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 October, November and December of 2019.
Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) announced Oct. 7, 2019 that Jason C. Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) had been selected by the House Majority Caucus to represent the 93rd House District, which includes Gallia and Jackson counties, most of Lawrence County and part of Vinton County.
Stephens replaced Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), who resigned to become president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. Stephens was sworn in the following Thursday to finish the rest of Smith’s term.
Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative (BREC) announced Oct. 8, 2019 it was awarded a $2.5 million grant under the 2019 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative for the installation of 168 miles of fiber from its corporate office in Gallipolis. The project will connect the co-op’s substations located throughout six counties in the eastern portion of their service territory in southeastern Ohio.
The initiative aims to improve service reliability and security, and utilize available technologies among BREC’s substations, by providing a fiber infrastructure, or “backbone,” that will also allow for future broadband expansion by internet service providers (ISP). These ISPs will provide “last mile” service to connect homes and businesses to high-speed internet in the remote unserved and underserved areas of Gallia, Vinton, Meigs, Athens, Lawrence, and Jackson counties.
Area resident and Gallia Chamber of Commerce Volunteer Marianne Campbell received Gallipolis’ Key to the City during the Gallipolis City Commission Oct. 22, 2019 meeting for dedicated civic service to the community.
“All that’s going on takes volunteers and lots of volunteers,” said City Commissioner Mike Fulks. “We get people all the time in the background who never get appreciated or anything. No one knows that they’re there or what they do. I got thinking one of the things I wanted to do this year was honor someone that is a great volunteer and does a lot of things for the community. I think everyone knows who I’m going to say here in a minute. They’re involved in just about every aspect of everything that goes on around here in the background. They’ve done it religiously for a very long time. You’ve got that old song ‘Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes?’ Someday, who is? This person is super dedicated to everything she does and I don’t know what we’d do without her.”
Campbell’s name was announced to her surprise before she was asked to accept a plaque with the key. “The only reason this happened to me was because there were other people always behind me and helping me,” said Campbell. “You never do anything alone. It’s because you have people who help you and everyone has been good to me these last 72 years…I’ve loved every minute of it and thank goodness.”
Campbell has been recognized as a leader in women’s broadcasting as part of the AVCO Broadcasting Corporation, Association of Broadcasters along with her work with Holzer Medical Center, the Gallia Chamber of Commerce and the Gallia Community Improvement Corporation. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998, among other achievements. Also, earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Aging inducted her into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at the Statehouse Atrium in Columbus.
Gallia community development and tourism leaders met with Bob Evans Restaurants CEO Saed Mohseni Nov. 18, 2019 to discuss the future of the Bob Evans Farm Festival, at the Bob Evans Farm, and its importance to the area’s tourism and economic futures.
“As we approach our fiftieth anniversary of the farm festival,” said the CEO, “we thought it would be a good idea to get everyone together to talk about what we’ll do for the next year… The Bob Evans Farm Festival is more than just a festival. It’s a community gathering and an opportunity and celebration of not only Bob Evans but the community itself. For the last 49 years, every event has had either local artists or musicians and food and it’s expanded to include (new things) and to showcase what we have to provide and what we can do. It’s not only about today’s generation but also to establish a habit for the next generation…The goal is to ensure that this tradition continues for years to come. With the economical impact this event has on the community, we believe that it’s a responsibility of ours to ensure that this tradition continues.”
Inmate families and county officials surrounded by ongoing concerns with Gallia County Jail controversies spoke of those concerns to the Gallipolis Daily Tribune the week of Nov. 20, 2019.
“There are a lot of details that, at this time, we are not able to release as it would be inappropriate based on the fact that we are still waiting for (Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation) to conclude their investigation,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin to the Tribune. “At the appropriate time, once the investigation has concluded, we will be able to release those facts and answer further questions. I look forward to the completion of this investigation so the facts can be known and we can continue this dialogue in an informed and responsible manner. Many of the ‘facts’ that have been reported are not based in truth, but mere speculation, and this type of conversation is not beneficial.”
Inmate families and an inmate stepped forward to allege acts of negligence and mistreatment of inmates during time spent in the Gallia Jail which had been found to be in non-compliance with state standards for years. Three inmates died in Gallia custody between December 2018 and September 2019 and another inmate reported he had suffered a skull fracture after a Gallia corrections officer reportedly attempted to flip him in a restraining chair where his head struck an obstruction in the room.
Families said they had taken their concerns before the FBI. The bureau was unable to confirm nor deny any investigations into the jail. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating previously mentioned deaths.
Gallipolis was recognized by Ohio Magazine during the Gallipolis in Lights Lighting Ceremony the night before Thanksgiving 2019 in Gallipolis City Park as one of its Best Hometowns for the 2019 and 2020 season, as an announcement and commemorative magazine cover was gifted to the city by the publication.
City Commissioner Mike Fulks received the recognition from Ohio Magazine’s Account Executive Bryan McMahan.
“Ultimately, we told everyone else what you already know,” said McMahan. “Gallipolis is a wonderful place to call home. People often thank us for this Best Hometown Award, but we at Ohio Magazine want to thank you the residents of Gallipolis. Thank you for your rich sense of history. Thank you for your beautiful City Park and inviting waterfront. Thank you for your incredible sense of community. Thank you for your warmth friendliness and sense of pride. Thank you for being the best. It’s my honor to officially confirm that Ohio Magazine has chosen Gallipolis as one of Ohio’s best hometowns for 2019, 2020.”
During the beginning of the Gallipolis Christmas Parade Dec. 7, 2019, a driver of a blue SUV reportedly lost control of the vehicle she was operating in the 600 block of Second Avenue after attempting to enter the parade lineup.
A GPD report gathered by the Gallipolis Daily Tribune stated that Susan Paulson, 73, of Point Pleasant, W.Va., part of an associated entry with a local chapter of the Marine Corps League, traveled southbound along the west Second Avenue sidewalk, reportedly striking a few walls which resulted in minor damage to the vehicle and structures. She was attempting to enter the parade from a 600-block business parking lot before the vehicle veered onto the sidewalk and drove roughly 280 feet before coming to a stop.
No one was harmed during the incident. Area residents reported having to move out of the way of the vehicle. Paulson was cited with failure to control the vehicle. A voluntary statement given by Paulson to the police said that she had attempted to join the parade before losing control of the vehicle and it traveling down the sidewalk, with Paulson saying she attempted to get it to stop but was unable to do so. She was uncertain how she had gotten the vehicle to stop and claimed the vehicle had taken off by itself. She said she was unfamiliar with the SUV and had never driven it before.
Gallia Commissioners met at the Gallia Courthouse with county bond counsel and an Ohio Valley Bank representative Dec. 12, 2019 to sign paperwork shoring up financial resources in order for the county to move forward on constructing a new jail facility.
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution with language describing the motion as a “resolution authorizing the issuance of not to exceed $5,000,000 of notes in anticipation of bonds of the county of Gallia, Ohio, for the purpose of paying costs of constructing a new county jail…”
Commissioners have estimated the jail’s construction to cost between $10 million to $15 million. The initial $5 million the county agreed to in a financial obligation with Ohio Valley Bank will be utilized to pay initial construction costs and planning for the jail project. Commissioners said they will eventually settle on a bond agreement to finance the jail. The resolution passed is a first step in paying planning costs before the final cost of the jail’s construction is determined.
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.