Four Democrats want to sit on the County Commission: Amy Jo Dieffenbauch, incumbent Robert "Bob" Gorby, Cecilia Jane Ries, and Allen Rush.
Dieffenbauch is Sales and Marketing Director for Leveltek Processing, LLC with facilities in Benwood, W.Va., and LaPorte, Ind. Prior to taking the position at Leveltek Processing, Dieffenbauch worked for 14 years at Ormet's Hannibal Rolling Mill as Division Marketing/Product Manager.
She is the daughter of Barbara Ann Amos King, who served as Wetzel County Commissioner for 18 years, and the late Bob King of Pine Grove.
Dieffenbauch is married to Jim Dieffenbauch and they have twin children: Luke and Lindsay, who are both freshmen at West Virginia University in Morgantown. The couple resides in New Martinsville and both are life-long residents of Wetzel County.
She is a proud member of the Democratic Women's Club, New Martinsville Rotary, and serves as Vice President on the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Women in Metal Industries. Dieffenbauch served as Wetzel County School Board Member from 2008 until she resigned in January to seek the commissioner position.
She understands that being a County Commissioner is more than a "part-time" job, but with excellent time management skills and the help of modern technologies, she knows she can help the citizens of Wetzel County while maintaining her position in the manufacturing sector.
(Editor's Note: The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in races of local significance. Their responses are printed in the April 25 and May 2 editions of the Wetzel Chronicle in a simple question and answer format.)
Gorby has served the county since 2001. He is a Democrat and has served on the Democrat Committee for 30 plus years. He is the son of the late Elvy and Garnet Gorby. He graduated from Hundred High School in 1959 and attended Fairmont Business College in 1959. He served with honor in the West Virginia National Guard.
Gorby married Carol Stetz in 1965. Together they have three children: Bryan, Cindy, and Greg. They have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Gorby worked at Ormet as a welder for 33 plus years. He has been a union member most of his life. He has been a member of the AFL-CIO Labor Council for many years. He has received the endorsement of the West Virginia Building and Construction Trades ACT.
As a commissioner working with two other commissioners, they have developed a good relationship with Del. Pethtel, and Senators Edgell and Kessler, and the past Congressman Mollohan to get many grants to fund projects.
They've also worked with the three Public Service Districts to secure water in the county. Since 2001 several projects have been completed at the 4-H grounds, courthouse, and War Memorial Building.
Ries and her husband Henry reside in Proctor with their grandson Trevor.
She is the daughter of Donald Hohman and the late Hilda Lee Hohman, and the granddaughter of the late Clem and Hilda Hohman. Ries is a native of Wetzel County, having graduated from St. Joseph Grade School and from Magnolia High School.
She attended Wheeling Beauty College and West Virginia Northern Community College. After completing college she joined the New Martinsville Squad as a volunteer for five years as a driver and aide.
She then became an emergency medical technician in May 1995 and is currently at Wetzel County Emergency Ambulance Authority and Grandview EMS. She also worked at Bayer as an EMT and firefighter.
Ries brings 21 years of EMS service to the residents of Wetzel County.
She is co-owner of Hohman Snowplow Service and Hauling. She has been with the company since 1989.
She works in the office and owns all of the heavy equipment. Ries enjoys outdoor activities such as hunting, camping, traveling, and auctions. She is a member of the American Legion, The Moose, and the Quota Club, all of New Martinsville, and the VFW of Moundsville. She and her husband attend church at Antioch and St. Joseph.
Allen Rush of Friendship Ridge, New Martinsville, is a 1979 graduate of Magnolia High School. He is the son of Doretta Rush and the late Glenn Rush. He is married to the former Colleen Culp of Paden City. They have two sons, Chris and Fred.
Rush has been an employee of PPG Industries for 31 years. He has been a part-time farmer for 35 years. Rush has also been a small business owner for seven years. He has held the office of district supervisor for the Upper Ohio Conservation District for the past three-and-a-half years.
The County Commission's primary job is to set and maintain the county's budget. Are there any changes in the current fiscal system or division you would like to see made? What and why?
Dieffenbauch: As county commissioner, I want to ensure all elected officials have adequate funding to run their offices as they deem appropriate. In turn, this will allow these elected officials to serve the residents of Wetzel County to the best of their ability.
Gorby: 1. Continue to fund projects that help our citizens, i.e. public libraries, American Legions, and animal control. 2. Continue to manage in a responsible manner, the county's budget and fund our elected officials in a fiscally sound manner. 3. Continue to add money to the county's rainy day fund to prevent lay offs in the future and continue the projects that maintain the historical significance of our courthouse. 4. County commission gets the budget for each elected official, but it is the responsibility of each elected official to pay the bill when it reflects to their department.
Ries: The division that needs a lot of attention is the safety of the residents, which requires working very close with the sheriff's department. Which also means that the commissioners need to spend the county's money on necessity things not on items of luxury. We need more deputies and equipment for them.
Rush: I would first like to see increased funding for the Sheriff's Department due to the increase of drugs and other crimes in the county. I would then increase funding for improvements in all the other offices as more funds become available. I would continue the current support for the EMS services and work toward increased funding in the future. I would also explore all avenues to help all volunteer fire departments with their Workers Compensation premiums. In addition, I would seek ways to help communities develop and support recreational programs for all of Wetzel County.
Do you have a plan for progress in Wetzel County? Give some specific steps to achieve that goal.
Dieffenbauch: My plan for progress is not important. As county commissioner, I will listen to the needs of my constituents. To be a good leader, I feel it is vital to know the needs of those you represent. I'm sure my ideas for the future of Wetzel County will mirror the opinions of its residents.
Gorby: 1. Provide more public water access throughout the county by working with Bel-O-Mar.
2. Work with other elected officials in the courthouse to help with staffing needs and technology upgrades. 3. Continue to work with our legislative representatives to continue the necessary projects that help Wetzel County citizens.
Ries: Step One would be to make sure all the small business in the county stay up and running. Step Two would be to get the incoming flow of non-residents to spend their money here.
Rush: I would support the creation of a countywide economic development council consisting of business leaders, educators, community organizations, and private citizens.
The goals of the council should be to help existing businesses and encourage new ones to benefit all of Wetzel County. I believe the county commission should be an advocate for the citizens with our state representatives to ensure Wetzel County receives their maximum share of the state highway funds.
How has the influx of natural gas activity within Wetzel County affected the county commission's job? Are there any actions you would like to see the commission take in response to this development?
Dieffenbauch: The influx of natural gas activity will eventually affect the job of county commissioner, but not until royalties occur. Once royalties are being paid, there will be additional funds available to allocate. This would be the perfect time to upgrade county computer systems, record books, and other existing issues in the courthouse. I would hope there would be funds to continue the work at the existing grounds and newly acquired acreage at the fairgrounds. The recent natural gas activity has both positives and negatives; I will work with state and federal governments to repair roadways damaged due to this influx of heavy equipment traffic as well as work with the state Route 2 organization to continue their objectives. We cannot and I will not forget the industry and businesses that have been a mainstay to Wetzel County.
Gorby: The increased concerns about road conditions and traffic patterns have occurred. The county commission contacts local law enforcement and the DOH to try to alleviate some of these concerns from our citizens.
Ries: I want to see that they hire local people. Even if they have to receive on the job training, hiring local people means that they will stay in this county. And, when the gas companies do leave, at least our residents will have a job skill, and that they could travel with the gas companies if they wish to. For every five people that work for the gas companies they hire three from Wetzel County.
Rush: The influx of natural gas activity has increased the importance of the county commission's responsibilities. The commissioners are now, more than ever before, responsible for projecting future needs of the county, guiding the growth of the county and balancing the needs of all citizens in a rapidly changing economic environment.
I would work with the other commissioners to form a committee made up of a cross section of all the citizens of Wetzel County to address concerns related to all the aspects of gas drilling activity in the county. I would also lobby the elected state representatives to ensure the county receives equitable distribution of all revenue generated by gas and oil activity.