The Randolph County Commission on Thursday approved the hiring of the county's 11th sheriff's deputy - and the officer tapped to step into the spot is no stranger to law enforcement in the area.
Sheriff Mark Brady received permission to hire Aaron M. Channell, a corporal with the Elkins Police Department, as the county's newest sheriff's deputy. Channell, who will start work Aug. 26, will undergo a one-year probationary period prior to being officially appointed to the force by Brady.
"He will add to the force and capability of the Randolph County Sheriff's Office," Brady said at the commission's regular meeting. "Our goal is to get to 12 (deputies) by the end of the year so we have the ability to provide more coverage for the citizens of Randolph County."
Brady said the sheriff's office started the calendar year with just eight deputies and has since increased its ranks by three, when Channell is counted.
"Hopefully, we'll be hiring another deputy here pretty soon," he added.
Channell will be compensated at a rate of $32,448 per year plus full benefits, and will receive a raise upon successfully completing the one-year probationary period.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the commission voted to give the Randolph County Convention & Visitors Bureau $10,000, money the agency will use to construct a new restroom facility and a board meeting room at its headquarters at 1302 North Randolph Ave. in Elkins. The funding will come out of the county's hotel/motel tax money. The addition is estimated to cost approximately $25,000, said Michelle Depp, president of the CVB's board of directors.
Noting the city of Elkins' decision to cut its funding, Depp also asked the commission for money to support its direct marketing grant program, which assists organizations throughout the county with the cost of direct advertising to support their promotions and/or events. Several meeting attendees - including Robbie Morris, executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority - urged the commission to support the program and the CVB.
"Tourism is a significant part of our economy, and the CVB contributes greatly to that by advertising Randolph County outside of Randolph County, where it needs to be promoted," Morris said. "From an economic development standpoint, tourism is very important to economic growth in the future."
Commissioner Joyce Johns recommended she and Commission President Chris See discuss the issue with Commissioner Mike Taylor, who was absent from Thursday's meeting, prior to making a decision. She made a motion to take the request for funding for the direct marketing grant under consideration until Taylor is present at a future meeting.
Depp also delivered the CVB's 2012-2013 annual report, saying the agency has been "overwhelmed with visitors and requests for information."
Depp said over the past fiscal year, the CVB has welcomed 18,103 visitors to its office, not including bus tour groups, and has received approximately 25 phone calls per day via its toll-free number. The agency handed out 631 information packets for class reunions, weddings, conventions and other area events. Its website, www.randolphcountywv.com, is most frequently visited by residents of West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, she said.
Depp also gave commissioners a preview of its upcoming efforts, including a campaign called "33 Things to do along U.S. 33." The agency plans to partner with CVBs in Upshur and Lewis counties to promote attractions along Corridor H and will develop three-day trip packages for $333 or less.