CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's longest-serving agriculture commissioner, Gus Douglass, will be retiring in January after a total of 44 years in office, and presumably, many of his top aides will also be out of work.
However, Douglass did provide a nice parting gift, in the form of pay raises totaling $206,349 for 71 Department of Agriculture employees.
Most raises were for $2,000, although some were lower, including the smallest raise, $550, for administrative assistant Cynthia Fisher.
However, 13 administrators and top officials got raises of $5,000 or more.
Those include: Matthew Blackwood, homeland security coordinator, $6,468 raise to a $60,000 salary; Seth Casto, information systems administrator, $5,953 to $45,000; Koren Custer, assistant state veterinarian, $5,000 to $65,000; Kenneth "Buddy" Davidson, communications officer, $6,000 to $55,000 (oddly, Davidson didn't seem to know anything about any pay raises upon my initial inquiries ...); Joshua Hardy, assistant director, environmental labs, $7,000 to $54,008; Cynthia Martel, marketing specialist, $5,800 to $46,000; Jodee Martin, executive assistant, $6,000 to $43,500;
Also, Steve Miller, assistant commissioner (whom Douglass endorsed in the Democratic primary for ag commissioner), $5,800 to $73,000; Brenda Mobley, personnel manager, $6,300 to $70,000; Stephanie Sizemore, assistant personnel manager, $6,176 to $54,000; Pamela Staley, executive assistant, $5,000 to $44,000; Wade Stiltner, apiary inspector, $5,000 to $36,000; and Donald Gene Straight, computer desk tech, $7,864 to $40,000.
Other notable raises went to: Janet Fisher, deputy commissioner, $2,904 to $80,500; Robert Earl Pitts, division director, $2,000 to $77,000; Jean Smith, division director, $2,000 to $68,272; Bob Tabb, deputy commissioner (and another unsuccessful Democratic primary candidate for the office), $2,800 to $80,000; and Darius Walker, information technology services director, $2,000 to $72,392.
It may also be worth noting the department has some very well paid custodians following the raises. They include: Janice Lynn Cottrell, $2,960 to $30,000; James Parsons, $2,496 to $28,000; Charles Smith, $1,496 to $27,000; and custodial supervisor Richard Samms, $2,500 to $32,000.
However, the raises could be short-lived for many of the names on this list, assuming aquarian farmer Walt Helmick replaces many of the top Douglass staffers when he takes office ... Most of the raises took effect Aug. 16.
In the spirit of last week's declaration by House Speaker Rick Thompson that he is raising the House Health and Human Resources Committee to "major" committee status, I'd like to officially announce that my 1998 Chevy is now a 2013 Lamborghini.
It reminded me of when Sen. John Unger was appointed chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and insisted on renaming it the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in hopes of giving it -- and himself -- more gravitas.