2005: Reflections on History

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2006

While 2005’s place in the history books will not be known for years, the year will not likely be forgotten in Lawrence County anytime soon. It was a year that had issues which sparked emotions running the full spectrum: Joy, anger, sadness and sorrow.

Many of the key stories of the year started on a national or global level but still managed to touch the lives of Lawrence Countians. Repercussions from the top stories of 2005 will likely be felt for years to come.

1). Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, killing more than thousand people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in Mississippi and Louisiana. Local residents opened their hearts, homes and pocketbooks to help. In September, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community action Organization helped initiate a rescue mission of sorts, bringing more than two-dozen families to seek refuge in Ironton. “I stayed, thinking the storm would turn away from us,” Henry Banks said. “To be honest, everyone did. It tricked everyone.”

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The nation continues to rebuild but the effects will be felt for years to come.

2). No issue in recent memory polarized the Ironton community like the push to pass a tax bond levy to finance new schools in the November general election. The issue divided families, neighbors and the entire city in a way that will likely not be seen again for many years. Much of the debate centered on plans to tear down historic Ironton High School.

Though the measure was voted down by less than 200 votes, voters will decide on the issue again in 2006. Some compromise may have been reached but the true repercussions will also be felt well past 2005.

3). The school levy wasn’t the only issue on the 2005 ballot that had voters up in arms. The battle for the Ironton Municipal Judge post between 24-year incumbent O. Clark Collins Jr. and Ironton attorney Kevin Waldo was one of the most hotly-contested and expensive races in local history. Collins had the last laugh as he won handily.

“You can’t go through this without a lot of people working hard and making sacrifices, and it wasn’t just me. My supporters are just terrific,” Collins said. “One person can’t do this, it takes a lot to run a campaign. That was very rewarding, all the people that pitched in to help.”

4). Officials in the Rock Hill School District began battling long before 2005 but the feud came to a head last year as many of the issues were taken to court.

Board members Lavetta Sites, Wanda Jenkins and Paul R. Johnson were removed by a jury Oct. 14 after a lawsuit alleging misconduct was upheld.

In part, it was the three school board members’ efforts to remove embattled Superintendent Lloyd Evans that lead to their ultimate removal. The group Citizens Against Poor Spending (CAPS) filed the lawsuit against the three members.

Evans sued back, ultimately dropping his case once the members were removed. Now, the board members are appealing their removal and await a judge’s ruling in 2006.

5). Ironton leaders have long worried about dwindling funding and escalating expenses. Those concerns hit home in 2005 as city leaders debated fees, cuts and layoffs for much of the year.

In the end, they opted to ask the voters to support a $10 fee at the November polls, something voters declined to do.

Now, the focus will move toward 2006.

“We’ll be out of money by Feb. 28. By Feb. 28, we’ll be bankrupt,” Ironton Finance Director Cindy Anderson said in December.

6). Violent crime may have been on the rise in the county as several murders grabbed headlines and kept courtrooms busy. In January, Carlos Jenkins was convicted of the murder of John Turvey in what has been alleged as a drug deal gone wrong. In March, Robert Holbrook shot and killed his wife Lana before turning the gun on himself.

In July, William D. Cooper Sr. was arrested for the murder of Scott Marcum and the shooting of Orlan “J.R.” Harper Jr. Cooper was found guilty in December and will serve a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Other violent crimes include the murder of Arthur Boyer in July and Kathleen Owens in September. Lawrence County banks were also robbed several times.

7). The war in Iraq hit painfully close to home for many in September when a native son was killed in the war. Twenty-year-old Army Spec. David Ford Jr. was mourned by many who remembered the young man as a quiet, good student who followed his dreams into the military.

“My son was my son. I don’t like to put the ‘hero’ line to someone,” mother Violet Ford said. “He was my pride and joy. We are just average people, no better or worse than anyone else.”

8). Paying at the pumps became extra painful in 2004 as gas prices spiked to nearly $4 per gallon after Hurricane Katrina. Many residents were left examining how they drive and what they could eliminate.

“It hurts, it hurts really bad, considering I have to drive 25 miles one way to work,” county resident Monica Robinson said.

9). Two school districts will not soon forget 2005. South Point School District broke ground on its new schools in July. The new Chesapeake Elementary welcomed students in August.

10). Many said goodbye to an old friend in October when part of the Grandview Inn and Suites in South Point was destroyed by a fire.