AND THEN AGAIN….. by Tamara Pettit

……..Father’s Day is always a day of mixed emotions for me.  I appreciate the fathers who are still with us.  I love the father that my son, Doug, has become.  But, on this day I miss my Dad so much.  He died way too young of emphysema when I was 42 and he was 72.  He had been ill for a number of years so his death was anticipated.  His impact, however, lived on as I measure everything I do by his standards always asking myself “what would Dad do?” 

…..Can you go home again?   In the next few months many will be trying to revisit their homes and recapture their memories.  This is the time of year for reunions….family….class…friends… and I think we all want to return to those childhood experiences.  Some of us never left, but that doesn’t mean we don’t yearn to return to a favorite place.   I have learned that I consider Tomlinson Run Park an extension of my home.  How lucky are we in this area to have such a beautiful State park in such close proximity?     Max and I walk in the park every morning, but at least once every summer I want to return to one of my fondest teenage haunts.  Yep, the smell of Coppertone calls and I want to go back to the day when summer meant afternoons at the pool   We gathered every sunny day in the grass on the deep end of the pool as the teenage boys would perfect their diving skills  off the high dive (no longer at area pools,  can you say liability?)  It’s kinda ironic that I spent my favorite times near the deep end of the pool.  .I can’t swim so it’s a testimony to my trustworthy friends who never squealed on me nor tossed me in the water.

……So when the temperature edged up to the nineties last week I donned  my bathing suit and went to the pool.   Unlike many area pools, Tomlinson Run has been well maintained.   The only difference I could see was the presence of the water slide and the addition of lawn chairs and shade.  They’ve also loosened the ban on bringing your own lawn chairs.  I had visions of Gidget and drive-ins; putting my hair in rollers and listening to transister radios on a blanket that afternoon.    It was nice and not just a place for teenagers and young kids.  Saw quite few baby boomers there as well.

…….July will mean the changing of the guard for the Board of Education as the new members take their seats.    An interesting point has been raised on newly elected member Gerard   Spencer  who is also a Weirton Policeman.  Can a municipal police officer serve on the County Board of Education?  Not according to  the Ethics Commission School Board Advisory  Opinion No. 2014-04 which addressed the issue.  “A county Board of Education member-elect asks whether, if he takes office, he may keep his job as a police officer for a city police officer.”  The individual asks whether a city police officer is a prohibited “Public office” under the Board of Education eligibility standards,

…..The opinion cites WV Code 18-5-1a, but says that section of the code does not define “public office.”  It references Carson v. Wood, in which the Supreme Court explained the criteria that should be considered in determining if a particular position is a public office.   The opinion cites “City of Bridgeport v. Matheny, in which the Court considered whether the position of city police officer was a “public office” in determining whether a police officer could serve on a police civil service commission.  It determined that the statute prohibits police officers from holding other public offices.

…Central to the issue appeared to be that a police officer is required to take an oath of office and the Court concluded that the position of municipal police officer is a “public official.”  “Therefore even though a city police officer’s duties do not primarily relate to public schools as a police officer, the Requestor holds a public office and is entitled to compensation for his work as a police officer.  As such, he is barred from simultaneously serving on a County Board of Education and being employed as a paid police office” read the decision.

…..Whether I agree with the decision or not, I think it’s important that the Board address the issue up front and get it settled before votes are taken.   A problem could arise if there is an issue which results in a 3-2 vote of the Board and would cast doubt on the legality of the vote.   I had a similar issue when appointed to the House of Delegates.   I was employed at West Virginia Northern Community College and a Supreme Court opinion held that I was a State employee and could not serve in the legislature.  Evidently, back in the Sixties, Fairmont State’s football coach had tried to do both and the ruling said  you couldn’t do it.   I always thought it was unfair that County school teachers could serve in the Legislature, but State College employees could not.   I was told the school teachers received the checks from the County, College employees received them from the State.