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The Grant County Sheriff’s Office recently announced the addition of a second full-time deputy to the Potomac Highlands Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

This task force is a federally funded effort that primarily investigates drug-related crimes in the region, with the goal of directly tackling the drug crisis faced by the state.

According to the office, the ability to add the second deputy was due to the Grant County Commission’s willingness to support law enforcement by funding two new deputy positions for the department’s general duties. 

In a release by the department, Grant County Sheriff Brian Ours said both he and the commission see the drug problem in the county as one of the primary issues faced by the community and needs to be aggressively addressed. 

“Having deputies assigned to this task force is one of the best ways to address this problem,” Ours said. “The officers on the task force have the ability to focus solely on drug investigations and further prosecute them through the federal justice system where the penalties are generally far greater than state court. 

Last week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he will allow youth sports to resume games with spectators in the stands this summer as he moves to continue lifting coronavirus restrictions. Final stages addressed by Justice for reopening the state included swimming pools, sporting events, movie theaters and bowling allys. 

Earlier this month, a child protective services call ended in the arrest of two Petersburg residents on drug charges.

Gareth Paul Berg and Robin Urich, of 78 Boardwalk Drive, were arrested for possession of methamphetamine following an investigation while assisting child protective services at their shared residence.

Grant County Sheriff’s deputies were requested at the home to assist after a referral was issued to the protective agency for “deplorable living conditions” where a child resides.

More than 1,500 Grant County residents may be voting from home this election cycle as absentee ballots continue to roll into the Grant County Clerk’s office.

With efforts to maintain social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the option to vote via absentee ballot has become a unique highlight of the 2020 primary election. Generally reserved for very specific purposes, absentee voting was opened to all residents earlier this year and letters were sent to registered voters asking if they would be interested in signing up for the system.

Those that were interested, were then sent a ballot to fill out and return to the clerk’s office. The clerk’s office tallies all absentee ballots under the West Virginia Secretary of State guidelines to ensure every vote is properly counted.

However, this does not mean the polls with be empty on Election Day.

Larry Allen Lyons, of Moorefield, was sentenced earlier this month to five years’ probation, with the first three months incarceration, for methamphetamine distribution.

Lyons, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in January.

Lyons admitted to working with others to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine from March 2018 to May 2018 in multiple areas, including Mineral, Grant, and Randolph counties.

Last week, the Grant County Commission addressed confusion around a $100,000 block grant the county had received from the state from the COVID-19 Pandemic County Block Grants.

When Governor Jim Justice first announced the grants in April, he referred to the grants as “Hero Pay” and implied the counties would be given wide discretion on their usage.

“It’s not to backfill their budget or a shortfall in their budget,” Justice said at that time. “This is for the people on the front lines. It could be two workers at the Piggly Wiggly; it could be anyone.”

However, when the Grant County Commission received the funds, they discovered the expenditure of the $100,000 was actually far more limiting.

It has been a unique year for students in the community, with in-facility schooling ending more than three months early this semester. This cancellation also ended all spring sports, including tennis, track, softball and baseball.

One class that has been most effected by these cancellations are the 2020 graduating seniors.

In an effort to support and recognize seniors, local parents have come together and will be holding a senior parade in Petersburg later this week.

The parade will be held on May 28 at 6 p.m.

The route will follow Pine Street, to Virginia Avenue, along Grant Street, to Central Avenue and Rig Street before ending at the Petersburg High School Football Field.

To ensure health and safety, seniors in the parade will remain in their vehicles.

“Please come out and support them,” said Sherry Kisamore, a local parent who is helping to organize the event. “Due to COVID-19 they have missed most of their senior year.”

A zoning board decision has put an end to a proposed luxury campground that would have been located in Petersburg on Hicks Drive.

The decision came after multiple community members attended a meeting hosted by the city council to speak against the project.

The project was proposed by Jeff Raum of Maryland, who hoped to build a “glampground” complete with semi-permanent campsites. Each site would itnclude a private bathroom and shower and would cost visitors approximately $250 a night.

Raum said he believed the project would be a benefit to the community and would encourage tourism in the area as well as promote local businesses. However, for the project to move forward, the planned site would require a rezoning, changing it from an R3 (residential) site to an OS (an open space) site. The board would also have had to permit an exemption with the rezoning to allow the campsite to operate.

During the public meeting, community members who lived in the area attended to speak out against the proposed project, with complaints ranging from the site inhibiting their view of the river, concern over a question of the installation of a new septic system, potential flooding to the site and maintenance of the road.

The ongoing goal of facility upgrades and improvements was addressed during last week’s Grant County Board of Education meeting.

This need was highlighted later by Suzanne Park, a Grant County resident and a member of the Grant County School Levy Committee.

A Petersburg man is facing charges after he was found passed out in his car in the parking lot of a local business.

On the morning of May 1, Chief Deputy S.L. Wratchford of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department was conducting a routine patrol on Johnson Run Road when he noticed a silver car trespassing in the parking lot of a local business.

When the officer stopped, he noted that the hood of the vehicle was up. Upon investigation, the officer discovered a male driver slumped over and passed out in the vehicle as well as a methamphetamine smoking pipe in plain view.

Late last month, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals passed down an opinion concerning Josh Evans, a man who was convicted of first-degree murder in Grant County.

The petition was filed by Evans’ defense attorneys last year, asking the court to overturn his conviction and sentence.

The case revolved around the murder of Robert “Bobby” Lee Shoemaker of Petersburg, who was struck and killed in a hit-and-run perpetrated by Evans in 2017.

Shoemaker’s body was discovered days later over an embankment off Welton Orchard Road in Petersburg and an investigation quickly pointed to Evans, who was seen driving his damaged truck in the area following the incident. He was subsequently charged with first-degree murder.

Citizens in Petersburg received a bit of a surprise last week when several head of cattle decided to take a day exploring the city. Some witnesses reported seeing more than 15 cows around town. Over the course of their time free, the cows were spotted on Virginia Avenue, on Pierpont Street (pictured here) and even visiting a window outside of Petersburg High School before eventually being returned to their home.

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