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Mayoral debate set in Sistersville

By Staff | Feb 16, 2012

A public forum will be held Thursday to give registered voters in the City of Sistersville an opportunity to meet, greet and ask questions of the candidates running for mayor.

Bill Rice, Mark Walker and Incumbent David Fox will meet with the public at 7 p.m. at the Wells Inn in Sistersville. The three candidates will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and speak briefly about their objectives for the city. They will also entertain questions from the public. Jonay Corley, editor of the Tyler Star News, will serve as moderator with the help of Rev. Bill Dawson.

Anyone who wishes to submit a question in advance may do so by calling the Tyler Star News at 304-652-4141 or emailing editor@tylerstarnews.com.

Residents of Sistersville are encouraged to attend the event to ask questions and support the candidates.

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David Fox has served as Mayor of Sistersville for the past six years. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my community,” Fox said. “In the past six years as mayor, we have extended the walking trail, and added a bridge and lights along our beautiful riverfront.”

Fox stated that the city will be adding a transit boat dock this Spring and will be remodeling the baby pool. Playground equipment, slides at the main pool have already been installed at the park, and bathrooms have been remodeled throughout the park.

“We have updated the water and sewer plants, which has extended the life expectancy of the plant for 25 years,” Fox said. “We have installed new waterlines and constructed a new water storage tank at no cost to the citizens of Sistersville.”

Several updates have been made to software and equipment utilized by city employees, as well. “We have been able to purchase new equipment for the city,” he said. “This includes three new trucks, a Bobcat, riding lawn mower, jet vac, fiber optic camera, vac truck, mole machine, and lots of hand tools and other equipment, again at no cost to the citizens.”

According the the current mayor, his administration has been responsible for renovations at the James Willison Family Center, including refinishing the gymnasium floor, remodeling the restrooms and the concession area. They have also made the downtown area handicap accessible, and have begun preparations for an upcoming downtown beautification project.

If re-elected to his position, Fox vows to move forward with projects that will benefit the city. “We will continue to work on bringing tourism to the city and the state,” he said. “We will supply Hanford City with sewage, at not cost to the citizens. We will continue to secure another water source for the future. And, we will continue to pursue funds to fix the road in front the the park and the gym floor at the Willison Family Center.”

He added, “I believe the city needs to be run as a business, and I believe this town is a great place to raise a family. Once again, I respectfully ask for your vote and continued support on March 22.”

Upon graduating from Paden City High School, he enlisted in the United State Air Force. After serving his country, Fox came back home and worked as a coal miner. He currently works as a boilermaker and local business owner of Fox’s Business & Activity Center, Fox’s Storage Units and Sistersville Dollar Store and More.

Fox and his wife, Lisa, have four children: Haley, Josie, Morgan and David Jr. Lisa is the pastor of two churches in Tyler County. His parents are William and Susan (Gatrell) Fox, former graduates of Sistersville High School.

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Bill Rice was born and raised in Sistersville, all but four years. After graduating from high school, he made the decision to move back to town. He married Teresa (Cowgill) and the couple raised three children: Amanda, Jason and Joshua.

Rice is no stranger to municipal government. “In 1995, I was elected to the City Council, and I served until 2002,” he said. He was then elected as mayor and served until 2006.

After a four year break, Rice returned to the City Council. “I wanted to see how I could help our town,” he commented. “Now, after two years on council, I have decided to run for mayor once again. I would appreciate your support.”

Over the course of his career, Rice has worked his way up the ladder from laborer to supervisor. In 1980, he was hired by Ormet Corporation, where he has worked for the past 32 years. “I started as a laborer,” he said. “After 17 years, I decided to take a salary position.”

Rice became a front line supervisor in the plant’s pot room and then went on to work in the rod room. After five years, he was promoted to Rod Room General Supervisor, a position he currently holds. “I supervise seven front line supervisors, and about 100 men on a shift,” he said.

He has been actively involved with the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department for 25 years, holding the office of president for several years and serving as captain and assistant fire chief in fire ground operations. Rice has also served as president of the Sistersville Lions Club.

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Mark Walker is not a native of Sistersville, but he has the city’s best interests at heart. In 2010, with the support of the community, he opened Our Town Resources & Thrift Store. “My wife and I volunteer our time to help aid this endeavor for community service,” he explained.

The store thrives, thanks to the generosity of people in the community who donate to the store. Additionally, the Walkers provide emergency service to the community without federal, state, county or city assistance.

Walker was raised by his grandmother in Ashburn, Va., where he graduated from high school. He received a vocational degree in architectural drafting and technology training from Radio Shack.

While working at the Dulles International Airport, Walker says he assisted the Loudoun Sheriff’s Department, DEA and INS in many cases involving criminal activity at the airport. He worked around the beltway for Sallie Mae, Chevy Chase Bank, and ITT Financial. “Then I left corporate America to become an entrepreneur,” Walker stated.

He started a restaurant and florist delivery service, which employed 25 drivers. In the 1990s, Walker also began producing corporate videos, print media, radio commercials, and provided music production and recording engineering services.

In 1998, Walker and his family moved to Beckley, W.Va., where he was contracted by a company to create a DEP compliant water testing computer program. He also provided web-master services and was hired as Station Manager for Fox 59 TV. He later opened an Apple Computer States and Service location, as well.

Unfortunately, Walker began to experience health problems. “My health deteriorated with the diagnosis of congestive heart failure and kidney renal stenosis,” he explained “I was hospitalized and was bed bound for months.”

In October 2001, the Walkers moved to SIstersville and opened as car detailing service locally. He also began to lend his talents to community service. “With the assistance of another family in Woodsfield, Ohio, Reisbeck’s Food helped us to give many Sistersville veterans, worker and less fortunate families extra food goods for two years,” he said.

According to Walker, he has also aided several area departments, businesses and organizations with community service projects, and provided technical assistance to officials throughout the surrounding area.

Walker and his wife, Kay, have raised two children: Akasha and Brian.

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The SIstersville Municipal Election will be held on Thursday, March 22 for the purpose of electing the following:

A mayor for a full two-year term; one council member from the first ward for a full four-year term; one council member from the second ward for a full four-year term; one council member from the third ward for a full four-year term; one council member from the fourth ward for a full four-year term and one council member for a two-year term.

Aside from the mayoral race, the ballot will also include contested races for the council seats in the second and fourth wards. Mitch A. Corley and Ann Munoz will vie for the position in the Second Ward; Julie Schleier and Steven Wayne will compete for a four-year term in the Fourth Ward.

The remaining candidates will run unopposed: First Ward, Curtis Heintzman; Third Ward, Jason Hood; and Fourth Ward, Dave Dietrich.

Early voting in person will begin on March 2 at the City Building during normal business hours.

Polling locations will open on Election Day (March 22) at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m. The following polling locations will be used:

– First Ward: Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department

– Second Ward: Oxford Street Church of Christ Annex

– Third Ward: City Hall

– Fourth Ward: Methodist Church

For more information, call the City Building at 304-652-6361.