When you take on a leadership role, you have plenty of responsibilities.
And when you’re the mayor of one of Marion County’s 11 municipalities, that list of responsibilities can seem endless.
Services must be provided. Budgets must be balanced. Streets must be paved. Codes must be enforced. Safety is a concern. So is making sure everything runs smoothly on a daily basis. And don’t forget about the employees of the towns, who play integral roles in making sure each of these tasks is accomplished.
With such an extensive list of responsibilities, it’s always good to have someone you can turn to who can offer advice or simply listen.
That’s what happened last week when several mayors from around Marion County attended a forum to meet with county officials and discuss common issues that face their respective municipalities.
The forum was organized by Charlie Reese, director of the Marion County Development Office, and even though the atmosphere remained lighthearted, it was a chance for mayors to really discuss things their towns and councils are struggling with.
The issues ranged from shrinking budgets to dilapidated buildings.
The derelict properties especially worry the mayors because the state does not provide funding to be used to clean up those properties, and the towns simply don’t have the funds to address the problem themselves.
In Grant Town, for example, Mayor Melanie Thompson said there are a lot of dilapidated buildings.
“People leave ... and they’re letting these properties fall in disrepair,” Thompson said. “You can’t attract people into a town when they drive past all these derelict properties.”
There’s a similar problem in Mannington, according to Mayor Robert Garcia.
“They’ve got to be demolished, and there’s no way to get it done,” he said.
It’s not an issue that goes unnoticed. Randy Elliott, president of the Marion County Commission, told the mayors he gets a lot of calls and visits about dilapidated buildings and houses in the county.
“It would take millions of dollars just to clean up what we have in Marion County,” he added.
Those attending the forum said they’d like to have some involvement from the state Legislature, which they said would especially help when it comes to the dilapidated structures.
“I think the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of it is to have the Legislature come up with some way to raise money to appropriate to all the smaller communities — and cities, for that matter — to take these (dilapidated buildings) down,” Elliott said.
The mayors also discussed how they could attract businesses to their towns as well as how to retain and encourage additional businesses to invest in the communities.
No topic was too large or too small, and discussion even turned to setting up an agreement to let smaller communities or perhaps the county at large pool together to purchase bulk items like salt to treat the roads.
It’s no secret the towns face common issues, and with expenses going up as revenues go down, we know those issues get more complicated with each passing day.
But if our local mayors and county officials can work together as a team to resolve these common issues — not to mention bring the issues to the attention of leaders at the state level — each town and every resident will benefit.
Ultimately, that teamwork approach will help move Marion County forward.
When you take on a leadership role, you have plenty of responsibilities.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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