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Barboursville Buckle Series displays cowboy antics

BARBOURSVILLE — West Virginia's only full rodeo celebrated its 20th anniversary with an evening packed with cowboy antics during the Barboursville Buckle Series on Saturday at Barboursville Park.

H&H Ranch and Rodeo is a family-owned and-operated rodeo in Apple Grove, West Virginia. The sport is what owner Blair Haga, 62, said people who want to be cowboys do, as it is "the cowboy way."

"It's the closest thing you can get to being a cowboy around here," said Haga.

This rodeo was started by Blair Haga and his son, Brian Haga, in 1999. Brian Haga went off to learn steer wrestling and from there the rodeo was born. Brian Haga ultimately passed away in 2002, and Blair Haga said the family continues to put it on for Brian, because it was his dream. The arena in Apple Grove is named after Brian.

Events at the rodeo were steer riding, calf roping, cowgirl breakaway, mutton bustin', chute doggin,' dollar chase, ostrich races (you read that correctly), barrel racing and team roping.

Marsha Casey, 42, Blair Haga's daughter, said most people get into rodeo as children when they participate in mutton busting, or riding sheep. When they outgrow sheep, they move on to steer, then to bull riding or roping or some other category.

"Once they outgrow certain things, they have to branch off into another event," Casey said. "We've had a lot of our bullfighters who started out riding sheep to now they're a bullfighter for us."

Some of Saturday's participants were members of the West Virginia High School Rodeo Association, including Marsha Casey's son, Bryce

Casey. Bryce Casey was named Ail-Around Cowboy and will go on to compete in the National High School Rodeo Association Finals starting July 15 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, with his rodeo partner, Morgan Legg. The two qualified for the team roping category.

If someone is interested in giving rodeo the good oI' cowboy try, find H&H Rodeo on Facebook.

"You have to be tough to do it," Blair Haga said. "It's the most dangerous sport in the United States, because you can't control the animal."

The next rodeo in the Barboursville Buckle Series, which is sponsored in part by D&D Outfitters, will take place at the horse ring in Barboursville Park on Aug. 10. Events will take place in Apple Grove on July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 21.

H&H Ranch and Rodeo is located at 7883 Jerry's Run Road in Apple Grove.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.


Projects to boost safety, lighting
HAL GREER BOULEVARD

HUNTINGTON — The KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission has approved funds for two projects totaling approximately $1.7 million, beginning the process of improving Hal Greer Boulevard so it is safer for pedestrians.

The first project will construct a "Danish crossing" near Columbia Avenue and Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Chris Chiles, executive director of KYOVA, said a Danish crossing is essentially a pedestrian refuge in the roadway. It will be placed in the center turn lane and allow pedestrians to cross half of the roadway and wait in a safe place before crossing the rest of the road.

"I can't tell you how many times I have been driving down Hal Greer and I see a pedestrian stuck in the turn lane," Chiles said.

Cabell Huntington Hospital has been advocating for a Danish crossing for several years after a pedestrian was killed in 2013 crossing Hal Greer to return to the hospital to visit her husband, who was a patient.

Chiles said the new Marshall University School of Pharmacy building and the graduate student housing also increased the need for the crossing.

"Upgrades to the Hal Greer Boulevard corridor are very important to Marshall University, particularly as our health sciences footprint continues to grow in the Fairfield area," said Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall. "Safety, of course, is our paramount concern. We are eager to see plans move forward to implement measures to address concerns that include congestion as well as pedestrian and cyclist safety."

The crossing is estimated to cost around $825,000. The planning commission is using funds for the project that come from the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. Chiles said the design and environmental study will be done before the end of the year.

The second project will install new light fixtures along Hal Greer from Washington Boulevard to 3rd Avenue. A portion of the funds for the estimated $950,000 project also is from federal money, but a match from the city of Huntington will be required.

"Getting better lighting to the corridor has been a priority of Mayor (Steve) Williams," Chiles said. "Without his leadership and initiative, we would not be as far along as we are."

The design phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The two projects are just the tip of the iceberg in a greater plan to improve Hal Greer Boulevard, both making it safer for pedestrians and making it an attractive destination for new businesses.

The final overall project design was unveiled in March.

The design suggests planted medians and other "traffic-calming" techniques to slow down drivers. It also fixates on intersection treatments, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian countdowns and lighting to make Hal Greer Boulevard more walkable and promote pedestrian safety.

A10-foot-wide multiuse path is planned to run the entire length of Hal Greer from Washington Boulevard to 3rd Avenue, and a protected bike lane is planned from 8th Avenue to 3rd Avenue. The protected bike lane uses parking to buffer from the street, which would put in 57 new parking spaces.

The design also addresses the offset streets that cross Hal Greer Boulevard where the back-to-back stoplights are. That idea came from community feedback.

At the Washington Boulevard intersection, an activity park is planned to act as a gateway into the city and would ideally connect to the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health into Ritter Park.

The major projects still need funding, but Chiles said he is excited about the partnerships that have allowed the project to reach this point. Without the city, the planning commission, Marshall, the hospital and the Fairfield community working together for a common goal and purpose, things would be different today.

"We are going to ensure that any changes to the corridor are going to be positive for the city but also the community I think it will be," Chiles said.

All of the plans for Hal Greer can be found online at www.completehalgreer.com.

Reporter Megan Osborne contributed to this report. Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook ©TaylorStuckHD.


Readers will notice changes in today's Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Readers of The Herald-Dispatch will notice some changes in their newspaper this week, adjustments the newspaper must make to live within its means and position the newspaper to remain viable into the future.

Some of those differences are evident in today's edition, specifically the elimination of the People and Living pages. However, many of the features in those two page groupings will be transferred to the Community section (Section C). Among the features that will remain are People profiles, Celebrations, the Clyde Beal column profiling people in the Tri-State, Babies, Reunions and People Talk. Other regular Sunday Community section features remain. Another change in today's paper, and in each day's publication, is that the Dear Abby column will appear on the comics page.

Other changes will stem from a restructuring of the Monday through Saturday editions. Starting Monday, those editions will have two sections rather than four, to enable easier adjustment of the number of pages each day in concert with the amount of advertising scheduled. The switch will allow for a more efficient use of news space.

In those two-section editions, the Community page will appear Mondays and Wednesdays in the A section. On Sunday, Community will continue to have its own section. Going forward, the Sunday edition will continue to have six sections: two news sections, Sports, Community, Business and Comics.

Obituaries will now appear toward the back of the first, or A, section Monday through Saturday, but stay in the usual place on Page 2C (in the Community section) on Sundays.

The Brenda Lucas and Joyce Spencer columns about people in our communities will continue to run on the same schedule; however, they will now appear on Page 2A on their scheduled publication dates.

And contrary to online published reports and social media posts, the Weekend entertainment pages will continue to appear in Thursday's edition, in Section B.

The restructuring of the newspaper on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays will enable The Herald-Dispatch to reduce its printing and associated costs as it aligns news space to the advertising support it receives. These changes were not made lightly.

Going forward, The Herald-Dispatch will continue working to provide news, features and other information that our readers have come to rely on. The newspaper also will continue to rely on your help, providing us information about your groups' activities, news tips, concerns about government actions, and upcoming events so that we can share with all of our readers. To let us know of such things, simply email the information to news@herald-dispatch.com.