Residents getting involved

As a newspaper veteran, someone who has spent countless hours at governmental meetings where no one from the public was in attendance, let alone speaking about an issue, I get excited when I see local residents getting involved in how their government is run. That’s why I appreciated several incidents that happened this week.

First, on Thursday evening, Elkins City Council voted on the second and final reading to pass the so-called “Brunch Bill,” which will permit licensed businesses to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m., as opposed to 1 p.m., which had been the case.

The new ordinance inspired some controversy — as evidenced by Council’s 6-2 vote, with two members voting against the new law — but at first it appeared no one would speak during the public comment period alloted before Council would vote Thursday evening.

But then the last public comment speaker, Mike House, a local pastor, stepped to the microphone and voiced his dissent.

“As a pastor, obviously I’m opposed to the consumption of alcohol at all,” House said. “As a pastor and a counselor, I deal with the effects of alcohol all the time. Addictions are an issue in this town, and alcohol is one of those.”

In the days leading up to Thursday’s vote, House took advantage of The Inter-Mountain’s letters to the editor policy to reach out to the public and share his views on the proposed ordinance.

We encourage our readers to do likewise and submit letters to the editor on issues they feel strongly about. The guidelines for submitting letters to the editor can be seen at the bottom of this page.

It’s not about whether we here at the newspaper agree or disagree with House’s opinion — or anyone else’s, for that matter. It’s important that residents have the opportunity to speak their minds, and that’s one of the reasons this newspaper exists in your community. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

I was also encouraged this week to learn about a town hall-style meeting set for Sept. 19 at the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library.

The 5:15 p.m. meeting is a grass-roots event that is not being organized by a government body or agency. It will, however, be attended by at least two local elected officials, Randolph County Commissioner Mark Scott and Elkins City Council’s Linda Vest, who will be available to address the concerns of residents.

The meeting is open to all elected officials, but has been organized by a group of concerned local citizens.

I applaud their enthusiasm and willingness to get involved. I’m looking foward to attending the meeting and hearing what folks have to say.

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