MONONGAH — For decades, it seems there has always been a member of the Palmer family serving on Monongah Town Council. When residents go to the polls to vote in June, there will be three Palmer family members on the ballot.
Current Mayor John “JohnBoy” Palmer Jr. is running for re-election for mayor, while his father and former mayor John Palmer Sr. and Teresa Palmer — JohnBoy’s mother and former mayor — are running for positions on council as well.
JohnBoy Palmer said he is happy to follow in his mother’s footsteps as well as those of his grandfather, Junior Jacobin, who also served in town government.
JohnBoy Palmer said he is pleased with the help he has received from the council and town employees.
“Everybody has the same agenda and that is the betterment of the town,” he said.
Palmer recently worked toward obtaining the ball field from Consol Energy Inc. for the town of Monongah. He was able to get the field donated without any cost to the town. The main reason he wanted to acquire the property was because repairs were needed.
“There is a wall behind the third base dugout and it has a hole where someone could get injured. I talked to the county commission and MCPARC, but we could not get funding because it wasn’t in the town’s name. I contacted Consol and told them we are a small town and they were able to donate it to the town,” Palmer said.
The project is near the bidding phase for contractors to submit estimates to complete the construction. He is also pleased that Monongah’s Bell has been repaired during his tenure. The town recently made efforts to improve its infrastructure. Palmer plans to have these projects completed in the coming months.
“We are finishing one of the sewer projects. I’m hoping to see the next phase of the sewer project get finished. I would like to see some of our roads get paved,” Palmer said.
He is committed to the town’s success and wants to be more involved than simply attending the meetings.
“I want to be hands-on as much as possible. Whether it’s in the office answering phones or helping with billing or painting, or helping our crews with flagging traffic if they don’t have enough people, I try to helpful. I want to be more than a meeting mayor, we need people who actually wants to do something,” he said.
Monongah native Teresa Palmer is running for town recorder and is dedicated to the success of the town and its residents. She previously worked as a custodian at Fairmont State University.
Teresa Palmer has been the interim recorder for the town since the resignation of Sheila Runyan earlier in the year. With her family, she pioneered a program called the Community Improvement Association. She was elected as the town’s mayor in 2000 and held the office until 2002.
“All of the money that we raise goes back in the town, we had an electrician wire the town pavilion so people could rent it for events,” she said.
Susan Palmer has been responsible for overseeing this year’s election. She has also worked on modernizing the town’s records and updating the town’s ordinances since assuming the role. She plans to continue working on those projects in the coming months.
She enjoys finding ways to help the community outside of her official capacity as well. She will often provide the food for elimination dinners and other events that benefit the town and its residents.
“I just like helping in any way I can, I like cooking for people regardless of the occasion,” she said.
John Palmer Sr. spent his childhood in Monongah and Carolina and moved to Monongah permanently with his wife, Teresa, in 1976. He was a coal miner for 40 years and served as president of his local union for over 20 years. Palmer also volunteered his time with Monongah’s little league team.
Palmer said he is happy to see the positive trends happening in the town and hopes to be part of its success. He believes his son is leading the town in the right direction and hopes to assist with the repairs to the town’s ball field.
“I would like to see it keep moving like it is. I have seen a lot of things happening that people should be pleased with. I see people getting along and that is a good thing,” he said.
John Palmer Sr. would do anything for anybody — all they have to do is ask. He enjoyed volunteering his time during the COVID-19 pandemic to help feed children who were not attending school at the time. He usually gave out 40-to-50 bags of food, he said.
“I’m honest, I’m hardworking, I will try to help anyone I can if they let us know what is going on. Whatever we have to do. We believe in helping people if we can,” John Palmer Sr. said.
Town Council candidate Tammy Shipley has lived in Monongah for four years and is a lifelong resident of West Virginia. She said she has fallen in love with the small town because of its tight knit atmosphere. She currently works for the Monongalia County Board of Education as a school nurse.
Shipley has volunteered with Monongah’s Community Improvement Association and helped with events such as an elimination dinner to benefit the town.
“I really like being involved. I think running for council will give me an opportunity to help Monongah move forward,” Shipley said.
She is especially concerned about the condition of Monongah’s roads and the pervasiveness of drugs in the area. She would also like to see more local businesses set up shop in town.
“Everywhere you go there are drugs. I would like to explore some avenues to address that issue,” Shipley said. “I want to work to get more businesses in Monongah to allow the town to continue trucking along.”
If elected, Shipley said she will do her best to help the town move forward.
“I’m hardworking, open minded and willing to listen. I want to help drive Monongah into the future,” she said.
Town council candidate Mike Parker has lived in Monongah for most of his life. Despite leaving the town at one point, he found his way back home. He said he feels especially connected to the town because his entire family lives there and he is currently a meter reader for the town of Monongah after working at Sam’s Club for 18 years.
He has enjoyed advocating for the town as a council member the last two years and working with his fellow council members.
“The council we have had for the last two years has been awesome. We got a lot of important projects done,” Parker said.
If re-elected he wants to work to ensure the children in town have activities they can be involved in.
“I want to do more for the kids, I want to give them activities outside they can participate in,” Parker said.
One of Parker’s main concerns are the town’s roads, which he wants to improve. According to Parker, the town will begin paving problem areas soon. He described the town’s implementation of phase two of a sewer project and many of the issues caused by the construction will be addressed by the company completing the work.
“I’m an honest person and If re-elected I’ll do what I can for the residents of Monongah,” he said.
Despite having lived in Monongah only two years, town council candidate Tiffany Roschella said she feels a special connection to the community.
Roschella, an academic success specialist for Fairmont State University, moved to Monongah to be with her wife, who is a native of the town.
She has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in criminal justice from Fairmont State University and she wants to use her educational background to help law enforcement within the town.
“Within my education I am focused in community policing, corrections, and reentry into society for incarcerated individuals. I am familiar with policy and how we can change things,” she said.
Roschella is also interested in establishing a neighborhood watch program within the town.
“A neighborhood watch is not something that Monongah currently has. I have brought the idea to council before deciding to run. It is something I want to do regardless of whether I win or not,” she said.
She hopes to bring more people from other areas of the county to Monongah for events and activities.
“Fairmont is the hub for a lot of Marion County events. I would like to allow Monongah to be the hub for a few things for the whole county. I would like to see Monongah be a model of what other towns could be. I think JohnBoy has done a great job of doing that already, but I want to continue rolling off of that,” she said.
Roschella is concerned about the drug epidemic and wants to make addiction resources more accessible to the town’s residents.
“Having resources for addiction is something I would love to see, even if its something as simple as having information in the town hall. Part of my issue with what was happening with the police is they were posting mugshots taken in town halls and what they were arrested for.
“You cannot do that, these people are going to be back in the community. It’s a shame tactic that is completely unnecessary. Instead, give them the schedule for NA (Narcotics Anonymous), those resources are not available in the town and ironically, within five miles of Monongah almost all of the NA meetings are held,” she said.
Roschella is interested in helping the younger generation get involved and gain traction in the community to build a future for the town.
“I’m an educated woman, I’m a mother and a wife, I’m a new resident but I have grown to love Monongah and I think it can be an even better place,” she said.
After serving as town recorder for 20 years, Patty McCombs is no stranger to Monongah residents. This year, she is running for re-election to town council for a second term.
“I wanted to run for town council so that I could voice more of my concerns,” McCombs said.
Over the years, McCombs has volunteered at the Monongah Fire Department and helped organize Monongahfest.
She is proud to have played a role in the town’s recent sewer project which is in its second phase. McCombs also wants to build a better community for the next generation.
“I want people to know that I am a dedicated person,” she said.
Town council candidate Susan Sanders has lived in Monongah since she was a small child. Prior to joining the council she was employed as an administrative assistant for Personnel Temporary services in White Hall. Her children also reside in Monongah and are a reason she wants to see the town succeed.
She is proud to have created a nonprofit to provide Christmas lights throughout the town of Monongah. She currently serves as the president of the organization. The nonprofit events at different times of the year such as Halloween parties, Christmas parties, and Valentine’s Day dances.
“I started the Christmas Lights in 2015, the people just love them. We have 64 Christmas lights in Monongah. it’s a nonprofit. We do fundraisers, craft shows, and things for the kids in town,” she said.
She would like to add more businesses for the younger generation for the kids. She would also like to offer more activities for the children in the town.
“For the length of the time I have been on council, I am very proud of all that we have accomplished, we have done a-lot, but more is needed. I want to continue to improve the town,” Sanders said.
Town council candidate Aaron Justice Jr. and his family has lived in Monongah all of their lives. Having worked in the radio industry for 20 years, Justice works part-time for White Hall Pharmacy as a delivery driver.
He believes Monongah’s biggest issue is its small size and trying to adapt to the changing world.
“Every town has its issues — you never get away from them. The biggest obstacle for Monongah is being a small town trying to keep up with the times and keeping up with upgrades,” he said.
Justice is pleased to have worked with the mayor and the council who have managed to always put the interest of the residents first.
He hopes to address these issues by applying for grants that will benefit the town and its residents.
“If you do not know what I stand for by now, you don’t know Aaron Justice. For the people just moving in, ask someone who has been here for 20 years, they will tell you exactly who I am. I’m a blunt person, I might hurt your feelings, but you will leave me either mad at me or loving me,” he said.
Early voting begins June 1 and ends June 10. The polls will be closed Sunday, June 4. Residents may cast their ballots from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Election day is June 13 from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
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