We head into the final week of 2016, finishing the year in controversy but heading into another 12 months of much concern, controversy and consternation.
In Floyd County, we wrap up a year that saw a shooting of a deputy, firing of a controversial school superintendent, news of sexual abuse by a hardware store employee in Harrisonburg who talked a county high school student to pose nude and pleasure herself on a webcam and smartphone and merger of Floyd’s local bank with one in Grayson County
The final week of the year is when those of us report on the new try and select the top stores that affected us locally and nationally.
Such reporting, of course, is subjective. What I might see as the top news of the year might not match the selection of others.
Our top-five list here at Blue Ridge Muse:
1–Floyd County investigator Rusty Stanley was off duty on Saturday, September 24, when he backed up other deputies at a domestic call on Ridgeview Road. At the scene, David J. Annarelli shot Stanley in the abdomen and leg with a shotgun. Stanley recovered and was released from the hospital. Annarelli is in jail and faces trial in 2017.
2–Kevin Harris came to Floyd County in 2011 to replace Terry Arbogast — who retired amid controversies over his budget policies, clashes with the county Board of Supervisors and questions about his pay — and soon ran into trouble with his hair-trigger temper, verbal assaults on school system personnel and verbal exchanges with parents of students. His tirades drove a popular coach to tears and prompted demands that he be fired. Former county administrator Dan Campbell told Harris to stay away from supervisors’ meetings until he could learn to control his temper. A final assault on another coach led the school board to vote 4-1 on Nov. 9 to “accept” his resignation. That action also prompted former school board chairman, Linda King, the sole vote to not fire him, to quit mid-term. A search for a replacement continues into the new year.
3–In 2015, a 16-year-old Floyd County High School student cruising the Internet came into contact with Kent P. Passarelli, a Lowe’s hardware store employee at the company’s Harrisonburg store. He started sending her sexual-orented messages with the girl, who first said she was 18 but later admitted to him that she was a minor, but that did not stop him from getting her to pose nude on a webcam and perform solo sexual acts. Then he wanted to come to Floyd County to meet and have sex. A friend of the girl told the sheriff’s department school resource officer about the planned tryst and a grand jury indicted Passerelli on June 1. He pled guility on September to child pornography and sxual solicitation of a child and is scheduled for sentencing on January 3.
4–Shareholders of Cardinal Bankshares in May overwhelmingly approved merging the Bank of Floyd with Grayson National Bank. The merged entity took effect on July 1 and the Floyd operation currently operates as a subsidiary to Grayson but a new bank name is expected to be announced at some point in 2016.
5–The long, heated and controversial Presidential campaign brought more than a few surprises around the country and one on March 1 in Floyd County when Democratic primary voters gave Socialist Bernie Sanders a big win, 936 to 396, over former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.