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Mountain Messenger
Lewisburg, West Virginia
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May 1, 1994     Mountain Messenger
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May 1, 1994
 

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@ • • In i'esponse 1o tim upcoming May 10 election Tile Mountain Messenger polled .all the candi- dates running for the Stale Sen- ate and House of Delegate oMces on these topic.s: "What do you think are the three most hnpor- rant isstles faclng Greenbrier county?" and "What will you do to remedy these flems?" We also asked~)resent legislators to say if they"voted for the pay raise and why they voted for- or against-it. Following are the an- swers of the candidates who re- sponded to tile questionnaire. Scarles I feel the most pressing prob- lem we face is unemployment in West Virginia. First we must stream-line the state govern- ment. The State of West Virginia is our largest employer, requir- ing huge amounts of revenue to exist. To relieve this, one must start at the top, elhninating some "extra" crated positions, and continue down the line. These funds place added tax burdens and additional regula- tions on each of us, but mainly on small businesses, the back- bone of our economy. Ideally, some of tile services provided by our government could be pro- vided by private industry. We must eliminate state agen- cies that duplicate services and regulations the federal govern- ment already provides, l suggest we do away with the West Vir- ginia Compensation Department and insert a new program in-line with out sister states. For ex- ample, the forestry industry pays 35% compensation rates, 5% gets through the system, 30% goes for administrative costs. This should be reversed. Savings from cutting out waste can be passed on to businesses In the form of tax relief. The more regulations and taxes and state imposes, the more costly state government becomes. We MUST make West Virglnia at- tractive to business for our econ- omy to improve. Secondly, we must care lbr our elderly and the disabled. The first promise to man was to "honor your father and mother, that your days may be long," We, as such as the $.05 per gallon tax on gas, Increasing sanilatlon disposal rates, etc. If you take even an additional nickel from a person on a fixed income they have no way to get it back. After meeting with prominent leaders of retirement groups in Green- brter County, my number one priority would be to revive the Homestead Exemplion Acl. Then we must address ways to relieve the higher cost of living and health care. To make our government more effective, we must also im- pose term limitations lbr Legisla- tors. The current pay raise passed by our Legislators is an example of total disregard for constituents. The average person in West Virgiriia makes less than $!5,000 per year. It seems the longer our delegates stay in of- flee, the more apalhetlc and complacent they beconte--ln- sured of re-election by name rec- ognition alone. I recommend a maximum term limit of no more than eight years. cies, licensing requirements, and restrictions so thai existing em- ployers can compete and main- tain the jobs we now have. Sec- ondly, I will compete and main- lain the jobs we now have. Sec- ondly, I will conlhme to work with the Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas Multi-County Eco- noinic Development Authority created by the Legislature this year to help existing employers and recruit new employers and work wilh the West Virginia In- frastructure and Job Develop- ment Council to bring in funds for water and waste water proj- ects thai are so critical to eco- nomic development. Schoonover If re-elected as State Senator, I would support the building of the proposed Greenbrler Valley Transpark at Maxwelton in Greenbrier County. A new economic era is being spawned by three interacting forces of immense significance: A. The globallzatlon of busi- ness transactions. B. A shift to just-in-tlme manufacturing and inventory control methods. C. The growing needs of firms to dispatch smaller, more fre- quent shipments quickly to dis- tant markets. This project could, over a pe- riod of time, produce 30,000 new jobs for the Greenbrler Valley and adjacent areas. And new jobs Is what Greenbrier County and the State of West Virginia needs. I voted against the Legislative pay raise because I don't feel such a pay raise was justified. The Mountain Messenger, Sunday, May 1, 1994 7A Letters from I A Fair and equal t&xation: AI- thot,gh there was no new tax in- crease at the state level Ihis year, the three year siatewide reappraisal rest,lted in many in- dividuals feeling the squeeze of increased property tmxes. During the upcoming Legislative Interim Committee period, I will ask lbr authorization for the study of the impact on individuals and busi- nesses of the reappraisal. Public Safety: The rest of this year we will prepare drafts for further revisions to our criminal and sentencing slatutes, DUI sanctions, family violence pre- vention remedies and juvenile delinquency laws with Ihe pri- mary focus on whal best pro- tects public safety. Health Care: We must con- tinue to be creative in expandil}g~.. the state's Medicaid Progrmn to cover more tminsured children. This will reduce the disincentive that forced parents to choose welfare over work to keep medi- cal coverage for theh" children. I voted for House Bill 4031 which increased the salaries for stale officers• Although the legis- lative salary increase is indeed fair g,'une Ibr criticism, I believe thai the posllion, if performed diligently and in a manner con- sistent with its constitutional status as an equal branch of government, warr..nted some in- crease. The job, if clone properly is virtually ftfll-tlme, although l do not advocate a year-round legislature. tlonal amendment. Once the vot- ers have spoken, the illusion of easy money being dangled before stale and local governmenls will disappear. A third issue facing many Greenbrier County senior citi- zens who are forced to live on a ILxed income are the several pro- posals to revise the Homeslead Exemption. One proposal was that moving through the last leg- Islative session woukl have com- pletely ellminaled the automatic $20,000 exemption and would have replaced it with a $40,000 exemption granted only to those who could qualify under an un- slated and undefined ineans tesl. I oppose such a change un- til that means test is specifically spelled out and its impact on senior cilizens and county gov- ernments is fully known. Finally, I voted for Ihe legisla- tive pay raise as a mailer of hon- esly. The easiest thing to do would have been Io vote "No." Then, if re-elected, I would have been sent back to Charleston where they would hand me a check for the new salary. Then what would I do? At that point, if I had voted "No," I would have to refuse that pay raise, thereby forcing lne to deny my own fam- ily. Anyone who goes htto public service soon finds out thai you seem to always find time for eg- eryone else but your own family. So, for the first lhne In the six years thai I have been in the I,egislalure, I put nay family first, and all of the lamilies of those who will come alter me. How- ever, I know that there are many who will only see this one issue in the coming elections. The danger of thai is that there are many ('.ritit.'al issues that need to be addressed during this cant- paign, such as tile ones that I discussed earlier, along with health (.'ale, workers compensa- lion rales and benefits, properly rights, environmental regula- lions, higher college tuitions, domestic violence, school con- strucllon and maintenance, and welfare reform. Bul, politics is a lot like baseball: People do not pay attention to your baiting av- erage, Just what you (lid your last lhne up al bat. ! Wallace The most important issue fac- ing the people in the Greenbrter Valley is jobs--how to create new jobs and how to hold onto the Jobs we have. In twmg to land new jobs, we find ourselves com- peting with every other county, every other state, and every other region In this nation. The recent passage of House Bill 4587 wiP give us a competitive edge ii. ~.ruiting new busi- nesses, b Ad small, to come to this area. rhis bill gives statu- tory authority and a funding mechanism 40 the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Authority. To supplement this local ef- fort, I support the passage of a proposed amendment to the constitution on the ballot this fall that would allow the state to sell bonds to provide financing Gerl "ltte biggest Issue In this cam- paign Is the huge 131% pay raise that the legislature voted Itself. I am outraged thai this legislature, including both Greenbrier Cotlnty delegates Bill Wallace and Jim Rowe voted for this irresponsible pay raise. Our legislators handed themselves a raise from $6,500 to $15,00/) for the 60-day session, plus failer expense accounts--and they doubled the aJnount they get for special sessions when they don't finish their work on lime. which is every year. The biggest bo- nanza will not hit the taxpayers until these guys retire and they start collecting fatter--much fat- ter--pensions. The rest of us get pay raises when our job performance mer- its an Increase. This last session for commercial water and sewerof the legislature dldn•t merit projects and the construction of anything. It was one of the shell buildings. New employersworst--it stunk. Unemployment look not only for able workers, but also for buildings that are ready to move into with all utili- ties ready to go, and so far they are finding these things ready for them only in olher states. However, you cannot just fix your sights upon new jobs. but must also help, or at least get out of the way of, businesses that are already here--most of them small businesses ranging in West Virginia has reached a crisis level. In Greenbrier County more than one out of lbur work- age people who have not given up all hope of finding a job is unemployed. Thars right--more than 25%. Despile this epklemic of unemployment thai causes our kids to leave the slate to find work, the Legislature did noth- Ing of substance to create jobs. With that kind of performance. from the town barber to the local no pay raise whatever is Justl- trucking company, This takes a fled'he only argument In favor of long-term commitment toward a reduction of businesses taxes this'n-ae-ga'salary raise was that and regnlatlons that stifle the The epidemic level of unem- ployment in Greenbrler County is anolher issue in this cam- paign. Because more than three- quarters of the new jobs in the economy come from small busi- nesses. Anmng the components of a legislative initiative to put our people back to work would be a small business starter pro- granl thai would help with the start-up capital thai prevents so many people fl'om opening new small businesses. A guaranteed loan program woukl serve the same purpose. Public works wonld be another component of a solid jobs plan. As a well-con- nected bnsiness site recruiter told me, the one thing this slate could (Io Ihal would have new employers knocking down the doors would be to make our school system ihe best in the country, and a serious jobs plan must include a component re: garding tile qualily of education in our stale. Heallh care is another issue ill tills campaign. If every crimi- nal gets a lawyer, every West Vh'ginian should have the right Io see a doctor. Last year the leg- Islature killed a heallh care re- form bill in tile linal nloments of Ihe session. This year health care didn't even gel that far. OIl(.'e again, special inleresls cont rolled t he leRislat ure. Malcomb I feel the three most impor- tant Issues facing the Greenbrier Valley are (I) taxes (2) economy (unemployment) (3) health care. I want to write a bill to repeal the embarrassing, colossal, pay raises which this legislature passed in regard to the Gover- nor, Legislators, Judges, Depart- ment Heads and Political Ap- pointees. The taxpayers will be working overtime to pay these pension funds. I want to roll back the exces- sive gasoline tax and put a cap. on real estate taxes on our homes. Our senior citizens must have their Homestead Exemp- tion limit Increased to $40,000, There must be a better system for Fair Equalization of property appraisals on all property--with criminal penalties implemented and enforced when State Tax Commissioners and County As- sessors fail to comply with the requirements of the West Vir- ginia Code. If a person is elected or appointed to a county or state office, he or she should not be entitled to retirement benefits or years service if appointed to an- other state job for public service, other than social security. {2) The economy and unem- ployment in our district is an alarming situation. Our local and state leaders fail to realize that the interstate highways go though other states as our own. '111ese interstate highways carry jobs and employment sources away, as well as to, our state. Our leaders must get up off their seats In Charleston and put the nation on notice that West Vir- ginia is tired of being put on the back burner and ts ready to show the business and Job mar- ket that West Virginia is the state to be located in, that this leader will aggressively, relent- lessly and competitively beat or match any other job or business source that another state would be trying to entice to improve its employment and economy. This is the only answer, 1 see at this time in order for us to survive. I will not try to come tip with more innovative ways to raise taxes• but I will try to be innovative in finding ways to bring the jobs to our area--with our people to benefit. Third, as for health care, ! feel that if we can: attract employ- ment to our state; drastically cut the unnecessary spending (em- it would attract a belier quality ployment and state motor pool growth of small companies, of legislator. I say thal If you're vehicles that the state has seen • Another issue that surpris- running for office Ibr the money, running for the wrong fit to spend on unproductive ap- ingly arose in the Greenbrieryou're . , . pointees, employees and the Valley recently was the introduc- reason and you're a aanger tostate owned and leased vehicles, lion of riverboat and casino gam .... t.llc People should run for the v'~ .... these people drive); do away with btlng into lhls state's financial-- office to serve, not to make elected and aooointed office and this county's employment--money. Also, If the legislature holders pension'fu'nds. I feel that picture. Ever since I first ran for really wanted to attract better office tmsuccessfully In 1984, I people why dld they walt until state should take over the West Virginia Turnpike by means of Rowe have always promised to vole ,t,t"~er tlae filing deadline to pass, condemnation and put all the facThe most important isstlesagainst casino gambling and l ,hl~ huge increase? I do agree ey tlaat has been making a ng. the citizens in Greenbrier stand by that promise ~}nfortu- ~a~t we~need better legislators-- private few rich into the State County are not limited to three. 1 nately though Ihe~e " • • " are OUl-Ol- state forces at Work that will at least better than those leglsla- Treasury. Hopefully with strict think the four most lmpor}ant turn this Into an obsessive, all- tors who voted in favor of thisaccountability from these cuts Issues are economic develop- encompassing Issue every elec- pay raise, and funds, w-e should be able to ment, that Is, both job retention as well as job creation" fair and lion year, probably exerting moneylf ! mnfromelected,the payl wlllraise,take andthe affordin the nation.the best health care plan equal taxation; health care; and enormous mnuence on political donate tt to the projects that public safety, campaigns whose results will be benefit poor and middle Income Economic development: First, made dependent on this one is-West virglnlans. These people. I will continue to look at existing sue alone. Therefore, to solvewho work hard forty hours per state and local government pro- this problem once and for all, I week for fifty-two weeks per grams, regulations, structures favor allowing the voters to de- year, often make less than the and policies dealing with tax cide this issue through a state- members of the legislature now burdens, worker's compensailon wide referendum on a constitu-get for two months of'work." programs, environmental poll- noted the advertising claims of Greenbrier County's insurors, "W~ settle no claims without court contest.') We have worked through an attorney in filing a claim for compensation. All that we ini- tially requested was that Super- intendent Baldwin authorize payment of our son's medical bills. Since then, Greenbrler's Charleston law firm has sued me for negligence (in not having pre- vented my son's agonizing injury on supposedly school-main- tained equipment). I was re- quired to hire a lawyer to defend myself against possible claims by my son (at whose hospital bedside I spent the first painful night}. Recently, a ruling was made as to lhe merits of our com- plaint. This was decided without testimony, but based on Chapter 19, Article 25, Section 2 . , . of the Code of West Virginia. The argument as made by school board lawyers was the Green- brier County School Board is a "landowner'; that, because this "landowner" does not receive compensation for use of facili- ties, it is not liable for an injury on sakl "landowner's" property. I question this interpretation. As a Elizabeth Brannon Sampson of Clay County is a candidate for the office of the State Democratic Executive Committee, 1 l th Dis- trict. She states her reason for run- ning: "I am running for the Democratic State Executive Committee because I believe our Party has been representing only a select few and it is time we get back on track and be a Demo- cratic Party that reflects the views of the majority of its mem- bership. I offer leadership com- mitted to positive change." Elizabeth is the daughter of a coal miner and was born and raised in Clay County. She graduated from Clay High School and holds a BS degree from Ak- ron University and a Master's Degree from Case Western Re- serve University. She is a WV Li- censed certified Clinical Social Worker. Her work experience includes; Executive Secretary; Administra- tive Assistant to a Vice President of Industrial Relations; and owner/operator of a horse breed- ing farm; a Child Protective Serv- ice Worker and Director/Thera- pist of a mental health facility. Sampson has ru~ for state senate; actively lobbies at the legislature for quality of llfe is- sues; worked in a Presldentlal campaign; and was a volunteer Campaign Manager for a candl- date for Governor. If elected, Sampson states she will serve to the best of her abil- ity and will be responsive to Democratic Party members. She resides at Ivydale with her hus- band, Fred. Her telephone num- ber is 286-2204. taxpayer, I feel I am compensat- ing the school system for use and should, therefore, expect ac- countability. Further, the ruling was that, despite the fact that Greenbrier County was insured, there was no liability for the in- jury. Most significantly, I disagree with the idea that Greenbrier County was not involved "will- fully and maliciously" in thls. By the very fact that the playground equipment was not maintained, aIIowlng the slats to open to the width of a child's leg, I see willful negligence. We have the rights, as parents, to assume the equip- ment in our schools ts safe and have been properly cared for. This was not done, ' Based on thls court ruling, we owe in excess of $6,000 In medi- cal bills. Greenbrler County de- nies any obligation. Our option at this point is to appeal to the State Suprelne Court. I find it extremely upsetting that Mr. Baldwin and, therefore, Green- brier County, denies responstbil- try for a needlessly incurred and preventable accident and would choose to "hid behind the skirts" of a high dollar insurance com- pany rather than be accountable for childrens' safety. My warning is thus: "Parents, be advised. Your county will not accept responsibility• may not (based on this Incident} ade- quately maintain school prem- ises, and will duck and run in an emergencyF Is this what you'd expect from your chil- drens' caretakers? Cheryl Smith Sinks Grove Flat Mountain Woman Seeks Board of Education Seat Marcella M. Smith Marcella M. Smith of Flat Mountaln (Alderson) has an- nounced her candidacy for elec- tion to the Monroe County Board of Education. She is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Cleo Smith. Her fa- ther was a miner for 44 years and her mother was a full time housewlfe. They had 10 chil- dren, seven of whom graduated from Usnlon High School and one from Alderson High School. She is the widow of the late Ralph J. Smith who worked for the Monroe Counly Board of Education 28 years as a bus driver and mechanic. Ralph served in World War It sent her to Union High School where she worked for 27 years, as cook. If elected to the Monroe County Board of Education, Smith pledges to represent the kids who go to school every day and the people of Monroe County to the best of her ability. Your support at the polls on May 10 will be support for the people of Monroe County and will be very much appreclaled by Mar- celia M. Smith. from 1941-46. They have one son, R.J. Smilh, Jr., a graduate of Union High School. He Is married to Kay Reed Smith, and they have three daughters, Jennifer, Mal- lsha and Krlsten. Smith worked for the Monroe County Board of Education for 34 years as head cook for seven years at Midway Schaol, Flat Mountain a one-room school, lunch room cook for 38 students for $1 a day and did the janitor work for $24 a month. When they closed that school, they