KEYSER - Kevin Clark, director of the Mineral County Development Authority, was recognized as Mineral County's Leader of the Year as the Chamber of Commerce held its annual Summit Awards.
By Ronda Wertman
KEYSER - Kevin Clark, director of the Mineral County Development Authority, was recognized as Mineral County’s Leader of the Year as the Chamber of Commerce held its annual Summit Awards.
“Anyone can solve a problem by doing something, but a leader has the ability to get people to follow their vision and move in a positive direction,” said Chamber of Commerce president Randy Crane.
“There’s no disputing his leadership style,” said Crane. “Kevin is responsible for reaching out to businesses and developers both inside and outside the county and bringing in more businesses and high paying jobs.
“The nature of Kevin’s job requires him to keep a very low profile, sometimes working in near secrecy so that he can develop relationships and make deals which are beneficial to the county,” Crane explained. “In spite of this low profile, Kevin has quickly become a respected leader within the county, not only because of his success in economic development, but also his passion for West Virginia and Mineral County.”
One example Crane shared was with the announcement of the Luke Mill closing, noting how within a couple hours Clark had found a way to help employees.
“Over a four-day weekend he had people at the Chamber to greet Verso employees and support staff and to register for help for whatever they needed. I think that was amazing,” said Crane.
“Very few people even have the potential to affect the county the way Kevin does, but Kevin has ways to leverage his potential into results to be the effective leader he is,” Crane added. “Not everyone knows Kevin Clark, or even the job that he does, but all of us are better off because of his leadership, whether we realize it or not.”
Stepping up to receive his award, Clark read a list of names of everyone who worked to make the Verso events possible.
“I just have ideas,” he said noting that it is a team approach with the tourism office, Chamber of Commerce and others.
In other recognitions during the dinner, three area programs were nominated for the Non-Profit Organization of the Year.
“The voting was very, very close. I’m proud of all the non-profits in Mineral County and the work they do,” said Crane, noting that all three are very different, but are each a leader in the area.
Honored with this year’s Summit Award was the Friends of Ashby’s Fort, represented by president Tom Pyle and Barbara Crane.
“Friends of Ashby’s Fort has done an amazing job transforming the site of the French & Indian War fort into a shining jewel of a museum. The new visitor’s center provides displays and an orientation video that illustrate the importance of this site,” said Crane. “Ongoing archaeological work has revealed the structure of the 1755 stockade and is shedding light on early English settlements in the Patterson Creek valley.
“The ‘old fort,’ as the 18th century log structure is known, is used for community events such as Fort Ashby Days, concerts, re-enactments, art workshops, and the like,” Crane said. “It is also integral to the tours that regularly come through the museum. Local schoolchildren are brought there by their teachers for an up-close look at history.
“With the emphasis on tourism growing in the county, Ashby’s Fort Museum has become a cornerstone of that effort and is beginning to attract more of out-of- state visitors than in-state,” he said.
Also recognized for their efforts this year were the County United Way and the Mineral County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“Serving Mineral County since 1957, County United Way (CUW) provides grants to programs helping children, youth, families and seniors,” said Crane. “Ninety-nine cents out of every dollar given starts right here in out county.
“Last year alone, volunteers donated 6,329 hours of work for CUW. County United Way relies heavily on the shoulders of volunteers and the generosity of our neighbors and consistently makes Mineral County a better place to live,” Crane explained of its impact.
“Prior to this year, tourism in Mineral County was nearly non-existent,” said Crane. “There are museums, historical site and recreational opportunities, which were not being marketed as effectively as they could be.”
In the past year a new board was formed for the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) that includes representation from every part of the county.
“While recognizing that much still needs to be done, this organization has completely transformed itself and has built great momentum, while putting tools in place to realize success in the coming years,” Crane concluded.