|Here are some of the top stories recorded by the Hur Herald in 2018. Perhaps the biggest story is about the decency of most of our mountain citizens and how they will help each other, even when they don't particularly like each other, many of them having passed into the great beyond this year.
1. METH USERS SURGE - Meth addiction has surged in Calhoun and regional counties since the drug cartels have taken over the manufacture and distribution of the drug, moving ahead of opioid addiction. West Virginia leads the nation with the number of addiction deaths. Addicts come from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds, a equal opportunity disease. Few meth addicts decide to follow a long term treatment plan toward recovery, and only about 6% get into recovery.
2. TRANSCANADA COMPRESSOR STATION SAVES CALHOUN BUDGET, MAYBE - A groundbreaking of a $94 million TransCanada compressor station in Calhoun is a life-saver for a dwindling Calhoun budget, bringing about $1.2 million annually to continue county services.
But now the West Virginia Legislature is prepping to eliminate the so-called "Inventory Tax," placing it for vote as a Constitutional Amendment, widely supported by national and multi-national gas-oil corporations and the coal industry. Also under siege is the royalty rights of WV owners.
Because the tax eliminates the personal property taxes on vehicles, state voters will likely support it. Passage means "zip" tax dollars from the TransCanada project, and just where state politicians will make up for the tax is a mystery, except to cost shift other taxes to taxpayers.
The Calhoun Commission is facing a major 2019 challenge to provide money to operate the county, even on a shoe-string.
IT'S OFFICIAL! GROUNDBREAKING $94 MILLION COMPRESSOR STATION - "Lifesaver For Calhoun"
3. COMMISSION REQUESTS HUD AUDIT AND INVESTIGATION CALHOUN HOMES - Calhoun Homes is a low-cost housing project at Mt. Zion. Following the discovery of high levels of meth in nine apartments and the relocation of a number of families, the management has been questioned by residents and some board members of the project.
CALHOUN COMMISSION REQUESTING HUD INVESTIGATE-AUDIT CALHOUN HOMES - Commissioners Concerned About $240,000 Grant
4. VITAL CALHOUN AMBULANCE UP AND RUNNING - Following MHHS saying they could no longer afford providing EMS services to the county, the Calhoun Commission established a new service board to provide the service. A new administrator for the program has already resigned, with Calhoun OES/911 Julie Sears stepping up to manage the service.
5.SCHOOL LEVY GOES DOWN - A small, short term school levy directed toward student services was defeated, passing in only 4 of 9 precincts 1,185-977. A primary element for passage was removing Grade 5 from Calhoun Middle-High School and returning the students to the two elementary schools.
6. FOODLAND SAVED - After over a year of problems keeping the store shelves stocked, the Grantsville, Glenville and Craigsville stores were purchased by Ike Morris WACO enterprises, the store officially re-opened with new fixtures and stocked shelves.
FOODLAND STORES CELEBRATING GRAND RE-OPENING DURING JUNE
7. NEW CALHOUN BANK DEDICATED - Following several years of study, a new Calhoun Bank complex was dedicated in December at the site of the former Grantsville Grade School and Hamilton property, with the former main bank facilities being donated to the Town of Grantsville.
RIBBON CUT FOR NEW CALHOUN BANK - "A Longtime Dream Come True"
8. UPPER WEST FORK BACK FRACAS - The changing of board members at the Upper West Fork Park has led to a contentious dispute between the former and new participates, their frustrations aired at a Calhoun Commission meeting, threatening the future of the Chloe facility that has served the community for about 40 years. A dispute several years ago at the Minnora Community Center caused its closure.
UPPER WEST FORK PARK OFFICIALS IN BITTER DISPUTE - Future Of Vital Facility At Risk
9. GRANTSVILLE GETS FUNDING $4.1 MILLION WATER IMPROVEMENT FUNDING, STREETSCAPE PROJECT AT STANDSTILL - A major $4.1 million water improvement project for the Grantsville water treatment plant is expected to be bid in 2019, according to Tim Meeks with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council. The project will improve water service to the other two county PSDs.
It was announced in 2016 that Grantsville will get a $350,000 Main Street Streetscape Project, a project that appears at a standstill.
"$4.1 MILLION GOVERNMENT FUNDS WILL IMPROVE GRANTSVILLE-CALHOUN WATER SYSTEMS - Supporting Pleasant Hill, Mt. Zion PSD, Grantsville Getting $350,000 Streetscape Project
10. 25 YEARS BRINGING REAL BROADBAND - Politicians keep announcing new initiatives to bring real broadband to Calhoun and rural WV, but things are the same. WV remains near bottom with access to real broadband. A local initiative between Clay, Calhoun and Roane currently brings better promise.
11. CALHOUN COURT DEALS WITH LARGE CAST OF MURDER PARTICIPANTS - Two Calhoun murder cases, the 2016 murder of Lewis Maurell Bartlett III, 37, of Parkersburg on Hardman Fork and the 2017 murder of Eugene Stevens. 77, of Norman Ridge has logged the court system, continuing to process the cases in 2018, in addition to many other drug related cases.
12. STATE POLICE DETACHMENT RETURNS TO COUNTY - Following several years of trying to pull the detachment, then doing it, causing the Calhoun Commission to be the primary advocate for its return, the county provide free office space in the courthouse.
STATE POLICE WELCOMED BACK TO COUNTY - "It's Pretty Remarkable," Detachment Returns After One Year
13. SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT RESPONDS TO RECORD CALLS - The Calhoun Sheriffs Department, Sheriff Jeff Starcher with few officers, responded to over 800 calls in 2018, recorded by Calhoun 911, in addition to numerous other calls not through 911. In 2017, when the State Police Detachment was removed from the county, 911 reports 928 Sheriff Department calls. Under the previous sheriff in 2016, 911 indicates 174 calls.
14. CALHOUN TEACHERS ACTIVE IN STATE WIDE TEACHERS STRIKE - Against the political odds, Calhoun and state-wide teachers participated in a strike that produced results, with the effort being duplicated in many states around the nation.
15. MAY FLASH FLOOD STRIKES GREATER MILLSTONE AREA - The Minnie Hamilton EMS station at Millstone was evacuated, with rain up to five inches falling in short order, a heavy amount of debris including propane tanks came down the stream, damaging homes, garages, outbuildings and roadways.