City hires new PR person/grant writer

BUCKHANNON — City government officials have repeatedly said they want to tell their story, and on Thursday night, they announced they had found the perfect person to write it.

Buckhannon City Council unanimously approved the hiring of city resident Callie Cronin Sams as the city’s information coordinator/grant writer, a new position council created earlier this year.

“Eighteen months ago, after I started this new job for the city after more than 32 years with the other job as the town attorney, I had identified to council what I thought relative to revenue generation,” mayor David McCauley said. “We’re still scratching the surface, but not much more than that, when it comes to grant applications and successful grant awards.”

McCauley also said “a large chunk” of his and other department heads’ time is spent trying to convey information to in-house employees as well as city residents.

“We were still often coming up short with doing an adequate job,” the mayor said. “So a few months back, as I was processing and digesting this, I started to advance the idea that we needed an information coordinator and a dedicated grant writer.”

Three months ago, council established a time frame for advertising the new position, receiving applications and interviewing qualified candidates.

“I am hugely pleased to announce tonight to our citizens that we have concluded that process, and I believe we are on the cusp of hiring a truly outstanding writer and information specialist, and Mr. (CJ) Rylands, I would entertain a motion from you that we hire in this brand new position for the City of Buckhannon Callie Cronin Sams as our new information director and grant writer.”

Rylands made a motion to approve the hire of Sams, which was seconded by councilwoman Mary Albaugh before passing unanimously.

Rylands said hiring a public information specialist/grant writer has been on the city’s radar since 2009.

“I’d just like to say that in 2009 when we submitted the comprehensive plan to the city, one of the prime objectives and recommendations was that we hire a grant writer, and it’s been quite a few years since then, but we’re here, so it’s not how long it takes, it’s how long you keep at it,” Rylands remarked.

Sams is currently a Public Information Specialist II for the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection’s Youth Environmental Program of the Office of the Youth Environmental Advocate. She’s finishing up a master’s degree in teaching from Miami University of Ohio and has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Fairmont State University.

McCauley said he was pleased with council’s pick.

“We have hired someone who is very gifted with the written word, which strengthens us as an organization, and I have no qualms at all in just saying I couldn’t be happier with this hire,” he said. “I hope that you are with us for a long time to come, young lady.” 

Sams, who was accompanied to Thursday’s meeting by her husband, Nathan, and 1-year-old daughter Willow, said she was excited to start in the new position Jan. 2, 2018.

“I am just absolutely thrilled to be getting started in January in this position and working with [all the press here] and being a small part of all the great initiatives that are going on here in Buckhannon,” Sams said. “I’m just looking to hearing from all of you, from the city employees with any ideas you may have that I could be working on. City residents, give me a call, send me a text, send me a message on Facebook, come find me on Boggess Street, knock on the door. Daytime hours, please – bedtime’s a little earlier these days.”

McCauley said Sams’ annual salary has been set at $35,000 plus benefits.

The city interviewed two other candidates. Although the city traditionally releases names of applicants to The Record Delta, it declined to do so for this position.

More In Local News