HUNTINGTON — Thousands of people from around the Tri-State came to Huntington on Wednesday evening to begin their Fourth of July celebrations at the 16th annual Dawg Dazzle, presented by 93.7 The Dawg and Kindred Communications.
Each year, Kindred Communications distributes 50,000 tickets for the concert and fireworks show for pickup free of charge at businesses around the Tri-State. The event began with around $5,000 worth of fireworks, a church choir, a local band and a beer
truck in 2003 when Huntington did not have a fireworks show planned.
Wednesday's event was headlined by country singer Dylan Scott, known for his singles "My Girl" and "Nothing To Do Town." Country music trio Southern Halo and local act Kala DeHart and RiverTown gave supporting performances.
Lindsey Goodrich, 32, like many other families, came with her children, Lex, 1, and Jax, 3, in tow so they could see the fireworks. Goodrich said she likes to see good, wholesome family fun in Huntington.
"To see everybody come together to celebrate a holiday and have wholesome fellowship, it's good to see," Goodrich said.
Goodrich said Lex slept through the fireworks last year, so Wednesday's display would be the first one she gets to witness — if she stays awake this time.
Joe Shepherd, 33, said he came with his son, nieces and nephews, not only to spend time with his family, but also to get his son, Wyatt, 13, out of the house.
"I'd rather be playing Xbox," Wyatt said.
Others chose not to go into Harris Riverfront Park for the fireworks and took to rooftops and riverbanks in the surrounding area to see the display. At about 8 p.m., the area around Pullman Square was already filling up with people with camp chairs and blankets to claim their spots.
More fireworks shows will take place around the region Thursday, July 4, to continue holiday celebrations.
The village of Barboursville will have fireworks after its annual Block Party on Thursday at the Nancy Cartmill Gardens, with music from the Yester Year Oldies music show, which will feature music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
The Fly-In Cafe will put on fireworks at the Robert Newlon Airpark after a cookout at the restaurant, with live music by the Revenant Souls. At 8:30 p.m. the West Virginia Skydivers Association will put on a demonstration and "American Flag Jump," and fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m.
In Ashland, fireworks will follow a performance by Ronnie Milsap at Summer Motion at the Ashland River Port. Milsap performs at 9 p.m. and fireworks begin at 10:15 p.m.
Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.
WASHINGTON — A reality TV host at heart, President Donald Trump is promising the "show of a lifetime" for the hundreds of thousands of revelers who flock to the National Mall every year on the Fourth of July. The tanks are in place for the display of military muscle and protesters are ready to make their voices heard.
It's been nearly seven decades since a president spoke there on Independence Day. The U.S. was at war in Korea when Harry Truman addressed a large gathering on the Washington Monument grounds,
marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
There's no such historical marker Thursday for Trump, who for the past two years has sought a moment to orchestrate a display of America's military prowess.
He's calling his event a "Salute to America," honoring the armed forces, and he'll speak at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a ticket-only, VIP crowd of Republican donors, administration and campaign officials, family members and those who flock to see him or protest what they see as a divisive intrusion on a traditionally unifying national holiday.
Trump sounded a defensive note Wednesday, tweeting that cost "will be very little compared to what it is worth."
"We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel," he said, referring to Maryland's Joint Base Andrews, home for some of the planes that are to fly over the Mall on Thursday. "We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats."
Trump glossed over the expense of shipping tanks and fighting vehicles to Washington by rail and guarding them for several days, and other costs.
Some of the president's supporters welcomed Trump's stamp on the holiday.
Rachel McKenna, a Trump supporter from McKinney, Texas, said her relatives have served in the military and she thought it was important to say "'We love you guys, we appreciate everything you do, and I love the fact I can see that," as she pointed to the Bradley fighting vehicle positioned near the Lincoln Memorial.
"I've never ever seen one," she said. "I just think it's so cool."
Under White House direction, the Pentagon was arranging for an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and other warplanes to conduct flyovers. There will be Navy F-35 and F-18 fighter jets, the Navy Blue Angels aerobatics team, Army and Coast Guard helicopters and Marine V-22 Ospreys.
The White House referred questions about the cost of the military participation to the Pentagon, which said it did not have the answer.
The Air Force said it costs $122,311 an hour to fly a B-2 bomber, which is making the round trip from its home at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Officials said the f light will be considered a training event, with the cost already budgeted. The per-hour flying cost of the F-22 fighter is $65,128.
Two Bradley fighting vehicles were in place Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial, where Trump will speak. In addition, two 60-ton Army Abrams battle tanks were sent to Washington by rail to be positioned on or near the National Mall, to the dismay of District of Columbia officials.
The presidential Air Force One and Marine One aircraft are also slated to make aerial appearances.
Kevin Donahue, District of Columbia deputy mayor for public safety, told The Associated Press the city expects the federal government to pay for any damage to streets or bridges from moving the tanks. Civil engineers will assess roads and bridges after July 4 to determine if there's been damage.
Donahue said the city doesn't have the jurisdiction to reject the use of tanks and other heavy equipment.
In a separate tweet Wednesday, Trump promised the Lincoln Memorial program "will be the show of a lifetime!" White House officials have stressed that Trump's remarks will be patriotic, but the president often finds it difficult to stay on any kind of script.
But Tracie Lenihan of Spokane, Washington, an independent, said she didn't understand why military equipment is part of the festivities. "I think it cost a lot of money and I'm not sure what it really has to do with the Fourth of July," she said. "I don't hate it. I'm just confused."
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the Codepink anti-war group, said use of the Bradley fighting vehicles reflected the "politicization of July Fourth and the militarization of July Fourth and we resent this."
"We want it to be a holiday where people are having their picnics and they're watching their fireworks and it's all peaceful and united," she said.
Instead, her group will be fielding a balloon depicting Trump as an angry, diaper-clad baby. But because of f light restrictions, officials would not let the group pump it with helium to make it fly higher and be more visible.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who is among lawmakers overseeing the Interior Department, which has jurisdiction over the National Mall and federal parks, said it was "absolutely outrageous" that the administration will use park money to help defray Thursday's event costs. The National Park Service plans to use nearly $2.5 million intended to help improve parks nationwide, The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.
"These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will," McCollum said in a statement. She promised a congressional hearing.
Trump and the event's organizers could be on the hook to reimburse the government millions of dollars if he goes into campaign mode, in violation of federal appropriations law and the Hatch Act, which bars politicking on government time, said Walter Shaub, who left the Office of Government Ethics in 2017 after clashing with the White House over ethics and disclosure issues.
"There's not a history of disciplined speaking engagements where he sticks to a script," Shaub said of Trump.
Trump originally wanted a parade with military tanks and other machinery rolling through downtown Washington ever since he was enthralled by a two-hour procession of French military tanks and fighter jets in Paris on Bastille Day in July 2017.
Later that year Trump said he'd have a similar parade in Washington on the Fourth of July, 2018, and would "top" the Paris show. The event ended up being pushed to Veterans Day, which conflicted with one of Trump's trips abroad, before it was scuttled after cost estimates exceeding $90 million were made public.
In February, Trump tweeted for the public to "HOLD THE DATE!" for this Fourth of July.
Washington has held an Independence Day celebration for decades, featuring a parade along Constitution Avenue, a concert on the Capitol lawn with music by the National Symphony Orchestra and fireworks beginning at dusk near the Washington Monument.
Trump altered the lineup by adding his speech, moving the fireworks closer to the Lincoln Memorial and summoning the tanks and warplanes.
HUNTINGTON — Four Michigan men potentially face federal drug charges after Huntington police raided two associated houses — a "trap house" and a residence — Wednesday morning in Huntington's West End.
In simultaneous raids a block apart by the Huntington Police Department's SWAT team and Violent Crime and Drug Task Force, police swarmed 305 9th St. W. — where the men are thought to have lived — and the alleged trap house at 900 Washington Ave. — where police believe the drug sales happened.
Three men were arrested inside the 9th Street West home on felony drug charges:
• Robert Earl Cureton Jr., of Detroit, is charged with one count of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and one count of possession with intent to deliver drugs.
• Paris Smith, of Detroit, is charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver drugs.
• Carlos Romero Wilder, of Detroit, is charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver drugs.
A fourth man was arrested inside the Washington Avenue house:
• Steven Anthony McGee (aka Teddy Cain, aka Black), of the Detroit suburb of Harper Woods, is charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs.
At the residences, police said they recovered about 5 grams of suspected fentanyl, a vehicle, a firearm, a small amount of marijuana, multiple cellphones, $7,000 cash and paraphernalia used to process and package drugs for individual sale. A dog also was recovered from one of the houses and turned over to animal control, but was moved to a foster home by the afternoon.
The operation is thought to be part of an intricate, multistate drug trafficking ring,
Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial said. Because fentanyl is involved, Dial anticipates the cases will be brought before federal court with U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart's approval.
"This was an important house to hit," Dial said. "We're targeting drug dealers at higher levels and being successful because of the intel we've received in working with our partnerships and with the community to get targeted enforcement."
This is the third time Huntington police have raided 900 Washington Ave., Dial noted.
The property is owned by Bill Perdue, who in March 2018 pleaded guilty in municipal court to violating Huntington's drug house ordinance twice. The house at Washington Avenue was raided Jan. 3 and Feb. 20 in 2018, resulting in the arrest of 12 people, at least one of whom was twice arrested. Following the second raid,
HPD issued a "do not occupy" notice on the house for one year, Dial said. Huntington police have issued additional nuisance letters stemming from Wednesday's raids.
Under the nuisance property ordinance, a homeowner is issued a nuisance letter concerning criminal activity at the property when there is an arrest and evidence a felony was committed.
Properties where two or more felony incidents occur within a 12-month period are declared a public nuisance, and the city issues an order for the eviction of the tenants involved in the illegal activities.