The past year seems to have flown by, with many issues tackled, some resolved, and others carried over into 2023. We hope you enjoy our 2022 Year in Review.
Group seeks funds to reopen Bassett Community Center
A group of local volunteers hope to write a new chapter in the storied life of the Bassett Community Center, located at 119 Blackberry Road in Bassett.
Linda Crabtree, president of the Bassett Community Center board of trustees, and Michael Jarrett are members of the Save the Bassett Community Center group, which hopes to reopen the community center’s pool by summer of 2022 and have the indoor facilities available by 2023.
Martinsville native bears witness to tornado’s devastation
Phyllis Bowling Youngblood has lived in Mayfield, Kentucky since 1974.
“It’s become my hometown,” she said, though her first hometown was Martinsville.
In mid-December, the Youngblood’s hometown was devastated by what Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear called “the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history.” Multiple tornadoes touched down in the state. Mayfield was among the hardest hit communities.
Longtime fire chief doesn’t see downside
“Junior” Lynch went to the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 25 because the Bassett Fire Department was requesting items from the county.
But when other members of the fire department showed up, along with Jeb Bassett, of Bassett Furniture, and even Lynch’s mother, Esther Waller, he suspected something was up.
Indeed it was. Lynch, the chief of the Bassett Fire Department for the past 19 years, was presented with the Jack Dalton Award, the “highest honor and most prestigious award” given by the board of supervisors to recognize “exemplary community service,” according to its resolution honoring Lynch.
BZA approves Axton solar project
A special use permit for a new solar project has been approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals. The project was previously rejected after a marathon 4-hour meeting on Nov. 24, 2021, but the applicant refiled with some major changes to the proposal.
Warren Sakey, the project development manager for Rocky Ford Solar, LLC, said the company was seeking to construct a large-scale, 90-megawatt facility in the Axton community on approximately 378 acres in the northeast vicinity of Mountain Valley Road and Dees Road and along Summerset Drive and Rufus Road.
Henry County native to provide refugee transport in Ukraine
George Metz, a Henry County native, bought a plane ticket for Germany where he will head Thursday. Upon arrival, Metz will spend time driving back and forth between Germany and Ukraine, transporting volunteers to the conflict zone and helping refugees to safety.
Metz, who works with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—or Doctors Without Borders—spent time in the country, which is now under attack by Russian forces, and managed a team of about 20 as part of his work with MSF.
Blooms may hold promise of early spring
These early blooming trees are a sure sign that spring can’t be far off. They are on the Uptown Connection trail off Franklin Street in Martinsville.
Mementos and memories: time capsule contents revealed
After half a century encased behind a marble slab at 1 Ellsworth Street in uptown Martinsville, the contents of Piedmont Trust Bank’s time capsule were revealed at an event that drew a crowd of several dozen people on Friday, April 1.
Beyond finally seeing what was inside, the event marked a reunion of sorts for employees of Piedmont Trust Bank, who made up well over half the crowd and were visibly happy to come together not only to participate in the occasion but, perhaps more importantly, to share memories of their time at the bank.
Pay raises, decreased school funding, meals tax hike proposed in county budget
The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received a proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022-2023 which included pay raises for teachers and county employees, full funding of operational requests from the school system, and a 2 percent increase in the meals tax.
This year’s budget was “especially difficult,” Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said. “We’re taking some chances here.”
Fire department drone program soars to new heights
Since 2018, Martinsville’s fire department has been using some unexpected technology to help in their emergency response—drones. Now, the department has taken that program to the next level with the ability to send live drone feed to command units and other organizations, allowing more sets of eyes to assist in potentially life-saving operations.
What a difference IT makes: Bassett staff clean up community center
The ongoing effort to reopen the Bassett Community Center got a boost last Thursday when the staff of Bassett Furniture’s Information Technology (IT) Department spent the day hard at work cleaning the shuttered facility.
The team spent the day weeding flower beds, painting the front entrance, pressure washing chairs, cleaning the boiler room, planting grass, and performing other tasks to help move the center’s renovation efforts along, while wearing shirts emblazoned with the Bassett name and the slogan, “the difference it makes” (a play on words, referencing the IT department).
Rooster Walk struts its stuff
Rain, severe thunderstorm warnings, and even the possible threat of a tornado did nothing to dampen the high spirits of music lovers who attended the 12th annual Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival held last weekend in Axton.
Throughout the weekend, musicians, staff, volunteers, vendors, and festival goers alike came together on the sprawling 151-acre Pop’s Farm. The venue is a place where cell phone signal is poor at best, meaning devices were largely put away, allowing the thousands in attendance to give themselves over entirely to four days of music, food, drink, and fellowship that exemplified the simple Rooster Walk ethos, appropriate for a festival named for two men who died too young: live in the moment.
Parker, Carter Bank honored at Piedmont Arts’ Hooker Awards
Longtime Piedmont Arts employee and lifelong arts supporter Barbara Parker and Carter Bank & Trust, “two influential centerpieces of our community” were honored this week, joining a short list of individuals and businesses who have received Piedmont Arts prestigious Clyde Hooker Award for their shared “belief that the arts are crucial to building and sustaining a thriving community,” said Piedmont Arts Executive Director Heidi Pinkston during the Tuesday night ceremony.
Good and faithful servant: retiring County Administrator honored
Tim Hall’s time as County Administrator and Public Service Authority (PSA) General Manager for Henry County ended Thursday, June 30. At his final meeting of the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Hall was honored with two resolutions.
Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, attended the meeting to present House Joint Resolution No. 399 commending Hall who, he said, “has ably served the residents of Henry County for nearly a decade” in his dual roles.
Ancient history uncovered at VMNH dino dig
Shell, WYOMING – Nearly every day for the past few weeks, a team of instructors, students, and volunteers have made the slow journey out into the vast, seemingly endless Wyoming prairie just north of the little town of Shell, WY. Their convoy of 4-wheel drive vehicles climb steep, dusty hills and traverse deep gullies, following a long, dusty trail that does not appear on any map. Over the course of three weeks, the team has worked beneath the unforgiving Wyoming sun in search of dinosaur bones.
Baseball great honored for storied career
It has been quite a week for Martinsville’s Lou Whitaker.
The Detroit Tigers honored Whitaker by retiring his Number 1 in honor of his accomplishments during his 19 years with the team.
Harvest Foundation celebrates milestone with new community-based committee
At the celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Harvest Foundation announced its new Project Hope, a new project that will bridge the gap that was created by a lack of opportunity for community involvement.
The project includes a committee of community members who vote on grant proposals submitted by local residents. This committee differs from the foundation’s usual grant process in that community members submit the grant proposals, and the committee members decide which proposals receive funding.
FAHI works to expand museum, explore potential for growth
Building a sustainable organization to collect and preserve the history of Martinsville’s Fayette Street Neighborhood, and African American history throughout the community is essential for one Martinsville-based nonprofit.
FAHI (Fayette Area Historical Initiative) received a three-year grant of $254,468 from The Harvest Foundation to grow the capacity of the museum to develop and implement a targeted strategic plan. The museum also plans to invest in board development and training while creating a marketing and business plan.
Hundreds flock to Martinsville Speedway’s 75th anniversary celebration
If attendance at the Martinsville Speedway’s 75th anniversary last week is any indication, the legendary track is just getting a green flag, with hundreds attending the night of celebration and free fun.
- Clay Earles founded the track in 1947. His grandson, Clay Campbell became track president in 1988, making him the longest serving president in NASCAR.
City officials are urged to help build a homeless shelter
More than 40 people gathered outside the City Municipal Building before Martinsville City Council’s Sept. 27 meeting to advocate for a homeless shelter in Martinsville.
Carrying signs that read “Bless our people,” “Love thy neighbor,” “We need a shelter,” “Help the homeless,” representatives from the rally addressed council members.
Continued community support helps arts organizations thrive after shutdown
In a time where many arts organizations are struggling to get back on their feet after COVID-19 shutdowns and trials, the community’s arts organizations continue to thrive.
Scott Guebert, president of the Theatreworks Community Players board, said the theatre’s recent performances of 12 Angry Jurors gives the organization hope for the future after it had to completely change due to the pandemic.
Drug treatment court seeks to keep offenders out of jails
A new drug treatment court, a collaboration between the court system and Piedmont Community Services (PCS), is looking to take drug offenders out of the jails and into treatment. The court currently operates in Henry County with the goal of expanding into Martinsville and eventually Patrick County.
Kelly Koebel, Senior Assistant Director of Clinical Services at PCS, is the coordinator. She said there is a stark difference between treatment courts and traditional courts.
Rawls and Jones win council bids,
county school board seat decided
Aaron Rawls and LC Jones handily won their bids for Martinsville City Council against incumbents Danny Turner and Jennifer Bowles.
Rawls received 1,901 votes; Jones had 1,896. Bowles received 1,806, and Turner had 1,213.
Bowman has big plans for Bassett Train Station Event Center
Armed with ideas to reinvigorate the Bassett Train Station Event Center, Aubree Bowman recently took the reins as event manager.
A Patrick County native, Bowman, who began the position on Nov. 1, is a local business owner in Martinsville.
Keatts works to fulfill goals at county shelter
Since being selected as manager of the Henry County Animal Shelter in July, Allie Keatts has already met with some success.
“Our biggest success is that we started doing adoptions directly from our facility in August,” Keatts said. Before that, “we were having to really just rely on other facilities to pull (animals) from us. If they didn’t pull from us, then these animals just sat here until their time was up,” she said.