Members of the Randolph County Commission had something to smile about Thursday morning - discharging a $3.1 million debt.
Commissioners Mike Taylor, Chris See and Joyce Johns watched as members of the Randolph County Building Commission approved the cutting of a $279,021 check for the final payment on the Wees Annex.
The annex houses the Randolph County Health Department, WVU Extension Service, the Randolph County Sheriff Department's law enforcement branch and Randolph and Tucker County Family Court.
The commission borrowed $3.1 million to bankroll the annex when it was first conceptualized and had expected to pay the money back in $156,000 annual installments over 20 years. Instead, the county managed to pay off the mortgage in only three, said Will Hertig, acting chair of the building commission.
"Today is a particularly special day because we have the privilege and honor of considering [for approval] the payoff of a 20-year loan that's been alive for only three years and will be terminated as of today," Hertig said.
Building commission member Crystal Warner Gibson touted the taxpayer savings she said will stem from the commission's achievement.
"This will save Randolph County citizens considerable tax dollars in interest fees that never have to be paid," Warner Gibson remarked. "This is a good job and a great example of fiscal responsibility."
Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor stressed that Randolph County was "on solid financial ground."
"I think what's important for the public to understand is that we paid off a 20-year loan in three years," Taylor said. Taylor also praised department heads for their meticulous management of public money, he said, calling the achievement "a cooperative effort" between many parties.
"Elected officials worked hard to hold down expenses so we could have that excess funding," Taylor said.
Hertig, the acting chair of the building commission, tendered his resignation to the county commission Thursday. Hertig said it had been a pleasure to work with county officials and that he was proud to be part of approving the final payment on the Wees Annex.
The commission then transitioned into its regular meeting, during which it approved a request from Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker to hire attorney Lori Gray as the county's assistant prosecuting attorney.
Parker said Gray will replace Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson, who is vacating her position to become the prosecuting attorney for Calhoun County. She is running unopposed for the position in the November election.
Parker said the departure of Johnson, who has worked in her current position since 2004, will be a big loss for Randolph County. Gray, however, will be able to hit the ground running, he added.
"Lori will be able to come in and start from day one and know what she's doing. I've had the opportunity to go against her, and I decided to hire her so I wouldn't have to practice against her," Parker joked.
The commission also voted to hire Donald Shreve as a part-time custodian at $10 per hour effective Oct. 9. In other personnel business, Randolph County Sheriff Jack Roy welcomed Roger Foster, the department's newest deputy, to its ranks. Foster recently graduated from the 16-week state police academy, where he was elected spokesperson of his graduating class, the sheriff said.
"[Completing the police academy] is a real achievement," Roy said. "Not everyone is cut out for this kind of work."
The Randolph County Courthouse will be closed today for the Mountain State Forest Festival and Monday, Oct. 8 in honor of Columbus Day. It will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.