POINT PLEASANT — This week, the Point Pleasant Register will be looking back over the past year, highlighting memorable moments and stories from 2016.
This review begins with stories that took place April through June this year, with more months, and stories, to follow this week.
April began on a bittersweet note for one local family. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed Sarah Nott’s Law which was the culmination of two years of work for Sarah’s parents, Rusty and Brenda of Point Pleasant. Shortly after learning the governor had signed the bill into law, Brenda passed away two days later, after a long illness.
Sarah was killed in March 2014. She had stopped at a convenience store on W.Va. 2 to buy something to eat and when leaving the establishment, her line of sight was obscured by vehicles that were parked in a way the Notts vehemently maintained was illegal near the roadway. With traffic backing up behind her, Sarah attempted to ease on to the roadway when she was hit in her lane and later died from injuries sustained in the accident.
This new law applies to areas or entrances to commercial driveways, businesses and industrial properties, which have an entrance wider than 50 feet, and where those entrances join a road where the speed limit is 45 mph or more. It calls for no parking signs, or paint to denote no parking, or both. These signs and markings will be in the areas where parking is prohibited so as to maintain a line of sight for drivers. It also allows for misdemeanor fines if found in violation of the law. The no parking markings and signs, will also assist law enforcement in ticketing drivers and alerting drivers of where the state highway right-of-way ends.
The Notts got signatures, petitions and went to local government entities in both Mason County and Cabell County to get support and get people on board. Sheriff Greg Powers also offered support by writing a letter to the legislature saying markings showing the right-of-way would make it easier for law enforcement to see who was in violation and enforce the legislation. Del. Jim Buter (R), also played a big role in getting the law passed.
Also in April, American Legion members from across the area converged on Point Pleasant to greet their national commander. Dale Barnett flew into Mason County in a Black Hawk helicopter and toured the National Guard Armory before being driven to American Legion Post 23 in Point Pleasant, where was first greeted by Post Commander Miles Epling. Epling was himself a past national commander in 1989-90.
Also in April, The Kitchen Table organization found themselves in the unique position of having to apologetically turn people away from its Lip Sync Battle fund raiser because it quickly, and unexpectedly, became a standing-room-only event.
Taking home the Inaugural Lip Sync Battle trophy was Pastor Matt Dotson of Good Shepherd UM Church. Dotson edged out then Assistant Prosecutor RF Stein in the finale. Dotson performed high-energy renditions of “So What” by Pink and “Boom Boom Shake the Room” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, while Stein turned into a doppelganger for Axl Rose when performing “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses, as well as “Loose Yourself” by Eminem. The Kitchen Table would go on to hold another successful Lip Sync Battle fundraiser in the summer.
Also in April, the Mason County Board of Health began considering repealing and replacing its indoor air regulation from 2001 with a new proposal eliminating smoking in all public and private places of employment. In addition, the proposal would prohibit smoking in any enclosed business offering goods or services to the public, as well as outdoor public places in Mason County. The clean air ordinance eventually passed in June, after a comment period on the proposal.
Two New Haven women who share a passion for gardening joined forces to offer area residents a new option for purchasing fresh summer fare. With the blessing of town administration, Jackie Blain and Debra Gilman Russell organized a farmers market held in the town park, located at the entrance of the municipality on Fifth Street. In addition to town support, James McCormick, of Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture, a state program, is also behind the efforts of the women. He has provided a banner which is now up along the road to mark the market’s location.
In Point Pleasant, a piece of Main Street began to come down in May as the demolition of the former Franklin Building commenced. Onlookers watched as the buildings at 420 and 422 Main Street, where many bought clothes and shoes years ago, began to tumble into rubble. A buyer stepped in at the last second to save the elevator shaft and has since purchased the lots for possible, future development.
It is unusual for a write-in candidate to win an election, especially with three other candidates on the ballot. But that is exactly what happened in June in the Town of New Haven, when Jerry Spradling won the mayor’s seat in the municipal election. Spradling, a write-in, topped the other candidates, including incumbent Mayor Charles Yonker, Stephen “Snuf” Smith, who is a former mayor, and newcomer Eric Blain. Spradling received 116 votes. Smith came in next with 99, followed by Mayor Yonker with 47 and Blain with 37. Recorder Roberta Hysell ran unopposed in her quest for re-election. She received 261 votes. Winning bids for the five council seats were Grant Hysell with 217 votes; Matthew Gregg, 135; George Gibbs, who is a former mayor, 130; incumbent councilman Jim Elias, 124; and Matthew Shell, 119.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org on on Twitter @BSergentWrites.