Blog Posts From My 2014 Tour
Just because I have visited all 55 marvelous counties of West Virginia, that does
not mean my mission is complete.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?