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Three drug charges — with more sealed

ROMNEY — Three men were indicted on drug distribution charges by the grand jury last week and more could be coming.

Three other indictments remained sealed Monday afternoon with the identities of the defendants and the charges against them secret until they are in custody.

Sealed indictments are used throughout the American judicial system, but haven’t been handed up in Hampshire County recently. These are the 1st approved by Judge Charles Carl since he took office in 2013.

Prosecutor Betsy K. Plumer said the sealed indictments are “the same type” as the unsealed drug indictments.

“We’re trying to do a concerted effort to address the opioid epidemic,” she said. 

The grand jury issued 12 indictments in all involving 10 people. It’s the smallest set of indictments since the 10 indictments issued in January 2013 on new Prosecutor Dan James’s 2nd day in office. Four months later James set a Hampshire County record, securing 58 indictments from the grand jury.

The three so far charged with drug distribution are:

• Hunter Remington Russell was charged with a count of delivery of a controlled substance, heroin.

The charging papers say Russell sold .2 grams of heroin to a confidential informer working with the West Virginia State Police for $100 last August.

Russell also was indicted on a charge of delivery of methylenedioxyamphetamine, known as MDA, nearly a year earlier, in September 2017.

The charging document said he gave 10 tablets of MDA to a state police informant for $200.

• Jacob Raymond Greene was charged with delivery of methamphetamine. The charging document said he sold a state police informant slightly more than .4 grams for $100 in September 2017.

• John Allen Barrett was charged with delivery of methamphetamine.

The charging document contended that Barrett sold a half gram of meth to a state police informant for $75 last December.

In other cases:

• Philip Henry Spicer and Candice Renee Spaid were jointly indicted on 5 counts. The combined indictments mean the pair could be tried together.

The charges include malicious assault, conspiracy to commit malicious assault, accessory after the fact to malicious assault, falsely reporting an emergency incident and obstructing.

The charging documents said Spicer assaulted Spaid’s husband on June 6 with help from her, then afterward she called 911 with a false claim that her husband had shot Spicer. 

• Devin Conard Haines was indicted on 3 counts – possession of child erotica, 3rd-degree sexual assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The charging document claims that Haines, who turned 24 in August, had sex with a 14-year-old in March. The charges say that between last November and March Haines took her joyriding and carried a revealing picture of her with him. 

In a separate set of indictments, Haines was charged with distributing and exhibiting material depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and also distributing and displaying material of an obscene manner to a child.

The charging documents say that in July Haines had other pictures of the then-15-year-old in sexual situations and sent her nudes of himself with his cellphone.

• Levi Scott Conard is charged with a count of an unlawful attempt to purchase a firearm.

The charging document said Conard tried to purchase a Cobra pistol model CA380 from a local gun seller by denying he was a convicted felon.

The Review will publish the other 3 indictments when they become public information. o

Deputy pulls driver from fiery truck

A Hampshire County Sheriff’s deputy is being called a hero after he pulled the driver of a burning truck to safety Friday morning.

Off-duty deputy Jacob Crites, who was the 1st responder on the scene, climbed down a bank by U.S. 50 about a half mile east of Hampshire High School where 2 vehicles collided shortly after 3 a.m.

He pulled from a burning 2019 Ford F-150 pickup the driver, Darl K. Shreve II, 46, of New Creek. Shreve was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

“Deputy Crites’ actions in pulling a victim from a burning vehicle on Sept. 6 was nothing short of heroic,” Chief Deputy Nathan Sions said Tuesday.  “He was off-duty at the time, but nonetheless he was willing to risk his life to help another.”

Fire companies on the scene echoed Sions’ sentiment.

“Deputy Crites exemplifies the title of public servant,” Romney Fire Chief G.T. Parsons said in a post on the fire company’s Facebook page.

“The driver of the truck owes his life to Deputy Crites,” the Augusta Fire Company reiterated on its Facebook page.

The driver of the other vehicle, Michael Shingleton, 28, of Augusta, was transported to Hampshire Memorial Hospital.

On Monday, a warrant was issued for his arrest on a charge of driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury. Shingleton is suspected of being under the influence of “several” different types of controlled substances, the sheriff’s office said.  

Authorities said Shingleton’s west-bound 2007 Jeep Cherokee crossed the centerline and crashed into Shreve’s eastbound F-150 pickup near Bunny Haines Road.

Crites, a senior deputy, has been a member of the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office for about 4 years.

Sions lavished praise on the officer, who he called an asset to both the sheriff’s office and the community.

“Although this particular incident has drawn attention to Deputy Crites’ service,” Sions said, “his daily work habits and dedication to serving our citizens is also to be commended. Deputy Crites’ humble service, exemplifies what being a public servant is all about.”

Besides Crites and the 2 fire companies, Romney Rescue Squad and the county ambulance were on the scene. Cpl. Travis Dolly and Cpl. Phoebe Lahman are continuing to investigate the crash.

SBA funds sought to fix CBMS kitchen

County schools are preparing to ask the state for funds to repair the water lines beneath Capon Bridge Middle School’s kitchen — even though no cost estimate is yet available.

The school board met in special session Tuesday morning to unanimously approve sending a request for funding to the School Building Authority before Friday’s deadline. The SBA will decide at its early December meeting what projects around the state to fund.

The application will ask for complete SBA funding as the county works to find out how much repairs will cost and — just as importantly — who to hold responsible for the problems that they say have existed since the school was built in 2006.

“We did not budget for any of this,” Superintendent Jeff Pancione told the board.

CBMS lost full use of its kitchen with the July 16 discovery that a sewer line is severed.

The serving line, refrigerator, freezer, icemaker, ovens and warmers are all usable, but anything that drains into the sewer line — sinks, dishwasher, tilt skillet, steamers and some connected pots — is off limits until repairs are made.

On Tuesday, Finance Director Denise Hott said the kitchen might not be fully usable at all this school year.

“It will probably be summer,” she told the board, noting that if the SBA agrees to fund the project, then the bidding process will begin to the agency’s specifications.

Architects with the Charleston firm of Williamson Shriver, which designed the school, are developing a budget to repair the problems.

When the town of Capon Bridge reported “abnormal” sewage coming from the school, Maintenance Director Alfred Foster ran a dye test from several drains, but no dye was showing up in the grease trap.

When a camera was run down the 4-inch PVC line, it quickly hit 3 or 4 feet of gravel.

“We couldn’t figure out where the gravel was coming from,” Foster said. “Basically, the line was stopped up.”

Enough gravel was taken out to allow the 2-inch camera through. About 25 feet from the freezer it showed a severed line beneath 18 inches of concrete and 2 to 3 feet of gravel. 

Pancione told the board Tuesday that kitchen operations are smooth at the middle school.

“We’re trying to keep transporting food to a minimum,” he said. Some food is prepared at neighboring Capon Bridge Elementary.

About 190 of the middle school’s 288 students are being fed daily, Board Vice President Ed Morgan said, which are lower numbers than last year.

“We can accommodate the children,” board member Dee Dee Rinker noted.  “We can feed them all” even though some parents are opting to send lunch with their students. o

Feline lovers step up to aid cats instead of county

The Labor Day rescue of cats from an Augusta home has cat lovers stepping to the fore in the absence of action by county authorities.

Shirley’s Angels Animal Rescue has taken 15 cats to get treatment and find new homes after a visit they made along with Animal Control on Sept. 3 to a house near Augusta that had about 80 cats in and around it.

But a couple of important reasons kept Animal Control on the sidelines.

First, the animal shelter that opened last year on Dolan Drive in Augusta is only for dogs. Cats that are taken there are immediately euthanized.

“We don’t like to do that,” Animal Control Director Col. David Gee said, “but we don’t have a place to keep them.”

Second, no county ordinance limits the number of cats (or dogs) an owner can have.

“If I want 3 dogs, I want 3 dogs,” County Commission President Bob Hott said.

Moreover, the county doesn’t have a spay or neuter rule in place either. Hott noted that no health violation has been cited at the residence.

“Cats are a dilemma in this county,” Col. Gee said last week. “People feed them in the winter because they feel sorry for them, then call and want us to pick them up.”

When the animal shelter was on Gee’s farm, he took in cats and they stayed in the barn.

However, he noted, that in the years between 2012 and 2018, the shelter took in between 750 and 800 cats, but was only able to adopt out 16.

When the new shelter was built, it was only designed for dogs. County Clerk Eric Strite noted that none of the counties around Hampshire take cats either.

That puts the burden on groups like Shirley’s Angels, Furry Friends Needing Homes, Dakota’s Dream or Dawn’s Cat Sanctuary in Fort Ashby.

Shirley’s Angels placed 5 of the rescued kittens with Furry Friends and said over the weekend the rest are at Lost River Animal Clinic in Baker, all of which will need fostering.

 “Until we can find somewhere for the ones we have now we have to hold off removing more from the house,” said Michell Taylor of Shirley’s Angels.

Her group will have cats at Tractor Supply in Romney from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for adoption.

Shirley’s Angels is seeking donations of supplies like old towels, cat carriers, cat beds, litter boxes and litter, Clorox wipes, bleach and laundry detergent.

Donated items can be dropped off at Bank of Romney locations in Romney, Sunrise, Augusta and Capon Bridge, an effort organized by Chris Marshall of Capon Bridge.

“This effort will require considerable resources of both money and supplies and they need your help,” she said in flyers she’s distributing.

Monetary donations can be made via PayPal to shirleysangelsboxerrescue@yahoo.com. The group has a Facebook page and a website, www.shirleysboxers.org.

Funds can also be sent directly to Lost River Animal Clinic for the “Augusta colony.” Lost River is spaying and neutring the cats brought in.

Taylor said all the “friendly” cats have been taken from the Augusta property. Now trapping will begin to capture feral cats and take them for spaying and neutering.

Col. Gee was critical of cats that are allowed to roam uncontrolled. They should be euthanized, he said, “because all they’re doing is reproducing.”

 Hott said he didn’t see the county changing its rules on cats, in part because state law doesn’t address the issue.

He said the key to pet ownership isn’t with rules.

“The answer is being responsible,” he said, “but how do you make them responsible?”

He said Col. Gee “does as well as he can with his feral cats.”

Taylor of Shirley’s Angels said Animal Control was great to work with.

“There aren’t a lot of options for cats here,” she said, “and they don’t want to have euthanize.”

Arts, music, ducks swarm county this weekend

The Hampshire Highlands Arts and Music Festival has big plans for its 2nd year. This weekend the fun begins with Friday night “open mic battle” for a spot on Saturday evening’s festival program, and ends with a 36-prize duck race.

Saturday the area around the gazebo at Taggart Hall will fill with art, music and activities for young and old. Other events are scheduled in Capon Bridge and North River Mills and on the banks of the South Branch.

First comes the open mic battle at Capon Bridge’s River House, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday the 13th. Local musicians will vie for a paid gig at 5 p.m. Saturday as part of the festival entertainment in Romney.

Thursday will be the last day to register. Anyone who wants to compete should email arts@theriverhousewv.org, call 304-856-2440 or just stop by the River House, which is open from 11-8 Thursdays.

Saturday the Hampshire Highlands Festival begins at 10 a.m. around the Taggart Hall gazebo. As of last week, 17 artists had reserved booths, and live entertainment will play all day.

Attendees can bring lawn chairs and settle in front of the gazebo to watch and listen, or wander the booths, shopping or trying creative pursuits involving recyclables — like making their own reusable shopping bags.

A kids tent will give children a chance to do the same, and everyone is invited to decorate tiles for a community mural.

For inspiration, an 8-foot Chihuly statue made of plastic water bottles will be on display. Recycling and preserving the earth are the festival themes this year.

There will be food as well. The HHS Italian Exchange students will raise money selling hotdogs, hamburgers and ice cream, and others will offer barbeque and funnel cakes.

The entertainment begins at 11 a.m. with a puppet show “for kids of all ages” — a musical performance with 8 or 9 puppeteers. A smaller puppet stage and a collection of hand puppets will be available for children who want to stage their own shows.

The Romney Middle School Chorus performs at noon, followed at 1 p.m. by Hay Fever, a “neo-traditional Appalachian” trio of Jim Morris, Josh Haza and Dakota Karper.

After another puppet show at 2, the Crunchy Half Notes, a new group from the Fort Ashby area, performs at 3 p.m., followed by the Honeybee Community Chorus at 4.

At 5 p.m. the winner of the River House open mic battle takes the gazebo stage, and the evening’s entertainment ends with jazz at the co-op from 6-8 p.m., featuring the Supper Club — Marilyn Shenenburger, Joe Doyle, Marion Mich and William Netherland.

At 9:30 Sunday morning, festival goers can take a 2-hour guided hike up Ice Mountain. Docent Ken Caldwell says hikers can call him at 304-460-8820 or email 639klc@gmail.com or “just show up.”

Hikers need sturdy walking shoes (no flip flops) and should bring water. Caldwell will have enough sunblock and bugspray for anyone forgetting these essentials and promises a leisurely pace, with time for brief rests on rocks or benches along the way.

Hikers should be back in time to head for Riverview Farm (2826 South Branch River Road — look for signs with duckies on them) for the 4th annual “Ducks on the South Branch” rubber duckie race.

It will be a race with 36 winners, including a prize (a Duck Race cap) for the last duck down the river. The first duck to cross the finish line wins a cash prize of $500.

Cash prizes total $1,450, and other prizes range from paintings to Potomac Eagle tickets to pizza. It is not necessary to attend the race to win.

Tickets entitling the holder to the winnings of a numbered duckie are available at the Co-op for $5 per duckie, or $25 for a 6-duckie Quack Pack. Proceeds go to the Co-op and will fund renovations and other expenses.

Tickets will be on sale at Riverview Farm before the race, and there will be food, live music and games to entertain children from 1 to 3 p.m. Come join the party — and bring your own lawn chair.

Honeybee Music Studios is sponsoring its 2nd annual Scarecrow Decorating Contest with prizes of $50, $35 and $25. Bring your own assembled scarecrow or use 1 of the 10 scarecrows they will provide for people to decorate as people wait for the duck race — first come, first served.

Sometime after 2 p.m., a group of Trojan athletes will wade upstream with bags full of numbered rubber duckies and turn them loose to race to the finish line.

This weekend’s events end around 3 Sunday, but the Review was assured by Joanne Snead that the arts council is already thinking ahead to next year, when the Hampshire Highlands Arts Festival will return, bigger and better than ever, on the 2nd Saturday in September.