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$2 million grant flows to Purgitsville water project
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A $2 million block grant announced Monday “puts the icing on the cake” for a project to bring public water to dozens of homes in Purgitsville.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Pastor Don Judy of White Pine Church of the Brethren. He began pushing the issue 3 years ago.

The $2 million community development block grant goes into a pot with $975,000 committed by the Army Corps of Engineers and another $1 million from the State Infrastructure Council, bringing the total available to $3.975 million, said Terry Lively, executive director of the Region 8 Planning and Development Council that oversees public service projects like this across the Potomac Highlands.

Hampshire’s $2 million grant was the largest of $13.7 million announced by Gov. Jim Justice Monday afternoon.

County Commission President Brian Eglinger and Commissioner Bob Hott were present at what they described as a hastily organized Zoom meeting on Monday at which Justice announced this year’s grants.

The governor’s office said the project will extend water service along U.S. 220 from the Hardy County line north to Old Mountain Road, Huffman Road and Phillip Vincent Road, serving 80 new customers.

“It’s always been about the health of the people up there,” Judy said Tuesday morning. “A lot of hard work went into that — and determination and coming together.”

Judy began lobbying for public water in the area in the fall of 2018, spurred by the abysmal quality of the well water and anecdotal evidence of high cancer rates.

A press conference he held that October featured water catching fire as it poured from a kitchen tap.

When the County Commission refused to pay for testing of water, Judy found private donations to test samples that ignited state and federal officials to begin searching for ways to put the area on a public water system.

Plans are for Central Hampshire to purchase water from neighboring Hardy County and pump it to residents. More than 100 people put down a deposit and signed up for the service.

More will be connected in later phases — provided funding can be found for them.

Judy said he already had a request from north of the 1st development area Tuesday morning.

“Four wells down there you can’t get any water out of from the nonstop spewing of natural gas,” he contended.

Lively said the block grant allows design to begin on the project.

Community Development Block Grants were authorized by the federal Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 to support the development of sustainable communities, including providing a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities.

Review Correspondent Sydney Maurer contributed to this report.

Judge ‘fed up’ with pushy rescues
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Williams to Love Shack onlookers: ‘I know my oath’ 

Then the mild-mannered judge launched into a 4-minute tirade, never raising his voice, but making his displeasure with outside groups trying to influence the case perfectly clear.

“I’m getting just about fed up,” Williams said about the emails and calls that have come into his office lobbying for harsh treatment of Sabrina Droescher, the rescue owner who had more than 100 dogs removed from her Love Shack operation in early April.

Droescher is suing to have 7 dogs returned to her care. Magistrate Ron DiCiolla turned her down on April 16, so Droescher appealed to the circuit court.

That’s the case Williams was scheduling Monday afternoon, setting a bench trial – no jurors – for 1 p.m. Aug. 9.

He gave Droescher, who is representing herself, and assistant prosecutor Charlie Johnson III deadlines for exchanging evidence and witness lists. He left in place DiCiolla’s order that the dogs in question remain in the custody of animal control.

Then the judge urged both parties that if they have any influence on outside rescue groups that they need to spread the word to stop contacting him.

“It’s unethical, and I don’t want to see any more,” Williams said. “I’ll decide this case.”

He said he had received at least 30 emails and several phone calls, all apparently from individuals and groups who want Droescher punished.

Animal rescuers have also been contacting the prosecutor’s office, Johnson said. A few have been in touch with the Hampshire Review as well.

A handful of rescuers in red shirts gathered on the lawn across from the Judicial Center before Monday’s hearing and they were there last Tuesday for another hearing in Droescher’s criminal case.

Williams expressed indignation that his court email address apparently had been circulated to dog rescue groups across the country – many, he noted, who don’t appear to know the facts of the case.  

“I don’t need to be told what the right thing is to do,” Williams said as he wound down. “I know my oath of office.”

He mentioned a request that he upgrade the charges from misdemeanors to felonies – an issue he has no control over for a couple of reasons.

Primarily, Williams pointed out, he is only hearing the civil case by Droescher for the return of her dogs.

“The criminal case is outside my jurisdiction,” he said.

Droescher has been charged with 103 counts of animal cruelty, all misdemeanors being tried in magistrate court. West Virginia code only provides for a felony count of animal cruelty for intentional torture, mutilation or malicious killing of an animal.

The criminal case has been continued to early September because the prosecution is still assembling the massive amount of evidence to hand over to Droescher’s attorney in that case, Kevin Sponaugle.

Dufrene leaving HHS after 1 year
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SUNRISE SUMMIT — After a year at the Hampshire High helm, principal Mike Dufrene is stepping down from the position.

Dufrene took on the role as principal last July, facing what was sure to be an uncertain rollercoaster of a year. Now, after that rollercoaster of a year has come to a close, he’s resigning and moving to North Carolina to be closer to his family.

“This decision is purely based on family, period,” Dufrene explained. “There’s nothing between the lines here.”

Dufrene sang the praises of the central office staff and school board, calling them “nothing but a great support system.”

“I’ve never been told no,” he pointed out. “It’s been refreshing to work with a superintendent and a board office that puts kids first.”

Superintendent Jeff Pancione said that he felt the school benefited from Dufrene’s experience, and for the year he was principal, he offered something the school desperately needed: stability.

“He brought a clear direction for both students and staff,” Pancione said. “I think he had a very successful year in unrealistic, unprecedented times.”

Dufrene, who moved with his wife Holly (currently a teacher in Winchester) to Hampshire County after accepting the job as HHS principal, are now looking south to a new chapter of their lives in North Carolina. He said he doesn’t have a job lined up, nor has he been applying for a new job in the Tar Heel State.

Pancione further commended Dufrene for his “students first” mantra, which Dufrene held to all the way through the year. The exiting principal didn’t reveal news about his departure until after graduation.

“Even at the end there, he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. It was students first,” Pancione said.

As Dufrene gears up to head to his new home down south, he expressed his hopes for Hampshire, both as a high school and as a county.

“Everything is fixable,” he said. “Learn from the past and forget the past, and be willing to move forward.”

Dufrene revealed the news of his departure in his latest edition of “Trojan Times,” calling it a “pleasure” to have been a part of the HHS community for the past year. He and Holly are planning to relocate within the month to their new home.

“We have accomplished many positive things this year together, even during a worldwide pandemic,” he said. “I think Hampshire is a special place, but the bottom line is family. Period.”

Helping Hands gives back over $74,000
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ROMNEY — Helping Hands has announced their donation total for last year, and the numbers are continuing to increase: 2020’s total clocks in at $74,100, which is over $2,000 more than last year.  

Breaking down the numbers, the 2 organizations receiving the most from Helping Hands in donations are the Romney Food Pantry, which will be receiving $18,000, and the Committee on Aging, which will see $14,000 from the organization. The City of Romney will be swimming in donation money after receiving $5,500 for the Romney Pool, and Hospice of the Panhandle will see $4,500 coming their way.

Catholic Charities will see $4,000, and Toys from the Heart will be receiving $1,000.

Six fire companies here will also be receiving donations of $800 each: Romney, Capon Bridge, Augusta, Springfield, Levels, North River (Rio) and Slanesville.  

Also accepting a large chunk of last year’s total from Helping Hands are the school backpack programs around the county. The total amount given to these programs will be $19,500, and 7 schools will each see portions of that for their backpack programs. Romney and Augusta Elementary Schools will be receiving the most ($3,500).

Capon Bridge Elementary will welcome $3,000, while Springfield-Green Spring, Slanesville and CBMS will be seeing $2,500 each as well. John J. Cornwell will also receive $2,000.

Mary French Barbe, the president and manager of the organization, said that she just wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who donates their time to volunteer with Helping Hands.

“The volunteers, they’re what makes it go,” she said simply. “We wouldn’t be able to give back if it wasn’t for them.”

Every spring, Helping Hands crunches the numbers and divvies up the money they’ve received throughout the year and provides substantial donations to various organizations in the community. The Romney thrift store sells donated goods from clothes to housewares to furniture, and their credo is that every penny goes back into the community. The 2019 donation total was reported at $72,000, while 2018’s total was $67,000.

Helping Hands receives donations all year round and anyone interested in learning more can call volunteers at 304-822-8448 or visit the store on 24 W. Main St. in Romney. 

Cicadas on the menu
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For the adventurous eater, Brood X might be to your taste 

Brood X is in full emergence here, and while the reactions of residents vary, some, like Steve Bailes of North River Mills, are getting their taste buds involved.

While it may not be a traditional source of protein in American cuisine, insects are staples on the menu for many cultures worldwide.

The shrill song of the cicadas may not make your stomach growl in anticipation, but Bailes, who writes the “Ento Treats” blog hailing insects as a viable (and tasty) food option, said there are definite benefits to dabbling in entomophagy.

That is, eating insects.

“The pioneers who are running insects-as-food companies are really interesting,” he commented. “They tend to be passionate about what they are doing: providing healthy food, addressing the projected world food shortage and helping to alleviate many ecological problems facing the Earth.”

There certainly is a “green” element to considering cicadas and other insects as a food source.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization outlines that globally, food production produces 1/3 of the planet’s greenhouse emissions. Considering insects as a food source may help reduce these emissions and help combat climate change.

Still not convinced that cicadas belong on your plate?

With Brood X emerging in the Eastern Panhandle, folks here and region-wide are developing recipes and tasty ways to serve the critters that might tickle your fancy.

Tacos. Cookies. Cupcakes. Fried up in a hot skillet. The possibilities are endless.

Well, maybe not for folks with shellfish allergies. Dr. Floyd Shockley, a Smithsonian entomologist, said that cicadas could be used interchangeably with shrimp, because of their biological similarities. Entomologists advise that folks with shellfish allergies should avoid all insects, not just cicadas, due to the risk of an allergic reaction.

For the rest of the insect-curious population, however, cicadas have the possibility to emerge as a mainstream food source down the line. 

For entomophagy novices, the prospect of cicadas going from the tree to the dish could be daunting, but Bailes shared his process.

“To harvest the adults, I have an open quart jar,” he explained. “If I hold the jar up to a limb covered with cicadas, they almost dive into the jar, and they don’t try to escape.”

It sounds easy enough.

Bailes also advised that folks looking to harvest the insects might want to try their luck at a fruit tree, since the cicadas seem to favor them, and he said they also seem to be attracted to small running engines.

The cicadas usually go from the jar straight to the freezer, Bailes said, and then right from the freezer to a hot skillet.

“I usually at least remove the wings,” Bailes added. “Some people like to remove the legs.”

Alternately, harvesting the cicadas as soon as they emerge from the ground can alleviate the need to remove the crunchy shell. Naomi Haines of Slanesville reveals the trick to finding emerging “nymphs” easily.

“I personally prefer the creamy white stage of the cicada, just after they’ve emerged from their shell,” Haines said. “They’re best collected early in the morning or well after sunset. Have a plastic bag or glass jar handy to put them in.”

Feeling bold? Try one of these recipes to incorporate the buzzing members of Brood X into your diet this summer.

Chili Lime ‘Cada Tacos

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups blanched cicadas

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/4 c. Frank’s RedHot Chile ‘n Lime hot sauce

8 flour tortillas or taco shells, warmed

How to blanch your bugs: boil 1 gallon of water and a teaspoon of salt, add 4 cups of cicadas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Mix cumin, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cicadas and toss until well-coated.

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add seasoned cicadas, cook and stir for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in hot sauce to coat.

Spoon cicadas into warm tortillas. Top with your preferred taco fixings, like salsa, onion, cilantro, cheese or lettuce. Or, all of the above.

Source: Frank’s RedHot Cicada Cookbook

Banana Cicada Bread

1/2 c. shortening

3/4 c. sugar

2 bananas, mashed

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. chopped nuts

2 eggs

1/4 c. dry-roasted cicadas

How to dry roast your cicadas: after freezing the bugs to kill them, remove and lay them on a cookie sheet and roast at 200 to 250 degrees until crisp.

Mix together all of the ingredients. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Source: Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas, University of Maryland

Simple Air-Fried Cicadas

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. paprika

1-2 tsp. salt

Olive oil

Cicadas (between 30 and 40)

Note: This recipe is best with cicadas as they have freshly emerged from their exoskeletons, and have a creamy white appearance. Freeze overnight or until ready to cook.

Remove bugs from the freezer and gently clean with cool water. Optional: remove legs and wings, or leave them attached if you’re feeling adventurous.

Drizzle with olive oil, stirring gently. Put in air fryer at 225-230 degrees for 20 minutes.

While they cook, mix garlic powder, paprika and salt (you can adjust the seasoning to your taste). Remove cicadas from the air fryer and gently toss them with the seasoning. Put them back into the air fryer for a couple more minutes.

Remove and enjoy. Can be eaten fresh from the air fryer or after they cool. Store cicadas in a paper bag.

Also: Air-fried cicadas, before seasoning, can be dipped in chocolate as a tasty dessert or snack. 

 Source: Naomi Haines, Slanesville