Nicholas Co. votes to appoint county manager amid controversy - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Nicholas Co. votes to appoint county manager amid controversy

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The Nicholas County Commission voted to reinstate the position of county administrator after several weeks of controversy.

Commissioners appointed Roger Beverage to the post during a regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday--nearly a week after they rescinded the job.

"I hope what you will see is a benefit to the county," Commissioner John Miller said.

The commissioners appointed Beverage earlier this month to oversee four county areas: the Nicholas County Animal Shelter, the 911 center, the day reporting center, and custodial maintenance.

The Nicholas County Commission never listed Beverage's appointment on their August 6 agenda--or that they considered creating the position. After enduring public uproar, commissioners rescinded the position during a special session last week.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission advises that before "governing bodies" take action, they should list those actions on their agendas, according to Executive Director Joan Parker.

Commission President Yancy Short said that the commission spoke with a representative from the WV Ethics Commission and several attorneys before Tuesday's meeting.

Parker would not comment on whether the WV Ethics Commission spoke with Nicholas County officials; she did emphasize that the WV Ethics Commission abides by the Open Governmental Proceedings Act.

"Agendas must give reasonable notice to the public of every issue that will be discussed," according to a guide on the Open Governmental Proceedings Act.

Approximately a dozen citizens attended the meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns.

"If you don't have the time to do the job, then resign," said Charlie Bever, of Craigsville. "We'll elect someone who can."

Many people said they were bothered by the amount of money the county administrator would make. Beverage told 13NEWS his salary was set at $60,000 when he was first approached by the commissioners. Short said money from the county's general fund would pay for the salary.

"They need to put it to a public vote," Michelle Ruff said. "They need to really consider the amount of the money that's going to be paid to this individual."

Short said the commission would consider letting the public vote on whether the position should exist in the future.

The commission voted unanimously to reinstate Beverage as county administrator Tuesday. Officials agreed to pay Beverage $5,000 per month while they determine if the position is needed and effective.

Commissioners announced that they believe Beverage is the most qualified person for the job. Beverage agreed.

"The reason why I accepted the position was I want the county to run better and help the citizens of Nicholas County," Beverage said.

Beverage served 37 years in the West Virginia National Guard after retiring nearly five years ago. Most recently, Beverage worked as the county's Chief Probation Officer until his retirement last month.

Beverage said that he does not consider the commissioners close friends, but he does know them through "politics."

The commission is not legally obligated to put the issue up for public vote or accept applications for the job, according to West Virginia state code.

Approximately 39 counties employ someone under the title of "administrator, administrative assistant, or manager," according to Patti Hamilton, the executive director of the WV Association of Counties.

"In most smaller counties, the office of county clerk serves the administrative function," Hamilton said.