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Looking back at 2008

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By The Staff

The year 2008 brought Grant County a lot of changes, as well as tragedy and triumph. During the year, Grant Countians faced adversity by acts of nature and crimes committed against each other. The community said farewell to fallen soldiers, former political leaders and teenagers who died much too young. The community also celebrated the opening of a new school in Sherman and a national cemetery in Williamstown. It was a year of sad endings and new beginnings. As 2009 begins, we take a moment to glance back at the news that made 2008 a year to remember.

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January

• Williamstown superintendent and school board members agree not to pursue reconfiguration of the school from an elementary and middle/high school set up to a kindergarten through 12th grade structure.

• Three separate fires in three days destroy a home in Corinth and damage homes in Jonesville and Williamstown.

• The Lake Williamstown expansion project received a $500,000 boost from Congress. The money was earmarked for planning and design.

• Clinton Shawn Sydnor, Wesley Lanham and Shawn Freeman, former deputies at the Grant County Detention Center, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 24 for their role in the 2003 rape of an inmate at the facility. They entered not guilty pleas to the charges on Jan. 31 in Covington.

• Jacob Sargent, 17, died when his truck crashed on the way to school on Jan. 28.

February

• Storms bringing ice, snow and heavy winds rip through Grant County the first two weeks of February. The first storm occurred on Feb. 6 and left 9,000 customers of Owen Electric and Duke Energy without power for several days. Several barns along Ky. 22 were flattened by the high winds which also ripped roofs and porches from houses. The Feb. 11 storm dumped three to five inches of snow but caused few problems for motorists.

• Cassandra Collins is named director of the Innovation Center at the NKU-Grant County center.

• Dr. Brad Quatekemeyer, a physician in Crittenden, was unable to prescribe controlled substances after the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure began an investigation into allegations of prescription drug abuse.

• The Williamstown School board approved all-day kindergarten beginning with the 2008-2009 school year.

• The Grant County school board eliminated all assistant principal positions at the county’s four elementary schools. In their place, the board created instructional specialist positions.

• Gina Brown, advertisting consultant for the Grant County News, was critically injured in a car accident on Feb. 27. Brown, the mother of three, spent weeks at University Hospital and Drake Hospital in Cincinnati. She currently resides at Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital in Florence.

March

• Winter storm roars through on March 7 and blankets the county with 2 feet of snow.

• Gary Coots, a knife-wielding suspect in the robbery of Forcht Bank in Corinth, was arrested on March 17 and lodged in the Grant County Detention Center.

• More than 50 citizens in Crittenden attended a Neighborhood Watch Meeting organized by the Grant County Sheriff’s Department following incidents of tire slashings, theft and vandalism.

• Police investigate what they call a murder/suicide at the home of William and Colleen Wright of Corinth on March 24. Colleen died from a gunshot wound and William survived and was taken to the University of Kentucky.

April

• Russell Bramlage, 22, of Williamstown, was arrested on April 1 on charges that he shot and killed his parents, Terry and Lynda Bramlage, inside their Cordova Road home in 2007. Terry was a dentist in Independence. Lynda worked at Rocky Ridge Garden Center. Bramlage was arraigned on April 3 and entered a not guilty plea.

• An eight-hour standoff ended peacefully when police were able to talk John Fresh, 32, out of his Jonesville home on April 1.

• Former Dry Ridge Mayor Norman Ferguson, 78, died April 6 at University Hospital in Cincinnati.

• Grant native Vince Gabbert landed a job as deputy chief of staff for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear when Beshear took office in 2008.

• Soaring gas prices caused schools and motorists to search for the cheapest gas prices as the price per gallon shot up to $3.54.

• The Grant County Chamber of Commerce gave top honors to: D.W. Dills - Grant Countian of the Year; Dick Austin - excellence in business; Ken Stone, volunteer of the year; Bob Gregg - excellence in education; and Wade Gutman, innovation in business.

May

• Construction continued on the new Sherman Elementary.

• Williamstown added a new early learning center.

• Daniel Wood, 16, of Falmouth was killed near the Grant/Pendleton county line on May 1 when his school bus was struck by a dump truck.

• Tony’s Hair Care, operated by Tony and Roberta Poole, celebrated 50 years in business in Williamstown.

• Gas soars to $3.59 per gallon.

• Williamstown school board trims staff due to budget crunch. Two assistant principals and four teachers were eliminated.

• Buck Walter, the Williamstown baseball coach, was forced to resign at the end of the season after violating the district’s policy on alcohol while on a school trip.

• Grant County High School moved to a 9-12 academy structure.

• Josh Lilly, the 18-year-old son of Larry and Sandra Lilly, died following a motorcycle crash on May 23.

• Encil Webster is chosen to fill the unexpired term of Norman Ferguson on the Dry Ridge City Council.

June

• Jam Fest ‘08 sponsored by local churches and Just For Him Ministries, brought a free local concert to Williamstown on June 13 and June 14.

• PHI Air Medical opened a base at St. Elizabeth Medical Center Grant County. A flight crew, consisting of a pilot, paramedic and nurse, will staff an emergency helicopter 24 hours a day.

• Thirty-two teams walked 12 hours and raised more than $90,000 for the Grant County Relay For Life on June 6 at Grant County Park.

• Misty Buchanan is chosen as the principal at Williamstown High School.

• Claudette Herald is selected as the principal at Grant County High School.

• Police arrest Randy K. Pierson, 46, of Dry Ridge and charged him with robbery in connection with the June 20 robbery of a bank in Lexington.

• John Siedenberg, Russ McGee and Terrell Kucera have roles in Kincaid Regional Theater’s production of “Big River.”

July

• Jackie Bodenhamer, a lieutenant at the Grant County Detention Center, was honored at the annual Police Appreciation Awards in Cincinnati for helping solve seven murders. She was awarded the “Best Overall Investigative Job Leading to the Solution of a Crime” award.

• The Kentucky Division of Forestry places bright purple boxes in Grant County to monitor for emeral ash borers, which can destroy ash trees.

• Della Jones of Williamstown celebrated her 105th birthday on July 7.

• Tony Snow, a former White House press secretary, died July 15. His mother, Betty Jo Threlkeld Snow, was a Grant County native.

• Kenneth Patrick, 46, of Dry Ridge, shot himself after a standoff with police.

• Vandals damage 50 headstones at the Williamstown Cemetery.

• The Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission moved to a new homes, just a parking a lot away from their previous one on Main Street in Williamstown.

August

• Wesley Lanham and Shawn Freeman, former deputies at the Grant County Detention Center, faced charges of conspiracy and violating the civil rights of a teenager who was raped by inmates at the jail on Feb. 14, 2003. Clinton Shawn Sydnor, a jail sergeant at the time of the rape, pleaded guilty on Aug. 8. He agreed to testify against the other deputies.

Lanham and Freeman were found guilty of the charges after a four-day trial in Covington.

• Gary Greenwell was appointed to the Crittenden City Council on July 8 to fill the unexpired term of Amy Sweat who resigned because she was moving.

• Sherman Elementary is finished in time for the opening of school.

• J.B. Barnes filed a petition to allow the sale of alcohol in Dry Ridge. The issue went before the voters on Nov. 4.

• The Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown was dedicated on Aug. 22.

• Pat Conrad replaces Evalene Davis in the judge-executive’s office. Davis retired after serving 33 years as the county’s deputy judge-executive.

• Police arrested a brother/sister pair on Aug. 29 for a bank robbery of Forcht Bank in Corinth. Police charged Lisa Boles, 43 and Sam Boles, 35, both of Covington, with second-degree robbery.

• The Grant County Fiscal Court joined more than 90 other fiscal courts in filing a lawsuit against the Kentucky Justice Cabinet over the amount of money the county is paid for housing state prisoners.

September

• Hurricane Ike might have been miles away but his powerful punch was felt in Grant County as high winds ripped through the area on Sept. 14 leaving thousands in Northern Kentucky without power for several days.

• The high winds damaged the Corinth Post Office which was closed and temporarily relocated at the city building.

• Russell Bramlage shot his mother and waited for his father to come home. That’s what he confessed to police six months after his parents were found dead inside their Cordova Road home. Bramlage plead guilty to two counts of murder, one count of robbery, one count of tampering with physical evidence and possession of a forged instrument.

• Grant County hosted the first Horse Heritage Days at Grant County Park on Sept. 27. The event featured a horse show and contests. Organizers want it to become an annual event and hope to tie it into the World Equestrian Games, which Kentucky will host in 2010.

• Northern Kentucky University - Grant County Center celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sept. 25. The satellite campus began in the Williamstown United Methodist Church and in 2004 moved to its current location next to the Williamstown City Building.

October

• Karen Glore was tapped to fill the unexpired term of Matt Hicks on the Dry Ridge City Council. Hicks resigned for “personal reasons.”

• The Grant County News and Grant County Chamber of Commerce team up to host a “Know Your Candidates” Forum on Oct. 2.

• Second Sunday, a day of play, is hosted by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture. Its purpose is to get Kentuckians to become more active. The event was hosted on Oct. 12 in front of Grant County Middle School.

• Sgt. Daniel Wallace, 27, of Dry Ridge, was killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 31. He was a 2001 graduate of Grant County High School.

November

• The Williamstown Band of Spirit added another notch in their belt when they claimed a fourth title as the 2008 Class A State Champions in the Kentucky Music Educator’s Association state band competition.

• Grant County native Joe Taylor defeated Jack Gatlin, an incumbent, as Grant County attorney in the Nov. 4 election.

• Voters approved alcohol sales in Dry Ridge with a total of 488 votes out of 742.

• Gas prices dip below the $2 per gallon mark.

• C. Ed Wilson decides to step down as superintendent of Williamstown schools. He will serve until July 1, 2009. Wilson said it was a personal choice and would allow him to spend more time with his family.

• The Hope Sunday School class at Williamstown Baptist Church prepared and delivered 443 meals to needy Grant Countians for Thanksgiving. This is the 11th year for this project.

December

• Wesley Lanham was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Shawn Freeman will serve 14 years in prison for their roles in a 2003 rape of a teenager at the Grant County Detention Center in 2003. The pair were sentenced Dec. 8 in U.S. District Court in Covington.

• Troopers from Kentucky State Police Post 6 in Dry Ridge took 25 children out for Shop With A Trooper on Dec. 6 while officers from the Williamstown and Dry Ridge police departments and Grant County Sheriff’s Office took 21 children shopping on Dec. 13 for Shop With A Cop.

• Santa’s Wonderland came rolling into Williamstown on Dec. 6 when the community event featured a parade, puppet show and breakfast with Santa.

• Kimberly C. Goodrich, 48, of Crittenden, was arrested and charged with theft over $300 after police say they caught her in the act of stealing items left on gravesites in Grant County cemeteries.

• The Dry Ridge City Council adopts rules governing alcohol sales in the city after voters approved allowing alcohol sales by the drink in restaurants that seat 100 people.

• Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear brought a message to Grant County on Dec. 18 at a town hall meeting at Grant County High School. Beshear discussed the need for a hike in the cigarette tax.

• Felicity Spicer, a senior at Grant County High School, was invited to particiapte in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Jan. 4. Spicer was chosen as GCHS’ homecoming queen.