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Brooke Commission hires coordinator, plans Route 2 meeting

COUNTY COORDINATOR HIRED — The Brooke County Commission Tuesday approved the hiring of Adrienne Ward to the newly created county coordinator position and announced a meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the potential expansion of state Route 2. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission Tuesday approved the hiring of a county coordinator to oversee various operations and announced a meeting will be held Thursday to encourage expansion of state Route 2.

After approving her hiring, the commissioners welcomed Adrienne Ward, who will step into the new county coordinator position on July 16.

The commissioners said earlier the position will involve securing various grants for the county, gathering information needed for legal action against dilapidated structures, illegal dumping and related matters; and handling human resources matters.

The yearly salary for the new position will be $50,000, which is comparable to those of current county department heads.

Commission President A.J. Thomas said the other Northern Panhandle counties have similar positions.

The move was supported by County Prosecutor Joseph Barki who said he believes it’s “absolutely necessary.”

“In the long term, it will pay for itself. I really think it will,” he said.

The commissioners noted Ward has become familiar with ongoing infrastructure and development projects in the county through her position as office manager for the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and, in 2020, gathered information from officials in Brooke and Hancock counties to show the need for high-speed Internet service in the two counties.

Ward thanked the commissioners for their confidence in her, adding she knows how hard they and their staff work to make the county better and she looks forward to doing the same.

County Commissioner Tim Ennis announced various state officials have been invited to a meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss expansion of Route 2.

Last year, Ennis suggested the panel send letters to the state Department of Transportation and West Virginia Route 2 and Interstate 68 Authority urging them to push for the highway’s widening to four lanes between Wellsburg and Short Creek.

He noted federal dollars are expected to be awarded for infrastructure and a new Ohio River bridge is being built about a mile south of Wellsburg.

Current plans call for Route 2 near the bridge to be widened only to include turn lanes onto the span.

In related business, the commission agreed to advertise a seat on the Route 2 and Interstate 68 Authority, a volunteer board charged with prioritizing areas for the two highways’ expansion and lobbying state officials for such development.

Duane Heck, a longtime representative of Brooke County on the board, has asked to be reappointed, but it’s the commission’s policy to accept letters of interest any time a board member’s term is near its end.

The commissioners also appointed Kim McConnaughy, Mike Vitello and Scott Gallagher to the Northern Panhandle Workforce Development Board.

In other business:

— The commission approved the first quarterly payment of $9,918 to the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.

The commission had allocated about $29,754 in its budget for the economic development agency.

— Jeff Luck, deputy director of the county’s ambulance service, said a $5,218 grant has been awarded by the Marathon Corp. Community Investment Program to replace two outdated automated external defibrillators at the county courthouse.

— The commissioners lamented the death of Dan Ciccolella, a longtime volunteer firefighter who also was active in Follansbee as a leader of the Follansbee Girls Softball League and member of the Garibaldi Lodge and Theta Chi Alpha.

Ciccolella, who was 65, died on Sunday.

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