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New, old commissioner get pep talk from Berkeley Co. Clerk

January 05, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Commissioner Ronald K. Collins joked Thursday that William L. "Bill" Stubblefield would have to take "all the phone calls" after the retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rear admiral officially replaced him as the county commissioner with the least amount of tenure.

"He's the rookie now," Collins said after Stubblefield was sworn into office by County Clerk John W. Small Jr.

Commissioner Steven C. Teufel was in Alabama with his ailing father, Collins said.

Before Stubblefield extended his right hand to take the oath of office, Small said he wanted to publicly express his desire that county leaders begin the new year with a "renewed sense of respect toward each other and our individual roles in county government."

"In the past, we have been all too guilty of rushing to judge one another's actions and motives and taking each other to task on a subject rather than communicating, listening and making an effort to keep an open mind," Small said in prepared remarks.

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"...None of us is expert enough on any subject to maintain that his or her opinion on a matter is the only right opinion. We owe this common courtesy to each other and more importantly to the citizens of Berkeley County who have entrusted us to conduct county affairs in the most conscientious and efficient manner possible."

"I believe, overall, we have an excellent and dedicated county work force," Small said. "We need to diligently pull together for the good of all."

After taking the oath, Stubblefield said he agreed with Small's wish that county leaders pledge to work together in spirit of cooperation and thanked the residents who supported his election bid.

"This was a team effort," said Stubblefield, who was joined by his wife, Bonnie, and several apparent campaign supporters. Ryan Frankenberry, Stubblefield's general election opponent, also attended the ceremony and the new commissioner thanked him for running a quality campaign.

Collins did not respond to Small's remarks, but welcomed Stubblefield as a sitting member and his new colleague's insight on the county's challenges, particularly growth.

Though Teufel was absent, Collins immediately nominated him to serve as commission president when Small entertained the organizational measure. Stubblefield did not hesitate to second the nomination of Teufel, who is expected to seek re-election in 2008.

Stubblefield nominated Collins to serve as president pro tem, a stop-gap measure until Teufel returns.

"I guess I better second that," Collins said.

Teufel's absence prompted the commission to delay action on a draft of goals and objectives for 2007 and deciding the commissioners' own assignments to several boards and commissions.

Collins said he would continue to serve as the commission's representative on the planning commission and Stubblefield agreed to attend the county's Public Service Water District board meetings.

After the meeting, Collins said the commission still needed to interview candidates before deciding two vacancies on the planning commission, which is expected to elect officers on Monday.

Though county business was somewhat stymied because of Teufel's absence, Collins said Thursday he was "adamantly opposed" to increasing the number of commissioners like Jefferson County.

When asked why he was opposed, Collins said "I just point east," Collins said referring to the neighboring county.

"We have an excellent staff that takes a lot of the load off the commissioners," he added.

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