LOGAN – There is a sign along one of the old brick building at the main intersection in downtown Logan that reads “The Friendliest Town In WV.”
But when it comes to supporting democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, that friendly invitation took a different twist.
On Friday, a representative from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s office contacted Logan Fire Chief Scott Beckett about using that facility to host Hillary Clinton on her visit to southern West Virginia. After thinking it over and discussing it with longtime Mayor Serafino Nolletti, the town decided not to let Clinton use the fire department or any of the city’s other facilities.
It was Clinton’s recent stance on coal that prompted the city officials to decline the offer.
The Mayor had a letter prepared by Dave Allen Communications, a public relations firm, and sent it to Manchin’s regional representative Michael Browning.
It stated, “While we appreciate all that you and Senator Manchin’s office have done for the City of Logan over the years we must make the following statement:
Bill and Hillary Clinton are simply not welcome in our town.”
Beckett said someone contacted him by phone and said they wanted to have a rally for about 300 people. “We have an obligation to the public to provide fire protection.” The chief didn’t feel it was in the best interests of his department to upend the facility by moving out fire trucks and blocking the bays.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea on many levels. I tried to keep it politically correct,” Beckett said. “So once I told them no, the phone started ringing on the other side and it was the governor’s office – they wanted to know if there was anyway ‘this could be worked out.’”
Beckett then notified the mayor about the situation and they decided not to host the event. “We didn’t want to get saddled with something we did not want,” Beckett added.
Both Senator Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin have endorsed Hillary Clinton as the democratic nominee.
The letter that the city of Logan sent further stated, “Mrs. Clinton’s anti-coal messages are the last thing our suffering town needs at this point. The policies that have been championed by people like Clinton have all but devastated our fair town, and honestly, enough is enough.”
“We wish them the best in their campaign, however we again state they are not welcome on our City properties. We hope that you will respectfully consider NOT visiting our community,” Allen’s letter said.
Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, ended up making an appearance in Logan, but at the middle school early Sunday afternoon. Hillary visited Williamson, W.Va., but went to the Williamson Health and Wellness Center on Monday.
Protestors were at both events, mostly laid off coal miners, their families and Donald Trump supporters.
“Scotty called me and told me what was going on and I told him I totally supported him,” Nolletti said. “That was our city’s decision.”
“That is when we got Dave (Allen) to write a letter on our behalf,” the mayor stressed.
Nolletti said he continued to get calls from officials on Saturday morning, but the City of Logan stuck to its guns and decided not to welcome the Clinton campaign into the southern W.Va. coal town.
Officials even asked for a closed door meeting with Nolletti, but he “respectfully declined.”
Both Nolletti and Beckett are strong supporters of the coal industry and have seen first-hand the effect the closure of so many coal mine has had on families in this part of Appalachia.
“We just thought it was a bad, bad situation,” Nolletti added.
“When people say one thing and then do something else – I mean how many times do they have to lie,” Beckett said. “If you look back in the 90s when Bill (Clinton) was in office, which is when the war on coal started – under Bill’s watch.”
“They have continued to go that route,” Beckett said. He referred to Hillary’s comment back in March about putting coal miners out of work and shutting down coal mines.
“I told the senator (Manchin) that I have lived here my entire life. How could I let this happen. How can I walk down the streets of Logan and look at all of these miners out of work,” Nolletti added.
Beckett added that the EPA standards were not fair to the coal industry.
The Logan administration, like many other small towns in West Virginia, seems to be endorsing Donald Trump and the Republican party in the upcoming elections.
Nolletti said Logan is a welcoming town, however they drew a line in the sand when it came to the Clintons.
(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)