Last year the League of Women Voters launched Democracy in Action Awards. We continued that
tradition at our annual meeting held on May 13, at the Aull Center by presenting three Democracy in
Action Awards to The Community Coalition for Social Justice, Mr. John Sonnenday of the Coordinating
Council on Homelessness, and League member Lyndell Millechia. The meeting began with a very
informative presentation by guest speaker Barb Howe on the “Evolution of the Voting Rights Act (up to
The League recognized the Community Coalition for Social Justice with a Democracy in Action Award.
The CCSJ was represented by Al Anderson, Susan Brown, Nora Sheets and Barb Howe. It was chartered
in 2000 with a mission to promote the principles of social and economic justice, respect all people and
oppose discrimination and hate motivated violence. In addition to individual members the CCSJ is joined
by religious organizations, labor councils and community advocacy groups and most recently by the
League of Women Voters as an organizational member.
The CCSJ has sponsored events such as forums on fair housing and religious diversity and they provide a
wide range of books on social justice themes to local libraries. Their most visible activity is the annual
program to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event educates us about where we have been and
where we are going as a country and as a community in terms of civil rights. The award was accepted by
Al Anderson on behalf of the Coalition for Social Justice.
The second award of the evening was presented to Mr. John Sonnenday for his tireless work on behalf
of the homeless population in Morgantown and Monongalia County. In the spring of 2010, the
Morgantown City Council and the Mon County Commission created a task force to study and develop a
plan to reduce homeless. Mr. Sonnenday was the chair of the task force and since that time, he has
been instrumental in guiding a dedicated group of people who continue to work toward eliminating
homelessness in our area.
The work of the original task force led to the creation of the Coordinating Council on Homelessness,
which was launched in February 2014 with John Sonnenday as the Executive Director. Under his
guidance, 145 people were moved into permanent housing in 2013 and 206 in 2014, including 39
chronically homeless people. The Council has received federal grants and participated in nation-wide
campaigns and under his direction. Our community was chosen as one of 71 communities in the country
to participate in Zero:2016, with the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and
chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. The League was honored to present Mr. Sonnenday with the
Democracy in Action award.
Last but far from least, the League honored one of our own, Lyndell Millecchia. League President
Jonathan Rosenbaum, presented her with a Democracy in Action award. Lyndell has been a League
member for over 40 years. She is the go-to person of the organization, Board member, past President,
current Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, she maintains our membership list and mailing list, updates our
Guide to Government Officials, she has arranged locations for countless League events including
Candidate Forums. She is always the first person to arrive and the last person to leave League
sponsored events. Her contributions to the League are immeasurable. Lyndell can be described by the
title of the opera that chronicles the life of Susan B. Anthony, “The Mother of Us All.”
One of the things we do in the League is to educate people about the importance of voting and their right to vote. Not only as President of this League, but as a resident of Morgantown, I am absolutely appalled at the recent low turn-out of 9% at the City Council election. It is part of a growing and troubling trend that I observe reflected in many places and in not so subtle ways: people choosing to sit in grid-locked traffic rather than walking, biking, car-sharing, or taking a bus, a lack of measurable action in regards to curbing climate change, a marked decline in voluntarism in community oriented organizations (including the League), people who make lots of noise on the Internet and in the news, but take no real action, and the list just goes on. A way to summarize this phenomenon is to recognize that people have become so detached from their community that the net effect is that civic participation is now considered a chore rather than a joyous right.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and a famous statement by George Santayana is worth repeating, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” At this years Annual Meeting we have invited Barb Howe to retrace the history leading up to the signing of the Voters Right Act of 1965. Please be proactive and invite your friends from the community to come listen to her talk, and make it your objective this year to become a participant in turning around the tide of apathy which threatens to swallow us all up. All that is required are baby steps, and a great place to begin is by volunteering with your League!
President of the League of Women Voters of Morgantown-Monongalia County
Annual Meeting 2015 promises to be an interesting and enjoyable event. At the Aull Center on Wednesday, May 13, at 6:00 p.m. we will begin with a Meet and Greet social session, followed at 6:30 by a special presentation by Barb Howe, “Evolution of the Voting Rights Act (up to 1965)”. Barb Howe taught American women’s history and women’s studies at WVU and has taught classes in women’s history for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). She is a member of the Community Coalition for Social Justice’s steering committee and developed a timeline on expanding the right to vote for CCSJ-Main Street Morgantown’s Ninth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Celebration on “The Road to the Vote” in January 2015. Her presentation for the League of Women Voters is based on that work. This would be a great opportunity to bring a friend!
May 13 Annual Meeting
Wednesday 6:00-9:00 p.m. Aull Center
351 Spruce Street (Garlow House)
May 18 Board Meeting
Monday 6:00 p.m. Pot Luck
Lyndell Millecchia’s Home
476 Lawnview Drive
For the second time, we will be giving awards to certain organizations or people who have done important work that furthers the democratic values of the League of Women Voters. Come and be surprised!
The wonderful finger foods and sweets for which the League has long been famous will be provided by you, our faithful League members, with beverages provided by the Hospitality Committee.
During the Business portion, the League will elect officers and board members, discuss and accept the proposed Local Program for 2015-2016, and discuss and accept a budget for the coming year.
We welcome your dues at the Annual Meeting!
Dues are $44 for an individual and $66 for a household.Checks should be made to LWV Morgantown-Mon County and, if you do not attend the meeting, may be mailed to: Joseph Marshall, 194 McCormick Hollow Rd., Morgantown, WV 26508You can also pay online with your PayPal account or credit card at http://tinyurl.com/paylwvmm or you may send money from your PayPal account to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our League co-sponsored the OLLI Legislative Wrap-Up & Reception on March 31 at the Mountaineer Mall. It was the first time OLLI planned an event like this, and it was very successful. The refreshments were wonderful, and the center-court location worked out very well. Most of the Legislators from our area attended. They reported on their successes and impressions of the Legislative session, and responded to participants’ questions. We are planning to continue this collaboration with OLLI next year.
The local League held a City Council candidate forum this April, at South Middle School. The venue pleased attendees, and both the candidates and the audience were very grateful to the League for holding the forum. The meeting was filmed by West TV as a service to the community and may be watched at:
Currently we are looking for a member from the League to volunteer to chair the committee so that it may continue moving forward from where it left off last year, after making notable progress.
On March 25, four members of the Natural Resources Committee met with Tim Ball, the Director of MUB. The committee was interested in his views on the two new gas wells to be fracked across from our water intake by Northeast Energy. He was somewhat reassuring that they are using practices that will protect the water as much as possible. However, they are planning to use a synthetic drilling fluid that may have some unknown results as it is relatively new. Tim has concerns about the synthetic fluid and continues to meet with Northeast Energy to present his concerns. He has stated that he has maintained good communication with the company.
The committee plans to meet with Tim Carr, the head of a WVU study of horizontal drilling which will be using these wells as the object of their research.
We welcome new member Judith McBride.
Those of you who participated in the Public Library financing study and consensus held in in our league in September, 2014, will be interested in the final consensus from the State LWV, as follows:
PUBLIC LIBRARY FINANCING CONSENSUS
The LWVWV believes that public libraries are essential in communities for both children and adults. Therefore, the primary sources of fundingfor West Virginia’s public libraries should be tax based. This tax-based funding should be adequate, predictable and sustainable.
The LWVWV believes that there should be a basic state funding level for WV public libraries, based on the population of the area served by the library.
The LWVWV believes that additional local tax-based funds should be provided from those agencies which authorize libraries; that is, County Commissions, municipalities and/or County Boards of Education.
Other state options the LWVWV supports are:
Adjust the local share of the school aid formula to fund public libraries in each county.
Designate a state tax or percentage of a tax for public libraries.
The following local funding options are acceptable:
Require these local governing authorities to contribute a given percentage of local property taxes for libraries, as required in existing “special local laws.”
Increase the property tax rate with the resulting revenue going to libraries.
Require Boards of Education to include a defined level of funding for libraries in the county in excess levy elections.
Permit Boards of Education, County Commissions and municipalities to impose an additional levy on property for libraries.
The LWVWV does not support a constitutional amendment to allow public libraries to form tax districts and ask voters to assess themselves to support libraries.
The LWVWV does not support library user fees at the state or local level.
The LWVWV believes public libraries may form county-wide or multi-county systems. (11/8/14)
LWV Morgantown-Monongalia County
Proposed 2015-2016 Local Program
Study of County Government, including:
Laws concerning the number of County Commissioners, their responsibilities and authority.
Taxation, revenues and budget disbursements.
Organize a public meeting with the County Commission on County Government issues.
Revive Observer Corps
Planning: Action to promote orderly development in Monongalia County and monitor the work of the Monongalia County Planning Commission.
Monitor and take action where needed with regard to improving traffic conditions, including pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Monitor the implementation of the Complete Streets legislation so that the design of our transportation system can be inclusive of all forms of transportation.
Voters Service: Continue to advocate for open access to registration and voting.
Study water quality in the Monongahela River including Morgantown Utility Board and Department of Natural Resources testing and their relation to Marcellus Shale gas extraction processes and coal mining.
Study current state regulation of Marcellus Shale gas extraction. Work with legislators to amend the Marcellus legislation with regard to those issues that still need regulation.
Study current municipal and county ordinances related to extractive industries. Work with local officials to ensure that the strongest ordinances possible are promulgated to protect the health and safety of citizens.
Study Source Water Protection Program (SWPP).
Strategize and act to promote an efficient county solid waste recycling program.
Social Justice: Create a Social Justice committee; explore local collaborations.
Mark your Calendars!
Wednesday, May 13, 6:00pm Annual Meeting at the Aull Center!
(Corner of 29th St. and 8th Ave. in Vienna, WV just up the street from the City Building and Police Station.)
What do Fracking and Cracking Bring?
Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp was among the local officials who traveled to North Dakota earlier this year. He will meet with League members and guests to talk about what they learned and what kinds of actions he foresees will be needed should the gas industry bring a cracker plant and accompanying influx of workers to Wood County.
The League of Women Voters of Morgantown-Monongalia County is sponsoring a candidate forum for Morgantown City Council candidates at South Middle School on Thursday, April 16, 7pm-9pm. The forum includes all candidates including declared write-in candidates.
Candidates running to date are: First Ward – Ron Bane, George Papandreas and Rachel Lee Fetty (write-in); Second Ward – Bill Kawecki and Al Bonner (write-in); Third Ward – Wes Nugent; Forth Ward – Jennifer Selin; Fifth Ward – Marti Shamberger; Sixth Ward – Noel Hoffman and Jay Redmond; Seventh Ward – Nancy Ganz and Bill Graham (write-in).
League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Refreshments will be served.