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Assistant principal named to fill open seat on Martinsburg council

January 18, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Dennis J. Etherington, the assistant principal at Eagle School Intermediate School, was selected Thursday at a special City Council meeting to fill an open seat on the council.

Etherington is expected to take the oath of office for the City of Martinsburg's Ward I council seat on Monday, Mayor George Karos said Thursday.

A special council meeting for the South Georgia Avenue resident's swearing-in ceremony was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., Karos said.

Etherington, 57, was one of four people to submit letters of interest or resums to complete unexpired term of Shari Persad, who resigned in December.

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Though he never sought an elected office before, Etherington said the opportunity will allow him to carry on the community-minded legacy of his father-in-law, the late Paul Martin, a former mayor of Martinsburg.

"Mr. Martin was a big influence on me in my early adult years," said Etherington, who was 5 when his father died in a coal mining accident.

A southwestern Pennsylvania native, Etherington said he moved to Berkeley County in 1972 for a teaching job at Rosemont Elementary School after graduating from California (Pa.) State College.

Etherington transferred with the elementary school's sixth-graders when they first were sent to South Martinsburg Middle School for classes and then taught there for 29 years.

Instead of retiring, Etherington said he stayed in education, something he has enjoyed. He has served as assistant principal at Eagle School since 2006.

"I'm not a politician. I'm not a campaigning person, Etherington said.

"My initial intentions were to get a feel for it," Etherington said.

But now he's "leaning toward filing" for a four-year term in the upcoming municipal election June 10. The unexpired term he is expected to complete and all other terms on city council expire June 30. The filing period for the election begins Feb. 1 and continues until Feb. 28.

"I do not have an agenda," Etherington said of his interest in serving on council. "I sit back and I listen and I watch and I try to get as many facts as I can," said Etherington, who served on the now-defunct War Memorial Park board.

"I don't try to fix something that isn't broke."

As for being selected for the unexpired term, Etherington said no one was more excited than his mother-in-law, who told him she was wanted to come to see him take the oath of office on Monday.

"She was really excited," Etherington said.

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