2009-01-08 / Front Page

2008 Review by Month

With a sincere wish for the safety and success of our new president as we hopefully begin a new day, here is a recap of the stories that dominated Fulton County's "News" in 2008:

January

The new year began with the closing of the Giant pharmacy. The pharmacy opened with the Giant Food Store in 2005. Company officials cited lack of business as the reason for the closing of that portion of the store;

The state announced that lifeguards would be eliminated from most of the state parks in Pennsylvania, including Cowans Gap, beginning with the 2008 season;

Needmore and Mc- Connellsburg volunteer fire companies and the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism held their annual banquets;

County Commissioner Ellis Yingling and District Attorney Dwght Harvey retired from office, and David Hoover and Attorney Travis Kendall were sworn as commissioner and district attorney, respectively;

February

Greg "Chip" Rouzer was charged with attempted murder after he shot Randy Walters outside of Walters's home on Sipes Mill Road. Walters recovered from his wounds, and Rouzer remained at large for eight days until he was arrested near Chambersburg Hospital and charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault;

Longtime Central Fulton school board member Jeff Culler resigned from the board and was replaced by former board member Jim Babinsack;

March

The Fulton County Library received a $500,000 Keystone matching grant from the state to be used for rehabilitation and renovations to the library;

The Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. held its annual banquet;

Fastenal, the largest fastener distributor in North America opened a store here in the old Fulton Motor Sales service building;

April

And Then There Was One - The BiLo supermarket, owned by Penn Traffic, closed its doors after anchoring the Penn's Village Shopping Center since 1990 when it took over the old IGA Foodliner. Calling it "an underperforming store," Penn Traffic's closing of the market left McConnellsburg with only one supermarket, Giant, in the county. BiLo had enjoyed the status of the being the county's only supermarket since its opening in 1990 until the Giant opening in 2005. At year's end, the 50,000-square-foot storefront remained vacant;

Greg "Chip" Rouzer, his girlfriend, Mildred Tressler, and his father, Kenneth Rouzer, were all charged in Franklin County with trying to hire a hit man to kill

Randy Walters and Walter's girlfriend, Marian Wertz, to prevent the couple from testifying against Rouzer in an attempted murder case. Charges were later dropped against Kenneth Rouzer. The attempt was allegedly made while Rouzer was in Franklin County Prison awaiting trial;

The Fulton County Historical Society held its annual meeting and banquet;

Former longtime Fulton County Housing Authority Director Margaret Fletcher and her daughter, Rita Stapleton, were sentenced in federal court for their roles in the mismanagement of the local authority. Both received probationary periods, and Fletcher was ordered to pay $75,677 in restitution. A third defendant, Margaret Pryor, was sentenced later to probation and ordered to pay $24,000 in restitution;

May

Community State Bank of Orbisonia announced it would build a branch office in the Fulton County Business Park. At year's end, the plans have apparently been put on hold;

Sideling Hill Plaza reopened after undergoing a complete makeover. The turnpike plaza was closed from September of 2007 until May 2008 for the renovations to the plaza, which includes a Popeye's, Burger King, Hershey's Ice Cream, Starbucks Coffee and a Sunoco C-Store;

Dr. Matthew Hahn, medical director of Tri-State Community Health Center, was fired from his position, creating a firestorm of controversy in the community where he enjoyed considerable support. The reason for his firing was said not to be related to his medical practice or skills, but rather due to disagreements with management.

June

Central Fulton School District announced a 1 mill tax increase for the 08-09 year, while Forbes Road raised taxes one-half mill. sSouthern Fulton held the line on taxes for the new school year;

The original Fulton County Medical Center property (along with adjacent houses) was sold to Triple-P Ventures for $425,000. Bill Palmer, owner of Palmer Construction, is a principal partner in Triple-P Ventures. The facility remains vacant.

July

In one of the year's top stories, McConnellsburg Borough Council began negotiations with the McConnellsburg Police Association for a contract to begin January 1, 2009, at the expiration of their current three-year contract;

Also, in one of the year's top stories, JLG announced a layoff of 250 workers, reflecting the national downturn in the economy;

The local county assistance office relocated from Penn's Village to a new building on Fulton Drive in Ayr Township;

August

The McConnellsburg Borough Council agreed to draft an ordinance to disband the borough police department citing "economic reasons." The council agreed to hold a public meeting on the ordinance on August 28. The two and one-half hour meeting was attended by many who supported keeping the department while others spoke against it. At the end of the special meeting, the council voted 4-2 to disband it at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2008. Although Councilmen Mike Chilcote and Lee Rager voted against the ordinance, a third councilman, Jim Smith, was unable to be at the meeting, but was also against abolishing the department. The decision deeply divided the council for the remainder of the year. The borough has had a police department for more than 80 years and the two officers, Chief Gary Long and Sgt. Doug Thomas, each had 25 years of service with the two-man department.

The 88th annual Fulton County Fair was held.

September

Greg "Chip" Rouzer was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to a sate correctional facility for 14 years and seven months.

Michael Shives, Big Cove Tannery, was arrested on attempted murder charges after allegedly shooting at his ex-girlfriend from a moving car. The woman was not injured, and Shives, who is free on bond, is scheduled to stand trial in January, 2009;

Wendy Melius resigned as executive director of the Fulton Industrial Development Association. Her resignation, along with an earlier resignation of Kathy Fester, the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism's director, leaves both organizations with only volunteers to staff the combined office in the Antietam Iron Building. At year's end, neither organization had hired paid staff for the organizations;

October

JLG announced the layoff of 220 more workers as the national economy continued to spiral downward;

Leslie Colbrese, executive director of Tri-State Community Health Center, resigned her position and at year's end, she had not been replaced;

The Thomas Automotive Family dropped its Ford/Mercury franchise, just 14 months after dropping its Chevrolet franchise. Thomas, located just north of McConnellsburg, is now known as Great Cove Autos and sells used cars;

It was announced that the 39th Judicial District, comprised of Franklin and Fulton counties, will receive an additional judgeship in 2010, bringing the total number of judges to five. Voters will select two judges in 2009, one to fill the additional spot and one to fill retired President Judge John Walker's seat;

The 35th annual Fulton Fall Folk Festival was held. It was a roaring success with the annual three-day festival filled with good food, fellowship and, of course, tractors, this year Massey Harris/ Massey Ferguson tractors were featured.

November

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was the decisive winner in the 2008 historic presidential election. Although Obama handily won Pennsylvania, Fulton County voters picked Republican candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain, casting 73 percent of the county's votes for him.

JLG announced 500 more layoffs in a staggered layoff that began Nov. 14 and will continue through January. It will affect workers across the board, including production and administrative staff, in all of the access equipment manufacturer's facilities;

As promised, McConnellsburg Borough Council cut real estate taxes for 2009 by 2 mills. Council had promised to return a portion of funds saved from the abolishment of the police department to the taxpayers. In the meantime, council and its attorneys continued to try to resolve end-of-contract issues with the Police Association, but the stalemate went to binding arbitration for settlement;

JLG Industries and parent company Oshkosh Corp. broke ground in Tianjin, China, for a manufacturing facility to meet what both companies say is a growing demand for aerial platforms in the Chinese and other Asian markets;

Less than three years after The First National Bank of Mc- Connellsburg became the Mc- Connellsburg branch of The First National Bank of Greencastle, what was once a locally owned bank will now become "Tower Bank, a division of Graystone Tower Bank." The name change will come as a result of a recently announced merger between The First National Bank of Greencastle and Graystone Financial Corp., a rapidly growing Harrisburg-based bank. The Mc- Connellsburg bank will now be known as Tower Bank, a division of Graystone Tower Bank.

December

The county unveiled a barebones budget that will include no tax increase for 2009. The commissioners also scaled back a planned building project, citing overall economic reasons;

Fulton County Medical Center held its annual "state of the company" meeting and announced its financial results for 2007-08. The center showed operating expenses of $28 million with operating revenue of $28.3 million, resulting in an operating profit of $300,000. Nonoperating revenue, however, showed a loss of $632,000, resulting in the net loss of $327,000. It is the first time in seven years that the hospital has shown a net loss;

The trial for Greg Rouzer and Mildred Tressler on charges they conspired to hire a hit man to kill Randy Walters and Marian Wertz to keep them from testifying against him in an attempted murder trial was scheduled for April in Franklin County;

An era ended when the borough police department closed its doors on December 31, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. The borough will now be patrolled exclusively by the Pennsylvania State Police. 2008 Fulton County Celebrities • McConnellsburg Fire Co.'s "Firefighter of the Year" - Roger Everts • Needmore Fire Co.'s "Firefighter of the Year" - Denis Strait • Hustontown Fire Co.'s "Firefighter of the Year" - Jeff Black • Fair Queen - Forbes Road senior Olivia Strait, 17 • Historical Society's "Historian of the Year" - Richard Miller • Chamber of Commerce & Tourism's "Man of the Year" - D.A. "Andy" Washabaugh • Chamber of Commerce & Tourism's "Outstanding Citizen" - Kindred Spirits. • Chamber of Commerce & Tourism's "Special Service" award- Helen Overly • Chamber of Commerce & Tourism's "Excellence in Small Business" award - Daljcon Construction Co. • Folk Festival Parade Marshal - Doug Ray

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