It was with a feeling of sadness, a little anger and a healthy dose of personal trepidation that I read the lead article of the News and Sentinel May 31 edition: "Merritt ethics hearing set for July." I was a little sad for Mr. Merritt, who has been through all of the political mudslinging before, and I was mostly mad that this non-story was laying there for over six years, only to be brought back to life again by his opponent, just before an election of major importance for Wood County.
Most important, however, to me, is how Wood County voters reading this rehashing of old news could be led to believe there is something new in the story to in some way discredit Ken Merritt's handling of the original incident. We all know what happened; Merritt's young son apparently helped himself to a couple of the county's gasoline credit cards that were in his father's possession, running up unauthorized charges totaling just over $800. When Mr. Merritt became aware of the charges, he not only investigated the charges, but also had a deputy sheriff investigate and arrest his own son, and made full restitution for every penny.
Merritt's son, Brian Merritt, was subsequently tried, convicted, and is still incarcerated for several years to come. An unfortunate situation and outcome for both father and son, but this is not the first nor will it be the last time the son or daughter of a public official will do something to embarrass a parent. But this is certainly the last time the voters of Wood County should hear about a six-year-old indiscretion that was rectified years ago.
Enough is enough. Political mudslinging and dirty tricks need to end and the opponents in this election need to stand on their own merits.
Paul Steven Wells