By Beth Christian Broschart
The Parsons Advocate
CHARLESTON – This year’s Tucker County Day at the Legislature and Gala at the Cultural Center was deemed a success by everyone who attended. Lots of folks drove to Charleston, but a great many Tucker County residents teamed up to make the trip by bus. Even Tucker County students, who were off school because of inclement weather, found their way to the Charleston to help out with this event.
The day included visits with elected state officials who represent the county as well as a proclamation on the House of Delegates floor. The calls allowed folks to ask questions and get to know representatives of Tucker County better as both shared ideas.
Tucker County Development Director Anne Jones said the event was a phenomenal day.
“I thought the proclamation they read on the House floor was very beautiful,” Jones said. “It talked about how Tucker County, who suffered one of the toughest natural disasters, has come back. It talked about our sense of community and innovation.”
Jones said during the day on Wednesday, local elected officials and Tucker County residents met with Charleston officials during a gala at the Cultural Center.
“Everything was Tucker County style,” Jones said. “We had Stumptown Ales, Blackwater Brewing and Mountain State Brewing. We had wonderful foods from local restaurants which were served by students from Tucker County High School. Some of the foods even had locally grown ingredients. It was a terrific event.”
Jones said music during the event was performed by local musicians. She said performers included Trevor Reichman, Chris Quattro and Rebecca Wudarski.
“Jed Drenning did the most amazing job introducing our guest speaker, Justice Allen H. Loughry II,” Jones said. “We had leaders from both sides of the Legislature. Tucker County Day is known as one of the parties to go to.”
Jones said events like this help folks know about the county and help with its growth.
“Especially in times like this when there are so many budget cuts, we push the fact that Tucker County is a place worth investing in,” Jones said. “It shows, rather than tells, what kind of place Tucker County is and why it is worth investing in. The outdoors and arts are not just something nice to invest in. They are critical to our economic health and those are the reasons our business growth is booming in Tucker County.”
Jones said the success of this event comes from the entire county pulling together.
“I could not even begin to list all the volunteers that made it happen, but there were hundreds across the county who helped with this event,” Jones said. “It was truly a full-county effort.”
Tucker County Commission President Lowell Moore, president of the Tucker County Commission, said the event was very well attended for a wintry day.
“We had numerous people from the Capitol and the state come and celebrate with us during the gala at the Cultural Center,” Moore said. “I thought we were well represented by our elected officials and Tucker County residents.”
Moore said some of the legislators said Tucker County Day was one of their favorite events.
“Folks were saying Tucker County Day was one of the better events,” Moore said.
Moore said Commissioners met with Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, Senator Dave Sypolt, Senator Bob Williams, Delegate Randy Smith and Delegate Danny Wagner, along with Jim Rubenstein of the regional jails.
“I thought our time was well spent and well received,” Moore said. “Everyone had an enjoyable time.”
Moore said Tucker County Day and the Gala provides an opportunity to meet and greet elected officials.
“It gives you time to voice your needs and concerns,” Moore said. “It gives elected officials the time to respond and take notes of the Tucker County needs. I look forward to next year’s event.”
Tucker County Commissioner Diane Hinkle said Tucker County Day depicts a perfect example of the county’s resiliency.
“The snow and cold didn’t deter anyone from the gala event at the Cultural Center,” Hinkle said. “ A good crowd gathered and enjoyed a stunning display of flood memorabilia flanked by press releases, charts, maps, artwork and project and program visuals that charted our 30 year comeback from the 1985 disaster. The talent and effort of the Pro Start students, Dan Minkel and the AmeriCorps volunteers, John Warner, Erika Smith, local musicians, breweries and many others created a memorable evening.”
Hinkle said Jones arranged a full day of meetings with legislators, DOH, Commissioner Rubenstein and Commissioner Helmick that were very productive and well attended.
“It was an honor and a privilege to represent Tucker County,” Hinkle said.
Patrick Darlington, Tucker County Commissioner, said he thought the gala event went wonderful.
“It was an extremely great day and Tucker County was well represented in Charleston,” Darlington said. “Even with the weather, the turnout was amazing.”
Darlington said those involved in putting on the event did a great job. He said he thought talking with the legislators about issues that could affect Tucker County was a big part of the day’s activities.
“We wanted to make sure our elected legislators know how important it is that they continue to cover a portion of the Workers Compensation for our local volunteer fire fighters,” Darlington said. “If for some reason the state did not fund that again, it would be large burden on our county’s four volunteer fire departments.”
Darlington said they spoke with legislators regarding potential changes with the hotel/motel tax.
“The 30 day exemption was of particular concern,” Darlington said. “If folks have a room for more than 30 days, they are exempt from hotel/motel tax. That would be a benefit to our county if that were removed.”
Darlington said he realizes the state is facing some huge budget cuts to balance the budget this year. He said he is concerned with proposed budget cuts to the local health department.
“We hope those will be limited,” Darlington said.
Darlington said the Tucker County Day helps put the county on the map.
“It was great to have so many folks come to represent our county,” Darlington said. “Granted, we may be small, but we still are here and we want our voices heard. We want to be able to present ourselves to the leadership in Charleston and I feel we did that extremely well. Some of the legislators were bragging on how well Tucker County does on this event.”
He said he wanted to brag on the folks who put the event together.