With 2018 fading into the background, it’s time to take a look at some of the stories that The Herald covered over the past year.

January

• Jon Ellestab was named interim town manager of Buchanan following the Dec. 1, 2017 resignation of Larry Hall. Ellestab, former city manager of Lexington, was appointed interim town manager on a part-time basis.
• Daleville’s Sandy Hadaway was honored as one of six high school athletic directors who were inducted into the ninth Hall of Fame class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
• Craig Bryant was sworn in as Mayor of Buchanan on Jan. 20. He assumed the office following a unanimous vote of support by the four-member Town Council.
• The Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office dedicated a K-9 Memorial in honor of the dogs that have served along side the officers ever since the first one was brought on in 1973.
• Michelle Crook was elected chair of the Botetourt County School Board. Crook was appointed to the School Board in December 2016 to fill the late Kathy Sullivan’s unexpired term. Crook represents the Buchanan District.
• The Botetourt Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 with one abstention on four different motions greenlighting the proposed Sheetz convenience store and car wash on the corner of US 220 and Catabwa Road in Daleville.

February

• John Alexander, 57, became Botetourt’s Commonwealth’s Attorney on Feb. 1. He replaced Joel Branscom following his move to the Circuit Court. Prior to assuming the post, Alexander served as the county’s Chief Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney.
• Joel Branscom, 58, became a 25th District Circuit Court judge on Feb. 1. He replaced Malfourd “Bo” Trumbo after interviewing with both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.
• Attic Productions presented “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center. The musical was an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm tales.
• Lord Botetourt High School students won first place in four categories in the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology’s annual Student Project Forum on Feb. 3. The first place winners included: Holly Acker and Ainsley Swartwout for Systems Software, Jack Buchanan for Animal Sciences B, Gavin Oxley for Biomedical and Environmental Engineering, and Ryan Rigatti for Materials Science.
• The School Board received word that the remainder of the Botetourt County Public School’s STEM-H Academy that had been housed at Greenfield Education and Training Center would move out of the facility and into Lord Botetourt High School at the end of the year. The health sciences program was the only program still located at the center.
• Botetourt County Administrator Gary Larrowe was presented with the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association Public Employee of the Year award at the association’s annual membership meeting in Roanoke on Feb. 8.
• The Botetourt County Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), along with County Administrator Gary Larrowe, announced the promotion of Camille Black and Adam Smith. Black was promoted from the rank of Lieutenant to Battalion Chief of Operations. Smith was promoted from Firefighter/EMT to the rank of Lieutenant-Station Officer.
• The School Board voted 4-0 to approve two resolutions at a called meeting pertaining to the issuing of bonds for up to $22.5 million for a new school to replace Colonial Elementary School.

March

• Attic Productions staged a rendition of “First Baptist of Ivy Gap,” a comedy by Ron Osborne. The play followed six volunteers at the First Baptist Church of Ivy Gap from their first meeting to roll bandages for the war effort in 1945 to 1970. It was directed by Ninette Cox.
• 4,672 acres in the Oriskany area were added to the already 80,000 acres of National Forest in Botetourt County.
• Greenfield Elementary School celebrated Acts of Kindness Day on March 14.
• Operation: Easter Bunny collected 480 Easter baskets.

April

• The 12th annual Buchanan Arbor Day on April 6. Del. Terry Austin, Mayor Craig Bryant and Virginia Department of Forestry representatives Joe Boswell and Lara Johnson spoke at the event.
• New Freedom Farm held its first Freedom Rocks Fest on April 7. The event celebrated freedom and the veterans who have helped make freedom a reality.
• Lindsey Fenster, a student at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was tapped to become a Ratcliffe Scholar, which allowed her to travel to Uruguay to study agriculture. Fenster graduated from James River High School.
• A portrait of Malfourd “Bo” Trumbo was unveiled in a special Botetourt County Circuit Court proceeding on April 13. The portrait was placed on the wall of the courtroom, where it will permanently be displayed.
• Natalie Emerson, a Lord Botetourt High School student, became the first student in the county to be awarded National Medalist honors by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
• One of Vera M. Dickerson’s acrylic paintings was selected as one of the 56 pieces for the Northwest Watercolor Society’s 78th annual International Open Exhibition. Dickerson is a Troutville native.
• A six-member team from Lord Botetourt High School won the Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District Envirothon at Fenwick Mines Recreation Area near New Castle. The members of the winning team included Jack Buchanan, Ashlyn Wolfe, Claire Seibel, Brian Watts, Matthew Henninger and Jack McNutt.
• Lois Fritz, president of New Freedom Farm, was recognized by the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross as a Military Hero during the chapter’s annual Celebration of Heroes Breakfast on April 19.

May

• The seventh annual Troutville Trail Days ran from June 1-3. Events included a thru-hiker picnic, a 5K, craft and food vendors, non-profit informational booths, kids’ activities and performances.
• The Buchanan Garden Festival opened on May 5 when 10 young ladies performed the May Pole Dance.
• Attic Productions staged the Brandon Thomas comedy “Charley’s Aunt.” The production was directed by Sally Miller.
• The Glebe held its Relay for Life event on May 19 to raise money for the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the combined Roanoke Valley Relay for Life. The event raised over $5,000.
• Circuit Court Judge Joel Branscom signed an order expanding the Town of Fincastle’s boundary.
• Jason Tryee was named town manager by the Buchanan Town Council on May 21. Tryee, an Amherst County native, previously served as the property maintenance official and supervisor for the City of Lynchburg’s Department of Community Development.
• 230 Lord Botetourt High School seniors received their high school diplomas on May 21 at the Salem Civic Center. Valedictorian Jack Buchanan urged his classmates to surround themselves with positive friends because they will determine the kind of individual they will become.
• 130 seniors at James River High School received their high school diplomas at the school’s May 22 graduation ceremony. Valedictorian Olivia Baker challenged her classmates to “take a leap of faith” during her speech.
• Several dozen veterans, families of veterans and community members gathered for American Legion Post 93’s annual Memorial Day Observance in Buchanan on May 28. It was the Post’s 72nd annual service.

June

• John Manspile was presented with a plaque in recognition of his 40 years of service to the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department by Chief Craig Bryant.
• Bill and Shireen Kirk donated $157,000 to the Addy Grace Foundation, a donation earmarked to assist in the construction of an all-abilities playground at Daleville Town Center.
• The James River High School FFA was named No. 1 FFA program in Virginia at the 92nd Annual Virginia FFA Convention on the campus of Virginia Tech. The chapter was recognized as the top chapter in the state in the Growing Leaders and Building Communities activity areas. James River also received gold ratings for the National Chapter Award, Superior Chapter Award and Public Relations Award.
• Del. Terry Austin and long-time Buchanan Rescue Squad volunteer Dot Carson served as grand marshals for the fourth annual Buchanan Fireman’s Fourth of July Parade.
• Buchanan town officials and the family of “Buster” Thrasher gathered on June 6 at the corner of Main Street and Lowe Street to dedicate a monument and flagpole in recognition of the late Buchanan resident.

• The Eagle Rock Library created a new seed library program to encourage patrons to learn about agriculture by growing their own plants. Seed selections included flowers, herbs and vegetables. Branch Librarian Jamie Duval headed the program.
• Robyn Dobyns retired from the Botetourt Resource Center on June 30. She started with the center when it opened in 2000. Dobyns was replaced as president and CEO by Melissa Lucas.

July

• Tess Seibel, a 2017 graduate of Lord Botetourt High School, was chosen to serve as the Virginia FFA National Officer Candidate at the 2018 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. She previously served as the 2017-2018 President of the Virginia FFA Association.
• A caravan of antique automobiles, all dating before 1927, cruised through Botetourt County. The majority of the riders came from North Carolina as members of the North Carolina Horseless Carriage Club, but others were local and some came from the Midwest and Florida.
• Kurtis Kennedy and Chris Balthis, both mechatronics instructors at Botetourt Technical Education Center, traveled to Nuremberg, Germany in order to take a course to earn Siemens Level 1 Certification.
• Attic Productions staged a version of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” on the D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center stage. The Gershwin musical told the story of a rich playboy who meets a tough bootlegger girl on the night of his bachelor party and complications follow.
• The Board of Supervisors agreed to sell just over 11 acres in Botetourt Center at Greenfield to Appalachian Power Co. for a new 138kv electrical substation on US 220 north of the entrance to the industrial park.
• Botetourt County Public Schools earned the Virginia Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award for the second year in a row. The school division was one of 14 divisions and 202 schools that met all state and federal benchmarks.

• Buchanan Town Council and town residents met for a called work session on July 30 to mull over options pertaining to the partially opened James River and Kanawha Canal gauge dock next to the Town Park on Lowe Street.

August

• Claire Seibel, a graduate of Lord Botetourt High School, was named 2018’s Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Outstanding Young Agriculturalist at the Young Farmers Summer Expo in Richmond on Aug. 3.
• Members of the Botetourt Bee Club delivered honey and biscuits to the Botetourt Sheriff’s Office and to Fincastle Fire and Emergency Medical Services on National Honeybee Day.
• The sixth annual Botetourt County Fair was held at Buchanan Town Park on Aug. 10 and 11.
• The Botetourt Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to pay Eldor Corporation $500,000 as part of the county’s incentive package for the Italy-based advanced automotive parts manufacturing company.
• The Addy Grace Foundation teamed up with Ballast Point Brewery to host a Casino Night fundraiser. The event raised funds for the all-abilities playground at the Botetourt Family YMCA in Daleville.
• Beaver Dam Farms held its third annual Sunflower Festival. In previous years, the festival only lasted for one weekend. Due to the overwhelming number of people who attended the festival, Candace Monaghan, founder, decided to add an extra weekend to the festival.
• The Economic Development Authority awarded Spectrum Design a contract to do the architectural and engineering work for the new Colonial Elementary School. The school will open in the fall of 2020.
• After reaching out to “The Fincastle Herald,” Lorreta Bourne was able to identify a kidney donor for her daughter, Kristi Flick. After spotting the article on Facebook, Gail Duffy, an employee at Virginia Title Center in Roanoke, offered Flick one of her kidneys. The operation was performed at the University of Virginia.
• $18,000 worth of asset forfeiture funds was used to purchase a new $30,000 video hookup system for the circuit courtroom in the county courthouse. The systems allows attorneys to show video evidence during criminal and civil trials and for the judge to hold arraignments without having to transport prisoners from other localities where they may be held in jail. The remaining $12,000 came from the 2013 Abbot Laboratories settlement with the federal government.
• Volunteers from churches, school groups, civic and community organizations and businesses packaged 15,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger at the Buchanan Fire House on Aug. 25.

September

• The Board of Supervisors approved changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map. The board then voted unanimously to rezone and provide a special exception, allowing Fieldstone Place LLC to develop nearly 80 acres for single-family homes, townhouses, apartments and a commercial area.
• Lord Botetourt High School crowned Abe Barkett Homecoming King and Allyson McClellan Homecoming Queen on Sept. 13.
• The third annual Pork by the James Seriously Smokin’ Barbeque Competition was held the Buchanan Town Park on Sept. 15.

October

• Colonial Elementary School was selected as a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School. Tammy Riggs, principal, and Tammie Steger, third grade teacher, represented the school in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 7 and 8.
• The Board of Supervisors denied a rezoning request with a 4-1 vote that would have allowed for the construction of a 140-home development on Greenfield Street.
• James River High School crowned River Clonch Homecoming King and Colleen Peery Homecoming Queen on Oct. 12.
• Olivia Bray was named to the 2018-2019 USA Swimming National Junior Team in the women’s 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter butterfly. Bray is a Daleville resident. She was one of 67 swimmers named to the National Junior Team.
• During the eighth Nashville Night fundraiser at James River High School, Matthew Ramsey, a graduate of the school, announced that roughly $50,000 had been raised. Ramsey also announced the formation of the My Hometown Fund.
• Mike Ketron, Botetourt County Public Schools career and technical education coordinator, and Shaun Sparks, principal of Botetourt Technical Education Center, gave a presentation to members of the Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce on the types of programs offered at the education center during a lunch meeting at Ballast Point Brewery Company.
• A farm building was upgraded at New Freedom Farm thanks to the help of volunteers from the Home Depot Foundation. The building was upgraded in order to provide a climate-controlled meeting place for veterans.
• The 32nd running of The Bank of Fincastle 5K and 10K Fall Run took place on Oct. 20. Sam Lev of Roanoke was the first runner to cross the finish line, winning the Men’s 5K. Kevin Paul Painchaud of Bedford finished in second place. Cassie Pickens of Harrisonburg won the Women’s 5K. Jennifer Dietrich of Roanoke took second place. Nate Michener of Roanoke won the Men’s 10K. Will Gaul II of Fincastle came in second place. Gwen Turner of Roanoke won the Women’s 10K. Taylor Peterson of Troutville took second place.
• Megan Young, a librarian at Troutville Elementary School, was recognized as the club’s 2018 Educator of the Year during the School Board’s monthly meeting.
• All 11 Botetourt County schools received accreditation for the 2018-2019 school year. The 2018-2019 school year marked the third consecutive year that all of Botetourt’s schools have been accredited.
• Roger D. Johns’ name was added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. Johns was a member of the Eagle Rock Volunteer Fire & Rescue. He died on May 19, 2017 after being struck and killed by apparatus as it was being backed up where he was serving as a spotter at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on US 220 south of Eagle Rock. Johns was 63.
• Mason Sowers, a 2017 James River High School graduate, was selected as a National FFA Proficiency Award finalist in the area of Agricultural Sales-Placement during the 91st Annual National FFA Convention and Expo. The convention and expo was held Oct. 24-28 in Indianapolis, Ind. The James River FFA Chapter was also recognized as a National 3-Star Chapter, the highest rating an FFA program can receive from the National FFA Organization.
• Eldor USA celebrated the opening of its new plant at Botetourt Center at Greenfield. At the time of the opening, Eldor had 100 employees. The company said that it hopes to add an additional 250 employees over the next five years.

November

• The James River High School FFA Chapter claimed the state championship title at the 2018 Virginia FFA State Soils Evaluation Contest after placing first in the senior level event on Nov. 6.
• The Board of Supervisors appointed the 13-member Greenfield Historic Preservation Commission, named four persons to the Botetourt County Sesquicentennial Committee and approved the installation of three new Lewis & Clark Virginia Legacy Trail signs that will go up at county owned sites.
• Troutville dedicated a Blue Star Memorial By-Way marker in what was then the newly developed Veterans Monument to honor veterans in the Troutville Town Park on Nov. 11. Raymond Whitlock, a former corporal in the Marine Corps, Sharon Smith, a former PFC in the Army, and Chad Paderick, a former corporal in the Marine Corps, pulled the cover from the memorial.
• Three Botetourt County schools received Red Ribbon Week awards. The Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition and Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare sponsor the Red Ribbon Week each year. Troutville Elementary School earned the Shedding Light Award, Lord Botetourt High School earned the Eye Catching Award and Greenfield Elementary School earned the Kathy Graham Sullivan Spirit of Red Ribbon Award.
• The Troutville Volunteer Fire Department held a ceremony celebrating its new ladder truck, which allows the department to protect multi-storied apartment buildings, hotels and large manufacturing facilities.
• Hannah Martin, a Lord Botetourt High School senior, joined the “best of the best” for the National Association for Music Education’s 2018 All-National Honor Ensembles at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
• Old Dominion, a country music band with two Botetourt natives, won its first CMA award as Vocal Group of the Year.
• Brian and Jacqui Sobieski of Maryland purchased Virginia Mountain Vineyards from David and Marie Gibbs.

December

• The Town of Fincastle held its annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 1. Mayor Mary Bess Smith served as the Parade Marshal.
• Attic Productions staged a version of “Annie” at the D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center. The production bolstered a 30-member cast. It was directed by Josh DiPalma and Katrina Yancey.
• Jack Leffel, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, died on Dec. 4 during emergency heart surgery, leaving a vacancy on the board. Leffel, 74 at the time of his passing, previously served on the School Board.
• The historic Buchanan Theatre, originally the Star Theatre, was approved to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register on Dec. 13.
• Richard Bailey, former owner of the Botetourt Animal Hospital, was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Leffel on the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 20. Bailey will serve out the remainder of Leffel’s term and is planning on seeking reelection.
• Botetourt County administration announced the promotion of Jason Ferguson from Battalion Chief to Chief of Fire and EMS. Ferguson assumed supervision of seven volunteer fire departments, two volunteer rescue squads and a county department of more than 50 full-and part-time staff.
• Edwin McCoy, long-time editor of “The Fincastle Herald” retired after 34 years with the paper. Aila Boyd assumed McCoy’s former post.
• Toys 4 Bot-E-Tots celebrated its 17th year of operation by collecting more than 3,000 toys as part of its annual toy drive.
• Chase Haynes, a Lord Botetourt High School alumnus, debuted his first shoe design with Italian shoe company AliveShoes on Dec. 14. Haynes, 23, graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2018.
• Botetourt County Public Schools reduced the number of days students are allowed to miss before being denied promotion to the next grade or course credit. Previously, elementary and middle school students were allowed a total of 20 absences. Under the new policy, those students are only allowed 16 absences. Instead of having 10 absences, high school students are now only allowed eight. The changes will not go into effect until July 1, 2019.
• The Botetourt Community Partnership held its final meeting of 2018 Dec. 18 at Ballast Point Brewery. A tour of the facility followed the meeting.

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