LOGAN - After nearly three months without a fifth member, which sparked several contentious exchanges among the remaining members, the Logan County Board of Education is complete again.
At a special meeting of the LCBOE at Logan High School on Tuesday, Barry Mullins took the oath to officially fill the seat vacated by former President Paul Hardesty, who resigned Jan. 17 after being appointed to the West Virginia State Senate by Gov. Jim Justice. Mullins will serve the remainder of Hardesty's elected term, which ends June 30, 2020.
West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven L. Paine announced his selection of Mullins last week. Mullins was one of nine applicants vying for the job in Paine's selection process, which began after the four remaining members of the LCBOE failed numerous times to reach a consensus in the original process, in which Mullins did not apply for.
A 1994 graduate of Chapmanville High School and current resident of Big Harts, Mullins has forged his career in trade industry jobs, working for the West Virginia Division of Highways in Logan and then Arch Coal, where he has been for 15 years. He also trained at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 132 site in Jackson County and later became certified on Komatsu mining excavators/shovels.
Mullins said he decided to apply for the LCBOE seat when he read that Paine was accepting applications after board members failed to reach a consensus.
"I just got up one day, and I wanted to see if my luck is any better," Mullins said. "Dr. Paine ended up calling me, and we talked about 45 minutes on the phone, and he said it would be a good thing to have me on board with them because I'm coming from a different work field than the rest of them, and I had good references and good job experience."
When asked what he hopes to accomplish in his new position, Mullins said the education and safety of students comes first and foremost. He spoke about his desire to promote and expand vocational programs more, saying that jobs like mining, oil fields and construction work can provide well-paying jobs to students right out of high school.
"Everybody's not college material," Mullins said. "I wasn't. It's something I didn't want to do. I like mining, I like equipment. ...
"I'm just a good old country boy," he added. "I have a big heart for kids, and I want to see them do good. I want to make sure they succeed in everything they possibly can."
Mullins has two young daughters who attend schools in Logan County, and they accompanied him as he took his oath.
His first official function as the new board member was an awards ceremony for Logan area students, which was held immediately following his swearing-in.
"I look forward to working with Mr. Mullins on the Logan County Board of Education and him joining our team to continue the improvement process that we have seen over the past few years," said President Debbie Mendez.
Mullins has not yet indicated if he plans to run for a full term in 2020.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196 or follow him on Twitter @DVidovichLB.