MEIGS COUNTY — This year was memorable for many reasons in Meigs County and the staff at The Daily Sentinel have chosen some of the top stories of 2015 in the order in which they occurred:
Motocross racer dies during 152nd Meigs County Fair
On Tuesday, Aug. 18 during the Meigs County Fair’s Motocross competition, 21-year-old competitor Justin Hill received life-threatening injuries after being thrown from his motorcycle.
The race was halted while EMS workers attended to Hill. Only a few laps were left in the event when the incident occurred and once the track was cleared, racing resumed. No other cyclists were involved in the accident.
Hill was taken by paramedics from Meigs County EMS to Holzer Emergency Room in Pomeroy, and was pronounced dead from his injuries shortly thereafter. He was wearing a helmet and protective equipment during the race.
This was the first fatality involving entertainment in modern Meigs County Fair history. The fair continued as scheduled for the rest of the week following the incident.
Ernest Roach pleads guilty to murder of Ericka Brown
On Sept. 17 Ernest Roach, 37, of Racine, pleaded guilty to the murder of Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes, W.Va.
Roach pleaded guilty to one count of murder, which carries a 15-year to life sentence; tampering with evidence, which is a felony in the third degree and carries a 36-month sentence; and gross abuse of a corpse, which carries a 12 month sentence. He will be up for parole after 19 years in prison, but will remain behind bars if parole is denied at that time, The Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office said. Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams said the sentence would’ve been a similar time frame that he might’ve received had the case gone to trial.
A press release about the missing teen first appeared on the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office website Aug. 13, 2014.
The release did not identify what Brown was wearing at the time of her disappearance, but reported that she was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, about 100 pounds and had sandy blonde hair.
The sheriff’s office soon learned that Brown had been using Craigslist to meet men.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, along with the FBI, the Belpre Police Department and Washington County sheriff deputies went to Belpre on Aug. 29, 2014, to locate Roach. He was arrested the next day by troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Washington County, Ohio. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Roach on Aug. 30, 2014 — the same day Brown’s body was found.
Three arrested in connection with Meigs County burglaries
On Oct. 14, 2015 the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office arrested three individuals in connection with burglaries that took place in and near Tuppers Plains, Racine and Chester between Aug. 25 and Sept. 24, 2015.
Aubrey Williamson, 23, of Southside, W.Va. was arrested in Parkersburg, Josh Pauley, of New Haven, W.Va. was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Oct. 12 and Matthew E. Johnson, of Bidwell, Ohio, turned himself in on an unspecified day, was questioned and released after being given a court date.
Items frequently taken from homes included jewelry, weapons and money. Wood said many of the stolen items have since been recovered, with contact made with the victims so that they could properly identify the items, including jewelry that was sold to area Cashland outlets and pawn shops in the Parkersburg area.
Witnesses frequently said they witnessed a blonde-haired female driving a silver Pontiac Grand Am or Pontiac Grand Prix. The vehicle was later specifically identified as Pauley’s silver four-door 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix GT with West Virginia license plate number 1KC602.
Football player passes away during practice
Wyatt Barber, 9, an Eastern Elementary School football player, passed away on Monday, Nov. 2 during a football practice break. According to the Meigs County Coroner, Dr. Douglas Hunter, Barber’s death was the result of an abnormal left main coronary artery in his heart. His death garnered national media attention, with hundreds in attendance at a vigil in his honor on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.
Barber was participating in a youth football practice and players had taken a break from running sprints when a coach discovered him unconscious on the ground, according to the sheriff’s office. The practice at the time was a walk-through, not a contact practice, they said. He was laid to rest on Nov. 9, 2015. His jersey number was 56, with those at the vigil, holding their candles, creating the shape of 56 on the football field in memory of Barber.
As the 2015 elections wrapped up the night of Nov. 3, 2015, Meigs County learned that it will be seeing three new mayors. Bryan Shank won the seat for Pomeroy mayor over Victor Young III, Write-in Sandy Iannarelli won the vote for Middleport Mayor over incumbent Michael Gerlach and an unnamed write-in candidate for Rutland Village Mayor received 32 votes.
The Meigs County General Health District Levy did not pass locally, and on a state level Issue 3, which would allow for marijuana legalization and monopolies on marijuana, did not pass as well. Issue 1, regarding redistricting and Issue 2, dealing with the prohibition of the marijuana monopoly, passed at a local level and state level.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555 or on Twitter @JournalistKriz.