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Putnam County Commissioner Deweese Wants To “Deter Future Activity” of PRIDE Groups at Parks

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On Thursday, Commissioner Steve Deweese posted on his Facebook page an address regarding an upcoming “Pride” event at Valley Park in Putnam County.  In his post, he established the following:
1. The event has been scheduled since October 2022, prior to his taking office

2. The event was previously held in the Town of Hurricane

3. Rental space was paid for the event by a private group

In his post, he said:

“We, as County Leaders, need to deter any future activity within our parks that DO NOT violate the 1st Amendment (or Criminal activity) with any future performances.” Steve Deweese, putnam county commission

The individuals organizing the event include Rob Vanater. Mr. Vanater who also works as the Information and Events Specialist at the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce had reached out to Commissioner Deweese and that information was included in the Commissioner’s original post. Vanatter told Deweese there would be absolutely no vulgarity, nudity, or unbecoming language. He also said:

“This event will be a family focused, resource event. Vendors that will provide valuable resources to families, include the ACLU, Fairness WV, Mission WV, WV Legal Aid, the Putnam County Library, Putnam County Health Department, along with several other organizations and performers.” Rob vanater

While “Drag Shows” have clearly become more controversial in recent times, they are not illegal in West Virginia. Legislation to restrict “Drag” performances were introduced in the majority Republican legislature but ultimately failed to make it through committees.

Mr. Vanater pointed out to Commissioner Deweese, “I booked the space that will be used as a private event. It’s the same route that would be used when a gun show or tent revival comes to our area and needs to book a space.”

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He added, “I know personal beliefs in this area vary a lot, and I respect that completely. We just request in return, the same respect that we have given.”

We reached out to Commissioner Deweese for comment. He admitted the wording of his post could be misinterpreted and offered this statement:

“What I was trying to get across is that we commissioners don’t review every rental and we don’t intend to in the future. We recognize the First Amendment and all applicable laws. We don’t intend to violate a single one. People have a right to express their opinion whether we agree or disagree with it. “ Commissioner steve deweese

Mr. Vanater posted on his Facebook account: “Didn’t plan on starting my day watching a local “preacher” organize a protest at our event on live stream…but taking the higher road sometimes can feel good. If we can prevent one child from suicide with the resources at this event then everything is worth it!”

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  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state. View all posts

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.