The staff of the Logan Banner has selected the following as top ten news stories for 2012 in Logan County.
1. Flash flooding rolled through much of Logan and Mingo Counties, leaving a large path of destruction and debris in its wake. About 200 homes were affected in the latest round of flooding that came fast and hard on Logan County. Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and its Allied Health Building suffered severe flooding, as did much of Mud Fork and Verdunville. Flash flooding also blocked State Route 44 and State Route 10. Waters rose quickly as nearly three inches of rain fell in a two-hour period. At least 45 students were stranded in Verdunville Grade School, another 17 at Logan Middle School. Emergency crews from other counties came in to assist with swift water rescues and getting people to safety. West Virginia State Police officers and the West Virginia National Guard were deployed to assist in emergency and relief efforts.
2. The June 29 and subsequent storms left more than 680,000 West Virginia residents without electricity. Some had a two-week wait to have their power restored. President Barack Obama issued a major disaster declaration for West Virginia to cover emergency work, repair and replacement of public facilities in 45 counties. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin also requested individual assistance in at least 24 counties, which includes grants and services for people who incurred uninsured property damage and loss.
3. The southern West Virginia coalfields lost thousands of jobs this year due to layoffs. Tougher environmental standards and coal-fired power plants being closed or converted to natural gas are forcing companies to lay off workers to adjust and survive. Around 4,740 miners have sought unemployment benefits since Jan. 1, but fewer claims for benefits recently may mean some miners may have returned to work, retired or gone to work in another industry.
4. Nicolas Turkale, 25, of Amherstdale, was charged with Murder and Murder of Child by Custodian. According to the criminal complaint, Turkale “did physically shove the victim, a two year old juvenile, into a door frame causing a skull fracture that ultimately resulted in the child’s death.” The complaint said Turkale provided care for the victim for approximately two years.
5. The Hatfields & McCoys miniseries scored huge ratings nationwide. The History Channel miniseries portraying feud between the Hatfields & McCoys drew the channel’s biggest audience ever and reportedly one of the biggest in the history of cable TV. The miniseries storyline, which is a brutal account, is close to the historical record in most areas. Where dramatic license was taken, it seemed to make sense and was in keeping with propelling the plot forward effectively and efficiently.
6. Logan County native Earl Ray Tomblin won his re-election as Governor over Republican Bill Maloney. In Logan County, voter turnout for the General Election held Tuesday, November 6, was only 48.35 percent of the registered voters.
7. With 9,431 votes, Sonya M. Dingess Porter was the first woman to be elected as Sheriff of Logan County in the last 40 years. Porter is a third generation law enforcement officer. Her grandfather Vernon Dingess served as Logan County’s sheriff from 1977 to 1984 and her father Kent Dingess is a retired deputy with 27 years as a law enforcement officer. Porter was the chief field deputy for a year and a half and has 19 years of experience. Grace Dingess, a distant relative of Porter, was elected sheriff in November 1972.
8. In September, more than 30 families at Rita were given notice their rental agreements would be terminated. DB Land LLC decided to use the property for commercial development purposes. After months of wondering where and when they would have to move, on Christmas Eve, residents who wished to stay were given the option of purchasing the lot on which they now reside.
9. The Logan County Commission signed a new ordinance into effect that allows the county to identify dilapidated and abandoned structures and raze them if property owners don’t clean them up themselves. This year, 50 structures have been cleaned up as a result of the ordinance.
10. Murder and related crash claims four lives in Chapmanville. A triple homicide ended with the person of interest’s death. The Logan County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to Huckleberry Road at Big Creek. Deputies arrived on the scene and found three bodies, each been shot. Victims Clarence Edward Bell, 41, Michelle Bell, 25, and Paul Jarrell, 51, were all of Chapmanville. Deputies linked Trevor Tomblin, 34, also of Chapmanville, to the crime. Tomblin had been driving a truck registered to one of the shooting victims and was involved in a crash at Big Creek. Guns, a large amount of cash, prescription medication and other evidence were all found on Tomblin, who was taken to Logan Regional Medical Center, then transported to the Charleston Area Medical Center General where he later died.