……I feel like my head is full of random thoughts and questions, so I’m sharing them with you.  My good friend, the late Hugh Tate, used to do a column “Things I know, see or hear” full of observations.  Hugh was one of the best election analysts around because he took in information like a sponge and shared it with others, thus getting a different opinion.

……Filing for the 2024 Election begins tomorrow and continues through January 27.  Local candidates file at the County Clerk’s election office, while those who represent more than one county must file with the Secretary of State.  I’ve heard Randy Swartzmiller’s name mentioned for the Board of Education.  Speculation has been centered on whether current Board member Larry Shaw will retire or choose to give it another go.  Board President Chris Gillette term is also up and I’ve heard no report of whether he will run again.   My bet is he will.

……Transitioning from one political office is hard and very few candidates are able to do so.  From observing them all, I think the Board of Education office is the hardest and lowest paid job.  You’re right down there with parents who are mad if the school bus is late or there’s a problem with construction.   In today’s litigious society, Board members must be very careful with their votes so they don’t put their district in jeopardy.  And, all this for $160 meeting.    I admire the candidates who run for the Board because they can’t be doing it for money or power, they must truly care about kids.  I’ve heard of people who think of running for the Board to get their name out there for another office.   Dream on.  People are already so mad at you, it doesn’t help.   In Hancock County’s history I can only think of one board member who made the switch to County Commission and that was Dr. Dale ( Doc) Williams in the fifties.

……Whether a  Democrat will challenge 1st District Delegate Pat McGeehan is to be seen.   I’ve heard no talk of  Jack Woods trying again.  Jack a great guy; has the knowledge; and cares about people, he just never seems able to get a campaign off the ground.   A public defender, Jack can often be found at the Plaza theatre selling tickets and popcorn.

……Looks like there will be a race in the Republican primary for the second delegate district.  Del. Mark Zatezalo had thrown his hat into the Senate race when Sen. Ryan Weld was looking at the Attorney General position, but Weld backed out of the race which also included his good friend Moore Capito (I’m sorry but shouldn’t these people be having back room meetings to decide who is running for what before they declare)   With an open seat another candidate whose name escapes me.,   announced her intention to run and I hear she’s staying in the race.    I predict Zatezalo may have burned some bridges behind that can’t be rebuilt with not answering constituents calls and dropping the ball on the racetrack video lottery bill so that the City of Weirton in Hancock County receives no revenue.

…….A thank you and job well done is certainly in order for retiring Magistrate Clerk Tamera Smith.  She has faithfully served the public in that position and as Magistrate Assistant for over 40 years.  Her grandfather, John D. Herron, was the first person to ever hold that position when the Magistrate system was formed.  Tamera’s position was filled by Elaine Hyatt, who was previously magistrate assistant for Ralph Fletcher.   Karen LaScola, the finance director for the County Commission, will now fill Elaine’s position with Magistrate Fletcher.      All three magistrate positions are up for election.   I predict that Amica who filled Scott Hick’s position will run.   Svokas who currently fills the magistrate seat of Mike White will run and Fletcher will pursue the third slot.

…….No word on any competition against County Commission incumbent Jeff Davis who switched to the Republican party after the last election.  If his prior competition, Tommy Ogden, chooses to run the fight will be in the Primary, but I’ve heard no rumblings about Ogden.

….The budget of the County Commission has taken a hit to the tune of $15,000.00/month due to the Legislation giving New Cumberland and Chester the remaining 1%.  of racetrack video lottery. There have been no specifics about where the cuts will be made, but I look for consideration to perhaps put the contract  on the Animal Shelter  out to bid.  Whether they give departments a blanket cut and leave the decision of where to make layoff, etc remains to be seen, but whatever path they choose the county will be hurting   I’ve been perplexed that they aren’t launching an effort to see their money returned and again think 1percent could be taken from Mountaineer since they show no signs of growing their business or investing in the community.

……..The announcement of the hydroplant is just the first of articles on hydropower we plan on running in the next few months.

…….I’m one proud Mama and Shannon is one proud sister to learn that Doug is being honored as the top defense attorney in San Diego.  I also know that his grandfather, John D. would be so proud that Doug fulfilled the one thing Dad never got.  Dad said in the LIFE magazine that being a Justice of the Peace was  “as close to the law as I could get, but God I would have loved to be a trial attorney.”  I think Doug is also an example of the fine and caring educational system we have in Hancock County.   He had a speech impediment so bad when he went to kindergarten no one could understand a word he said.  While all his teachers were great, Theresa Delong, worked with him and praised him and built his self confidence and I thank God everyday my kids were fortunate to attend the Hancock County School System.