2015 Year in Review Headlines
By Sarah Mansheim
January: Two Lewisburg city police officers, Lt. Jeromy Dove and Patrolman Nicholas Sams, are shot during a traffic stop. Further investigation reveals two dead bodies in the back of a pickup truck and a father and son duo, Erick Campbell and Edward Campbell of Texas, are arrested for attempted murder and charged with the murders of the North Carolina couple discovered in the truck. Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester announces his intent to run for mayor “one more time.” A Lewisburg woman is arrested and charged with murder after her boyfriend is discovered dead at a home on Church Street in Lewisburg; soon after, the charges are dropped as the state gathers more evidence. Edward Campbell waives his right of extradition for murder charges in North Carolina, and charges against him in the New Year’s Day police shootout are dropped. Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro is vandalized with a racial slur, and a Greenbrier County man is arrested and charged with committing a hate crime. A diesel tanker crashes into a tributary of Anthony Creek, leaving citizens on the Lewisburg water system without water. The State Fair announces plans to construct an underpass under Rt. 219 between the fairgrounds and the free parking lot.
February: The Greenbrier Pharmacy building in White Sulphur celebrates 100 years standing. Lewisburg In Bloom announces plans to improve the Dick Pointer Cemetery on Church Street. A train carrying fuel oil derails in Fayette County, causing explosions and fires. A former WVSOM student files a lawsuit against the school, alleging her sexual assault case was mishandled. Residents spend two weeks digging out from two consecutive snowstorms that left some parts of Greenbrier County under three feet of snow. A kickstarter campaign begins to help fund the renovation of the Blue Sulphur Spring Pavilion. Former West Virginian Ivan Cales is charged with murdering his female roommate in New Mexico.
March: Snowmelt places the Greenbrier Valley in danger of flooding. Kelly Tuckwiller is named the new CEO of the State Fair of West Virginia. Edward Campbell, the elder of the father-son duo involved in the New Year’s Day police shooting, commits suicide in a North Carolina jail. The Greenbrier County Board of Education votes to do away with part of students’ spring break in order to make up snow days. Martha Hilton files to run for mayor of Lewisburg. Property owners in Monroe and Summers County file pre-emptive lawsuits against Mountain Valley Pipeline, who had threatened landowners who didn’t allow pipeline representatives onto their property with lawsuits of their own. The Power of the Purse fundraiser raises $4,000 for local projects. The fundraiser is hosted by the United Way of the Greenbrier Valley.
April: Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC files lawsuits against over 100 West Virginia property owners for access to their land. An Alderson toddler dies after falling into an underground tank near an Exxon gas station and car wash. The Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion kickstarter campaign surpasses its $25,000 fundraising goal. New Jersey resident Paul Ferraro passes through Lewisburg on his trek from Virginia to California to raise funds for the Navy SEALS Foundation. Lewisburg billionaire and Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice announces he’s considering running for governor. Homeschoolers participate in their annual community service project picking up garbage as part of West Virginia Make it Shine.
May: The Greenbrier announces Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will perform at the Greenbrier Classic Concert Series. The county commission is met with a petition with over 2,000 signatures demanding the firing of the Animal Control Officer Robert McClung, who is alleged to have shot a dog on its own property. An investigation into improper prescribing methods is ongoing at the Beckley VA clinic, where many Greenbrier County vets go thanks to ongoing HVAC issues at the Maxwelton office. Jim Justice announces he is running for governor in 2016 on the Democratic ticket. The Greenbrier County Commission chooses a four-person panel to investigate a shooting of a dog by Animal Control Officer Robert McClung. The State Fair begins construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Rt. 219 South, closing the southbound road and diverting traffic in a single-land detour. A Baltimore man is arrested for attempted murder after almost running down a Lewisburg Police officer in an attempt to flee. Police arrested him the following day after his family convinced him to turn himself in. Carnegie Hall Executive Director Susan Adkins announces her plans to retire.
June: Longtime Ronceverte City Recorder Jan Johnson opts out of running for reelection; council person Crystal Byer runs unopposed to be elected the new recorder, and former Mayor Gail White wins a seat on council. A multi-agency drug sweep across Greenbrier County nets 21 arrests. The long-beleaguered VA clinic in Maxwelton closes permanently due to ongoing air quality issues. Mayor John Manchester and Council persons Beverly White and Joseph Lutz are reelected to another term in Ronceverte. County commissioners release findings of the investigation into the shooting of a dog by Animal Control Officer Robert McClung, finding that he did was not in violation of any laws or protocols. Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras at the grand opening of Center Court at Creekside at The Greenbrier, and Earth Wind and Fire performed in the pouring rain to some die-hard fans. An Alderson Federal Prison inmate walked off the prison grounds, and was caught nine days later in Lewisburg where she was camping in some trees behind a motel. The Greenbrier Classic kicks off. Former Greenbrier Executive Chef and White House Chef Walter Scheib is found dead near a hiking trail in New Mexico.
July: Danny Lee wins The Greenbrier Classic in a four-man playoff, capping off a rain-filled weekend of golf and country music. Summer storms bring flooding and power outages to the area. Rural fire fees continue to dominate city council meetings in White Sulphur Springs and Lewisburg, with White Sulphur opting to “kill” their ordinance and Lewisburg first amending theirs, and then tabling it indefinitely. Six-year-old Maggie Rae Estep is honored for her bravery by the Greenbrier County Commission after calling 911 when her mother was having trouble breathing, calmly supplying her home address and explaining to them what had happened. Green Bank Telescope to be part of a world-wide project to seek out life on other planets.
August: The State Fair begins, bringing Fairlea traffic to a halt. On the first night, classic country band Alabama plays a sold out show. Lewisburg approves a final rural fire fee ordinance. The New Orleans Saints attend training camp at The Greenbrier Sports Performance Center, and are joined by the New England Patriots for two days. A protest is staged at The Greenbrier in response to the state chamber of commerce annual meeting’s keynote speaker, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Bimbo Coles is hired as the Eastern Greenbrier Middle School basketball coach.
September: GEHS teacher Kevin Warfield is a runner-up as West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Warfield teaches in the engineering department at East. A federal judge upholds portions of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against WVSOM by a former student, who alleges the school did nothing to assist her, and even asked her to leave the school, after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by another student at an off-campus party. Thirty cows are stolen from the Cattleman’s Livestock Exchange in Caldwell. Gas falls below $2 a gallon, if only for one day.
October: Lewisburg wins the America in Bloom contest for its population category. Representatives announce that a new VA clinic will arrive in Lewisburg. Residents Hanno Kirk and Jo Weisbrod meet the Dalai Lama in India. The Alderson Fireworks Committee starts a GoFundMe account to help pay for the fireworks display at the Fourth of July festival. Taste of our Towns draws thousands of foodies to the streets of downtown Lewisburg for the annual food festival. The Greenbrier County Commission rules the animal control officer can no longer carry a pistol or a 12-gauge shotgun while on duty. Larry Vernon Hoke is arrested in Roanoke, Va., for allegedly murdering his step-daughter, Glenda Hull, at her residence near Neola.
November: The fifth of November marks the 30th anniversary of the 1985 flood, which devastated communities along the Greenbrier River, including Marlinton, Caldwell, Ronceverte and Alderson. The Greenbrier East High School Women’s Soccer team qualifies to go to the state championship for the first time in school history. Gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice sees more controversy as a dash-cam video of him arguing with a Lewisburg police officer over a ticket is released. Vietnam veteran Frank Massie receives his high school diploma during a Veterans Day ceremony at Greenbrier East High School. Area police seize a pound of uncut heroin, over 2,300 opana pills and $110,000 cash from the home of Willie Keaton Goodson III of Ronceverte. White Sulphur native Katherine Johnson, 97, is nominated by President Barack Obama to be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor. A NASA mathematician, Johnson’s computations have influenced major space programs throughout the years.
December: Officials announce that a temporary VA clinic will be set up in Rhema Christian Center in Fairlea. Lewisburg’s Jamie McKee announces a new foundation, Mitsy’s Wings, dedicated to his late wife who died of melanoma. The Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission puts out a call for someone to purchase the old L&R Railroad depot building, which has fallen into disrepair, and whose owners wish to tear it down in order to build a new house on their property. Lewisburg residents are dismayed to find that they have been assigned new 911 street addresses. The Greenbrier County Commission discusses the purchase of property near Lewisburg to build a recreation center with Arts and Recreation funding from the county bed tax. The first reading of a nondiscrimination ordinance was brought to the table at Lewisburg City Hall, while hundreds of those in favor of the ordinance, and those against it, rallied in council chambers and outside city hall. The ordinance would amend the standing ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing law. It is announced that the VA clinic will find a permanent home in Fairlea.