and registered nurse with the Grant County Health Department, released information yesterday, saying the current positive case count is 89 total (86 positives and three probable) with two still hospitalized.

According to the West Virginia Health Department, Grant County’s positive cases have now bypassed Hardy, Hampshire and Pendleton counties.

Joshua Lee Grapes, 39, of Monongalia County was arrested on July 27 following a report made to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department of a man brandishing a gun walking along Route 42 outside of Petersburg.

The Grant County Board of Education announced last week it was their goal to have students return to school four and a half days a week next semester.

“It has been and will continue to be, the intention of the board of education and school system that we will be in school but we will follow the guidelines set forth regarding each of the scenarios and the circumstances we are faced with,” said superintendent Doug Lambert. “We will follow the guidance of the West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) the governor’s office, the Grant County Health Department and board of education.”

The decision to have students back in the classroom came during the board’s July 28 meeting, with the board members and the superintendent expressing their desire to see students return to school for full days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with students released early on Wednesday for intensive sanitation and cleaning of the school facilities. However, Lambert explained that while returning to school is the board’s recommendation, it could still be changed on the state level.

Many Petersburg locals have already noticed the new striking green and black signs erected at the entrances of the town. Featuring a prominent black bear and depicting scenes of fishing, kayaking and hiking, the signs proclaim to all visitors that not only is Petersburg a notable stop but that it is a tourism destination.

To some, the new signage may seem like a sudden change, however, it is actually a small step in a program that has been underway for years.

The Mon Forest Towns partnership is a collaborative effort by 10 West Virginia towns, West Virginia University, the United States Department of Agriculture, a nonprofit called the Woodland Development Group and the West Virginia Community Development Hub.

The Grant County Chamber of Commerce met with representatives from the Petersburg City Police, West Virginia State Police, Grant County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police to present all officers that serve the county with gift cards to local businesses in an effort to thank the officers for their dedication to protecting the local community.

“I am so grateful to live in Grant County,” said Kirk Wilson, the president of the chamber. “And our local officers are a great example of what law enforcment should be. We at the Chamber just wanted to take a moment and do something to show them they are appreciated in the community.”

Overall, the donation, divided between all the officers, was approximatley $1,560.

Governor Jim Jus- tice has announced record-breaking visitation to West Virginia’s state parks and forests by West Virginia residents.

The announcement comes as part of West Virginia State Parks’ exclusive WVSTRONG promotion, the first-ever resident discount at state parks and forests across the state.

“I’m thrilled to see so many folks taking advantage of our WVSTRONG promotion and social distancing outside at our wonderful state parks this summer,” Justice said. “Our parks are on the move, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this resident discount before the end of the season.”

The parks saw a 227 percent increase in online reservations compared to June 2019, with thousands of WVSTRONG promo code redemptions.

The promotion, issued to West Virginia residents for weathering the storm throughout COVID-19, includes a 30 percent discount on all state park lodging.

“We want our residents to know that we appreciate their diligence and commitment to safe travel practices, and that you don’t have to travel far away to enjoy a nice vacation,” said West Virginia State Parks Chief Brad Reed.

The summer season is not over yet. West Virginia residents are encouraged to continue visiting parks and forests close to home and to take advantage of the 30 percent lodging discount through the end of August.

“More people stayed close to home this summer but were still able to safely and responsibly enjoy a getaway at our parks and forests. We want to thank Governor Justice for encouraging West Virginians to visit our wonderful parks system.” said Steve McDaniel, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “It is great to see folks enjoying our parks and forests and the tremendous work that has gone into them in the past few years.”

The WVSTRONG discount offer applies to lodge rooms, cabins, and campsite reservations for any West Virginia resident through August 31. Cabins and campgrounds tend to fill up quickly but limited availability remains at several of the lodges.

The discount is available to guests who make a reservation online at wvstateparks.com or over the phone by calling 1-833-WVPARKS. Guests who claim the discount will be asked to verify West Virginia residency with a state-issued ID at check-in. West Virginia’s senior citizens and veterans can combine the 30% discount with their existing discount by using code WVSENIORS or WVVETERAN at checkout.

Park and forest staff continue to follow all COVID-19 guidelines is- sued by Gov. Justice and state and federal health officials. This includes wearing personal protective equipment, such as masks, and amending operations to incorporate more stringent cleaning and promote distancing guidelines.

Guests are advised to maintain at least six feet of distance from others and to wear masks indoors where social distancing is not possible. For updates on availability and service changes due to COVID-19, visit wvstateparks.com/travel-alert.

A former West Virginia University associate professor admitted to wire fraud and filing a false tax return, a federal prosecutor’s office said.

Qingyun Sun, 58, of Morgantown, pleaded guilty to defrauding the university and to the tax charge. The charges stemmed from his official travel to China, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell’s office said in a news release last Thursday.

Sun was an associate professor and associate director of the United States-China Energy Center at the university, the release said. He also acted as the governor’s assistant for China affairs and was a consultant.

Sun has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $6,233.12 to the university. He is no longer employed by WVU, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Sun faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for wire fraud and up to three years and a fine of up to $250,000 for tax fraud, the release said.

It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has released the following statement regarding unsolicited seeds:

“Like other states, we have been made aware of reports from people in West Virginia that have received seeds in the mail that they did not order. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to lo- cal plants or be harmful to livestock. We are working with the USDA to deter- mine the proper recourse for such seeds,” said Com- missioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

"If you have received seeds from another country, do not plant them if they are in a sealed package and do not open the sealed package. Keep the seeds and packaging and contact the WVDA, "Leonhardt said.

For more information or to report unsolicited seeds, call 304-558-2226.

Earlier this month, a Hampshire County woman pleaded guilty to burglary charges in a Grant County court and has been ordered to pay back more than $6,000 in damages to the Burlington family whose home she robbed.

Sophie M. Holland, 43, of 2 Karen Dr., Shanks, was indicted in March on charges of burglary after breaking into a home on Killbuck Lane near Burlington in Grant County

Grant Memorial Hospital, its board of trustees, and its chief executive officer Bob Milvet, have responded to a claim of sexual harassment filed against them by former employee Kim Linville, by officially denying her allegations and requesting the court dismiss the case.

Linville filed her suit in April, bringing allegations of misconduct against the hospital, the board, Milvet and the county commission. In her filing, Linville claimed she was wrongfully terminated after she brought light to perceived sexual misconduct by Milvet. She claimed that the board of trustees was aware of the harassment and did not act to stop it. She also claimed Milvet engaged in an “inappropriate” relationship with the hospital’s nurse manager and that it had a negative impact on the work and patient environment.

Since the beginning of July, COVID-19 cases in Grant County have more than doubled, jumping from 16 at the start of the month and currently sitting at 48 positive or probable cases. Of this, there are 26 active cases in the county with three hospitalizations.

“This month should prove that it is here, it is in Grant County,” said Sandria Glasscock of the Grant County Health Department. “We have an outbreak here and while it may have felt like we were safe from it, that isn’t the case.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, COVID-19

is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus designated SARS-CoV-2 that spreads person to person. COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in the far east and has since spread rapidly to countries worldwide, including the United States.

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