The West Virginia Association of Counties is introducing our new WVACo Online Academy, your 24/7 training center, offering a wide variety of online courses written specifically for county government entities and employees.  Online courses are offered year-round with fresh, innovative, and relevant material on a wide range of topics including Human Resources, Risk Management, Safety, and Law Enforcement.

WVACo is committed to excellence in education for county government and we have partnered with LocalGovU to provide this resource.  Our partnership will enable these courses to be available at a lower rate for West Virginia's counties!

These online training courses will be available on demand 24/7 from any computer with internet access.  A certificate of completion can be printed once the quiz at the end of the course has been passed.

September’s round of interims covered a few items of interest to counties. The next interim session will be post election in December.

The Judiciary Committees of House and Senate reviewed issues of controlled substances, the impact of legalization of marijuana in Colorado, criminal justice data collection, and criminal sentencing. Sgt. David Hudson with the Dunbar Police Dept. spoke on the topic of controlled substances and their abuse, stating, “Cartel members are in our state. They come here because there’s a market here. They set up a shell business to launder their money.” Blaming the cartel for fueling the heroin addiction problem, Sgt. Hudson stated that current laws need updated and new laws added, such as for money laundering, to enable law enforcement to deal with the problems they are facing.

  • The Director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) provided information on the impact of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana. Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2013. Overall, the impact report findings are negative with regard to law enforcement issues. For example, marijuana related traffic deaths in 2009 represented 10% of all traffic fatalities but by 2015 that number had doubled to 21%.
  • Rick Staton, Director of Community & Justice Services, discussed the need for additional data because data drives the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2013. Currently, there is no statewide assessment or data collection of drug offenses, charges, or convictions. With regard to sentencing, Director Staton noted that the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency & Corrections studied the issue in 2003. He asked for legislative authority to receive certain types of data from all sources if they are asked to do the study again. He also said that a priority listing of category of offenses would help the Governor’s Committee provide a timely response.
  • The Personal Property Tax on Inventory, Machinery and Equipment Subcommittee of the Tax Reform Study Committee met in an organizational meeting to discuss ways to minimize or eliminate this tax. Sena- tor Gaunch, serving as chairman, opened the meeting by stating these taxes are “onerous to business” and the only reason they haven’t been eliminat- ed already is because they are Constitutional. He stated that they need to find a way to eliminate these taxes without hurting our counties. Senator Hall also suggested looking at other states on how they have minimized or eliminated this tax but also noted that in Ohio, real property is higher so overall the taxes are no higher on businesses than in WV. (Note: This topic was discussed extensively in last year’s Tax Reform Committee study and no recommendations were made to change personal property taxation or any other taxation). The committee will invite interested stake- holders to provide information at December’s interim session, including business leaders, county commissioners, and county officials.
  • The Forest Management Review Commission listened to information about the managed timberland taxation rule that came out at near the end of the legislative session and was vetoed by the Governor. The Division of Forestry presented a mapping project that they are working on to provide a better overall picture of timberland and soil productivity in WV. One of their goals is to eliminate county boundaries within the data. Katherine Gazal, a Professor of Forestry Economics at WVU, gave a detailed presentation of the suggested revisions for valuing managed timberland. Currently it is based on the USDA Forest Service Bulletin but the proposal is to use WV’s historical saw timber and pulpwood prices. The proposal also removes the current “floor” below which managed timberland values may not go. During the session, numbers were presented showing the revenue from managed timberland decreased in 29 counties using the revised rule. According to the Division of Forestry, 2.43 million acres are in managed timberland out of 12 million total acres of timberland. 719 corporate owners own 72% of the acreage of managed timberland. The rule revision is being sought by the WV Forestry Association.


On September 15, 2016 the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia filed its opin- ion in the case styled ERIK PATRICK WELLS , Petitioner/Respondent Below v. STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA ex rel. CHARLES T. MILLER, Prosecuting Attorney for Kanawha County, Respondent/Petitioner Below. On July 18, 2016 petitioner, a registered Democrat, filed a “Candidates Certificate of Announcement for 2016 Partisan Elections” and paid his required filing fee to the Kanawha County Clerk’s office. Hel left blank a portion of the form which stated as follows:

I am a member of and affiliated with the following political Party:__________________. I am a member of and affiliated with this political party as evidenced by my current voter’s registration and I have not been registered as a member of another political party within sixty days of this date. (W. Va. Code § 3-5-7(d)(6)

Thereafter, he filed a Minor Party or Independent Candidate Nomination Petition in order to become a certificate nomination candidate pursuant to W. Va. Code § 3-5-23. On this form in the space provided for “Party” the certificate read: “Independent.” Later petitioner submitted signatures from 1,019 individuals.

The West Virginia Association of Counties is proud to be a part of the DOTS coalition, Dementia –Capable Outreach, Training and Support. The coalition is made up of the WV Bureau of Senior Services, WV Alzheimers Association, and many other organizations. Seven communities were awarded up to $10,000 each in June to implement plans to make their communities more dementia-capable. Later this year there will be another opportunity to apply and at least eight additional grantees will be selected. Projects selected were in Monongalia, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Mingo, Raleigh, and Randolph counties.

This is an important project for West Virginia due to our older demographics. What is a dementia friendly community?

  • Health care that promotes early diagnosis and uses dementia care best practices along the care continuum
  • Businesses with dementia –informed services and environments for customers and employ- ee caregivers
  • Dementia-friendly public environments and accessible popu- lation
  • Dementia-aware local government services, planning, and emergency responses
  • Health care that promotes early diagnosis and uses dementia care best practices along the care continuum
  • Businesses with dementia –informed services and environ- ments for customers and employee caregivers
  • Dementia-friendly public environments and accessible population
  • Dementia-aware local government services, planning, and emergency responses
  • Supportive options for independent living and meaningful community engagement
  • Welcoming and supportive faith communities Dementia-aware and responsive legal and financial planning

Try This received 79 mini-grant applications and awarded 55 projects totaling $105,600 this year. The projects are diverse and widespread, ranging from a hydroponic system in an Ohio County neighborhood center that will provide fresh produce for its on-site food pantry and hot-meal programs to the start-up of a fishing club and biking club in Boone County which will partner local youth with Police Department mentors.

In Calhoun County, a countywide community team is being formed to organize healthy eating and physical activity programs. In eastern Kanawha County, a team will host a series of community conversations and weekly “chat n chews” around healthy living.

TRY THIS WV is a movement and a mini-grant program to knock WV off the worst health lists, community by community and county by county. This initiative is made up of community and county leaders, doctors, nurses, health advocates, WVU Extension, school, local teams, and many others. So far, 99 local multi-sector teams have completed extensive leadership development and been funded for a real project such as community gardens, walking trail expansions, etc.

The Try This self-funded conference, which attracted over 500 people in its second and third year, has built sustainability into the program. Both Kentucky and North Carolina have reached out to the Try This Steering Committee to replicate the program in their states. The WV Association of Counties is proud to be involved in the program as part of the steering committee.


My term as your president comes to a close this month. I want to thank you for electing me to this office and say it has truly been my honor and pleasure to serve.

May is the month of elections, the good, the bad and the ugly. I must commend each of you for running for office in the first place and holding that office as an elected county offi- cial. It is difficult to run when our lives are scrutinized and dissected, our past experience in office is questioned and lies about us are made up and stat- ed as fact. Thank you for hav- ing the big shoulders to bear this in order to help the people in your respective counties.

Will 2016 be remembered for the 17-year cicadas or the grueling election and the startling results in many counties and the State? I feel a great loss for the friends across the state that lost their re-election bids. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you finish out this term of office and into the next challenge of your life. Please come back and see us from time to time. Good Luck to those that decided not to run again or will be retiring. I know you really will not miss those late night, early morning and weekend calls at home for assistance. Government does not work properly without caring and dedicated individuals who only want the best interests of their county and the State. Thank You!!!!

Being the President of the WVACO has been my pleasure and was made much easier with the fine staff, Kathy, Crystal and Jack, and outstanding director, Patti. These individuals are the face of our organization and represent us well daily. I would also like to thank the WVACO Board of Directors. Each of you has taken an active part in your respective Associations and on this Board. Your knowledge, leadership and general good-will have made a lasting impression and enabled change to occur in the governmental processes of this State. Each of your counties has been extremely lucky to have you hold an elected county position and represent them so well. Thank You!!!

My philosophy is to never just sit back, observe and let life pass you by when you can become an active participant and help lead the way into the future.

Thanks again and have a Wild and Wonderful Summer!


Brenda L. Miller, President West Virginia Association of Counties


It’s time to get your county officials, employees, and citizens to start walking for your county and join the Summer Steps County Challenge, sponsored by WVU Extension Service and the WV Association of Counties! The challenge begins June 1st and runs through August 31st but anyone can join in at any time during the course of the challenge.

In the 2015 Call to Action, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Murthy said,

“Walking for better health may seem simplistic, but sometimes the most important things we can do are also the easiest and the most obvious. It’s time to step it up, America! The journey to better health begins with a single step.”

Taylor County brought home the title in 2015 with more than 25,000 miles logged. Total for all participating counties was 44,000. Previous winners are Monroe, Monongalia, and Wood counties.

Summer Steps is here to encourage each of us, our families, our constituents, and communities to WALK. Let’s make 2016 the year we step it up! It’s as simple as 1 – 2- 3...

1. Sign up at Anyone can jump in at any time during the summer from now through August. When you sign up, you can designate your county.

2. Let others know about it. county_news_service/2016/4/27/take-steps-to-get-healthy-with-the-wvu-extension-service-summer-steps-program

More walkers = more fun and community support for being active together!

3. Every week or so, log your steps on the SS website. If you want to form walking groups, great.

If your county wins the Summer Steps County Challenge, the county will receive a Live Well WV Community Plaque for the courthouse as well as a county walkability study conducted by experts at WVU Extension Service.

Be a Summer Steps advocate. Summer Steps is a flexible program to help each of us with personal health goals. Take a few minutes to sign up and promote this healthy competition. Every step you take improves your life in many ways.

April bring May flowers, isn’t that the way it is supposed to work? How are we getting snow at this late date and frosty nights? Is this an April Fool’s trick from above?

Funny, the weather is one thing in our daily lives we have absolutely zero control.

Makes me wonder, what control do we really have in life? Home? Work? We choose to have a home or family. We have our work, how- ever, we have a little thing called an election to win and then the Legislature determines the processes we perform in our duties and any changes thereto. We have our “work” family that we spend more awake hours than our “home” family. Some of our work family we inherited and others we chose. How do we attract the kind of individuals to represent us well in our offices daily .... . like a flowering shrub to attract butterflies or hummingbirds. We have to make a good selection for the best results.

Do we have a clear vision of what we want in our landscaping of our office? Do we surround ourselves with all colorful flowers that compete for their place or leave space for the long-lasting evergreens that have weathered many winters? Sometimes the bright flowers compliment each other more when plant- ed strategically in your garden around the evergreens. We need to make sure the landscaping of our office is functional, represents us well and is planted for many future seasons.

This makes me think of working in my parents’ yard as a kid with my siblings. April 10th was National Siblings Day. I hope you took a few minutes to celebrate the occasion, send a card, phone, post an old photo on social media, text or made a connection somehow to your sibling(s), partner in crime or best friend for life. I always think how different all my siblings turned out, our destinations in life are so different, but we all came from the same place.

All of us as elected officials are at the same destination in life. We have used our control in life to determine the path we would follow through our garden of life. I hope we have all made wise decisions of our selection of flowers and evergreens for our garden so we can enjoy our spring fever, lingering sun- shine and warm breezes of this season.

If would be great if you could join us for a few days, June 5 -7, 2016, for the Spring board meeting in Greenbrier County. Stop and smell the tulips and daffodils for a moment.

Call the WVACO Office for information.

Good Luck to all in this election season!
Brenda L. Miller WVACO President

From the Director

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