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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. Betsy Morris, the director, and Mike Hall, our Extension agent, showed me around the grounds which include a pavilion, housing quarters, assembly/dining hall, swimming pool and many beautiful outdoor areas, including an outdoor stage.

The Philip Barbour Band, under the direction of Victor Iapalucci, was holding their band camp there and gave me a private concert, featuring theme music from Frozen and The Lion King – it was truly awesome. Some current WVU students were helping out, including Foster Tucker, a senior in “The Pride of West Virginia” marching band.

I have to say, the cinnamon rolls the dining staff make at Camp Caesar are awesome too. Just ask professor of foreign languages Dr. Lisa DiBartolomeo, past Faculty Senate chair, who was traveling with me. She has a definite sweet tooth!

Dr. Lisa DiBartolomeo eating a cinnamon roll

Down Routes 20 and 15 we found Sutton and the Braxton County Fair at Holly Gray Park, where WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long joined us. Carolyn is a familiar face in Braxton and Webster counties, as a former school teacher and superintendent. She got a little teary-eyed when a young man, Ryan Hart, approached her and said, “Mrs. Long: I should have said thanked you sooner, but I am the recipient of the Carolyn Long Scholarship for academically-talented students from Braxton County who want to attend WVU.”

Ryan Hart and WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long

It was a special moment. You see, the Board of Governors established that award in Carolyn’s honor following her outstanding service as Board Chair and as a shining example of someone who truly loves this University with all her heart.

County Extension agent Debbie Friend showed us around the ag exhibits and barns, where once again, my friend and faculty member Lisa, showed us her love for sweets. This time she shared her treats with a piglet, though, as she fed the animal a marshmallow. I declined the offer, but the little piggies were very cute.

Then it was off to Glenville, where I had a great visit with GSC President Dr. Peter Barr and members of his leadership team. I also toured the Waco Center, a gorgeous athletic and convocation center, made possible largely through a generous gift from businessman and benefactor Ike Morris.

Ike and his wife, Sue, also stopped by to greet me and took us on a tour of a nearby 24-hour health care facility that the Morrises also supported. It opens next week and the much-needed facility is expected to draw patients from several nearby counties.

I was glad that Sarah Smith, who works in state and corporate relations for WVU, joined me in Glenville. She is a Glenville State grad and Gilmer County native who knows just how valuable this area of the state is to the region.

I am off to Nicholas, Clay, Calhoun and Roane next – so I am getting close to reaching my goal of visiting all 55 counties by mid-August. Let’s Go Mountaineers!