Town Council welcomes newly elected officials
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, members welcomed four of the newly elected officials in Jefferson County.
Each one spoke briefly about how they plan to affect positive change in Jefferson County and potential impacts on Shepherdstown.
First to speak was Caleb Hudson, Shepherd grad and Shepherdstown resident, formerly on the Historic Landmark Committee in Shepherdstown and newly elected to County Commission. Hudson said that one of the complaints he’s heard from municipalities is that there is a lack of working relationship with County Commission.
“I plan to be at the meetings here in Shepherdstown more often so that I can relay your voice to the County Commission,” said Hudson.
Mayor Auxer said he was glad to hear Hudson’s resolution saying, “The relationship we have the county is minimal.”
Riley Moore, Delegate who replaced Stephen Skinner, spoke next and said he was in favor of more local control of towns and municipalities.
“I think there are certain unique needs in the state based on where the town or municipality is located. Certainly there is nowhere that that is more obvious than in the Eastern Panhandle in relation to the rest of the state of West Virginia,” said Moore.
He continued, “I ran on ‘jobs and opportunity,’ and I want to try to provide some relief here to the businesses, not only in Jefferson County, but West Virginia [as a whole]. For example, the large inventory tax that I know a lot of the restaurants and businesses here in Jefferson County face.”
Lori Robertson, Town Recorder, told Moore that as a cancer survivor, she hopes West Virginia will look at making medical marijuana legal.
Moore replied “I’m certainly inclined to look into it. If the body feels that it wants to actually look at the issue, we’re going to have to do a study or report to qualify why this is effective in Colorado. If this what people want-or what they don’t want, I’m willing to work on it.”
Mayor Auxer said he would appreciate being kept in the loop about any legislation in Charleston that could effect Shepherdstown.
New Prosecuting Attorney, Matt Harvey said one of his immediate plans is to address the opiate problem afflicting the panhandle and has been speaking with officials and law enforcement all over the county.
“Everybody has a voice, but no one is listening in Charleston. That applies to my office as well,” said Harvey. “I’ve been working on establishing relationships or getting back to relationships that once existed to make sure that the prosecutor’s office is engaged in the community.”
He continued, “Unfortunately, you’re (Shepherdstown) going to need my services at some point. I’m already working on the heroin issue that is going on in Jefferson County. What I need, to be effective, is a lot of help from the community.”
Harvey said that he’s very interested in the various treatment options being offered in both Berkeley and Jefferson counties like the day report and drug court programs.
“Jail is not a hospital. Jail is a tool-but it can’t be the only tool we rely on,” said Harvey. “With Day Report, we can get to the addicts sooner than drug court. I know there are other programs such as counseling and acupuncture-we need to be utilizing all of those.”
Harvey said he’s willing to listen to other suggestions and residents should reach out to him via the prosecutor’s office or Facebook.
Last to speak was Patricia Rucker, elected to State Senate to represent Shepherdstown and other districts in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.
“One of the whole reasons I ran for office is because I felt that we were being ignored in Charleston and I want to fight to get some of that power and that decision making in our district,” said Rucker. “It would be great if we could keep some of our money too,” she continued. “With our current fiscal crisis in West Virginia, we have to be more creative. As I’ve been meeting with the school board and with different organizations, I’ve been encouraging people that if we were to get more power locally to decide where to allocate your money, then you would have the flexibility to determine what your priorities are. And in the state legislature, that’s going to be one of my biggest pushes-to prioritize what is essential for the state to do, and that should get top priority–get fully funded. Some of the other things that are not essential might have to be cut, but never should infrastructure or education be cut. I was really aghast that Shepherd and Blue Ridge have not received the funding that they deserve. The fact that our public schools in the Eastern Panhandle are struggling to retain teachers-we have got to fix that.”
All of the officials said they would be more involved in town meetings and expressed great interest in hearing from the public if people have questions or concerns. The best way to reach each is via Facebook message.
In addition to the new officials, Shepherdstown welcomed a new furry face to town. A black German Shepherd named Apollo is Officer Todd Epperly’s new partner. Residents should feel free to stop and say hello to Apollo as he’s out and about. Although he doesn’t accept bribes, he will happily accept dog treats.