Kelley Stalnaker, Casey Johnson, Chester Bradley, Winston and Bernie

Winston’s owners Kelley Stalnaker, left, and Casey Johnson pose with Chester Bradley, right, and his dog Bernie, who found Winston in the woods this year, saving his life.

RIVESVILLE — Chester Bradley didn't expect to be honored for finding Winston the dog tied up in a garbage bag in the woods earlier this year, saving his life with the help of his dog, Bernie. Nevertheless, Rivesville Town Council recognized Bradley and two others Tuesday at their council meeting.

“I never expected it, it’s kind of cool,” Bradley said of getting the recognition. “We were just out walking one day and there was a bag laying in the woods.”

The council presented certificates to the three individuals being recognized, which included Bradley, local resident Gary Morris and the town’s Police Chief John McLaughlin.

Winston’s new owners were also present at the council meeting, along with Winston himself, all there to help give their thanks to Bradley and Bernie. While they have been in contact with Bradley since they became Winston’s owners, they were happy his home town gave him some recognition.

“We thank him just about every week,” said Casey Johnson, one of Winston’s owners. “Winston wouldn’t be here without him.”

Suze Dempsey, a board member with the Marion County Humane Society, also attended the meeting and said that the recognition of Bradley and Bernie was well-deserved.

“You just concentrate on the positive,” she said. “Anyone that speaks up for abused animals are heroes.”

For McLaughlin, being recognized in this way was somewhat of a surprise, because he is mainly focused on performing his duties as Police Chief in Rivesville. He never expected to be awarded or recognized.

“It’s nice to be recognized by the town,” McLaughlin said. “I wasn’t expecting this. It’s a small town but I’m glad they appreciate me. It’s nice of them.”

McLaughlin has worked part-time in the town for about two years but also works as a professor at Fairmont State University. The mayor cited this as one of the reasons for his recognition.

“He also was instrumental in getting the Police Academy started up at Fairmont State, which is a major milestone,” said Yvonne Liberto, mayor of Rivesville. “So we’re thankful he’s working here part-time.”

Morris helped to organize a Rivesville reunion earlier this year, which earned him his recognition by the council. He said the event was meant to just be a fun way to reconvene with everyone who lives in or is from Rivesville, so the reward was a surprise to him as well.

“I appreciate the heck out of it,” Morris said. “The biggest thing about the Rivesville reunion is trying to get the locals out. You can get people from out of state but you can’t get the locals out.”

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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