The Monroe County Commission meeting held on Feb. 1, 2023, was an eye-opening but sad commentary on how our county operates. I had requested and received an 11:30 spot on their agenda to discuss the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). At the outset, I stated my appearance was as a private citizen and I did not represent any group or organization. The Commissioners said they’ve had no contact with MVP for quite some time but hope for its completion so money would begin pouring into the county. When questioned about Trinity Energy’s delinquent tax bill for pipeline equipment currently totaling $175,477, Commissioners stated, “go after the Board of Education, 75% of the money goes to them.” Apparently it’s just too much trouble for the County Commission to truly investigate this matter while Monroe County citizens are left in the lurch selling Peterstown Pirate trophies to fill a lack of education money. Is this what Senator Manchin means when he says the pipeline is helping little communities? At that time the Commissioners requested Mr. Bill Shiflet to fill in some details on MVP, leases, taxes, etc., to which he gladly complied.
Unfortunately, shortly into Mr. Shiflet’s MVP update he flew into a rage of hostile verbiage which raced across the small meeting space, surely even carrying over into the deed room. Apparently his perceived personal and familial slights from times long past, over water issues, were directed at me, then towards my husband. Questioning Mr. Shiflet about this timeframe he speculated it was around 2015. Mr. Shiflet quickly followed by attacking citizens and groups opposing MVP; even “damn Yankees,” what could he have possibly meant by that?! While this long winded, horrific harangue continued, the Commissioners took absolutely no action to halt Mr. Shiflet’s tirade. Only when I held up my hand, commanded “stop,” and then turned to continue addressing the Commissioners, did Mr. Shiflet cease his loud outbursts.
We must listen to one another as members in community. We should be courteous when speaking, acknowledging and respecting diverse thoughts and opinions. The elected leaders of Monroe County should not allow this type of fury I experienced to be unleashed upon anyone, especially on a lone senior woman surrounded by five (5) men, including Commission President Kevin Galford, Commissioners Kevin Mann and Melvin Young, County Clerk Jeremy Meadows and Mr. Bill Shiflet. Disheartened at how our officials conduct county business, I took my leave. Please note that Mr. Meadows has always been most respectful.
At approximately 3:00 that afternoon I returned and spoke with the Commissioners about Mr. Shiflet’s hostile outbursts towards me during today’s morning session. The Commissioners simply would not recognize the maltreatment I endured. I pointed out to the Commissioners the need to develop official protocol to curtail outbursts from citizens. During this discussion, Mr. Shiflet again started up his vengeful rant and again no Commissioner intervened, only me. I told the Commissioners that the outbursts from Mr. Shiflet reflect poorly on their leadership in Monroe County and should not be tolerated. My request for an apology was met with vacant stares. Again, I shook the hand of each Commissioners and took my leave.
Just who is this angry Mr. Shiflet? By his own and the Commission’s admission, he is the volunteer mouthpiece of our Monroe County Commission, who is currently seated at the tables of an assortment of state, regional and local agencies, as well as a tolerated member of the Main Street Exxon Clubhouse. Mr. Shiflet’s long-held beliefs are documented in an April 2018 article in the WVNews when Mr. Shiflet strongly stated his support of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Summing up his feelings regarding people against MVP the article quoted Mr. Shiflet saying these people are “anti government,” “anti community” and “anti police,” and to top it off “I just don’t feel like they’re patriots.” From what I experienced on Feb. 1, 2023, his anger and resentment continues to boil.
Most citizens in Monroe County are concerned about our water resources, our environmental and personal health; hopefully, our County Commissioners are also. Corporations are driven by the desire for money, money, money and have slick methods to obtain more money, caring little about our precious slice of almost heaven. Our County Commissioners appear blinded by the promise of money and seem unwilling to review scientific data. Commissioners are still bemoaning the loss of money from the American Electric Power 750kv powerline first proposed thirty (30) some years ago for Monroe County, WV, but now cutting through Bland County, VA. As for me, I say Thank You to Common Ground and the Border Conservancy. Clean water, our precious resource, is always under attack.
An administrative body should see that decorum is always exercised instead of casting aspersions and accusations against citizens who come before the body. Civil discourse and respect are essential factors of governance. Without these elements, we the people descend toward authoritarianism.
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