WEIRTON - Mayor George Kondik got an earful Wednesday when he asked some of his youngest constituents what his administration could possibly do to make the city of Weirton better.
"A new Dairy Queen," urged Sydney Manteau, a third-grader at Millsop Primary School. "We need a Dairy Queen in Weirton."
"GameStop," offered Dustin Ziegler.
MAYOR IN SCHOOL — Weirton Mayor George Kondik discusses city government with third-graders at Millsop Primary School during their “Government Day” celebration. Kondik and City Manager Valerie Means also met with Millsop’s fourth-grade class. -- Linda Harris
"Blockbuster," lobbied Shane Spencer.
"I think we need a Sonic," countered Mitch Sagan.
"Maybe another doughnut shop," Aviah Prosser suggested.
Kondik and City Manager Valerie Means, at the school to celebrate "Government Day" with Millsop's third- and fourth-graders, discussed the various city departments and how they serve the community as well as things the city does to improve the quality of life for townspeople, like the spring and fall cleanups.
Shaylee Groves asked the two what could be done to clean up the playground in her neighborhood - specifically, "the slides 'coz I've seen bad words on them."
"Sometimes the words are scratched in, sometimes they just use markers, but they put bad words, sometimes two or three or four, and it's probably the closest playground to my house," she told Kondik. "You know where I live, right?"
While she had his ear, Groves also lobbied Kondik to do what he can to bring a yogurt shop to Weirton.
"In Florida they have 'Yogurtology' and 'Sincerely Yogurt,' she enthused. "I really want one built near our place. They give you bowls this full and you can put yogurt in. It's just like ice cream, you can put any topping on it."
Another girl wanted to know what the city was going to do about a marathon.
"You want to bring a 26-mile marathon to Weirton?" Kondik asked.
"Sure," she replied.
Kalliope Makricostas, meanwhile, said Weirton needs a dog park, drawing a nod of agreement from another child who said a woman in her neighborhood leaves her unattended barking dog outside for hours at a time.
"And remember, if you have a problem who do you call?" he asked the class.
"The city manager!" they replied.
Kondik, on a more serious note, urged the children to learn all they can about city government and those who serve it.
"It's very important for young adults to look around and know who their leaders are," advised Kondik. "You need to introduce yourselves, talk to them. You're not ready to vote yet, but if you know who they are, someday when you're ready to vote you'll make better decisions."
Millsop Principal- Teacher Tina Zago, meanwhile, pointed out how proactive Weirton police have been in ensuring students and teachers feel safe during the school day.
"They come daily to our school, at least once a day, making sure we are safe," she said. "The officers enter the building, speak to students ... it's so impressive. I wonder if other cities have stepped up to the plate (like this) to make sure their schools are safe."
Before Kondik and Means left, the children performed two songs for them - a melodic recitation of the 50 states and a sign language interpretation of "America the Beautiful." Also participating in the performance were Dayson Beagle, Tyler R. Irwin, Julian Kendall; Chris Minnillo, Melane Moore, Gianna Perrone, Kamer Saunders, Robert Wilson, and Nancy Worden.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)