Centre was the site of the 2000 debate between Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney and was in the running as a backup site in 2008. On Oct. 11, 2012, candidates who have yet to be determined will again meet on the stage at Newlin Hall for the only vice-presidential debate scheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Janet Brown, executive director of the commission, said the college’s ability to successfully pull off the last debate and the fact that most of the same people are still in place at the school were a big part of the decision to return.
“Centre has the first-rate facilities necessary, but they also have a team in place that is very professional,” Brown said following the announcement. “They truly understand the scope of what is required to host a debate like this.”
Centre was one of 12 colleges that completed the entire application process, and more than 40 institutions inquired about the possibility.
Much has changed in the 11 years since the last debate, with many kinds of technology then in their infancy becoming common and the role of electronic media on the rise. Organizers have already begun preparing the campus to accommodate more than 3,000 media members expected, a group that will include White House press corps because an incumbent is in the race this time.
The college already is better equipped to handle the influx of people. Sutcliffe Hall, where the media center will again be located, has undergone extensive renovations, and a new Campus Center that includes a dining commons has been completed.
— David Brock
W.Va. billionaire buys big piece of Mercer
Several prominent Mercer County residents were at the Lexington Convention Center in November. Some were there hoping to buy a piece of Anderson Circle Farm; others were just curious to learn the fate of the famous farm that was on the auction block.
The property — all 5,529 acres of it — was purchased by West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice II for $25 million. Justice outbid several others, including a group of Amish farmers, who formed groups trying to purchase the land in parcels. Along with prime farm land, the property includes several historic estate homes.
The hospitable Justice is listed by Forbes as one of the 400 richest Americans. His fortune comes from coal, but he recently has been selling off his coal interests and buying large farms. He has large agricultural operations in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and now Kentucky.
Justice said he plans to keep the Anderson Circle property as a working farm, raising purebred Limousin cattle and his wife Cathy’s thoroughbreds, and growing cash grains.
"I’m very serious about agriculture,” he said.
Anderson Circle Farm was accumulated over more than 40 years by Mercer native Ralph Anderson, founder of Belcan Corp. in Cincinnati, one of the country’s largest engineering firms. After Anderson died in 2010, his daughter, Candace McCaw, said she decided to sell the property because the family wasn’t going to use it to its full potential.
— Todd Kleffman
Lancaster police chief’s removal causes controversy
A year of intense public debates and long executive sessions began for the Lancaster City Council in January when newly-elected Mayor Brenda Powers dismissed longtime Police Chief Ronald Lamb just months before he became eligible for full retirement benefits.
She then wanted to name officer Allen Weston chief, but the council declined to go along and agreed instead that Weston could be assistant chief until a more thorough candidate search could be performed. After one of the prospective candidates spurned Lancaster’s offer in favor of another job, Powers again tried to name Weston chief and the council again shot her down, saying it wanted a chief with more administrative experience.