Top 10 stories of 2010
In the 365 days of 2010, Pocahontas County saw itself hitting some of the highest highs and equally, some of the lowest lows. Here are the 10 stories that shaped 2010.
Number 10 is a combination of two similar stories. The shooting deaths of Danny Boggs, of Marlinton, and Jesse Bennett, of Durbin, left the county stunned.
On March 9, the Pocahontas County Sheriffﾒs Department and West Virginia State Police responded to a report of a shooting at a residence on Brownsburg Road. The officers discovered the body of Danny Boggs, 51, dead from a shotgun blast and arrested Johnny Boggs, the victimﾒs brother, as a suspect in the slaying.
John Baptist Boggs, was charged with first degree murder in the death of his brother Danny and was indicted by the grand jury in December.
On June 8, Jesse Bennett, 20, succumbed to a gunshot wound he sustained the night before in an incident which occurred in the apartment of Charles Edward Stull. Stull was arrested and charged with manslaughter for the shooting. He stated he was ﾓshowingﾔ Bennett his newest gun, a .22, when it discharged. Stull added that he believed the gun was not loaded.
Stull, 49, was also indicted by the grand jury in December.
In story nine, three landmarks celebrated their 100th birthdays. During the 2010 Durbin Days Heritage Festival, the Durbin Depot Welcome Center, the Lizzy Folks/Hiner/Findley/Proud Building and the #3 Climax Steam Engine all turned 100. The Proud Building was donated to the Pocahontas County Arts Council and is the future home of the Pocahontas County Arts Center.
In story eight, an ordinance led to great discussion of the ownership of manﾒs best friend.
Plans to create a countywide dog ordinance by the county commission created a stir among dog owners. Commissioners and dog owners, mostly those with hunting dogs, battled over the ordinance, which commissioner David Fleming said he wanted to adopt to protect property owners who have irresponsible dog owners for neighbors, not to make sure every dog on the loose is detained.
Dog owners voiced their concern that their dogs could be misconstrued as loose or excessively noisy when in fact, they are being trained to track bears.
After a clash of commissioners and three readings, the dog ordinance was enacted November 9. The ordinance does not restrict animals ﾓengaged in legal hunting activities, lawful training activities, law enforcement activities, lawful herding or other farm-business activities.ﾔ It does set forth fines and impoundment procedures and costs for dogs whose owners allow them to either roam or bark to the extent they are declared a public nuisance.
The ordinance passed with a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Reta Griffith dissented and maintained that parts of the ordinance are unenforceable.
Story seven has a luck of the draw moment which left one county couple a million dollars richer.
Durbin couple Pat and Frank Proud had a ritual. Each Wednesday they would buy a Powerball lottery ticket. In April, their ticket was the winner, yielding $1 million dollars.
After wiping the disbelief off their faces, the Prouds went to Charleston to collect their winnings.
The Prouds made the decision to donate some of the winnings to organizations they are passionate about, including the Durbin Library Building Fund.
In story six, a staple of downtown Marlinton closed its doors after 60 years in business.
Frenchﾒs Diner served its last lunch crowd on November 28. The oldest restaurant in Marlinton, Frenchﾒs became popular for its ﾓgreasy spoonﾔ atmosphere and stick to your ribs meals.
The diner was built by French Johnson and his partner, Mr. Gilmore, in 1950. Johnson left the diner to his wife, Amy, who operated the diner with husband Guy VanReenen. Janice McLaughlin bought the diner from VanReenen, and sold it to the last owners, Larry and Arlene Armstrong.
Frenchﾒs had more than great food and a homey atmosphere. It was a landmark. A place where memories were made.
Story number five. The May and November elections had registered voters filling seats in Pocahontas County, as well as West Virginia. In May, Leslie Cain was re-elected to the board of education and was joined by newcomers Jan McNeel and Emery Grimes.
In November, the hotly contested seat on the County Commission went to Republican Jamie Walker, in a close race against J.L. Clifton. In other county races, Democrats found themselves in the winning corner. Connie Car was voted circuit clerk, Missy Bennett selected as county clerk and Brian Beverage won county surveyor.
For state seats, Democrats Bill Hartman, the incumbent, and Denise Campbell were both elected to the House of Delegates and State Senator Walt Helmick won his seat, yet again.
Manchin defeated John Raese in the race for Robert C. Byrdﾒs Senate seat. Fellow Democrat Nick Rahall was elected to the Third Congressional District.
Republican John Yoder broke the Democratsﾒ winning streak by winning the race for Supreme Court Judge.
The number four story has a former county commissioner and board of education employee facing a felony charge of unauthorized possession of computer data.
Norman Alderman was employed by the BOE for several years as a technology consultant until he was fired in 2006 for insubordination.
In a video statement he published online, Alderman said he made backups of several sets of records and may have taken those with him when he was ordered to leave the board office.
Alderman made the video for his website because he said he was making a plea to law enforcement officials who were in possession of the computer storing the data. Law enforcement confiscated Aldermanﾒs computers after he was accused by a county commissioner of computer harassment.
When law enforcement was informed about the video confession, Alderman was arrested.
The charge against Alderman were based upon a complaint by the BOE that he was in illegal possession of confidential student and personnel information including, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, student conditions, test scores, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, substitute teacher lists, special needs students and special education students.
Alderman made the statement that he is authorized to possess the material in question. The case is awaiting a new magistrate and prosecuting attorney. Both Special Magistrate Charles D. Beard and Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price had to recuse themselves because Alderman confessed to both of them.
Story three had a county board facing serious fines for violations.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a lawsuit against the Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) for water discharge violations at its three sewage plants.
The lawsuit left the PSD facing fines as much as $25,000 per day for ongoing and future violations.ﾠ The complaint, filed in the Pocahontas County Circuit Court, asked the court to enjoin the PSD from further violations and to impose the fines.
The PSD sewer utility holds National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for sewage plants at Snowshoe Village, Silver Creek and the Inn at Snowshoe. The PSD regularly violated permit discharge limits since taking ownership of the plants from Snowshoe Mountain, Inc., in December, 2009.
The DEP allowed the PSD to operate under less stringent limits as long as it demonstrated ﾓdiligenceﾔ and a ﾓgood faith effortﾔ to complete the regional sewage facility.
The PSD hired two new lawyers who are preparing for the case.
The number two story left all West Virginians reeling as they bid farewell to the stateﾒs beloved son.
On June 28, at 3 a.m., U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, passed away at the age of 92 at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.
As the nation mourned the loss of the political giant, West Virginians were left wondering who was capable to fill his seat in Congress.
Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, his former chief counsel, to temporarily fill the seat. A special election was held, with Manchin pitted against Morgantown entrepreneur John Raese. Manchin won the race and replaced Byrd as Senator. Earl Ray Tomblin was subsequently appointed Governor.
The number one story of 2010 occurred in February, when a forced landing of a U.S. Navy Knighthawk helicopter on the rough and snow covered terrain of Bald Knob on a Thursday evening sent county rescue workers into search mode.
As members of the Bartow-Frank-Durbin volunteer fire department and Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue fought against the elements to reach the downed helicopter, the 17 passengers implemented their survival skills and set a fire for warmth and to signal the rescue crews.
Through the combined efforts of BFD, Shavers Fork, Cass and Valley Head volunteer fire departments and the National Guard, all 17 passengers were rescued, all with non-life threatening injuries, by the following afternoon.
Two National Guard blackhawk helicopters used the National Radio Astronomy Observatory airstrip to transport the passengers to ambulances.
In March, military personnel and the rescued passengers awarded members of the rescue crew at Orchard Hall in Elkins. Major General Allen Tackett, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard and Rear Admiral David Anderson, vice commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces honored the rescue crews with plaques and praise for their efforts.
On March 15, Representative Nick Rahall introduced a resolution in the U.S. Congress honoring the West Virginia rescue force. The resolution was co-sponsored by representatives Alan Mollohan and Shelley Moore Capito.
Tackett honored the rescue teams again in April, accompanied by then Governor Joe Manchin III and representative Rahall. The awards ceremony took place at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.