Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

January 6, 2013

City election on the horizon

— Congress walked us right up to the brink of the cliff. I overhead someone say, “Thank goodness Congress didn’t push us over the cliff —they just let us fall into a mud hole.” No matter what action or inaction our fine Congress took because either way the ploy sounded lame.

You would think that Congress has taken its lead from famed showman Phineas T. Barnum — “I believe hugely in advertising and blowing my own trumpet, beating the gongs, drums, to attract attention to a show ... I don’t believe in ‘duping the public,’ but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them.”

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“Congress meets tomorrow morning. Let us all pray: Oh Lord give us the strength to bear that which is about to be inflicted upon us. Be merciful with them. Oh Lord for they know not what they’re doing, Amen” — Will Rogers, Dec. 5, 1926. Some things just don’t change.

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I haven’t seen any tears shed in the coalfields because Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson left. All I could think of is thank God and Greyhound you’re gone ... and I suspect that coal people are also singing the line from that Roy Clark hit. I don’t think Jackson would want to hear the encore.   

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We enjoyed lower gas prices for a few days. Some of us believe that the lower prices were a ploy tied to the November election. A week or so before Christmas I was listening to a Charlotte, N.C., radio station. A newscaster reported that the price of gasoline was to drop 30 cents per gallon. The price did drop a few cents but we have had an uptick in the past few days from a low of $2.99 per gallon in neighboring Wytheville, Va.

As of last Thursday, gas was almost the same in Pineville as in neighboring Bluefield, Va. Something does not seem quite right. Gas was also below $3  in Duluth, Minn., and in Billings, Mont., last Thursday. Gas was $3.19 in Flatwoods and $2.89 in Charlottesville, Va., according to gasbuddy.com.

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Bluefield last municipal election was held in 2009, and another will be coming up this year. Candidates who filed four years ago included Judy Silbaugh, John W. Worley Sr., Jim Bailey, Linda K. Whalen, Pete Sternloff, Mary Frances Brammer, Earl B. Feathers Sr., Richard Dillon Sr., William Merva, the late Edwin Elliott and Mike Vinciguerra.

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Rumors floating around the old city hall have it that Mary Frances Brammer and Pete Sternloff will seek re-election. It is rumored that Tom Blevins, Deb Sarver (appointed to fill a vacated seat) and Linda Whalen may not seek re-election. Rumors also have it that standing on the sidelines and looking to throw their hats into the ring are former Bluefield Mayor Garry Moore, Blaine Braithwaite, Ellen Light and, possibly, Tom Cole.

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The town of Bluefield, Va., is having some problems with Bluefield Gas. Town officials are complaining that the company has failed to provide then with a schedule of their tariffs and fees and has failed to notify the town of any proposed changes to tariff or fees that affect citizens on the Virginia side.

The company may be privately owned but it is a public utility and there should be transparency. All policies affecting the general public and users should be upfront and available to any concerned public official or citizen.

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Mike Vinciguerra was recently elected president of the Mercer County Commission. Gene Buckner has also taken his seat on the commission and has attended his first meeting.

Thanks go to former Mercer County Assessor Bill Blankenship for his service to the county. Blankenship opted to retire.

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Congressman Nick J. Rahall was again selected by the House Democratic Caucus to serve as the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the new Congress starting this month. Rahall has been a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for his entire tenure in Congress and served as the committee’s top Democrat during the current Congress.

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There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. Again, I wish you a blue sky day. We have not had many of them lately.

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

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