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Ohio County Commission Replaces 2 On OCDA — To The Surprise Of 1 Of Them

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Commissioner Don Nickerson, left, and Commission President Randy Wharton, listen to concerns during Tuesday's commission meeting.

WHEELING — Ohio County commissioners made changes to the Ohio County Development Authority Board Tuesday night, replacing two members and appointing two others to take their places. One of those removed, though, said she was unaware she was being replaced.

OCDA Vice President Nancy Weeks — a member since the OCDA was formed in 2007 — was the first removal from the board. She will be replaced by Del. Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, also president of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.

It was also announced that County Emergency Services Director Lou Vargo was stepping down from the OCDA board. Valley Grove Fire Chief John Gearry was appointed to fill his spot.

“Since the first of the year, the commission has been doing some restructuring of the Ohio County Development Authority to make sure all areas of the county were represented, and to bring some expertise to the development authority board,” explained Commissioner Don Nickerson.

Weeks was contacted by The Intelligencer for comment following the meeting, and she indicated she did not know she was being removed.

“I have no other comment other than you just told me something I didn’t know,” Weeks said.

Nickerson said he did not believe Weeks received any call in advance, and neither have other members removed from the board.

“Anyone removed will receive a follow-up letter,” he said. “As I mentioned at the meeting, the removals and appointments are part of a restructuring of the OCDA board to include a fair cross section of the county and various levels of expertise.

“I think it’s important to remember that the OCDA board appointments are not lifetime appointments,” he added, “and the county commission believes that it’s beneficial to rotate board members on and off of the board in order to give a number of residents an opportunity to serve.”

Last month, Weeks questioned the board’s decision to end contract negotiations with former County Administrator Greg Stewart to manage The HIghlands, and said it was “preposterous” for Stewart’s career with the county to end that way.

Terms on the board are for three years, and Storch will assume Weeks’ unexpired term that ends in July 2022.

Storch initially had been appointed to the board in December, but her appointment was annulled after it was decided the move had been made incorrectly by the board. Commissioners said then they could appoint her at another time.

Since then, she has contacted the West Virginia Ethics Commission to see if they approved of her serving with the OCDA, and they determined she could, according to Storch.

“I asked if I could check because it is always good to have an ethics determination,” she explained Tuesday night. “You just never know.”

Vargo was appointed to the board in January after assuming the job as interim administrator. He no longer holds that position, and he and commissioners decided he would step aside.

Gearry was present at Tuesday’s meeting, but declined any comment.

The commission next meets at 6 p.m. on May 18 at the City-County Building, 1500 Main St., Wheeling. The next meeting of the OCDA has not been scheduled.

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