MEZZATESTA'S "PENSION BILL" IS VETOED - Hampshire Gives Delegate Vote Of Support

Gov. Bob Wise has vetoed a bill that reportedly was supported by Delegate Jerry Mezzatesta that would have boosted the pensions of legislators who also served in the educational system.

Wise indicated the increase of pension benefits would have helped but a handful of legislators, including Mezzatesta.

Contrary to all the criticism about the delegate, including alleged ethics violations, the Hampshire County Board of Education gave "Mezz" a vote of confidence this week.

They praised him for obtaining a $6.5 million wellness center grant for the county, which has a population of about 21,000.

Am unidentified spokesperson in the Hampshire school system told the Hur Herald "He is being treated unfairly. You can call it pork, but the money he gets for our county has been important. How many people in your county would be critical of this. This is how it works."

Although a ethics agreement with the school board said Mezzatesta would not access state funds for their system, the county just received a $70,000 grant for an audit.

The Hampshire board's treasurer was just fired.

Last year "Mezz" reportedly secured more than $800,000 for the local school system and $296,000 for a department error in the calculation of special education students.

The county newspaper, the Hampshire Review, did not report activity by a local group of educators and citizens who have been calling attention to problems within the system.

A school official said "We have had our attorneys take a good look at the law and the way they interpret it is that we cannot change Jerry's contract." Yesterday, Gov. Wise signed two high=profile bills.

A measure designed to help low-income, uninsured state residents obtain prescription drug discounts.

A bill that will launch a study of large-scale water use in the state and lay legal claim to West Virginia's waters.