Law firm hired to investigate issue

The Randolph County Commission voted Thursday to hire a law firm to investigate a situation that has resulted in the suspension of the executive director of North Central Community Corrections.

In an emergency meeting Wednesday, commissioners voted to suspend Travis Carter without pay, making no comment publicly as to why. After Thursday’s regular commission meeting, a second emergency session was held, with commissioners going into executive session for about 90 minutes.

After emerging from the executive session, commissioners voted unanimously to hire the law firm Marshall Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, which practices in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York City, Orlando and many other locations.

Commissioner Mike Taylor confirmed after the meeting that the firm was hired to inquire into the matter surrounding Carter’s suspension.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to name Erin Golden, Carter’s assistant, as the program’s interim director.

They also to voted to change Carter’s status, which they had ordered to be as suspended without pay on Wednesday, to being suspended with pay. Commissioners made no comment on why they made the change, or on any other aspect of the situation.

Carter’s job includes overseeing the regionalized program. According to the Randolph County Commission’s website, the ultimate goal of North Central Community Corrections’ role in community restorative justice is providing offenders with the necessary structure and guidance to lead a productive and healthy lifestyle, for those offenders to be released from incarceration and to provide a smooth-transition into the community. The program gives the judicial system the option of a community based alternative sentencing program. Hopefully, this allows the system to focus on the reason for the increase in the criminal community by addressing each offender’s risk level to give them the help needed to reduce recidivism.

During Thursday’s regular commission meeting:

  • Commissioners heard reports from Sheriff Mark Brady, Executive Director of the Randolph County Ambulance Authority Kurt Gainer and Jim Wise, the Office of Emergency Management director.

“As you are aware of from all the local media, the sheriff’s department has responded to two incidents that occurred last week,” said Brady. “They were major incidents that occurred in Randolph County that involved a loss of a life in each of those cases. The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate both cases: one involving the shooting at Rich Mountain, and one involving the train crisis on Cheat Mountain.”

The sheriff said it would be a long time before the cases could be closed. In the mean time, Brady said that the sheriff’s office will work with several agencies at the state and local level. Brady also thanked the surrounding counties of Pocahontas, Webster and Barbour.

“The communities and citizens also provided food and services,” he said. “My thanks go out to everyone involved and everyone in the community.”

Gainer echoed many of Brady’s comments. Gainer wanted to express how gracious his ambulance fleet was for the support from Pocahontas, Webster, Greenbrier, Upshur, Lewis, Barbour, Taylor and Preston counties.

Wise reported that a roundtable discussion was held on Wednesday.

“The city and the fire department were there to discuss how they thought it went (train wreck response) and some suggestions,” said Wise.

“I’ve been involved in emergency services in the last 30-40 years,” Taylor said. “I’ve never seen something of this magnitude, and what further complicated this was that it was in one of the most rural reaches of Randolph County.”

Other actions taken Thursday included:

  • Future Business Leaders of America students returning from their competition in California thanked the commission for their support.
  • After taking bids, the commission hired Superior Laundries for mat cleaning service at the Courthouse Complex.