Raising Awareness

CHARLESTON – Despite the icy and snowy weather, the second Randolph County Day at the Legislature has been dubbed a great success.

Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jess Arbogast said she was very pleased with the day and the turnout of support.

“We had 15 displays representing a wide variety of Randolph County businesses and organizations,” Arbogast said. “This allowed folks from Randolph County to showcase the many businesses and non-profit agencies in the area.”

Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris said the event allowed resident and business owners to speak with legislators on their own turf.

“There is a whole different atmosphere in the Capitol,” Morris said. “When folks are there, they get a different perspective into what’s actually going on in Charleston and get to see some of the dynamics of the political process.”

Arbogast said a luncheon offered participants and invited guests the opportunity to talk and network. Those in attendance included Del. Bill Hartman, D-Randolph; Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph; Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph; Sen. Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas; Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick; Greg Bailey of the Department of Transportation and many others.

Sponsors for the lunch include Advanced Hearing Solutions, First Energy, the Randolph County Housing Authority and the Manahan Group. The Randolph County Development Authority served as the main sponsor for Randolph County Day at the Legislature.

“Everyone enjoyed socializing and networking during the luncheon,” Morris said. “It also gave business owners the opportunity to speak with elected officials about what is important to them.”

Sammy Gray, chief lobbyist for First Energy, met with the group to explain the legislative process.

“He explained how a bill becomes law and the role of constituents,” Morris said. “He talked about how more than 2,000 bills are introduced each session, and the process it takes to get them moved through committees. He told us that only about 10 percent of legislation introduced actually makes it through to become law.”

Following lunch, participants visited the House and Senate floors and received resolutions declaring Monday Randolph County Day at the Legislature. Morris, Reta Griffith, Karen Jacobson, Rebecca Higgins, Sam Bradley and Shane Halle accepted the resolution from the West Virginia Senate.

Arbogast, Kris Wilmoth, Vanessa Halle, Brittany Small, Tyler Roark, Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton and Gary Clay accepted a resolution from the West Virginia House of Representatives. The delegation was escorted onto the House floor by Campbell and Hartman, and the resolution was presented by Speaker of the House Tim Miley.

The Randolph County delegation met with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for a group photo to round out the day’s activities.

“There is a lot of planning and coordinating that goes into an event like this,” Arbogast said. “But it is well worth the effort. This event allows us to showcase Randolph County, our business community and the unique experiences that we can offer.”

Arbogast said it also shows how dedicated the legislators are to the county, as they are an integral part in making this day possible.

“It is a great way to unify, support and raise awareness for our county,” Arbogast said.

Morris said plans are in the work to schedule the event for next year.

“We will absolutely have a third Randolph County Day at the Legislature,” Morris said. “This year we had much more interaction by being in the Upper Rotunda, so we want to make sure to book the event early where we have more visibility and the potential to see more folks.”