Former Summers County Commissioner Jerry Berry was sentenced yesterday, December 2nd, to an additional 1-10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $53,346 to the owner of WVyourWay, Bill Hawkins.
Mr. Berry pled guilty last month to a count of Fraudulent Schemes against WVyourWay, the company he worked for handling their books and customer service. He had been hired in May of 2009 and began embezzling from nearly his first day on the job. It wasn’t until May of the next year (2010) that it was confirmed to Mr. Hawkins that Mr. Berry was embezzling money when Mr. Berry refused to turn over the books and instead threatened to destroy them. Therefore, Mr. Hawkins fired Mr. Berry and ordered him to turn over all records.
The next day Jerry Berry registered a business with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office with an identical name, but as a corporation. A practice which is no longer allowed by the Secretary of States Office. With his new company name and as part of his scheme, he continued to cash checks made out to WVyourWay and represent himself to still be working for the company.
Mr. Berry was ordered through a letter from the attorney for WVyourWay to cease and desist and to return equipment to the company still in his possession. However, Mr. Berry continued his embezzlement and fraudulent scheme and never returned anything belonging to WVyourWay.
Mr. Hawkins was not able to get any law enforcement agency to do an investigation even though he had evidence of over $3,000 Mr. Berry had embezzled; which is more than enough to prove a felony took place. However, undeterred, Mr. Hawkins continued to seek justice and conducted his own investigation.
WVyourWay was finally allowed to view bank records belonging to the company, but which had been in the sole possession of Mr. Berry through his fraudulent scheme and discovered the amount he had actually stolen was $46,646. At that point the Prosecuting Attorney for Mercer County, Scott Ash, brought an indictment through the Mercer County Grand Jury against Mr. Berry in December of 2012.
Mr. Hawkins was later told by an attorney in the prosecutor’s office, “I’ve been in the prosecutor’s office over 20 years and in all that time I’ve never seen a private citizen bring an indictment against another citizen without law enforcement help.” However, Mr. Hawkins would have to wait another four years before he would finally see justice.
After the original judge recused himself and the following judge (who had thrown Mr. Berry’s original plea deal out because it was illegal) accepted a federal judgeship, Judge Robert Irons was assigned the case.
Jerry Berry once again pled guilty to a Fraudulent Scheme charge and the state agreed to drop the Embezzlement charge in return. Yesterday, December 2, 2016, Mr. Berry faced Judge Irons in court dressed in an orange jumpsuit and shackles from his previous conviction of embezzling from Summers County while he served the citizens of that county as one of their three county commissioners.
Before sentencing Mr. Hawkins was allowed to give a victim impact statement and as part of that statement he read a letter from his youngest daughter who had been a teenager at the time of Mr. Berry’s crime. In that statement Anna Hawkins stated, “This man had taken away everything. Now, money is just money, but we all know that to survive we need some, and this man didn’t care how much of it he took; he never thought of these consequences. As long as at the end of the day his pocket felt fatter and his heart felt blacker.”
Mr. Berry verbally said he took responsibility for his actions, but in reality he tried to make himself out to look like the victim in spite of the evidence against him and his own guilty plea. When it came time to be sentenced Judge Irons told Mr. Berry that he found his conduct and inability to accept responsibility for his actions, “reprehensible.” He then ordered Mr. Berry to pay $53,346 in restitution to Mr. Hawkins and to serve 1-10 years in prison consecutively to the time he was already serving for his crime against the people of Summers County. Meaning, Jerry Berry will serve an additional 1-10 years in prison after satisfying the previous conviction.
After the sentencing Mr. Hawkins was asked how he felt and he responded, “All I ever wanted was justice in this case. Jerry Berry had put me and my family through a tremendous ordeal, the extent of only me and my daughter Anna truly know. I don’t feel overjoyed, but I do feel satisfaction in feeling justice has finally been served.”
Mr. Berry was led away in handcuffs with the knowledge he would be spending at least another year in prison for his crimes.
Near the border between Summers and Monroe Counties in West Virginia, sits the village of Forest Hill and Wake Robin Gallery. The gallery is a pottery shop which sits next to a church where two future Presidents of the United States camped during the Civil War. It doesn’t appear that much has changed in this small mountain community.
On December 3rd the Wake Robin Gallery is having an open house from 10 to 4 along with demonstrations, refreshments, live music and door prizes.
I remember my first visit to Forest Hill and Wake Robin Gallery. It seemed to be the perfect store in perfect community. It’s the kind of place a traveler through the state calls a gem. The gallery appears to be in an old store or post office, which lends to its charm. Upon entering you discover a delightful array of treasures which seem to sparkle from the natural light and the display is a reflection of the artist who created it.
Marcia Springston is a kind, generous and talented potter, who also happens to have been blind from birth. Biblical stories of blind potters come to mind as this gentle woman greets her customers whom she always seems to happy to see.
Marcia recently created her own website which shows off some of her treasures. You may want to go to www.WakeRobinGallery.com and discover some of those treasures for yourself.
If you’re planning on coming by to enjoy this great event and meet this talented artist, you can find other things to do while in Forest Hill and Summers County by going to www.Hinton.WVyourWay.com and searching all the things you’re interested in under our “Tourism” heading. Be sure to narrow your search to Summers County, or you may search everything in Forest Hill or Summers County by clicking the “Select All” button before narrowing your search to the specific location.
You can find even more events on the www.Hinton.WVyourWay.com Event page.
Clint Eastwood had a major hit some years back with a movie called “The Bridges of Madison County.” In the movie he went around taking pictures of the covered bridges of that county and had a romantic interlude with a local housewife played by Meryl Streep.
I had a similar adventure taking photographs of the bridges in Monroe County. Clint and I took pictures of covered bridges in a county named after a President and both counties started with the letter “M.” That’s about as far as the similarities go.
I’m not a professional photographer, which my photos can easily prove. I also failed to have a romantic interlude with any of the local married women. First, I don’t think my wife, who was with me at the time, would have thought it was romantic. Secondly, I don’t look like Clint Eastwood.
Still, the bridges are well-worth seeing and they have interesting stories behind them, which you can read more about on www.MonroeCo.WVyourWay.com. The Laurel Creek Bridge is the smallest remaining covered bridge in West Virginia. The bridge is also still in use, so you can drive across it.
The Indian Creek Covered Bridge was built by two teenagers in the early 1900’s. Pause and let that sink in for a moment. I was a teenager four decades ago and I can’t say that I ever came across any teenagers in all the decades between that could have built a covered bridge. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment. (That’s a little 70’s lingo to prove how old I am.)
Oh, and as a disclaimer, I did not take the photos in this article of the bridges. They look way too nice; therefore, they could not have possibly been taken by me.
So go to www.MonroeCo.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Tourism” heading and then scroll down and check the “Covered Bridges” keyword. At the bottom of the page narrow your search to Monroe County and hit the “Search” button to find the bridges of Monroe County.
If you want to start an argument in West Virginia, the best way to do so is to start talking hot dogs. After all, is it chili or sauce that goes on a hot dog? Does a true West Virginia hot dog have to include slaw? Is it really a hot dog if no condiments are put on it? The best part of any argument; though, is who has the best hot dogs in the state?
My personal choice was always the Clendenin DQ hot dog. You see, my relatives lived near Clendenin and as a kid whenever we went to visit them the treat of the trip was to get hot dogs at the Clendenin Dairy Queen. Never mind that my brother-in-law said they tasted like a wet paper bag. To me, they were heaven.
New River Citgo
Hinton Dairy Queen
Then, in June, the floods hit and the Clendenin DQ was destroyed and the word on the street is it will not be rebuilt. I am now in search of the new best hot dog in the state of West Virginia. I’ve had hot dogs all over this state and I must say that there are some delicious hot dogs out there. Which begs the question…
Who has the best hot dog in West Virginia?
King Tut Drive-In
Since I’ve not had a hot dog at every hot dog place in the state, then I’m going to ask you what you think. I’ll include some of the good places I know about, and I’m also going to include some of the places I’ve heard about, but haven’t yet the opportunity to sample.
If your favorite hot dog venue isn’t included in the poll, please let me know about them in the comments section so I can possibly include them in a new poll.
There is short term opportunity for this community to acquire the E.I. Terry Co property and preserve an important piece of our town’s history. By creating a non profit organization to purchase this property, preserving the structure, and developing it as an event center for public use, this piece of Peterstown’s history can remain a historic landmark in town.
FYI- The building is about 80 years old. This masonry structure is fundamentally sound. It needs rehabilitation of some basics – plumbing, wiring, heating, restrooms. The rubber roof has been maintained. A light inspection this week showed that the character of the building is still there and rehabilitation can be done.
The owners have agreed to allow two months for us to raise funds to purchase the property.
With positive results from a public meeting on March 10, a non profit is being organized and fund raising efforts have begun. The goal is $85,000 to purchase the property and get insurance.
There is a short time frame to raise this money—by mid April. This is a task, but it can be accomplished with your help!
We have posted a link for Donations on our site and ask that you not only Donate, but you share our page so other will have the opportunity to help.
Phase II-will be renovations of the building which will require lots of labor, materials, etc. and additional funds. We will need volunteers to help in this phase as well as money to make this happen. Once we own the buildings, we can apply for grants and assistance.
Our goal once we obtain these buildings and do the remodel is to develop an event center to provide educational, economic, and cultural experiences and opportunities for everyone in the area.
Please contact us with your questions and suggestions, and of course your pledges of support. firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website www.peterstownpg.org to keep updated on our progress. Mail donations to PO Box 778 Peterstown, WV 24963
Thank you in advance for your support and donations,
For years as I drove along Route 3 from Alderson to Hinton through Talcott, I would pass the statue of John Henry located in a turn as I drove over the mountain through which men had dug the railroad tunnel, and in which the legend of John Henry was born. Recently, as I drove through the area, I noticed an empty pedestal where the statue had once been. On my way back through I stopped to see his new home at the entrance of the actual tunnel.
The fun thing was that I chanced to drive along the railroad tracks just as a train was traveling by at 27 miles an hour. Yes, I raced the train and won! Which was no small feat considering the condition of the road and the many waterholes on the way to the park. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an easy drive, but not when you’re trying not to splash water on your vehicle after a recent rain.
The park was a nice one, with a picnic shelter, stage, walking trail and a small train for kids to play on. Also, it had the John Henry statue standing very near to the entrance of the tunnel where he battled a steam engine, and died. As a kid I remember reading about the legend and there are plenty of versions of the song to be found. Below is one such version. If you’d like to see more versions they can be found at the this website.
1.Some say he’s from Georgia,
Some say he’s from Alabam,
But it’s wrote on the rock at the Big Ben Tunnel,
That he’s an East Virginia Man,
That he’s an East Virginia man.
2.John Henry was a steel drivin’ man,
He died with a hammah in his han’,
Oh, come along boys and line the track
For John Henry ain’t never comin’ back,
For John Henry ain’t never comin’ back.
3.John Henry he could hammah,
He could whistle, he could sing,
He went to the mountain early in the mornin’
To hear his hammah ring,
To hear his hammah ring.
4.John Henry went to the section boss,
Says the section boss what kin you do?
Says I can line a track, I kin histe a jack,
I kin pick and shovel too,
I kin pick and shovel too.
5.John Henry told the cap’n,
When you go to town,
Buy me a nine pound hammah
An’ I’ll drive this steel drill down,
An’ I’ll drive this steel drill down.
6.Cap’n said to John Henry,
You’ve got a willin’ mind.
But you just well lay yoh hammah down,
You’ll nevah beat this drill of mine,
You’ll nevah beat this drill of mine.
7.John Henry went to the tunnel
And they put him in lead to drive,
The rock was so tall and John Henry so small
That he laid down his hammah and he cried,
That he laid down his hammah and he cried.
8.The steam drill was on the right han’ side,
John Henry was on the left,
Says before I let this steam drill beat me down,
I’ll hammah myself to death,
I’ll hammah myself to death.
9.Oh the cap’n said to John Henry,
I bleeve this mountain’s sinkin’ in.
John Henry said to the cap’n, Oh my!
Tain’t nothin’ but my hammah suckin’ wind,
Tain’t nothin’ but my hammah suckin’ wind.
10.John Henry had a cute liddle wife,
And her name was Julie Ann,
And she walk down the track and nevah look back,
Goin’ to see her brave steel drivin’ man,
Goin’ to see her brave steel drivin’ man.
11.John Henry had a pretty liddle wife,
She come all dressed in blue.
And the last words she said to him,
John Henry I been true to you,
John Henry I been true to you.
12.John Henry was on the mountain,
The mountain was so high,
He called to his pretty liddle wife,
Said Ah kin almos’ touch the sky,
Said Ah kin almos’ touch the sky.
13.Who gonna shoe yoh pretty liddle feet,
Who gonna glove yoh han’,
Who gonna kiss yoh rosy cheeks,
An’ who gonna be yoh man,
An’ who gonna be yoh man?
14.Papa gonna shoe my pretty liddle feet,
Mama gonna glove my han’,
Sistah gonna kiss my rosy cheeks,
An’ I ain’t gonna have no man,
An’ I ain’t gonna have no man.
15.Then John Henry told huh,
Don’t you weep an’ moan,
I got ten thousand dollars in the First National Bank,
I saved it to buy you a home,
I saved it to buy you a home.
16.John Henry took his liddle boy,
Sit him on his knee,
Said that Big Ben Tunnel
Gonna be the death of me,
Gonna be the death of me.
17.John Henry took that liddle boy,
Helt him in the pahm of his han’,
And the last words he said to that chile was,
I want you to be a steel drivin’ man,
I want you to be a steel drivin’ man.
18.John Henry ast that liddle boy,
Now what are you gonna be?
Says if I live and nothin’ happen,
A steel drivin’ man I’ll be,
A steel drivin’ man I’ll be.
19.Then John Henry he did hammah,
He did make his hammah soun’,
Says now one more lick fore quittin’ time,
An’ I’ll beat this steam drill down,
An’ I’ll beat this steam drill down.
20.The hammah that John Henry swung,
It weighed over nine poun’,
He broke a rib in his left han’ side,
And his intrels fell on the groun’,
And his intrels fell on the groun’.
21.All the women in the West
That heard of John Henry’s death,
Stood in the rain, flagged the east bound train,
Goin’ where John Henry dropped dead,
Goin’ where John Henry dropped dead.
22.John Henry’s liddle mother
Was all dressed in red,
She jumped in bed, covered up her head,
Said I didn’t know my boy was dead,
Said I didn’t know my boy was dead.
23.They took John Henry to the White House,
And buried him in the san’,
And every locomotive come roarin’ by,
Says there lays that steel drivin’ man.
In many states mowing your lawn means jumping on the riding lawn mower, taking a few turns around the yard, trimming, then sauntering back in the house as the Lord of your domain. However, West Virginia can be a bit different when it comes to mowing a lawn. We have an added dimension here called goats. I’ve considered buying a couple goats and a moveable fence myself. You see, I have parts of my lawn which are very steep. Too steep, in fact, for the riding lawn mower. Also too steep for a push mower or me in a pair of boots with worn and slick soles. As a matter of a fact, I recently searched http://www.WVyourWay.com for a place to buy some boots that could stick to the side of a cliff. I clicked on “Businesses,” then scrolled down to the sub-heading “Clothing” and clicked on it so the expanded menu would drop down. I then clicked on boots, hit the search button below the map and found two businesses in Lewisburg that sold them. When buying a pair, I asked the clerk if they would stick to the sides of a cliff. Low and behold, they actually do! It made trimming my lawn a whole lot easier.
As I’d mow my lawn, I’d wonder if there was anyone in West Virginia that had a steeper lawn than mine to mow. That’s when I drove through a section of McDowell County and discovered two lawns that made mine look like a beach. I seriously doubt if even goats would work on those lawns! I took some photos, but to be honest, I don’t think the pictures reveal just how steep those lawns are. Maybe one of the lawn mower companies could hold a contest of the steepest lawns in the country. If so, I’m sure these lawns in McDowell County would take a prize!
If you have photos of a lawn you think is too steep for goats, feel free to send some and we’ll see if we can find steeper lawns.
Driving across West Virginia I often come across interesting, and sometimes odd things that attract curious attention. One such occurrence recently happened to me while driving along Rt. 20 from Buckhannon to Clarksburg. A part of that road goes through the small community of Peck’s Mill in Barbour County. Years ago there was an old store located in the community and as far as I could tell that was the only reason the speed limit actually dropped along this short stretch of highway. Traveling north, just after passing where the old store used to be, the driver negotiates a moderate turn and then passes over a small bridge before hitting a long straight stretch that I was always excited to see so I could pass whatever slow-poke who was in front of me at the time. On this day, however, as I hit the straight-a-way, cars were stopped for no apparent reason. I hadn’t seen a construction sign and so I had no idea why vehicles were just sitting there.
That is, until I saw a movement in the distance at the other end of the road. A man had stopped traffic and was looking in the same direction. I couldn’t make out the dark movement ahead in the distance, but it seemed to slowly grow and I could tell something large, black and apparently rumbling, was coming my way. As this dark mass got closer I laughed to see a herd of cows being driven by a cowboy driving a pickup truck. It was disappointing not to see a horse, but then, one doesn’t see a cattle drive in West Virginia every day. I took some pictures of the curious event and felt nostalgic for days of yesteryear when this wouldn’t have been such an uncommon sight.
To find some things in this area, go to www.WVyourWay.com and click on the heading of your choice. Scroll down and check as many keywords as interest you, narrow your search to either the Mountain Lakes region or Mountaineer Country on the map, then hit the search button just below the map. Everything you’re interested in that is registered with WVyourWay will come up complete with all contact information. Add to itinerary to get written directions on how to get to these places, then visit and enjoy. One last thing, don’t forget to mention WVyourWay as the way you discovered their business.
Get ready for the 19th annual Derby Day Celebration in Lewisburg, WV! Gateway Industries, of Ronceverte, created and sponsors the “Derby Day Run for the Roses” fund raiser each year. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May the 4th, from 3:30 until 7:30 PM at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds. Each year an average of 500 participants attend the event that models Derby Day as if everyone were actually in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides having fun and giving ladies a good reason to wear decorated hats, the event is designed to help raise money for a very worthwhile organization in Gateway Industries.
Many local businesses, as well as the event attendees, support Gateway’s efforts to provide employment, training and services to individuals with disabilities. Gateway offers assembly, packaging, warehousing and distribution to meet custom sub-contracting needs. To learn more about this worthwhile organization go www.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Business” heading. Scroll down and click on the sub-heading “Business Services” and then check the boxes next to the keywords “Assembly, Distribution, or Warehousing.” You may also scroll down further to the sub-heading “Industry” and either check that box, or click on the word and check the keyword “Industrial Services.”
At Derby Day you will find great food, fun music, a spectacular silent auction and a chance to win some great prizes. You’ll enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby on large screen televisions with a lot of fine folks. Keep in mind that you’ll have a great time and as well a memorable experience. Last but not least, you’ll be helping a very good organization – “Gateway Industries.”