GALLIA COUNTY — A new year is upon area residents and the Gallipolis Daily Tribune is taking a look back on some of the major events across Gallia County in January, February and March of 2019.
A look at more of 2019 in Gallia will come in future editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
Gallia Commissioners voted to raise Gallia’s sales tax by a quarter of a percent on January 10, 2019 after discussions concerning the opioid epidemic, increasing law enforcement costs and cuts in state funding that once went to the county’s general fund. Taking effect in April, the new sales rate across Gallia became 7.25 percent after being raised by a quarter of one percent. Commissioners cited part of the need for the tax raise was to help fund a new county jail facility to replace the county’s current aging and overcrowded structure.
The Gallia Chamber of Commerce on January 24, 2019 named Ohio Valley Bank President and CEO Tom Wiseman as 2018’s Bud and Donna McGhee Award recipient and recognized several businesses. Larry Miller would be named Ohio Valley Bank’s president in May 2019. The Bud and Donna McGhee Award was given at the annual Gallia Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony and is traditionally kept secret until the night of the function. It is considered the highest honor the chamber bestows upon a community member. The 2018 Ray McKinniss Committee of the Year Award went to the South Gallia Leo Club, River Valley Leo Club and Gallipolis Community Leo Club. Twisted Vine Family Vineyard received the chamber’s Beautification Award. Thomas Do-It Center received the Community Involvement Award, Bridgeport Equipment and Tool Sales and Rentals received the Sudden Impact Award. Small Business of the Year went to Skyline Bowling Center.
In what has been described as part of a growing trend in narcotic-related OVI crimes, Crown City man Matthew Preston was sentenced January 28, 2019 to eight years in a state facility with a lifetime license suspension for the second-degree felony of vehicular homicide which ultimately resulted in the death of Gallipolis resident, Robert Baxter, 66. Preston had three encounters with law enforcement over a period of two days in August 2018 for reported drug-related activity. The last encounter was a result of his collision with Baxter on Ohio 588 where he was taken into custody by authorities.
The United States Coast Guard responded to the sinking of a vessel near Cheshire on February 8, 2019. According to a press release from the USCG, “Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington received a report at 1 p.m. that the towing vessel Ed McLaughlin, owned by McGinnis Marine, capsized on the Ohio River at mile marker 259.” All three crew members that were aboard the vessel were accounted and taken to a local hospital and were reported to be in stable condition after the incident.
Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum volunteers and board members welcomed their latest asset to the museum’s Third Avenue location February 18, 2019, a former Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s passenger car.
According to information provided by the museum’s board of directors,” The RBBX 41307 (the car’s formal designation) was built in 1949 (then numbered) Pennsylvania RR (PPR) No. 8267, named the ‘Lewiston Inn,’ (and built) as a 21 roomette slab-sided stainless steel sleeper by the Budd Company, using the Pullman Floor plan 9513.”
The 10-by-86 foot car was rebuilt in 1963 as a 64-seat coach with a 12-seat smoking lounge and was renumbered PPR 1505 before then becoming Penn Central (PC) 1505 in 1968. It was eventually sold in 1976 to New Jersey Transit and renumbered NJTR 5439 before being traded to a private car owner in 1992 who then in turn sold it to the circus. It ran in the circus’ blue unit with a house number of 186 and reporting marks of 41307. The car was received from private owners Nelson and Borden Black McGahee at a location in Huntington after selling the car to the museum for around $22,000, said board members. The pair purchased the car in 2017 after the circus went out of business.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, on March 20, 2019, declared a state of emergency in 37 Ohio counties that suffered serious highway damage following severe weather and flooding that started in February 2019. The emergency proclamation would allow the Ohio Department of Transportation and local governments to access federal emergency relief funds. Ohio counties included in Governor DeWine’s emergency proclamation included: Adams, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Butler, Carroll, Clermont, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Greene, Guernsey, Hamilton, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Licking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Warren, and Washington.
South Gallia Middle School and High School were recognized at the spring 2019 Ohio School Boards Association’s Southeast Spring Conference. South Gallia was presented the Ohio Department of Education’s Purple Star Award, given out to military-friendly public schools. Schools receiving this award, show “a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military,” according to a statement from the Ohio School Boards Association. South Gallia hosts the VFW annual fish fry, VFW flag presentations at all varsity home football games, participates in the Veterans Day Program at Wal-Mart, hosts an annual Veteran’s Day ceremony and dinner, and participates in FFA flag folding ceremonies at events throughout Gallia County.
Richard Hurt, then 49, of Gallipolis, a man who was sentenced in Ohio’s Gallia Court of Common Pleas in February 2017 to four years in an Ohio facility for the third-degree felony of tampering with evidence and fifth-degree felony of abuse of a a corpse, was sentenced to one to five years in a corrections facility in Mason County Circuit Court in West Virginia on March 26, 2019, for concealment of a deceased human body, the remains of Gallia resident Jessica Berry.