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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.

Community also warned of new deadly drug in PITAR meeting

 While it may have been a while since they have been in a classroom, local agencies are working to help keep students engaged this summer.

Susan Parker of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spoke during last week’s community PITAR meeting, a local group aimed at improving community health by facing issues such as drug addiction, rehabilitation and suicide prevention.

During their July 23 meeting, Parker talked about the DEP’s Earth Bingo event, where students up to age 18 work to win prizes by learning about nature, conservation and spending more time in the outdoors.

While more definite plans are still unsure, the Grant County Board of Education has now outlined three possibilities for students returning to school in the fall.

West Virginia students were dismissed from classrooms early last semester, with the governor ordering schools to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Students then switched to distance learning, with teachers providing work packets and online learning options since that time.

As of this time, education possibilities for the coming semester vary widely, with one scenario seeing students back in class five days a week and another scenario seeing all school facilities closed and all learning done virtually.

Last weekend, the Grant County Health Department (GCHD) received notification of the 24th, 25th and 26th confirmed cases of COVID-19.

This brings the county’s current total positive cases to 27 (total 26 positives, 1 probable).

According to Sandria Glasscock of the GCHD, a probable is a close contact of a confirmed case (spouse or household member) that is symptomatic but not tested.

Of all the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one that was almost overlooked until recently was at the U.S. Federal Reserve. Many locals will have noticed new signs at businesses encouraging their customers to use credit or debit and forego cash. This request is not coming from the businesses themselves having a preference to cards, but is instead due to a sudden decline in the nation’s coin supply.

The Grant County Commission received some positive news concerning the financial status of the county during their regularly scheduled meeting last week.

The county’s financial update was provided by Alicia Reel, the county’s financial manager through the Grant County Clerk’s office.

According to Reel, Grant County has a total general county balance of $1.6 million. While this figure shows the drop of approximately $119,000 from the prior year, this decrease is after the commission moved $250,000 into the financial stabilization fund.

Volunteers with the Downtown Petersburg Beautification Project have been hard at work cultivating floral designs throughout the town. The project, which is headed by Tammy Kimble and Kim Secrist, have added new, self-watering flower pots in front of local businesses, installed hanging baskets throughout the area as well as replanted the long abandoned brick planters that run along Virginia Ave.

A West Virginia woman has been convicted of planning to sell national defense information to the Russian government after kidnapping her underage child and fleeing to Mexico.

Last week, Elizabeth Jo Shirley, of Hedgesville, admitted to unlawfully retaining a document containing national defense information and illegally taking a child across international lines.

Shirley, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information and one count of international parental kidnapping.

In her plea, Shirley admitted to unlawfully retaining a National Security Agency (NSA) document containing information classified at the “TOP SECRET/SECRET COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (“TS/SCI”)” level relating to the national defense that outlines intelligence information regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues.

The Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the death of two former Petersburg residents who were found murdered over Independence Day weekend.

On July 4, Joe Daniel Swick, 38 and his brother, Fred Amos Swick, 39, were discovered deceased in their vehicle by deputies after a suspicious 911 call.

A request by a local landowner to rezone his property from a residential zone (R3) to an open space (OS) drew some contention at the recent Petersburg City Council meeting.

The land, which is owned by John Paul Hott II and is located on Hick’s Drive in Petersburg, was recently discussed in a zoning board hearing with a developer who hoped to put a luxury campground on the site. In that meeting, the developer requested the land be rezoned to OS as well as a variance be placed on the land for the campground. After heated input from multiple community members, the zoning board ultimately denied the request for that project.

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty last week to defrauding Pendleton Community Bank of more than $500,000 by using a fake Bitcoin account.

According to a report by the United States Attorney’s Office, Randall Joseph Smail, of Jeannette, Pa. created a fictitious account statement from Kraken Bitcoin Exchange.

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