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 July through September this year, with more months, and a final story, to follow on Sunday.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol Post 27 on Jackson Pike, which serves both Meigs and Gallia counties, bid goodbye to its past commander, Lt. Max Norris, and welcomed new commander Lt. Barry Call in July. “I was born and raised here,” Call said about Gallia County.
Call, a 1989 Ohio Valley Christian School graduate, started with the patrol as a cadet dispatcher in 1991 in Gallipolis at the former post across the road on Jackson Pike which is now where the Gallia County Health Department sits. He went to the patrol academy in 1992 and graduated in June of that year. He was stationed in the Marietta patrol post for about a year shortly after his graduation. He transferred to the Gallipolis post in 1993. He served as a trooper with the Gallipolis post until 2001 before joining the OSHP Office of Investigative Services at district headquarters in Jackson. He served there roughly six years before being promoted to sergeant and was transferred to the Athens post.
Bossard Memorial Library announced it would be filled with preserved human bodies that the public will be able to see. Premier Exhibitions Inc. officials said in July, the highly anticipated “Bodies Revealed” exhibition would open on Sept. 25 at Bossard Memorial Library. Seen by millions worldwide, the exhibition features real, whole and partial body specimens that have been meticulously preserved through an innovative process, giving visitors the opportunity to view the complexity of their own organs and systems like never before. Thousands of people have since visited the exhibit.
About 155 teams from across the region descended upon Gallipolis City Park on July 16-17 for the fourth annual The Hoop Project 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The event was organized by the Downtown Revitalization Project with a goal to generate revenue for local businesses and provide entertainment to attract visitors to Gallipolis. The Hoop Project spent more than $8,000 at local businesses in tournament expenses for concessions, banners, signs, t-shirts and trophies.
One of the most talked about stories in the Ohio Valley broke in August when a Gallipolis, Ohio man was arrested after human remains were found just outside Point Pleasant.
Richard Hurt, 47, of Gallipolis, currently faces third-degree felony tampering of evidence and fifth-degree felony abuse of a corpse in Ohio. Hurt pleaded not guilty to both charges in previous court hearings. He was also charged with concealment of a deceased human body in West Virginia.
According to court records, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio Bureau Criminal Identification and Investigation assisted authorities July 30 in Mason County, W.Va., with the discovery of a dismembered human body. During the investigation, Hurt reportedly told investigators he and a recently reported missing Gallia County woman, Jessica Berry, 32 at the time (she would have been 33 on Sept. 20), of Gallipolis, were at a residence on White Road in Gallia County on or about July 19. Berry allegedly overdosed on narcotics at the location.
Hurt also allegedly said he used a saw to dismember Berry’s remains, placed them in trash bags and transported those remains in his vehicle for roughly one and a half days before taking them to Mason County, where he buried the remains on private property.
Hurt reportedly said he disposed of Berry’s clothing and the saw in the trash that was collected by a local garbage service. Court records state Hurt said he knew the items would end up at the local landfill.
The Daily Tribune had previously reported Berry’s disappearance. Records further state Hurt had supposedly provided a false statement to Gallia County deputies in regards to Berry’s initial disappearance.
Hurt was released after posting bond in late September upon paying roughly $5,000 in accordance with a $50,000 ordered bond in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas by Judge Dean Evans, with a 10 percent surety. Hurt has a jury trial scheduled Jan. 18, 2017.
Ohio Valley Banc Corp. announced the completion Aug. 5 of the merger of Milton Bancorp Inc., into OVBC. Immediately following the closing of the merger, Milton Bancorp Inc’s subsidiary bank, The Milton Banking Company, was merged into OVBC’s subsidiary bank, The Ohio Valley Bank Company.
“Today we mark in history the coming together of two pillars of our communities,” OVBC and Ohio Valley Bank President and CEO Tom Wiseman said. “We have great respect for The Milton Banking Company, the work they do and a legacy that embodies our Community First mission. It is because of this that come Monday, customers will be greeted by the same faces and places they have grown to trust. Our banks have worked hard to ensure there would be no layoffs or office closures due to the merger.”
Ohio Valley Banc Corp., headquartered in Gallipolis, had approximately $965 million in assets in August, including approximately $717 million in loans. Ohio Valley Bank’s deposits have increased to approximately $810 million. Due to the merger, Ohio Valley Bank now operates 19 branches and loan production offices in southern Ohio and western West Virginia. As of Aug. 8, Milton Banking Company branches will reopen as the new Milton Banking Company Division of Ohio Valley Bank.
Also in August, the Gallia County Canine Shelter, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States partnered to rescue about 70 dogs and three horses Thursday from potentially dangerous and unsanitary living conditions on a property along Wagoner Road. According to Gallipolis Municipal Court records at that time, Jackie Morgan, 57, of Wagoner Road, had a pending Gallipolis Municipal Court case regarding the reported second-degree misdemeanor crime of animal cruelty. Gallia County deputies served a search warrant at Morgan’s property. Morgan surrendered animals to the sheriff’s office.
Harold Montgomery, Gallipolis businessman and president of the Gallia County Board of Commissioners, celebrated 50 years as a barber at his business in the 200 block of Second Avenue in Gallipolis.
“I’ve actually been on this block since Aug. 15, 1966,” said Montgomery, of Crown City. “I started working in Columbus for a short time until I found an opening in Gallipolis with John Conley. At that time, you had to work an apprenticeship under a master barber. So, I worked my apprenticeship with John Conley, which was a year and a half, and then bought into the business.”
The Gen. James M. Gavin Plant in Cheshire was sold, along with three other plants in Ohio and Indiana, to a pair of private-equity firms Tuesday by Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. The deal with Blackstone and ArcLight Capital Partners LLC was reported to be for $2.17 billion. In addition to the Gavin Plant, the deal also includes facilities in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and Waterford and Mount Sterling in Ohio. All told, the four plants generate about 5,200 megawatts of electricity in Indiana and Ohio. The Gavin plant alone has a capacity of 2,665 megawatts. One megawatt can provide for the electricity needs of about 1,000 homes. The Lawrenceburg, Waterford and Mount Sterling facilities are each gas-fired plants, while the Cheshire plant is coal-fired.
The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017. AEP expects to net about $1.2 billion in cash after taxes, repayment of debt and transaction fees. The sale is also subject to regulatory approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and federal clearance pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
Gallipolis Developmental Center client families, workers, local government officials and supporters gathered in Gallipolis City Park to publicly display their disapproval of recent layoffs and concerns with future client care.
“This is probably the second time we’ve held one of these community events,” said Ohio Civil Service Employment Association GDC staff representative Monty Blanton. “This is the second time we’ve had an event dealing with downsizing and laying off of our community family. To give you a bit of background of what’s actually taken place and brought us to this point, this is the third time since 2010 that our Appalachian community has been targeted. Specifically, the (Gov. John) Kasich administration had told us during this past budget cycle over the last two years that there would be no layoffs, that the reduction of staff would come through attrition as people retired or quit. That would be the way the reduction would be done.”
Blanton said at the same time this was going on, the population of clients was continuing to drop at the center. The center was, at one time, the largest of its kind in Ohio. In fiscal year 2010, it had roughly 213 clients. Census numbers now put it around 57. The center has had a 73.2 drop in its client count since then, the highest in Ohio when the center was previously the most populated. It is now the least populated.
The positions, state officials said, are part of a plan to streamline the workforce with the number of clients the Gallipolis facility serves.
Dr. Christopher Meyer was terminated as chief executive officer by the Holzer Health System Board of Directors. A statement released by Holzer stated Meyer was terminated “due to differences related to the direction of the organization and (the Holzer Board of Directors) relieved him of his duties, effective immediately.”
The Holzer statement added, “Dr. Meyer’s departure will, naturally, require some corporate restructuring which will be unfolding in the days and weeks to come.”
Dr. Michael Canady took over as interim CEO and was later named permanent CEO.
A Bidwell man was arraigned in the Gallipolis Municipal Court on charges of homicide and evasion for reportedly shooting his estranged wife and fleeing police in September.
Charles Miller, 39, of Bidwell, had bond set in court at $1 million with a 10 percent surety. Gallipolis Municipal Judge Margaret Evans presided over the September proceeding. According to complaint records, deputies were dispatched Sunday evening to the Porter Road area in Gallia County after receiving a report that a man named “Charlie” had a gun and was going to shoot the caller’s friend, “Sarah.” Law enforcement arrived at 971 Porter Road and located the victim, Sarah Miller, 46, dead with a gunshot wound to her head in the residence’s yard. Charles Miller was nowhere to be found, police said.
Witnesses reported Charles fled the scene after the shooting in a green Chevrolet Cavalier.
The Gallia County 911 Center received phone calls from two individuals reporting Charles Miller told them he had shot or killed his wife.
Charles Miller was eventually taken into custody after a vehicle pursuit and subsequent crash. Deputies recovered a loaded .22 caliber handgun at the scene of the crash. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation interviewed Charles Miller on Monday and he reportedly said he was in possession of a single-action handgun when he contacted Sarah Miller on Sunday evening. Charles Miller allegedly admitted to cocking the gun before shooting Sarah Miller during the middle of an argument. Reports also say that Charles Miller allegedly admitted to telling the victim he was going to shoot her before doing so.