Barbour County Chamber hosts awards banquet

The managing partner of Bowles Rice told the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet audience that the educational reform bill being pushed by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin could be the governor’s “great legacy.”

Tom Heywood chairs the law firm’s government relations team, and he was also chairman of Tomblin’s election and re-election campaigns in 2011 and 2012.

He also said that in the coming years, West Virginia could see school accountability, with each school receiving a grade from A to F based on its performance. He also said that the hiring process for teachers will take more than seniority into account, allowing a newly graduated educator to have a chance to get a good job in West Virginia before they’re offered a better opportunity outside of the state. That hiring process would be based on merit and a number of other factors.

He said that although the state has problems with education and poverty, there are many reasons to think positively of West Virginia. Heywood said that West Virginia has a very high quality of life. He said he believes that Marcellus shale drilling will have a positive economic impact on the state in the coming years.

“Just think now what we have here in terms of attractive natural resource in a great setting,” Heywood said. “I just think you’re going to continue to see natural dynamic in terms of in-migration.”

The rolling hills and vast forests of West Virginia could be a reason for some to move to the state.

“I think we have a common progressive vision for our state,” Heywood said. ” I firmly believe we are entering West Virginia’s golden era. I think a lot of times we tend to think the best is behind us.” “We’re seeing an explosion right now in our northern panhandle, thanks to the Marcellus shale and the Utica shale.”

Coal has been a major resource for West Virginia, but the state can no longer rely on that resource. It will become a part of the state’s history once it is gone. The 150 years of West Virginia has been rich in history.

“History’s about how people are, given time, meet our future,” Heywood said.

After Haywood’s speech, the Nominating Committee presented a slate of officers that was approved during the banquet. The newly elected officers are president, Brenda Hunt; vice president, Ronald Phillips; secretary/treasurer, Melody Jones; and past president, Jeff Rogers.

Also elected for the board of directors Class of 2015 are Karen Bialek, Melody Jones with Melody Jones, Alice McDonald, Craig Miller, Jeff Powelson, Sam Santilli and Dr. Joe Super.

Many members were honored with various awards during the annual banquet.

President-elect Brenda Hunt presented $200 on behalf of the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce to the Philip Barbour High School Future Business Leaders of America organization. Jeff Rogers was awarded the Outstanding President 2012. Michael Cvechko was selected to be the recipient of the President’s Award.

Alderson-Broaddus College won the Corporate Citizen of the Year award after welcoming the largest freshmen class in the history of the college this past fall and providing an economic foundation on which Barbour County can continue to grow.

The Community Service Award went to Linda Wilfong who has been very active with the Barbour County Fair, the Blue and Gray Reunion and many other activities.