The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and Randolph County Development Authority hosted the first Randolph County Day at the West Virginia Legislature on Thursday.
The event offered an opportunity for area businesses and chamber members to travel to the state Capitol to participate in the legislative process, advocate for issues important to the Randolph County business community, and most importantly, feature why Randolph County is a quality destination to live, work and play.
Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Reed said the day was a great success.
"Thursday started out with 15 local businesses and non-profit organizations setting up booths in the lower floor of the Capitol Rotunda to showcase Randolph County," Reed said. "A little less than 50 local Chamber of Commerce members traveled to Charleston for the event."
Following the exhibits, Sam Minardi, from Minardi Public Affairs, discussed the legislative process with attendees.
"Minardi's talk showed the group that they should be involved in the political process," Robbie Morris, Randolph County Development Authority executive director, said. "You can have someone speak for you, but it is better for our legislators to hear concerns from constituents themselves."
The Randolph County contingent split up, and half were recognized in the Senate and half in the House.
"The House of Delegates read a citation along with a history of Randolph County," Morris said. "Legislators learned why Randolph County has an important part in West Virginia history with regard to heritage, tourism and economics. Following this, Randolph County received a standing ovation from the delegates."
Reed said lunch was served in the Government Organization Committee Meeting Room.
"Special guests at lunch were Del. Bill Hartman, Del. Denise Campbell, Sen. Gregory Tucker, Sen. Don Cookman, Sen. Clark Barnes, West Virginia Department of Education Superintendent Dr. James Phares, Mark Julian from the West Virginia Development Office, Office of Commissioner of Agriculture Representative Bob Tab, Jim Mosby from the West Virginia Development Office, Dr. Kathy D'Antoni from the West Virginia Department of Education and Pam Farris from Leadership West Virginia," Reed said.
"Elkins resident Gary Clay from the Manufacturers Association spoke during lunch, highlighting education and transportation in Randolph County. The Elm Street Alley Cats, a Randolph County music group, performed in the Rotunda and during lunch."
Following lunch, the group met with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
"The governor talked about his legislative agenda," Morris said. "Randolph residents were then able to ask about concerns they had. Questions involved transportation issues regarding the completion of Corridor H and education issues as they relate to work force development."
Morris said he felt the day offered attendees the knowledge that Randolph County is an important part of West Virginia.
"Everyone needs to be a part of the legislative process," Morris said. "The Capitol can be an intimidating place, but legislators want to hear from us, and it is important to share our views because they represent our voice.
"The day was good for attendees and legislators," Morris said. "It was great that legislators from other areas in West Virginia learned about the good things in and about Randolph County."
"I want to recognize Campbell for helping put Randolph County Day at the Legislature together," Reed said. "We hope to make this an annual event. Everyone had great conversations and folks were engaged through the whole process. Barnes said Randolph County Day at the Legislature was the best-attended of all counties that have participated so far, and offered the most exhibits for others to learn about our county."
Sponsors for Randolph County Day were the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, the Randolph County Development Authority, the Randolph County Housing Authority and Woodland Development, the Randolph and Tucker County Children's Advocacy Office, FirstEnergy and The Manahan Group.