Local officials paid tribute to Sen. Jay Rockefeller's long history of service to the state Friday after hearing of his decision not to seek re-election.
Del. William G. Hartman, D-Randolph, said he hated to see someone with such seniority leave the Senate.
"Seniority in the Senate is everything," Hartman said. "We need to make sure we replace Sen. Rockefeller with someone who possesses lots of experience."
"Sen. Rockefeller has served the people very well over the years," Hartman said. "It has been rumored for a while that he may not run again. I believe he has served us very well, and I wish him the very best."
Randolph County Interim Superintendent of Schools Terry George said Rockefeller has been a tremendous asset to West Virginia.
"He was a great advocate of our state," Rockefeller said. "I consider him a champion of the health care movement and it will be a loss for West Virginia when he steps down.
"When I was in high school, I campaigned for him in his first run for governor," George said. "We put those blue stickers that said 'Jay' everywhere we could stick them. I watched him grow as he won for governor, and then eventually for the U.S. Senate. He will be missed."
Sen. Clark S. Barnes, R-Randolph, said Rockefeller will be difficult to replace.
"He was a strong senator and a strong voice of West Virginians," Barnes said. "He was a big proponent for veterans and has accomplished lots for miners, especially those with black lung. He was also a great supporter for our rural health care clinics.
"I thank him for his many years of service and wish him well," Barnes said.
Robbie Morris, director of the Randolph County Development Authority, said the RCDA thanked Rockefeller for his service to West Virginia.
"He was an advocate for West Virginia," Morris said. "I wish him well in his future endeavors."
Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph, said there is a lot to consider regarding Rockefeller.
"Think of all the years of service; in the house, as Secretary of State, as West Virginia governor and as U.S. senator," Campbell said. "He worked on so many issues including coal miners, veterans, children, senior citizens and health care. We will all greatly miss him.
"Everyone knows the name of Jay Rockefeller," Campbell said. "He has contributed so much to help the state of West Virginia."
Elkins 4th Ward Councilwoman Nanci Bross-Fregonara said she read Friday about Rockefeller's announcement.
"I am very disappointed to hear this news," Bross-Fregonara said. "He has done so much for the state of West Virginia.
"I believe Sen. Rockefeller has a way of analyzing issues and looking to see what is best for the people of West Virginia," Bross-Fregonara said. "I truly admire his thoughts about the coal industry and how it could grow with some changes. He was one of the few voices in the state that looked at all sides of the coal industry.
"Sen. Rockefeller has given so many years of his life to our state and nation, and it takes a lot of time," Bross-Fregonara said. "He has served on so many committees and his experience and seniority will be missed. He was not far right nor far left; he had the ability to look at all sides of an issue, move forward and not be stifled by polarization."
Randolph County Board of Education member Ed Tyre said of Rockefeller, "There comes a time when everyone decides to step aside, and I guess he has reached that point."