Three candidates vie for Coal Grove office

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 2, 2003

Three will enter but only one candidate can emerge from Tuesday's election as the next mayor of Coal Grove.

Incumbent Tom McKnight will face off against current council members Kenneth Pyles and Larry McDaniel.

All agree on at least one thing - the biggest challenge facing the village is getting the financial situation resolved. In recent months, council implemented a spending freeze to help stop the dwindling of the general fund.

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McKnight is in his 19th year overall as mayor. He served from 1976 to 1990 but resigned because of family issues. In 1999, he was reelected.

The 66-year-old said he hopes to be reelected because it is a privilege to serve the people of Coal Grove, and he wants to finish many of the projects he started.

"My heart is in it and always has been," he said. "I just want to do good things for the people of Coal Grove so we can be proud again."

He cited numerous projects that have been initiated under his administration including starting Family Fun Days, the improvements to the water plant, the plans to build a boat ramp, and making improvements to the sewer plant. He also noted that new businesses such as Wendy's and the Family Dollar have come to the village.

McKnight said he has had a hard time convincing council that it was time to curb spending until it was too late.

"It has been one of those situations where everyone wants to be good old boys," he said. "Sometimes you have to make tough choices."

If reelected, McKnight said he would not allow taxpayers' money to be abused and will continue to use his contacts to help the village prosper.

McDaniel, 51, has nearly 15 years experience on the village council and said he would like to bring that experience to the mayor's position.

A Coal Grove resident for the past 26 years, McDaniel has worked for Sunoco Chemical in Kenova, W.Va. for nearly 30 years.

If elected, his top three priorities would be to fix the financial problems, find out where the village is losing water and to improve infrastructure such as the streets.

As part of the problems in the past, he said that council was never brought up to speed on projects such as Wendy's and Family Dollar until they were already in the works. McDaniel said he would increase the communication.

"I think the mayor is only as good as the council they work with," he said. "I would work closer with council to make changes."

McDaniel said he will not make any political promises other than to do what is best for the village.

"I would be open, willing to work with the council and have good communication with the council and the community," he said. "I would continue to work to get grants and try to improve the village."

As one way to do this, McDaniel said he would make sure someone attended meetings of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, KYOVA, FEMA and the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

Pyles, 48, has lived and raised his family in Coal Grove for the past 44 years.

In the second year of his first term of council, Pyles said he decided to run because he believes that his passion and desire for change can help the village move towards a bright future.

"The town is being fleeced. They are fleecing the general fund for wages," he said. "It needs to be stopped, it needs to be changed."

If elected, Pyles said he would do what is right for the village and begin to hold people accountable, even if it takes some layoffs.

"Regardless of who gets mayor, it has to be done. If we can't make the debt service payment in January the state auditors will come in and tell us how many people to cut."

Pyles said he would work to solve the water issue and

restore Coal Grove to its past glory.

"It is common sense, working from the heart for the betterment of the community," he said. "There are tough decisions that need to be made, that should have been made a long time ago. I wish I could paint a pretty picture for the community but I can't do that."