Looking back on 2012
by Pauline Waugh & John Douglas
James Zell, 29, of Morgan County is charged with the murder of Kelly Elizabeth Butler, 29, after leading police to her body in adjoining Hampshire County.
Michael Shirley, 27, of Berkeley Springs is fatally shot early New Year’s morning by Bradley Gregory, 27, of Frederick County, Va.
A weekend of events in Berkeley Springs and Hancock celebrates the 150th anniversary of Stonewall Jackson’s Bath-Romney Campaign, the major Civil War activity locally.
James Kyle Arkenau, 17, of Berkeley Springs is struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on U.S. 522 South on
An outbreak of five whooping cough cases causes hundreds of Morgan County young people to be screened by the Health Department for the disease.
Noah Caldwell wins the Dr. William T. Hornaday Boy Scout Conservation Award for his Idle-Free Zone project at Warm Springs Intermediate School.
The Backpack Project is kicked off to make sure local kids have a backpack full of food and snacks for the weekend. It’s hoped that about 200 kids will benefit. By year’s end, more than 230 young people are being helped.
Keith Randy Kishbaugh, assistant boys basketball coach at Warm Springs Middle School, is charged with online sexual solicitation of a minor in Martinsburg. The school board terminates his contract.
Paw Paw students receive a 2011 Verizon Foundation Thinkfinity award for their movie of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado.”
A bill to fund $23.5 million worth of improvements at Cacapon State Park is sponsored by a dozen members of the State Senate. There’s also talk of a possible $1 billion state bond issue that could fund a Berkeley Springs Bypass.
Morgan County Humane Society says it may get out of the dog business and offers to make a deal for County Animal Control to take over the Society’s kennels south of Berkeley Springs. This kicks off a debate about the conditions at the present County Animal Control facility and the proper way to treat stray dogs.
It’s a hot topic at Morgan County Commission meetings and in letters to the editor for months.
Tory Bennett and C. J. Gosey of Berkeley Springs High School win regional wrestling titles. Bennett becomes the second wrestler in school history to win three state titles, and is named outstanding wrestler of the year. He broke the previous state record for wins with a career total of 217.
The Berkeley Springs High School library gets a donation of more than 800 best-sellers from the Ilean Waugh Family.
A plaque is dedicated at the Morgan County Courthouse in honor of the late Opal Heare, who raised the flag daily for many years in the War Memorial plot. Her house was bought by the county about 20 years ago and part of the current courthouse sits on the lot.
Berkeley Springs Senior Center buys the former U.S. Silica corporate headquarters building for use as a new senior center.
New license requirements cause headaches for many drivers who suddenly need to prove birthdates and name changes.
Joyce Altomare is appointed to the Warm Springs Sewer System Board, changing the balance on the three-member board.
J. Philip Kesecker is honored for his work toward the county’s economic development. After 50 years of service, he is retiring from the county’s Economic Development Authority.
Pastor Jack W. Hiles is killed when his vehicle plunges over an embankment on county-owned property above Morgan Square Shopping Center. In March, the Morgan County Commissioners voted to install a guardrail at the site.
Loguen McKee will be the first Berkeley Springs High School student to attend West Point Military Academy.
Opposition to fracking for natural gas continues, with local opponents holding a demonstration on the courthouse steps calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
The West Virginia Legislature approves a bond issue to expand facilities at Cacapon State Park. The bill will be signed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin at an April 2 ceremony at the park.
Two men are charged with a rash of burglaries here.
Matthew Tolliver of Warm Springs Intermediate School is named State School Counselor of the Year.
The Berkeley Springs High School Basketball Team wins in regional competition, but loses to top-seeded Bluefield at state competition in Charleston.
William Alan Butler, 73, of Hedgesville pleads guilty to child neglect resulting in shooting death of his adopted son in June, 2011. He is sentenced to three-to-five years in prison.
Circuit Judge Gina Groh is named to a U.S. District Courtship. Until a new judge is selected, retired Judge Andrew Frye of Tucker County handles criminal cases in Morgan County.
Randy McPeak of Berkeley Springs is sentenced to life in prison for the June 2011 murder of his former girlfriend, Heather Harris.
The dog debate continues. A group called “Bark at the Commissioners” forms to push county officials to improve conditions at the Animal Control facility on Martinsburg Road. The group holds a sit-in protest at the Courthouse on April 5, with about 80 people and dogs attending.
David Allen Lewis, 55, of Berkeley Springs is arrested and charged with robbing the Dollar General Store.
Harlie Stotler, a senior at Berkeley Springs High School, wins two gold medals at the Track & Field Invitational.
Cindy Largent-Hill is appointed Juvenile Monitor by the West Virginia Supreme Court. She will oversee the state’s juvenile rehabilitation programs.
The Berkeley Springs High School Girls Tennis Team wins the Potomac Valley Conference team championship.
The new War Memorial Hospital opens, with patients and services moving into the building on April 28 and a ribbon cutting event on April 30.
The Morgan County Rescue Service receives a $43,000 grant for safety gear and needed equipment.
Travel Berkeley Springs representatives ask the Bath Town Council to take action against The Country Inn for unpaid hotel-motel taxes. Travel Berkeley Springs is supposed to get 50% of the hotel tax revenue to promote tourism locally.
John Rowland and Pat Springer are elected to the Morgan County School Board in the May 8 election. They will take over on July 1 from longtime board members Larry Omps and Laura Smith, who did not seek reelection.
In the most contested Primary Election race here, incumbent Vince Shambaugh got 70% of the vote against challenger T. J. Johnson to win the Republican nomination for Morgan County Sheriff.
Reports continue about The Country Inn’s mounting debts. The Bath Town Council struggles with what course of action to take regarding unpaid hotel-motel taxes.
Senior Kelsey Weimer and freshman Logan Webster of Berkeley Springs High School advance to state tennis competition.
Twenty-three members of the Berkeley Springs Track & Field Team go to state competition. Senior Harlie Stotler wins her fourth straight Class AA shot put title. The Girls Team wins the state title for the second year in a row.
Winners of the 2012 Morgan County Photo Contest, sponsored by The Morgan Messenger, are John N. Kronyak, Flor Lorenzo, Leslie Devine Milbourne, Donna Pierce and Brady Isaiah Smith.
Fishers Bridge near Largent reopens to traffic following eight months of reconstruction.
Three girls from Warm Springs Middle and Intermediate Schools are charged with battery in a school bus fight on the last day of school.
Kelsey Weimer is valedictorian and Zachary White is salutatorian at Berkeley Springs High School.
Ethan Holliday is valedictorian and Rebecca Dawn Leach is salutatorian at Paw Paw High School.
The Morgan County School Board is pondering whether to issue bonds or how to repay loans for a gymnasium project at Berkeley Springs High School.
Melissa Nixon of Greenwood Elementary is named Morgan County Teacher of the Year. Joshua Wilson of Paw Paw School receives the New Teacher of the Year award. Garland Miller of Berkeley Springs High School is the Service Personnel of the Year award winner.
Katherine Mayberry is ordered to pay $6,302 for the cost of caring for animals seized from her property by county officials.
A Morgan Messenger feature story spotlights Ernie Schrider who has repaired bikes and donated them to kids for almost 20 years.
David McCumbee, 52, is killed in a June 9 accident on the Hancock Bridge.
Post offices in Great Cacapon and Paw Paw are on the U.S. Postal Service list for possible reduction of hours.
To raise more money to repay overdue bonds, the Warm Springs Public Service District Board votes to start sending sewer bills to owners of vacant buildings. The Bath Town Council opposes the move. In addition, sewer rates will be going up 3.8% for all customers. The policy of billing vacant structures is later put on hold and is pondered by the Warm Springs board for the rest of the year.
Cacapon State Park celebrates its 75th anniversary with special events on June 29-30.
This year’s Relay For Life exceeds its $36,000 goal.
New kink to the debate over the animal control facility: Should a public vote about a special tax to fund a new animal control facility be on November’s General Election ballot? The Morgan County Commissioners consider, but take no action.
Severe thunderstorms and high winds on June 29 leave thousands of Morgan Countians without power, some for more than a week. A state emergency is declared by Governor Tomblin because the “derecho” left up to a million West Virginians are left with no electricity.
Texting while driving is now illegal in West Virginia.
The Philip Harmison Family is given the state’s Farming Heritage Award at the West Virginia State Fair.
A foreclosure sale of The Country Inn is called off at the last minute on July 17 when the hotel owners file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They have until mid-November to present U.S. Bankruptcy Court with a reorganization plan. The Inn remains open for business.
The Morgan County 11 and 12-year-old Little League All Stars advance to state competition.
Berkeley Springs 10 and 11-year-old girls win the District 6 Softball Championship.
The debate over county animal control continues with a complaint to police about conditions at the county shelter and a petition for closing the county’s Rt. 9 kennels. No charges come out of the police investigation.
Fewer cases of Lyme Disease are reported this summer, but there’s a big jump in animal bite cases, largely from dogs and cats.
Morgan County Parks & Recreation unlocks facilities at the U.S. 522 Ballfield Complex, Harmison Field and Biser Street to permit more public use. Within weeks, the concession stand at the U.S. 522 fields is vandalized.
Berkeley Springs High School football players are pre-tested with a computerized concussion evaluation to aid in diagnosing concussions on the field.
Dr. Amanda Michael’s Family Medical opens office in Berkeley Springs.
Attention is drawn to Magnolia’s history as an early 20th century railroad boom town due to articles and photos in The Morgan Messenger.
Town of Bath K-9 Officer Butch dies. The town council decides to get a replacement dog.
A new security policy for courthouse employees is instituted to prevent them from letting others in the back door with them.
John Coleman retires as Morgan County Highway supervisor after 31 years of state service.
Charles and Carol Hewitt of Great Cacapon are killed in a motorcycle accident in Little Orleans, Md. on August 11.
Morgan County Commission president Stacy Dugan is named “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts Council.
Margie Allgyer resigns as Morgan County Health Department administrator, setting off a series of changes at the department. By year’s end, there will be some new board members and several staff shifts in addition to new Administrator Bill Kearns.
Bath Town Council warns owners of derelict properties in town that they will be cited and held responsible for any cleanup costs.
James T. Zell pleads guilty to murdering his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child last December. In September, he will be sentenced to 40 years in prison for her murder, 20 years for killing the unborn child and one-to-five for concealing the body.