The chambers of the Greenbrier County Commission meeting were packed with county residents on Tuesday evening.
While the agenda was brief, the bulk of attendees were present to witness the naming of the new county sheriff. The former sheriff, Jan Cahill, left the office to become superintendent of the West Virginia State Police with two years remaining in his term as sheriff.
The commission received six resumes from candidates vying for the interim sheriff position, said new commission President Woody Hanna. After interviewing each one on Jan. 18, Hanna stated he was “very impressed” with the candidates’ credentials. Any one of them would make a great sheriff, he said.
A requirement for the candidacy is that all applicants must be of the same political party as the previous sheriff, which in this case is Democrat, Hanna said. The Democratic Executive Committee submitted three names among the six hopefuls.
Commissioner Lowell Rose said there was a lot of interest in the interim sheriff position, so much so that the commission’s phone line “blew up” with calls from all over the United States.
“You guys didn’t make it easy for us,” said Commissioner Mike McClung, who broke the tension in the room by moving to approve Cahill’s chief deputy Bruce Sloan as the new sheriff. The motion was unanimously approved.
In other business:
- The commission announced the time frame for the annual Arts & Recreation Grant application period for non-profits and other applicable organizations will begin on Feb. 6 with a deadline of Friday, Mar. 17, no later than 4:30 p.m. Applications can also be retrieved at www.greenbriercounty.net or at the courthouse in the county commission office on the lower floor.
- Stating he wants to reinstate a “tradition” that was in place during his former stint as a commissioner, Hanna invited legislators to the commission meeting to give local residents insights on what the Legislature will be working on in the upcoming session in Charleston. Present at the meeting were Senator Ron Miller and Delegates George “Boogie” Ambler and Stephen Baldwin.
“Things change quickly,” said Miller, who, as an incumbent, along with Ambler, has found that one “never knows what changes will occur.” Miller said he is expecting farm bureau and education issues to continue to receive attention, as well as the search for revenue to address the budget deficit. A pet project of Miller’s, he said, was the earned income tax credit, which could put people back to work.
“We’d hit the floor running, if we knew what the agenda was,” Ambler said, however, he anticipates budget cuts in the Legislature’s future. He said he was “excited” about Jim Justice’s election as governor of the state.
As the recently elected “freshman” delegate, Baldwin said, “When you say that I’m a freshman, it sounds like I’m still in college. But, when you look at me, I still look like I’m in college.”
Though the remark got a laugh, Baldwin said he sees himself as the “connect-the-dots guy,” in which he proposes to connect the needs of his constituents to resources in his capacity as a West Virginia delegate. He said he will also be continuing his news column, which he began while serving on the Greenbrier County Board of Education. He said he is proud to be serving as a member of the standing committee for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
The composition of the current West Virginia Senate has 12 Democrats to 22 Republicans, while the House has 63 Republicans to 37 Democrats. All three legislators can be reached at 304-347-4836.
- J. Andrew Hagy, newly hired as executive director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation (GVEDC), introduced himself to the commission, stating he intends to turn the economic development organization, covering Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties, into an aggressive commercial and industrial job retention and attraction entity. “There’s no reason why growth cannot continue to develop in Greenbrier County,” he said. “The opportunities here are just unbelievable.”
- Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Executive Director Kara Dense presented her annual report. Dense said the county is receiving national attention with the help of their new marketing campaign, “Simply Get Away.” The campaign was established after the disastrous floods of last summer as a part of the economic recovery and restoration efforts. Dense said the campaign includes new visuals that let visitors know Greenbrier County is a great place to get away. She said the CVB will be adding Charlotte, NC, to their advertising campaign now that there is air service from Lewisburg to Charlotte.
Dense was recently appointed by former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to serve on the West Virginia Tourism Commission representing convention and visitor bureaus across the state.