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Commission Candidates Answer Questions

By Staff | May 2, 2018

As part of its May 8 primary election coverage, the Tyler Star News mailed each Tyler County Commission candidate a simple questionnaire and request for brief bio. Below are their responses:

Democrat Candidates:

* Charlie Delauder Charlie Delauder is a graduate of Alderson-Broaddus College and West Virginia University. He has been a resident of Tyler County for forty five years; he was a teacher in Tyler County for thirty-seven years. Delauder served three years representing teacher, school service professional, and administrators as President of the West Virginia Education Association.

He served four years as the Mayor of Middlebourne and completed many projects to enhance the town. Some notable accomplishment were the splash pad for kids in the park, a new shelter in the park, new playground equipment, paving of over 3000 feet of town streets, the demolition of the pink building on Main Street and beginning the process to improve the water system.

Delauder was instrumental in securing more than $3.3 million dollars for town improvements.

Republican Candidates:

* Roseanne Eastham was born and raised in Pittsburgh and visited Tyler County frequently for many years before permanently moving here in 1996. Over the past 20 years she has served as Boreman Booster President for 7 years, TCMS/HS Athletic Boosters board member for two years, and Tyler County Public Library Director for 13 Years. Eastham says if elected Tyler County Commissioner, “I will be dedicated, open-minded, honest, and available for public interaction.”

* Rod Fitzwater has been married to Regina Sue Feathers Fitzwater for 34 years, and they have raised three children, all of whom have attended schools in Tyler County.

Fitzwater’s parents lived in West Virginia all of their lives. His father was a coal miner for nearly 40 years and was a member of the United Mine Workers Union. Fitzwater’s mother was a stay-at-home mom. Fitzwater is the youngest of 10 children, seven boys and three girls, and he has also lived in West Virginia all of his life.

Fitzwater has more than 40 years Business Management experience. He holds a certificate for successfully completing a course on Leadership Training through SuperValu University.

* Mike Galluzzo, Republican candidate for Tyler County Commission, is a 38-year employee of Ogden Newspapers, Inc., starting as an advertising salesman for the Tyler Star News in the Tyler County area and rising through the company to be named general manager of two weekly area publications. Galluzzo was responsible for budget planning and the management of 12 employees concerning news coverage, circulation and advertising sales in the Tyler-Wetzel county areas.

He currently works for the company as an advertising salesman for the EZTOUSE.COM telephone directory in its yellow pages and Internet division.

In addition to working for the local weekly newspapers, Galluzzo and his wife owned and operated a printing business in New Martinsville. Galluzzo also worked for 5 years as a part-time, seasonal tax preparer for H & R Block in New Martinsville.

Galluzzo is married to Charlene, a retired Tyler County physical education teacher, and lives in Middlebourne. The Galluzzos are parents of two children and one granddaughter.

* Mike Smith: Mike Smith was born May 1, 1964 in Sistersville General Hospital, and was raised on a small farm near Pursley. Aside from a four-year tour of duty in the United States Navy, Smith has lived and worked in the county he loves and calls homes for his entire life. In 1989 Smith married Debra Heintzman. Many know her as “Nurse Debbie” as she was Tyler County’s first official school nurse. The Smiths reside on Elk Fork where they raise beef cattle, fruits and vegetables. The Smiths are active in the Steelton Church of Christ where they are members.

Having worked for the Monongahela Power Company since 1988, Smith has literally been in almost every nook and cranny of Tyler County many times over the last 30 years. Because of this, he knows Tyler County and has seen the changers, both good and bad.

Being part of the Monongahela management team, Smith has developed leadership skills and has experience managing fiscal budgets as well as manpower and resources. He also sits on the board of directors for the Tyler County Farm Bureau, the West Virginia Christian Youth Camp, and the Tyler County Republican Executive Committee. Smith said he would be honored to be able to use this leadership and experience to help bring Tyler County into the 21st century.

* Scott Strode is 42-years-old and is married to Laci Strode. Together, the two have four children: Ella, Cam, Brady and Caleb.

Scott has been a Middlebourne resident for 42 years and has been a business owner (Strode’s Barber Shop and BDS Racing Promotions/Tyler county Speedway).

Scott has been a Middlebourne Youth League volunteer for 25 years and is a volunteer for Tyler Consolidated athletics since 2004, aiding with stats, PA announcing, and scoreboard.

Scott founded the SilverStar Athletics non-profit in 2010 and was elected to Tyler County Board of Education in 2014.

Scott has worked at Strode’s Barber Shop (1996-2010), Chris Metz State Farm (2010-2015), Ascent Resources (2015-2017), and Williams (2017-Present).

* Steve Thomas was born and raised in Tyler County. He graduated from Tyler County High School Class of 1989 and graduated from DeVry University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Thomas is married, a father, and a leader. “I have been self-employed most of my life. That has taught me to appreciate life and to work hard,” said Thomas.

* * A topic of debate for Tyler County is the County Home/Poor Farm. What is your take on the issue? What should be done with the County Home? Granted, the commission may take action on this situation after these questions have been mailed to you. If so, let us know: Do you agree with the commission’s decision?

Democrat Responses:

* Charlie Delauder: The county home constructed in the early 1900’s was the last place anyone wanted to go to live. It meant that you no longer possessed the means to care for yourself and your family. While it might have been comforting to know you had a place to go to live, I’m sure it was heartbreaking. The county home is in serious need of extensive repair. Engineers have estimated the cost to be more than $5.6 million dollars to return it to a usable state and meet all the current requirement. It also sits in the flood plain and the basement would have to be eliminated for use. The building has rusting support posts in the basement that are past the point of lifetime use.

If the building had been taken care of over the years this would not be a problem. Unfortunately, there was no money to do the necessary repairs.

The county has many physical needs and as such cannot support the repairs necessary for this building. I believe that the current commission’s idea is to remove this building. As badly as I would hate to see this happen I believe it is the wisest use of taxpayer dollars.

Republican Responses:

* Roseanne Eastham: First, let me say the unfortunate circumstances of the County Home and other county buildings being neglected over the years is disgraceful. However, I understand the county’s reluctance to invest the money to restore the County Home when the other buildings that are used regularly by the public and county employees are in need of major repairs. One solution I have heard voiced while at the “Create Your State” presentation in 2016 is to use the County Home as an Artisan Center. The center would feature local artists as well as provide a place for instructors to teach various forms of art.

* Rod Fitzwater: I would solicit the people of the county to get an opinion of what to do with the home. I would do what the people want. The county didn’t have the tax base that they do now and that’s the reason the home got in the shape that it is in. Six million is a lot of money and if you run into a problem you may need more. I currently don’t know enough to know what I would or would not do. When I know more about it and can make an intelligent decision based on how people feel, then I would feel comfortable making a decision. You can’t make an open promise and not hold up to it.

* Mike Galluzzo: In response to the question concerning the Tyler County Home, I believe the issue of the structure is a complicated one and should be reviewed thoroughly. As a student of U.S. history, I have a great respect for our history and our heritage; however, as a fiscally conservative person I know we can not afford to save everything. The county home has fallen on hard times and has been in a state of decay for a number of years. Estimates for restoration range in the millions of dollars. The debate on the home has yet to yield a purpose for a reconstructed building, which I believe to be the first priority.

The Restoration committee has done a tremendous job in raising over $30,000 toward the future costs of restoration. However, I believe we should not throw good money after bad. The county can not afford to put public funds to an undefined purpose. If a private concern would like to explore options toward the reconstruction of the purposeful use of the structure, I believe the commission should be open to exploring those options.

While I understand some restrictions may apply to the use of the building and certain options may not be as feasible as others, I believe a solution is not impossible for the commission to explore and implement.

* Mike Smith: It’s a shame that the county home has gotten to this point of neglect. It’s also a shame that it wasn’t given attention many years ago. As of now, an estimate was given by Allegheny Design Services out of Morgantown that it would take almost six million dollars to restore it.

I look at the county’s situation. We have levies for our fire departments and E squads because they need funded. The magistrate and prosecuting attorney’s offices are in disrepair. The courthouse is also in disrepair. It’s been mandated that the courtroom be made handicap accessible and that an office be provided for a probation officer. As a commissioner, being a steward of the county’s finances, I could not bring myself to continue to neglect the current condition of the buildings we are already using, our first responders, and the safety of our citizens to finance restoration of a building that would have no end use.

If it were to be sold, it would have to be with reservation and with a definitive timeline for restoration purposes. Otherwise, it would likely see the same fate as the Sistersville Main Street School, leaving us with a parking lot that someone else owns in the middle of county property.

I have been asked what I thought about putting it on a ballot. I feel that doing so would be “kicking the can down the road” in order to put off or avoid making a decision. It would also set precedence for all future decisions to be made that anyone may disagree with.

I do think that we should make some sort of preservation effort. I feel that the general consensus is to tear it down, but before we do that, perhaps we could look into having it dismantled and anything salvageable be used in local restaurants, stores, and other businesses to serve as a memorial.

* Scott Strode: I think when you have an issue this polarizing and you have the avenue to put it to a ballot, that’s exactly what needs to be done. At this point, what the commissions personal feelings are on the matter are really moot, it’s the taxpayers issue now. In a perfect world I would love to see it restored. I think there are too many unknowns and misconceptions to speculate on its future at the moment. Personally, I couldn’t, in good conscience, spend taxpayer money to tackle that project when this county needs so many other things.

* Steve Thomas: As a candidate for County Commission, and hearing from both sides on the issue of the County Home, my biggest disappointment is the division that this issue has been allowed to cause, at this point. A Vote for the residents to decide on the November 2018 Ballot, Yes to Keep it, No to Remove it. I believe this is the best solution to bring a step to healing and closer to the division and the direction of the County Home. Either way the VOTE turns out, there is no winner.

* * There are a plethora of candidates in the race for Tyler County Commission. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Democrat Responses:

* Charlie Delauder: I have leadership experience is local, state and federal government workings. Experience is the best qualification that anyone can bring to the county commission. A commissioner must be able to weigh all sides of an issue and make fair impartial decisions. I secured more than $3.3 million dollars for the Town of Middlebourne when I was the mayor. These funds provided for improvements to the water system and recreation areas of town. On the state level I worked with the legislature and governor to improve education as President of the West Virginia Education Association. On the national level I have lobbied and worked for education and credit unions to improve life for our members. I believe that any time you participate in government you should leave everything better than you found it.

Republican Responses:

* Roseanne Eastham: I have a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and extensive accounting experience that would be beneficial for setting and maintaining the budget for Tyler County. As director of the Tyler County Public Library, I have worked with different local funding authorities to increase funding from $1,500 per year to $32,000 per year. I also raised funding for the library to build an addition. Furthermore, I have been attending County Commission meetings on my own time for the past year and a half in order to better understand the demands of the position and listen to the issues Tyler Countians would like addressed.

* Rod Fitzwater: I have 40 years of business management and have worked with a multi-billion dollar business. I was in charge of several things including making plans, ordering equipment, checking drafts and overseeing day to day operations. I think those things are important. If you know how to run a business, you should have a better understanding of how to run a county. I was responsible for making the store a well oiled machine.

My Christian values such as honesty and integrity will help me make better decisions. Sometimes when you are a leader you are not always the most popular person but you make a decision for what is best for everyone, in this case the county. I’m familiar with many regulations. I’ve been doing it all my life, not just a short while.

Scripture tells us to pray and not worry. That’s a hard goal to accomplish, but I work hard everyday towards that goal. Your integrity is the marks left behind you, and you won’t find any black marks in my background. Honest and dependable, that’s Rod Fitzwater. I believe I can help the county and existing county commission. I have a great record of salesmanship. Research and facts, that’s what I’m about. I’m willing to put in the time. I’ll be working for the county. If It takes 5 days a week that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ll be devoting all my time to the county, not just an after work guy, to do what is best for the county.

* Mike Galluzzo: The nearly 40 years I have spent working as a salesman in the Tyler-Wetzel Counties area has given me an ability to listen to the needs of the local people and to help them come up with solutions to meet those needs. My work experience and the skills I have acquired working with the local citizens of Tyler County give me a unique perspective, which I believe will benefit the future of Tyler County.

* Mike Smith: Having served as a Petty Officer in the United States Navy and being in Mon Power Management, I have the leadership and management skills necessary. Being on the Farm Bureau board of directors and the Tyler County Republican Executive Committee for many years, I have been and still am actively serving our community. This has also allowed me to develop an extensive network of contacts that include citizens, businesses, industry, and politicians in our county, surrounding counties, and in Charleston. I feel a vested interest in Tyler County since my wife Debra and I have lived and worked here our entire lives and have seen fit to raise our children here. I would love to be part of making our county a clean, safe, and productive place for the next generation to do the same.

* Scott Strode: What sets me apart from the other candidates are these things. 1. I’m the only candidate that’s held elected county office, subsequently gaining experience with how county budgets work. 2. My record of time/hours spent in public service volunteering and organizing is unmatched. 3. I think my life experiences from being a business owner, father of 4 kids in our school system, exposure to the oil and gas business and being a Board of Education member gives me great insight and a unique perspective on this county.

* Steve Thomas: What sets me apart from the other candidates is my Leadership. I am about taking Action, and getting Results! I have been involved in City Organizations, City Council, State Boards and State Associations as a Board of Director to Vice President. I have been involved with Infrastructure Projects and an Oil and Gas boom while involved in City Government. So facing the challenges we have and going after money for the betterment of Our Tyler County does not bother me, it excites me. I have had the privilege to be in leadership and traveled around the world to teach leadership, because of the people that have influenced me and the education I received right here in Tyler County. So a Thank You, goes out to each of you that have influenced me and to my educator’s for the investment you made in me. I want to give back to You, Tyler County! Thank you for your support on May 8th, as a Republican Candidate, for Tyler County Commission