BUCKHANNON – A longtime Upshur County Development Authority employee, and a familiar face in the Buckhannon-Upshur community, plans to retire in April 2023.
Melodie Stemple, assistant director of the Upshur County Development Authority, said she has worked with the Development Authority since 2003 and will retire April 30, 2023. Before working for the Development Authority, she was employed by Corhart for 19 years.
“I interviewed for this job, but then I didn’t get a call back, and Don Nestor was on the board at the time, so I called him when my unemployment was getting close to going out, and he said, ‘Well, let me check into it,’” Stemple said. “He called me back and said, ‘I think we might be interested.’ I had just started working with Randy Sanders up in Pennsylvania with pageants on weekends and doing some of his clerical work there, but then I got this job, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Stemple started to work with Steve Foster in 2004, which brought in some of her favorite projects.
“He helped get Wendling’s here, then we have the Upshur County Business Center – we got that started – and the Industrial Park,” Stemple said. “We worked with the Army National Guard to put the Event Center out there, we did the Weatherford Boulevard, which is out there off of Route 33 going towards Elkins. They put a new road over, and they named it; we helped get funding and all that to help that out a little bit. We bought the cinema here, and the regional airport we helped with a grant, and we helped the farmers market with USDA grants.”
She said Foster assisted in founding Create Buckhannon and helped with the acquisition of the Latham House.
“We acquired it under the Development Authority’s name, and we were hoping to do something more with that, but when you’re in the flood zone, you are limited on what you can do, so we just got some funding, and we were able to put in a parking lot,” Stemple said.
More recently, Stemple worked on building the Innovation Center on Main Street, which is now almost fully occupied.
In 2018, Stemple was recognized for her role at the Development Authority and in volunteer organizations at the annual Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce Awards dinner, where she won “Citizen of the Year.”
Looking ahead, Stemple said she’s focused on providing a smooth transition for the next person in her role.
“Now I’m probably going to be busy getting things organized and training someone else to take over the reins,” Stemple said. “There is a lot more than you realize like the building maintenance team, getting key cards and keeping that up; I think that’ll be the main thing, just trying to get myself organized enough that I can train someone to do the job next.”
Stemple said she decided to retire because she was ready for a new part of her life.
“I can get my Social Security – I turned 66 in November, so I went ahead and decided to retire, and I think I was ready for a break,” Stemple said. “I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, babysitting or doing other jobs, so I just decided I was ready for something different.”
While she will no longer be with the Development Authority, she plans to still participate in community organizations.
“I will probably stay with Create Buckhannon right now – I’m the treasurer for Create – and I’m hoping I can work with the CVB and the Chamber to continue to help out with the veteran banner project and I can keep track of who has what banner and all that kind of stuff. I may see if the person that takes over here may want to be involved and maybe they can continue, but I’ll definitely stay with Create, and then we’ll just see what else comes up,” Stemple said.
Stemple thanked the Development Authority and wished her successor luck in her position.
“I just really appreciate the support the Development Authority’s given me over the years, and they’ve worked with me in emergency situations or time off for this or that, and they’ve been gracious to do that for me,” Stemple said. “I’ve had three bosses, and we’ve worked well together; they have been great. I’ve enjoyed them and good luck to the next who’s in line.”