Warm Springs District holds special election candidates’ forum

The Bath Highland Recorder sponsored a political forum for two candidates, Connie Simmons, and Bart Purdue in the Warms Springs District special election coming up on March 14th. Geoff Hamill, asked the questions, and kindly included Allegheny Mountain Radio news in the process. He began with the topic of tourism, which many voters are concerned with.

“Supervisors eliminated the directorship position in that office Do you support the county rehiring a director of tourism and economic development, or do you support the current board’s decision to assign those responsibilities to the county administrator and the tourism coordinator?”

Bart Purdue responded first,

“Well, I think you may need, not necessarily to hire a tourism director, but you may be ahead to hire an economic development director, and give Celine the opportunity to do the tourism, and give somebody else the opportunity to do the economic development. I think you got two people working on it, they can focus on their own thing. I’d like to see more industry, instead of everything going towards tourism. I think we need to look both ways. I mean we’ve got a good start with Speyside; I’m hoping we can get something to compliment them.”

“Ms. Simmons?”

“Well, I think Mr. Harrison also has enough on his plate at the present moment, and we certainly need another director, and I think we also need a director for economic development. They are two very important positions in this county, and in order to be able to fulfill those positions you need to be able to devote the time. Other than having a resort here in this area, what other programs do we have to offer to people particularly in the way of jobs? So an economic development director is very, very, important.”

Geoff Hamill continued.

“What are your ideas for balancing the county budget?”

“I think it’s very important that if we can’t do for ourselves in that sense, then we need to seriously think about bringing industry in here, something that is going to help as many people as possible. I’ve had some, what I think pretty good ideas for some revenue aspects, some type of jobs that would benefit this county greatly, and again coincide with Speyside that is right around the corner with having the thirty jobs that they’re planning on offering.”

During his response Mr. Purdue acknowledged that though unpopular the tax rate may need to be equalized. He said it is not sustainable to rely on the fund balance the way supervisors have in the past.

“Another positive, in five years, the county is debt free. If we can keep at the current rate, our debt’ll be paid off in five years. That’s over a million dollars a year we’re spending on debt. That million dollars would go a long way when we’re a hundred and seventy thousand dollars in the hole. You know we need to take a look also, at what our wants are, and what our needs are. We need to prioritize the needs, rather than the wants right now until we can get in a better situation, which is really close. We’re really close to being there.”

Ms. Simmons also, concluded.

“You know if everybody’s leaving this county all the time it isn’t any wonder that our tax base is constantly gone.”

For part two of this pair of stories from the political forum, please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.

 

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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