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City election buzz in the air

by John G. Miller

MANAGING EDITOR

The upcoming area city elections are beginning to create some buzz on the streets, especially in Clarksburg.

There are 11 candidates, including four incumbents, vying for four seats on city council.

That should shape up to be an interesting race.

But the contest attracting the most attention is the race for two seats on the water board.

The six candidates, including one incumbent, are battling for the positions on a board that has been in the spotlight the past year or so because of a Public Service Commission investigation and bickering between some of the board members over management practices.

There's been a lot of public scrutiny on issues related to lifetime benefits for past board members and former employees, as well as other practices labeled "obscene" by a PSC administrative law judge.

As staff writer Jim Fisher reports on page C1 of today's paper, a political action committee -- Citizens for Accountability, Reliability and Ethics or CARE -- has formed to promote governmental integrity and battle voter apathy, according to the group's chairman Wally Brake, a respected businessman.

It will be interesting to see what impact this group has, as well as the overall outcome of what should be an interesting June 5 election.

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While Clarksburg's election seems to have attracted the most attention and the most candidates, many of the other cities and towns in our area will be having elections during the month of June.

The Exponent and Telegram encourages all readers 18 and older to register to vote and to remember to cast a ballot.

Be it a city election or a county or statewide vote, this is your opportunity to have a voice. Use it!

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We've received some phone calls in the past few days wondering why the Harrison County Board of Education hasn't offered Superintendent Carl Friebel a contract yet.

Friebel, who took the job late last summer, had a one-year contract because he took the job after July 1. That was all the board could offer, according to State Code.

Friebel, who has nearly 30 years with the county system, told me Saturday when I contacted him at home that he was taking a "wait and see" approach.

While he hasn't been approached by the board, he has no reason to believe he won't be invited to stay.

Friebel said he would like to continue in his current position because he likes helping the system help children.

He said much of the past year has been spent cleaning up matters left behind by past administrators.

He and his staff have also had to deal with a number of budget issues caused by the county's shrinking student base.

Board member Jim Bennett said the board has discussed Friebel's contract a couple of times.

Speaking only for himself, he said he expected the board to offer Friebel a contract at the next meeting, scheduled for May 22.

If Friebel isn't offered a new contract, he would return to his former position as an administrative assistant.

John G. Miller is managing editor of The Exponent & Telegram. He can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at jmiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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