As 2017 winds down, those of us who report the news of our communities, states and nation try to look back at the carnage of the past 12 months and provide a year in review.
Our national brethren at places like The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times are publishing their reviews as we write this while the folks at BH Media, which owns the bulk of daily and weekly newspapers in the Old Dominion of Virginia — including The Floyd Press, Roanoke Times and Richmond Times-Dispatch — determine what happened and why.
Nationally, statewide and locally, elections and politics top most lists: The turmoil in Washington with controversial president Donald Trump, upheaval in Virginia where angry voters sent many Republicans packing while leaving the statehouse still trying to decide who’s in charge and locally, where voter anger toppled the chairman of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors.
Casey Clinger’s loss to former Courthouse Supervisor Jerry Boothe spotlighted voter anger over renewable energy, among other issues, as he became the second-straight chairman who lose at the polls after former boss David Ingram lost his Locust Grove seat to Lauren Yoder several years ago.
A second change of supervisors came with election of Justin Coleman to replace retiring Fred Gerald in Indian Valley.
Politically, Floyd County often seems out of step with most Virginia voters, casting ballots this year for Republican Ed Gillespie, the losing candidate for governor, along with the rest of the statewide races. In 2016, Floyd County voters went — for the third straight time — for the GOP candidate who lost statewide in presidential elections.
Nationwide, sexual harassment placed high on the list of news stories and cases involving such abuse ranks near the top locally
In Floyd County, crime topped the list. Jason Dalton, The Floyd County High School basketball coach picked to replace legendary Alan Cantrell, isn’t even allowed within 3000 feet of school property now because of two indictments involving sexual offenses against two young girls — one underage — and continuing investigations involving other teenaged girls who report similar contact and incidents.
In Indian Valley, a senior citizen who intends to represent himself on multiple child pornography charges heads for trial in 2018 while another young man admitted sex with an underage 14-year-old girl impregnated by him. Turns out, his sexual abuse of a 12-year-old in Wytheville left that pre-teen girl pregnant.
Sexual molestation charges appear to come out of every session of the Floyd County Grand Jury and the next one kicks off the new year on Jan. 9. Too often, the abuse occurs at the hands of a relative — fathers against daughter, among cousins or even brother and sister.
In other news, Floyd County’s school board dumped abusive school superintendent Kevin Harris and turned to assistant John Wheeler to run the system, bringing relief to our education system.
Floyd Supervisors delighted some and angered others with unanimous approval of a resolution directing the county to give renewable energy priority consideration on county projects and buildings and the school board ended the year with plans to consider solar power to replace fossil fuel coal to heat schools.
On the business side, a new restaurant — The Parkway Grille — took over the abandoned space above the Harvest Moon in Floyd while drugstore giant CVS took over the Floyd Pharmacy after the co-owner and pharmacist went to federal prison for playing games with bank deposits. Dollar General opened a second outlet with store at Check and is planning a third one at Willis.
Owners of what once was Floyd’s shirt factory on South Locust Street and now houses a popular Mexican restaurant, Dogtown Roadhouse and other retail establishments started adding another floor that they say will include a Sushi Bar. Full-sushi in Floyd? Wonders never cease.
Floyd’s expanding tourism business brings crowds to Floyd as the Friday Night Jamboree continues to attract crowds from around the country and world while County Records closes its doors as the place to go to find traditional, old-time music and bluegrass recordings.
Festivals like the Chantilly Farms BBQ & Bluegrass event and Yoga Jam continued to grow as other events now keep the music hopping throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.
The coming year brings a new pedestrian crosswalk layout from the Virginia Department of Transportation, a county board with two new faces, a new coffee shop/lounge from Red Rooster and a planned new hometown drug store on South Main Street and more.
Old year out/new year in: Life moves on.