Tourism season kicked into gear, the area experienced many holidays and the county’s only hospital celebrated 50 years of operation.
The month of July began with a patriotic theme as the area celebrated the Fourth of July. The Point Pleasant Sternwheel Regatta provided residents with many activities to celebrate the country’s independence. The Regatta showcased entertainment as well as a parade and 5k run. In addition, Summer Searls was crowned the 2009 Regatta Queen, while Katherine Deem was named the River Princess.
Dr. William Capehart became the Mason County Schools new superintendent in July. Capehart is a Mason County native and Wahama High School graduate. He described increasing and developing principles of trust, accountability, responsibility and integrity among all members of the educational family as one of his many goals as superintendent.
Just as the summer months saw several celebrity deaths around the nation, one in particular was close to Mason County. John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies, died on July 3. Keel was born on March 25, 1930 and resided in New York City, N.Y. According to Jeff Wamsley of the Mothman Museum and Mothman Festival, Keel visited Point Pleasant frequently and was present for the unveiling of the Mothman Statue at Gunn Park in 2004.
August of course is fair time and during 2009, several historical events can be recalled. Before the fair even begun, a new goat barn allow 64 exhibitors to showcase their goats. With new concert, lighting and a four-stall wash unit, the new barn added to the excitement of the 2009 Mason County Fair.
Hannah Workman was crowned the 2009 Mason County Fair Queen, two years after her sister, Rachel Workman was crowned. This added to the history of the pageant. On several occasions, sisters have captured the fair queen title. Records also broke during the livestock sale. Those breaking the records were Morgan Roush and Tre Pyles. Roush’s lamb sold for $38 per pound to People’s Bank and Pyles’ grand champion market hob sold for $16 per pound to the Mason Wal-Mart, People’s Bank, Pleasant Valley Hospital and Southern States.
Also in August, Katherine “Katy” Wilson, who turned 100 on Aug. 10, 2009, shared her story of her life in Mason County. Subway got a makeover and vandals were caught on camera at the Point Pleasant Riverfront Park. Jesse Crawford, winner of the WBYG Big Country 99.5 Colgate Country Showdown, which was held in July, represented the county at the state finals.
The on-going construction at Beale Elementary delayed the first of the school year for their students. Students at the school started exactly one week later than the rest of the county. With the full interior renovation, new additions of several classrooms, sprinklers in each classroom and a newly-designed kitchen, the school received many, much-needed updates. The project was funded by the School Building Authority.
The busy events of summer tourism carried over into the month of September with several events and festivals. The Point Pleasant River Museum’s Third Annual Tribute to the River National Maritime Days Celebration took place and featured a jam packed weekend of sternwheel boats, entertainment and activities.
The area also paid tribute to perhaps its most famous creature, the Mothman, with the Eighth Annual Mothman Festival. Mothman was celebrated with a variety of paranormal speakers, vendors and entertainment. In addition, Mothman Festival royalty were crowned with Meghan Hesson being named the Miss Mothman Festival Queen. Other royalty included: Jasmine Webb, Tiny Miss Mothman Festival Queen; Arianna Nedeff, Little Miss Mothman Festival Queen, Taylor Gillam, Junior Miss Mothman Festival Queen; Lindsey Arrojo, the very first Teen Miss Mothman Festival Princess; Michaela Drummond, Teen Miss Mothman Festival Queen; Morgan Smith, Miss Mothman Festival Princess, Jennifer Viands, Ms. Mothman Festival Queen; and Kerrie McDermitt, Mrs. Mothman Festival Queen.
The county also recognized the Sept. 11 tragedy with several ceremonies, including one at the Mason County Career Center. A remembrance ceremony also was held at the Point Pleasant Riverfront Park. On the health front, Shrikant Vaidya, M.D. along with the Mason County Health Department and Pleasant Valley Hospital Laboratory Outreach Services held a free prostate screening clinic for area residents. The clinic had 92 participants, and those who attended the clinic received their test results as well as any follow-up recommendations via mail following the exams.
Pleasant Valley Hospital celebrated 50 years of operation in September as well. The hospital hosted a celebratory dinner, which recognized the hospital’s founders, past and current staff. The event also chronicled the history of PVH and emphasized its importance to the local community. Famous violinist and owner of the legendary 1720 “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius violin, Elizabeth Pitcairn also visited Point Pleasant in September. Pitcairn performed with the infamous violin in a concert at Point Pleasant Junior Senior High School’s Lillian and Paul Wedge Auditorium.
In October, 15 athletes were inducted into the Point Pleasant High School Hall of Fame. They included Omar Bradley, Frank Capehart, K. Monroe Chase, Don Duncan, John Grubb, M.D., Richard “Hindu” Henderson, Carl E. Lynch, Pete McDermitt, Dale Miller, Howard Lee Miller, Barry Nash, Steve Safford, Kenton Sheline, Billy Joe Sturgeon, and Jimmy Joe Wedge. In other football news, the undefeated 1969 football team was also honored in 2009 and two colleges in the state, Marshall University and West Virginia University, shared a bond — both mascots were graduates of the same class at Point Pleasant High School. Trey Barker, Marco, and Rebecca Durst, the Mountaineer, met up during the Friends of Coal Bowl that took place in Morgantown where the Mountaineers defeated the Thundering Herd.
Parts of “Into the Wilderness: The Life of Jesse Hughes,” a film concentrating on the adventure of Hughes and his leadership skills, was filmed in Point Pleasant, and Mason County remembered Walden Roush. Roush was very instrumental in shaping Mason County through education as well as the development of the West Virginia State Farm Museum.
The former Point Pleasant Middle School property was purchased for $551,250 by Frank Athey of Mineral Wells. Rick Pearson of Rick Pearson Auction Co. and R.F. Stein, owner of Drop Tine Properties, LLC conducted the auction.
November officially put the area into holiday mode with Thanksgiving celebrations, a Christmas parade and the kick-off of Krodel Park’s Christmas Fantasy Light Show. In addition, the area lost one of it’s restaurants when Halftime Sports Bar and Grill closed. The Mason County Community Foundation also held their fifth annual benefit dinner in November.
During the benefit dinner the 2009 Fall Community Action and Youth Grants were announced. The Mason County Fair received the Community Action Grant award, which is a $2,500 grant that will go toward restoring a 70-year old horse barn that is utilized by hundreds of 4-H members through the Mason County Fair and many horse shows throughout the year. Winning the 2009 Fund for Youth grant award was Hannan High School. The grant, which also is $2,500, will help build an outdoor youth recreational area to be utilized by the school’s students during the school year and the youth of southern Mason County in the evenings and summer months.
The H1N1 flu was certainly big in 2009, and in November the vaccine became available to target groups in Mason County before becoming available to the general public in December. The 2009 H1N1 flu is a new flu virus. It is very different from seasonal influenza viruses, although the symptoms are similar. Symptoms of H1N1 include a sore throat, cough and fever greater than 100 degrees.
The area along with neighboring Gallia County, Ohio also experienced a string of business burglaries in November. In Mason County, the Point Pleasant Food Mart, located at the Exxon on 2200 Jackson Ave. was robbed at knife point. The Gallipolis Ferry Chevron was later robbed as well.
December was the month of giving as many area organizations and individuals came together to support those in need. Whether it was the Point Pleasant Fire Department collecting food baskets, “Snow Buddies” partnering with businesses, Toys for Kids, Christmas Toys for Children: Marines Helping the Needy, Shop with a Cop Program or Toys and Treats, Mason County made the season brighter for many families during Christmas 2009.
In addition, an annual community Christmas dinner brought many out to Point Pleasant High School, just as Pleasant Valley Hospital provided a fun “Evening with Santa.” The Family Resource Network provided a good experience for local children and families and of course, the Christmas Light Show at Krodel Park and the West Virginia State Farm Museum were enjoyed by hundreds.
The month of December also paid tribute to all of those who lost their lives or family members in the 42nd Anniversary of the Silver Bridge Collapse on Dec.15. Forty-six people lost their lives in the Dec. 15, 1967, bridge collapse. Two bodies never were recovered and nine people were injured.
The first Mason County Teen Court trial was held in December as well. Students from all three area high schools participated in the courtroom. The cases heard in teen court systems are real cases and have real criminal offenders tried by the court. Another big event in December was the Holiday Home Tour where five families opened their doors to the community and provided a special holiday experience in each of their homes.
If 2010 is as eventful as 2009, then Mason County is in for a jam packed year.