How One Small American County Overcame to Become a Very Big Deal

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I have a very, very good friend, who stands on the opposite side of the line for which I do in the political realm. He and I are two very passionate people about what we believe and why we believe it. We are however far more passionate about the Lord Jesus Christ, and value our friendship in Him more than our differences of opinions. An early morning conversation (like 6 a.m. early) caught me quite off guard and not ready to pinch hit for President Trump. 

I listened to him as he questioned my ability to make “proper” decisions as a child of God, and asked questions like “How I could look past the immoralities of Donald Trump,” and I could tell he was quite displeased with my stand. At the end of the conversation, I told him I loved him as I always do, and I meant it. Nothing changed that in our exchange of words.

When I spoke to the much milder version of him later, he listened to me and, though he still disagreed, he understood where my stance had come from. It’s really a marvelous story for the State of West Virginia, and most especially the County of Calhoun. 

Calhoun County was founded in 1856, and, so far as I know, was a Democrat led county from the beginning, until October of 2023. For the first time in the history of Calhoun County, Republicans outnumbered Democrats, and continues to increase in number each month. For decades in the mid 20th century, and likely prior to that, you couldn’t get a job in Calhoun County without political pull from the powers that be. Most of which were Democrats. Seldom ever did a Republican make it into an office of stature. But that too changed. 

Our Nation Has Had Enough

The change came in 2016 when Donald Trump became President. The entire State rallied behind him. Not because he was a Republican. I don’t believe that for two seconds. They rallied behind him because he was not a Democrat. They were not interested in his rumored womanizing ways and multiple other immoralities. He simply wasn’t a politician. And he for certain wasn’t a woke, prejudiced, anti American, anti Oil and Gas,  and anti blue collar who had no mercy or desire to take care of middle class Americans. He wasn’t your typical Republican, although he carries the card. The staunch Republicans didn’t like him either. They too should worry, because Americans are growing weary of them as well. But they are the end that justified the means to get rid of the swamp that is infecting our Nation with the poison of liberal and cowardice politics.

That is National politics in a nutshell according to Shari Johnson, the Jesus Chick and Publisher of the Ridgeview News.

Our States Have Had Enough

After the debacle of the 2020 election, throughout every State it was understood how very fragile our election process had gotten and how easy it was to corrupt it. Say what you want about who won and who lost;  following that election, nobody was trusting the process any longer. The ability to cast illegal votes by the thousands, if not millions, was very much a reality, and far more damaging than voting in the name of the dead, although that too is still an issue. 

The next issue came when the 3% became the majority.  When our leadership paraded male panty wearing, story reading, child corrupting men, dressed as women in our National headquarters and told the American people that they were wrong and criminally liable if for any reason they disputed the morality of it, we knew it was out of control. Most Americans, Christian or not, knew our Government had not only crossed the line, their cowardice to listen to the 3% (them) and not the 97% of the population (us) in the United States was forcing an agenda down the throats of Americans who were about to puke in their swamp. 

Nobody was saying you couldn’t be gay, trans, or even a cat. But Americans are being forced to accept their lifestyle decisions as law, not opinion. 

Our County Had Never Had Enough

Until 2021. That was when Crystal Mersh came home. 

Am I seriously attributing a County’s turn around to one person. No. But she was a factor that cannot be denied. 

When Crystal Mersh decided to return to the home she grew up in, in Arnoldsburg, West Virginia, she had no concept of the fire storm that followed her. She was brought up in a Christian, middle class family who lived on the dividing line of the Civil War Route 33/119. North against the South. And while the world moved on and gave the politics of the Civil War very little thought, Calhoun County, West Virginia raged on. It’s was no longer the division of North and South, but rather 354 and 655. The northern and southern telephone exchanges in Calhoun County. A three-digit code that identifies a much smaller region within an area code. 

That division was a cultural and political divide. I fear even writing of it because I don’t want to insult or misrepresent either side. I always felt a part of both because my father was born in the southern most region of the West Fork in Nicut. But I lived in the northern region. I had no bias either way, but that was not the case with all people. Even though the division was seldom verbalized, everyone knew there was a difference of attitudes between the north and the south.

But when Crystal moved home and determined as a 655er to invest millions of dollars in 354 territory, by purchasing the one common ground for all, the old Calhoun County High School property, suddenly 655 and 354 had a piece of property that belonged to everyone. No division. Except at the Government level. The County Government owned the football field adjacent to the old school that had set virtually un-used and without any improvements since they were given it upon the closure of the old high school in 2001. But Crystal’s vision for that field far exceeded the imaginations of the political factors in Calhoun. When she requested the County give the field to her non-profit 1982 Foundation for the purpose of expanding the Community Center with a million dollar swimming pool, they fought her tooth and nail! 

So what does all this have to do with the Republican takeover in Calhoun County. The hysterical part of that is Crystal herself was a die hard Independent. But the faction that fought progress became very apparent. The Democratic control of Calhoun County had thwarted every previous opportunity for job creating businesses to move to Calhoun. They wanted nothing to do with anyone they could not control. So they oppressed the County to the point that we have often carried the highest unemployment in the State and have never risen above the poverty level.

That faction knew immediately that they could not control Crystal Mersh. So they labeled her a bully. Because that would make her the enemy. But she wasn’t a bully. And anyone who took the time to get to know her understood that. When the citizens of Calhoun watched Crystal stand up against the powers, not for herself, but for them, she became their leader in a fight that nobody had ever fought before. She won the field. The very location that Calhoun boys and girls gathered since 1923 from 354 and 655 to fight for Friday night victories. Her win was a county win. An entire county win. Suddenly there was no 354 and 655 division on that property, it was collectively Calhoun. That field now harbors the most amazing swimming pool that looks like an absolute resort area! It’s filled with children playing and laughing and a trip to that area brings great joy to anyone who sees the transformation of a community. The former high school is being transformed into a three level multiplayer purpose economic blessing. The bottom floor will provide business space for locally made products, a first rate dining experience called “The Varsity Chop House, a commercial kitchen for community use, a fitness center and a pre school. The Middle floor will be administration and a private K-12 School to teach on the foundational learning methods. The third floor will be an Air B&B and apartments. Also located on the property are multiple areas for outdoor gathering, a recovery center and a place for outfitters to access the Little Kanawha River and promote kayaking. 

Again you’re probably asking, how does that turn a county Republican? Because the vast majority of the citizens in Calhoun County are conservative, family oriented, hard working people. They carried the title Democrat because there was a point that no other party was represented in the County so you didn’t have anyone to vote for. But Donald Trump changed that. He labeled himself a Republican. He listened to the people and represented their opinion rather than what the Democrats were doing, which was ramming their opinions down our throats. Little by little Republicans began to build and finally in October of the 2023 they were the majority. Even Crystal switched from an Independent. 

Republican leaders stepped up and went to the State to battle for Calhoun. Suddenly we were getting attention not only on a State level but a National level. The four points of this post could have easily been

  1. Crystal Comes Home
  2. Crystal Goes to Town
  3. Crystal Goes to the Capital
  4. Crystal Goes to Washington. 

All those things happened. But following the first two, she did none of those things alone. She invited as many people to table as she could get. It wasn’t about politics it was about purpose. Restoring her hometown and helping to build the strength of the people to fight back against the oppressors. She didn’t make people do anything with the exception that she made them feel empowered. Empowered to the point that our community is now in the running for a 500 job pharmaceutical manufacturing company that has the potential to ignite our community with potential limitless opportunities for growth.

Crystal came to town the year before I began the Ridgeview News. Through my live feeds of Government meetings the people have become painfully aware of the unacceptable behaviors of local politicians. They not only watch on line, the meetings are packed in person. 

Calhoun County could be the poster child for any other American town that’s had enough of a controlling liberal agenda and want to get their county back in the control of the people as it was meant to be.

So let me answer the question “as a Christian, how can I vote for a man with the morals of Donald Trump?” 

All those immoral acts for which he is accused, happened prior to his Presidency. Doesn’t justify them, but he wasn’t President and wasn’t held to a Presidential standard. Following his Presidency, Christianity was given a voice in government. He was pro business, not pro control of businesses. Blue collar workers were important and viewed as the backbone of America, our military was respected. Following the election of Joe Biden, America has no backbone. We are viewed as a spineless, panty wearing, liberal nation without the power to blow the dust off of a piece of furniture. 

Are Republicans the answer? No. But the conservative values for which most local Republicans stand for is. Trump represents and supports those people. We are currently not a Christian nation. If we were things would be vastly different in Washington. But I am a Christian. I will stand before God and answer for every vote I make in an election as to how it represented Christ. President Trump allowed Christians to have a voice. Biden and the Democrats have done nothing but tell us to shut up. I have nothing against local people registered as Democrats. That’s the privilege of living in America is that we have the right to differ. 

The decision for me came to this. Jesus is and always will be the answer. And He will use whomever he decides to defend His people and complete His divine will. When I determine who it is, that can get elected and better represent the church, I have to consider Trump. Would I rather it be a devout Christian leader who never wavers on what the scripture teaches? Of course! But they’re not on the ballot. 

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Shari Johnson. (aka The Jesus Chick) has been encouraging women of faith and youth for a closer walk with Christ for over ten years. Having a burden for the leadership in American Churches, much of her writing is meant to spear on the servant of God to do more for the cause of Christ in these uncertain times. With humor, transparency and solid bible teaching Shari outlines messages that are easily understood, life applicable, and often with easily remembered points to ponder in hopes that they’ll be reflected on throughout the day and serve as encouragement on the go. Her servant’s heart is grounded in her own local church believing that it is there that the greatest impact can be made and unfortunately suffers the greatest neglect across America. Shari speaks at women’s gatherings in hopes of leaving a giggle in their soul and a burning desire to serve in their own local body of believers having it said of her “I laughed, I cried, and I was drawn to the foot of the cross…” Which is what it’s all about. For information on scheduling Shari, call her direct at (304)377-6036, message her via email at talk2shari@gmail.com or find her on Facebook!

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