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A Look Back at 2016

By Staff | Dec 30, 2016

The top stories of 2016 included everything from snowfall to a short-oived video game craze to a crazy election with surprising results. Join us as we look back at some of the top stories from 2016.

Storm Jonas dumps snow by the yard

Storm Jonas walloped the Eastern Panhandle, and Shepherdstown specifically, pouring down more than three feet of snow and causing business as usual to come to a screeching halt. With weather forecasters promising blizzard conditions well before the mid-day start on Friday, most folks were able to get to the stores and stock up on supplies.

Those who were not able to stay happily indoors included the clean up crews locally and around the state who made their way onto the highways to treat for days prior to the snowfall and around the clock after it started.

Shepherdstown’s Public Works department cleaned the main streets of town, working around cars that were buried under drifting snow, allowing those who needed to be on the roads access to get around. The crews continued to work throughout the week opening up side streets throughout the town, much more rapidly than some of their neighboring communities.

That area of being tops was not only in the clean up, but in the snowfall totals as well as Shepherdstown received an official 40.5 inches of snow and recognition on national news broadcasts and even a BBC broadcast. Links to those news reports can be found on the Chronicle Facebook page.

Knowing that the storm was coming allowed county officials to prepare as well as the American Red Cross and the Jefferson County Animal Control. Shelters were established at Jefferson High School as well as Wildwood Middle School-a shelter that accepted animals as well as their human owners.

According to Brandon C. Vallee, AA/PIO/VC with Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, no four-legged friends made it to the shelter.

Currently, Vallee said, a shelter to provide a respite from the storm for the homeless in the area, is operating at Asbury Methodist Church in Charles Town.

The Homeland Security and Emergency Management office activated their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the start of the storm and will remain activated until its final conclusion, Vallee said Tuesday. He indicated that at the center, there were approximately 500 calls taken ranging from snow removal questions to needing medical assistance.

The West Virginia National Guard was activated and had six Community Assistance Teams (CAT) in the area. Teams consisted of two personnel and a humvee that was used for emergency transportation of individuals to such medical appointments as dialysis. Vallee shared that due to the need for an emergency procedure at Jefferson Medical Center, one CAT team transported the doctor and anesthesiologist to the hospital.

After the storm subsided, three teams left the area while the remaining three were in place through Friday.

Vallee shared that other calls coming in to the 911 Emergency Call center through Tuesday included 92 fire/EMS calls, 279 law enforcement calls and four calls for possible building collapse although none of those actually occurred.

Staffing in the EOC saw an average of seven people per shift, with many of those being volunteers who traveled to the Homeland offices in Bardane. Five individuals, including all of the staffers with the department, stayed around the clock at the facility and continue to do so during the remainder of their activation.

In the aftermath of the storm, Jefferson County Schools canceled school all week with hopes of returning on Monday. In an announcement put out to the public, these days off will now move the last day of school to June 8; however, there remains a possibility of a waiver from the state with regard to making up the days because the state was under a State of Emergency.

Snow plows continue to make their way onto secondary roads and into neighborhoods late in the week. Additional resources were sent from the Elkins District by the Department of Highways, Vallee shared Tuesday. The amount of snow was overwhelming for the equipment on hand, he said. In addition, the need to move the snow has caused extended delays in reaching some of the secondary and neighborhood streets.

The Operations Center has a list of contractors to assist homeowners with their plowing and shoveling needs. The EOC will give out contractors’ numbers on a rotation basis who have contacted us to say that they are interested in being put on the list. If you are interested in having a contractor remove snow from your driveway and sidewalks, please contact the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) hotline at 304-728-6345 or 304-725-7151.

Special hearing held on home rule application

More than 60 people were in attendance Tuesday to discuss Shepherdstown’s application for the home rule plan. Many of the attendees were business owners who expressed concerns about some of the proposals in the application.

The West Virginia legislature created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program and the Municipal Home Rule Board to oversee the program in 2007, to allow approved municipalities to implement ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations without regard to state laws, with the exception that proposals had to comply with the U.S. Constitution, the West Virginia Constitution, federal law, chapters sixty-a (“uniform Controlled Substance Act”), sixty-one (“Crimes and Their Punishment”), and sixty two (Criminal Procedure”) of the West Virginia Code.

Several West Virginia towns and cities have implemented home rule, including neighboring Charles Town, Ranson and Harpers Ferry.

Town council is anticipating that a home rule designation will help address some of the unique trials Shepherdstown has, but focuses mainly on three key areas: Marketing/revenue generation and collection, public safety and property maintenance.

In terms of marketing and revenue generation, council believes that it cannot provide adequate funding for advertising to attract visitors to the area. Council is stating that self-governance will allow for an ordinance permitting private establishments to serve alcohol on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m., thereby attracting diners who might have otherwise traveled to Maryland or Virginia.

In addition, the town proposes raising revenue by implementing a 1 percent sales tax increase on all taxable sales under West Virginia code, while reducing the business and occupancy tax to 3.75 percent for utilities; language that includes appropriating more than the .25 cents per capita per year to spend on advertising, imposing liens for delinquent town fees, and purchasing tax liens on properties with delinquent taxes, providing right of redemption to the town. The revenue generated can go for advertising as needed.

The public safety focus of the application proposes the use of traffic cameras, reduction of speed limits and placement of new crosswalks. Additionally, the town will enact ordinances exercising similar authority to that of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, such as regulation the hours in which alcolol may be served, conducting stings to regarding underage drinking and lowering the closing times of drinking establishments from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. Council wanted to be clear that they do not have plans to expand staff, and they would not be replacing the ABCA, but rather give local police the same authority as the ABCA, so that officers won’t have to wait to act when there is an infraction.

Local businessman, Eric Lewis pointed out that surrounding municipalities have already implemented a 1 percent sales tax, so when making a purchase in Charles Town or Ranson, the total is 7 percent, rather than the state tax rate of 6 percent.

Lewis stated that a 1percent sales tax makes more sense for business owners because a B&O tax must be paid even when the business loses money, whereas a sales tax is just added on to the sale of an item sold and requires no additional paperwork.

“A lot of the local municipalities-Ranson, Charles Town, Martinsburg—are moving away from the B&O tax to the extent that they can and moving toward the sales tax,” said Lewis. “Everyone pays sales tax. It’s tacked on to the cost of something you’re buying. The business withholds that from you, then remits it to the taxing authority. In the case of a municipal tax in West Virginia, there’s no additional paperwork. You pay that to the state on the form that you’re already filing. West Virginia does the calculating, keeps a really small piece, then sends a check to the municipality.”

Mark Everhart owner of Pigeonhole, LLC cited studies that showed a 1 percent increase in sales tax directly correlated to a 4 percent decrease in sales. Additionally, border towns are hardest hit by sales tax increases.

“Sales taxes unfairly target lower income workers, who often spend the entirety of their paycheck from week to week,” said Everhart. “In Shepherdstown, that would unfairly target our students and service industry workers.”

“My restaurant caters to people who might not be able to eat elsewhere in this town,” said Maria Allen, owner of Maria’s Taqueria “We try our hardest to keep our prices incredibly low; we’ve only raised our prices three times in seven years.” She continued, “One percent means a lot to a lot of people in this town-especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You guys (council members) need to realize that although we have the very rich in this town, we also have the very poor. We cannot exclude them from living and shopping here.”

Business owners spoke out against the implementation of speed cameras saying that it would deter visitors, seems unfriendly, and the revenue is shown to decrease over time. They also agree that bars should be allowed to continue to stay open until 3 a.m.

Todd Cotgreave, owner of Town Run Brewing said, “If bars close at 2, we’re going to lose an estimated $35,000 dollars a month-that’s in a February. When we opened the business, I was so surprised at 1:30 in the morning there was a whole bunch of people, calmly talking, taking sips of alcohol and having a nice time. Treating those people like criminals isn’t friendly. It isn’t Shepherdstown, and it doesn’t make sense, but where are you sending them? They will driving out of town limits to a place that is open later.”

Amid other concerns expressed, Mayor Auxer wanted to assure meeting goers that the town will not be spending money just to spend it. He said that council members try to be very careful with funds and not excessive in any particular area.

Business owners and council members alike proposed changing some of the language in the application to make it more fair and friendly to the local establishments.

Catie Delligati concluded by saying, “I think it’s great that we’re brainstorming and coming up with new ideas here, but creating a new plan at this point could set us back some in terms of timeline and getting before the board. (Home rule board) One thing to keep in mind is that after we’re accepted into home rule, the plan can be amended at any time.”

To read more about Shepherdstown’s proposed home rule plan, copies can be obtained at town hall during regular business hours.

The next town council meeting will be held on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

New President installed

at Shepherd

Shepherd University students, staff and alumni gathered to witness the installation of Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix as the 16th president of the university Friday afternoon.

According to Jim Staley, Shepherd University class of 1968, the master of ceremonies for the inauguration, Hendrix’s inauguration is particularly significant because she is the first Shepherd graduate in the university’s 145-year history to become the university’s president.

In her inaugural address, Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix said some students may face financial obstacles to higher education, but she said Shepherd University is dedicated to providing an affordable, quality education.

“Shepherd University gets 16 percent of its funding from the state, so public-private partnerships are the way to go forward. Generous donors support new scholarships and academic opportunities,” she said. “Collaborative partnerships lead to new training and employment opportunities for students.”

Hendrix said she wants to see Shepherd University regarded as a leader in techonological and intellectual innovation. She said an energy symposium held earlier Friday was a good example of science and technological innovation on campus.

“We at Shepherd University consider it a privilege to share knowledge with the next generation. Shepherd University gave me a wonderful academic foundation, and I used that to work in cancer research,” Hendrix said, adding that it was fitting to have her inauguration on the same day Shepherd students participated in Relay For Life, a fundraiser walk to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Prior to Hendrix’s inaugural address, there was an invocation by the reverend T. Mathew Rowgh of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Shepherdstown and the singing of the National Anthem, and several speakers from the offices of state politicians offered greeting and remarks to the audience. Mary Jo Brown, representing Sen. Joe Manchin, Congressman Alex Mooney, Chris Strovel representing Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and Joy Lewis, representing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, spoke during the ceremony.

Jim Auxer, mayor of Shepherdstown and Shepherd University class of 1969 graduate, also welcomed those gathered for the inauguration ceremony to Shepherdstown.

“Today, we are experiencing history in the making: Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix is the first alumna sworn in as the university’s president,” Auxer said. “We are proud to have one of our own become the president of our beloved university.”

Chris Colbert, a graduate of the Shepherd University class of 1995, offered a similar greeting to Hendrix.

“On behalf of the Alumni Association, we welcome you back home. Once a Ram, always a Ram,” Colbert said.

Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Dr. Marcia Brand, chair of the Shepherd University Board of Governors, then placed a gold medallion engraved with the Shepherd University seal and the university’s motto around Hendrix’s neck, officially installing her as the university president.

Hill said many of the elements involved in a university presidential inauguration are symbolic, and he said the robes and sashes, as well as the medallion, all have meaning.

Following the inauguration ceremony, Hendrix lit the ceremonial torch to kick off Relay For Life outside the university’s Butcher Center.

Ghosts of Shepherdstown coming to TV

The much-anticipated 6 part Destination America documentary series entitled, Ghosts of Shepherdstown, will air on Friday, June 12, at 10 p.m.

The show promotes Shepherdstown as the most haunted town in America.

Three experts in the field of paranormal research and study came to Shepherdstown at the behest of police chief King who said there had been an influx of 911 calls that were unexplainable during a time leading up to the filming in Shepherdstown.

“We get a lot of calls for an incident occurring that can’t be explained,” said King. “Someone thinks there’s someone in their house-they hear something, maybe footsteps-we get there to investigate and we don’t find anything. There’s no sign of damage, no forced entry, nothing missing, no other person in the house. It happens often enough that it bears looking into.”

A representative from Destination America said that they made follow up calls to the police department to ensure the accuracy of the information so that they could correctly reflect that most 911 calls here were treated as paranormal, as was stated in the show’s documentation.

The three stars of the show are Nick Groff, who is billed as America’s leading paranormal investigator, Elizabeth Saint, who has demonstrated a sensitivity to the paranormal and Bill Hartley, the paranormal tech “guru” who operates the instruments for detecting paranormal activity.

In the premier episode, the investigators provide an introduction to Shepherdstown’s paranormal world by visiting The Sweet Shop, where the night baker recalls strange incidents and ghost sightings. Subsequent episodes investigate happenings at Shepherd University, the houses on Stone Row, and other reported incidents in town, as well as the investigation of a sighting of a headless corpse floating in the Potomac River. The team also uncovers evidence that indicated witchcraft and satanic activity being practiced in Shepherdstown.

While there is much buzz and excitement about Shepherdstown’s rise to the national media outlets, and the anticipated tourism it will bring, not all of the locals are on board with the hype.

“There’s definitely a lot of things (paranormal) that go on in this town,” said resident Dave Achee, “but the over-sensationalism of what the show is trying to do here is a misrepresentation of Shepherdstown. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. I would tell people that if they’re interested in what is going here, come visit for themselves. Sit and talk with locals. Get real information.”

Cody Crawford, another resident said, “Locals think this whole thing is a bit of a joke-the way Shepherdstown is portrayed.”

Another local resident said he felt “protective of his town (Shepherdstown) and didn’t want it to be a laughing stock.”

The show will air on the Destination America channel for six consecutive Sundays. Check your local listings for channel information.

Jefferson High mourns loss of drama teacher

Social media was filled with questions early Wednesday morning regarding Jefferson High drama teacher Steve Glendenning. All to soon those questions were answered as Sheriff Pete Dougherty confirmed that an individual had been found dead at the school after they responded to a welfare check on Glendenning.

Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson confirmed that Glendenning passed away in a statement to the media Wednesday morning.

“The students, staff, alumni and families of Jefferson High School lost one of our own today,” Gibson said in an email concerning Glendenning’s death. “We share our condolences and sadness with each and every one of our Jefferson High School Cougars.”

Jefferson High principal Sherry McCall-Ross sent a recorded message to all parents mid-day on Wednesday to relay the news of Glendenning’s death and to share that grief counselors were on hand at the school for staff members Wednesday. Those grief counselors will be at the school Thursday and Friday, McCall-Ross’s message indicated, for any staff member, student or family member who may need to reach out to them.

Glendenning was the Jefferson County Teacher of the Year in 2012 and the West Virginia Thespians Theatre Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was a 1995 graduate of Fairmont State University and had served as Jefferson’s drama teacher for nearly 20 years.

Gibson said upcoming days will be devoted to helping Glendenning’s peers and students cope.

“We have an area set up for groups,” Gibson said. “We have rooms set up for individual counseling sessions for parents whose children may have known him.”

As students had conversed with their questions in the early morning hours seeking confirmation of the news of Glendenning’s suicide, so those students and their parents continued to converse throughout the day via Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat with thoughts of ‘G’,’ as he was known.

Jayne Caniford Mumaw commented, “A huge loss for JHS .. he was a asset for the drama department! He was always very pleasant to work with … just a[n] all around super guy.”

Katina Jackson-McDonald commented, “Prayers being lifted for Mr. G and his family!! He was a great teacher that meant so much to all of his students and friends. I never seen a teacher love his job so much like Mr. G!!!….R.I.P you will greatly be missed!”

Many called for prayer for Glendenning’s family and for his current and former students.

Students and peers of Glendenning gathered Wednesday evening at a candlelight vigil at Jefferson High School to share in their grief and mourn the loss of one who had so much positive influence on so many students.

Those with questions or concerns may call the school at 304-725-8491.

Eric Bell resigns following allegations of sexual abuse

Jefferson County Commissioner Eric Bell has announced his resignation from his position on the Commission in the wake of charges of an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy.

“After much consideration, I will be resigning from my position as Jefferson County Commissioner,” Bell said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon by attorney Matthew Harvey, whose office of Taylor & Harvey is representing him in the case.

“Addressing these allegations in court will be my primary focus and any distractions to the Commission will frustrate their purpose to serve the citizens of Jefferson County. I will not be making any further comments at this time.”

Bell is scheduled to appear in Jefferson County Magistrate Court on Thursday, June 30, at 9:45 a.m. in front of Magistrate Mary Paul Rissler, according to the court.

Bell, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, was elected to represent the Harpers Ferry district on the Jefferson County Commission in November 2014.

Bell was charged last week with sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust, possession of child pornography, and distribution and display of obscene material to a minor. Sgt. W.R. Garrett of the West Virginia State Police’s Crimes Against Children Unit said the alleged victim in the case is a 16-year-old boy for whom his parents trusted Bell as a “mentor.”

“They didn’t think anything of it,” Garrett said regarding Bell’s friendship with the boy. “They were quite shocked when I told them we had received a complaint.”

Garrett said he received a complaint from the Department of Health and Human Resources on June 8 alleging a sexual relationship between the boy and a man later identified as Bell. According to a criminal complaint, the officer met with the boy’s parents that afternoon. He was told the 16-year-old had recently told his parents he is gay, and they contacted Bell to act as a mentor to him.

According to his public Facebook profile, the 37-year-old Bell married his partner, William Lukenbill, on April 2.

The criminal complaint indicates the boy’s parents found Bell to be a good role model for their son, including taking him for a kayak trip on the Shenandoah River. The parents acknowledged a connection between Bell and their son via social media and their cellphones; however, they maintained they were unaware of any inappropriate behavior.

The boy’s parents, who Garrett said are not suspected of any wrongdoing, provided the boy’s laptop and cellphone for examination. According to the criminal complaint, incriminating information was found on the cellphone. A forensic exam of Bell’s cellphone also produced such results, Garrett said.

“We were actually able to recover some corroborating evidence through Snapchat, even though that’s typically not (available),” Garrett said. Snapchat is a social media app through which messages disappear after a short period of time. “What people don’t take into account is that phones tend to store and record data in other ways, so even though we may not be able to find things specifically through Snapchat, we can find (sometimes) other means through the phone (to access the information).”

According to the criminal complaint, nude photos and videos of both Bell and the boy were found on the phones. In an interview conducted by Garrett on June 13, Bell allegedly “admitted to taking and sending pictures” to the boy, as well as receiving pictures and videos from the boy. In addition, Bell allegedly said he never entered into a physical relationship with the boy and he “realized he made a mistake” regarding the pictures and videos.

Garrett said while the warrant for Bell’s arrest was filed in Jefferson County, he was asked to turn himself in to a Berkeley County magistrate.

“Since he’s a Jefferson County commissioner, that negated any kind of conflict there might be with the prosecutor’s office as well as the magistrate’s office,” Garrett said, adding that a prosecutor may need to be appointed by the state to handle the case.

Bell was released from custody on his own recognizance. He will be given the option for a preliminary hearing in the case at a later date, Garrett said.

The commission next meets Thursday, June 30.

Breaking ground

Shepherd University officials held a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday morning to celebratte and kick off construction of a new state-of-the-art residence hall on West Campus. The project is scheduled for completion by August 2017.

According to information shared at the ceremony, the 80,866 square foot, $22 million residence hall is being built through a public-private partnership, a first for Shepherd.

Guests at the event, hosted by Shepherd President Mary J.C. Hendrix, included Chancellor Paul Hill, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; Christine Hewett, representing Sen. Joe Manchin; Dr. Marcia Brand, chair of the Shepherd Board of Governors; James Vigil, vice president for administration and acting vice president for finance at Shepherd; Timothy McShea, Shepherd University Foundation board of directors member; and Tom Turbiana, president of EdR.

The university, the Shepherd University Foundation Sustaining Organization and EdR Collegiate Housing, a private company that has built and manages student housing in a number of states, are partnering to construct the residence hall on the West Campus near the Center for Contemporary Arts I. EdR Collegiate Housing was selected to oversee all aspects of the development of the project including financing, design and construction.

Turbiana told those gathered Wednesday that as a Resident Assistant (RA) at West Virginia University, he found his passion in working with college students and their housing and residence halls.

The Live and Learn facility being constructed at Shepherd will attract the best students and lead to higher graduation rates, Turbiana said.

“This will propel future Shepherd students to great heights,” he concluded.

According to Vigil, bond participation notes issued through the West Virginia Economic Development Authority are paying for construction of the building. Once construction is complete and Shepherd receives a certificate of occupancy, the Shepherd University Foundation Sustaining Organization (SUFSO) will use a 40-year USDA Rural Development Office loan to pay off the bond notes. SUFSO will own the building, and Shepherd will manage and maintain it.

“We felt in order for us to be competitive, we needed to have more modern and current residence hall facilities on our campus,” Vigil said. “I’m really excited. I think this is a game changer for the university. I think this is one of the pieces we need in order to grow our enrollment again.”

As alluded to by Trubiana, recruitment and retention of students is key to every strategic plan the university has ever had.

“The new residence hall will attract students and encourage them to stay and make the most of the on-campus experience,” Vigil said.

The new air-conditioned residence hall will have 298 beds in a mix of double occupancy and private rooms with no more than two students sharing a bathroom. There will also be nine units for resident assistants and residence hall directors, laundry facilities, shared kitchen space, study and social lounges, classroom space and a full service dining facility with an outdoor eating area.

Shepherd also plans to make changes to its existing residence halls to better accommodate students’ expectation of more amenities and privacy. Vigil said there are plans to renovate Kenamond and Gardiner halls on the East Campus, which were built in the late 1960s. On the West Campus, Shaw and Thacher halls, which opened in 1970, will remain traditional residence halls. The six West Woods buildings, which opened in 1985 and 1990, and the apartments, which opened in 2006, will offer more private rooms and house fewer students.

“Right now they’re primarily double occupancy rooms and what we found in surveying our students is they want more privacy especially as they mature in their college career,” Vigil said. “It’s okay when you’re a freshman to have a roommate and share a bathroom down the hall with 25 other people on your wing, but as you begin to mature, you want more privacy, you may even want a kitchen, and you don’t want to share a bedroom either. We’re sensitive to that.”

Vigil said the desire for more amenities is reflected in the occupancy rate of the various residence halls. During the 2015-2016 school year, the occupancy rate in the less expensive East Campus halls that lack air conditioning-Gardiner, Turner, and Kenamond-was 72 percent. The more expensive air-conditioned halls on West Campus-Thacher, Shaw and West Woods-had an occupancy rate of 88.80 percent, while the rate in the apartments-Printz and Dunlop, which are the most expensive housing on campus–was 89.50 percent.

“That gives you an example of the fact that students are making conscious choices to either not live on campus because we don’t have what they want or to live in a more expensive residence hall because it’s more comfortable for them,” Vigil said.

Vigil said the new residence hall will not be the most expensive housing offered. At a proposed cost of $3,300 per semester for a double room and $4,800 for a single, it will cost slightly less than the Printz and Dunlop apartments. The new residence hall will also available between semesters for conferences.

Pokemon Go!

The fascination with the Pokmon Go game shows no sign of stopping and the fun is being had by all ages. Individuals can be seen all around Shepherdstown, as well as practically any area, with their eyes focused on the hand-held screen as the player searches for new Pokmon to capture.

Much to the chagrin of some folks, those playing often lose track of where they are walking (as the game must be played while moving at a slow speed) and step into traffic or bump into others on the sidewalks.

The game, a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed and published by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, has players using their cell phone’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokmon, who appear on the screen.

To begin play, one must create an account that allows each player to customize their “avatar” by selecting hair color, eye color and the like. Once created, the avatar appears on the telephone screen which displays a map of the player’s location. As the player walks, the avatar walks.

What is a unique feature to the game is that the map can be seen in one of two ways: as a drawing based map or in real time using the cell phone camera.

However one views the geographic area, the goal is to find Pokmon. They appear as one walks and can be captured by using a Pok ball. At first, learning exactly how to capture with the ball is a bit daunting, but once one figures out how to throw it and hit the Pokmon while it is surrounded by the green circle, the fun begins.

Factors in the success rate of capture include the right force, the right time and the type of Pok Ball used. After capturing a wild Pokmon, the player is awarded two types of in-game currencies: candies and stardust. The candies awarded by a successful catch depend on what evolutionary chain a Pokmon belongs to. A player can use stardust and candies to raise a Pokmon’s “combat power” (CP). However, only candies are needed to evolve a Pokmon.

Features on the map include PokStops and Pokmon gyms. PokStops provide players with items, such as eggs, Pok Balls and potions and can be equipped with items called lures, which attract wild Pokmon.

Gyms serve as battle locations for team-based king of the hill matches. These are typically located at places of interest and can be found throughout Shepherdstown. Gyms tend to gear toward one of the three colors of teams-one selects a team after reaching a certain level. The three to choose from are Red, Blue or Yellow and each have different names.

While the game sounds confusing to one who has know Pokmon knowledge, those who have been fans of the cartoon creatures are thrilled with the new game.

Jeremy Mayer, a member of Shepherdstown Fire Department, has collected Pokmon cards since he was little.

“One day they’ll be worth money,” he laughed.

He enjoys the interactive game that allows him to search for his favorite characters no matter where he goes. On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., Mayer said he caught a lot that he didn’t have.

Mayer said he went to Washington to visit his older brother, who oftentimes he doesn’t have a lot in common with. But now, they both play Pokmon Go.

“It is something we can do together,” Mayer said, despite the difference in their ages.

CJ McNutt, of Ranson, also has fun playing the game.

“You can play with a lot of people,” he said. “You don’t have to know them.”

Add to the challenges of catching Pokmon and gaining items, the necessity to be moving while playing the game.

Advocates of the game tout the exercise-inducing activity and say that playing the game gets children and adults moving.

According to the Wikipedia entry on the game, each Pokmon evolution tree has its own type of candy, which can only be used to evolve or level up. The player can also transfer the Pokmon back to the Pokmon professor to earn one more candy and create room for more Pokmon. The ultimate goal of the game is to complete the entries in the Pokdex, a comprehensive Pokmon encyclopedia, by capturing and evolving to obtain the original 151 Pokmon.

For those who wish to give the game a try, it can be downloaded via the App Store; however, the app became so poplar so quickly that it jammed the loading of the game for many. Signing up to play through Google seems to be the opportune way to get into the game.

“As long as you pay attention as you go around and use common sense, it’s a great game to play,” said Ellie Lipsit as she stood near McMurran Hall, the site of a Pok stop.

Election 2016

Jefferson County witnessed a nearly complete Republican win in local offices during Tuesday’s General Election. Many of the wins were considered upsets as the citizenry made clear with their votes that a change is wanted.

The State Delegate seat saw Republican Patricia Rucker defeat incumbent Democrat Stephen Skinner who gave up his seat as Delegate to try for the State Senate. Rucker received 12,251 or 51.42 percent of the vote in Jefferson County to Skinner’s 11,533 or 48.41 percent. The seat also receives votes from Berkeley County as the seat represents that area as well. Rucker received 54 percent of the Berkeley vote compared to Skinner’s 46 percent.

Rucker and Skinner have faced each other before. In the 2014 election, Rucker fell short by 131 votes for the House of Delegate seat.

Incumbent Jill Upson, R-Jefferson, carried the election for the 65th House District with almost 63 percent of the votes, or 4,897 votes. Opponent Sammi Brown, Democrat, won only 37.34 percent of the votes with 2,926 votes tallied.

In the 66th Delegate race, incumbent Republican Paul Espinosa kept his seat earning 5,031 votes or 66.93 percent. His opponent, Democrat David Dinges, raked in 2,586 votes or 33.89 percent.

Riley Moore, Republican, edged out Democrat Rod Snyder to take the Delegate seat in the 67th District. Moore saw 4,203 votes or 50.50 percent compared to Snyder’s 5,105 or 49.33 percent.

The 67th district covers the northern part of Jefferson County including Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry, Bolivar and Shenandoah Junction. It has been represented in the Legislature since 2013 by Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson.

Moore, of Harpers Ferry, is the vice president at a government relations firm and has worked as a national security advisor on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. Moore ran on a platform dedicated to fighting for more jobs and opportunity, making sure that the Eastern Panhandle is treated fairly in Charleston, ensuring that students have the best school system and combating drug addiction.

Moore is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and grandson of former West Virginia governor and congressman Arch Moore.

Retaining her seat was Democrat Laura Storm who serves as Jefferson’s Circuit Court Clerk. She defeated challenger Ben Svendsen, Republican by earning 12,346 of the votes or 53.23 percent compared to Svendsen’s 10,811 or 46.61 percent.

The County Clerk seat was secured by Jacki Shadle, Republican, who earned 12,092 or 52.16 percent of the vote compared to Democratic challenger Herb Snyder. Snyder received 11,052 or47.67 percent of the vote.

Snyder had served as State Senator for several terms before deciding to not seek re-election for that seat.

The assessor position was retained by incumbent Angie Banks, Democrat, who has served in the position for several years. Banks was challenged by Republican Eva Alexander who secrued 11,283 votes or 58.92 percent compared to Banks’ 11,735 votes or 50.88 percent.

Several newcomers threw their names into the Jefferson County Commission race this election cycle, and Republicans Josh Compton and Caleb Hudson gained seats on the board.

Hudson, who will represent the Shepherdstown district, received 52.30 percent or 11,886 votes to defeat Democratic candidate Jan Hafer. The seat is currently held by Walt Pellish, who lost a bid to retain his seat in the primary election.

Compton, another newcomer to the Commission, defeated longtime incumbent Dale Manuel in the Charles Town district with 50.84 percent or 11,803 votes compared to Manuel’s 48.96 percent or 11,365 votes.

The Jefferson County Commission consists of five members, each representing districts throughout Jefferson County, including Harpers Ferry, Kabletown and Middleway in addition to Charles Town and Shepherdstown. Also on the Commission are Jane Tabb, Patrcia “Patsy” Noland and Peter Onosko.

Sheriff Pete Dougherty, Democrat, will fill that position through one more term. Dougherty faced off against Republican challenger Tom Newcomer. Doughterty received 12,745 votes or 54.19 percent to Newcomer’s 10,726 or 45.60 percent.

Stepping in as Jefferson County’s Prosecuting Attorney will be Republican winner Matt Harvey. Harvey received 13,026 or 56.10 percent of the vote compared to Democratic candidate Hassan Rasheed who earned 10,167 or 43.79 percent of voter’s choice.

At the state level, Democrat Jim Justice will serve as the next governor of the Mountain State while Mac Warner, Republican, upset the win for incumbent candidate Natalie Tennant for Secretary of State. John Perdue will continue as the state’s Treasurer and Kent Leonardt will now serve as the Commissioner of Agriculture, having defeated Democratic incumbent Walt Helmick. Patrick Morrisey, Republican Attorney General, will continue to serve as challenger Doug Reynolds could not attain the votes to defeat Morrisey.

All results are unofficial until canvassing is completed by the Jefferson County Commission.

Major redistricting

proposed by Jefferson County Schools

Jefferson County Schools officials are proposing a school redistricting plan to shift students from fast-growing schools to ones growing at a slower rate, school officials said.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson outlined the district’s proposed plan to the Board of Education at its meeting Monday night.

In an approximately 75-minute presentation, Gibson and other district officials provided 81 slides to outline the projected student residistributions in specific fast-growing elementary, middle and high schools to locations projected to comfortably stay within seating capacity.

If approved by the BOE, the plan would take effect in the 2017-18 school year.

Gibson said the plan is based upon anticipated increases in student numbers over the next 10 years.

“We are one of eight counties in the entire state that are actually experiencing growth,” Gibson said. “We are actually averaging 71 additional students per year, if you look over the last five years. We will reach 10,000 kids by 2027, and that is not nearly as far away as it sounds.”

The proposed plan would shift a specified number students from schools determined to be in “high-growth” areas in the county to schools identified as having a “low-growth” rate, Gibson said.

If approved, the plan would require shifting 341 elementary school students, 210 middle school students and 279 high school students to locations different from the one the student would be assigned under the district’s current geographically based plan.

Most of the student redistribution would come from schools located in the center of the county to schools located on the outer boundaries of the county, Gibson said.

If implemented, Gibson said the plan would put every school, except Washington High, under the 85 percent capacity mark.

The plan won’t require cuts of district staff, Gibson said.

Gibson said the 14-person planning committee that developed the plan recommends the 67 senior students who would be designated to shift to another school be allowed to graduate from their current high school.

Gibson said charts, tables and maps detailing the plan will be posted on the school district website, boe.jeff.k12.wv.us, today.

“The objective is to be very transparent and give the public every bit of information possible,” Gibson said.

Once the redistribution plan numbers are posted, the school district will review public comments on the school district website and then give a presentation at the BOE’s Dec. 12 meeting, Gibson said.

A second window for public comments would run from Dec 13. to Jan. 16. The district hopes the BOE will vote on the plan by the end of January, Gibson said.

BOE Chairman Scott Sudduth asked Gibson whether the redistricting plan would increase the district’s transportation costs.

“We don’t have an estimate on what the change in transportation costs will be with the move,” Gibson said.

School district transportation costs currently account for 14-15 percent of the school district’s annual $87 million budget, Sudduth said.

Sudduth also proposed the BOE contact the National School Boards Association to see if it can provide advice on how the school district can avoid “unintended consequences” when implementing the redistribution plan.