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Man charged with murder claims death was accident

WINFIELD, W.Va. — A man accused of striking another man with his vehicle and killing him in 2018 claimed it was an accident.

Tuesday was the first day of the trial of Morgan Creed Vandergriff in the Putnam County Judicial Building.

Vandergriff is charged with one count of first-degree murder, accused of intentionally striking 38-year-old John May-nard and killing him on May 9, 2018, after Maynard yelled at Vandergriff for passing two school buses that were dropping off students in Ranch Lake Estates in Scott Depot.

Jury selection took the better part of the morning, and attorneys delivered their opening arguments just after 2:30 p.m.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr said Vandergriff, 39, struck Maynard while driving his Chevrolet Cavalier after weaving past the school buses and that it was clear to Maynard's neighbors that he was dead as Vandergriff drove away to a friend's home to work on a lawn mower without stopping to check on "the man he had just knocked the life out of."

"He never lost control of that car," Karr said. "He never

slammed on the brakes. He never jerked the car away from John Maynard, but instead in a calculating and deliberate manner, drove off the road into the driveway where the Edwards lived.

"This defendant mowed him down."

Vandergriff is represented by Brian Escue and Carl Hostler, who say Vandergriff did not intend to strike Maynard. Instead, Escue argued Vandergriff was caught off guard when he thought Maynard attempted to throw a beer at him.

Escue didn't deny Vandergriff struck Maynard with his vehicle. He said the evidence would support that, but he said no evidence shows Vandergriff intended to strike or kill Maynard.

"By us saying this is an accident, we are in no way downplaying John Maynard," Escue said. "By all accounts in the investigation, he was a loving husband, a father, a neighbor, and there's nothing we're going to say or do that will change that. ... The facts are, just because a good man passes doesn't mean a gentleman is guilty of first-degree murder. I'm saying that because it's emotion versus evidence."

At about 3:45 p.m. on May 9, 2018, Maynard was standing at the end of a driveway on Ranch Lake Boulevard talking to neighbors when the group saw Vandergriff illegally drive around two school buses, according to the criminal complaint filed in Putnam County Magistrate Court.

Vandergriff was driving away when witnesses reported to police that Maynard got off of an ATV along the side of the road and began to wave his arms and yell at Vandergriff.

Vandergriff ran off the right side of the road and struck Maynard, pushing him 20 feet from where he was standing, and killing him, according to the criminal complaint.

Vandergriff told a witness, who later talked to police, that a man on a four-wheeler had thrown a beer bottle at him, and he swerved to miss it, according to the complaint. Two witnesses told police Maynard had been holding a beer at the time of the incident, but he did not throw it at anyone.

Vandergriff has been incarcerated at Western Regional Jail since he was arrested May 9, 2018.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.


Fraley music fest set for Sept. 4-7 at Carter Caves
NEWS IN BRIEF

OLIVE HILL, Ky. — The annual Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin' is scheduled for Sept. 4-7 at Carter Caves State Resort Park, according to a release from the Kentucky Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

Musical instruments featured in the traditional music from the hills of Eastern Kentucky include dulcimer, fiddle and guitar. Concert fees for the planned events range from $5 to $10. Weekend passes are available for $28.

For more information, visit www.fraleyfestival.com.


Applications being accepted to fill Ohio senator's seat

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Applications to fill the seat of state Sen. Joe Uecker will be accepted through 4 p.m. Aug. 23. Uecker is resigning to take a job with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

His term ends in December 2020. After that, candidates must run in next year's primary election March 17.

The Senate Republican Caucus is responsible for appointing a replacement.


Feds: Man who threatened agents lived in gun-filled house

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Prosecutors say an 18-year-old Ohio man charged with making online threats against federal agents was arrested at a home filled with guns and a huge stockpile of ammunition.

Court documents say Justin Olsen also wrote that he supported mass shootings and attacks on Planned Parenthood.

Federal prosecutors say Olsen has been under investigation since February, but they decided to act now because of recent mass shootings across the U.S. Olsen, who lives with his father, was arrested last week. He was charged Monday with threatening a federal officer.

Court documents say Olsen told the FBI during his arrest that the comments were only a joke.

A message seeking comment was left with his attorney.


Tech center in Chesapeake starts new large equipment program

CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — A diesel mechanics laboratory at Collins Career Technical Center in Chesapeake has been transformed into a new large equipment manufacturing program featuring construction equipment simulators and actual heavy equipment operations.

"A $350,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) made this possible," said Stephen Dodgion, superintendent of the technical center. "We applied for the funding last year and got word toward last fall that we would be getting this sizable grant."

On Tuesday, roughly $220,000 worth of large equipment was delivered to the school for the new program. The equipment included a full-size bulldozer, a skid-steer loader, a Towmotor forklift and two mini excavators.

Dodgion says the two-year program for high school juniors and seniors gets the students ready to work in the construction field utilizing heavy equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, scrapers and other heavy equipment operation.

The two-year high school curriculum starts with juniors and offers classroom training that includes using a construction equipment simulator during the first year. When the students are seniors in their second year, they move on to actual use and maintenance of the real heavy equipment.

Dodgion said the school has a 60-acre farm where students can use the equipment, and they have been working with the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. to let students use some of that agency's property to flatten hills and level it for future development.

"This will also help them get this property ready for investment to bring in new businesses and jobs," he said.

Dodgion said currently there are many opportunities for career jobs with technical education.

"Right now that's where the need is in this country, and this program is one of many we offer to fill that need," he said.

Dodgion said the center has contacted the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18 regarding the new program.

"The union is where these students can go after completion of this program and apply to become apprentices," he said.

Right now there are approximately eight students enrolled in the new program, according to Dodgion, but there is still room for more students.

"If someone is interested in this program this year, they should contact Collins Career and Technical Center as soon as possible," Dodgion added.

The program's new instructor is 33-year-old Nick Tabor, of Gallipolis, Ohio.

"I have been a union operator out of Local 18 for about eight years and decided I wanted to give back by teaching young people this career trade," Tabor said. "The jobs these students will be qualified for are very good-paying, career positions, especially if you are in the union."

Graduates earn an NCCER certification after successfully completing the program.

"This is a construction industry certification that gives graduates the credentials that pave the way for lucrative careers, job satisfaction and high skills," Tabor said.

The center is hoping to start a new large equipment manufacturing program for adults, Dodgion added.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.


Two new shell buildings coming to Lawrence County

SOUTH POINT, Ohio — The Lawrence Economic Development Corp. has secured more than $3 million in financing to build two new shell buildings, one in Ironton and one in The Point, a South Point industrial park, according to Bill Dingus, executive director of the development corporation.

Construction of the shell building in Ironton will begin within a week, according to Jeremy Clay, director at the industrial park. Construction of the shell building in South Point will start later this month, Clay said.

Mullins Construction Co. of Wheelersburg, Ohio, was awarded contracts to build both shell buildings, Clay said.

The $1.1 million shell building in Ironton will be built adjacent to the old Ironton Steel plant, Dingus said.

Officials hope the building can be completed, weather permitting, by February, Clay said. The building is designed for a 5-ton crane either for manufacturing or distribution, he said.

The shell building on Commerce Drive in the industrial park will cost about $2 million, according to Clay. It will be built adjacent to the existing McSweeney's building, he said.

The work on the 30,000-square-foot shell building in the industrial park is scheduled to start by the end of August, Clay said. Weather permitting, the building will be completed by next March, he said.

It is being designed to hold up to a 10-ton crane, Clay said.

Both the shell buildings do not have clients. They are designed to accommodate business or industry, he said.


Police officer shoots armed man holding daughter hostage

SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Police say an armed man accused of holding his adult daughter against her will has been shot and injured by a police officer.

Sharonville police say officers responded around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday to a reported

hostage situation at a hotel in the Cincinnati suburb. Police say a 53-year-old man had barricaded himself inside a hotel room with his daughter.

Authorities say the man left the room around 2:30 a.m. armed with a handgun and was confronted by police.

Police Lt. Walter Cordes says a Sharonville officer fired three rounds, striking the man, who was hospitalized in critical condition. Neither the officer nor the man's daughter was injured.

Police say charges were expected to be filed against the man.

The Hamilton County Sheriff 's Office will handle the investigation.


TUESDAY'S LOTTERIES

WEST VIRGINIA

DAILY 3: 1-0-4 ; DAILY 4: 7-4-0-4

CASH 25: 7-8-19-20-21-23

OHIO

MIDDAY

PICK 3: 7-0-4 ; PICK 4: 0-0-5-9

PICK 5: 4-7-1-5-7

EVENING

PICK 3: 9-4-9 ; PICK 4: 4-8-3-9

PICK 5: 2-6-8-3-1

ROLLING CASH 5: 01-07-10-11-13

KENTUCKY

MIDDAY

PICK 3: 7-7-4 ; PICK 4: 1-5-5-3

EVENING

PICK 3: 2-4-8

PICK 4: 5-6-8-5

CASH BALL 225: 3-14-28-29-16

FIVE-CARD CASH: 7S-8D-4H-AS-JS

MEGA MILLIONS

7-27-31-34-51-5 ; Megaplier: 3X


MONDAY'S LATE RESULTS

KENTUCKY

EVENING

PICK 3: 9-6-4

PICK 4: 1-3-0-7

CASH BALL 225: 4-6-21-22-3

FIVE-CARD CASH: 5C-JD-6C-2C-KD

LUCKY FOR LIFE

2-5-14-27-39-3


COMMUNITY NEWS

POPS: Huntington Symphony Orchestra's Picnic with the Pops continues Saturday, Aug. 17, at Harris Riverfront Park. Guest is Mary Wilson from The Supremes. For tickets, contact 304-781-8343 or www.huntingtonsymphony.org.

DANCE: Friday, Aug. 16, is the 25th anniversary for ballroom dancing by Dick Newman, who hosts a dance from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Barboursville Community Center. Admission is free.

COUNTRY: Country music is at its best when Deana Carter steps up to sing her super hit, "Strawberry Wine." The CMA award winner kicks off Paramount Arts Center's Kentucky Music Trail Series on Aug. 31. The concert featuring the folksy singer-songwriter with a bit of retro-rock begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $30 and $35.

DOUBLE: If added together, the number is 128, but separately it sums up to be 64 years each, and that's the age of twin sisters Gerri Shannon Hall and Sandra Shannon Beach as they celebrate the "double" event Wednesday, Aug. 14. May it be a "double" fun day.

ON THE PATIO: The seventh annual Party on the Patio Summer Concert Series sponsored by Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District concludes from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at Heritage Station. Featured is a "Tribute to Diamond Teeth Mary" with Cincinnati blues artist Noah Witherspoon and Huntington Blues Society. Admission is free.

90: Winona Sayre, of Milton, knocks on the door to No. 90 as she spins the last of the 80s Wednesday, Aug. 14.1 met Winona several years ago at a local beauty salon and continued seeing her there until her late husband, Robert, could no longer drive her. May this Milton United Methodist Church Christian have a special "eating of the cake" day filled with surprises, happiness, love, fond memories and good health.

LEVEE: A performance featuring Dillon Carmichael, Charles Wesley Godwin takes place during the 16th annual Live on the Levee from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at Haddad Riverfront Park's Schoenbaum Stage. Entry begins at 5 p.m. Food vendors are available. Admission is free.

50TH: If Darrell and Kathy White, of Milton, celebrated 47 years of marriage in 2016, then Friday, Aug. 16, is a bigger event as they celebrate 50 years of husband and wife time. Members of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Milton, this wonderful couple is being wished many more years of togetherness, Christian love and happiness.

ANTIQUES: The 67th annual Antiques Show and Sale presented by Pilot Club of Huntington is still going strong. The exquisite antiques and vintage collectibles are available from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at Big Sandy Superstore Conference Center. Tickets are $6 at door or $5 advance. Call 304-674-3655.

MEMORIES: Always a pleasure to remember someone like Marian Bowen, of Huntington. The square dancer for many years and a special friend of mine would be in her early 90s in age Wednesday, Aug. 14. She passed a few years ago, but still remains in the memory of many.

ITALIANO!: Everything Italian is offered during the Italiano! Italian festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at 4th Avenue and 7th Street, downtown Huntington. The street festival features food, live entertainment, Italian American heritage and more.

SILVER BELLS: I don't need to hear the song — just the words "Silver Bells" — to remember Jack Hardin as he went through The Herald-Dispatch newsroom where he was a reporter for many years singing that Christmas favorite. Jack also wrote the well-known and well-loved "About Town" for many years before his retirement. Jack, who passed away, would celebrate a birthday Thursday, Aug. 15.

BOOKS: Macy's presents "Hilltop: Books Only" this weekend at Huntington Museum of Art. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. Admission is $5 Saturday and free Sunday. Children's books, mysteries, romances, art books and more are offered. Call 304-529-2701.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Kenny Large hits the double nickels at 55, Chelsea Somerville, Michelle Roberts, Sarah Rice, Aubrey Wilson, Jessica Mahoney, Hailee Hill, Okey Elkins, Ellie Hager, Bill Chambers, Kelci Armstead, Lori Bailey, Kylie Billups, Audrey Hall, Christopher Hall, Debbie Haynes, Bob Neumeyer, Mary O'Dell, Rebecca Richmond,

Russell Blackburn, Linda Lawrence, Molly Pancake, Jake Williams, Mark Richardson, Nancy Roach, Ruth Ann Rice.

TODAY'S ANNIVERSARIES: Andy and Jennifer Wood (2010), Marla and David Racer, Bob and Debbie Ayers, Craig and Susan Black.

THURSDAY'S BIRTHDAYS: T.J. Ketchum, Nathan Edward Tiller is 27, Karen Stewart Stone, Tiny Hatten, Stephanie Flynn, Trystan Keeton, Joy Bragg, Ron Davidson, Lucille Hefner, David Reynolds, Syllvie Bartkowski, David Brumfield, Ellen Shoub, Jay Walker, Jim Zappitelli, Katie Brown, Virginia Ritter, Jennifer Simpson, Christopher McComas, Evan Gooding, Diana Allen, Arch Keller.

THURSDAY'S ANNIVERSARIES: Steve and Greta Huggins, Mike and Jeannie Grieco.

FRIDAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Helen Arthur, Terry Booth, Donna Ramsdell, Noah Stultz, Karl Jones with YMCA is still in the 50s at 57, David Noel, Steve Sebert, Paul Short, Ann Shy, Tom May, Faye Robertson, Hayley Lawman, Reese Ramey, Rylee Ramey, Anna Weimer, Leah Woodworth, Ryan Pumphrey, Carl Pemberton, Ralph Porterfield.

FRIDAY'S ANNIVERSARIES: Michael and Debby Hibbard (1969), Randy and Becky Davis (1975), Shawn and Jennifer Chapman, Rick and Chris Eid.

CHUCKLE: The first time Tom was on a bike with training wheels, his mother shouted, "Step back on the pedals, and the bike will brake!" He nodded but still rode straight into a bush. "Why didn't you push back on the pedals?" she asked, helping him up. "You said if I did, the bike would break," the son said.

Send items to Brenda Lucas, P.O. Box 596, Ona, WV 25545; fax to 304-526-2857; or email to bklucas53@aol.com.


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