ELKINS - The North Central Community Corrections Board of Directors unanimously approved the appointment of Erin Golden as the program's acting director Wednesday afternoon. Golden previously served as the program's finance manager.
The appointment - originally made by the Randolph County Commission last week - is on the heels of the suspension of the program's regional director, Travis Carter.
Carter was suspended by the Commission at an emergency meeting Oct. 16. He initially was suspended without pay; however, commissioners revised their ruling to suspension with pay during their regular meeting Oct. 17.
"The actions taken last Wednesday are relative to a personnel matter that was brought to our attention," Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor said. "The County Commission views Mr. Carter as an employee of the Randolph County Commission. Therefore, based on that assumption, we had an emergency meeting on Wednesday at which time we took action on the suspension. It's really difficult for me to sit here today and go into any substance or any detail relative to what brought us to that point."
In addition, the County Commission voted unanimously Oct. 17 to hire the law firm Marshall Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin as counsel for this matter.
Separate counsel is being sought for the Community Corrections Board.
"That will be one of the purposes to hiring counsel, is to give us some guidelines and guidance," Taylor said. "The Randolph County Commission has hired outside council to give us guidance relative to this matter."
"The board needs an attorney, and we wanted to ask the board for approval to ask our county commission and possibly county commissions from Tucker and Pocahontas to help retain an attorney," Taylor added.
Community Corrections board members voiced concern during Wednesday's 7-and-a-half minute meeting, though, over the hiring of separate counsel for the board, and what that means in terms of cost for the other two counties involved. Both Tucker and Pocahontas counties are part of the North Central Community Corrections program.
Consequently, the board gave approval for President Sid Gillispie to draft a letter to the other two county commissions involved.
Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau brought to light the issue of the employees spread across Tucker and Pocahontas counties.
"Whose area of responsibility is it for the employees? Is it the board's area or is it the Randolph County Commission?" Rosenau asked. "The only thing I want to know is what is Tucker County's area of responsibility in this."
Taylor agreed that the employees in Tucker and Pocahontas counties were in a gray area.
"That may be one of the purposes of hiring counsel," Taylor said. "I don't, as a commissioner, view them as a Randolph County Commission employee."
Several members of the board recused themselves from the vote to draft the letter, including Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker, Tucker County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Wilfong and Rosenau.
Parker said he was abstaining because of his role as counsel for the Randolph County Commission.
The program was initially established in 2005 as the Randolph County Community Corrections program. In 2007, the program expanded to include Tucker and Pocahontas counties, and was renamed the North Central Community Corrections program.
The initiative provides offenders structure and guidance to lead a productive and healthy lifestyle and to make a smooth transition into the community after release from incarceration. The program also gives the judicial system the option of a community-based alternative sentencing program.