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Local Events

21 Apr 2019 @ 01:00PM - - Easter Egg Hunt

During last week’s regularly scheduled meeting, the Grant County Commission was addressed by citizen Jane Kite Keeling concerning Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses.

Keeling questioned the commissions response to a FOIA request from March in which she requested to review the letter of engagement with Bailey Glasser, LLP.

Bailey Glasser is the firm used by the commission concerning past issues at Grant Memorial Hospital, namely attorney William Ihlenfeld.

According to Keeling, the FOIA request was answered with a response saying the letter of engagement “is an internal, or privileged letter exempt from FOIA by the attorney-client privilege.”

Keeling disagreed with the commission, saying the letter should be available to the public.

Bus Force Four

The Grant County School system added two new buses to their fleet last week, which arrived in Petersburg on Friday. These two new additions are some of the first in the county to boast air conditioning.

The two new buses, numbered 52 and 53, include additional safety and security updates. These updates include new safety buckles for young children and for students with special needs.

On top of these updates, the two new vehicles mark the second and third buses in the Grant County fleet to have air conditioning.

"We started with one air conditioned bus last year and have now added these two this year," explained Brent Nelson, Grant County director of facilities and maintenance. "From here on every bus we order will be air conditioned."

Nelson said the new air conditioning has become an important addition for summer events that utilize the buses or for years when the school year is pushed later into June.

Each year, the school stets aside funding for bus replacements with a focus on safety updates.

Late last month, the Grant County PITAR and Gateway Re-entry council met to discuss issues facing the county. One important piece of information shared in the meeting concerned the potential addition of new recovery coaches at Potomac Highlands Guild which will include the Russ Hedrick Recovery Resource Center in Petersburg.

According to information discussed in the past, recovery coaches can play an important role in helping individuals struggling with addiction maintain sobriety.

Robert Lee Pauley Jr., 40, of Mount Storm, has admitted to methamphetamine distribution, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Pauley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

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

Garbage Day

During their meeting on April 1, the Petersburg City Council announced the dates of the annual spring clean-up event, which allows city citizens to discard items not generally taken in regular trash pickup.

This year, spring clean-up will begin on April 29 for the western side of the city and will finish on May 2 for the eastern side of Petersburg. No trees, electronics or paint will be taken.

The council also reviewed the Petersburg Police Department report for the months of Feburary and March. Prior to the report, councilman Boyd Sites pointed to an increase in arrests for burglary and stolen property, warning that citizens be vigilant.

Grant of Memorials

On March 26, Grant Memorial Hospital and Grant Rehabilitation and Care Center announced a collaborative plan that would see the closure the GMH long-term care unit and the addition of those beds at GRCC.

The plans were officially announced at the GMH monthly board of trustees meeting, which was attended by GRRC director Kari Evans. The vote for the hospital to fully divest from its long-term care services was approved unanimously by the board.

During the meeting, GMH chief executive office (CEO) Bob Milvet said the vote to remove the unit from the hospital was a carefully considered decision that was focused on ensuring patients in the area can be best served.

PHG Trial

Brenda Cook faces more than 20 years in prison for stealing from program that assists disabled children and families

Last week, after nearly six hours of deliberation, a Grant County jury returned a mixed verdict in the case of Brenda Cook, 60, of Moorefield. Cook’s case spanned four days, in which jury members heard evidence presented by the state indicating Cook pocketed funds designated to assist families of disabled children, while Cook argued she was nothing more than a “kind-hearted” whistle blower caught up in an agencywide conspiracy.

Cook was charged with a total of 59 felonies, including 15 counts of forgery, 15 counts of uttering, 15 counts of taking the identity of another person and 14 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses. According to her original indictment and the case presented by Grant County prosecuting attorney, John Ours on behalf of the state, the crimes happened while Cook was employed as the assistant to the executive director at Potomac Highlands Guild in Petersburg. During her time in this position, she oversaw the Family Support Program, from which she funneled nearly $140,000 into her personal credit card accounts. The theft allegedly occurred over the course of six years.

However, Cook was only charged with illegally obtaining approximately $22,400. Ours explained that while evidence shows Cook funneled funding from more than 100 applicants over her time employed at PHG, due to time lapse and the lack of witnesses available to testify, the case focused heavily on 15 applications from July 2012, which was the incident that led PHG employees to uncover the theft.

Cook, on the other hand, claimed a much more complex and sinister situation was unfolding at PHG, saying she was being “set up” by the agency after uncovering evidence of a large and potentially devastating Medicaid fraud scandal orchestrated throughout the multi-county mental health program.

Much of the investigation into the fraud rested on an analysis performed by Gwen Grove with the West Virginia Inspector General’s office through the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Grove’s report outlined much of the financial information of the case and included findings spanning multiple years.

The case was originally filed in 2013 and a jury trial was quickly sought by Ours after taking over the position of prosecuting attorney.

In fact, this was not Cook’s first time to appear before a jury in West Virginia. In 1997, Cook was charged with the first-degree murder of her former neighbor, Homer Buckler, in Hardy County. In that incident, Buckler and Cook’s husband, Gerald, were in a  physical altercation in which Buckler was reportedly severely injuring her husband. She then came outside with a shotgun and the incident ended in Buckler’s death following her shooting him in the shoulder.

spring mountain festival queen
On Saturday, the Grant County Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Miss Spring Mountain Festival pageant. Winners from that pageant were: first runner-up, Jesslyn Ashley McCaslin, a sophomore at Petersburg High School, Queen Morgan Paige Armentrout, a senior at Moorefield High School and second runner-up Alexis Sierra Helman, a sophomore at Moorefield High School. The crown was passed to Armentrout by the previous queen, Jalyn Western of Petersburg. The winner of this pageant will assist with events at the 27th annual Spring Mountain Festival this month.



Golden Horseshoe

This year Petersburg High School has three winners of the Golden Horseshoe Award: Kierra Dent, Bo Keplinger and Harmony Schell.

Dent is the daughter of Carla Hinkle Dent of Maysville and Kevin Dent of Keyser.

Keplinger is the son of Rachel Sulser of Arthur.

Schell is the daughter of Amanda Schell and David Hawkins of Petersburg.

Sue em high

New claim says office has transparency issues

A complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief was filed by Jay Smith of Hurricane last Monday. He claims that the Grant County Circuit Court failed to meet state transparency standards by overcharging for copying fees on criminal files.

Smith, who claims to be a “freelance legal researcher and journalist” says he visited the Grant County Courthouse in September 2018 seeking to view and make copies of the criminal filings of Kimberly Hartman, the former Hardy County Circuit Clerk who is facing drug charges. Smith said after visiting the circuit clerk’s office, he was provided with multiple files and led into the office’s record room. He then says he was asked to not remove any pages from the folders and informed him he was prohibited from using a camera to take any pictures of the folders’ contents.

drug arrest

On March 27, deputy J.C. Earle, senior deputy D.R. Lambert and deputy J.M. Rohrbaugh of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, along with Chief D. Stark of the Petersburg Police Department responded to a reported “suspicious person” in the alleyway behind Alt’s Furniture in Petersburg.

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