Commission nears decision about Carter

ELKINS – The Randolph County Commission plans to make a decision within weeks regarding Travis Carter, the suspended director of the North Central Community Corrections program, Commissioner Mike Taylor said Wednesday.

“We will be making a decision of some kind” during the Dec. 5 County Commission meeting, Taylor said following Wednesday’s NCCC board of directors meeting. “We will have an executive session and speak with our attorneys.”

The County Commission voted unanimously Oct. 17 to hire the law firm Marshall Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin to investigate the situation.

Carter was suspended by the County Commission Oct. 16, initially without pay. The Commission revised its decision Oct. 17, opting to pay Carter during his absence.

On Oct. 23, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong told The Inter-Mountain that she had been involved with Carter.

Wilfong self-reported the relationship to the Judicial Investigation Commission, although three other subsequent reports were filed in the matter, the judge said. Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker and local attorney Chris Cooper have both confirmed that they filed complaints with the JIC.

Taylor said during Wednesday’s board meeting that the County Commission will likely be responsible for “reimbursing” the Community Corrections program for the salary Carter has received while suspended.

Funds for the program’s director position and finance manager position are provided through grants, Taylor said. Following Carter’s suspension, the finance manager, Erin Golden, was appointed the acting director.

Golden is currently being paid the director’s salary through the grant funding, while the finance manager funds are “on hold,” Taylor said.

“The Randolph County Commission will probably have to pay” Carter’s salary during his suspension out of county funds, as it cannot come from the grant funding, Taylor said.

Board member Ray LaMora Jr. said he was glad Golden was being paid at the director’s salary level.

“That’s the way it should be,” he said to Golden during Wednesday’s meeting. “You’re doing the job of director and you should be paid accordingly.”

Also during the meeting, board member R. Mike Mullens brought up the board’s request to the county commissions in the program’s three participating counties – Randolph, Tucker and Pocahontas – seeking funds to retain an attorney in the wake of Carter’s suspension.

Taylor said the matter would be on the agenda of today’s Randolph County Commission meeting.

Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau, also a Community Corrections board member, asked if the $7,000 “participation fee” the Tucker Commission pays to the program each year could be used to hire an attorney.

Golden said the fees Tucker and Pocahontas counties pay into the program go into a bank account. Randolph County does not pay a participation fee as it “hosts” the program in Elkins, she said.

Taylor said the participation fees “could possibly” be used to retain an attorney, “but that wouldn’t be a county commission decision, as I understand it.”

The North Central Community Corrections program – started in 2005 – provides offenders structure and guidance so they may make a smooth transition into the community after release from incarceration.

The judicial system also has the option of using the program as a community-based alternative sentencing program.