Letters to the editor
I am writing to update you about an item on this evening’s (February 19) Pocahontas County Commission meeting agenda. This item concerned the discussion and/or action to approve the hiring of Mr. Bob Martin to the position of assistant prosecuting attorney.
I remember the difficulty that former prosecuting attorney Donna Meadows Price experienced in trying to recruit and retain an assistant prosecuting attorney. Thus I appreciate the challenge it is to find qualified help. And I further appreciate the need to be able to prosecute cases in a timely fashion. Our prosecuting attorney Gene Simmons must have an assistant prosecuting attorney who is helpful to him and to the needs and goals of his office.
In tonight’s discussion, I realize that I offended Mr. Martin in my attempts to explain my reasoning for wanting to postpone his hiring. Mr. Martin wanted to explain the two misdemeanor charges against him, and I should have listened to him before I attempted to express my concerns. For that I apologize.
Mr. Martin did eventually have the chance to explain to us commissioners the reasons for his arrest and for the charges, and I have to say that I believe him. If what Mr. Martin conveyed to us commissioners is true, then I hope he finds a just and expedient resolution to the two misdemeanor charges before him.
Mr. Martin’s innocence or guilt is not my decision to make. That is the role of the magistrate court. I feel that my role as a county commissioner is to exercise good judgment when we are asked to approve the hiring of an employee. In this case, the candidate for the position has two misdemeanor charges before him, and I felt that approving his hire at this stage would be an irresponsible action for us the Pocahontas County Commission to take. My objection to his hiring is not based on any personal judgment of Mr. Martin. I don’t know Mr. Martin from Adam, as they say, and I have no reason to judge him unfit for the position. In fact, our prosecuting attorney Gene Simmons made it clear that Bob Martin has been a great help to him, having assisted with several cases thus far. For this, I am glad and thankful.
I feel we should have waited to hire Mr. Martin until the charges against him would be dismissed, or until Mr. Martin would be found innocent. Given that my fellow commissioners decided this evening to hire Mr. Martin prior to such an outcome, I very much hope that one of these two outcomes will come true and soon. But it is already too late, I fear, to recover the trust of those who expect us to exercise better judgment in these circumstances. Our county government is presently facing several issues and allegations that raise questions of trust and competency in us, and as such it must be acknowledged that to hire an individual presently facing charges will only further erode that trust. This is my single and simple concern. This is the reason for my professional disagreement with the decision we made in the majority this evening to hire Mr. Martin.
I hope that my reasoning on objecting to Mr. Bob Martin’s hiring at this stage is sound and understood. Again I apologize for offending Mr. Martin; for not listening to him before speaking. I wish him and his family peace, and an expedient and rightful outcome to the charges before him. For those that are saddened or despaired by the action taken tonight, I wish too that we as your county government can find the path to regaining your trust in us.
David M. Fleming,
I was born September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. After defeating Germany and Japan in the second World War, the U.S. government supported the national Rifle Association (NRA). They encouraged everyone to have a rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The U. S. government even sold surplus military weapons, many of which were semi-automatic rifles, to NRA members at a discount price.
The thought was that the reason Japan did not invade our west coast was because they knew that a large number of citizens had guns and would use them.
The NRA has done a lot to promote gun safety and has supported legislation to mandate harsh penalties for anyone committing a crime with a gun.
I do not see that any more gun laws would have prevented the Aurora, Colorado, or the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedies. A background check would not have prevented the two killers from getting a gun. If one person in that school had a shotgun, twenty children could have been saved.
I have lived in a different era and things have definitely changed. We should pay more attention to the mentally ill and to the violence in the movies and video games the young people are watching.
Please support the NRA and let your representatives in Washington know that we do not need any more gun control laws.
Hiking into Cranberry on a recent backpacking trip, I passed some fellow campers who were hiking out. We stopped and chatted a bit, and I asked them where they were from. “Oh, we’re from western Ohio,” they replied. “It took us over six hours to drive here. How about you?” When I told them I lived in Hillsboro, and a trip they had planned for months I was doing on a whim, I could see the envy on their faces. Growing up in Pocahontas County, it’s easy to forget just how unique – how rare and precious – this area really is. I didn’t really understand it myself until I moved to Colorado, and later to California. Now that I’ve moved back, I love having friends from those places visit. They are always shocked at the beauty of where I call home.
The National Monument designation is a formal acknowledgement of the beauty, as well as a means to protect it for generations to come. Of course, in order to do so, we as a community must also think about ensuring long-term economic stability and growth for the county, so that our children will continue to have opportunities locally. The Monument designation has the potential to expand our economy through tourism, just as it has consistently been shown to in other monument communities. (For details, see http://headwaterseconomics.org/land/reports/national-monuments)
Pocahontas County isn’t the only place in the United States discussing a national monument right now, but in our community the conversation seems to be different than in places where monument initiatives are broadly supported. Local government officials in New Mexico, for example, have provided leadership on two proposed monuments consisting of about 600,000 acres. Not only have elected officials embraced the potential economic benefits, but monument designation in New Mexico is also supported by hunting groups including the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the United Bowhunters of New Mexico, Southwest Consolidated Sportsmen, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Why would hunters in New Mexico even consider monument designation if there was a chance the National Park Service would take over and restrict their rights to use the land as they do now? New Mexico is having an informed discussion, realizing that hunting and fishing are 100 percent compatible with the proposed monuments, and understanding claims that a unilateral switch to the Park Service are nothing but misinformation that hinders a community’s ability to move forward. In fact, there is nothing in the Antiquities Act or any other existing statute that allows the President to single-handedly switch a land-managing agency. Far from robbing anyone of their rights, the Monument designation will keep some of most important lands in West Virginia – and the country– just the way they are, the way we have enjoyed and respected for decades.
Opportunities presented by the Monument designation are overwhelmingly positive, but I understand the concerns others have expressed. The vast majority of our community desires sustainable, long-term economic growth. In order to achieve that goal, we must be proactive and utilize the virtues the area has now, instead of taking a “do nothing” approach and hoping past industries will revive themselves.
Despite contentions surrounding the proposal, I believe that everyone involved has common goals: protection of the land for hunting, fishing, and other recreational use, and sustainable growth for our economy that will provide continued opportunities for years to come. Let’s continue to discuss and debate the facts, and weigh the benefits against the costs. We can do better than nativism and dismissing opinions simply because of where someone was born.
Nathaniel Dane Sizemore
I am writing to express my experience with smoking. I was in the seventh grade when I first tried smoking. I gave into peer pressure and wanted to fit in. I graduated from high school and went to college, and I got back into smoking when I entered the work force. I smoked for four years, joining co-workers on their smoke breaks. I smoked about a pack and a half a week, which isn’t much compared to others, but I still felt the impact on my breathing and on my wallet. I met my wife while at that job, and I was fortunate enough to be able to quit smoking cold turkey. My co-workers were never that lucky when they tried to quit.
I first tried smoking because of peer pressure. Peer pressure is a tough thing to deal with in middle school. Being able to stand up to your friends and resist the temptation to try tobacco is a struggle for many youth. Adolescents are very impressionable. When they see parents, friends and family smoking and chewing, they think it is a cool thing to do. At that age, kids don’t understand the gravity of the decision to start smoking or chewing. Tobacco is a very addictive substance and can lead to serious health problems, not to mention spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on cigarettes or chew in the course of a lifetime. Let’s consider cigarettes which cost $3.50 per pack. If you smoke one pack a day, you’re looking at $24.50 per week, $98 per month, $1,176 per year and $47,040 over the course of 40 years. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use an extra $47,000! These numbers are on the low end. Just think if you paid more for a pack of cigarettes/chewing tobacco and smoked three packs a day!
Curiosity is another reason for youth to try tobacco. However, when you know that this substance is deadly and expensive, it just seems to be better to not even get started in it. It’s like putting your hand on a hot stove when you know you’re going to get burned. Coming from someone who has smoked and been around lots of smokers growing up, smoking does not make you look cool - does not help your image. All it does is hurt your body and cost lots of money.
Tobacco is very addictive, but it does affect people in different ways. Luckily, I was not physically addicted to cigarettes, but I was mentally addicted. I thought it made me look cooler, and I smoked because legally, I could. I would smoke in between classes in college, and in the car on my way to work. The reason I smoked when I did was because I felt that that was what smokers did. However, I never smoked around my house and around my family. I never once had the urge to smoke while at home because I knew I didn’t want my family around that. I finally quit because I met my wife and I knew I didn’t want to be smoking around here. I quit cold turkey and was fortunate enough to not have any problems. There are, however, lots of people who do have problems quitting. For those that are struggling to quit West Virginia Tobacco Quit-line is a great resource. The phone number is 1-877-966-8784.