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Inauguration crowd supportive, hopeful

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People traveled from across the state to the Capitol steps to witness the Monday inauguration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other state officials who won election in November.

Cold, drizzly weather might have discouraged some from attending, but all the seats on the Capitol steps and all the chairs on the south plaza were filled with visitors.

"Governor Tomblin has been a good governor," said Ben Dettinger, of Charleston. "We are Republicans, but we still think so. Governor Tomblin has had a great year. He is a people's governor."

Wanda Dettinger, Ben's wife, believes Tomblin has "promoted the business of the state despite federal attempts to stifle it. He is very proactive for businesses and puts West Virginia ahead of the national government. He also reduced the food tax and made the state fiscally sound."

Bryan Ward Jr., assistant director of the West Virginia State Archives, said, "I am here to see the changing of the guard. Our state is moving forward. West Virginia is in a state of stability. It is good what we are going to see in the future."

Dan Greathouse, a Hancock County commissioner from Weirton, said, "This is a great day. In America, we see a friendly transition of power, not one with guns and ammo.

"The voice of the people has spoken and here we are today. I believe 2013 will be a better year," Greathouse said.

Alex McLaughlin, of Charleston, said, "This is a great day. I am always at the inaugurations. It is a hopeful day.

"I believe the governor and the Legislature will help move the state forward. This is a day of celebration for all the new officeholders and all the people of West Virginia."

The Rev. Jeffrey S. Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, said, "It is important to take a moment and witness this event as part of the history of West Virginia. ...

"I will keep West Virginia in my prayers. There will be a lot of challenges in the upcoming session of the Legislature."

Adam Krason, of Charleston, attended inaugural ceremonies for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush when he was a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

"This is my first gubernatorial inauguration. The state Capitol really looks amazing when it is set up for this celebration," Krason said.

Sharon Curry, who recently retired from the Community and Technical College system, lives today in Danville, Boone County.

"We feel it is the right of an American to be here. It is a pleasure to see them take office. We brought our two nieces with us. This is the first inauguration they have ever seen and they are excited to be here. We picked them up at school so they could attend the ceremonies," Curry said.

Before the ceremonies began, mayors from three cities met and talked inside, under the Capitol dome.

Dick Callaway, mayor of St. Albans, said, "I am here to be a part of the history of the state of West Virginia. As president of the West Virginia Municipal League, it is an honor to have worked well with Govenor Tomblin for the past few years."

Buck Chestnut, mayor of Belle, said, "We have to support the governor. We need to help him accomplish his goals and objectives in every capacity and to help the people of Belle."

Pat Wilson, mayor of Princeton, said she "considered it an honor to be invited. I also came when he was inaugurated last time."

"I feel honored to be a part of the ceremonies, and I wish him luck with all that he has ahead of him," Wilson said.

Some attending the Capitol ceremonies on Monday focused on other candidates elected in November and sworn into office on Monday.

Zac Ring, of Huntington said, "I'm here to support the new agriculture commissioner, Senator Walt Helmick."

Helmick, D-Pocahontas, gave up his seat in the state Senate to head the Department of Agriculture.

Kirsten Rhodes, of Poca, said, "Mr. Helmick will shine a new creative light on the Department of Agriculture and bring it from the back page to the front page.

"He has been my hero since I was a teenager. He taught me a lot about political and public service."

Noah Perry, a retired cattle farmer who still has more than 100 Texas longhorns living on his farm in Buffalo, worked for previous Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass for more than 25 years.

"I left in 1988. Last year, I supported Walter Helmick in the primary and general. I think he will bring new leadership and direction to the department."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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