2019: Year in Review
As we continue this journey of life into a new year, we often think of things we need to do better in the coming year. Whether one’s goals and resolutions reflect a change of diet, exercise regime, or to accomplish more on the to-do list, we shouldn’t completely disregard our past in pursuit of the new. Our experiences in life are the building blocks for our future. The memories and experiences – whether positive or negative – teach us and shape us into the people we are today.
So in celebration of the new year, the staff of the Tyler Star News reflects on some memories and experiences of the local area that has impacted our community and individuals alike and is now history.
In 2019, Middlebourne faced the loss of Witschey’s Market. RKE Corporation – an independent family owned retailer of 44 years – purchased the longtime local business, and officially assumed the ownership on June 18.
Similarly, the Sistersville Ferry was suspended for the year. However, residents can have hope as it was firmly established that the ferry will resume operations in 2020.
However, the same can’t be said for the County Home in Tyler County, which the county commission had unanimously approved for demolition at their May 28 meeting. Although highly controversial, the County Home will see demolition sometime in the future.
Also in this past year, city officials of Paden City faced some heat, when news about the PCE contaminant was released to residents. The news of the contamination, by a chemical called Tetrachloroethylene (TCE) – also known as perchloroethylene (PCE) – was first brought to the public’s attention through the March 4 Paden City Council meeting. In a letter from the city regarding a contamination it said, “Our monitoring has shown an average PCE concentration in the drinking water supply for 2018 of 5.5 parts per billion (ppb), which is in excess of the USEPA’s Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) of 5.0 ppb.
The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has issued us a formal Notice of Violation for exceeding the MCL for PCE.”
Throughout the year, the city and other officials have been tirelessly working to reduce the contamination with some positive results. While work is still ongoing, residents can rest assured that the situation is being handled correctly. Work on the project is expected to commence this month according to city officials who awarded the contract to Litman Contracting of New Martinsville.
More recently, it was announced that both Wetzel and Tyler Counties would receive funding for expanding broadband service within the two areas. The Tyler County Development Authority, Inc. was awarded a 50/50 percent loan/grant totaling $3,516.00 which will provide direct fiber broadband internet availability to 1,366 households, farms and businesses covering 26.13 square miles with a service population of 3,291. Tyler County’s eligible service area for the new broadband fiber optic cable includes the Town of Middlebourne and the Pursley, Centerville, Alma, and Shirley areas.
Other highlights of Tyler County during 2019 include the following:
- Shane Highley stepped into the position of Tyler County Schools Superintendent
- Tyler County FFA participated in the National Land and Range Judging contest on May 2 in Concho, Oklahoma. Their team competed in the Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation contest. Out of 102 teams competing in the Land Judging contest, Tyler County FFA placed first place. The team also competed Homesite Evaluation, where they claimed the fourth place title out of 55 teams. In another victory for Tyler County, Madison Craven was recognized as the first place winner out of 405 people for the High Individual in Land Judging.
- The Tyler County Fair was an exciting staple of the summer with rides, food, and fun activities. Regardless of the day or time one attended, there was something for everyone. Dylan Scott’s performance on the final night attracted a large crowd and was followed by a firework’s display – the perfect end to a fun week at the Tyler County Fair.
- The Tyler County Fair Pageant saw the crowning of a new group of royalty: Rustilynn McIntyre was crowned as this year’s Tiny Miss; Arianna Henthorn is the 2019 Little Miss; Kamryn Satterfield as Junior Miss; Makenzie Utt as the 2019 Pre-Teen Queen; Samantha Melvin as the Teen Queen; and Shayla Griffey was crowned as the 2019 Tyler County Fair Queen.
- The Tyler County Family Resource Network (FRN) held its fourth annual Back To School Fair on August 12. In addition to the numerous amount of supplies available, various services were also offered to families with students enrolled in Tyler County Schools in Pre-K through eighth grade including haircuts, dental, optical, and hearing screenings. The fair saw an amazing turnout, with approximately 350 students attending.
- The Tyler Consolidated High School Band was named Grand Champions for Division II at the Black Walnut Festival. The Knights also placed 1st overall in the field show competition out of 18 bands. At the 2nd Annual Parkersburg South High School Patriot Invitational, they earned 1st place honors in field show, percussion, field commander, and color guard. Overall, the band was runner-up grand champion. Field Commander George Kester was 1st overall, the Knights Drumline finished 2nd overall, and the color guard was 3rd overall, respectively. The band also received the Outstanding Show Design and People’s Choice Awards. This year, the band was also 2nd runner-up grand champions at the Ripley Viking Fest.
- Five members of the Tyler FFA chapter were awarded the highest degree attainable in the National FFA Organization. Those receiving their American Degree were Baylee Roberts, Aleah Baker, David Booher, Alexandra Greathouse, and P.J. Wright. These individuals travelled to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis and were presented with the degree in a ceremony that aired live on RFD TV.
- The Tyler County Sheriff’s Department and the Sistersville Police Department once again sponsored Shop with a Cop. 17 elementary school aged children were transported to the New Martinsville Walmart where each student was given a total limit of $250 dollars that could be used to buy whatever items they so pleased.
- United States Senator Joe Manchin III joined with Democratic leaders from throughout West Virginia in honoring Katrina Byers and Raymond “B.B.” Smith as two of West Virginia’s Outstanding Democrats of the Year. Both Byers and Smith received tribute from Democrats at the Roosevelt-Kennedy Dinner Celebration in Charleston on November 15.
- Sistersville resident Ed Vossen was devastated at the loss of his home due to a fire in April. The cause of the fire was not able to be determined as the home was “too far gone” to be able to determine its cause by the time firefighters arrived on scene.
- The Banker’s Corner Coffee Shop opened their doors to the public for the first time.
- Marble Festival was a great success with various vendors setting up shop, children enjoying the provided games, and marbles galore. The city of Sistersville dedicated two downtown streets – Wells Street and Main Street – for this event, and each corner was packed out with vendors, marbles, food, and more.
- On Tuesday, December 3, Michael Cooper formerly of 6684 Tyler Highway, Sistersville appeared in Tyler County Circuit Court for sentencing upon his convictions for two felony counts of threat of terrorist act, one felony count of arson in the fourth degree, one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, and two felony counts of attempted murder in the second degree. The convictions arose from an incident occurring on December 25, 2018, where Cooper made certain threats to blow up his home and kill law enforcement officers, or anyone else who might be nearby. Cooper saturated his home with propane and gasoline and a standoff with law enforcement ensued, wherein he attempted to lure law enforcement into the home. The home was ultimately destroyed in a tremendous explosion caused by Cooper. The Court sentenced Cooper to the maximum sentence of imprisonment upon each conviction, to be served consecutively, as follows: Count One Threat of Terrorist Act, 1-3 years; Count Two – Threat of Terrorist Act, 1-3 years; Count Three -Arson in the 4th Degree, 2 years; Count Four Animal Cruelty, 6 months; Count Five – Attempted Murder, 2nd Degree, 1-3 years; Count Six Attempted Murder, 2nd Degree 1-3 years. Cooper was also ordered to pay the cost of prosecution, court-appointed attorney fees, jury fee, and as well is barred from owning animals for at least five years after he is released.
- Residents were also shocked when Middlebourne resident Taryn Corinne Henthorn was indicted on three counts of “Threatening to Kill the President of the United States,” and faced up to five years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
- Another Middlebourne resident committed a life-saving act for a complete stranger. Jodi Holberton heard from a mutual friend about Vance Williams from Pennsylvania who had developed fatty liver disease which turned into cirrhosis after a nasty fall at his family farm. After hearing this, Holberton felt lead by God to donate her liver, and so began the process. Although concerns were voiced over whether her liver would be large enough to donate to Williams, she eventually was approved. Of this, Dr. Christopher Hughes, a Surgical Director of Liver Transplant at UPMC said, “[Vance] didn’t have time to wait on the waiting list, so when Jodi stepped forward it was truly a life-saving blessing.”
- Melissa Smith, a first grade teacher at A.I.B Elementary, competed in the Mrs. WV America Pageant and was crowned as Mrs. West Virginia America. This was the first competition Smith had involved herself in since she had major medical issues that resulted in a traumatic brain injury in 2014.
- On July 15, businesses of all sizes from each American state had the honor to showcase their work at the Made in America Product Showcase event held at the White House. While each business is different and unique in their own rights, they all share common grounds in that their products are made in America. One such business representing the state of West Virginia was Paden City’s Marble King.
- The largest Labor Day Parade in the state took place in Paden City. The annual parade was the icing on the cake for a great weekend of events held on Main Street in front of the City complex. It was a great weekend for Paden City, one that’s been tradition for many years and promises to continue to fill their streets each and every year on Labor Day Weekend
- Forty-two bands from around the state, showcased their talents in the West Virginia State Marching Band Invitational Championship at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field Oct. 19. Paden City High School was among the winners of the State Marching Band Invitational Championship, and were awarded in the following categories: Blue Division 1st Runner-Up, 1st place Class D Band Awards, and Class D Best Overall in percussion, color guard, drum major, and soloist (trumpet).
- The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History inducted five new members into the West Virginia Marching Band Directors Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 19. Honorees included Debra Price, director of the Paden City High School marching band.
- Paden City High School Band also earned several first place awards including Guard, Percussion, Field Commanders, and Soloist. The band was the Class D 1st place band. The competition also included Division awards where the Wildcats earned 1st place General Effect and Blue Division State Runner-Up. Paden City was the smallest school by enrollment in the field of 38 competing bands yet proudly represented the heritage of “The Biggest Little Band in the Land.”
- Randall Reid-Smith, the Commissioner of the Department if Arts, Culture, and History, presented Paden City’s Band a trophy and he recognized them as the 2019 Blue Division State Champions.
- The Paden City 2019 girls volleyball team made history by becoming the first Wildcat team to advance to the State Volleyball Tournament. The ‘Cats cruised through the quarter finals and semi finals to find themselves in the championship game against Wirt County where they were defeated and ended their season as state runners-up. Named to the All-Tournament team were Mallory Yeater, Hope Weber, and Tanley McEldowney.