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Martinsburg Chamber chief named to W.Va. Board of Education

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The head of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce was named the newest member of the state Board of Education on Friday.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Tina Combs, of Berkeley County, to replace Jenny Phillips on the board. Phillips resigned earlier this month following the termination of state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple.

Combs has served as chairwoman for the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College Board of Governors and as treasurer of the Berkeley County Business Education Partnership.

She also has served as president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Executives and chaired the Region VII Workforce Investment Board.

Combs graduated from Mountain State University in 2004 with a bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership and development.

State Board of Education member Bill White, who had served as the founding dean of MSU's School of Leadership and Professional Development, was appointed to the board in 2010.

Mountain State's primary accreditation was recently revoked by the Higher Learning Commission, which cited a series of leadership problems at the school. The University of Charleston has since taken over operations at the Beckley and Martinsburg campuses.

White said he does not know Combs personally but is pleased with her appointment because he had requested that the governor appoint a female board member from the Eastern Panhandle.

Combs also has a certificate in community economic development from the Virginia Institute for Economic Development at Virginia Tech and a certificate for nonprofit organization management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"With education as one of my top priorities, I believe it's vital to have the best state Board of Education possible, and today, I appointed a new member who I believe will serve our children well," Tomblin said in a news release. "Tina has a longstanding record of service to our state's education system, and I believe her many years of leadership and community service will be a major asset to the state board.

"I look forward to working with Tina and the rest of the state board as we work together to ensure our children are prepared for successful careers in a 21st-century economy," Tomblin said.

Former board member Priscilla Haden also resigned because of Marple's sudden firing. Her seat has yet to be filled.

Last fall, Tomblin appointed Greenbrier County's Tom Campbell, a former delegate and House Education Committee chairman, to fill Lowell Johnson's seat on the board.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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