MSFF assistant directors announced

Submitted photo 2021 Mountain State Forest Festival assistant directors include, front row from left, Peggy Phillips, Melanie Dempsey, Taira Gainer, Karrah Washington, Heidi Bray and Jodie Varner; and back row, from left, Robbie Morris, Jon Morgan, David Doerr, Todd Riggleman, Jeff Skidmore, Brian Romero and Zach Elbon. Not pictured are Nathaniel Bonnell and Amanda Jones.

ELKINS — Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Robbie Morris is pleased to announce the Assistant Directors for the 2021 Mountain State Forest Festival.

Jon Morgan will begin his eighth year with the Forest Festival and serve as Deputy Director General. He works for the U.S. Forest Service as the District Ranger on the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District on the Monongahela National Forest. He and his wife, Jennifer, have one son Grant and one daughter Emma. Jennifer was crown bearer in the 1987 Forest Festival and a maid of honor in the 2000 Forest Festival. Emma was the crown bearer in the 83rd Forest Festival.

Morgan is a past president of the Elkins Kiwanis Club. He has worked on City Park Events, Irish Road Bowling, Lumberjack Contest, Security and Communications along with the Band Field Show Committees. This year, Morgan will oversee Security, Communications, and Irish Road Bowling.

Todd Riggleman will serve as an assistant director for his 13th year. He is manager of distribution forestry with Mon Power, a FirstEnergy Company. He and his wife Robin are parents of two sons, Garrett and Kyle. Kyle served as train bearer in the 2009 Forest Festival. His sister, Kelly Gilbert, was a jester in the 1981 Mountain State Forest Festival.

Riggleman attends Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church. He has served as a volunteer with the Elks Babe Ruth Baseball League for more than 14 years and volunteers for the Odd Fellows Group. He has experience working with the Lumberjack Competition, Strongman, Information Booth, Bass Tournament, Flags & Banners, the Fireman’s Parade, Forestry/Wood Products, Pet Show, Photography Exhibit, Miniature Horse Show, ATV Race, Poker Run, Vendors, Sanitation and Grounds. For the 2021 Mountain State Forest Festival he will be in charge of coordinating this year’s Flags & Banners installation, the Fireman’s Parade, Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team, and Grounds.

Jodie Varner will serve her fifth year as an assistant director for the Mountain State Forest Festival. Varner is a resident of Beverly. She is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and is employed by the Randolph County Board of Education as a teacher. Varner has served on various Minor Court committees, Princess Orientation, High School Cross Country Meet, the 10K/5K Race and Kids Fun Run, Grand Feature Parade, Chili Cook-off, and the Pet Show. She served as a princess herself in 1997 and her niece, Shay Teter Hayes, was Crown Bearer in 1997.

Varner is a member of Beverly Women’s Club, is on the WV 4-H All-Star Executive Committee, Randolph County 4-H and WVU 4-H Extension Service volunteer and is a past member of the Kump Education Center Board of Directors. This year Varner will coordinate the Grand Feature Parade and the Kids Fest.

Jeff Skidmore will return for his fifth year as an assistant director. He has been employed by the Randolph County Assessor’s Office for the past 24 years and has also been involved for over 40 years at Elkins Raceway as media director and director of competition placement. He also works for American Mountain Productions which is based out of the Robinson Grand Theatre in Clarksburg. Skidmore has previously volunteered for Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs. Skidmore has experience in serving on numerous Festival committees, including the Lumberjack Contest, Country Music Show, Gospel Show, Information Booth, ATV Races, Distinguished Guest Dinner and Queen’s Ball Committees, Jack Basil Field Show, band recruitment for the grand feature parade, and organizing the flags and banners for the festival. He has two nieces, Jackie Skidmore-Teter and Samantha Skidmore, who have both served as princesses in the2002 and 2006 Forest Festivals respectively.

Skidmore will oversee downtown stage entertainment, lights and sound, and was instrumental in bringing in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team to this year’s festival.

Melanie Dempsey will serve her fourth year as an assistant director. She and her husband, Bill have two daughters, Gabrielle and Caitlynn. Gabrielle served as the Crown Bearer for the 80th Mountain State Forest Festival in 2016. During Dempsey’s 15 years volunteering with the MSFF, she has served as an assistant director, director of the queen’s department, and worked with the Minor Court Committee, Beer Festival, Kids Day in the Park, Children’s Parade, and Hospitality Tents. For the 2021 Festival, she will coordinate the Kids Day in the Park and the Children’s Parade. She is the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer for Davis Health System.

Dempsey is involved with several organizations, including the West Virginia Hospital, the Davis Regional PHO, Randolph County Schools, Seneca Soccer, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the American College of Healthcare Executives and Rotary Club of Elkins. She and her family are members of the Valley Bend Presbyterian Church.

Zach Elbon will be serving his second year as an assistant director. He graduated from Elkins High School in 2008 and continued his education at West Virginia University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering and Geology minor. Elbon currently works for US Well Services LLC in Jane Lew, where he serves as a DESQ Engineer. He is also active in the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Elbon and wife Megan have volunteered for the Mountain State Forest Festival for several years, including assisting with the Golf Tournament, Grand Feature Parade, Chili Cook-Off, City Park, Irish Road Bowling, Scrapbook, Princess Ambassador Program, Queen’s Ball, and Distinguished Guest Dinner. Megan also served as flower girl in 2001 and a Maid of Honor in 2012. Elbon has one daughter, Ella. He will be tasked with coordination the golf tournament, city park, and assisting with the grand feature parade.

Amanda Jones will serve her third year as an assistant director for the 2021 Festival. Jones is a Family Nurse Practioner at St. Joseph’s Hospital/WVU Medicine. She and her husband JW Jones have one daughter, Kourtney, who was a flower girl in the 2015 Forest Festival. Jones serves as a board member for the Elkins Otters.

Jones was the 2017 Woodly the Elf Coordinator, assisted with Fireman’s Parade meals since 2002, sponsor of the Forest Festival Bass Tournament, Plaques, along with the Photography Exhibit and window decorations. This year, Jones will oversee the Forest Festival Bass Tournament, 10k Run/Walk, Safety and Security, and Indianapolis Metropolitan Motorcycle Drill Team.

Nathaniel Bonnell is in his first year as a Forest Festival Assistant Director. He is President and CEO of Citizens Bank of West Virginia and Citizens Financial Corp. Bonnell holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. The newly appointed Assistant Director serves on the Board of Directors of the Randolph County Development Authority, Rotary Club of Elkins, and the West Virginia Bankers Association.

Bonnell is past president of the Randolph-Tucker Children’s Advocacy Center’s Board of Directors. He is a member of American Institute of CPAs and West Virginia Society of CPAs, and recently joined YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization). He is a 2014 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. Bonnell graduated Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, at Davis & Elkins College with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Management and earned a Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University. Married to Christina Bonnell, hel resides in Elkins with their two children, Braelyn and Kelsea. Bonnell will be responsible for overseeing the tennis tournament, cross country meet, and muzzleloading competition, as well as assisting with the events in the city park during the October celebration.

Taira Gainer will serve her first year as assistant director for the Mountain State Forest Festival. Gainer was a princess in the 2011 Forest Festival while many of her family members have been a part of the festival in the past. Gainer is the Director of Marketing for Elkins-Randolph County Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau and Depot Welcome Center.

Gainer serves on the board of directors for the Beverly Heritage Convention and Visitors Bureau and is the Elkins representative for the Mon Forest Town Partnership. She also serves as a member on the Network Committee for the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the LeadershipWV Class of 2021. She lives in Elkins and enjoys getting outdoors in the Monongahela National Forest as much as possible. This year, Gainer will oversee marketing, schedule of events, flags and banners, information booth, and the festival kickoff party.

David C. Doerr will serve his first year as an assistant director. He and his wife Kayla have one daughter, Evelyn Doerr. He served as a train bearer in the 65th Forest Festival. Doerr is the president of a family-owned development and high-end rental company called Doerr Corporation. He manages over 70 rental properties in Elkins and Buckhannon and oversees the ongoing construction projects. He not only manages over 70 rental properties but also has started his own business of fixing up homes in Elkins and providing high-end properties for the citizens of Elkins.

Doerr also has been actively involved in the community by not only serving as an assistant director for the MSSF, but also being on the Board of Directors of Elkins Main Street, and a member of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. For the 2021 Festival, Doerr will coordinate the Vendor Row, Primitive Campers, Sanitation, Pet Show and the Cornhole tournament.

Karrah Washington will serve her first year as assistant director. She works as the Executive Director for the Barbour County Senior Center, Inc. She and her husband, Brandon, have one son Brayton and one daughter Braelynn.

Washington was a Princess in the 2008 Forest Festival. Washington is the past executive director for the United Way of Randolph and is very active within her community. She has worked with Opening and Closing Ceremony, Distinguished Guest Dinner, and Queen’s Ball committees in the past. This year, Washington will oversee Downtown Windows, Photography, Highland Dance and Band Field Show.

Brian Romero will begin his first year as an assistant director for the 2021 Mountain State Forest Festival. He works for James Hardie Building Products as a Lean Continuous Improvement Manager. He and his wife, Beverly, have one son Josh and one daughter Macie. Macie was a Jester in the 2018, 82nd Mountain State Forest Festival.

Romero is a Board member of the Elkins Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Canaan Valley Ski Resort and an assistant wrestling coach of the Davis & Elkins wrestling team. This year, Romero will oversee the Forestry exhibits, Strongman Competition, and the Lumberjack Contest.

Heidi Bray will serve her first year as an Assistant Director. She has volunteered with the MSFF for several years under various committees. She was a Flower Girl in 2001 and a Maid of Honor in 2009.

This year, Bray will coordinate the Craft Show, Forest Festival Kick-off Party, and the Distinguished Guest Dinner. She is employed at Carte Hall CPAs as a staff accountant. Bray and husband, C.J., are active with Elkins Kiwanis where she serves as club president.


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