Smith lays out goals as Marlinton mayor
Joe Smith won the June 14 election for Marlinton mayor and will be sworn in on June 30. Smith follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle as mayor of the town.
"I feel great," he said. "It is an accomplishment that I really wanted and worked for. I am the third generation of the Smith family to be elected mayor of the Town of Marlinton."
Smith said the decisive factor in the election was his lifelong residency in Marlinton.
"Hometown boy," he said. "I really believe that. I believe that the citizens of Marlinton looked at both candidates. I think Mayor Driscoll had strong support out there but I think my issue was hometown boy working for a better community. That was a big factor."
The mayor-elect said the town's infrastructure was among the town's most pressing problems.
"The infrastructure is a problem," he said. We have worked very hard the last four years under Mayor Driscoll to eliminate the storm drainage out of the sewer drainage. We completed one phase of that project and we're working on the second phase. That project will move forward."
In order to attract more tourists and new businesses, Smith said he wanted to improve the town's appearance.
"I'd like to see the community cleaned up and look presentable," he said, "I want to see falling down structures and dilapidated properties eliminated. I hate to see elimination of buildings and houses, but if they're useless, they need to come down and make the community look better.
"I would like to see the facades of the businesses on Main Street cleaned up and painted. The Times office recently did theirs and it's very attractive and it's an asset to Main Street. It's an attractive facade. Some of the other businesses, I would like to see follow suit."
"The town government is not in the business of creating businesses," Smith added. "What we can do is create an atmosphere to entice businesses and that involves the community, not just the town government."
Smith said Marlinton's community spirit and picturesque location would be important to the town's future.
"The people in the community - that is the strongest thing that I think the community has going for it," he said. "I believe that the residents want to see a nice community. They want to see growth in this community, regardless how small or how large. I think with communication and a little bit of work, they will be willing to work toward the same goals.
"The location in the mountains, the tourism, the fishing - it's a Mecca for a lot of things. Anybody who passes through this county - whether they pass through Marlinton or one of the other communities - spends money. Every cent of their money that is spent here is a benefit."
The mayor-elect said he is fortunate because preceding mayors have been responsible with the town's finances.
"Financially, the town has withstood this downturn in the economy well, thanks to good management by previous mayors," he said. "The town is financially, at this point in time, stable."
Smith said he disfavors further extensions of the town's water system.
"It is a cost that I just don't think the town can accept, right now," he said. "I sympathize with the people in the areas that do not have good potable water, but the town is in debt for the water systems that we have extended. The next phase that was supposed to take place was going south on Route 219 to Beard Heights and Buckeye and I honestly do not foresee that happening anytime in the near future."
The future mayor said he strongly supports an Army Corps of Engineers plan to build floodwalls and levees in Marlinton.
"I support flood protection, whatever they want to do," he said. "It appears that the only option we're ever going to have is levees and walls. Years ago, there was discussion of a dam and that went by the wayside many years ago. The people of Marlinton need to have the hope that we will have flood protection down the road. It's not going to happen in the near future and it might not happen in the next four years, but we need to continue to push and fight for it."
Smith was born in 1948 at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital in Marlinton. He graduated from Marlinton High School in 1966 and enlisted in the Army prior to graduation. Inducted in 1967, he was assigned to the Army Security Agency and completed two overseas tours in Turkey and Ethiopia. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of Specialist Fifth Class in 1971.
The mayor-elect recently retired from Industrial Timber and Land (ITL) in Edray. Prior to his career at ITL, Smith worked as a highway inspector with the Department of Highways and security guard at Snowshoe Mountain resort.
Smith has served a total of 18 years on town council, including six as recorder.
In addition to his local government service, Smith has been active with the: Marlinton VFD; American Cancer Society; EMS council; Marlinton Railroad Depot Corporation; Historical Society; Parks and Recreation board; Fourth of July Celebration board; Pioneer Days board and Autumn Harvest Festival board.
He has held numerous leadership positions with the American Legion and currently serves as a West Virginia Department vice-commander, with responsibility for three Legion districts.
The mayor-elect is a lifelong member of the Marlinton United Methodist Church.