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At last, the first
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HHS boys end a half century of basketball frustration

The Trojans had won their sectional championship 13 times through the school’s history — only to lose in the regional finals each time and miss out on a chance to play in the state basketball tournament.

Today though, the boys are at the capital after a 52-41 victory last Tuesday over North Marion in their Region 1, Class AAA game.

Coach Danny Alkire, who played for 1 of those 13 other frustrated sectional champs, was planting himself firmly in the here-and-now of the moment.

“To be honest, I don’t think about our regional loss,” he said of the 2000-01 team coached by Larry See. “I feel I’m more of an asset now as a coach and prefer watching my players achieve greatness than me as a player.”

The 2020-21 Trojans have their next shot at greatness this afternoon, and it’s an uphill battle.

They take the court against top-seeded Robert C. Byrd of Clarksburg in the opening round of the tournament. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

“We are happy we made it, but we are going down there to pick up some more victories,” Alkire said.

The road to Charleston was a new route this year. The Trojans were in Class 3A as before, but the WVSSAC divided teams into 4 classes for the 1st time. Class 4A is the large urban schools and Class 3A is large more rural schools.

See said classification breakdown is just one aspect of breaking the 56-year barrier between HHS and the state tournament.

“You have to play well, you have to be fortunate, your kids have to stay healthy,” he said. “Sometimes it breaks your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”

It didn’t break Hampshire’s way in 13 tries under 4 different coaches.

See took teams to the brink 8 times, but never broke through — even with a 20-1 squad that was ranked No. 1 in the state 25 years ago.

Jerry Mezzatesta coached the Trojans to the regional finals once and Wayne Mathias did it 3 times.

Hampshire’s last regional heartbreak came in 2015 under Coach Orie Pancione, who was himself a player on the 2007 squad that ended its season in the regional finals.

See said he stood in awe of Alkire and the ’20-21 Trojans.

“I can’t imagine coaching at this time with all the restrictions — never sure who you’re playing, when you’re playing,” See said. “For them to go through all of that and come out on the other side and get to the state tournament — that’s tremendous.”

County's cases skew younger
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Covid-19 is going low in Hampshire County.

The virus has been diagnosed in 3 Hampshire High School students, forcing the 9th- through 12th-graders to learn from home Tuesday.

The spread to youth doesn’t stop there. State reporting Tuesday morning showed that in the last 7 days, Covid-19 has been reported here in 2 children under the age of 10 and 9 people between the ages of 10 and 19.

That’s a third of the 28 new cases over the last week in Hampshire County. The Health Department reported that as of Sunday afternoon, 22 cases were active with 1 person hospitalized.

School Superintendent Jeff Pancione said Tuesday’s remote instruction would give staff time to notify all possible contacts of the students.

“We will remain devoted to our students and will continue to work hard to provide a safe school environment,” Pancione said in a Facebook statement Monday night.

The outbreak at the high school followed outbreaks reported last Thursday at both of Hampshire County’s long-term care facilities.

Three staff members at Hampshire Center tested positive and 1 resident at Hampshire Memorial Hospital’s long-term care unit did also.

The state classifies both as outbreaks — 3 employees in a 14-day period or 1 resident in the same time frame.

The Health Department said it is working with both facilities to identify anyone who may have had close contact with the positive cases.

To aid its efforts, the Health Department said that it is now administering a rapid test for Covid-19 at its weekly free drive-in clinics. This week’s session is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Health Department, U.S. 50, Augusta.

Vaccinations continue to climb in Hampshire County. As of Tuesday morning, 7,050 people 16 or older had been at least partially vaccinated, 36.1% of the population.

And 6,096 people are now fully vaccinated — 31.2% of those 16 or older.


Hampshire residents 16 or older, as of Tuesday

31.6%   Fully

36.1%   Partially



To schedule a vaccination, visit vaccinate.wv.gov or call 1-833-734-0965.

Vaccines are open to anyone age 16 or older.



22        Active cases

1          Hospitalized

1,780   Total

33        Deaths



Health Department

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday

‘Mother’s Day times 5’
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5 generations of remarkable women, nearly 125 years later 

Some might share a vintage snap or 2 of their grandmother

Margie Shrewsbury of Augusta has something a little more unique: a photo of 5 generations of mothers, taken in 1897. 

“It was unique to have a straight maternal line,” Shrewsbury explained about the black-and-white photo. “And they were not young mothers, either. It’s certainly unusual.”

Pictured in the 5-generation photo, from left to right, is Shrewsbury’s great-great-great grandmother Ruhema Davisson Highland, aged 97, Mary Ann Highland Prichard (her great-great grandmother), Almira Letitia Prichard Dew (her great-grandmother), Chileli Dew Holt at age 27 (her grandmother), and her mother, Margaret Abigail Holt, only 1 and-a-half years old. 

Shrewsbury said that Ruhema died shortly after the photo was taken.

“That day and age, people didn’t live as long, either,” she pointed out. “We’ve probably added 10 years to our life expectancy.”

Shrewsbury’s grandmother Chileli Dew Holt was the 1st female graduate of Salem College in Harrison County, where she believes the photo was taken.

“All my family lived over in that general area,” she explained. Shrewsbury got the 5-generation photo from her mother, who passed away in 1986. 

Her family has political ties as well: her great-grandmother Mary-Ann had a grandson and a great-grandson who were both in the Senate at the same time.

Because the photo shows 5 generations of mothers, it’s incredibly rare in the world of genealogy, Shrewsbury said. 

“People seldom chase the maternal line,” she explained. “It’s a lot easier to trace the male line.”

She said she has a lot of family history in the state of West Virginia, and even though she’s originally from Lewis County, she recently found family ties back to Hampshire.

“During the pandemic, I had information gathered on the Dew family,” she added. “I pulled it out and started tracing it.” 

What she found was that her great-great-great-great grandfather Samuel Dew came to Hampshire County in 1761 and bought around 81 acres on the South Branch. 

“Apparently, it stayed in the family until the 1930s,” she said. “I didn’t realize we had any connection at all to Hampshire.” 

Genealogy is an interest Shrewsbury said she shares with her sister, who she describes as “more of a historian.”

“It’s just fun,” she remarked. “And the photo, it’s like Mother’s Day times 5.”

‘We’re going to have a fair’
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AUGUSTA — “We’re going to have a fair,” Duane “Punkin” Oates announced to the Hampshire County Fair Committee, as they met at the fairgrounds April 28.

As chair of the fair committee, Oates had consulted people both at the state level and in the county health department, and reported both had greenlighted the fair, though the state-level decision would not be official until 3 days later.

The Hampshire County Fair is scheduled for July 25-31, and should go as planned —“unless something else major happens,” Oates said. 

There may be a few issues affecting the livestock exhibitors. The WVU Extension Service was holding a livestock meeting at Central Hampshire Park the evening the fair committee met.

Oates pointed out that all the fair committee can do is make sure the animal buildings are open and the lights are on. WVU sets rules for livestock exhibitors, at least for 4-H members.

Possibilities said to be under discussion included transporting animals to the fair for judging and home again the same day, or requiring exhibitors to come to the fairgrounds to tend to their animals rather than allowing camping on the grounds.

An issue worrying the Ruritan clubs putting on the fair was whether volunteers would be required to wear masks, since many are in their 60s and 70s and work in hot and crowded kitchens, especially in the snack bar.

Oates was assured by the county health department that masks would be a personal decision. He urged the Ruritans to be respectful of all decisions volunteers make, including whether they feel comfortable volunteering at all.

Concern was expressed about beauty pageant contestants crowding into a trailer to change, and Oates said they might make a decision on this later. Last year one possibility had been to have contestants compete in just one outfit, and change at home. 

Entertainment plans are firming up, with a tractor pull planned for Friday and the mud bog moving to Saturday. Five sponsors are being sought to contribute $500 each to cover the $2,500 cost of the tractor pull sled.

The Saturday mud bog will be scheduled from 3-8 p.m., since that is the day of the livestock sale, and buyers will be coming in with trucks and trailers to haul animals away after the sale concludes around 9 p.m.

People are demanding a parade, said Oates.

 “People want to see the community thrive again,” he said.  

He is talking with a magician about performing on fair night, and later hoped a local group might volunteer to perform before the magic show.

It was agreed that admission passes would be sold this year, offering a full week of admission for $20. The committee has not yet decided how early to begin selling passes, but they will no longer be available once the fair begins.

County Commissioner Dave Cannon, a member of the Slanesville Ruritan Club, asked some questions about finances. Oates explained that fair profits are divided evenly between the Ruritan clubs who staged the fair — $2,000 each for 10 clubs last year, to be used for community service (such as scholarships for HHS graduates).

Oates also described measures taken to keep expenses low, including having Judy’s Mobile Home Sales sponsor the car show and provide a trailer for a dressing room for the beauty pageants, rather than paying to exhibit their merchandise.

Mowing the fairgrounds, which used to cost $2,500 a year, and is now done by the county parks and recreation department, in return for use of the soccer fields.

Other decisions made included asking Gary and Linda Riggleman to work on collecting payment from sponsors with signs posted on the fairgrounds fence, with Oates noting that the fair should be charging an annual fee, since the signs were free advertising not just to fairgoers, but to soccer game audiences, which can be so large “you’d think it was fair week.”

‘He was amazing’
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GAINSBORO, Va. — More is known today about Andy Howlett’s life than his death a week ago.

The 58-year-old’s body was found last Tuesday afternoon in the place he loved most — Lake Holiday, about 15 miles northwest of Winchester.

Howlett lived on the lake, but worked – for the most part — in Romney as a physician’s assistant to Dr. Jerry Hahn.

“He kept showing up at the doorstep, like a bad penny,” Hahn joked last week. “He’d work somewhere and come back, go somewhere and come back.”

As much as he loved working for Hahn Medical Practice — now E.A. Hawse since January — he loved life on Lake Holiday even more.

“He was very, very excited for the warm weather,” said colleague Liz Voit, a nurse practitioner with Hahn. “The lake was his absolute favorite place in the world.”

He kayaked, he fished, he took pictures.

“He loved inviting all his friends to the lake for gatherings,” Voit said. “Any reason he could find to invite people, he invited them there.”

Last Tuesday he was on the lake and a friend was lying on the beach.

“He went swimming and he was having a great time,” Voit said, “and they found him floating.”

Howlett was pulled from the water by a 17- year-old who administered CPR before paramedics and police arrived. Authorities haven’t provided information on how long Howlett was in the water or other details about the incident.

He died at Winchester Medical Center after being removed from life support, his stepdaughter Amanda Russell told the Winchester Star.

Russell said her family is baffled by events. She called her stepfather a strong swimmer and “healthy as an ox.”

Howlett had rented a house on the 249-acre lake for several years. Dr. Hahn said his p.a. had just saved up enough to buy the place.

“Everything was going good,” Hahn said.

Voit agreed.

“This is where he belonged,” she said of the guy she called her “work husband” at the Hahn/Hawse practice.

“He was amazing,” Voit said. “He saw the good in everybody. It didn’t matter what they’d done before or what background they came from, he just seemed to connect with all of them.”

Howlett started his career as a lab tech at Winchester Medical Center. Along the way, he married, had a daughter (Ashley Howlett, 22), acquired Russell, now 38, as a step-daughter, finished his degree to become a p.a., divorced and settled in Lake Holiday.

All on a green card.

“He wasn’t an American citizen. He’s Canadian,” said Hahn, who became friends and hunting buddies with him over the years.

The young Howlett moved around a lot with his father’s engineering career, but he found his home at Lake Holiday.

Voit said “something” will be done on the lake with his friends and family when the weather’s a little warmer.

“I’ll miss the old guy,” Dr. Hahn said.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.