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Summer 2014: 55 County Tour of West Virginia

The Mountaineer Marching Band Performs in McDowell

On his trip to McDowell County earlier this summer, West Virginia University President Gordon Gee was asked if he could bring the Mountaineer Marching Band to the area in the future. On Aug. 28, the Pride of West Virginia took the field at River View High School’s stadium.

Blog Posts From My 2014 Tour

McDowell County: Returning with Pride

Just because I have visited all 55 marvelous counties of West Virginia, that does not mean my mission is complete.

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Randolph and Pendleton counties

Ladies and gentlemen, I have conquered the majestic 55 counties of West Virginia! What a summer it has been – riding up the highways and byways from Weirton to Welch and all points in between with faculty, staff and other leaders.

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Greenbrier County (State Fair)

As I wind down my 55-county tour of our state, I could not imagine going out with a bigger bang than at the State Fair of West Virginia in Fairlea, near Lewisburg in beautiful Greenbrier County.

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Tucker County

I hit 50 today (Aug. 7) – well, in the number of counties I visited, that is. Tucker County welcomed me in style at Canaan Valley Resort – a mountain destination with sweeping views of the surrounding peaks. I have to say, some of the scenery on my travels takes my breath away.

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Grant, Hampshire, Hardy counties

I swung through Grant, Hampshire and Hardy counties Wednesday (Aug. 6) on my West Virginia tour. I’m closing in on visiting all of West Virginia’s 55 counties later this month.

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Webster, Braxton, Gilmer counties

It was another fabulous adventure to three central West Virginia counties that abound with great people and great talent. I was amazed to find a hidden gem, Camp Caesar, a 4-H-owned camp in Cowen, Webster County, that is nestled in a glorious backdrop of mountains and foliage.

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Doddridge, Tyler, Pleasants, Wood, Wirt, Jackson, Ritchie counties

I have entered the home stretch of this marvelous 55-county tour of West Virginia. The calendar does not deceive. Only a month remains until the start of the fall semester and I still have around 15 counties to visit. Time to double down on Diet Dr. Pepper. This particular leg of the tour is a unique one that took me through seven counties in the western part of the state—the heartland of West Virginia.

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Raleigh, Mercer, Summers counties

“How How” is all I can say after an energetic visit with the 4-H crew in Raleigh County. I met one young woman who was planning to come to WVU and major in engineering; another was going to Harvard. I told him it wasn’t too late to change his mind.

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Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel counties

Over my two days in the Northern Panhandle, my team and I ventured over to the Homer Laughlin China Company factory in Newell, the Hancock and Wetzel County Extension Offices, a Weirton Rotary Club meeting, the Brooke County Museum, Oglebay Resort and a gas well and processing plant tour hosted by Consol Energy, Noble Energy and Blue Racer, among other stops.

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Lewis and Upshur counties

The grounds of Jackson’s Mill was the location of our June Board of Governors meeting. We were truly grateful to have two outstanding leaders in higher ed, Gene Budig and Peter Magrath, present to speak to our board. After lunch, complete with cake celebrating the Smith-Lever anniversary, we took a quick tour of the grounds where we saw the mill in action.

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Cabell, Mason, Wayne counties

I believe it’s important that institutions of higher education work together. And that’s why I was eager to head to Huntington and meet with President Stephen Kopp of Marshall University. As I have mentioned before, our only competition should occur on the field. We are all part of ONE West Virginia.

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McDowell, Wyoming, Logan counties

On this leg of the tour, I was off to the southern coalfields of McDowell, Wyoming and Logan counties. In “the Free State of Mack-Dowell,” I enjoyed lunch with various community leaders at the Welch Library. I then visited with some bright young HSTA students and school principal Deborah Hall at Mount View High School.

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Mineral and Morgan counties

This day trip included a stop at our divisional campus – Potomac State College – in Keyser. Not only did I have a productive visit with President Len Colelli, but I also had the opportunity to meet-and-greet with faculty and staff, as well as local leaders. Even Potomac State’s mascot, Paws, managed to don a bow tie for me. I wonder how hard it is to tie a bow tie with claws?

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Map of West Virginia counties