By Shayla Menville - Staff Writer
July 31, 2013 — At 25, Matt Kiser is the youngest Olive Hill City Council member. His hope is to positively serve the city he has always loved and called home.
“My generation will be running this town and making the decisions one day so why not get a jump start on helping now,” said Kiser. “Respect is something to be earned and jumping in with both feet at such a young age doesn’t earn me respect and some may not think I can do this, but I will.”
For Kiser, the decision to join Council was made after careful thought and consideration.
“When my grandparents talked about Olive Hill it was a place that brought great pride to them and now, unfortunately people outside of our town think of it as a slum and that is not what any of us want,” said Kiser. “I don't expect Council to be an easy task. It is important to me to know what the people want and need and then tackle those problems facing all of us with a common sense approach .”
Kiser said that he plans to look ahead and not back in his service to Olive Hill.
“It is time to step away from the old and give the city back to all of the people and not just to a small group,” said Kiser. “We have to stop blaming everything on the past and move forward into finding solutions for the future.”
Kiser has served as a volunteer firefighter with the Olive Hill Volunteer Fire Department since he was 16. He talks about how the 2010 floods impacted him personally and the town he loves.
“I was in a wet suit for 14 hours when the flood happened,” remembered Kiser. “Neighbors were helping neighbors and everyone cared, it is sad to say that it took a natural disaster of that magnitude to pull people together.”
He said now it is vital that everyone realizes there is much work to do and that can only be accomplished together.
“Right now it seems like the city is divided and people are going to continue to leave...there has to be something that makes people want to come home to stay,” said Kiser. “I left a great job in Pennsylvania after the floods to come back because I was like a child, homesick for my home but not everyone comes back.”
Kiser said that he wants to focus on several ways to help Olive Hill. One is targeting youth.
“I can and will get out and talk to the younger generations in our town because younger people are interested in how things are handled and their voices count and must be heard,” said Kiser. “They need to stay interested and invested in their town and we have to provide things that will engage them.”
Another is to take an aggressive approach toward downtown cleanup.
“There are dilapidated buildings that have been here since before the flood and more made with the floods. It is time to stop ignoring them or complaining about them and get them removed,” said Kiser. “They are not only a safety issue but they are an eyesore and are taking away from any historical beauty there may be in our town.”
Kiser added that he has been taught selfless community service by the firefighters he has served with. He says he plans to practice that as a City Council member.