Callie Cronin Sams and Jay Hollen
Callie Cronin Sams, information coordinator and grant writer and city engineer Jay Hollen receive a grant award in this December 2018 file photo.

City’s PR person, grant writer leaving to head state ‘Save Our Streams’ program

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon’s first-ever information coordinator and grant writer is leaving her post with the city to lead a statewide program with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Callie Cronin Sams announced at Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting that she had received an offer to serve as an environmental resource specialist as the head of a DEP program, Save Our Streams, and would soon be resigning from her current position.

“It’s an opportunity to lead a statewide program, the Save our Streams program … that’s working with volunteers and students and teaching them how to monitor streams right in their backyard,” Sams told council during her report at the Feb. 4 meeting. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to be able to lead a statewide program.”

Sams joined the City of Buckhannon in 2017 after city council voted to establish and fund a grant writer/public relations position earlier that year.

“This has been a wonderful getting to work with everyone, both with city council and staff here at city and community partners as well,” Sams said. “It really made it a tough decision.”

Sams reassured council members and the public there would be a smooth transition regarding the output of information, saying she’s been working with city recorder Randy Sanders, who will take over some of her duties in the interim.

“I wanted to ensure that we will be having a smooth transition,” Sams said. “I am working with Randy and Amby (Amberle Jenkins, city finance and administrative director) to keep making sure information gets to our website and keeps going out via email so we will continue getting that info out and we will continue looking for grant funding as well.”

“You are in great hands,” she added, also noting city engineer Jay Hollen is a stellar grant writer.

Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner said the city was appreciative of Sams’ work and wishes her well.

“We recognize that our loss is the DEP’s gain,” Skinner said. “She was an asset here, and she’ll be an asset there. We will miss her presence here at city hall and working on behalf of the citizens of Buckhannon. You’ve done a fantastic job in the position, and we thank you, Callie, for everything you’ve done for us.”

Council members echoed Skinner’s comments.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh thanked Sams for her efforts to “push things forward.”

“You’ve worked really hard getting money in for us,” she said, and councilwoman Pam Bucklew noted Sams’s shoes will be hard to fill.

Councilman CJ Rylands noted the importance of the position Sams occupied.

“As someone who worked on the original comprehensive plan and recommended the hiring of a grant writer in 2007, it took us quite a few years to get to point of hiring you and it’s been a pleasure,” Rylands said. “You’ve filled – well, you’ve exceeded – all expectations, and I think now we see the role you filled, and how important it is, and your performance will continue to allow us to view that as a necessary role within city government.”

In his closing comments city recorder Randy Sanders pledged to do his best until the city can find “a more permanent solution,” and said that he enjoyed having worked with Callie and “[was] a better person for it.”

During her tenure with the city, Sams wrote multiple grant applications for the city, a number of which were secured, and also spearheaded the effort to establish the Buckhannon Volunteer City which pairs volunteers with agencies looking for them. Sams also developed a Citizen Engagement Tool that allows city residents to request city services or file complaints regarding code violations.

Residents can keep up to date with city happenings by visiting and clicking on News and Announcements under the ‘Residents’ tab.

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