Anmoore police chief focuses on keeping crime rate low
by James Fisher
STAFF WRITER
 

     Being a police officer often can be a thankless job with long hours, low pay and dangerous situations.
That doesn't bother Anmoore's newest police chief, Chris Cogar. Being a police officer is something he has always wanted to do. And everything he has done since high school has been aimed at achieving that goal.
    Cogar, 26, joined the Army National Guard when he was just a junior at Webster County High School. The Army gave Cogar his first taste of the potential dangers of being a police officer when he was assigned to the demolitions unit.
At 21, Cogar got his first police job in his hometown of Webster Springs.
    "The chief was an old friend of my family's and he said there was a position open," Cogar said. "I went before town council and they hired me."
    He spent the next two years patrolling the streets of the small town in central West Virginia. Soon, he decided to cast his lot and see what else was available.
    He applied to, and was hired by, the U.S. Department of Defense. He wanted to be on the police force, but his background and weapons abilities opened up new avenues for the 23-year-old West Virginia native.
    "The captain of the special reaction team gave us our orientation," he said. "He saw that I had some S.W.A.T. background, and I qualified as one of the best shooters, so he asked me if I wanted to be on the team."
    As a member of department's special reaction team, Cogar was exposed to situations of extreme danger. "We recovered nuclear and biological weapons from terrorists," he said.
    With a gleam in his eye, Cogar spoke fondly of his year stationed in Utah with the DOD. He could not elaborate on most of the things he was involved with. "We did some things that I still can't talk about, but it was interesting," he said.
After a short year of employment with the federal government, Cogar lost his job when it decided to downsize the team. He was one of the less senior members, so the government cut him first.
    "When President Clinton signed the law banning chemical weapons, the department of defense started downsizing," he said. "They said I could go to a base in Cuba, but I decided to come back to West Virginia."
    Cogar returned home to Webster Springs. There were no positions available on the police force, so he turned instead to logging.
He quickly grew tired of the logging business and began sending out resumes to police departments across the state. Anmoore was the first to respond, so he packed up his fiancee and their son and moved north.
    Flash forward two years to 1999. Cogar has now become the youngest police chief in Harrison County and says he isn't finished.
While policing a small town like Anmoore has its advantages (a very low crime rate, for example) Cogar said he would eventually like to move on to a bigger department.
    But for now, he is concentrating on making changes in the Anmoore department and keeping the crime rate as low as it is.
"We do mostly multi-jurisdictional aid with other departments," he said. "There's just not a lot of major crimes in Anmoore."
But Cogar and the department's two officers, Chris Gearde and Danny Dolin, still manage to find ways to keep busy.
    In November, Cogar and Gearde were involved with stopping a Shinnston man who led police officers on a 25-mile, high-speed chase from Weston to Bridgeport. The pursuit at times reached speeds of nearly 100 mph before Cogar and Gearde were able to pin the man's truck against a state police cruiser.
    "That definitely could have turned out much worse," Cogar said. "If he had gotten into the southbound lanes like he wanted, I can't imagine what would have happened."
    Cogar was nominated for the Sherlock Holmes Award for that pursuit. Chiefs of police and mayors make the nominations for the awards that are given for service above and beyond the call of duty.
    Small forces like Anmoore have a distinct advantage for young officers because the pace is invariably slower. "It's a good stepping-stone for someone just out of the (West Virginia State Police) Academy because you can learn a lot," he said. "Also, you get a lot of help from other agencies in the area."
    Cogar is in the process of revising rules and procedures for the department and has also secured funding for new uniforms.
"Our use of force policy needs to be more detailed and so does our pursuit policy," Cogar said. "I'm making changes and trying to institute some standard operating procedures. We've got some great officers. We're young, but we have lots of experience and strong convictions."



Historical Society gets lesson in "Gypsy 101"
by Torie Knight
STAFF WRITER

    Gypsy resident Florence "Dimples" Gifford is preparing Harrison County residents for the 100th anniversary celebration of that town next year with a refresher course. Welcome to Gypsy 101.
Lesson 1-origin.
    Despite the fact that gypsies once camped in the lower grove of the small town near the river, the community was not named after the wandering group.
    West Virginia's eighth governor, Aretas Brooks Fleming, named it after his daughter Margaret, better known as Gypsy. Fleming served as governor from 1890 to 1893. Before that time, Gypsy was known as Beaver Head by Indians. "Gypsy is a unique little community," Gifford said. "Most of the houses standing there are the way they were built."
Lesson 2-interesting tidbits.
    In 1854, Maulsby bridge was constructed. Then, on April 30, 1863, Gypsy became a Civil War battle site. Three years later, authors noted the town as a good picnic spot.
    From the 1840s to the 1920s the town was the site of many religious camp meetings, including one that brought 15,000 people to the area.
    In the 1950s, the state constructed the Gypsy Prison Camp, a minimum-security facility. The prisoners built roads while staying there. The prison closed in the late 1950s, but the mess hall still stands in Gypsy.
Lesson 3- economy.
    For years, the town of about 75 homes survived on the coal industry. The coal company came into the area, built homes for workers, laid out the land, developed green spaces, opened a company store and put in a water system.
    "It was an excellent example of a planned community that was developed for the workers by the employers," said Harrison County Planning Commission Director Terry Schulte.
Lesson 4-the future.
    On Sunday, Gifford told members of the Harrison County Historical Society that all of those memorable events at Gypsy will be incorporated into the 100th-year celebration.
    The event is scheduled for a three-day span in June or July. Plans include entertainment, food, a Civil War re-enactment, an old-fashioned revival tent and the selling of Gypsy cookbooks.
    The town received a grant through the State Historic Preservation Office to finish a historic survey. Schulte said plans are in the works to add the community to the National Register of Historic Places.



Family facing uncertain future after daughter's liver transplant
by Troy Graham
STAFF WRITER

    When Kim and Harry Owens' daughter Brittany was 4 months old, doctors told the young couple that their daughter had a potentially fatal illness.
    Brittany was born without a bile duct from her liver to her intestines, a condition known as biliary atresia. Doctors placed her on a waiting list for a new liver when she was 6 months old. In the meantime, she had to go to the hospital two or three times a year for blood transfusions, said Kim Owens of Gypsy. A transplant was the only cure for Brittany's disease, her mother said.
At 4 years old, Brittany's time was running out for a new liver, Kim Owens said.
    "It was scary," she said. "The transplant doctors told us she needed it as soon as possible." Doctors decided to transplant a lobe from Harry Owens' liver to Brittany. Last Monday, doctors in Pittsburgh successfully performed the operation. Both father and daughter are recovering well, Kim Owens said this week from Children's Hospital.
    However, the family is still left to face a staggering list of hospital bills. The cost of the surgery alone is $100,000, and Brittany will have to take $3,000 worth of drugs every year for the rest of her life to ensure that her body doesn't reject the liver, said Kim Owens, 25. "I try not to think about how much we're going to pay," she said.
    Although both Kim and Harry work, they are unsure how much their insurance will cover and how much they will be left to shoulder.
    Fortunately, a co-worker of Owens' has stepped up to start a fund in the hopes of raising money to help the family deal with the financial hardship. Lori Bokey opened the fund at Bank One and is hoping to raise money through individual and corporate donations.
    "I just felt so bad because of the situation," Bokey said. "If my family was in this situation, I hope someone would help out."
Regardless of the cost, Owens will be happy to see her daughter playing like other children her age. Because of her condition, Brittany has not been allowed to ride her bike or go skating like other children, her mother said. "I kind of had to watch everything she did," Kim Owens said.
    Brittany should be able to lead a normal life now, while her father should be fully recovered in three months, Kim said.
In addition, the girl has not really been aware of how serious her condition is.
    "She knows that she's sick," Kim said. "I don't know that she really understands what's going on." Anyone who wishes to help with the family's medical bills can send donations to: Brittany Nicole Owens Liver Transplant Fund, Bank One, 229 W. Main St., Clarksburg, WV, 26301 or: Bank One, 1507 Johnson Ave., Bridgeport, WV, 26330.



Harrison, Doddrige, Lewis and Randolph schools get grants
by Gail Marsh
STAFF WRITER

    Schools in Doddridge, Lewis, Randolph and Harrison counties have received money to offer or expand classes that are delivered to students via satellite over television.
    The state Department of Education and the West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority distributed more than $209,000 in federal grant money to 21 sites to allow students to take courses not otherwise offered at their schools.
The grant awards are for the 1999-2000 school year. Doddridge County High School received $25,937.
    The money will enable the school to offer advanced English and calculus classes that are worth college credit.
The courses are broadcast to a receiver at the school and the students view the live classes on a television screen, according to Barbara Stout, Doddridge County High School principal.
    "The program allows us to offer something to our students that we otherwise would not be able to have," Stout said.
Lewis County High School received $13,360. The school will continue to offer Latin and German classes to about 30 students, according to Sylvia McNeish, principal. In Harrison County, Lumberport Middle School received $10,833.
    The money will help to continue a program that gives eighth-graders the opportunity to take Spanish I. "We're glad to be able to offer a foreign language class through distance learning. The students have been very receptive to it," said John Marchio, Lumberport Middle School principal.
    Students will take the televised Spanish classes four days a week from an instructor at the University of Nebraska, with the remaining class devoted to conversation.
     The students are provided with telephone tutors to help them practice and master concepts in conversational Spanish.
Pickens Elementary/Middle/High School will use its grant of $1,875 to continue an elementary Spanish class for the school's kindergarten through sixth grades, according to James Biggs, principal of the rural Randolph County school.
    "We've been able to provide Spanish at different levels for all of our students for the last couple of years. Distance learning works well for our small school of 47 students," Biggs said.



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