Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

September 30, 2012

Mixed signals as election nears

Election Day is fast approaching. Competing political messages fill the air waves and printed pages. Sadly, most of the rhetoric is about how bad the other guy is. Most people don’t take much stock in either side anymore. In 1960, when a young man from Hyannis Port, Mass. was running for president, 63 percent of the eligible voters in America cast their votes. A total of about 68 million votes were cast. John F. Kennedy won the popular vote by little more than 100,000 votes. It was a squeaker. However Kennedy did capture 303 electoral votes. Richard M. Nixon captured 219. It takes 270 electoral votes to win.

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The political analysts predict that this year the majority of West Virginia voters will cast their ballots for Mitt Romney. Virginia is still too close to call. The Commonwealth is one of nine states that are ranked undecided.

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I was a youngster when John Kennedy came to visit the people in the little town of Bramwell. He arrived on a bus, made his way to a podium situated in the street in front of the Masonic Lodge, and addressed the crowd that filled Main Street. Sadly, his presidency was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. The American people voted him president and one cowardly man removed him from that office. That act is contradictory to all America stands for. The acts that we are now seeing worldwide are contradictory to all that America stands for. I want to be clear that America stands for one thing and some of our people and some of our leaders stand for another. That is precisely why we should choose our leaders wisely.

Today candidates for political office are sending us messages. You will read them or hear them every day between now and election time. Those messages are not intended to educate the voter. They are intended to persuade the voter.

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While on a recent trip to Washington, I was given an opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery. We made a brief stop at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, our 35th president. The pain that I felt on Nov. 22, 1963 returned.

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Until one visits Arlington National Cemetery one simply cannot comprehend the staggering number of Americans that have fallen serving in our armed forces. The headstones seem endless. At the Tomb of the Unknowns the inscription reads. “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” One person in our small circle commented that every American elementary student should have an opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery because it would instill a sense of the price that has been paid for our freedom, a price that has no monetary equal.

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As I mentioned in my last column the King Coal Highway Authority was graciously received by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-Va., was tending to other urgent business. Her aide was extremely cordial and encouraging. The one staff person that, in my opinion, made the best impression on the group and was the most helpful was Kent Keyser of Rahall’s office. Keyser accompanied the group as we departed the building and offered encouragement.   

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The Summit Players put on another great show. “Don’t Cry for Me Margaret Mitchell” was a hit with the crowd and brought them to a standing ovation last Saturday night. The show is directed by Shawn Mann with James Dyer cast as David O. Selznik, Robert Park as Victor Fleming, Shawn Mann as Ben Hecht, and Ashley Froy giving a twist to the role of Selznik’s indispensable secretary Miss Peabody,. The show will be presented once more this afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Summit Players Theater, 500 Bland Street in Bluefield.

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Rahall, Rockefeller, and Manchin announced the award of a nearly $55 million federal contract to continue safety improvements at Bluestone Dam in Hinton. “By any measure, Bluestone Dam is a gigantic dynamo for our economy … Not only has Bluestone Dam provided nearly $5 billion in flood protection, served as a recreation and tourism springboard, but now as we extend and strengthen the life of the dam, it breathes more life into our economy with jobs. That a West Virginia company successfully competed for this major contract is a welcome sign of our State’s business outlook,” said Rahall ... The federal contract covers Phase 4 of the Bluestone Dam Safety Assurance Project, installing 115 anchors along the Dam. Phase 4 is the latest step in the Army Corps’ work to ensure the dam’s stability and provide an increase in the amount of flood waters that can safely be held by the dam. Many folks in our area also use the lake for recreational purposes.

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Rahall also announced that the city of Bluefield Fire Department has been awarded federal funding to strengthen its operations and response capabilities. “These funds are a lifeline for so many of our rural fire departments,” said Rahall. “In West Virginia, there is an incredible amount of dedication to and sacrifice for our neighbors and communities, and we need to match that local commitment at the federal level because it saves lives and levels the playing field. I will keep fighting hard to ensure these funds are preserved and that firefighters have the resources they need to protect themselves and to safeguard our families and communities.” The Bluefield Fire Department will receive the $76,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to purchase an hydraulic auto extrication system and an air compressor to service self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for firefighting personnel in Bluefield as well as the west end of Mercer County.

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Mercer County Democrats had a big turnout for their meet the candidates night at the Democratic headquarters in Princeton last Thursday night. State office candidates Glen Gainer, Tish Chafin, John Perdue and Robin Davis headlined the event. Gainer has served as state auditor since 1992. Perdue has served as the state’s treasurer since 1996. Davis was appointed by former Gov. Gaston Caperton to replace Justice Franklin Cleckley. In 1996, she was elected to fill the unexpired term and was re-elected to a full 12-year term in 2000. Chafin is seeking a first term on the high court bench.

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There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. There is still time to register to vote if you have not already done so. Please register, vote and have a great blue sky day.

Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.

 

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