And Then Again

……In one of the more memorable election campaign snafus House of Delegates candidate Mark Zatezalo, a Weirton resident, had a billboard erected in Chester near Sparkle Market that read “Mark Zatezalo – A VOICE for Weirton & District 1 in Charleston.” Good choice of billboard placement, it’s a high traffic area and shoppers have time to read the entire billboard (the amount of words you read on a billboard is contingent on the speed at which you travel when you drive past the board) . But……the Board was clearly meant to be placed in Weirton and the mistake was corrected the next day. Here’s the interesting part, however. It was replaced with a generic board. The board in New Cumberland is not site specific either. Don’t fault Zatezalo for the screw up with the Weirton Board. That was the fault of the billboard company or his public relations agency. What’s a little concerning , however, is his need to tell the voters in Weirton he will be working for them. How about those of us New Cumberland, Chester, Newell and New Manchester?
……My guess is that since our last two delegates, McGeehan and Swartzmiller, both resided in Chester, Zatezalo felt a need to make Weirton residents know he’d be working for them. Only he informed the voters in Chester, he’d be Weirton’s voice in Charleston instead.
…..Every time the Legislature redistricts itself there is thought given to single delegate districts. One delegate would represent the northern sector of the district and the other the southern sector. Same with Senatorial districts. That plan is always rejected. The 1st Delegate District is small enough that two delegates can and should represent their entire district.
…..One reader who called to make sure I knew about the Board brought up a good point. This county is 88-square-miles. We in Northern Hancock County do travel to Weirton on occassion and would have a negative reaction to the Board when we saw it there.
…..Does territorialism work? It did years ago Targeted messaging and the distribution of daily newspapers in Hancock County made is quite effective in one election. Many years ago a candidate for county commissioner had a real problem with the County funding volunteer fire departments in Weirton. After all, Weirton had a paid fire department. The issue was a sore spot in northern Hancock County and the County was pretty much divided on the issue. The Saturday night before an election an insert was placed in the East Liverpool newspaper ONLY which highlighted that fire department funding and pledged to remve those funds from Weirton. The candidate won and many political pundits felt the targeted insert was a major factor.
…..I’m sure there are many election campaign screw up stories. I think mine is pretty good. In five terms in office, you are sure to cast a vote that angers one sector or another. Previously a union-endorsed candidate, I angered the unions by voting in favor of Workers Compensation reform. In the primary elections, the unions defaced some of my signs with a big circle with a slash through it – the universal sign for NO. I was a marked woman for sure, but I fought off the challenge and won the Primary. When it came time for the General Election I had two fellows that put my signs out. My directions to them were simply: “Here’s my list of locations. My signs are in my garage.” My directions should have been: “Those signs in the corner of the garage are signs that mean ‘don’t vote for Tamara ‘ don’t put them up.” What happened? The negative signs went up all over the county along with the unmarked signs. Did I go pull the negative signs out? Nope. Left them up. I figured I had won with my supporters and my detractors and the same voters would follow me into the General Election. They did. I won.
……Speaking about being territorial: Weirton City Council held a work session recently and is investigating the option of using the funds from the hotel/motel taxes they receive from the hotels within the City to establish their own Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Top of West Virginia currently receives the hotel/motel taxes from hotels in Hancock and Brooke Counties and is charged with promoting and marketing tourism for both counties. The Top of West Virginia CVB recently relocated to a new location on Main Street, Weirton. Rumor has it the City of Weirton plans to utilize space in the Millsop Community Center and locate the new Weirton CVB there.
…..A little legislative history on the establishment of the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. In 1995, the Racetrack Video Lottery Act dedicated .5 percent of net terminal income to fund CVBs. That revenue allowed the counties with the four racetracks to form CVBs Hancock County was one of the first to form the Hancock County CVB which promoted its major tourism attraction, Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino, a destination resort. The CVB acquired a matching grant from the State to produce its first “infomercial” which aired on Cleveland and Youngstown TV Stations. The first CVB director was Jeanne Ann Gibson who operated out of her home. The office was moved from the Municipal Building in New Cumberland to the Hancock County Museum in New Cumberland and then to Main Street in Weirton. Combining Hancock County with Brooke County followed.
…..As the video lottery money declined, the matching advertising grants went away. At one time Mountaineer partnered with the CVB and community partners for some of the largest grants in the state ($250,000.00) The hotel/motel tax became the major source of funding and a controversy arose over whether Mountaineer should pay tax on rooms “comped” for gamblers who were big bettors. Today, the revenue received from Mountaineer’s hotel is arround $40,000.00 per annum, not sufficient enough to operate the Top of West Virginia CVB without the revenue from Weirton’s hotels.
…..Should Weirton establish its own CVB, where does leave the Northern part of Hancock County which undoubtdly is the area that does attract a good deal of tourism? It also leaves Brooke County, which is home to Inn and Farm, Brooke Hills, and Bethany College out in the cold. I see two questions here. Weirton may be able to establish its own CVB, but given the mission of CVB’s…..should it? Are our efforts to attract tourism better served if they are cohesive or fragmented?
…..Driving through the County yesterday I was struck by the sheer beauty of the trees. There will be a day soon when the temperature will drop and rain will cause those trees to shed their leaves. It will go from glorious to barren until Mother Nature sends us snow to soften the landscape and we prepare for the holidays. I think COVID has caused us to pause, appreciate the daffodils and tulips of spring; smell the roses of summer; feel the fresh autumn breeze and soon….cozy in for winter. It hasn’t been easy for us, but we in small towns of West Virginia have been tempered by hard times.
….Congratulations to Judy Raveaux, CEO of CHANGE, Inc. She has been recognized as one of 50 WONDER WOMEN by WEST VIRGINIA LIVING MAGAZINE. I have served on the CHANGE Board of Directors for many years so I have seen firsthand how Judy has expanded the services of the agency to meet the needs of the area. From an agency whose primary purpose was helping laid off millworkers write resumes and find new employment, CHANGE’s services expanded to include a Domestic Violence Shelter, Weatherization, Family Medical Care, and School Based Health Sites under her leadership.