by Ron Gregory
Tears cannot be suppressed during heart-breaking times.
A truly giant of a man passed away today and my heart is heavy from his departure. James Roten will likely be remembered by Huntingtonians and others in the Tri-state as Tom Roten’s father. While that is an honorable enough identification, Jim Roten will be recalled by those of us who originated in central West Virginia as a gentle, kind man who was fair, honorable and decent in all his dealings.
The Tom Roten Morning Show on WVHU 800AM in Huntington was presented this morning. Its host, Tom Roten, piloted the broadcast ship. But his heart was undoubtedly heavier than mine. There was nobody to fill in for him, so he hosted the show knowing that his sainted father had passed from this world.
Tom and Jim shared an unquenchable belief that God is foremost and that those who conduct themselves appropriately will arrive in Heaven. If that theory is correct, Jim must surely be running the local supermarket on the golden streets right now. No better man ever lived.
This will be an abbreviated tribute to Jim Roten. Funeral details are incomplete and I have no real biography to go by. In his case, I don’t need one.
As a youngster and then newspaperman and Mayor, I knew Jim Roten as the man who ran the Community Super Market in Glenville. A small chain (there was one, I know, in Cowen and between Gassaway and Sutton), Jim Roten was the face of the first modern grocery store in the Gilmer County seat.
My maternal grandfather used to love for me to drive him the “Community Market” where he could pick from an array of merchandise not readily available in the tiny A&P Store or Reed’s Grocery on Main Street. Produce actually could be picked from and winter-time tomatoes were actually edible from Jim Roten’s store.
To say Jim was the perfect Southern gentleman would be an understatement. He always carried a faint smile, always was pleasant and smooth in speaking with customers and inherently honest. If a customer said the price of a can of tomato juice showed it 49 cents on the shelf, Jim Roten and his staff did not question the customer. They rang up a 49-cent sale.
Later, in the newspaper business (I know all I have ever been is an Internet blogger) and as Mayor, I found Jim to be a total supporter of the community thoroughly devoted to its success. His store contributed to worthwhile community causes and he was steadfast as a pillar of both the business community and the general citizenry.
Jim was much more than a store operator, though. He was a proud veteran; a civic leader and a strength in his church and neighborhood. I could give dozens of examples of Jim Roten being a friend to the City of Glenville and its people. I also know how he honest he was through my dealings with him at the store and at the newspaper. If a question ever arose, which didn’t often happen, he was honest, straightforward and kind in his response.
Like his son, Jim was a giant among men. I remember the entire Roten family with fondness and gratitude.
My heart, as I said, is broken today and a tear, which seldom comes, has drifted down my cheek. We have lost a valiant soldier both for the nation and his God. I am better off because Jim Roten appeared in my life.
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A second tear has emerged as I think of the medical condition of our hero, Dawson Isom. The 19-year-old who was unmercifully beaten in Williamson on May 30, 2015, faces a new medical crisis as we look toward two years without justice in Mingo County.
On social media, I have asked that friends and supporters continue to show their devotion to this young man and his family.
Dawson is a handsome young man who did not deserve, under any conditions, what he has gotten. Please remember him and the family.
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It is never a pleasure to deal with uncooperative, imperialistic public officials. New Seventh District State Senator Richard Ojeda fills that description perfectly.
Ojeda is not satisfied with his miraculous victory over veteran public official Art Kirkendoll in last year’s Democrat primary. He wants the scalp of Kirkendoll, Logan County commissioners and anyone who does not bow down and support his royal goals and performance.
There could be little question that Ojeda used the Chapmanville Regional High School facsimile machine to send Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to County Clerk John Turner. In one way or another all of the requests were designed to paint Kirkendoll in a negative light. Ojeda decided to respond to my FOIA of his FOIAs by attacking me and Kirkendoll and basically ignoring that both CRHS Principal Kathy Moore and Logan School Board President Paul Hardesty had said using public facilities for personal reasons is a violation of county and school policy.
If such usage is not a violation of the Logan school rules, as Ojeda insisted in a “press release” responding to me but never sent to me, it is likely the only county in the state that allows such. Is there really a difference if the custodian decides to mow the neighbor’s grass with a county lawnmower? What, exactly, would it be?
Ojeda then dodged, darted and tried to work his way around law that says he could not wear a military uniform for campaign purposes, according to the mysteriously absent “press release.” Ojeda campaigned about integrity and visibility. He obviously believes in neither.
As readers are aware, I have now FOIAed his “press release” that was written, supposedly, in response to me. Isn’t it odd that a State Senator can issue a “press release” attacking a reporter and try to keep the reporter from seeing the release? Why would you do that if you honest, fair and transparent?
In a few words, Ojeda is none of those adjectives. He is a spineless public official without the nerve to confront clear ethical questions with honest answers. Avoiding the message and shooting the messenger, historically, has never been a good idea.
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Did somebody ask what I REALLY think about Senator Ojeda?
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Apparent settlement of a lawsuit against former Logan Family Court Judge Jason Harwood appears to have circumvented what might have been one of the more sensational and celebrity-filled trials ever in the county.
Harwood resigned his position and agreed to never seek office again after the state Supreme Court found against him with regard to allegations by his former secretary. Incredibly, according to most lawyers familiar with case law, both the Logan Circuit Court and the Supreme Court allowed the secretary to remain anonymous in the matter. She is identified as Jane Doe in some filings and by her actual initials in others.
The secretary’s name is obvious to any casual courthouse observer since payroll information from the period when she alleges sexual harassment by Harwood shows who she is. How a “secret” is being maintained by courts determined to “protect her because of the sensitive nature” of the case is beyond me. She went to work for Harwood in January 2009. They had attended the same high school; she and her daughter needed insurance because of illnesses; etc. Harwood, according to her suit, began making improper advances by March of 2009. She asked him to stop, she alleges, but the harassment only got worse.
Allegations include the apparent drugging of Jane Doe so Harwood could allegedly have sex with her while his wife was hospitalized. It is steamy recitation of “facts.”
But it is those named as potential witnesses that would most entice attendance at the courthouse. Fellow Family Court Judge Kelly Codispoti was on both the plaintiff and defense witness list as was former Lincoln Family Court Judge Scott Elswick. Former Assessor Rick Grimmett is one both lists as well. Tommy Moore is on both lists as is Nikki Preece, Terry Brumfield and Chris Workman. The plaintiff’s list includes Shannon Bland, Ruth Stollings and Linda Carter.
Ex-Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury is on the plaintiff’s witness list too.
How provocative and entertaining this trial would have been will perhaps be left to the imagination, if a settlement has actually been reached.
I am still not certain whether to point out who was Harwood’s assistant in January and March 2009. However, as noted, it is information readily available in several public files.
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State Democrats are divided enough without contemplating an overthrow of the current State Chair, Belinda Biafore.
In my book, Biafore is another of a long line of outstanding people to serve as state Democrat chair. She was re-elected chairperson last year and should serve in unity and peace.
Some do not want that to happen, however. Disgruntled, constantly unhappy Bernie Sanders and others want to blame Biafore for the party’s misfortunes in the 2016 election. Why not place it where it squarely belongs with the head of the ticket, Hillary Clinton? While Clinton was out advertising that she is the coal industry’s biggest enemy, what was Biafore supposed to do: tackle and gag her?
Donald Trump, the Republican, had West Virginia in his pocket for months. Sanders likely would not have done as well as Clinton did, despite the tremendous defeat she was administered. Progressive Democrats should either decide that they are, really, Democrats or they should follow their leader, Sanders, and become independents.
Biafore is certainly my choice for state chairperson.
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Your comments, story ideas, rumors and visions of transparent public officials who hide from criticism are always welcome. Use my email address listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.