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County native lands high-ranking job with weather service

June 26, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A Smithsburg-area native's technology background and interest in the weather landed him a high-ranking job with one of the most notable weather forecast providers in the country.

Barry C. West, a 1979 graduate of Smithsburg High School, last month was named the National Weather Service's chief information officer.

"I've always had kind of a love of the weather," said West, who now lives in Crofton, Md. "This is my dream job. I've always kept my eye on this particular job."

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As the chief information officer, West, 40, said he has many roles, including working on budgets and the organization's computer network, overseeing Internet activities and anything technology-related.

His list of duties result in 14-hour work days, but West said he doesn't mind.

"I love it," he said. "There's somewhat of a learning curve, but I feel like I fit in here."

He said the job allows him to use both his meteorology and technology backgrounds.

West most recently served as the deputy director of the Office of Electronic Government at the U.S. General Services Administration. From 1996-2000, he was the associate director for production services at the Department of Commerce's National Technical Information Service.

He worked for more than 10 years with the U.S. Census Bureau, where he was eventually promoted to the post of chief computer systems analyst.

West served in the U.S. Air Force from 1984-88. He was named the Air Force's Weather Observer of the Year in 1986.

West is working on his fifth degree, an executive master's degree in information technology from the University of Maryland.

"When you're in this field, you have to keep updating your skills to stay current," he said.

West began his post-high school career at Hagerstown Junior College, where he received an associate's degree in data processing.

He and his wife Laurie have two children.

The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories.

It employs about 5,000 people, and is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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