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Earlier this month, a Grant County Grand Jury returned multiple indictments on felony charges in the area. Those indicted in by the jury included:

Cowan Hart Pennington, 36, of P.O. Box 137, Cabins, was indicted on charges of grand larceny and forgery of a credit card.

According to the indictment, Pennington stole a 2019 trailer, a 570 Polaris ATV, four Polaris wheels with tires and three additional tires from Tri-County Honda in Petersburg.

His plan to steal the items from Tri-County Honda was foiled, however, when he attempted to drive the trailer across a field adjacent to the dealership and became stuck. He then decided to leave the property in the field and flee on foot.

He also used a stolen credit card to purchase a pack of cigarettes and a drink from Sheetz in Petersburg.

Just a few weeks after being charged, three people from Grant and Hardy counties have pleaded guilty to distributing drugs, including fentanyl.

Melanie Lyn Outen, Ted Alexander Voss, and Michael Dean Smith, all of Petersburg, have admitted to their roles in a fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine distribution operation. The case was handled in federal court and was overseen by United States Attorney, Bill Powell.

Mercedes Oiler, 19, of Moorefield, was discovered dead on July 16 following an apparent overdose. Oiler was found after Grant County Ambulance and the Grant County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call on Roy Hyre Hollow in Petersburg, When emergency personnel arrived, Oiler was unresponsive and not breathing. She was later pronounced dead at the scene by medical examiner and recently appointed Grant County Coroner, Tabitha Hitt. An investigation into her death remains open at this time.

“There are people getting hurt because of this. There are people who are in danger because this system does not work. This is putting the lives and wellbeing of our children and our elderly at risk.” -Ronna Goldizen

Due to privacy requests, the names of some people involved in the following story have been omitted.

Rural residents of the county are no strangers to internet and cell phone issues. Many who live in the less populated regions of Grant, are often aware of how unreliable cell phone service can be and some will even say they can determine whether or not they will have internet by the weather forecast. However, one of the more surprising, and perhaps far more dangerous communication issues facing many residents in Grant County is the ongoing unreliability of landline phone service. This issue was driven home earlier this month when Peggy Bobo-Alt, the director of the Office of Emergency Management and 911 in Grant County held a public forum to allow community members living with the situation to voice their concerns.

Alt said most of her concerns are directed at Frontier Communications, the sole provider to much of the county.

Those in attendance ranged from local business owners consistently losing business due to lack of reliable communications to residents frustrating with rising phone bills for ever-worsening phone service.

“The fact we are having this conversation in this day and age is ridiculous to me,” Alt said. “I get we are a rural county and that we may be in the era to address issues with high speed internet - but not landline phone service. We were past that 30 years ago and somehow we are now much worse.”

The county once again has a coroner following the appointment of Tabitha Hitt during the July 23 meeting of the Grant County Commission.

Apart from being a local resident, Hitt is a licensed medical examiner in the state of West Virginia and a registered nurse.

The suggestion to appoint a coroner came from commissioner Scotty Miley and received support from the rest of the commission. Prior to Hitt’s appointment, the position was vacant.

In the United States, county coroners are officials who hold inquests into suspicious, sudden or violent deaths. This can include drug overdoses.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recently raised concerns over the proposed $83 billion Chinese investment in West Virginia during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to discuss U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) production and its role in the global marketplace.

“Do you all know about this deal they want to make with West Virginia, my state? They’ve said they’re going to invest $83 billion over 20 years. You can imagine that kind of carrot being swung out there, it’s tremendous for a small state,” Manchin said.

Startisha Keplinger
Startisha Keplinger

A Grant County woman was sentenced to jail earlier this month after punching through a front door and attacking a local resident.

On July 16, Startisha Keplinger, 30, of P.O. Box 104, Thorn Run Rd., Lahmansville, admitted to attacking a local woman at her home in Petersburg and injuring her after punching through the glass on her front door.

Keplinger’s plea is the result of an investigation done by the Petersburg Police Department in August 2018.

According to the report filed in the Grant County Circuit Court, Petersburg Police Chief Darius Stark was contacted to assist emergency medical personnel as they attempted to treat an “unruly” woman, later identified as Miranda Mongold.

The city of Petersburg recently announced a traffic pattern change at the intersection of South Grove Street and Virginia Avenue.

The change makes the turn from South Grove Street onto Virginia Avenue a right turn only.

This change means it is now illegal for drivers to turn left or cross through oncoming traffic on Virginia Avenue to go straight on North Grove Street.

The change is in response to safety issues and prevents drivers from crossing two lanes of traffic on Virginia Avenue, a heavily traveled road in the city.

After safety issues were expressed, the Petersburg City Council discussed potential traffic changes, including potentially installing a stoplight at the site. However, the council ultimately decided against the installation and instead changed the pattern by enforcing a right turn only lane.

The office released last week that the new pattern is now in place and will be officially enforced by officers as a ticketable offense.

For more information on the change, contact the Petersburg City Office at 302-257-4944.

Grant County jury returns guilty verdict on grand larceny and burglary charges

Trisha Parker Rohrbaugh
Trisha Parker Rohrbaugh

In one the shortest multiple felony jury trials in the county’s history, Trisha Parker Rohrbaugh, 39, of 2972 Jordan Run Rd., Maysville was found guilty on three felony charges in less than three hours.

In December 2018, Rohrbaugh was indicted on multiple counts of unauthorized use of an access device, forgery of a debit or credit card with intent to defraud, entry of a motor vehicle to commit larceny, petit larceny, conspiracy, burglary and grand larceny.

The evidence presented by the prosecution was gathered by the West Virginia State Police Department with assistance from the Grant County Sheriff’s Department and dates back to January 2018.

This upcoming winter, Petersburg will be a little more musical thanks to West Virginia Theater East's December performance of "Frozen Junior."

The performance is based on the Disney film, "Frozen" and will feature a unique opportunity for young performers in the area.

Show dates for the event are Dec. 13-15 and will be performed at the Landis Arts Center in Petersburg. While official audition dates have not been announced yet, WVTE will be hosting two pre-audition musical workshops for anyone wanting to try out.

The workshops are scheduled for Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. and Aug. 5 at 6 p.m., at the arts center. Participants are instructed to use the back door behind the library.

Last week, the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Company responded to community concerns following a scam phone call that circulated in the area requesting funding on their behalf.

According to the release from the PVFC, the caller claimed to be a member of the PVFC and requested citizens give a donation over the phone via a bank account number.

“We have never nor will we call asking for donations,” a representative from the PVFC explained. “We send out annual coin card letters and bash letters as well as accept donations on our company website.”

They also urged community members to never provide personal information, especially financial information, over the phone.

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