Greenbrier County Commission Candidates Share Their Views on Sportsplex, Humane Society, and More
Greenbrier County Commission nominees spoke about their positions on the county’s Sportsplex, humane society, and more at a recent forum hosted by the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce.
The Tuesday, April 26 forum included candidates from three different races – the Greenbrier County Commission, the Greenbrier County Clerk and the Greenbrier County Circuit Clerk.
The county commission contest is for the seat of current Greenbrier County Commissioner Mike McClung, who is not seeking re-election. The candidates in this race are Democrat DeEtta King Hunter of Lewisburg and Republican Blaine Phillips of Lewisburg.
Hunter sat apart from the other contestants and wore a mask during the forum, as she had recently been exposed to COVID-19.
Ashley Vickers, Executive Director of the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce, served as the forum’s moderator, and former Greenbrier Valley Theater Artistic Director Cathey Sawyer served as timekeeper.
|The forum included Greenbrier County Commission nominees Democrat DeEtta King Hunter (right) and Republican Blaine Phillips (third from left), Greenbrier County Clerk, Republican incumbent Robin Yates Loudermilk ( second from right) and Democratic challenger Kayla M. McCoy (left), and Greenbrier County Circuit Clerk, incumbent Democrat Louvonne Legg Arbuckle (third from right) and Republican challenger Jamie L. Baker ( second from left).|
The two county commission candidates discussed the future Greenbrier County Sports Complex which was funded by the sitting commission. The project site is located north of Lewisburg near the landfill.
“I think that’s on a lot of people’s minds,” Phillips said. “As county commissioner, you are above the funds available to the county. Currently, there is no plan, no budget. It’s hard for me to imagine how a project of this size could get off the ground without one or the other. The logistics of where it is is not a great choice. I spoke to some contractors about what they perceived to be the end costs of running the utilities, let alone building the complex. … At this rate, I don’t think even the youngest here, their grandchildren, will be able to enjoy it.
“I wouldn’t be able to support this project,” Hunter said. “It took, I honestly don’t know how much, but I’m going to assume millions of dollars, and it’s still an area of clay where there’s nothing. I was at the county commission meeting they first held about this resort. The presentation was not good. … The road is terrible going down there, I imagine a lot of accidents there. I think it was a bad location. I don’t want other counties coming here and descending into this area. I don’t think our landfill site is a very good site for kids to play.
Both candidates said they support working with the tourism industry to build the local economy. Phillips expressed pride in the recent growth of White Sulfur Springs, Ronceverte and Rainelle, and highlighted the Meadow River Rail Trail as an important project to connect the sides of the county.
Both Phillips and Hunter said they want the community to contribute ideas on how to better serve the county. Hunter highlighted the luncheons she hosted during her time as mayor of Lewisburg, bringing together each of the Greenbrier County mayors once a month. Hoping to bring back lunches, with more people, Hunter explained, “sometimes we empathize with each other, sometimes it was ideas, sometimes we just had fun, but we talked to each other.”
Both supported the continued financial support of the Greenbrier Humane Society. Phillips explained: “We have pets – I believe in having pets and caring for them, so definitely.”
Hunter spoke about the history of the subject, such as McClung’s opposition to the annual $200,000 the commission gives to the Humane Society for Animal Control.
“Those of you who have been here a long time know how many times and how many times we had arguments about the Humane Society,” Hunter said. “We had big fights over the years. Not only would I like to continue the funding and continue our volunteer work there, but I would also like to see us have a dog park.
In his closing statements, Hunter also endorsed his fellow Democratic candidates, saying “my comment is directed to Republicans first. If you can cross once or twice, do it for those two ladies to my right. Kayla McCoy is a dynamo. She is on it. She is a smart cookie. Louvonne [Arbuckle], you never heard anyone speak ill of Louvonne in this office, not the first word. If you’re going to cross, cross for them.
The following is a condensed version of each candidate’s opening and closing statements:
DeEtta King Hunter, Greenbrier County Commission nominee, Democrat of Lewisburg:
“I’m from West Virginia, born in Richwood, W.Va., and Mount Nebo, W.Va., which back then maybe I wasn’t as proud of as I am now. … I went to high school at Nicholas County, then Fairmont State, as Fairmont University is now called, and that degree was a double major in accounting and political science. Then I went to West Virginia University and got a master’s degree in public administration.
“My husband and I have owned many different businesses. I grew up on a beef cattle farm and the Mountain Bed General Store. We also later owned part of the Foodland store in Pocahontas County. We operated a cable television business in Snowshoe. We have sold our own real estate and developed different housing developments in Pocahontas County. And here, I do a little ham. He is a lawyer, or real estate agent, auctioneer, as well as an ordained minister. One of the funnest things we’ve done here in the past two years is planning weddings. It’s been a real joy, we made fun we can marry you, we can help you get a divorce, we can sell your real estate for you and we can arrange an auction if it doesn’t work out the way we do. had planned.
“I would appreciate your vote, I think it is very important to have a two-party system. If I am not lucky enough to be elected, we will have a totally republican departmental commission. I’m not sure it’s in our interest not to have both sides represented. What I would like to do is be that person who listens to all of you. … I just hope we can work together, come up with ideas that will work. I went to town councils and asked them, ‘what can we do for you?’ They were all surprised to see me there. So again, I ask for your support.
Blaine Phillips, Greenbrier County Commission nominee, Lewisburg Republican:
“Thank you all for taking the time to come here, everyone. Special thanks to [Cathy Sawyer] you too [Ashley Vickers] and the Greater Greenbrier Valley Chamber of Commerce for hosting this meeting so people get to know us.
“Again, my name is Blaine Phillips, I’m running in the Central District for the county commission. I am a Republican. I believe in family, very important. I am for tourism, for business, we need both to survive. God has played a big role in my life and continues to do so today. Again, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to come see me.
“I was born in Greenbrier County. I care about all the citizens of the county. I have been in business and in different businesses for over 40 years. One of the main functions of the commissioner is to oversee what is currently a $16 million budget, which allocates the funds to the various departments, to ensure that employees have the right equipment, funding for the right equipment, a safe workplace. In business, I’m used to doing this, so I feel I have the skills and knowledge to handle the job. Like everyone around this table, I would appreciate your support and your vote.