Officials stress return of voter registration cards

WELLSBURG — An effort to update voter registration information and the appointment of a new member to the county’s board of health were among matters before the Brooke County Commission Tuesday.

Brooke County Clerk Sylvia Benzo encouraged Brooke County residents who want to vote in the 2018 elections to return a voter confirmation card if they receive one.

Benzo said some Brooke County residents may receive postcards asking them to confirm or update the addresses for which they are registered to vote.

She said residents who registered an address change with the U.S. Postal Service but haven’t updated their voter registration will receive the cards, which are part of a statewide effort led by Secretary of State Mac Warner.

In a press release Warner said his office has compared West Virginians on the Postal Service’s National Change of Address list with its own voter database and sent the results to each county, where clerks are to mail the cards beginning Dec. 31.

He said those who receive the cards should return them by Feb. 1. If they don’t or their cards are returned “undeliverable,” their voter registration may be marked inactive.

Those whose registration has been declared inactive may still vote this year, but their registration may be canceled if they don’t vote in the next two federal election years.

Warner noted voters also may update their registrations online at https//ovr.sos.wv.gov. Registration information for all registered voters can be found at govotewv.com.

“I encourage all of our voters to go online and take just a few minutes to review their registration information to confirm their party affiliation, polling location and registration status are up to date,” he said.

Residents with questions also may call Benzo’s office at (304) 737-3661.

In other business, the commission appointed Mary Blum of Wellsburg to serve on the county’s board of health.

Commission President Tim Ennis said he and the other commissioners interviewed Blum and two other applicants for the volunteer position: Sylvia Taylor Wellsburg, who was recommended for reappointment by the health board; and Ted Pauls of Bethany.

Ennis said all were good candidates and the decision was a difficult one.

County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi didn’t deny the move was spurred by the health board’s decision to ban smoking in all public places and deny an exception sought by owners of gambling casinos who complained the ban hurt their business.

“I want people who can think outside the box and take a more balanced view of that issue,” Andreozzi said.

At health board meetings where the issue was discussed, Taylor said the ban was intended to improve the public health, not hurt businesses. After hearing from the casino owners and representatives of fraternal organizations, she agreed to revisit the issue but ultimately joined other board members in supporting the policy.

County Commissioner Stacey Wise said she had supported Taylor’s reappointment because she had more than 30 years of experience on the board dealing with many public health issues.

But Wise said she agreed with her fellow commissioners that “a compromise” with the casino owners is needed.

She added that Blum, who also was appointed recently to Trinity Health System’s family and patient council, “will do a good job on the board.”

In April the commission appointed Judith Martich to the health board instead of reappointing Rosita Briggs, who had been an outspoken supporter of the smoke-free policy.

In other business, the commissioners tabled filling three seats on the Brooke Hills Park board until it can interview candidates for them.

They have received letters of interest from Paul “Bud” Billiard, Ken Fletcher and Julie Barnhart, who are seeking reappointment; and Luke Diserio and Susan Phillips.

The commission also was advised of the resignation of Regina Lindsey-Lynch from the county’s solid waste authority. Lindsey-Lynch was appointed to the board, which oversees the county’s recycling program, by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)