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Berkeley Co. engineer to retire

May 28, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- William J. "Bucky" Teach, Berkeley County's top engineer for about 20 years, announced Thursday he will retire at the end of the year.

The 59-year-old Big Pool, Md., resident said much has changed since he was named county engineer, including the state's adoption of a building code.

"When I first came, the opinion was that growth was good and wasn't going to hurt anybody," said Teach, who began working for the county in 1988 after consulting with the county on a private basis. "Now that the population has shot up, the density has increased, we get the calls from everybody now about what's happening next door and how it's affecting them."

"It seems to be a nationwide trend, too, that people are expecting more protection from government than they did in years back," Teach said of his department's engineering and building inspection responsibilities. "Before, if a person had a problem ... they felt that it was partially their responsibility. Now, they look at it as 'you should have protected me.'"

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Originally hired as a planning commission engineer in 1988, Teach said he was tapped to fill a newly created position of county engineer the following year.

"It became sort of a tug of war between the planning commission and the county commission because the county commission would want some projects done and then you were under the direction of the planning commission," which Teach said would at times be upset if their own projects were not done.

A copy of what generally is accepted as the first building code in the world is posted on the bulletin board in the county's Engineering and Building Inspection Department's lobby to remind residents that rules for construction have been around for a long time, Teach said.

The Code of Hammurabi from the ancient kingdom of Babylon included a rule that stated if a builder builds a house for someone, does not construct it properly, and the house falls in and kills its owner, the builder would be put to death.

Teach told the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday the state needed to adopt the latest version of building codes to avoid hurting insurance ratings for property owners. The commission agreed to have a letter written to Gov. Joe Manchin urging the Legislature to take action.

Looking back on his tenure, Teach said he has enjoyed his job, which now includes supervision of 12 people.

"It has been enjoyable. It really has," Teach said. "I'm going to miss the people, not just within county government, but those out in the community that we work with and deal with."

"I won't miss the politics, I'll tell you that right up front," Teach said, laughing.

In retirement, Teach said he hopes to drive to at least 49 states in his new recreational vehicle. Teach has a photograph of it on his computer at the office.

"If they put a big tunnel over to Hawaii before I die, I might drive over there, I don't know," Teach said, laughing. "But if I go and spend six months in each state and explore it, that gives me 24 and a half years to explore the country I can drive to. So, hopefully, I'll make it that long after I get out of here."

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