The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 15, 2013

Search for county administrator hits snag

Finding a successor to fill in for ailing Raleigh County Administrator John Humphrey has hit a snag, since one of the three finalists happens to be a nephew of Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver.

Humphrey has been on medical leave since early May and isn’t expected to return to his duties.

Twenty-one people applied for the post, and in recent weeks, the commission has compiled a short list of three candidates.

One of them is a nephew of Tolliver, now employed in the county clerk’s office, and the commission president said Saturday he has taken himself completely out of the process.

That means the decision to hire Humphrey’s replacement rests with Commissioners Pat Reed and Linda Epling, he said.

“I completely had nothing to do with it,” Tolliver said.

“I didn’t even go through the process of interviewing. I didn’t want someone to say I had something to do with it. Where we stand now is that Reed and Epling haven’t come to an agreement.”

Tolliver said he discussed the matter with the state Ethics Commission, which advised him the nephew isn’t considered a member of his immediate family but recommended he steer clear of the hiring process.

“I wanted to make sure I was doing it right,” Tolliver said.

Reed and Epling have conducted talks about hiring a new administrator for a couple of weeks, “but right now, they’re sort of in a deadlock,” the commission president said.

Tolliver said he has no idea when the two commissioners will come to terms on the hiring, but one thing is certain — he’s staying entirely out of it.

“I told both of them it doesn’t matter to me, because all three are excellent people, and that whoever you decide on is fine with me,” he said.

“I’m not involved in any way, shape or form.”

Tolliver said he can expect some feedback if Reed and Epling hire his nephew.

“But I can’t help it,” he said.

“In my heart, I know I was out of the loop.”

The commission has a meeting scheduled Tuesday but the administrator’s job isn’t on the official agenda.

“It’s still up in the air,” Tolliver said.

“They may get together and come up with a candidate.”

Humphrey left his post Jan. 4 to attend to an undisclosed medical issue.

Until Tolliver defeated him in the 2010 election, Humphrey served as a commissioner 18 years. He had begun his new duties as administrator on New Year’s Day in 2011.

In the interim, Deputy Administrator Clayton Terry has been handling his duties.

The commission ran newspaper ads in Beckley and Charleston, imposing a May 17 deadline to file applications.

Commissioners said they were looking for someone with “extensive knowledge” of human resources, purchasing, finance, local government operations, and relationships of various county departments and agencies.

Another qualification specified was a B.S. degree from a recognized college or university in accounting or business administration, or a related field.

—E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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