BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Recorder Randy Sanders added another title in front of his name last month – information coordinator.
At the March 18 Buckhannon City Council meeting, council members voted unanimously to appoint Sanders as the part-time information coordinator in the wake of information coordinator and grant writer Callie Cronin Sams’s resignation. In February, Sams, who was hired as the city’s first-ever information coordinator/grant writer, announced she was resigning to accept a new position with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Mayor Robbie Skinner thought Sanders a perfect fit for the public relations aspect of the position.
“The mayor asked me to take the position because of my work along alongside Callie on several projects from a PR standpoint, and I had a sense of the bandwidth of the website,” Sanders said. “It seemed to fit because of the fact I have background in public relations and event promotion, and I had previous experience building the narrative for events and what’s happening and that type of thing, so he just thought it was a perfect fit.”
At the March 18 meeting, Skinner said Sanders was an ideal candidate for the position because he excelled in cultivating relationships with people and other organizations. During a recent interview with My Buckhannon, Sanders said he thought his two jobs would mesh well together because he already attended most meetings and knew all the department heads.
“The fact that I’m in every one of the meetings anyway gives me the ability to see what needs to be told, the narrative that needs to be conveyed,” Sanders said. “I enjoy working with members of the media, and I never want to step on toes, so I’m not trying to beat anybody on the story, but I do like to post some happenings and so forth.”
Sanders said he has enjoyed the work so far, and he is hoping to work on some long-term goals.
“I enjoy it, I really do, and I want to work on some longer-term projects to explain to the public some of the background going on and try to do it in a way that is informative,” Sanders said. “For instance, how different boards operate like the Water Board. [Not everyone knows that] you can’t take funds from the Water Board and use them anywhere else in the city, and you can’t take funds from anywhere else in the city and put it into the Water Board; they (the utility boards) have to be self-sustaining and so forth.”
Although the city’s general fund encompasses the police and fire departments; the Street Department and Parks; City Hall’s operations; and the Stockert Youth & Community Center, the city’s utility boards operate financially as separate but connected ‘enterprise funds.’ The Water Board, Waste Board and Sanitary Sewer/Stormwater Board must each be self-sufficient, and money from the general fund budget is not typically comingled with those separate enterprise funds’ budgets.
For now, grant writing responsibilities have been assigned to city engineer Jay Hollen, and Region VII Planning & Development Council, led by executive director Shane Whitehair, will assist the city in researching grant opportunities and writing grants.
“The major grants have been shifted totally over to Jay Hollen, and he always handled the engineering grants, but as far as any of the other grants that aren’t on the engineering side of things, we’re now taking to Region VII and we’re asking Shane Whitehair and Region VII to provide their expertise in writing the grants and supervising the grant writing there,” Sanders explained.
A 1976 graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Sanders returned to his hometown several years ago and was appointed city recorder in June 2019 when Colin Reger resigned from the post. Sanders was then elected to the position in the June 2020 municipal election and has since been instrumental in recruiting larger-scale events to Upshur County, including the 2023 World Association of Marching Showbands Association Championships.
The founder of Pageant Associates, Sanders has extensive experience producing pageants. He will be producing the Miss West Virginia USA and Miss West Virginia Teen USA Pageants July 9-11, 2021 in Buckhannon.