OEM director McKenzie appointed as county coordinator

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Luke McKenzie

KEYSER - The Mineral County Commission Tuesday appointed Office of Emergency Management director Luke McKenzie to a dual role, naming him part-time county coordinator as well.

Mineral County has been without a coordinator for almost a year with administrative specialist Jess Riden handling many of the duties.

McKenzie was also doing his part, however, handling a lot of grant writing and applying for and receiving approval for over $1.3 million in CARES Act funding for the county.

Tuesday, commission president Richard Lechliter said McKenzie “was already handling part of the job anyway,” and made a motion to appoint him to the position. Commissioner Jerry Whisner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0.

Commissioner Roger Leatherman, whose granddaughter is married to McKenzie, recused himself from the vote.

McKenzie, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from Shenandoah University in Winchester and a Master of Business Administration from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, was hired as director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management in 2016. The job oversees the county’s emergency management, 911 Center and mapping and addressing, and includes managing 14 dispatchers, a deputy director, a GIS coordinator and an office manager.

In his five years in the position, McKenzie was able to bring the 911 Center from a $30,000 deficit and $200,000 debt to where it is now running with a budgeted surplus.

He is a Certified Emergency Manager, Emergency Numbers Professional, West Virginia Emergency Manager Level II, Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician and Hazardous Materials Technician.

When the commissioners announced they would be advertising for a county coordinator last month, they noted that grant writing, personnel management and purchasing oversight would be some of the key tasks assigned to the reorganized position.

Since first being hired as OEM director, McKenzie has successfully applied for nearly $80,000 in Homeland Security grant funding, as well as additional grant awards.

He restructured the 911 center to create a more efficient operation and put purchasing controls in place to crack down on spending.

Under his watch the county was able to pay off it’s loan for the construction of the 911 Center nine years early.

McKenzie said Tuesday he is looking forward to working with the county in this new, expanded role.

In addition to his position with the county, McKenzie pastors the South Branch Charge of the United Methodist Church, serves as treasurer of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the New Creek Volunteer Fire Department, and is a member of the West Virginia E-911 Council and Emergency Management Council.

His new position becomes effective June 1.