The top Botetourt Story in 2012: The Derecho
Few had heard of the word “Derecho,” but many know it now. Defined as a fast moving straight line weather system with tornado like winds, the weather event hit Botetourt around 8:45 p.m. on Friday June 29 and left thousands of Botetourt residents without power through early July. A brief but highly destructive weather event, devastated forests, landscaping, caused property damage and took down power lines when it sped through the area. It upturned trees, dropped trees on cars and homes, blasted the Buchanan Carnival and ultimately tested the patience of the customers of three different power companies in Boteourt County. Followed by a week of sweltering heat, the power grid failed for county water systems and gave newly hired EMS Director Carr Boyd a baptism without water. The Town of Fincastle postponed the 4th of July activities ’til the following Sunday.
Coming in almost like a series of terrible weather events were the trials and tribulations of Billy Joe Carter, former Buchanan Volunteer Fire Chief. In two of his more prominent altercations this year, Carter involved himself in a man with a gun event in Buchanan and the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Deprtment. He is also accused with Rape in another event, and currently sits in the Botetourt Craig Public Safety Building behind bars. He also came to fisticuffs with a citizen at the annual carnival and became involved in a word brawl with a Roanoke City Fire Captain. The Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department could not survive the stress and in the fall of this year, disbanded and Botetourt County EMS had to take over the fire department for the citizens. The Town of Buchanan will be responsible for the annual Carnival held for over 60 years as a fundraiser for the former volunteer fire department.
The Battle of the County Budget will likely continue. When County administrator Jerry Burgess retired in late winter, Kathleen Guzi assumed the helm. She hit the ground running. Over 400 people attended the end of March budget meeting in the Lord Botetourt High School auditorium that featured speakers from all walks of life. Ultimately a 7 cents per hundred real estate tax rate increase and and personal property tax rate increase filled gaps. The coming year promises to be as tight, if not more so.
Accidents involving cars and trucks continue to keep I-81 through Botetourt County a source of fire and rescue response as well as a source of contention for motorists. The area from Exit 162 north and south to mile marker 176 continues to be a source of accidents with weather and driver speed contributing to many of the crashes. The February accident that killed a trucker from Pennsylvania closed I-81 north for almost an entire day. Since then, numerous back-ups and more fatalities have been noted in the Botetourt View both online and on Facebook.
Former Buchanan Treasurer Wanda Smith embezzled thousands from the Town and was convicted in 2012 and is currently serving time for her crimes.
In the good news column, once again, Botetourt School students excelled academically as well as in Sports. Cloverdale Elementary School for the fourth year in a row achieved a Governor’s School of Excellence Award. James River High School Girl’s Track team were State Champs. Mike Jones of LBHS captured the state 2A wrestling crown for the heavy weight class. Numerous sports teams from both schools competed on the regional level and into the state level in sports.
No large new business located to Botetourt County, but several new small businesses located here. For a list search “Business” on the Botetourtview.com site.
The Botetourt View online offers monthly scroll downs for 2012. Check each month for a review of what happened in 2012.