GALLIPOLIS — This week, the Gallipolis Daily Tribune will be looking back over the past year, highlighting memorable moments and stories from 2016.
This review begins with stories that took place April through June this year, with more months, and stories, to follow this week.
Washington Elementary School and Gallia Academy Middle School both went into a partial lockdown mode because of an anonymous tip Gallipolis police received regarding suspicious activity. According to Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer, a call came in stating an individual had supposedly been seen with a long gun and a scope, wearing all black, walking from the 700 block of Third Avenue and into a backyard on Fourth Avenue. Police communicated this information to Gallipolis City School officials. Normally, Boyer said, when an individual is reported as having a gun, several calls will come in. As the tip was anonymous, police investigated the reported incident but have found nothing at this time. The school was not kept on partial lockdown for the entire day.
Gallipolis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4464 held its first post-traumatic stress disorder outreach in early April with local vets appearing with supporting family to share in fellowship with colleague veterans.
According to Charlie Huber, VFW member and commander of American Legion Post 27, veterans and their spouses, as well as a military chaplain and Woodland Centers counselors, appeared to walk with fellow veterans down the difficult road of reliving events during tours in combat. Among those appearing at the event, Vietnam War veterans were represented as well as individuals who had engaged in tours across Afghanistan and Iraq.
It was announced two auxiliary deputies from the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and deputies from the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office were to join the investigation into the Pike County Rhoden family shootings case in which eight family members were executed. At that time, more than 215 law enforcement officials had contributed to the investigation. From the Attorney General’s Office in April, this included: special agents, analysts, prosecutors, and laboratory personnel. This also includes authorities from the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Pike County Prosecutor’s Office, Pike County and Hamilton County coroner’s offices, and additional manpower from 23 sheriff’s offices and other law enforcement agencies, including significant assistance from the Piketon Police Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration are also providing limited assistance on an as-needed basis.
Long-time mental health advocate Ron Adkins, 58, of Gallipolis, passed way unexpectedly in April. Adkins served as the executive director of the Gallia, Jackson, Meigs Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. According to board colleagues, Adkins started with the board as its deputy director in March 1990. He became executive director in September 1991. Before that, he had served as the financial aid director of the University of Rio Grande. Colleagues said he was an ardent fan of Ohio State University sports as well as a lover of spending time in Key West, Fla. He was a 1976 graduate of Gallia Academy High School and graduated from Rio Grande College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and earned a master’s degree in social agency counseling from the University of Dayton.
Robin Harris, interim board director and Adkins’ deputy director at the time, joked that Adkins was a man “full of gusto.” She said he often would have the windshield wipers on full speed during the rain, regardless of how hard it was pouring. She also said that he would have the heat cranked up or not at all depending on the weather. There was no in between with Adkins. Harris credited his personality with being part of the reason why the board had succeeded in its past endeavors.
Board associates emphasized Adkins demanded high standards in his pursuit of delivering quality health services and was a perfectionist. That said, he supported his colleagues through tough times and was every bit as much a friend to them when the going got rough from the luck of life’s dice rolls. Adkins has helped bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to behavioral health agencies and boards in his service area. Harris said Adkins always gave colleagues credit where it was due as part of his leadership style.
“He was a man of boundless compassion,” Harris said. “We have everything we need and we were taught well to carry forward. We will.”
Harris was later appointed to replace Adkins.
In May, the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College welcomed Rio’s own alumna, Megan Wise, to give the commencement speech. Wise is a native of Gallia County and was at the time, the reigning Miss Ohio USA 2016. While still attending Gallia Academy High School, Wise took part in the Rio’s post-secondary option. She graduated from Rio Grande in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in early elementary education.
Also in May, Gallipolis City Commission voted to transfer ownership of Gallipolis Island to the West Virginia Land Trust as the organization plans on turning the location into a wildlife refuge for Ohio River aquatic life.
According to information gathered from past commission minutes and meetings, the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approached the commission in 2014 about seeing if it would allow for Gallipolis Island to pass into the hands of the West Virginia Land Trust, along with the ORINWR division. Past group representatives have claimed the island is an important habitat to certain species of mussels and fish. The group’s aim is to prevent erosion on the north end of the island which has deteriorated slowly over time. Specialized structures, dykes on underwater shelves, may be placed along the north side of the island to prevent erosion and encourage the island’s ability to grow again.
According to information collected from Gallia County Historical Society Director Mary Lee Marchi, when the original French 500 found Gallipolis Island in 1770, they discovered wild grapes. Those grapes were then used to produce a local wine which may have been considered one of the town’s first exported products.
In the 1840s, the island was turned into a kind of resort with beach access, a picnic area and a playground. In the 1860s, steamboats were made on the island. The island at one point supposedly stretched up to parts of Eastern Avenue and below Pine Street.
In June, capital funding to the Ariel-Ann Carson Performing Arts Centre in Gallipolis started with repairs and renovation to the roof of the home of the Ohio Valley Symphony. Gallia County projects were to receive $1.35 million after the state passed its capital budget bill. Both state Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and state Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, supported the passage of the legislation in an effort to promote growth and economic stimulus to key southeast Ohio projects focused in community development, the arts and other local investments. The passage of the bill was originally announced in early May.
The Ariel Theater, as the performing arts center is sometimes called, is more than 120 years old. Cleanup of the building first started in 1988 after having fallen into disrepair. The building was purchased in 2005 by Ann Carson Dater and presented to the community for local use as a performing arts center. It was rededicated as the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre on April 22, 2006. The original theater dedication occurred April 23, 1896. According to Snow, the facility once belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and then another point in time to lodges following the tradition of Freemasonry. In some parts of the theater, remaining masonic symbols can be still be seen etched into stonework.
Also in May, Gallipolis police prevented two possible drug deaths after a recent shift by using an opioid overdose prevention medication. Officers Mark Still and Kyle Perez were dispatched to the 600-block of Third Avenue in regard to a man passed out on the sidewalk. As officers arrived, they located the man sprawled out unconscious, according to police reports. Officers reportedly noticed the man snorting and believed he may have overdosed on heroin.
Officers retrieved a Narcan, otherwise called Naloxone, kit from a patrol car. Officers also contacted Gallia EMS. Still performed a sternal rub on the man and the victim would occasionally wake up and pass out before he stopped breathing. Reports say this happened several times. Officers administered a Narcan dose and the victim woke up. Reports say the victim claimed to not be on any drugs. He was then transported to Holzer Medical Center.
That same weekend, officers were dispatched to the 700-block of Second Avenue in response to calls about an unresponsive woman. Officers Still and Casey Clary arrived on scene and were advised by a witness that the woman was laying on a futon bed in a building. The woman had a heartbeat but was not breathing. Officers dosed her with Narcan nasal spray. Gallia EMS arrived shortly on scene and dosed the woman with another half dose of Narcan. She soon opened her eyes and started breathing on her own. Gallia EMS asked if she wished to be transported to the hospital and she refused.
Gallipolis Police Chief Jeff Boyer credited officers with quick action and their recent training from Gallia Health Department nurse Tasha Alvaro with preventing two potential deaths over the weekend. Alvaro has been heading initiatives like Gallia Project DAWN to equip local agencies and families with Narcan kits and training in the hopes of preventing opioid overdoses throughout Gallia County.
Kits are available at the Gallia Health Department free of charge when stock is available. The opiate antidote works against overdosing with pain pills like morphine or drugs like heroin. The antidote can assist in an overdose situation even when a victim has been drinking or taken other drugs, but only in the terms of combating opioid overdose. Hazards like alcohol poisoning would not be affected by a dose of Narcan.
Also in June, Ohio Chautauqua, presented by the Ohio Humanities, began its week-long series in City Park. Scholars presented different days to give the public multiple days to see them appear and to give presenters a chance to prepare for their performances at their scheduled appointments.
June also saw a ground breaking for Field of Hope Community Campus. The structure on State Route 160 provides local women with a safe place to live and work through chemical dependence recovery while receiving counseling and training in life and job skills.