County hires female bailiff

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BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday voted to hire the first female officer to be employed by the county in nearly 20 years.

Commissioners approved the request of sheriff David Coffman to hire Crystal S. Linger as a part-time Upshur County Circuit Court bailiff.

“Does anybody know her?” commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady asked ahead of the vote. “I certainly don’t want anyone to think a female can’t do as good of a job as a male, but sometimes I hate to put a female around with all the males. If you’re OK with that, I certainly am.”

Cutright made a motion to hire Linger, which was seconded by Brady before passing unanimously. Linger’s starting rate of pay will be $11.50 per hour effective Feb. 5, and she won’t work more than 19.5 hours a week.

County clerk Carol Smith said that prior to Thursday’s vote, as far as she knew, just one other female has served as a county officer; she was a sheriff’s deputy named Jodi Sands, who worked for the department from 1996 through 2001.

In other news, Kenny Matthews, the JAKES Day coordinator with the Stonewall Jackson Woodland Tracks chapter of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation, appeared before the commission seeking suggestions for county property on which children and teens could learn about hunting, fishing, sportsmanship, forestry and more. JAKES Day stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship and is an annual event held in August in the field near the Buckhannon Alliance Church.

Matthews said the area could hopefully serve as a space where young people could feel safe and be chaperoned, while learning about the outdoors and sportsmanship.

“The Department of Natural Resources and the forestry department and I, for about several months, have been noticing over the past couple years a drastic decline in our youth purchasing [hunting] licenses and just being out in the outdoors,” Matthews said. 

“With JAKES day, we try to teach the kids about conservation and wildlife habitats and just to hopefully continue our hunting heritage,” he added. “There’s very few family members that’s actually wanting to educate the kids or take them hunting or just places where they can learn about wildlife. We’re seeking to see if there’s a possibility of some property somewhere. We’re hoping to create a program where kids can come — of course, it would be free of charge — spend part of the day with the DNR and the DNR can lecture them and maybe have a walk through the woods.”

Matthews said ideally, youth could learn about wildlife habitats and benefit from the opportunity to learn one-on-one about leaf and tree identification from foresters.

“We’re hoping to start that and hopefully create that, so I’m looking for some property where the kids can feel safe and possibility of being chaperoned for hunting season, so I just want to see what possibilities you guys could help me with,” Matthews said.

Cutright suggested an area in Brooks Hill near the James W. Curry Library and Brooks Hill community building, which he said might serve as a classroom.

Smith also suggested the Upshur County Youth Camp in Selbyville as one option.

“You could pair that with the Youth Camp, and they could have an overnight stay at the Youth Camp,” Smith said.

Cutright said there’s plenty of timber on the property, and the Buckhannon River runs through the area.

Brady said the only issue with the Youth Camp property is its location in the southern end of the county.

“The problem being, it’s pretty far out,” Brady said. “It is absolutely beautiful out there.” Brady said he’s also noticed a decline in younger people hunting.

“They have just given it up, and I don’t know how you get the youth involved,” Brady said. “Me, I can’t wait until they stock the trout this month.”

Matthews said he would contact the Youth Camp Board and perhaps attend its next meeting.

“It would be so nice to let the kids see the management part of it,” he said. “We’re looking for a place that you could — not call your own — but the kids could call it their sanctuary, so to speak, where they could watch their seedlings grow. If I have the area, I’ve got the resources to create something.”

Before adjourning, the commission also:

* Reviewed and approved the Upshur County Emergency Operations Plan Weather Emergencies — Annex M.

* Appointed Republican ballot commissioner Vernon Bennett, who will serve until the May 8 election and will then be replaced by Patricia Adams. The commission also appointed Democratic ballot commissioner Donna Matthews. Ballot commissioners serve two-year terms.

* Approved an order calling for one Republican emergency ballot commissioner and one Democratic emergency ballot commissioner. The commission also approved a policy extending emergency absentee voting. According to the policy, anyone who is in a nursing home or medical care facility seven days prior to the election or sooner can notify the county clerk’s office, and an emergency absentee ballot will be delivered to them.

* Received a letter from Susan Roth announcing her resignation from the James W. Curry Library and Park Advisory Board.

* Approved the appointment of Patricia Tolliver to the Curry Library and Park Advisory Board.

* Received the resignation of full-time housekeeper Nichole Campbell and approved a full-time housekeeping/custodial job advertisement. The starting rate of pay is $9 per hour, and applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 16.

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