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Happenings of 2015

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

As we close the books on 2015, we take a look back at the events that helped shape Shepherdstown over the past 12 months. Many things have remained the same with celebrations and happenings that return year after year. We have enjoyed many parades, gatherings and get-togthers that happen on an annual basis.

In addition, we have seen some changes come the town. We said farewell to a police chief, a college president and a high school principal and welcomed new faces to those positions. We have seen many in this small town reach great heights in competitions, not the least of which were the Shepherd Rams making their way for the first time to a national playoff.

We share here with you portions of stories from the past year, bringing back memories of what has passed while gearing up for what lies ahead.

Rams make it to Kansas City

The road to an unbeaten regular season, wins in three straight playoff games and positioning in the NCAA Division II national championship game in the heartland of America was built with a foundation of solidarity, a stellar corps of linebackers, enough skilled offensive players, a helpful group of special teams and a trusted coaches-players relationship.

It took nearly four months to construct that rugged road made with as much heart as with muscle and talent.

That road will be long remembered when thoughts of Shepherd University football are brought to light even 50 years from now.

The 2015 team set so many records and standards while etching forever in minds the Saturdays and one Thursday night where 13 victories were achieved and the national spotlight shone for about a fortnight on the small-enrollment school situated on the shallow banks of the Potomac River.

Conference champions once more. Super One Region champions once more. Unbeaten once more.

National championship game for the first time.

Shipley resigns

In March 2015, Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley announced her decision to leave Shepherdstown to head back home to Texas.

There’s no place like home for Shepherd University President Dr. Suzanne Shipley, who plans to accept the presidency at Midwestern State University.

Shipley, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, was named as the “sole finalist” for this new position after the MSU Board of Regents unanimously endorsed her at a special meeting Monday. The announcement was made on the Wichita Falls, Texas, school’s website Monday night.

By Texas state law, university governing boards must name finalists for president at least 21 days before making an appointment. At that time, board of regents members will meet again to make the appointment – and Shipley can officially accept the position, she said. Current plans call for leaving sometime in July for this new job, she said.

Hendrix named successor

For the first time in its 144-year history, Shepherd University will be led by a Shepherd graduate. The Shepherd University Board of Governors today announced the selection of Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix as the 16th president of Shepherd.

Hendrix, a 1974 alumna of Shepherd, is president and chief scientific officer of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

A native of Shepherdstown, Hendrix is a nationally recognized leader in cancer research and has been a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils, the National Human Genome Research Institute Council, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Board of Scientific Advisors. Her many honors include a MERIT Award from NCI, a University of Iowa Award for Excellence and Achievement Among Women and the Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We are pleased that Dr. Hendrix has accepted our offer to serve as Shepherd’s next president,” said Dr. Marcia Brand, chair of the Board of Governors and presidential search committee. “We are confident that she can leverage her diverse academic experiences in the liberal arts, science and technology, administration, fund raising, community outreach, and national advocacy to advance Shepherd University as a center of excellence, innovation, and opportunity.

“Dr. Hendrix has a passion for this institution that is immediately obvious to all when she talks about Shepherd,” added Brand. “She will provide us with leadership to support our mission as a premier, public liberal arts university and will reinforce our core values of learning, engagement, integrity, accessibility and community.”

Pfau makes it on The Voice

The Start: Paul Pfau, a Shepherd University graduate and former Shepherdstown resident scored big with judges on the NBC’s “The Voice,” a nationally broadcast music competition for new and emerging artists.

During last Monday night’s blind audition Pfau impressed music stars and pros, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams, as well as Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine.

Pfau ultimately chose to join “Team Pharrell” and faced off in his first “battle round,” to stay on the show Tuesday.

Following news of his success on the show, Pfau told the Chronicle about his experience thus far.

“It’s awesome,” he said.

“It’s still crazy to think about.”

The finish: Local singer-songwriter Paul Pfau ends his time on NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice.” During a first ever tree-way knock-out competition, Pfau was defeated by fellow “Team Pharrell” musicians Mia Z and Sawyer Fredericks.

In a video message to family, friends and followers posted on his official Facebook page after Monday night’s show, Pfau reflected on his time in the competition and discussed what he’s doing now.

“This whole process has been the greatest experience of my life,” he said.

Pfau said he appreciates the outpouring of support he’s received.

“So many people have been behind me and I feel so touched by that. I feel so lucky to experience that amount of love and support.”

Pfau also spoke favorably about “The Voice” team.

“Everyone on the show, from the contestants to the producers, to the publicists, to the make up people the wardrobe people, the band directors, the band, every single person is amazing.”

Trey Frye releases album

Shepherdstown resident Trey Frye never dreamed those piano lessons he was forced to take starting at age 8 would be a precursor to a musical career. Now the young man is releasing his fourth album, the first one on vinyl.

The release party, scheduled for 9 p.m. at the Blue Moon, was released on the French record label “Data Airlines” as a digital album with a limited edition vinyl. Frye will have copies for sale at the release show.

Getting to this point has been an exciting road that Frye said started with those piano lessons. He quickly developed a love of music and shared that he played various instruments and played in various bands while in high school.

It was at that time, Frye said, that he happened upon a Youtube video of a man playing music off of a Game Boy video game in Japan.

“Immediately I decided I needed to figure out how to do that myself,” he said. “I discovered a sub genre of electronic music called ‘chipmusic,’ which is music created using outdated video game hardware,” he shared.

Using a program called Little Sound DJ, Frye composes and performs music using original Game Boys from 1989. When he composes, he uses two Game Boys where two copies f the program are synched together and all the sounds are layed with each other so it makes a full soundscape, he said. When performing live, Frye uses four Game Boys to allow an easy transition between songs.

Frye’s first CD, ‘Trey Frey’ was released in April 2010 and he followed in November 2011 with Trey Frey II. The next release, ‘Refresh,’ took some time to complete, as has ‘ Trs Frais.’

Frye, who is known as Trey Frey, shared that the name came about when he initially starting playing the electronic music.

“When I played my very first show, I didn’t have an ‘artist name’ yet and my friend jokingly called me ‘Trey Frey.’ That goofy rhyming inversion of my actual name just kind of stuck,” he said.

Solar Holler steps further

The local nonprofit Solar Holler is continuing its mission to make solar energy a possibility for communities across West Virginia.

This Saturday, Solar Holler will celebrate the successful installation of a panel system on the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Pubic Library.

Library director, Gretchen Fry expressed her enthusiasm about the project and its completion.

“We’re very excited,” she said.

“It was very inspiring that the community pulled together,” she said.

Fry said the ribbon cutting and open house Saturday will be an opportunity for members of the public to tour the library, view the panels and learn more about solar production through the presentation of a web tracker following the project.

Shepherdstown resident Dan Conant, founder of Solar Holler, said part of the organization’s goal in choosing the library as its second site was to establish a solar education tool for the families and children who patronize the library each day.

Police chief steps down

It was with extreme regret that Major Jim Auxer announced this week that Police Chief David Ransom tendered his resignation from the force, effective Wednesday, May 20.

Auxer praised Ransom for his dedicated service to the town of Shepherdstown.

“His dedication and willingness to help this community has improved our police department’s interaction with the citizens of the town and brought order and a positive light the the department,” Auxer said.

“We hope to have him return to the department soon,” Auxer continued.

Ransom, who has been with the department for nine years, explained that his resignation comes not because of any difficulty or dislike with the job; but rather, he must take some necessary time to deal with personal issues.

“I have tried to do my best to protect the citizens of this town and bring professionalism and positive interaction between the residents and the department,” Ransom said Wednesday.

“I hope to return to the department in the near future,” he shared; however a time frame is not definable at this point.

Sgt. Mike King was named as interim chief and took the official reins late in the year.

Pellicano sticks it with duct tape creation

Entering: Bailey Pellicano, a student at Jefferson High School, got creative for prom in hopes of bagging some prize money.

Entering the scholarship contest sponsored by ShurTech Brands LLC, the original maker of duck brand duct tape, Pellicano said she spent approximately 132 hours making her dress and her date’s tuxedo for the prom.

“I started on Feb. 20 and worked on it until May 2, about 12 hours a week,” she said.

The fashions encompassed 25 rolls of duct tape in a variety of colors. Black was predominant with a dozen rolls used with white coming in at four rolls, chrome at two and electric blue, light blue, red, orange, yellow, gold and green each at one roll per color.

The scholarship contest is held annually and is a national contest for any high school student willing to design and wear duct tape fashions to the prom.

Chosen for finals: Bailey Pellicano, who designed fashion wear for herself and date Timothy Butcher, for the 2015 ‘Stuck at Prom’ promotional contest, have made the national vote for the final selection of a winning entry. The top 10 entries were selected and have gone to the national vote for the winner.

Entering the scholarship contest sponsored by ShurTech Brands LLC, the original maker of duck brand duct tape, Pellicano, a student at Jefferson High School, said she spent approximately 132 hours making her dress and her date’s tuxedo for the prom.

Pellicano had previously shared with the Chronicle, “The inspiration for my design came from fire and ice,” she said. “I knew that doing a concept of fire and ice was very common and often cliched, so the design had to give it complexity.”

She explained that the swirl patter was something she had doodled in notebooks since middle school; however, cutting it out of duct tape was completely different and proved to much more challenging than simply drawing.

Pedalers make three-county trek

A steady stream of vehicles sporting bicycles made their way to Shepherd University’s campus Sunday [Sept. 20] morning to take part in the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club’s Back Roads Century event.

More than 2,300 riders participated in one of six possible rides that spanned across Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia as well as Frederick County, Virginia.

According to Kayla Tarte, event coordinator, with We Plan Your Party, riders could choose to ride the Century (100 mile) route, the Metric (64 miles) or the Half (54 miles); or, riders could choose fewer miles in unnamed courses of 38, 32 or 21 miles respectively.

Tarte explained that riders started off as early as 7 a.m. On what she labeled a “show and go” ride.

“There is no official start since this isn’t a race,” Tarte said. “Riders register, check in then ride. Many come as groups of friends who,ride together,” she continued.

A group of friends from the Northern Virginia area were a testament to the friends ride.

Lila Lawlor shared that she and her friends, Marcia Szott, Kim Vanderlinden and Joe and Karen Beitzell traveled out for their first experience in a pedaling event.

“We’re crazy,” she laughed as the group readied for take off.

In actuality, the group, who planned to ride the 54-mile route, have been training extensively in preparation. The longest training ride they have taken is 45 miles, they said.

Prior to the start of the ride, as well as along the ride, bikers could check in with a bike mechanic to make sure all bikes and equipment was safe. Tarte explained that various bike shops around the area volunteered along the way.

Volunteers served along the route to ensure that riders did not face difficulty. They were stationed at various sections of roadway that had been deemed as potentially dangerous, Tarte said.

In addition, riders were able to stop at any of the five rest areas along the way. Those five included the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Moulton Park, Clearbrook Park, Henry Arena and Beddington Fire Department. Food and drink that was purchased at the local Food Lion in Shepherdstown as well as the area’s local farmer’s markets was on hand for riders.

At the end of their ride, participants were invited to an after-ride gathering at Bellevue Manor where Shepherd University catering provided a meal.

Town Brewing opens to the public

If the inside of the long-awaited Town Run Brewing Company looks like a great place to bring one’s family, it’s because owners, Todd Cotgreave and Jessie Shanholtz designed it that way.

With a focus on community and history, the atmosphere at Town Run Brewing is quite unlike anywhere else.

Want to grab a beer with your kids in tow? This is the place. The owners encourage people to come in with their kids for a nice evening out without having to worry about a babysitter or an inappropriate atmosphere. Youngsters will have fun with pinball and video games, or they can play in a cozy nook, outfitted with bean bags, kids’ books and games. Grab a beer for the kids too—root beer, that is. There will be house-made sodas designed with children in mind.

“We actually had baby races the other day,” said Cotgreave, “and other kids who were in here built a fort under their table. That kind of thing doesn’t bother us in the least. We welcome it.”

Thanks to friends who taught him how to brew his own beer, Cotgreave applied that knowledge to his particular skill set of working in local eateries and distribution and jumped at the chance to buy the business when it came up for sale.

The warm, rustic interior has a charm and style that pays homage to the nostalgia and history of the building’s former occupier, Knode’s Southern States, and also includes bits of Shepherdstown’s other iconic establishments.

They even have town legend, Clifford Branson working with them, well-known from all his years at the Yellow Brick Bank.

Low carb takes area by storm

Over 70 people were in attendance Thursday night at Jefferson County Parks and Rec to learn how to take charge of their health and lose weight.

The event organizer, Melanie Miller, has been sharing her success story on social media since August. Miller had suffered a fall in 2012, severely breaking her leg and ankle. After surgeries, inactivity, and loss of mobility, she subsequently turned to food to find comfort and self-medication. Miller says that her consumption of sweets and comfort foods made her tired, but seemed to take away the pain, however, her weight steadily climbed to the highest it had ever been.

In late July of this year, Miller was invited to a health care meeting where she heard Dr. Mark Cucuzzella speak about the negative effects of sugars in the body, and if eliminated, better health and weight loss would result.

Armed with information, Miller began her low-carb lifestyle and has since lost nearly 40 pounds, and five dress sizes.

Several others gave testimonies as well, including Jewel Green, wife of NFL Hall of Famer, Darrell Green. Mrs. Green said that she has lost 13 pounds and 8.2 inches in five weeks, and her cravings for carbs and sweets are gone.

Terry Caswell, one of the hosts for the event, shared his story of being in the hospital on April 30 of this year. He was very overweight had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His A1C (test that measures the levels of glucose in the blood) number was 9.7, well above the normal range of 5.7 for a non-diabetic person. Caswell’s blood sugars were elevated to 240 (the normal range is typically 100-140). He admits to thinking that maybe the best years of his life were gone.

Caswell received multiple visits in the hospital by Dr. Cucuzzella, who shared with him the benefits of changing his diet to eliminate most carbs. Since that time, Caswell has lost 47 pounds, his A1C numbers have dropped to 6.6, and he no longer has to take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

The low-carb lifestyle that was made popular with the Atkins diet, is not without controversy. Robert Atkins’ book has been a staple in some diet circles for the past 40 years, touting protein and fat consumption, along with non-starchy vegetables, will help a person lose weight and have better health. Other studies that most of us have heard all our lives insist that heavy meats and fats will lead to heart disease.

Fraud trial ends with some guilty charges

The trial: More details have emerged about Shepherd University officials’ spending patterns during the trial of a former administrator accused of charging nearly $86,000 on a state-owned purchasing card for personal items and services.

While cross-examining state fraud examiner Tim Butler, defense attorney Shawn McDermott introduced bank statements of 50-year-old Elizabeth “Libby” Shanton’s co-workers, revealing they too spent thousands on meals and lodging with their state purchasing cards. Shanton is currently on trial for 53 counts of misuse of a state purchasing card and one count of fraudulent schemes.

The statements revealed that Rachel Meads, co-worker in the student activities office, spent roughly $5,000 in meals-double of what Shanton was estimated to have spent-between June 2011 and August 2012. Butler testified that he reviewed Meads’ purchases in order to establish a “baseline on the types of purchases” made by individuals with their job description.

“We were given a report from Shepherd to analyze this individual (Shanton) and the purchases she made,” Butler said. “We did a cursory review of Ms. Meads’ purchase in order to see what types of purchases were being made in this department, but we were focused on Ms. Shanton because that’s who the report was about.”

While McDermott focused on Shanton’s and Meads’ meal purchases in the Shepherdstown area during that time period, he always asked Butler whether or not “there was a culture of buying hospitality meals during trips at Shepherd”-which is forbidden by state policy and rules, according to Butler.

The verdict: A jury convicted a former Shepherd University administrator Tuesday [Dec. 15] of 14 counts of misusing a state purchasing card, while acquitting her of 39 counts of the same charge and one charge of felonious fraudulent schemes.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the jury of six men and six women delivered the verdict to Jefferson County Circuit Court, ending the 11-day7 trial of 50-year-old Elizabeth “Libby” Shanton. Following the reading of the verdict by a circuit clerk, Judge David H. Sanders remarked the trial “that was supposed to last a week and a day” turned into “the longest I’ve seen since sitting in Jefferson County.”

Sanders set Shanton’s sentencing hearing for Feb. 22, 2016.