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Racing commissioner is not reappointed

September 26, 2000

Racing commissioner is not reappointed



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County resident Joseph Knotts has been replaced on the West Virginia Racing Commission by a retired optometrist from Petersburg, according to the commission.

Knotts, who lives near Shenandoah Junction, served on the racing commission for about three years. Gov. Cecil Underwood appointed Knotts to the commission to fill an unexpired term of another member who died, Knotts said Tuesday.

Knotts said he did not know why Underwood did not reappoint him.

Bryan F. Mitchell, who was appointed to the seat, also said he was not sure why he was asked to serve.

Underwood officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Knotts, who is retired from the military, had some experience in horse racing, including breeding.

"I had a great run at it," he said.

Mitchell, who began serving a four-year term at the beginning of this month, has served on other state boards over the years, including 12 years as a former commissioner for the state Department of Natural Resources and a current member of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority.

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Mitchell said he has been a horse racing fan for years and has been coming to the Charles Town Races regularly since the 1940s.

Mitchell said one of his goals as a racing commissioner will be to help the state's four horse and dog tracks to progress "as fast as we can get them there. And they are moving quite quickly," he said.

Mitchell said installation of video lottery and slot machines at the tracks have greatly helped the tracks.

Although there has been some concern about an increase in Jefferson County's crime rate since the slot machines have been added at Charles Town Races, Mitchell said he is putting his faith in comments from Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge.

Aldridge has testified before the state Lottery Commission that he believes there has been no connection between crime and slot machines at Charles Town.

The three-member racing commission enforces the state's racing laws.

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