A look back on 2023


Berkeley Springs High School wrestlers come in second at the Max Horz Holiday Invitational.

West Virginia Department of Transportation awards a $35 million contract to A.L.L. Construction Group of Mt. Storm, W.Va. to design and build a connector road from the end of the 522 Bypass to U.S. 522 south of Sandmine Road. The project is to be completed by July of 2025.

Sean Forney is elected president of the Morgan County Commission for 2023.

A Morgan County Grand Jury indicts 22 in their January term.

Marshall Younker is chosen as the county’s interim 911 director.

Mountaineer Community Health Center drops their plans to build a specialty medical center behind their health center in Paw Paw, saying the costs will be too high.

Lotus Recovery Centers confirms their plans to sell the Old Bath School to a developer to build a recovery center. Lotus bought the old school from Morgan County in May 2021.

The Green Street property owned by Lotus Recovery Centers is being sold to a potential buyer who will renovate the building to Lotus specifications.
photo by Kate Shunney

Berkeley Springs High School’s Academic team wins the West Virginia Regional Showdown at Shepherd University on January 21.

Valley Health announces it will close its fitness center in Berkeley Springs on February 1. The facility will keep its physical therapy services. Fitness center customer express surprise and frustration at the sudden closure.

Patrolman Richard Cook is named interim Police Chief for the Berkeley Springs Police Department.

West Virginia State Police find a cache of methamphetamines and weapons at a Largent home. Brian Wilkinson is charged on multiple criminal accounts.

Jason Smith starts work at the new Assistant Principal at Berkeley Springs High School on January 23.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) says their plans to seek proposals to put RV camping in Cacapon State Park won’t interfere with mountain bike trail development.

Berkeley Springs High School wrestler Lilly Morgan takes first place at the Montgomery Blair Girls Wrestling Invitational in Maryland.


A garage fire off Cold Run Valley Road spreads to the woods and burns over the top of Warm Springs Ridge before firefighters knock down the blaze.

Myers Road is closed permanently by the U.S. 522 bypass, which cuts the road in half.

Citizens fill the Morgan County Commission meeting on February 1, pressing officials to stop or intervene in plans to add an RV campground to Cacapon State Park.

Valley Health fitness center clients ask county officials to help find alternatives for a community exercise facility.

Jurors convict David Gerhard of a 2022 armed robbery along River Road.

John Kialek turns 100 and gets a party at War Memorial Hospital’s extended care.

Morgan County Commissioners commit $82,000 in Hotel/Motel funds to match a federal grant that could pay to study a walking corridor from Morgan Square shopping center to the C&O Canal in Hancock.

Warm Springs Middle School student Willow Rhoten wins the West Virginia Middle School Women’s State Wrestling Championship.

Bypass construction closes Keystone Lane near Martinsburg Road.

A campfire explosion involving a flammable liquid sends five people to the hospital with injuries.


Rick Unger of Hedgesville, volunteer with the Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society, is named a West Virginia History Hero.

Empire Cheer wins at the Maryland Madness Tournament.

Four student projects from Morgan County take first place at the Regional Science Fair. Gabriel Edwards, Greyson Beckman, Parker Stotler, Abby Culp, Lillian Barkley and Abigail Close earn a trip to the State Science Fair.

A fine, pale dust settles over the region, concerning residents. The Department of Environmental Protection says it is primarily made up of tree pollen from a warm spell and includes mineral matter.

The 33rd annual International Water Tasting is held at The Country Inn on February 25, drawing visitors and entries from the West Indies, Japan, Greece, Korea, Bosnia and other locations. Municipal water from British Columbia, bottled water from Italy and sparkling water from Bosnia win the top prizes after live judging.

Bath’s Historical Landmarks Commission says it will focus on educating the public and the value of historic structures in Berkeley Springs.


Berkeley Springs High School sophomore Evan Zombro wins a state wrestling title on March 2. Senior Isaac Harris is state runner-up.

State foresters warn that local woods will see damage from spongy moths in spring and summer.

William Carper is hired as the new Town of Bath police chief.

Berkeley Springs Police Chief William Carper says the police department needs to rebuild to have a constant presence. photo by Trish Rudder

Morgan County resident Geoffrey Reed is brutally killed in his residence on March 9. After a multi-day manhunt, Ian Bosben-Grayson of Maryland is found and charged with Reed’s murder in Jefferson County.

A Morgan County jury finds Christopher Cook guilty of sex offender registry violations.

A fire on March 6 in Largent destroys a residence.

A Frederick County, Va. jury finds Josh Reed of Berkeley Springs guilty of felony child abuse at a weeklong trial.

County real estate and personal property values rise by 4.2% for the new tax year.

Headstones at Greenway Cemetery are vandalized.

Morgan County Commissioners approve a $12.7 million fiscal year budget for 2023-2024 on March 15. The budget includes $4 million on ARPA funds and carryover from the previous fiscal year.

Agriculture officials ask the public to help stave off the spread of the destructive spotted lanternfly, which is confirmed in all counties in the region.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources releases the details of three Cacapon RV campground proposals and sets a public hearing on the proposals.

Shanahan Elmore is named the Morgan County Teacher of the Year.

The Morgan County Board of Education keeps school levy rates level for the coming tax year.

Janet Rockwell is chosen as the Morgan County School Service Person of the Year.

Families and school bus drivers tell the county school board of troubles with bus routes due to a shortage of drivers.

Plans are submitted to the Morgan County Planning Office for a Rutter’s gas station and convenience store by the new Berkeley Springs DMV office.


Brush fires on Timber Ridge, in Great Cacapon and in Hancock pull fire companies in multiple directions as high winds kick in.

Paw Paw’s police chief is charged in Hardy County with the misdemeanor of misusing confidential information.

Morgan County’s Grand Jury indicts 19 in their April term, including Gabriel Cardwell for the 2022 murder of Scott Mullen.

County Commissioners tell the DNR/State Parks officials that a large RV campground wouldn’t fit the character and layout of Cacapon State Park.

West Virginia DNR cancels a public hearing on the Cacapon RV campground proposals, responding to a legal challenge that they didn’t follow public notice rules about the meeting.

Beams are placed over Winchester Grade Road as the first U.S. 522 Bypass overpass takes shape.

Eight people file to run for five council seats for the Town of Bath. Scott Merki seeks another term as mayor, and Recorder Susan Webster runs for another term.

Cynthis Robertson, Jamie Hedrick and Amber Guthrie are honored as “Whirlwinds of Change” for work preventing child abuse in Morgan County.

West Virginia DNR says it won’t move forward with any of the three RV campground proposals for Cacapon State Park. Park officials say they will survey park users and supporters about the amenities they want to see in state parks.

Morgan County school board members renew Kristen Tuttle’s contract as School Superintendent for another four years.

Six people file to run for Paw Paw council. Mayor Darlene Abe runs unopposed for another term.

Pharmacist Ken Reed announces a run for West Virginia Secretary of State. The former County Commissioner and State Delegate will seek the Republican nomination in 2024.

Berkeley Springs High School’s tennis team captures the PVC Tennis Championship on April 21.


Morgan County Partnership receives a $100,000 grant from Valley Health for their prevention and mental health programs.

Dominic Tanouye and Dalton Kasekamp capture the PVC Track & Field Championship.


Jeremiah Clark, Rhaina Botticher and Zachary Stallard are Morgan County’s Golden Horseshoe winners. The Golden Horseshoe test taken by eighth graders measures their knowledge of West Virginia’s history, culture and government.

Morgan County’s school board approves a $29.7 million budget for fiscal year 2023-2024.

Berkeley Springs High School tennis team qualifies for the state tournament.

Morgan County’s Planning Commission approves a Commercial Improvement Location Permit on May 23 for a planned KOA-branded RV campground in Great Cacapon on a split 6-4 vote following hours of citizen feedback, mostly against the project.

Berkeley Springs High School senior Matthew Leasure is named a National Merit Scholarship winner.

Discovery of a deceased male on a property along Winchester Grade Road on May 26 opens a suspicious death investigation.

Morgan County Commission makes a bid to buy Rankins fitness center for a county facility.

Morgan County’s Board of Education adopts a $36.8 million budget for fiscal year 2023-2024.

Berkeley Springs High School’s Class of 2023 graduates on May 25. Matthew Leasure is Valedictorian and Emma Christie is Salutatorian.

Paw Paw High School’s Class of 2023 graduates on May 27 with nine students.

Miah Smith is named Miss Paw Paw 2023.


Berkeley Springs DMV opens on June 1.

Attorney and State Senator Charles Trump IV announces he will run for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 2024, seeking a seat left vacant by the retirement of Justice John Hutchison.

Paw Paw citizens re-elect Darlene Abe as mayor and votes five to council – Barbara Davis, Sherry Rowzee, Mary Parker Marcus, John Pritchard and Ricki Armel.

Bath voters re-elect Scott Merki as Mayor and Susan Webster as Recorder. Voters elect Elizabeth Skinner, Tom Hall, Greg Schene, Mary Lynn Hickey and Rebecca MacLeod to Bath council.

Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department receives a $51,000 grant for training and gear.


Local folks adjust to hazy skies as smoke from Canadian wildfires hangs in the area for days. Air quality warnings are issued.

The West Virginia Division of Highways says 50% of the 522 Bypass is complete and the four-lane highway should be open to traffic in September of 2024.

Warm Springs Middle School gets a “Riding for Focus” grant for new mountain bikes for a riding program for teens.

WVU Extension holds the Morgan County Expo on July 29.

Citizens ask county planners to reconsider their approval of the KOA campground in Great Cacapon, citing traffic and environmental concerns.

Brian Raciborski starts work as Berkeley Springs High School Assistant Principal.


Morgan County Commissioners give $12,000 of county Hotel/Motel taxes to the Greenway Cemetery for seasonal upkeep. Town officials say they are in financial trouble and need new solutions to take care of the Berkeley Springs cemetery.

Much of the Potomac River basic is in drought conditions after a dry summer.

Fire, police and EMS rescue a young man from a car crash into the Cacapon River on Powerhouse Road.

Paw Paw gets a $2 million grant from the West Virginia Infrastructure & Jobs Council for sewer system improvements.

The Back to School bash at Warm Springs Intermediate School equips 488 students with school supplies through donations and volunteer support.

Cacapon State Park hosts the International Bowhunting Competition August 10-13.

Wes Eddy takes over as head football coach for the Berkeley Springs High School Indians.

Ben Kase is Warm Springs Middle School’s new Assistant Principal.

Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce honors community volunteers at their first Annual Community Awards. Bill Clark gets the “Morganite” award for his service to the county.

Paw Paw Tunnel reopens to through traffic after a long closure to repair a boardwalk and stabilize a rockslide.


An early morning fire levels a Berkeley Springs home and day care business on September 4.

South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company hosts the county’s Fireman’s Carnival for the second year with steady crowds.

Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce inducts Jane Frenke and Stephanie Rebant into the Apple Butter Festival Hall of Fame.

Ocean Clatterbuck is named Miss Indian 2023.

Morgan County’s Grand Jury indicts 17 in the September term.

Jeromy Duelley is named Assistant Superintendent of Morgan County Schools after years as a school system director.

Morgan County Commissioners approve a Farmland Protection easement purchase along Winchester Grade Road for $185,000. The board has more than $1 million in its accounts to pay for more qualifying easements.

The West Virginia Division of Highways puts the North Berkeley Rail Trail project out for construction bids.

Hope House homeless shelter in Berkeley Springs opens.


The 48th Annual Apple Butter Festival fills the streets of Berkeley Springs on a chilly and windy Columbus Day weekend.

This Apple Butter Festival’s grand marshals were winners of the Chamber of Commerce’s Community Awards.

A West Virginia state school scorecard shows Morgan County below state standards in multiple subject areas and grade levels.

Warm Springs Intermediate School students and art teacher Anna Ruggerio create an art tile mural on the north face of the Ice House.

The Town of Bath council asks state highways to bring back marked pedestrian crosswalks on U.S. 522 in the downtown area.

A local resident alerts police to a days-old fatal car crash off the side of Pious Ridge Road. The driver is identified as Johnnie Knotts of Elkins, with no known connections to Morgan County.

Scott Thomas Sr. of Berkeley Springs dies after a motorcycle collision on Pious Ridge Road on October 15.

Emma Easton and Holden Gurson are Berkeley Springs High School Homecoming Queen & King.

Repairs begin in Berkeley Springs State Park to a stone retaining wall along Warm Springs Run and to sidewalks.

Morgan County Schools are one of six county systems “On Watch” for four West Virginia school scorecard measures.

Bypass construction closes Fairfax Street in the area of Fairview Drive. A paved detour skirts the construction of a new elevated Fairfax Street that will go over the new bypass lanes there.

Warm Springs Public Service District asks the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to approve a two-step sewer rate hike for local customers.

Paul McFarland takes over as Morgan County’s Prevention Resource Officer, taking a position left empty by the retirement of Cpl. Kevin Barney.

Morgan County Schools enrollment drops by 41 students.

A fish kill in Warm Springs Run kicks off an investigation. The DEP finds that contractors doing work in Berkeley Springs State Park didn’t follow sediment control measures closely enough.

Greenwood School Community Center celebrates five years of efforts to serve the South Morgan community at the former elementary school.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History sends a letter to the Town of Bath with concerns about the town’s lack of conservation efforts in the Bath Historic District.


County Commissioners set up accounts to receive extra state funds for county EMS and fire services.

Concrete beams for the U.S. 522 Bypass roll into Berkeley Springs and are set in place, putting a shape to the highway construction.

Contractors with Trumbull Corp. pulled materials across new beams on the U.S. 522 Bypass overpass over Martinsburg Road on Tuesday, November 14. Signs in the area tell drivers to be alert for more beam work on Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16.

A Grand Opening event is held at the Berkeley Springs Train Depot on November 11 to celebrate renovations inside and outside the historic building.

The Morgan Messenger celebrates its 130th birthday on November 16. The first edition was published on that date in 1893 by editors S.S. Buzzerd and Lewis Frey.


Wingwalls that hold back fill dirt at the Martinsburg Road overpass for the U.S. 522 Bypass are removed due to cracks in the concrete.

The 7th Annual Winter Fest parade attracts thousands to downtown Berkeley Springs.

Five Berkeley Springs residents are indicted by a federal grand jury on drug dealing charges in an alleged meth distribution ring. Andrew Hose, Andrew Sager, Michael Ramsbottom, Gary Whetzel and Lance King were arrested on drug charges.

A Morgan County jury convicts Gabriel Cardwell on December 8 of voluntary manslaughter in the 2022 stabbing death of Scott Mullen.

Covid-19 and RSV cases are on the rise, along with flu cases.

West Virginia State Police Berkeley Springs detachment commander Sgt. Sam Smith graduates from the FBI National Academy.

West Virginia’s School Building Authority approves $367,100 for a Berkeley Springs High School cafeteria HVAC replacement.

Warren Thomas Gray, 25, of Baltimore is sentenced on federal drug charges for fentanyl distribution into Morgan, Hampshire and Mineral counties.

A head-on crash on Martinsburg Road on December 14 kills Joshua Catlett, 31, of Martinsburg. The other driver receives minor injuries. Police say distracted driving is a factor in the collision.