Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 3, 2013

Mercer County Commission: Congratulations to Basham

— — A former state lawmaker and retired employee of the West Virginia Division of Highways is now in a unique position to help Mercer County. Congratulations are in order for Terry Basham, who has been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Mercer County Commission created by the death of Joe Coburn.

Basham, 60, of Lashmeet, brings both local and statewide experience to the commission. He served in the state House of Delegates from 1987 to 1990, and was a candidate for the county commission in 1990 when he won the primary, but was defeated in the general election. Basham had worked for the District 10 offices of the West Virginia Division of Highways for the last 23 years. He officially retired from the DOH Thursday — the same day he was appointed to the commission.

“I’ve always really wanted to be on the county commission,” Basham said. “Since the opportunity came up with Joe’s untimely death, and I can retire. I retired (Thursday) morning from the highway department.”

Basham will serve the remainder of Coburn’s unexpired term, which continues until Dec. 31, 2014. He also will have the opportunity — if he chooses to do so — to run for a full commission term in the 2014 primary. County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra and Commissioner Gene Buckner examined 22 applications and conducted interviews before selecting Basham to complete Coburn’s term.

Because Coburn was a Democrat, state code required the commission to appoint another Democrat to the board vacancy. The candidate also had to reside in the county’s Third District, which is where Coburn lived. Coburn passed away Oct. 3 following a long illness.

As a newly appointed commissioner, Basham is in a unique position to bring new ideas to the table, and can also help facilitate positive change and progress Mercer County.

Basham says he hopes to help promote tourism, economic development and infrastructure in Mercer County. “Mercer County has a lot to offer,” he said. “Hopefully we can promote it.”

We agree. It is imperative for the commissioners to be actively involved in promoting tourism, economic development and infrastructure growth for Mercer County. And there are still many challenges facing Mercer County. Job creation is obviously at the top of that list. We need new and good-paying manufacturing, industrial and high-tech jobs. An increased focus also must be placed on helping to attract new housing, hotels and motels, bed and breakfast facilities and other accommodations geared toward serving the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. And the commissioners still need to have a meaningful discussion and debate on the merits of hiring a county administrator, as well as a full-time litter control officer. Given the county’s rampant litter control problem, transfer stations — or sites where residents living in remote parts of the county can dispose of litter without having to drive to the county’s landfill — also should still be considered.

We wish Basham the best of luck in the job ahead, and it is our hope that he can be actively involved in helping to facilitate many of these needed discussions.

We believe his experience both on the local and state level can help in making Basham an effective and successful commissioner.

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