DECEMBER 24, 2004

Letter to Brother Bill
From the Code
Attention: For Sale by Owners in Clay County
Christian Service Center News
Blue & Red Report
No Permanent Friends…?

Clay County has known tough times since time started. During the 2003-2004 budget year, cut backs were made to reduce operating costs. In July 2004, the Clay County Commission voted to reduce department budgets forcing cuts in personnel. The most cutback came in the Sheriff’ office where Deputies Kevin Delk and Chad Sizemore were laid off effective July 1. The County Clerk’ office lost a full time employee and a part timer. Other departments shifted money around which allowed their employees to stay on the job.
        Around the courthouse comes word that our soon to be in office, newly elected, public officials are seeking higher salaries. Here’ the background.
The WV Legislature voted in pay hikes for elected officials in 2000. That bill allowed for higher salaries IF the county budget had funding in place to cover the increase and IF the elected officials would sign in writing they intended to take the raise. After the bill was signed into law by the Governor, our Commissioners voted against the higher salaries saying the elected officials in Clayberry were dirty slimy scumbags that didn’ deserve more money. Just kidding, they said our puny budget could not cover the increase.
        In WV, all but two counties, Wirt and Clay have quietly implemented the rate increases.
                        Continued on page 3
As a Class IX county, the new salaries would be substantial. County commissioners would move from $18,500 per year to $20,350.00; sheriff from $31,760.00 to $34,925.00; county clerk and circuit clerks from $36,000 to $39,600.00; assessor from $31,750.00 to $34,925.00; and prosecutor $38,000 to $41,800.00. For this county, if the new rates were approved by the Commission, the cost would be nearly $20,000 in outright increases plus the additional expense for benefit increases.
        Circuit Clerk Mike Asbury confirmed Prosecutor Elect Jim Samples made calls to the Secretary of State’ office on the salary subject. Commissioner Elect Fran King said during an interview Monday, December 20th that she had been checking into the matter. Commissioner Triplett remarked that Sheriff-Elect Randy Holcomb had talked about the higher salary earlier in the month. Some are already speaking out: They knew what they would make when they ran for office! They shouldn’ ask for a rate increase now!
        Well, there’ more to it than that, readers. To run for office a filing fee is paid to the Circuit Clerk’ office for all candidates except write-ins. The fee is 1% of the annual salary of that office. During the 2004 run for the roses, the fee charged each candidate was based on the higher salaries, those same salaries never approved by County Commission. For instance, county commission candidates paid a $203.50 filing fee of 1 % of the $20,350.00. In reality CCC winner Fran King will garner just $18,500 (plus benefits) annually. With the lower annual salary, Ms King should have paid just $185.00 to run for office.
        See the picture? If you win the elected spot after paying the higher filing fee, wouldn’ you expect to earn the higher rate of pay? Have we mentioned nothing is ever simple in Clay?
        Note the attached letter elsewhere in this article from the State Auditor’ Office forbidding the rate increases. According to the CPAs in Charleston, our budget will not allow for higher salary levels. Commissioner Triplett advised after this issue surfaced last week, that the county receives a similar letter each year denying more dollars be directed to office holder pocketbooks. To back up the Auditor’ position, from the code (way in the back): It there is an insufficient projected increase in revenues to pay for the increased salaries and the related employment taxes, then the salaries of that county’ elected officials and commissioners shall remain at the level in effect at the time certification was sought.
        It didn’ take long for the newbees wanting more money story to reach the coffee house crowd and then the web site. On the site “old diggers”came to mind. Quicker than a scalded hound, Commissioner-Elect Fran King got on the telephone. Ms King, “ don’ want us to end up in July and with a problem… I am going to write a formal letter to the Secretary of State’ office and get a formal opinion on it. Wouldn’ that be the smart thing to do? This goes for Judy and Mike and all of them… We may be looking at $25,000. We don’ want to go to July 1st and all of a sudden, get slapped in the face. That’ how they previously did business… You don’ worry until the end and what’ going to bite you in the butt.”

                        Continued on page 4
As for the web site postings referring to King and Holcomb seeking higher salaries, Ms King, “ didn’ even talk about increased wages… It was wrong to put me on there… The only thing I did was ask Mike Asbury a legal issue, why did we pay X amount of dollars for filing fees. The WV State Code says we should pay 1%.”King was referring to paying a higher rate to file for office than the 1% for an $18,500 a year commissioner salary.
        Commissioner-Elect King, “ am just trying to find out legally what’ involved… Did you know that in 2005, the Association of Counties is asking the Legislature for a $5000 salary increase for sheriffs, county commissioners, prosecuting attorneys, and assessors with an additional $5000 for circuit and county clerks?”
        It seems the issue is the filing fee. Circuit Clerk Mike Asbury said the WV Secretary of State’ office sets the fee amount and he just adheres to the mandates. Once collected, the fees are turned over to the County General Fund according to Asbury. Asbury laughed as he related the story of Randy Holcomb calling the SOS office for info and the spokesperson there said to instead call Asbury.
        To make everyone happy, maybe it would be an easy matter of just returning the overcharged amount for filing fees. Maybe not, too. With 25 or so candidates running in 2004, the amount of return would add up to nearly $1000.00. The bigger question would be whether such an approach would be legal since those seeking office in 2004 may have been under the impression they were seeking a higher paying job.
        Clerk Asbury said he had read over the 2000 law and felt that the higher rates may be directed in 2005 for any newly seated commissioner—Fran King. The other two commissioner salaries would then go up after the 2006 and 2008 elections.
        For the final word we spoke with County Clerk Judy Moore. First she discussed the topic of whether the county could offer the higher rates of pay. Moore, “ don’ even know if we had a choice to pay. That section of the code, 7-7-4, way over… under the sub headings….. 9-C-2, what it boils down to, the auditor has to approve whether they [CCC] are financially stable enough to have this raise or not….. The way I remember it, at that time, if you met this criteria, then you could sign either accepting or rejecting it. That was for people that was in office at that time. The newly elected people would automatically get the raise. But, we have never met the criteria. We didn’ ever have to sign rejecting or accepting because we didn’ meet the criteria…. Every year when we send in the budget in March we get an approval back from the auditors. In that letter it tells you what to pay each elected official. The letter says your budget is approved upon the condition that you have NOT met the criteria and each elected official shall make this, this, and this.”
        Clear as mud, readers! Mud! The Legislature approved pay increases for elected officials four years ago and may provide even higher wages for them in 2005. The auditor says we ain’ got the money to pay the first raise. Our newbee elected gang wants the money based on the filing fees paid. Fran King says she’ not so interested in the higher wages but rather the well being of the county coffers. Can the County Commission just decide to give back the difference in filing fees? If the new salaries go into effect, will Fran be the only commissioner to receive the additional $2000?
        No answers yet, but as the Clayberry web site mentioned a week back, watch for this one to turn into another court battle. Let’ see now… the ACLU is threatening a suit against Commission Sams’religious display at the courthouse; there is already a claim lodged against the county’ insurance provider for an injury sustained by Town Cop Buckshot Butcher, and now this. Looks like 2005 may be another year for the media.                        

        How can 12 months slip by so quickly? Where do the weeks go? For us at the Communicator, the weeks go by sitting in meetings and hearings, talking on the phone to sometimes clueless elected and appointed officials, and doing background inquiries. The time passes quickly.
         In 2004, as during the last 9 years, our efforts have not gone unnoticed. There have been results and improvements in the place we call home. While there are many times we still scratch our heads in disbelieve, Clayberry has improved under the scrutiny of Clay County’ independent newspaper and website,
                 Often we’e been told to write about nice stuff, don’ mention the controversial issues like nepotism, management without planning, and even the Ten Commandment issue. That we should leave the “unk”behind. While it would be nice to include just the great aspects of life in the county of Clay, it’ the rest of the story that needs told and changed. Nine and one half years ago, when The Communicator published it’ first edition our goal was to improve life in the county. In 2005, we the support of our readers, the goal will continue.
                 With 2004 coming to an end and the holidays upon us, the staff of The Communicator would like to thank all of our readers for support. We wish each and every one a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to serving our five county service area in 2005.
                 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Terri Kerns, Lindy Myers, and Andy Waddell.
         ??? DID YOU KNOW ???
         1.        Never put off till tomorrow anything you can do without getting caught today.
2.        Last year, Americans spent more than $3 billion on products to customize their vehicles.
3.        Popeye is 75 years old this year.
4.        Coal transportation by truck decreased dramatically, falling from 47 million tons in 2002 to 27.9 million in 2003 or 38 percent.
5.        Vehicles strike deer more than 4000 times daily on American highways.
6.        Americans eat about 24 pounds of fries per capita per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
7.        Atlanta-based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International believes the ape population has plummeted 70 percent in the last decade.
8.        The number of low-income children starting their day off with breakfast in school increased 5.2 percent last year.
9.        The smoking rate among pregnant women has dropped more than one-third since 1990.
10.         There are 4,097 Purple Heart license plates in West Virginia.
11.         Forty years ago, only 16 percent of 4 year-olds attended pre-school. Today 66 percent attend pre-kindergarten programs.
12.         As many as 100 people die each year and 13,000 land in the emergency room as a result of unintentional overdoses of acetaminophen.
13.         Polar bears have suffered a 15 percent decrease in their number of offspring and a similar decline in weight over the past 25 years, due to climate change.
14.         In much of the United States spring arrives about 2 weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago.
15.         Sixty-one percent of children 12 through 17 said they ate dinner with their families at least five nights a week in 2003, up from 47 percent in 1998.
16.         The number of tennis shoes that sell for more than $100 fell by 7 percent last year and 21 percent the year before.
17.         Analysts estimate Wal-Mart commands 25 percent of the toy market, compared with 17 percent for Toys “” Us now in second place.
18.         Recent statistics show that 75 percent of students who took the ACT didn’ have any math courses at the time of the test.
19.         Last year 512 people died on the nation’s highways over the Christmas holiday and 530 over New Year’s.
20.         More than 2.5 billion pickles are consumed in the United States each year. LMM

Letter to Brother Bill By Evelyne McLaughlin
Dear Brother Bill: Happy Holidays to you and yours. We have been experiencing some rather crisp days - can't actually say we are enjoying them, but it is expected this time of the year. And Christmas is a coming! Our Christmas mornings of long ago often come back to remembrance and also the special items we have received at Christmas time. One year as a very young child I recall receiving a tricycle, one year it was a scooter. The excitement of those days has mostly fallen by the wayside, but remembering is something that makes it come back. Mom and I would listen to the Christmas Carol on the radio on Christmas Eve. As you probably recall, Mom always made Christmas very special for us. One year, the night before Christmas, Gordon and Ramona Samples visited with us on Twistabout Ridge, bringing gifts for everyone. One year Myrtle Belle Arbogast came by and took me to Dalton's in Clendenin to buy gifts - she also gave me money to buy with. Then there was the year that an unexpected gift came from Korea. A very dear friend was stationed there and he sent me a beautiful portrait of Christ, painted on velvet. This picture has held a special place in my house ever since. When we lived at Horner's Fork a nice lot of gifts was found on our front porch swing - no names, but I say thank you to Gerald and Sis Samples for those. So many good memories and so many wonderful friends. This year I am enjoying pecans that Margie Smith Thomas sent me from Arkansas. Our mail carrier, Lonnie Samples, has been bringing me several cards from friends afar. He is a very good mail carrier.
Last week I visited the Nutrition Center at Two Run for their Christmas Dinner. Lots of folks attended, the music was great and the food wonderful. Perhaps when you come to visit we can go there and have a meal. It is a good place to go. Saturday evening the Blue Knob Church group met at Nancy's Restaurant for a Christmas "get-together" and meal. We all had a fun evening there and plenty of good food - again.
So sorry to hear of the deaths of Clyde Pierson, Charles Gray and Oleta Dawson. Please remember these families in your prayers. I miss Aunt Maycle Samples this year. I would usually visit her around Christmastime and I can't see her this year. Rheeneta Bennett, of Valley View, was operated on this past week. She returned home Sunday evening. Get well wishes and prayers for you Rheeneta. Ella Davis hasn't been feeling well. We hope both of these friends are all well real soon.
I still need phone numbers or addresses of our former classmates. Nell Jean, Walter Pierson, Jane Lou Rogers Sizemore, Dolly Morton Elliott, Rozella Morris and Frankie Holcomb and others I have not been able to reach. Please get in touch with me.
Now some old news: Ruth Loughhead Harold's parents owned the property at the top of the hill - on Twistabout Ridge. Ruth had had a beautiful home built on the property and she often rented this property when she was away teaching. From Mom's letter "Harlie and Dimple lived in Ruth's house. They had little Freddie. We loved Freddie dearly. One night he got the same type of croup I had and he choked to death the same night. We hated it so bad. Some men carried his little casket passed our house out to the Love Cemetery (on Blue Knob). We followed along behind. It was a real cold day. 1927, Susie Goff was our teacher. Hallie got married and moved to Nallen. I missed her a lot. She was special to me. Ted and Hallie (Burdette) moved back home and I surely was glad to have her home. Later, they moved to Ma Drake's, Ted's mom. Laura was born there. 1928, Pa got married that May to Jane Hannah Ratliff Ellison. That was the best summer I had ever had. Jane made me pretty dresses and for the first time I had clothes that looked like a woman’. She was from Pound, Virginia. That summer she went back on a visit and her daughter and son-in-law and her two sons came back with her.
Hubert was her son and he liked me a bundle. He was the first boy that ever told me that he loved me. He was a nice clean boy and we really had a good time. Ruby had gone to live with Grover the fall Ma died. Verba stayed away and Delphia was staying with Enos. So that left Gene and I, Hubert, Dad and Jane. We picked berries, swam, took the horse and sled and hauled apples. Hubert was pretty good with a horse. He tagged after me and played the part of a love sick kid. Earl McCune was the teacher that year. I was going to school just mainly to get off of Big Laurel. I got several boy friends after Jane dressed me up. One of the boys gave me a lovely compact
(a Dobbins boy). A boy named Chet was another who was on my list. I remember the Christmas Program. I had my hair all curled back by hot curlers, of course it was pretty well singed on the ends. We had a lovely program. Earl had expelled Hubert from school for making fun of the writing he did. Hubert was sad, jealous and angry. Coming home from the program Chet walked me home. Carl Keller was escorting Delphia. It was a cold moon lit night. A big snow that had a crunch frozen on top of it, the moon shone on the snow and it looked like thousands of small diamonds sparkling. We were crunching along, Gene and Hubert had some fire crackers and one was tossed at my feet. Brave Chet kicked it out of the road - that made him a hero in my eyes. Jane's son Alphus was a real handsome guy and Curt was the youngest. They had come up for Christmas. Oh! we had such a nice time. Carl and Chet came in and sat in the back room. We had a nice log fire in the chimney. Most everyone mentioned in Mon's notes have already passed on. I have tried to type the letter just as she had it written. Of the eleven children born to Abner Jehu and Laura Alice Dodd Samples, only Aunt Delphia O'Dell remains. Her children honored her last Saturday with a birthday party (her 90th) at the Nutrition Center at Two Run. Many children, grandchildren, great-grans, friends and neighbors attended this party. The food was delicious and as usual, Auntie was adorable.
He was born in an obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. He then became an itinerant preacher. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He had no credentials but himself. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man on earth as much as He. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.....Jesus Christ (copied). Is this season really the correct birth date for Jesus? If we go back to Leviticus 23:27 and go by the Jewish calendar, the tenth day of the seventh month was the day of atonement and this comes out to October l0. Thank you Bro. Bob Walker. Someone asked me the other day what the Christmas tree had to do with Christmas. Go to the 10th chapter of Jeremiah and you can read about the tree; it was brought into the house and decorated - many years prior to the birth of Jesus - by heatherns.
Now a few words from the wise old bird: The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When the door of happiness closes, another opens; but oftentimes we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been opened for us. May each of you have a very Happy Holiday Season and a Blessed New Year. Until then, Help us all to be brave. Love, Sis

BOB CLARKE Curmudgeon’ Corner
In an administration which can be charged with, either an appalling ignorance of history, or an arrogant dismissal of its lessons, the much-quoted observation of George Santayana, [1863-1952] philosopher, poet and novelist, in The Life of Reason may toll dramatically: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We seem to have learned nothing from the French debacle in Indo China [see Vietnam] or from the bloody quagmire in the former Mesopotamia as a result of the British invasion/occupation in the 1920s. The British, of course, at least did not bother with the hypocritical litany of converting the locals to democracy: they wanted to control the oil and expand the empire. Such shoddy motives cannot be laid at the idealistic Americans. We are told daily that our primary concerns are the hearts and minds of the benighted Iraqis.
Into this mix came earlier a man who modestly assessed his effect on the cosmic scene as one who “rote my will across the sky in stars.” No shrinking violet, this was a man whose ego rivals that of Donald Rumsfeld. However, unlike our feckless Secretary of Defense, the former was one who knew and understood the Middle East and its peoples. His observation on the unhappy British tenure in the area contains eerie echoes of our present situation.

        …The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor.

        Things have been far worse than we have been told… We are today not far from a disaster.

These are the words of Thomas Edward Lawrence [1888-1935] who had been a member of the British archaeological team on the Euphrates River. Later, he became a colonel in the British army who led the Arab revolt against the Turks. His inability to achieve all he had hoped for the Arab cause led him to withdraw from what he termed “he shallow grave of public duty.” It is perhaps fitting for his heroic image that he met his death in a motorcycle accident. We know him as “awrence of Arabia.” History will not bestow such grandiosity on the chickenhawks now holding sway among our power elite.
The favorite and constantly-repeated mantra of the modern Republican party is “mall government.” This seems to be a conviction more honored in the breach than in the observance. The fact that the Clinton presidency eliminated more government positions than any administration in the previous century seems to have escaped notice. Something else that has been forgotten is that George W. fought the proposal for a Department of Homeland Security. Now, 210 thousand strong, it is touted as a Bush achievement. No red blooded patriot could oppose something with such a ringing title. Such boorish behavior would be tantamount to bad-mouthing Mother, flag or apple pie. Ridge has now left his cabinet post, claiming that he can’ make ends meet on a poverty-level salary of $175,000. The bright side is that Ridge’ exit may spell the end of that idiotic color code. Whatever accomplishments may be credited to the department, now and future, it seems curious that no one has suggested that security has always been the province of the Coast Guard, the FBI, the police and, before Iraq, the national and state guards.
It is said that, if one throws a stone in a pond, the ripples go out to the opposite edge, rebound, and continue this process into virtual infinity. This theory in the physical world might apply to the invasion and troubled occupation of Iraq. The repeated predictions by Middle Eastern officials that invasion would create a hornet’ nest have come to pass. Politicians have always been adept at playing word games, never more so than now. Early on the people attacking our troops were called “uerrillas,”then “nsurgents,”and throughout the all-purpose term, “errorists.” Rumsfeld, invincible in his certainty, dismissed the guerrilla term and suggested they were a small bunch of “eadenders.” Presumably, it would be bad form to call them what they really are – “ationalists.” The dark view is that the ripple effect may be the proper term as we seem to be enmeshed in what writer Gore Vidal calls “erpetual war for perpetual peace.”
One of the currently hot topics is the search for bin Laden. Many skeptics believe that he will never be caught, or that he is already dead. Another abiding irony is that it doesn’ really matter: from his point-of-view, he is more accurate in proclaiming “ission accomplished”than Bush’ premature declaration on the aircraft carrier. In the unlikely event that he is captured or killed, bin Laden would be a priceless boon to the administration propaganda machine, but only temporarily, if we remember how short-lived the rejoicing over Saddam Hussein’ capture was. What is mysterious about bin Laden is that he does not seem to want to go down fighting. As a dead martyr he would be much more valuable to his movement than a live refugee. Only heroic sacrifice for a cause is the stuff of legend.


In March, 2002 sixty-two senators, including nineteen Democrats, rejected higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, which would have reduced dependence upon Persian Gulf oil.

The Bush administration has spent $7 billion this year – and plans to spend $10 billion next year – for a missile defense system that has never worked in a test that wasn’ rigged.

Most fundamentalist evangelicals think that poverty is punishment either for insufficient gumption or for failure to establish the sort of personal relationship to Jesus that ensures worldly success. – Richard Rorty -

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.
                        – Benito Mussolini -

The military academy at West Point was established in 1802 as an engineering school because the army was expected to build roads and bridges, rather than to fight foreign wars.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground: they want rain without the thunder and the lightning: they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. – Frederic Douglas -

A dictator had put himself up for reelection and declared war on gays and pregnant teenagers. An administration whose principles built concentration camps, lied us into two wars and fleeced the treasury to further enrich themselves and their campaign contributors is getting four more years rather than the 40-to-life they deserve. – Ted Rall -

The early bird might get the worm, but it’ the second mouse that gets the cheese. – Willie Nelson -

Governments exist for only one purpose; to make life better for all people. – Eleanor Roosevelt -

Saying: “y country right or wrong”is like saying: “y mother, drunk or sober.” - J.B. Priestly –

Personal item: I wish to state my admiration for the writing of Jim Chafin, whom I have never met. His style, knowledge and depth are welcome and anticipated moments in my reading.


FORECLOSURE Maybe not the Ponderosa but 48 acres anyway you look at it. Doctor Jamie was the high bidder ($75,000) during the December 10th U.S. Bankruptcy Court mandated auction of the Wayne King property located near Ovapa. The hilltop property adjoins the old Filcon site and the J.D. Morris homestead. Second highest bidder was Tim Hopkins.
CLAY COUNTY PSD To save the Lizemores/Tuckers Bottom water line extension project from the scrap heap, guided by Chapman Technical engineer Greg Belcher, the Board decided to cut out a million dollars worth of expense by cutting off from the project 25 new customers.
During their December 14th monthly board meeting, Chair Keith King was asked: Which 25 new customers? King responded: “I don’ really know… Just some of the little branch offs… here and there.”
Even by cutting 25 customers, the project needs another $1million in funding before the construction phase can begin.
Clay County PSD ended November with a $652.42 balance.
BOVFD Big Otter Volunteer Fire Department hit the jackpot to the tune of $87,300 with the award of a U.S. Homeland Security grant Nov. 19th. The freebee dollars will be used for equipment and personal protection gear. No other Clay County FD received grant money.
MOVING During the last town meeting, Councilperson Sally Legg and Mayor Jarrett got into it over whether Legg was going to resign from office after moving out of the municipality. Ms Legg said Jarrett would be the first to know if she resigned. Late last week pickup loads of furnishings left the home/hair salon of Sally Legg.

Prosecutor Gets “Home”Help
        Someone must of thought this was going to be a dandy County Commission meeting December 13th. Around 25 were in attendance. That number did not include Commissioner Matthew “HAC” Bragg. After prayer and the pledge, just the highlights.
        Clay PSD asked the CCC to be the “ass through”agency for a $1 million request to fund the Lizemores/ Tuckers Bottom water line extension project. King got the thumbs up on his request. In attendance, Sheriff Elect Randy Holcomb spoke up on the PSD’ water storage tank setting on his land with the PSD having no right of way or deed to the land under the tank. He asked that the PSD do things right this time around.
        About 20 minutes into the meeting during a slow time, one time County Surveyor Jesse Sizemore walked up front, handed Commissioner Sams an envelope and asked him to read it into the official minutes. Sams didn’. That letter, in its entirety can be found in this edition of the Communicator.
        Last Spring, Marlyn Starcher from the Big Otter VFD asked the CCC to allow fire departments to charge for emergency services. Back then the Commission was ok with the idea. Within weeks, Starcher as well as Greg Fitzwater, Clay VFD, and Bob Mullins from Lizemores VFD requested the previous Commission order be rescinded. The CCC complied.
        Now back to this meeting. Mr. Starcher was back with the same request. According to Starcher, state code requires the local commission to approve charging of fees; since the Emergency Service Levy failed, they needed to raise more money; and, if passed, BOVFD would charge for wrecks along the interstate and NOT home owners for fire protection. In attendance Clay VFD rep Greg Fitzwater said his group wanted no part of charging for service.
        Up front the two sitting Commissioners waded in. Triplett said the ambulance service people didn’ want the ordinance put back on the books because Clay Ambulance planned to try another levy. Sams, “hat is the reason not to charge? You use fuel, equipment…..”Fitzwater, “ecause those that wrecked didn’ call you.”Randy Holcomb feared that charging for a service would raise the standards for expected service.
        Commissioner Elect Fran King spoke out as well. Her comments included: the state road folks charge for traffic control, NOT the fire departments; currently her wrecker company bills for the Big Otter Fire Dept; some people will request Clay FD to respond since they don’ charge for service; and there’ a real difference between volunteer groups responding and professional fire departments.
        Both Holcomb and King hit on the area of law known as good Samaritan deeds without saying as much. Soon to be prosecutor Jim Samples asked why the Commission’ legal advisor Daniel Grindo wasn’ present. Chuckles were heard around the room. Samples went ahead to advise the fire departments to have a fee schedule set up and charge EVERYONE equally.
        Clay County Commission gave the green light to the Starcher request. Note: Before the fire departments can charge for services, the CCC has to agree on fees to be charged.
        With Jim Samples standing in the back of the room, the request came for an assistant prosecutor and a second secretary. OK given to add $10,000 to the Prosecutor’ budget for an assistant, but NO secretary. Samples pressed harder for the office help with no luck.
        County Commission will conduct a CAEZ census tract representative election January 3 at the Big Otter Fire Dept. building. No exact time was given.
        After the meeting ended, Sams gave a quick read of the Sizemore letter before passing it to Commissioner Triplett. Shortly thereafter, the reporter from that little paper over in Clay read over the document. Sams and the reporter grinned and smirked. Just another day in the Great Nation of Clay! AW

Financially Challenged Clay Roane Meets
        Trying to keep track of the Clay Roane PSD can be a challenge. One meeting the office manager and Chair say they need a rate increase and at the next meeting, nope, it’ off the table.
        Under the guiding hand of Chair Melissa Postelwait and members Gary Whaling, Dave Saulsgiver, Glen Sutton, and Susan Beard, Clay Roane met in regular session December 9th at the CDC building on Main Street. For this PSD, regular session means two hours and at least 30 minutes behind closed doors.
        Before the meeting opened, in hushed tones, Postelwait apologized to fellow Boardsters over remarks made at an earlier meeting. A couple meetings back, after an extended secret session, the Board voted NOT to pay an employee (Bobby Burdette) travel time and wages after they found out he didn’ attend all the scheduled classes during a Canaan Valley get-away conference. The apologies came after Postelwait found out you can’ take back wages already paid.
        During most public meetings, meeting minutes are looked over and quickly passed. Not so this time. As the group read over the minutes from the Nov. 2 PSD meeting, the Chair asked that the minutes be changed to reflect a more subdued tone of voice. The minutes included this passage: Melissa states that she is leaving with or without an adjournment. Susan states that the meeting is still open and she [Melissa] is the Chairperson and cannot leave according to Robert’ Rules of Order. Melissa states, P*** on Roberts Rules, I am leaving. Melissa exits the meeting. The minutes were passed without amendment.
        Want your money back for a tap fee already paid? Ain’ going to happen anytime soon. Requests are coming in from potential customers no longer interested in water service from Clay Roane PSD. Board motioned not to vote on the tap fee issue until the end of the Amma Left Hand construction project. See what they’e sayin? If the number of customers drop, then funding for the projects could be in jeopardy. Here’ what they are not saying: once the tap fees are returned and if there are fewer customers, then rates will have to go up.
        Amma Left Hand project engineer Jim Hildruth gave the Board a progress report which included: enough work has been completed for FAMCO Construction to be paid $380,000. Heater Construction will be paid $237,000. Hildruth pocketed another $5000. Change orders were also approved.
        The Board voted to change the personnel policy so wayward from conference employees would no longer be paid for attending the party sessions. The “o pay”rule does not affect wayward Boardsters attending conferences.
        During the hiring of a new CPA firm (the folks working on a rate increase request), no one knew how much the firm would charge the PSD for the service. Susan Beard questioned whether the PSD could afford to pay for the service. Beard was adamant, how can you vote to hire a company if you don’ know what they will charge for the service? With Beard voting against the motion to hire, motion passed.
        Even with the Board saying they won’ agree to a rate increase, the motion passed to OK a rate increase “f needed.”On this vote, Dave Saulsgiver and Beard voted “Nay.”
        Here’ an interesting note, readers. Both the vote for a rate increase and the one to hire the new CPA firm was previously done during an away from the public special meeting held in an upstairs, backroom of the courthouse. After it was called to their attention that neither item was listed on that meeting’ agenda, they decided to revote the items in a more public setting.
        With the PSD unable to pay monthly bills, the discussion turned to buying a backhoe. Showing some common sense, the idea was tabled.
        And then what makes Clayberry so special.
        Holding up a stack of job applications and resumes for the vacant full time maintenance man position, without looking at any of the applications, the Chair asked the Board to hire in attendance, Davy Deems. Not pointing any fingers at Deems BUT … mention made of doing any background checks like driver license and worker’ comp claims prior to the hire. After discussion, Davy Deems was hired as a temp worker until formal interviews could be held. During that vote, once again, Saulsgiver and Beard voted “Nay.”
        What time is it, readers? It’ secret time! This one lasted nearly 45 minutes. With the meeting back open to the public, Glen Sutton made a motion to advertise for a Class II water operator. Motion passed. Hire an operator? Who’ getting fired? No one elaborated even when the office manager asking for details. The position pays $12 per hour plus benefits.
        One little short fat guy asked about the “ule 42”rate increase. Note: Rule 42 is the code word for: we’e going after a rate increase without saying so. During the discussions, Glen Sutton got up and prepared to leave. Chair Postelwait over and over repeated herself: THIS IS NOT A RATE INCREASE REQUEST! She did go out on one limb and say that IF a rate increase was needed to fund the Punkin Ridge project, she would not vote to raise an entire system’ rates to serve the 35 Punkineers.
        That same round guy asked: Why does the Board do the hiring instead of the chief water operator and the office manager? Answer: They like it that way. They also get paid each time they meet! Two and one half hours after opening for business, the meeting closed down. One last note: During yet another special meeting of the PSD, Dec 16th, Davy Deems was hired full time with benefits as maintenance man replacing Thomas Coon.                                AW                        AW


12/09/04: Wriston – Rodney Lee Jarvis, warrant for unlawful/malicious wounding (10/29/04), arrested, ROB.
12/08/04: Stephenson – Bobby Gene Hall, fleeing DUI (12/06/04), ROB; Bailey – James N. Mullins, warrant issued for burglary; Bailey – Renea L. Bloom, warrant issued for burglary, arrested 12/15, ROB.
12/16/04: Belt – Brandy Wayne Nichols, possession with intent to deliver (08/24/04), dismissed without prejudice; State’ witness failed to appear for hearing; Bailey – George F. Adkins, cultivation of marijuana and operating a clandestine drug lab (10/06/04), defendant waived preliminary hearing; bound to Circuit Court; Elswick – Phillip Jerry Payne II, operating clandestine drug lab and possession with intent to manufacture marijuana (11/18/04), defendant waived preliminary hearing; bound to Circuit Court.
12/07/04: Simms – Timothy Allen Whitt, possession of less than 15 grams and loaded gun in vehicle, appeared, ROB; Belt – Kevin L. Wyant, defective equipment, appeared, ROB.
12/08/04: Clay Furniture & Appliance – Marilyn A. Taylor, worthless check complaint, warrant issued.
12/10/04: Simms – John J. James, hunting without permission, appeared, ROB.
12/13/04: Sizemore – George E. Ross, speeding and operator’, appeared.
12/14/04: Clay Supermarket – Sutton Lane Car Wash, worthless check complaint, warrant issued.
12/17/04: Sizemore – Chazwick W. Reckwell, driving while revoked for DUIA, arrested, ROB.
12/08/04: Deborah Sue Ayscue – Jack Mullins, money due.
12/15/04: BB&T Credit Services, Inc. – James Canfield, money due.
12/16/04: Clay County PSD – Loretta Rogers, money due; Shelia King, money due; Richard Grose, money due; Donald Salisbury, money due.
Worthless Checks Notices Issued
12/09/04: Main Street IGA – Tad H. Legg (paid 12/13); Ms Jeanette Legg (paid 12/13); Wilma R. Boggs (paid 12/20).
12/13/04: Big Otter Food Mart – Charlene A. Shelton; Margaret Hensley X 3; Nicole Isley X 2; Tnay Higgs; Linda A. Simmons; Sheila L. Lesher; Patty Caudill (paid 12/15); Herbert McNeely; Michael Holcomb X 8; Eric Martin; Patrick Morris; Michael R. Drake Sr.
12/14/04: Main Street IGA – Mary J. Adkins.
12/17/04: Clay Co. Middle School – Sherry Jo Mullins X 2.
Citation Register
11/23/04: DNR – Timothy Allen Whitt, firearm violation.
11/24/04: State Police – Christopher Dorsey, speeding.
11/26/04: State Police – Bethany Hull, speeding; Randolph H. Jacobsen, speeding; Matthew Garner Lowe, speeding; Shana M. Starken, speeding; Nhut Minh Truona, speeding; Leanna M. Workman, speeding; Michael Pete Zervos, speeding.
11/27/04: State Police – Jarrod W. Lanham, registration violation, no POI and MVI; Gregory R. Robinson, speeding.
11/28/04: State Police – W. Tracy Dewvaul Jr., speeding; Amy Light Diznoff, speeding; Gordon D. Facemyer, speeding; Pete Garcia, speeding; Andrew Scott Hines, speeding; Adam Keith Lee, speeding.
11/29/04: State Police – James E. Estep, speeding.
11/30/04: State Police – Steven H. Duffield, too fast for conditions.
12/02/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Michael J. Hanshaw, operator’.
12/03/04: State Police – Johnny B. Clay II, speeding; Mark W. Griffin, operator’ and seat belt violation; Brandon H. Gum, speeding; Michael W. Steward, speeding; Sheriff’ Dept. – Crystal D. McKinney, no POI; Harry Eugene Miller, MVI, no POI and registration violation.
12/04/04: State Police – Gerald V. Butcher, no POI; Timothy M. Drake Jr., failure to yield right of way, no helmet on ATV and ATV on state route; Jennifer D. Pierson, defective equipment and driving suspended/revoked non-DUI; Jokwin R. Schoonover, defective registration light; Sheriff’ Dept. – George E. Ross, speeding and operator’.
12/05/04: State Police – Teresa Jett, no POI.
12/06/04: Sheriff’ Dept. – Kevin L. Wyant, defective equipment.
12/08/04: DNR – John Ray James, hunt without permission; Jason L. Truman, hunt without permission.

From the Code
                  Ever get so bored you start reading the phone book or a dictionary? During one cold evening, after skimming through the WV State Code, we came across this law.        
§7-7-4a. Authorizing the option of full-time status for part-time prosecuting attorneys. Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, in any county which has a part-time prosecuting attorney the county commission may, on the request of the prosecuting attorney, find that such facts and circumstances exist that require the prosecuting attorney to devote full time to his or her public duties. If the county commission makes such a finding, by proper order adopted and entered, it shall require the prosecuting attorney to devote full time to his or her public duties and the county commission shall then compensate the prosecuting attorney at the same rate of compensation established for a prosecuting attorney in a Class V county: Provided, That nothing contained herein may be interpreted to affect the status of a prosecuting attorney who has heretofore, by proper order so entered, become full time.
        In our county where criminals often walk away from penalties unscathed, the finger has often been pointed at law enforcement for doing a crappy job and letting law breakers walk free. During the 2004 election cycle, one County Commission candidate spoke out that the problem was not so much the badges but the Prosecutor’ office where cases are often dismissed and others never come to trial. According to this section of the code, we could have Prosecutor Elect Jim Samples going after the elusive thugs full time for just $68,000.00.
        Sound like a lot? It is, but currently, the County Commission has given the green light to a $20,000 part time Assisant Prosecutor. That $20,000 plus the $38,000 Prosecutor salary comes close to the expense of having a full time man on the job. With one full time prosecutor on the job, the public would have one accountable person and that may be a good thing!                                        


        Mayor Arthur Jarrett took over Town Cop duties last week. According to King Arthur, volunteer cop Buckshot Butcher hurt his knee while hunting deer. Jarrett said he will be doing most of his police work on Friday and Saturday nights.
        Here’ what we saw and heard via the scanner December 16: Around 3:40 p.m. scanner traffic called for badges for an altercation at the Clay Development Corp building on Main Street with gun involved. Poof! Real quick, by 3:43pm, four blue lights were on the scene. Two high tailed it toward Hartland appearing to be in pursuit of someone.
         With the green shirts skid-addled, we talked to a tall thin young man standing in front of the CDC building and got this story. His car broke down near Wayne King's place, he had been walking toward downtown when a Pontiac Firebird tried to run him down. A short ways up the road, the car carrying two males, turned and came back. This time it slowed and according to the fellow, Jonathan Sizemore pulled a pistol and with his mouth said “ow pow”before speeding off.
         Around 5:12pm Green Shirt Badge 675 called 911 seeking background on a Jonathan D. Sizemore born in 1978. His license came back suspended, failure to pay citation.
         CDC staff made the 911 call according to one eye witness. CDC's Pam Taylor was seen going in and out of the CDC office before hopping in her Chevy truck and heading south. In her vehicle, and in front of the CDC building, she yelled out something along the lines: Go in the house and stay there!
                 Almost two months ago, off duty Calhoun County Deputy Ron Bandy was at the Frogy Style Lounge in Big Otter. Around 3:00 a.m. Bandy was involved in a fight which eventually lead to a bar patron running over Bandy’ leg/ankle, not once, but twice. Later a vehicle fired shotgun blasts as it sped past. Arrest warrants were issued for Robert J. King and Rodney Jarvis. Weeks went by without an arrest.
         That changed December 9th when King and Jarvis came to Magistrate Mike King’ office to turn themselves in. Both made bond the same day.
         Mr. Jarvis is charged with felony unlawful malicious wounding and a misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident. Robert King of Chloe stands charged with two misdemeanors, brandishing and battery. Magistrate Boggs will hold King’ preliminary hearing Wednesday, December 21st at 2pm. No date has been set for the Jarvis subject.
         You might remember the Robert James King name from a couple years back. King was charged with running over a bunch of Cozy Corner bar patrons after a bar fight with John Cunningham. One of the victims required a trip to the hospital.
         If you don’ remember the background, you may remember the case as one of Prosecutor Daniel Grindo’ first courtroom appearances for the state. King walked away a free man after the jury trial. With a hand full of sworn witness testimonials, most in the peanut gallery left the courtroom that day feeling Grindo blew the case. AW
          Attention: For Sale by Owners in Clay County
          Why are people afraid to buy from me? Many homeowners believe that to maximize their profits on a home sale they should sell it themselves. At first glance, they feel selling a home is simple and why should they pay broker fees for something they could do themselves? In fact, close to 25% of all the homes sold last year were sold “ale by owner”(FSBO). However, close to half of the FSBO's said that they would hire a professional next time they sold. Thirty percent said they were unhappy with the results they achieved by choosing FSBO. Why?
          Many FSBO tell that the time, paperwork, and everyday responsibilities involved were not worth the amount of money they saved in commissions. For others, the financial savings were even more disappointing. By the time they figured the amount of fees paid to outside consultants, inspectors, appraisers, title lawyers, escrow and loan officers, marketing, advertising, etc., they would have been better off having paid the broker's fees which would have included many of these charges up front.
          Selling a home requires an intimate understanding of the real estate market. If the property is priced too high, it will sit and develop a reputation for being a problem property. If the property is priced too low, you will cost yourself serious money. Some FSBOs discovered that the lost money as a result of poor decisions outweighed the commission.
          Before you decide to sell FSBO, consider these questions and weigh the answers of assuming the responsibility versus employing a professional. A little time spent investigating up front will pay off tenfold in the end.
         1. Do I have the time, energy, know-how, and ability to devote a full forced effort to sell my home? One of the keys to selling a home efficiently and profitably is complete accessibility. Many homes have sat on the market much longer than necessary because the owner was unwilling or unavailableto show the property. Realize that a certain amount of hours each day is necessary to sell your home.
         2. Am I prepared to deal with an onslaught of buyers who perceive FSBO's as targets for low balling? One of the challenges of selling a home is screening unqualified prospects and dealing with low-ballers. It often goes much time, effort, and expertise it requires to spot these people quickly. Settling for a low-baller bid is usually worse than paying broker commissions.
         3. Am I offering financing options to the buyer? Am I prepared to answer questions about financing? One of the keys in selling, whether it's a home, car... anything, is to have all the necessary information the prospective buyer needs and to offer them options. Think about the last time you purchased something of value; did you make a decision before you had all your ducks in a row? By offering financing options you give the home buyer the ability to work on their terms and open up the possibilities of selling you home quickly and more profitably. A professional real estate agent or associate will have a complete team, from lenders to title reps for you to utilize... they'll be at your disposal.
         4. Do I fully understand the legal ramifications and necessary steps required in selling a home? Many home sales have been lost due to incomplete paperwork, lack of inspections, or not meeting your state disclosure laws. Are you completely informed of all the steps necessary to sale real estate? If not, a professional real estate agent or associate would be a wise choice.
         5. Do I have the capability of handling the legal contracts, agreements, and any disputes with buyers before or after the offer is presented? Ask yourself if you are well versed in legalese and if you are prepared to handle disputes with buyers. To avoid any disputes it is wise to put all negotiations and agreements in writing. Many home sales have been lost due to misinterpretation of what was negotiated.
         6. Have I contacted the necessary professionals: title, inspector (home or pest), attorney, and escrow company? Are you familiar with top inspectors and escrow companies? Don't randomly select inspectors, attorneys, title companies. Like any profession there are inadequate individuals who will slow, delay, and possibly even cost you the transaction.
         This article to brought to you by Dave Derby,
         Greenlee Properties Inc.
         GMAC Real Estate: Clay Office.


                 I'm going to throw some ideas at you all for tourism in Clayberry. If you got them from some of those city people that pose as tourism folks in Charleston, they would charge you thousands of dollars for only one idea. But I'll give them to you for free because I like the little folks like you Clayberrians and my own Masonites.
                 The RR project is a good one but don't sit on your hands waiting for it to happen. Get together and get some other things moving so when and if it does come, you will already have your tourism infrastructure in place.
                 Proceed with the Sampson Dam project, it will be the cornerstone for your tourism of the future.
                 Proceed with the Elk River Ramp project. In fact, why not have more than one ramp on the Elk?
                 Start thinking about a variety of trails crisscrossing Clay County, with as many as possible tying in with both the dam and the ramp. You'll want an ATV trail for the rip-roar and bounce crowd. Then you'll want a bicycle trail for those of a quieter turn. A horse trail with a well-done stable would also be a fine idea. And finish off with a hiking trail for us old folks to stroll along, taking in Clay's natural beauty. Be sure to take some of the trails along the Elk and some up into the hills to show off the county.
                 Since 2008 will be Clay County's sesquicentennial (150th anniversary to us common folks,) why not start planning something BIG for it? What I picture is a countywide homecoming. Have a homecoming for every community in the county that wants to have one. You could plan the homecoming to coincide with the Golden Delicious Festival or over the 4th of July, it's your game, make your own rules. I'd advertise the idea in the Communicator and on the radio, seeking volunteers from the communities that would work to make it happen and be successful. Once you have your team, they could start notifying those Clayberrians from around the world about it and making their own arrangements, within the rules that you all make and agree on. Every one that comes home will be a tourist.
                 Your team then would start having low-budget fund-raisers, dinners: bean, spaghetti, ramps, hot dogs, whatever draws a crowd. You could have community yard sales, auctions, etc. The goal is raising enough money in each community for them to put on their homecoming. My only warning is to not go begging to the government or businesses. The government will talk you into the ground and stop you cold. The businesses are struggling already and you want them to not feel imposed upon. Dog-gone if I'm not out of space… more the next time.
                 The Braxton-Clay County FSA Committee would like to announce the results of this year's farmer-oriented election. 2004's election was held in two areas: Community B (old Holly and Salt Lick magisterial district) in Braxton County and Community E, in Clay (area north of RT 4 which includes Otter, northern half of Henry and a corner of Union district).
                 In Braxton's Community B, Forrest H. (Jody) Taylor, Jr. received the most votes and was elected directly to the County FSA Committee. Harold Kenneth Skidmore, Marian Long, and Vernon Singleton, will serve as alternates to the County Committee representing their community. Alternates would be asked to serve only if the regular County Committeepersons were unable to attend.
                 In Clay's Community E, Mary Metheney received the most votes and was elected directly to the County FSA Committee. Barry Curry will serve as Community E's first alternate.
                 The 2005 County FSA Committee will be as follows: Jody Taylor, Bobbi Meadows, Chris Young, Joe Lanham, and Mary Metheney.
                 Each newly elected committeeperson will take office January 1, 2005, for a three-year term of office. An organizational meeting will be held January 4th to determine the positions each of the five local representatives will hold for the coming year
                 The FSA farmer elected committee system has been a key factor in the successful administration of federal farm programs provided by Congress. The Secretary of Agriculture considers committee members very important in this "grass roots" approach to American agriculture.
                 For the county office delivery system to function at its best, we must be diverse in meeting the needs of all participants, including those with disabilities, minorities, females, socially disadvantaged, as well as others in our community boundaries. By bringing locally led individuals to the committee we can achieve better understanding and perspective, consequently improving our ability to serve the public.
                 FSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages farm commodity, crop insurance, conservation programs, farm ownership and farm operating loans. Participation in federal programs is open to all eligible farmers regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. Anyone seeking more information should contact the Braxton-Clay County FSA Office, Room 100, Allegheny Power Building, Gassaway, WV, or call (304) 364-5103. Clay County farmers can call toll free 1-800-284-4956.
         Christian Service Center News
          Hello again! By the time you read this Christmas will be here. Hope you got all your shopping and baking done and are able to enjoy your families.
          The Christian Centers are both doing better and we’e been blessed with new customers every week, and donations are good.
          We have great news concerning the Christmas Angel Tree that we had in the restaurant, and want everyone to know that every child that was on our tree has been taken care of! Our thanks and prayers are going out to all the little helpers who took care of a ball from the tree. And we are very grateful for Fola Coal Company’ donation that is helping the kids have a very special Christmas. Thanks again Fola Coal Company!
          Hopefully, Christmas and the new year will be a great time for you all to relax, after the hustle and bustle of shopping, and spend well deserved time with family and loved ones.
          Thanks go to Sarah and Jesse Rodgers for cleaning out the space in the back of the Christian Center at Lizemores. We’e hoping to be ready for the youth center in the back by early spring. Thanks to Ben and Nina Murphy for all of their help and generosity at the Christian Center in Lizemores. We are thankful for all of our regular customers that come to our restaurant – they make our day when they come.
          Bill West and his wife had a baby boy on December 17, 2004. They have named him William Austin. Congratulations on your 7 pound, 19 inch long new arrival. The long delivery was worth all the love and joy he will bring you both. Congratulations Billie and Denise West on your grandbaby!
          Here is something we thought that you might like to read. Send it to a friend that is having a hard time or just someone you are thinking about in your life: I know the road has been rocky lately, but things will get better soon. I’l be there for you. I’l hold your hand and offer you a shoulder and you’l get through this difficult time with shining colors. Never quit hoping and trying. Dreams do come true if you spread your wings and fly. The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.
          From all the gals at both Christian Centers and Freda’ Restaurant, Merry Christmas and a happy and safe new year!
         Blue & Red Report
          The Republicans are not only extending their control over the White House, but also the House of Representatives and the Senate. As a result the Washington Republicans are now in their best position to pursue and put in place their extremist agenda. This agenda will place the needs of the special interests over the desires of the average American for a government that creates opportunity, fairness, and security.
          These are a few of the ways they're planning to threaten your basic rights: First: Shifting the tax burden to the working families. They'll calling it "reform" but they've got only one thing in mind - shifting the tax burden from the wealthiest Americans onto the backs of the lower and middle class taxpayers. Ideas include a national sales tax, reduction in taxes for investors, cutting back on programs for our poor and needy, etc.
         Second: Undermining Social Security. The Bush administration is gearing up to reintroduce its disastrous plan to undermine the retirement security of every single American. They’e planning to let younger workers donate to an investment fund that will cost your children and grandchildren over one trillion dollars in new debts. The Social Security funds have for years been used by the government to help in running our government, but now they want to enable the Wall Street investor bankers to take billions in fees and commissionsSecurity.As Blue Democrats we must stand now or millions of retired people will suffer in the future.
         Thirdly: Packing the Supreme Court with extremists. This is probably the greatest danger to our fundamental constitutional rights that will affect all our lives for decades in the future. As the Supreme Court members retire (a possibility of 3 to 4 retiring soon,) if President Bush nominates extremist judges to the nation's highest court for lifetime appointments, all the rights we hold dear will be a risk.
          It is time for the bold, and the blue Democratic Party to fight our battles in Washington. Please email your president, the members of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) and tell them you are tired of taxing the working and poor class and letting the wealthy off. Make it a point to say that you don't want to go in debt a trillion dollars so Wall Street investors can have commissions and fees. Leave Social Security alone! Finally, in the next few months let them know that you want wise choices made for the Supreme Court.
         The Blue Democrat from Clay County, West Virginia
         Dave Derby
         Dear Commissioner Sams and fellow citizens:
                          Four years ago in a reelection campaign you, Jimmy Sams placed a plaque inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the wall of the Clay County Commission meeting room. This was a campaign ploy and a personal agenda recognizable by any literate and rational person as a merging of church and state.
                 I usually do not write many letters on legal or moral issues; however, I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic when I enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. I have done so all of my adult life and am still morally obligated to do so. You have read letters into the record that support your position so I am exercising my responsibility and writing this letter to you to give you the opportunity to balance the record.
                 I did not file a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union about this. As a patriot I do not understand why any patriot who believes in the constitution and is sworn to uphold it or protect it could find fault with the ACLU; an organization that uses legal and constitutional means to help provide the protection of the constitution and the law to everyone not just the rich and politically connected.        
                 The constitution guarantees freedom of religion; it also guarantees that the government will not ram someone’ interpretation of religion down my throat. Since the United States of America ratified its constitution on June 21, 1788, it has been a fact of constitutional law that there is a separation of church and state in this great nation. Many United States Federal Courts have ruled on the issue so many times that it is a well-known fact of constitutional and case law that the Ten Commandments cannot be prominently displayed in a government building.        
                 If you, Jimmy Sams believe so strongly that, the Ten Commandments need to be displayed then you need to display them at your business.
                 Mr. Sams you need to read the oath that you took.
            “-5. or affirmation to support the constitution. person elected or appointed to any office, before proceeding to exercise the authority, or discharge the duties thereof, shall make oath or affirmation that he will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his said office to the best of his skill and judgment; and no other oath, declaration, or test shall be required as a qualification, unless herein otherwise provided.”Article 4, paragraph 5, Constitution of the State of West Virginia
Fortunately this oath says nothing about the Bible, Koran, or any other religious document. This country was founded by citizen’ who were fleeing a government sponsored religion. Any person with sufficient competency to take this oath will realize that it only refers to the constitutions of the United States and the State of West Virginia; it does not refer to religion. Because, the authors and those who have amended both of these foundations of our democracy and its laws have recognized the wisdom of not permitting the government to become a long arm of any church or the government to manage or promote any religion. This is what separates us from the Iranians and the Taliban. We have a responsibility to govern ourselves by the constitution and the constitutional laws of this nation, not an elected public employee’ interpretation of religion. I get my religion in the church of my choice or in my personal study of the Bible as the authors of our constitution intended. There is no greater danger to our democracy than a government sponsored religion. Obviously for the above noted reasons you either do not understand your oath or do not care to violate it for a personal agenda.
        Placing a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of the Clay County Commission meeting room is a case of forcing the taxpayers to pay for a portion of your reelection campaign. The county has not been able to collect many thousands of dollars rent from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for using the commission meeting room as a court room because they interpret your politically motivated religious display as unconstitutional. This is money already lost. If any public employee campaigns for a political office using government resources, the taxpayers are rightfully outraged because, that person is misappropriating government resources. They would also have a responsibility to demand that the treasury be reimbursed for the expenses involved. Mr. Sams the only purpose for affixing that plaque of the Ten Commandments to the wall behind your desk in the County Commission meeting room was to help you get reelected and to forward your personal agenda. It has also served as an emotional issue to help you divert attention away from your mismanagement of the duties you were elected and sworn to perform. Your religious display has not served any constitutionally mandated purpose. It has cost the county many thousands of dollars in lost rent revenue and extra expenses during a budget crisis. This is a misappropriation of public funds. Would this lost rent revenue help the county provide funds for emergency services? Are you, Jimmy Sams, planning to repay the taxpayers of Clay County the lost rent revenue?
        If you want to campaign on a platform based on the Ten Commandments that is your right. If you will apply the constitutions of the State of West Virginia and the United States of America and the Ten Commandments in all actions that you take, I will congratulate you for being an enlightened patriot and choosing to see the truth of the constitutions and the light of the Lord.
        I believe that all people should think of the Ten Commandments as Rules to Live By regardless of their religious faith. I believe that the citizens of the county and the nation would be better served if you were to carry a copy of the constitutions of the State of West Virginia and the United States of America and the Ten Commandments in your pocket and read them and apply the principals they represent in every action you take in life. If you cannot read the fine print up close at least place your plaque of them in the back of the meeting room where you can see them. Placing them on the wall as a demonstration of your faith in the Lord and not following them is only self-serving; and, only demonstrates your belief that you are superior to all others and above following the word of God. Moses, who I venture to say, was a much wiser man, much closer to God than you or I demonstrated that he knew that empty worship of idols is a sinful and evil thing when he smashed the original stone tablets of the Ten Commandments given to him by the Lord our God.
        Mr. Sams your belligerent tone concerning your placement of the plaque of the Ten Commandments and your statement that your hands would not remove this plaque even if the court ordered you to do so only serves as a demonstration of your willingness to disobey any law that does not serve your purpose and your belief that you are above the law and the your contempt for any constitutional authority other than your own. Were you bearing false witness when you took your oath to uphold the constitution? Is hijacking the county commission room to display a religious idol and causing the county to lose many thousands of dollars of earned revenue to further your personal goals theft? Is violating an oath to uphold the constitution perjury?
        I believe that you have not read the constitution, do not understand it or do not take your oath seriously, possibly all three. I do not understand how someone can take an oath to uphold the constitution without having read it and thoroughly understanding it unless he or she does not take his or her oath seriously. I believe that you do not practice the values God communicated in the Ten Commandments if you cannot fulfill your oath to uphold the constitutions of the United States of America and the State of West Virginia. If you cannot place your oath to uphold the constitution before your religious beliefs or personal prejudices; then you are not fit to be an elected public employee.
        “his is my contract with America,”United States Senator Robert C. Byrd said while pulling a copy of the United States Constitution from his breast pocket.
        I believe United States Senator Robert C. Byrd to be the greatest, most respected public employee in the United States Congress; because, he knows that his only job is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. The authors of the Constitution of the United States of America were a delegation of very wise men. They drafted a document that could serve as a guide for all of our laws and as a guide for all of our government for eternity. Adherence to this constitution is what makes this country the greatest country on earth.         
        Your flagrant contempt for the law and constitution has gotten this county nothing but bad press; demonstrating some of the elected public employees of this county believe that constitutional responsibility and protection ends at the county line. If we as a society allow our elected representatives to only do what is fashionable and not uphold the constitution; then we as a citizenry have failed to fulfill our responsibility.
        Clay County has lagged behind the rest of the nation and the rest of the state in economic development. Because, instead of standing up and making our elected public employees accountable for their constitutional responsibilities, we as citizens have let them grandstand on such stupid distractions as this and not fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. I am telling you and my fellow citizens that if we continue to allow our elected public employees to ignore the constitution and the law when it suits them or any group of citizens then no one will enjoy the protection of the Constitution of the United States of America and the State of West Virginia. In addition, we will continue to live in a fiefdom with a dieing economy.
         Sincerely, Edward Jesse Sizemore, II
         P.O. Box 401
         Clay, West Virginia 25043
         Editor’ Note: This is the letter handed to Commissioner Sams during the December 13th County Commission meeting. At the time, Mr. Sizemore asked that it be read into the meeting minutes. To date, Commissioners Sams and Triplett have not done so.
         No Permanent Friends…? By Jim Chafin
          Contradictions? I thought I had heard just about all there was about political doublespeak until a few nights ago when I tuned in to C-Span and caught an ongoing news conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. The occasion concerned that group’ election of its new chairman for the new Congress of 2005 through 2009. After a few preliminary remarks from their outgoing chairman, the new leader was introduced and he proceeded to outline his agenda for the coming four years. After a few humdrum minutes of lackluster banter, this seasoned veteran of legislative turf wars was asked how he hoped to move forward with the Black Caucus’programs, given the fact that his group had not been able to meet with George Bush in the past four years to discuss their concerns. A pause, and then this illustrious leader put forth his contention that the Caucus had, indeed, made some inroads for their vision of a better opportunity for all Americans. “e will continue to reach out to whichever party is in power and, failing in that, we have adopted a program of working with whomever we can – be it Republican or Democrat.” He continued with, “o permanent friends, no permanent enemies, but a permanent agenda.”
          Huh, what did he say? And, what does it mean? Is this a new way to say, “’l take my loving from whomever, wherever, and whenever I can get it?” Can the notion of a domestic or foreign policy be built while reserving a part of our social intentions, just in case the other fellow isn’ quite as sincere as we think he should be? Is this called “eeping our ammunition dry?” Or, “aving for a rainy day?” Are we being told that there can never be any true friendships between individuals, groups or nations? If so, then this society is in worse shape than most would agree it is. Most assuredly, there is room for lots of pessimistic evaluations about our current state of affairs. However, can there never be one true and lasting relationship in this nation, or the world? Is that what this man of the law is actually saying? Could it possibly be that he is verbalizing in public what is talked about in the smoke-filled back rooms of congressional committees on a routine basis? Is it true that all our friends of today are destined to eventually become our enemies? If this be true, then what a revolting development this has turned out to be.
          It does seem that there are a million things that need to be righted, while there is miniscule evidence that things are getting better. But do we succumb to the general idea that, because the news is bad, there is nothing that can be done about it? Certainly not! We do, however, need to understand that there is a war going on in this society; not a new battle, but one that has been fought since the day the first settlers arrived on these shores. Intermixed with those “uddled masses yearning to be free”were representatives of the Royal Court who were under direct orders of the King to claim this wilderness territory in the name of royalty and the upper one percent of then-society. A charge that has not changed in the three hundred years since the first colonists settled on the shores of this rich nation. What we know to be true today, was true back in the early 1600s – the resources of this country were destined to be exploited for the benefit of the already wealthy. In the words of modern day explorers (exploiters), “he haves and have mores.”
          So, we fulfill prophecy of 2700 years ago: “hey pant after the dust of the earth on the heads of the poor…they decree unrighteous decrees and write grievousness into their ordinances which they have prescribed…To take away the right of the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless.” (Isaiah 9:16 and 10: 1-2) In other words, the hand of wealth looms heavy on the lives of the middle class and the poor. In a democracy, we the people elect those who represent us. So whose fault is it when those we send to Charleston and Washington turn against us and do the will of the almighty dollar? Scripture tells us that Heaven rules in the affairs of man, but we are also cautioned to fulfill our own responsibilities – that is, govern our own actions.
          No clearer example of stewardship (or lack thereof) can be seen right here in the hills of West Virginia. We find our normally peaceful valleys become raging weapons of mass destruction with merely an inch or two of rainfall. We hear the barons of coal, timber, gas and oil demanding ever more concessions from our legislators – and getting them. Then we hear Supreme Court Judge Elliott Maynard say, “his court simply does not believe that the day to day activities of defendants (coal companies) necessarily create a high risk of flash flooding.” Maynard goes on to say, “lso, we are convinced that any increased risk of flooding which results from defendants extractive activities can be greatly reduced by the exercise of due care.” Yeah, right, Spike. But “ue care”is precisely what is not being done. That is the motivating factor in those lawsuits being filed against those who are destroying our environment. “ue care”is the cry that has been echoing through these valleys for at least fifty years. But the industrialists are stone deaf and of limited vision. Another note: when Judge Maynard decided to build his home in Williamson, you might be surprised to learn that he went high upon a mountain in East Williamson to prepare the site. Apparently his knowledge of hydraulics in the Tug River Basin bolstered his concerns for self-survival. Too bad his sense of personal safety does not extend to that of his neighbors.
          Actually, what we are seeing these days is a full-blown imperialistic system of governance not unlike the Admiralty of long-ago kings and queens. Elections notwithstanding, our public servants have surrounded themselves with several layers of bureaucratic sound barriers that insulates them from the cries of their constituents. And I believe “e the people”have allowed this to happen. The thing that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others feared has happened. We, the people, have turned our personal safety and well being over to a bunch of politicians who really don’ give a fat rat’ tail. Their hip pocket reigns supreme.