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Government retiree volunteers to help write Berkeley County grants

August 23, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A federal retiree has volunteered to help the Berkeley County Commission with grant programs.

The commission on Thursday appeared to be inclined to accept the offer by Niles Bernick, 69, of Falling Waters, W.Va., pending approval of a formal agreement.

Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said Bernick approached him at the Berkeley County Youth Fair about helping county officials with grant writing.

The formal agreement will establish a "legal vehicle" to compensate Bernick for travel and other miscellaneous expenses, but not for salary or benefits, Stubblefield said.

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"We have a need for a grant writer, but we have not gone forward with that because of the county's (budget crunch)," Stubblefield said after the commission's regular meeting.

A part-time grant writer position was part of a staffing reorganization plan that the commission had approved earlier this summer. That plan attracted criticism from other elected county officers who have unfilled vacancies in their departments and said the commission legally was obligated to fund their offices first.

Stubblefield said Bernick only asked for some office space to help the county and nothing more.

Bernick said Friday he doesn't want a permanent job and any compensation for travel was "news to him."

Bernick said he retired 11 years ago from the National Institutes of Health. He worked for the agency based in Bethesda, Md., for 29 years, acting as a scientist administrator and peer review policy director.

"I'm familiar with what it takes to complete a (grant) application," Bernick said.

Bernick said he volunteered through his membership with the Martinsburg Rotary Club, and also has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle and the American Red Cross.

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