Area struggles as opioid epidemic intensifies

The number of deaths attributed to opioid overdoses throughout the area continued to climb in 2017. Drug-related cases continued to clog court dockets and first responders trained to administer the opioid reversal drug Narcan to overdose victims.

The Buffalo Trace Health District continued its needle exchange program and expanded it to include Robertson County, along with Mason County.

Several area counties agreed to join a nationwide lawsuit that aims to hold opioid manufacturers responsible for the costs associated with the current drug epidemic.

Law enforcement and federal courts began to hold those they accused of being complicit in OD deaths responsible for their involvement. A Fleming County man was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for his role in the death of an Augusta woman. An April 2018 trial date was set by federal authorities for Iseral Jordan Grayson, 23, of Maysville, in connection with the September 2016 death of a Maysville woman.

July flooding leaves heavy damage in its wake

Five or more inches of rain in a few hours overnight Saturday into early Sunday in late July took a massive toll on area property. No injuries were reported in Mason County, although a Bracken County man was reported missing after his mobile home was swept away. The body of Delmar Nickoson was found days later in the Ohio River near Meldahl Dam.

In Maysville, a couple escaped their home after they discovered their house had been moved off its foundation by flood water from Lawrence Creek.

Several area roads were damaged when flooding pushed up asphalt and undermined shoulders, including an area on Kentucky 8, near Dover where shoulder damage caused guardrails to slip below road level. The Dover Covered Bridge was heavily damaged and more than 200 cars were destroyed at Chap's Chevrolet in Flemingsburg by the flooding.

Industries come and go

The year began with an explosion at DPandL. On Jan. 10, an explosion damaged Stuart Unit One. The company later confirmed plans to close two coal-fired plants in Adams County, Ohio.

In June, a Boise, Idaho based company filed for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of a hydropower project in Mason County.

Braidy Industries announced plans to locate a new factory in Greenup County, near Lewis County. The $1.3 billion aluminum mill is expected to create 550 advanced manufacturing jobs.

Frito Lay opened a new distribution facility in Maysville and

Clopay Plastics Products, which operates a manufacturing plant in Augusta, was sold by Griffon Corp. to Berry Global Group for $475 million.

MACA, which supplies components to the automotive and medical industries and announced in 2015 that is would locate a 156-job manufacturing plant in Maysville with a $7.9 million investment, began operations in Maysville.

Changing places and faces in public offices, private industry

Following the retirement and after a nationwide search, Randal Olmstead Lowman was named director of the Maysville-Mason County Industrial Development Authority. In October, he was dismissed by the agency for undisclosed reasons and the search began anew for a director.

In April, Robert Parker announced he was leaving his role as Markert CEO for Meadowview Regional Medical Center. In May, Joe Koch was named to lead MRMC and Fleming County Hospital.

In May, Maysville attorney Jeffrey Schumacher was appointed to the 19th Judicial District judge's seat by Kentucky Governor Matthew Bevin to fill the unexpired judicial term following the death of Judge Frank H. McCartney.

In March, Jailer Lisa O'Hearn announced she was leaving office to pursue a different career path. In early April, Lisa Yeary, who O'Hearn had defeated for the jailer's office, was appointed jailer by Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer.

In December, Rod Baker of Maysville was named publisher of The Ledger Independent. Baker follows Bob Hendrickson who announced his retirement earlier in the year.

Maysville absorbs Utility Commission as city department

The once autonomous Maysville Utility Commission became a city department beginning July 1, following action taken by city commission.

The utility commission was established in the 1960s when the city purchased the water company. It was then the commission was formed to meet a requirement of the sale that people who were on the water board would stay on the board, although the board has no actual legislative power. Any decisions on the water or wastewater systems must pass through city commission.

Commissioners, who are paid $3,600 annually, will continue to be paid, although discussions early on would have eliminated the stipend.

Eclipse leaves area in the (partial) dark

On Aug. 21, a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse took place that could be seen in places across the U.S. Although not in the path of totality, Maysville had a great view of the event and schools, in particular, took advantage of the hands (or eyes)-on event.

Since Maysville was not on the center line of the eclipse, only about 92 percent of the sun was covered by the moon.

Area schools took a mixed approach to the solar eclipse1, with some closing for the event while others remained in session.

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Mason County and Bracken County Schools stayed open during the eclipse as both counties secured the specialized glasses for students and staff for viewing the eclipse.

Some area residents also organized eclipse-watching parties to share the historic event with friends and family.

Man reported missing, found murdered in Lewis County

Two men, Preston Neil Walters, 52, of Garrison, and Wince Walters, 54, of Garrison, were charged in connection with the death of Justin Johnson, 28, of Vanceburg.

Johnson failed to return home in March, prompting an investigation and search for the missing man. During the investigation, it was discovered that Preston Walters allegedly shot Johnson, causing his death.

Preston Walters claims he and Johnson had been traveling to Preston Walter's cabin in Garrison. Johnson bent down to unlatch the gate and told Preston Walters there was a deer in the field.

Preston Walters allegedly attempted to shoot the deer just as Johnson stood up, causing Preston Walters to shoot him.

Neil Walters was indicted on murder, eight counts of tampering with physical evidence, one count of abuse of a corpse and one count of cultivating marijuana, over five plants.

Wince Walters was indicted on four counts of tampering with physical evidence, one count of abuse of a corpse and one count of cultivating marijuana, over five plants.

Maysville wins first ever Great River Cup

And the first-ever Great River Cup was claimed by the city of Maysville in November.

The cup recognizes the community along the Ohio River Corridor leading in per capita corporate facility project investments. In winning the honor created by Site Selection magazine, Maysville beat out what the magazine called the triumvirate of big cities -- Cincinnati, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.

With a population of 17,166, four projects have been initiated in Maysville over the past 18 months, according to the magazine. Projects cited in the magazine include ongoing hiring at Mitsubishi Electric, Stober Drives and MACA.

Earning awards like the Great River Cup and, prior to that the Governor's Cup, also from Site Selection, brings more recognition and interest to the city and more interest from industrial development brokers, Maysville Mayor David Cartmell said.

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Editor

Editor and reporter, covering Mason County.

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