As we head into another year, it’s important to look back – reluctantly or enthusiastically – to remember what mattered most and what caused the ripple effects in Jackson County.

Jackson Newspapers has compiled a list of the 10 best stories of 2021. This list was generated with two standards in mind: selecting the stories with the most views that also encapsulate the values, or growing pains, of the county. .

Here is our list:

The sheriff cuts down on diversity

Jackson County elected Ross Mellinger as sheriff in November 2020. Since taking office in 2021, Mellinger has been in the news for reasons outside of law enforcement.

Ross Mellinger is sworn in as Jackson County Sheriff by Judge Thomas Evans while Mellinger's wife April holds the Bible.

After Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada USA pageant in late June, Mellinger took to her Facebook to voice her opposition to the first openly transgender woman to enter the Miss USA pageant.

After creating several humiliating posts, including one, he called being transgender a “craze.” Jackson Newspapers asked Mellinger for a comment, which he declined.

Mellinger posted on Tuesday June 29th.

The story garnered a lot of attention and led several former Jackson County residents who are members of the LGBTQ + community to share their unpleasant experiences in their hometown.

West Virginia is the 30th most welcoming state for the LGBTQ + community, according to 24/7 Wall St.

Read the whole story:Jackson County Sheriff posts derogatory comments on social media about contest winner

Animal shelter exploded

The Jackson County Animal Shelter has been waiting for a newer and larger facility for years. At the county committee meeting on Dec. 15, bids for the new facility were accepted and reached around $ 2 million.

But in the meantime, the shelter is taking care of the space it now has. In July, journalist Suzette Lowe wrote about the shelter’s desperation to adopt animals.

G-Pa is ready for adoption.

With 52 dogs and 46 cats, things were getting tense.

“We are doing,” Teresa Hager, Jackson County human rights officer said in the article.

Read the whole story:The animal shelter is at full capacity: need for adopters

Questionable allocation of CARES funding

After receiving anonymous advice from a concerned resident about how the county commission spent its CARES funds, Jackson Newspapers spent months tracking the money.

While the county could have gotten free assistance from the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, it opted instead to have the applications completed by local attorneys. It cost the county 10% of its federal money.

Jackson County received $ 3.2 million. This meant that $ 324,190 went to the lawyers.

Read the whole story:Exclusive: Jackson County received $ 3.2 million for 91 employees. 10% went to lawyers.

The ATV ride went wrong

Owning a four-wheeled vehicle is practically a right of passage in Jackson County. If you don’t have yours, you’ve rolled over one. Chances are you loved it.

The wind blows through your hair, the smell of freshly cut grass greets you as you pass a neighbor. It helps you transport material from point A to point B on your property. They are useful and fun. It’s obvious why people love them so much. But, if not handled properly, they can be fatal.

Tresten Williams was greeted at his home by a handful of family and friends on Friday afternoon.

The average four-wheeler weighs 700 pounds. Each year in the United States, there are more than 600 fatalities and 100,000 injuries involving alternative all-terrain vehicles, according to the ATV annual report.

Tresten Williams of Ravenswood was added to that stat this year. The 16-year-old was leaving McDonald’s when he took a sharp turn. He doesn’t remember the rest.

Things didn’t look good. Williams was in a medically induced coma, covered in wires and surrounded by machines for weeks. Jackson County has pulled itself together, however. There was a prayer vigil in his church. Countless people sent him letters of encouragement. His mother didn’t leave him for weeks she couldn’t leave until he opened his eyes again.

Ever since waking up, Williams has been a storm to be reckoned with. He progressed through rehab and was welcomed home on October 1 by emotional friends and family.

Tresten Williams was in a comma for weeks. Now he’s back home.

Fight against mask mandates

The disagreement over how to deal with the pandemic in classrooms sparked a fire at numerous school board meetings across the United States in 2021. Many of those meetings now have law enforcement in attendance to handle the issues. altercations, if and when they occur.

Even though there were no physical altercations or the need to have a police officer present at council meetings, the Jackson County Board of Education has been spat out by countless angry parents. This year. It all started on September 2 when the board voted to reconstitute its mask policy.

The room was filled with discouraged parents and a few cheerful teachers and health professionals.

Once the mask warrant came into effect, pushback immediately ensued. It wasn’t just the parents of students scrambling to get exemptions teachers were too.

At the October 7 board meeting, Gilmore Elementary School teacher Colleen Worley chose to hold a public hearing into her case for failing to comply with the board’s mask mandate. She argued that the council had not given people like her enough time to apply for a medical exemption.

Worley stood before the board on October 7, arguing she should not face an unpaid suspension.

Citing that traditional masks lead to mental health issues like explosive anxiety and face shields have had negative effects because of her skin cancer.

Ultimately, the board voted to uphold Superintendent Blaine Hess’ decision by issuing a suspension without pay for the six days that Worley failed to comply with the mask requirement.


  1. Cheyenne Johnson is remembered by friends and family as kind and gentle

  2. The new Ripley Roadhouse 2081 restaurant is now open for business

  3. A fire in a school bus resulted in an accident. Four buses involved, at least two are in total.

  4. Jackson General Hospital braces for worst as COVID cases continue to rise

  5. There is no shelter in Jackson County. How does this play out with poverty, homelessness?

– Katelyn Waltemyer (she / she) is the General Assignment and Corporate Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Do you have news on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.