Looking back on 2008
Paw Paw Elementary School reopens a few days late after the holidays due to repairs required by a December 20 classroom fire.
A new firm named Berkeley Springs Instruments announces future plans to open in Paw Paw, but nothing will get under way in 2008. The firm intends to make robots that can be used to inspect and clean fuel tanks.
Dr. Donald Straus, pediatrician at Tri-State Community Health Center, retires.
The Arlington Institute, a futurist think tank, relocates to Berkeley Springs from Arlington, Va.
Glen Stotler is reelected president of the Morgan County Commissioners.
About 40% of Morgan County property owners get notices that their assessments will be going up 10% or more this year, despite the nationwide real estate recession.
The town's water pipe replacement project may be done, but Berkeley Springs Water Works is still losing up to 56% of its water due to leaking pipes. The Bath Town Council is studying remedies.
More than 30 stop signs are defaced around the county. Many have "KKK" spray-painted across them.
Rayloc announces that its Hancock plant will close in March, leaving 260 people out
of work — 40% are from Morgan County, 40% from Hancock and 20% from nearby areas.
Lee Fowler is named administrator of the Morgan County Health Department.
Jack Soronen is reelected president of the Morgan County Planning Commission.
Habitat for Humanity prepares to build its first house locally.
County Commissioners Glen Stotler and Thomas Swaim vote to establish a committee to discuss future land-use management, with the provision they not discuss zoning. Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson votes no because of the limitations.
The State Supreme Court agrees to hear Donald E. Largent's appeal of zoning case in Paw Paw.
U.S. Silica officials change course and decide that the company's main offices will remain in Berkeley Springs.
Neighborhood Watch groups are being planned for parts of Morgan County.
A new steel fabrication firm — Re-Steel Company — is coming to the U.S. 522 Business Park. A shopping mall is also being discussed for the county-owned park.
Irene Hedrick is appointed town recorder for Town of Bath, and Ryan Rebant is appointed to a council seat. The vacancies are caused by resignations from Recorder Garnet Marsh and Councilman Kenny Easton.
U.S. Senator Robert Byrd announces that $980,000 has been secured for turning the old Western Maryland Railroad right-of-way in western Morgan County into a hiking-biking trail.
The Berkeley Springs Fire Department receives a $261,250 grant for a new fire truck.
After some flip-flopping, the West Virginia Public Service Commission decides that the state's new telephone area code — 681 — will be used for new phone customers only. Starting in February 2009, all local calls will have to be prefaced with the 304 area code.
The Bath Town Council pays a legal bill of $2,070 for research into the town's liability because rubble from the town's water line project was dumped on property belonging to Mayor Susan Webster. The U.S. Corps of Engineers says the material was dumped in a wetland without a permit.
Eight Berkeley Springs High School wrestlers go to state competition after winning at regionals. Brad Reed takes the State AA Wrestling Title in the 119-lb. class. The Berkeley Springs team finishes fourth in the state.
Residents of both Morgan County and Hancock question why sports competition between the two towns will end after this year.
Warm Springs Public Service Board informs residents that they must hook up to the new sewer lines if the lines go by their properties.
Denver A. Youngblood pleads guilty to two sexual abuse charges. The West Virginia Supreme Court last year ordered a new trial for Youngblood, who was originally found guilty of sexual assault and other crimes in 2003.
Circuit Judge Gina Groh rejects a no-contest plea to involuntary manslaughter from Brian "Danny"Murray. In 2007, the State Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Murray, who was convicted in 2005 of failing to stop and render aid to a bicyclist who died after being hit by Murray's car in 2004.
Test wells drilled in the Rock Gap area look promising as a future public water source for Morgan County.
Susan and Rick Parker make the first donation of land for the county's Farmland Protection Program. They promise not to develop or subdivide 92 acres of their 170-acre farm.
The Berkeley Springs High School Lady Indians Basketball Team wins the Class AA Region II Championship.
Medical trash and papers are found in downtown yards in Berkeley Springs. A Hazmat team is called in for the cleanup.
Berkeley Springs High School shortens class periods by five minutes to create a new end-of-day period to tutor failing students.
Denis Scott is named the new Morgan County Extension Agent.
The Rayloc plant closes its doors on March 17 after 36 years in Hancock.
Helen Mildred Huffman, 98, of Berkeley Springs is inducted in the new West Virginia Voter Hall of Fame as Morgan County's oldest active voter.
The State Tax Department rejects an attempt by County Commissioners Glen Stotler and Tommy Swaim to cut real estate assessments. Tax Commissioner Christopher Morris said assessments here are still on the low side and that if Morgan County officials want to cut taxes, they should reduce tax rates. The commissioners and the school board both cut their tax rates the following week.
James Minton resigns as police chief for Town of Bath.
A $7 million loan for the new courthouse is announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The loan was sought by the county commissioners with Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito's help. It will kick in when a balloon payment is due in five years on a $9 million low-interest state loan.
Carl M. Freeman Companies asks the commissioners to approve a special Coolfont Community Enhancement District. They want to impose higher property taxes within the new Coolfont development and use the additional money to pay for their infrastructure.
The Morgan County Commission, School Board and Bath Town Council all cut property tax rates slightly, but most tax bills still go up in July due to higher home assessments. The Morgan Messenger reports that the average property tax bill in Morgan County more than doubled between 1998 and 2008.
Brian Cecil Shaffer, 47, dies in a one-car accident on U.S. 522, north of Berkeley Springs, on April 5.
Among the 18 people indicted by the April Grand Jury are two teenagers charged with raping a 16-year-old girl.
Jeanne Mozier receives a Small Business Administration award for championing women in business.
Jerome "B. J." Smith becomes the third man charged in the murder of Keese Bare in 2004. Vernon L. Kerns, Jr. and Jason M. Payne were previously indicted.
Michael L. Hofe of Berkeley Springs, who faces embezzlement charges here, pleads guilty in Hampshire County to 24 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses.
A house fire near Pleasant View on April 29 claims the life of Carol Pospisil, 66.
Test wells drilled in the Rock Gap area, for a possible future public water source, prove disappointing. The county drops its option to buy the property.
The Morgan County Commissioners agree to explore selling the business franchise of county-owned War Memorial Hospital. Meantime, planning continues for a new hospital.
The Morgan County Commission continues to work on funding for a new courthouse. A $600,000 grant is secured from the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. Final approval is given for a $7 million state loan.
Berkeley Springs High School Softball Team wins the Section I, Region II title, but loses in regional finals.
Denny Golden and Josh White of Berkeley Springs High School qualify for the Class AA state tennis tourney.
A jury finds Jason Payne guilty of second degree murder for his role in the slaying of Keese Bare in 2004. In June, Payne will be sentenced to 75 years in prison.
Laura Smith and Larry Omps are reelected to the Morgan County School Board in the May 13 election.
In the contested races in the Primary Elections, Vince Shambaugh wins the Republican nomination for sheriff; Stacy Dugan wins the Democratic nod for county commissioner; and John Allen Swaim gets the Democratic nomination for assessor.
Berkeley Springs High School Baseball Team loses in the championship game at the Class AA Regional finals.
Many people are tested for tuberculosis after it becomes known that a War Memorial Hospital patient had tuberculosis when he was admitted to the hospital in April.
Central Hardware becomes the latest business to open in Paw Paw.
Dr. Matt Hahn is fired from Tri-State Community Health Center in Hancock for trying to present a grievance to the board on behalf of staff members. More than 50 of his patients travel to McConnellsburg, Pa. to ask the board for his return. Others write letters and cancel their appointments with the clinic. The board refuses to reinstate Hahn.
Amanda Beckman, Alison Carter, Karen Chaffee, Sam Gray, June Qualls and Colleen Stotler are winners of the 2008 Morgan County Photo Contest, sponsored by The Morgan Messenger.
Emily Hornbaker is valedictorian and Paul Truitt is salutatorian at Berkeley Springs High School, which graduates 143.
Michael Bradford is valedictorian and Caitlin Shambaugh and Daniel Oliver are co-salutatorians at Paw Paw High School, which graduates 18.
Alicia Meyers is Miss Paw Paw at the town's Memorial Day parade and festival.
Food banks and social assistance programs are seeing increased need from citizens, particularly those facing electrical shutoffs. Food prices increase and gasoline reaches the $4 per gallon level. In the fall, gasoline prices begin dropping to former levels.
State highway officials are looking at whether to make the new 4-lane U. S. 522 a toll road to pay for its construction.
The Morgan County Commissioners and Hancock Town Council seek local representation on the board of the Tri-State Community Health Center.
A raid in Great Cacapon yields more marijuana at a home that had already been raided on May 16.
A.C. and Shirley Bohrer put 100 acres of their farm at the Virginia line into the county's Farmland Protection Program.
The local Relay for Life raises $38,000 for cancer research.
The Bath Town Council moves to annex a town-owned tower site and plans to try and annex Greenway Cemetery next.
Dr. Robert Rentschler, 59, the principal of Warm Springs Elementary School, dies of a heart attack while bicycling.
Boys & Girls Club policies allowing kids to sign out are questioned by residents of the neighborhood.
Michael Twigg is selected to the Class AA All-State Baseball Team.
Huberta Shade retires after 37 years of service at CNB Bank.
Three veteran teachers retire from Morgan County Schools — Daisy Fox and Catherine Waugh, both with 33 years service, and Gary Gaither, with 30 years service.
A proposed water rate hike by the Berkeley Springs Water Works is put on hold by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.
A free dental clinic at Hedgesville High School helps hundreds. Local dentists Tom Leslie, Magic Miller and Zachary Law participate.
Bids are being sought for construction of the new Morgan County Courthouse.
The Bath Police Department is short-handed due to the resignation of Officer Richard Haynes and Corporal Craig Pearrell's deployment to Iraq. By month's end, three new officers are hired.
The cost of the first phase of the town's Streetscape plan exceeds the available funds by $264,000.
Cindy Moore, a former deputy assessor, sues the assessor and county commissioners for wrongful firing.
The Morgan County Junior League baseball team heads to the state tournament.
Brian "Danny" Murray pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor, in the death of Justin McAnulty, an 18-year-old bicyclist hit by Murray's car in June 2004. The plea ends four years of trials, appeals and legal proceedings.
Betty Hutchinson retires after 50 years at Hunter's Hardware.
Ground is broken for a county soccer complex, south of Berkeley Springs.
School lunch prices go up a dime for students and 50 cents for adults due to higher food costs.
A string of burglaries in the Paw Paw area causes residents to begin a Community Watch group, following a well-attended public meeting.
The Country Inn is robbed on July 30. A large amount of cash is stolen from the safe.
The Morgan County Commissioners agree to offer the county-owned War Memorial Hospital business for sale, with proceeds expected to be used to help pay for the new courthouse. The idea originated in a Morgan Messenger editorial in September, 2007.
A big powerline project – PATH – may cut through Morgan County, according to Allegheny Power. Hundreds of county residents mobilize, attend a public meeting, write letters and sign petitions. The Morgan County Commissioners pass a resolution asking the power company to keep the transmission line out of Morgan County.
The Morgan County Fair is bigger than ever.
Morgan County ambulance fees in the first year brought in $587,850 for rescue squad operations, it is announced.
Milestone Construction of Sterling, Va. is the lowest bidder for construction of the new courthouse with a bid of $10,448,000.
Tina Marie Atkins, 37, of Hedgesville dies as a result of an automobile accident on Cherry Run Road. Her son, David Allen Spurlock, is indicted by the September Grand Jury on a charge of DUI causing death.
The Morgan Messenger wins six first places and five other awards in this year's Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association.
Work on the new soccer complex south of Berkeley Springs, turns up 300 abandoned old tires on the site.
A 45-hour standoff at America's Best Value Inn at the Hancock Bridge shuts down interstate traffic on U.S. 522, affecting travel, shopping and work attendance. No one is hurt in the end. James A. Prevatt III and Rene Reynolds are charged with a variety of offenses. The incident began when police tried to arrest Prevatt on outstanding warrants.
The West Virginia Division of Highways announces it is scrapping plans for a new U. S. 522 toll road through Morgan County due to negative press and public response.
Margaret Gordon resigns from the Morgan County School Board due to a conflict with her new job as law clerk for Circuit Judge Gray Silver.
When it is announced that he Morgan County Emergency Assistance Team (McEAT) may have to close its food bank because stocks are depleted, donations bring in more than $12,000 to keep the local charity going.
Bath Town Clerk Margie Allgyer is named West Virginia Municipal Clerk of the Year.
A large crowd of 275 people attend the ground-breaking for the new Morgan County Courthouse on a rainy Saturday, September 6. The new facility is expected to be completed early in 2010.
Copper thefts are up due to the high price of metal. Thefts include wire from along the B&O mainline, threatening railroad safety signals.
The Morgan County Commissioners approve a community enhancement district to help fund infrastructure for the new Coolfont resort that is being planned.
Beth Peters Curtin is named a Woman of Distinction by the Shawnee Council Girl Scouts.
The Morgan County School Board chooses former board member Luke Christie from the 13 people who applied for the board vacancy created by Margaret Gordon's resignation.
Berkeley Springs Indians Cross Country teams win the Potomac Valley Conference's Class AA titles.
Boy Scout Troop 12 is inducted into the Apple Butter Hall of Fame.
Rodney D. Hovermale is named System Manager of the Year for his running of the Warm Springs sewer system.
Kate Stotler is named Morgan County Teacher of the Year.
The Town of Bath is ordered by the West Virginia Public Service Commission to increase water rates.
People are signing "Stop PATH" petitions against the PATH powerline project. The county commissioners endorse the Stop PATH movement.
The 35th annual Apple Butter Festival is a lively event with 25,000 people filling Berkeley Springs streets.
October sees extremely active election campaigns for offices from the president on down. Especially active locally is the race between County Commission president Glen Stotler and challenger Stacy Dugan. Continuation of the special school levy for another five years is debated in Morgan Messenger pages.
Bath Town Council considers a ban on sidewalk signs.
Tex Hessler is hired as clerk of the works for the courthouse building project.
West Virginia leads the U.S. in deer collisions, it is announced.
Allegheny Power announces that the PATH power lines will probably not come through Morgan County, after all. Alternate routes are being considered south of here.
Lee Fox and Tom Seely are honored for their community service by receiving the Sheriff's Extraordinary Citizen Award.
Ellen Burnett, 88, of Great Cacapon dies on October 16 from injuries in an auto accident.
Kevin C. Anderson, 38, and Devon Savasten, 34, both of Great Cacapon, die as a result of a car accident in Preston County on October 23.
Jesse Godsey, 36, of Mercersburg, Pa. is killed in an auto accident on Rt. 9, east of Berkeley Springs, on October 25.
Berkeley Springs High School Homecoming King and Queen are Dean Vosburgh and Morgan Young.
Berkeley Springs High School boys win the regional cross-country title.
Barack Obama is elected president of the United States in the General Election on November 4. Locally, Stacy Dugan defeats Glen Stotler for the county commission seat that he has held for 24 years. Ronnie McIntire, who leaves the sheriff's office at the end of the year, defeats incumbent John Allen Swaim for assessor.
Morgan County receives a $225,000 federal grant to provide geothermal heating for the new courthouse under construction.
Lenny Roach of the Berkeley Springs High School Cross-Country Team wins the state individual title.
Berkeley Springs High School Soccer Team wins the Region II title.
Plans are unveiled for possible future fire stations in Morgan County.
The proposal for a North Berkeley playground and park moves to the planning stage.
The state approves funding for an architectural firm to plan improvements at Cacapon State Park, including 100 rooms, an indoor pool and a spa facility.
A group of county residents protest Verizon's foot-dragging in providing broadband internet service countywide.
The first day deer kill in the county is 344, down from 406 in 2007.
A fire on Thanksgiving morning destroys a mobile home belonging to Charles Cain.
U.S. Silica Company is sold to Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco-based investment firm.
Deer kill is down in Morgan County during the two-week firearms season. Unofficially, 1,319 deer were checked in, compared to 1,589 last year.
A permanent Morgan County Recycling Center opens south of Berkeley Springs on December 15, after years of a portable recycling unit touring the county. A large crowd turns out for the ribbon cutting.
Nature Niche and the Rag Shop tie for first place in the annual Christmas decorating contest held by Travel Berkeley Springs. Leona's Pet Grooming wins the prize for outdoor display.
The West Virginia Supreme Court tosses out the Paw Paw Zoning Ordinance because the Paw Paw Town Council did not have a town comprehensive plan when zoning was adopted in 1972.
The Morgan County Commissioners vote 2-1 to sell the county-owned War Memorial Hospital to Valley Health Systems of Winchester. The deal is contingent on Valley Health getting state approval to operate the present facility and build a new one. Valley Health was the only company that bid for the business.
A lot of concern locally and nationally about the faltering economy and about how many people are having trouble paying for medical care and insurance.