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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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October 3, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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October 3, 2012
 

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PAGE !iH "No government ought to be without A censors and where the press is free, .t, ill.It no one ever will." -- Thomas Jefferson ,pirit of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE Wednesday, October 3, 2012 EDITORIAL i The adage is that one gets what one pays for. That can't be more true for residents of Ryan's Glen subdivision who thought they were getting nice new homes in a relatively inexpensive market only to discover that buying a home in West Virginia is a lot like playing a shell game without a pea. Witness the reaction of Jeffer- son County planning officials, West Virginia Division of High- ways officials and developers when they all learned that the houses these newly minted home- buyers purchased are slated for demolition as a result of a bypass route around Rippon that has been on the books for almost 10 years. Nobody seemed to have any explanation. It's difficult to fully grasp the level of breakdown in communi- cations in this matter especially given the fact that DOH claims ample warning was provided about the highway department's plans for the area. Even more, as was shown in a story by reporter Bryan Clark in last week's Spirit of Jefferson, resident Glen Hetzel in 2005 advised both Ryan's Glen developer Lou Athey as well as members of the Jefferson Coun- ty Planning Commission that the state made public its plans for the appears unlikely that all the sub- first initiated. Ultimately, which site was a proposed route for the new road way back in 2001. And division's house~ will be spa.fed is more expensive: scrapping U.S. 340 bypass, it brought up the matter again two unless the state were to switch plans to build the road or buying Quoting Hetzel: "My concern years later, course, if it even can. Can DOH all the properties in its path? All is where the new alignment of Ahmad claims there was no ex- now revisitroutes previously re- citizens, not just these homeown- 340 will be when it is done. It was cuse for anyone local not to know jected because of the impact on ers, should demand more from my understanding that it is going about the proposed road project, historic sites? their public Officials. through the middle of this prop- But documents show Athey had Ifnot, it won't be just these ho- Some years back then-Gov. Jee erty. I wondered if you folks had several exchanges with DOH as meowners who will pay the price. Manchin replaced state highway addressed that." ' he was moving through the ap- Because of officials' see-no-evil, signs that read "Wild, Wonder- As we now know, apparent- proval process; none of these ap- hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil ap- ful West Virginia" with the sly- ly the matter was not addressed, parently yielded anything in the proach to governing, the DOH is gin "Open for business." TheIe Not by planning commissioners, way of a warning, guaranteed tO spend a pretty pen- should have been a second sign by staff, by the developers, nor What comes next for these ny of our tax dollars to fix this. below for all the regular Joes ru- by the builders. As DOH engi- homeowners, some of whom The land could have come much ing to do'business in West Vir- neer Dirar Ahmad told residents haven't yet finished unpacking? cheaper if it had been acquired ginia. That one could have read, at a recent town hall meeting, the Despite assurances from DOH, it back when the road project was "Caveat emptor." LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Loughry doesn't stand with status quo I felt compelled to write to express how excited I am that West Virginians have an oppor- tunity to affect real and lasting change in our State with the up- coming Supreme Court election. Candidate Allen Loughry pro- vides West Virginians with that opportunity. As anyone who has met him or heard him speak can confirm, Loughry is a humble, down-to-earth and hard-working family man with a love of this state and has a heart for service. We have the rare opportunity to place on our Supreme Court an individual who is not only an in- credibly well-credentialed attor- ney with four law degrees, but whose intellect is matched by his obvious passion for fairness and equity in our courts: I, for one, am tired of our courts on. both a local and state level being monopolized by pol- iticians and millionaires. If our elected executive and legislative officials are supposed to repre- sent their constituency and reflect their values and ideals, shouldn't our judiciary do the same? Don't West Virginians deserve a Su- preme Court that is made up of jurists who attain their position through hard work, excellence in their profession and a dem- onstrated respect for the law? The Supreme Court should not be for sale to the highest bid- der. Loughry chose to fight for his seat with qualifications and character, not purchase it with personal wealth or the wealth of political donors who hope to in- fluence the court's agenda. Let's send a message in November that we're smart enough to know when we're being bribed and wise enough to understand that our Supreme Court demands bet- ter. Taira Gainer Elkins Lawrence cares about constituents I know that I am not from your county. But I thought your read- ers would like to have a report about Tiffany Lawrence from someone who is in the state capi- tol at the West Virginia Legisla- ture. Over the years, I ave lobbied the Legislature about consum- er issues like predatory lending and landlord tenant laws, about improvements needed in divorce courts and laws, about funding for children's issues, and so on. I have seen Lawrence work hard, listen hard, think hard and make her own decisions based on what is best for the citizens of her district. And then she works hard and successfully to get things done at the Legislature. If there are problems with our state Leg- islature, it is because there are not more like her at the Legis- lature. She is the kind of person who will really do the best thing in the Legislature for the citizens of your county. I urge your readers to vote in the upcoming election to send Tiffany Lawrence back to the Legislature. That would be good for the voters of your county. It would also be good for the rest of us in West Virginia. David B. McMahon Charleston Jefferson County hits trifecta! Never has our county seen Mike Castle, Fred Blackmer and Dave Hammer agree on any one issue, except the failings of over a year's work by Ms. Brock- man's staff on the county zoning ordinance. This was made clear through their testimony at a re- cent public hearing on proposed ioning ordinance changes. I'm stating nothing that I haven't already said to them di- rectly. The trifecta testimony clearly shows a lack of under- standing by staff of the direction our community needs to move to- wards. Current planning process changes continue to create un- certainty for both the residences and businesses of our communi- ty. Our county is under econom- ic pressure from Maryland (gam- ing) and we have squandered the last five years of lead time in de- fining and evolving our future -- one, I see based on agriculture, heritage, technology and tour- ism. We have to become a more environmentally and economi- cally sustainable community. There needs to be accountabil- ity for the money being spent by staff and the lack of results. Now is the time 'for the County Com- mission, Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals to be proactive in guiding their staff to create a supportive environ- ment for the residents and busi- nesses of the county. It's extreme- ly important that during this cur- rent attempt at zoning and sub- division ordinance changes, that "the staff spend their time work- ing on the visions presented to them by the county bodies they work for and not pursue personal interpretations. This direction has to include oversight and accountability to ensure that the proper product is being drafted and the wishes of the County Commission, Plan- ning Commission, Board of Zon- ing Appeals and the public are reflected in staff's finished work product. Peter S Corum Shepherdstown \ t Good news, bad news in Supreme Court's redistricting ruling Early last week came the bit- so that the~i~i!i~ ":~i ii!ii!ii!iiiiiii!!i that the district court did not ter news that the U.S. Supreme E a s t e r n address one Jefferson County Court had ruled against Jef- Panhan-ii:iiiiiiiiii!iii ............ iiiiii!i:~ contention; the West Virginia ferson County in its lawsuit die would ii :i !ii ij iiiiii Constitution says districts must over congressional redistrict- not be i:~!ii :i::i~:i~i be compact. Is the second dis- ing. I've talked with many res- in the ::iiii~:i~:I trict "compact?" We'll see. idents of our county who dis- same dis- iiiii Also, rumors abound that agree with the ruling and few trict as CongresswomanCapitointends who like it. Sentiment ranges Charles- ::iiiiii to run in 2014 for the U.S. Sen- from disbelief to anger. I'm ton. The ate seat now held by Jay Rock- not a lawyer and I leave it Legisla- efeller. If this happens, perhaps 'to lawyers to analyze the legal ture had her supporters might not mind aspects of the ruling. But there no interest. After the 2010'cen- the congressional districts be- are political undercurrents and sus showed that the second dis- ing redrawn by the Legislature ramifications, trict's territory needed to be in 2013. The Legislature may West Virginia's present shrunk even further our own redraw districts any time it's three congressional districts State Sen. Herb Snyder led a in regular session -- it doesn't were carved out in 1991, if- similar fight in 2011. He made have to wait 10 years. ter the decennial census of more progress than I had but the And an ominous prospect 1990 reduced our state's rep- Legislature still made only the looms. Most demographers be- resentation in the U.S. House minimal change necessary, lieve West Virginia will lose of Representatives from four Why no success either time another seat in Congress after to three. The incumbent con- in the Legislature? Mostly in- the 2020 Census -- we came gressmen at the time, all ertia. Legislators don't want to close this time. If so, no mat- Democrats, jockeyed for po- deal with redistricting unless ter how the line is to be drawn sition before the Legislature they have to. But there are oth- wCd be freed from Charleston. to keep their seats. Harley O. er factors. Nobody should blame either Staggers, Jr., who represented While we in the Eastern Pan- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin or Sec- the Eastern Panhandle and a handle don't want to be in the retary of State Natalie Tennant few counties to the west, lost same district as Charleston, no- for our predicament. They of- the game of political musical body else does either We can ficially defended the Legisla- chairs, argue 'til the cows come home ture's action before the court The three resulting districts . that it makes less Sense for us because it's their responsibility were one in the north,the first; to be in the state capital's dis- to do so. one in the south, the third; trict than counties closer to it I congratulate seven peo- and a second district stretch- but folks who aren't in that dis- pie involved in this lawsuit ing from Mason and Jackson trict and don't want to be aren't for their courage and two of Counties on the Ohio River going to listen. And our current them also for their skill. Jef- through Charleston to and in- Republican Congresswom- ferson County's five commis- cluding Jefferson County. It an Shelley Moore Capito has - sioners- Dale Manuel, Fran- was a thin ribbon that I said many friends who are Demo- ces Morgan, Patsy Noland, at the time snaked "from the crats, particularly in her home Lyn Widmyer and Walt Pel- depths of the Ohio to the peaks town of Charleston.She's been lish -- stood strongly for our of theBlueRidge." (West Vir- successful under the current county's interest. And their ginia owns the Ohio River.) district's configuration and ob- two lawyers, Stephen Skinner It made no sense then and it viously likes it. and David Hammer, won the makes no sense now. What about the future? The case at the trial court when no- In 2001, after the 2000 cen- court case is not yet over. The body in Charleston gave them sus showed that the second U.S. Supreme Court, while a chance. district needed to give territo- overruling the district court de- W to the other two (the second cision that the current West Vir- -- John Doyle represents the had grown in population while ginia districts violate the Con- 57th District in the West Virgin- the other two had lost) I tried stitution's requirement that they ia House of Delegates. He will mightily to get major change, be equal in population, observed retire at the end of the year. Recent developments in what can best be described as a soap era situation have focused unne '- essary media attention on a:rm- jor agency in West Virginia stae govern- ment. It c e n t e r s on a dis- ~.~::~ i~i~:ii pute be- tween top offi- cials in the West Virginia Depart- ment of Health / and Human Resources that h~s been fermenting for months. most absurd aspect is that it hls also produced a situation where three key employees have beth put on paid leave since July. J This. dispute between higa- ranking officials in DHHR parently can be traced back,to last winter and to different vie~s by these officials on which firm should be awarded a multrnil- lion dollar contract. The rift :hen widened with the award ol an-. other seven-figure contract ear- lier this year. Legislative Auditor Aaron All- red waded into the conflict ,ack in February, asking DHHR ;ec- retary Michael Lewis abou:the . possibility that a pending se en- figure contract might involte a conflict of interest,r Allred was concerned tblt'a-- private contractor who wo~:ed _ . both for the state and the cor pa- ny and that had a financial s~ake in a pending 10-year, $200mil- lion dollar contract might ave used his influence to sway!the decision toward that compant. 'Lewis then decided to r4bid the contract with procedurel in place to exclude that comt ny from potentially benefiting the contract. He notified Allred in a let- ter dated March 22, 2012 :hat DHHR had "determined that:the system in place...to alert ui to potential Conflicts of interest!re- lating to procurements was inad- equate." i The Legislative Auditor's of- 'rice eventually recommen|ed that the authority of DHFR's purchasing office to award ~er- rain contracts without reviev by the state's purchasing divisio~ be eliminated. But the people wOrk- ing in that DHHR office are !till on the job. I The disagreement betw!en employees involved in the is- pute first received widespread attention when three senior t3f- ficials on One side of this isme were placed on paid leave. They are Susan Perry, depaty See MILLER pageA7