Catherine Bowles played an important part in helping Wilkesville in many ways and worked hard to help attract the Family Dollar Store to the village. (Courtesy of Cardaras Funeral Home Website)
Catherine Bowles played an important part in helping Wilkesville in many ways and worked hard to help attract the Family Dollar Store to the village. (Courtesy of Cardaras Funeral Home Website)

It has been a busy fall  as it seems the fall sports season came and went and with the warmer than usual October, it did seem like fall was quite as colorful as usual. There were both happy and sad times for county residents.

First and foremost, the county has lost two women, Catherine Bowles and Loretta "Loti" Faris, who had an impact on the people of Vinton County and left a trademark on their crafts.

Bowles was the Mayor of Wilkesville for eight years, a secretary at the Wilton Elementary School for a quarter of a century -- where I met her for the first time while also working at the Vinton County Elections Board Office. During his comments, Wilkesville Village Clerk Joe White explained Bowles wanted her community to grow and prosper.

“Catherine Bowles was dedicated to working to improve her community,” White reflected. “I served with her over the eight years she was Mayor -- and in more recent years as she was a Village Council member. She led the way making contacts, calling and writing, to the corporate offices of the Family Dollar store encouraging them to locate in Wilkesville. Thanks to Catherine we now enjoy another thriving business in our community. She was always willing to volunteer for events, especially with the Fourth of July Parade. She also saw that new trees were planted on the Town Square when they were needed. We are grateful for her commitment to our community."

As for Faris, she played several key roles in the Sheriff’s Office -- including administrative roles, supporting the Sheriff and deputies in everything from impound to drug surveillance and seizures.

Vinton County Sheriff Ryan Cain noted, “Loti worked her tail off as she started as a volunteer and later became a paid employee.”

Commissioner Mark Fout stated Faris was an advocate for a new Sheriff’s Office which the county is in the process of moving right now.

“She viewed law enforcement operations as an important part of the county’s responsibility and felt their current office is not up to codes or standards,” Fout added. He noted in one of her last communications to him, Faris stated she dreamed the county would have a new Sheriff’s Office one day. The commissioner noted the county will get there but he is sad Loti will not be there to see it. The Vinton County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook Page, "She was an irreplaceable member of our team."

The Telegram wants to extend condolences to the families of both women -- who were truly some of the best of Vinton County.

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Congratulations to Viking Head Football Coach TJ Carper for winning the District Coach of the Year Award. Coach Carper has been a positive influence on the players during his first season. He led the Vikings to a 6-4 season and an 11th-place finish in the Division IV Region 15 rankings and a playoff berth. Carper has shown the community he is knowledgeable about football. He comes to the county from fine programs at Graham, Va. (a high school in Bluefield, Va.) and Marshall University, which are still going strong. He has also proven to be a class individual and sees himself as a teacher first and then a coach. During several interviews that I and others have conducted, he credits his staff and former coach Travis Bethel for the team’s success. He credits the fans and support groups and speaks positively about the community. Again, a well-deserved honor for him. Hopefully there will be many more great seasons to come. We will have an interview with the coach in an upcoming edition.

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I wanted to send thanks to the Governor’s Office of Appalachia Director John Carey and his staff for working for the county in any why they can. Carey is from Wellston and has always worked hard for the county. Without his second-chance bill for school funding which was passed when he was in the legislature, the county may not have gotten the new middle or elementary schools. Under the past formula, the county would have fallen back to the bottom after receiving help for the high school. I know he is always interested in water, broadband and educational advances as well. Carey is a true champion of Southern Ohio and the people in the 33 Appalachian counties of our state.

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Well, it is the holiday season and many activities are coming up including the Christmas in Downtown event on December 4th from 3 until 6 p.m. There will also be a Christmas Bazaar at the Vinton County Middle School. Happy Holidays, everybody.