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Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch Cabell County Magistrate Johnny McCallister

This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the May 12 West Virginia Primary Election.

Any parent or grandparent knows that children will happily spend the better part of any nice day at the spray park. April Dawn Park in Milton used to be the only spray park in the area. A small corner in town with a few swings and things to climb on, with controlled patterns of water spouting out in the wet area, can provide hours of fun for children. It also has a beautiful picnic facility. Now Barboursville has a spray park and soon St. Clouds will have one. This was so needed in West Huntington and will, no doubt, be a busy destination for families.

A community center in the area would be another great addition, as has proven to be true in other parts of the city. Caring area residents and volunteers have made these facilities neighborhood hubs for youth and adults. We’re so fortunate in Huntington to be among community-minded professionals who volunteer and organize activities at these centers. West Huntington is home to a large population of senior citizens, many of whom, like myself, are lifelong residents of the area. There is also a large senior citizens home on Madison Avenue. As much as seniors would benefit from informational sessions or just get-togethers at a great meeting place like a community center, they happen to be the people who have lived the longest and have accumulated the most wisdom to share with each other and everyone else. From help with homework to sporting activities, coordination of neighborhood watch programs, speakers and an occasional dinner, community centers are important to the areas that they serve.

I would like to see a Huntington Police field office in West Huntington. Huntington police officers are also great volunteers. Bringing residents and police officers together facilitates safer neighborhoods for people and for police officers.

Central City has so many unique places to visit that you won’t find anywhere else, with some new small businesses dotted in the area. Of course, we want to see more of them. The Central City Days event is an annual reminder of everything the area has to offer. You can shop, eat and relax with a book any day of the year there. The gazebo on 14th Street West is available to rent for special events. West Huntington puts on a stellar Veterans Day parade every year that everyone should see.

I am a life-long resident of West Huntington. I know many of the residents and business owners well. Many of you know that I served as a county magistrate until my retirement last year. I spent years assisting people and families in resourcing the help that they needed. I think West Huntington needs a focused representative who is determined to address the needs of the area. I believe that I can do that.

Johnny McCallister is a Democratic candidate for Huntington City Council seeking to represent District 2.

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