To The Citizens of Wirt County

(04/26/2002)

Dear Editor,

And to the Citizens to Preserve Wirt County,

And to the rest of our taxpaying citizens,

"Damn, we're in a tight spot", a line from the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, seems to apply again to the County situation.

But again how many times does it have to be repeated that this spot has been known for years? I know some are really getting tired of this, as it really doesn't seem to matter what has happen in the past or any apologies, the giving away of Wirt Metals for example. "That's water under the bridge" they say. Well as we know, so much water has washed the bridge away. There are times when you have to look at past actions to see the future.

I really have mixed emotions about this. I know there are a lot of our citizens very passionate about this, looking with their heart. I also know that if it weren't for self-interest, some others would not be as committed.

Roy Buchanan (president of the Citizens to Preserve Wirt County) and I have worked together on the school bond and levies, and I know where his heart is. We worked hard with our heads, and our hearts. Working with you and Larry Williams and the other dedicated citizens on that project and seeing the results has been one of my best experiences. The school bond had high matching monies, and you can go down to the schools and see the results. And it had an end. Even our friend Clyde C. was for it, he knew it was a deal. I am sure he is not going to think this venture is a deal. Roy, it doesn't seem like it has been ten years does it, boy you're getting old:>). But Roy, I think you are dealing with just your heart on this one, and leaving your head at home.

This levy has no end. Oh yes it is just for three years, but we all know there has to be another one three years from now and then another one three years later and on and on. The commissioners have already said this. How long is three years, Wirt Metals was sold (given away) four years ago to private enterprise and I far as I know, no property taxes have been collected on it yet. So if it takes four years or better to collect taxes, then three years will be here in no time. More than likely the amount will even have to be higher in the future; I am sure the legislature will be raising the salaries of elected officials in the future as they will not hold back the rest of the state because we cannot afford to to pay them.

Wirt County is our loved one that is on it's last breath of life, and now we are attempting to put it on a life support system. Even your guest at the public meeting, a Mr. Aiello, said that this was just a band aid for three years. He added "Do you want to die today or do you want those three years?" Sometimes, out of mercy, when there is no hope, it is best to let it go and to position yourself for the next step.

I also read that work has already begun to entice business and development to expand the tax rolls through a full-time development authority. I thought that we already had a full time development authority, which has been part of the problem, they gave away Wirt Metals. I remember attending the public meeting before the last levy attempt and a lady, of whom I understand is now the economic development guru of our county, stated that the Slate bridge was being rebuilt to carry more weight and only if we could pass the levy in time to capitalize on the boon it would bring to Wirt County. I remember when our metal plant crossed that bridge several times a day without any problems. I guess I didn't understand what kind of boon was going to be crossing the bridge. I am thinking if that is the kind of rational being used for our economic development, that is not going to feed the bull dog either. By the way, it was reported to me that this same lady said that I was the reason the last county levy failed. I want it on the record that I only voted once. If the development authority think and have the confidence they can have the county in fiscal shape in three years, why don't they loan the county some of the few hundred thousand they have in their account or used to. I don't think they have ever been audited.

Roy, I see where you have said you are fearful some Wirt residents do not understand what is happening, and they think some miracle will occur to save it. I think you underestimate the citizens. They realize it has been their paid representatives that have been relying on a miracle for all these years and now expect us to provide it through our pockets. The tax paying citizens of this county is mostly made up of the fixed income or soon will be, even at that most people just don't like throwing good money after bad. I know that over the last fifteen years others and I have appealed to the people in charge to come up with a plan knowing these days were on the horizon. I can remember one response was " We know what you are trying to do, but if it isn't broke don't fix it". Can we all agree it is broke?

I have said I could support a levy if light at the end of the tunnel could be seen or serious attempts being made to find the light. It has not been that long ago a county reorganization attempt was made. That would have helped, but was not supported by our elected officials. It seems anything that changes the status quo is pure threat and just radical ideas of someone bearing grudges. Our county has a population of 5000 plus. It has three administrative bodies, the county, the town, and the school system. It looks like there could be a way to consolidate bodies, but I have noticed that a sense of control seems to be more important than being practical. People that have had and have position don't seem to have the power to turn on a light, but I have seen a lot of lights turned off.

The commissioners in control now are working with a nailed coffin and have no other choice to ask for a levy if to keep the county. They are good people, and all that have been there are good people, even Bumy, as much hell as I have given him. They have had little to work with, but it seems there has been a lack of vision and the reluctance to reach out for ideas. Even the development authority has the same problem; I remember a former WCDA president saying "If they don't like the way Wirt County does it and when, to hell with them".

Commissioner Lowe told me that prior to him being elected that he was against the levy, but now he is for it. Well now he has no choice, in his position. But it reminded me of the story of the guy when he was of draft age was totally against the draft, but when he reached the age beyond being drafted, he said now that he was older and wiser he was all for it.

In closing, I know I speak for a lot of people even though I don't attempt to speak for them. These are my thoughts and beliefs, but I have people coming up to me after I have written one of these letters and letting me know that they approve and agree. The little old lady that came up behind me at the market and tapped me on the shoulder and whispered "keep it up". The guy that drove around the block to shake my hand, kind of scared me, knowing the guy, I thought he might be going to punch me. And others that have let me know they feel the same.

I have some thoughts on if we do have merge into another county but I'll wait till we come to that bridge. Roy, to you and your group, you know I admire your passion and desire and hard work, but I cannot see any future in your endeavor. I am going to vote against the Life Support System and hope we can position ourselves for betterment of our community in the next step.

Thank you as always Sincerely,

Wayne Wright
Rt 2 Box 108
Elizabeth WV 26143

P.S. To the lady that accused me of causing the loss of the last levy attempt; I am writing only one letter and casting only one vote;>) .