Year in review: Looking back at 2016

July through September

By Sarah Hawley -

(Left) The fire on Spring Avenue destroyed a structure which was previously a hotel. (Top right) The Splash Park in Middleport opened in July after several months of work and planning. (Bottom right) Meigs County records were digitized this summer in an effort to preserve the records.

(Left) The fire on Spring Avenue destroyed a structure which was previously a hotel. (Top right) The Splash Park in Middleport opened in July after several months of work and planning. (Bottom right) Meigs County records were digitized this summer in an effort to preserve the records.

MEIGS COUNTY — As we approach the end of 2016, The Daily Sentinel is taking a look back at some of the top stories of the year and what has taken place in Meigs County.

Today, we will take a look back at July, August and September, with the final three months of the year to be recapped in the Sunday edition.


Harris named Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAHMS board executive director

As July 1 marked the beginning of the new fiscal year for the state, the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services announced the appointment of their new executive director.

Robin Harris was appointed to continue the mission of her late friend and colleague, Ron Adkins.

Adkins served as the previous executive director and passed away in April. His death left colleagues stunned but continuing on with their mission of bringing quality behavioral healthcare to their service area.

The board met on their regular meeting June 20 and named Harris as the new executive director after unanimous vote. Harris had served as Adkins’ deputy director and as the interim director previously.

Harris is from the Rutland area and was born and raised in Meigs County. She graduated from Meigs High School and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Rio Grande, where she majored in psychology; she earned her graduate degree in counseling at Ohio University. She has worked in mental health care systems since 1983.

Carleton Preschool receives state award

The Carleton Preschool Program in Syracuse was recognized for its “commitment to high quality and ongoing dedication to the learning and development of young children” by Step Up to Quality.

Step Up to Quality is Ohio’s rating system for learning and development programs. Participating preschool programs can earn a one to five star rating, with a five-star being the highest.

Carleton’s preschool program is an inclusion program that is able to serve both students with and without special needs. The preschool received a five-star Step Up to Quality award by meeting all criteria necessary to receive the rating.

Meigs man acquitted of assault, endangering charges

A jury handed down a not guilty verdict in the case against a Meigs County man who had been charged with felonious assault and endangering children.

Thaddeus Bumgardner, of Middleport, was acquitted of the charges after a six-day trial that began June 28 —more than two years after the alleged incident. The trial endured delays due to the Fourth of July holiday and a witness under a doctor’s care, who was not allowed in court to testify until July 5.

Meigs County sheriff’s deputies first began the investigation in June 2014 when Bumgardner’s threen-5-month-old son was flown to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., “due to severe bruising and injuries consistent with abuse,” a news release from the sheriff’s office stated.

The prosecutor presented photographic and expert testimony of the child’s trauma, as well of a timeline of persons involved in the child’s care when the incident occurred.

The defense countered there was not enough evidence to prove the defendant was responsible for the injuries and that no witnesses to the infliction of the injuries were presented.

West Virginia man arraigned in murder case

Bail was set at $1 million for a West Virginia man charged in the death of another man found in a Meigs County gravel pit.

Christopher M. Dailey, 44, of Sandyville, W.Va., was arraigned Wednesday in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated murder in the death of Brandon M. Lupardus, 30, of Milwood, W.Va.,

The body of Lupardus was found by a worker on the property of the Shelley Gravel Company in Portland on around 4 p.m. June 19.

Dailey has since pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

Gallia-Meigs welcomes new OSHP post commander

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Post 27 on Jackson Pike, which serves both Meigs and Gallia counties, said goodbye to its past commander, Lt. Max Norris, and welcomed new commander Lt. Barry Call.

According to Call, the commander of the post in Athens County, Lt. George Harlow retired which led to various commanders switching posts. Norris is from the Athens area and will be now serve as its OSHP commander. Call is from the Gallipolis area and previously served in Ironton. Call’s post in Ironton will be filled by the former commander of the Portsmouth post.

“I was born and raised here,” Call said about Gallia County.

Call, a 1989 Ohio Valley Christian School graduate, started with the patrol as a cadet dispatcher in 1991 in Gallipolis at the former post across the road on Jackson Pike which is now where the Gallia County Health Department sits. He went to the patrol academy in 1992 and graduated in June of that year. He was stationed in the Marietta patrol post for about a year shortly after his graduation. He transferred to the Gallipolis post in 1993. He served as a trooper with the Gallipolis post until 2001 before joining the OSHP Office of Investigative Services at district headquarters in Jackson. He served there roughly six years before being promoted to sergeant and was transferred to the Athens post.

After serving a short time at the Athens post, Call transferred back to the Gallipolis post. He remained as a sergeant in Gallipolis until 2013 and was promoted to lieutenant and assumed command of the Ironton post.

Task Force investigations lead to indictments

Local police arrested 17 people during a warrant round-up in connection with alleged drug crimes ranging from various locations throughout Gallia and Meigs counties.

The Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission’s Major Crimes Task Force of Gallia-Meigs secured 43 drug indictments with a total of 135 counts of illegal drug activities within Meigs and Gallia counties leading up to the July warrant sweep.

Splash Park opens in Middleport

The splash park project that began in August 2015 was completed two weeks ahead of schedule to the delight of children in Meigs County.

The Splash Park opened July 25 in General Hartinger Park in Middleport. The recreation area resulted from efforts and cooperation between the Village of Middleport, Meigs County Commissioners, Meigs Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities Project and the county grant administrator.

Now completed, the splash park includes a Fill N’ Spill, Slash-O-Lator, Popp Dropp, Baby Long Legs, a Water Weave and Aqua Arch.

“The park is user-friendly: by pushing a button, the water is activated and shuts off automatically after 15 minutes if no one is there, or users can push button and it keeps going,” Laura Cleland of the Megis County Health Department said at the time of the opening. “We wanted something simple, user-friendly, for kids to use. All they need to do is push a button.”


Cash Mob invades Pomeroy business

The Meigs County Chamber of Commerce’s “Love Meigs, Shop Local” campaign took another twist with Cash Mob.

Based on a flash mob, an event where people show up at a designated place and time to sing and dance, people were encouraged to socialize and spend at least $10 at a locally featured store.

Organizers asked for community support and said that even spending a small amount can have a huge impact on local business.

Front Paige Outfitters was the location of the first Cash Mob in Pomeroy.

Cheshire man arrested following reports of shots fired

The Meigs County Sheriff’s Department arrested Brandon Levi Stewart following gunfire and a short lived chase.

The sheriff’s office responded to an emergency call from a Leading Creek Road resident, indicating a male at a nearby mower repair shop was demanding money with a firearm. The man, later identified as Stewart, fled the scene upon arrival of law enforcement.

Before being taken into custody, Stewart pointed a handgun at the Meigs deputies while making the escape attempt, and a deputy discharged their weapon though the suspect was not struck, according to the Sheriff’s office.

Statements taken from mower shop employees indicate the suspect fired a shot at them.

Spring Avenue fire

Eight fire departments responded to a house fire on Aug. 10 near downtown Pomeroy, working in the punishing summer heat to prevent the flames from claiming other nearby buildings.

Multiple responders were treated for heat exhaustion as the fire consumed two buildings and damaged a third. At least three firefighters were sent to the emergency room for heat exhaustion and dehydration, though some sources said as many as six were eventually treated.

Bystanders said the largest of the burned structures belonged to the historic Meigs figure Helen Lyons, and that all the buildings had been vacant for an extended period.

Imperial Electric expanding

In August, Nidec Corp., Imperial Electric’s parent company, announced a $3.2 million investment in the Middleport plant to keep the facility open and to update aging equipment.

Imperial Electric manufactures elevator engines and other products used by the elevator industry.


Meigs County records go digital

This summer interns at the Meigs County Courthouse, along with others, spent their afternoons digitizing Meigs Commissioner’s journals from the past 200 years. The large, bound, and mostly handwritten volumes were the sole copies and some had begun to degrade heavily.

The machine utilized, called a Bookeye 4, arrived in July and had to be coaxed through the courthouse doors due to size.

The standard process involved taking a large batch of scans, updating name and date tags on the newly created files, and creating a second digital backup. The approximately 1,000 pages per journal require about 1 gigabyte of storage. For comparison, the project would use about a third an average home computer’s storage. A second digital backup, stored in a separate physical location, makes the recorded information very resilient to loss.

AEP sells Gavin Plant in Cheshire

The Gen. James M. Gavin Plant in Cheshire was sold, along with three other plants in Ohio and Indiana, to a pair of private-equity firms by Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co.

The deal with Blackstone and ArcLight Capital Partners LLC was reported to be for $2.17 billion. In addition to the Gavin Plant, the deal also includes facilities in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and Waterford and Mount Sterling in Ohio. All told, the four plants generate about 5,200 megawatts of electricity in Indiana and Ohio.

The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017. AEP expects to net about $1.2 billion in cash after taxes, repayment of debt and transaction fees.

About 400 employees are affected by the sale, including 290 at Gavin, AEP’s largest plant in Ohio and a major employer in Gallia and Meigs counties in Ohio, and Mason County, W.Va.

Sentinel welcomes new managing editor

A familiar face and lifelong resident of Meigs County is back with The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley, of Syracuse, was been named managing editor of the Sentinel, overseeing the day-to-day editorial content selection and reporting duties. Hawley began her new role Sept. 15.

A 2004 graduate of Southern High School, Hawley earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008 from Ohio University. She began her journalism career in September 2009 as a sports reporter for Ohio Valley Publishing before transitioning to news in December 2011 with The Daily Sentinel. Hawley left the company in April 2014 for a position with the Athens Messenger

Morgan’s Raiders return to Meigs County

The Union and Confederate soldiers came face to face to reenact the only battle of the Civil War to be fought on Ohio soil.

In July 1863, Gen. John Hunt Morgan led Confederate troops through Ohio as part of what became known as Morgan’s Raid, with the key battle taking place at Buffington Island in eastern Meigs County near Portland.

In that battle, an estimated 1,800 Confederate soldiers and 3,000 Union soldiers battled where Morgan had planned to cross the Ohio River back into West Virginia. The battled ended with Morgan turning back into Ohio, being captured days later near East Liverpool.

The reenactment took place with the invasion of Chester, followed by two days of reenactment at Buffington Island. In addition to the reenactments, speakers were held each day to provide perspectives of the events of the time surrounding the battle. Civil War dances were also held, along with a memorial service.

Holzer CEO terminated

Dr. Christopher Meyer was terminated as chief executive officer by the Holzer Health System Board of Directors.

A statement released by Holzer stated Meyer was terminated “due to differences related to the direction of the organization and (the Holzer Board of Directors) relieved him of his duties, effective immediately.”

The Holzer statement added, “Dr. Meyer’s departure will, naturally, require some corporate restructuring which will be unfolding in the days and weeks to come.”

Meyer was named hospital CEO and chairman of the Board of Governors on Jan. 1, 2015. He replaced Dr. T. Wayne Munro, who retired Dec. 31, 2014.

(Left) The fire on Spring Avenue destroyed a structure which was previously a hotel. (Top right) The Splash Park in Middleport opened in July after several months of work and planning. (Bottom right) Meigs County records were digitized this summer in an effort to preserve the records. The fire on Spring Avenue destroyed a structure which was previously a hotel. (Top right) The Splash Park in Middleport opened in July after several months of work and planning. (Bottom right) Meigs County records were digitized this summer in an effort to preserve the records.
July through September

By Sarah Hawley