ELKINS –As he prepares to join Gov. Jim Justice’s cabinet in Charleston, Mark Scott is thanking local citizens and officials for helping him achieve major accomplishments during his time on the Randolph County Commission.
Scott, who was initially elected to the commission in 2016, has submitted his resignation effective Oct. 31. He will begin his duties as Justice’s Secretary of Administration on Nov. 1.
“When I get (to Charleston), I’m going to start working on first building relationships,” Scott told The Inter-Mountain this week. “That’s what happened when I came here (to the county commission). I came here and the first thing I did was meet with every elected official. They didn’t know me, they knew of me, and we began to build relationships.
“It happened like this: ‘How can I help you?’ And as I began to try to help them, they in turn began to try to help me. So we built a very cohesive working relationship with all the elected officials. We’ve got good morale in the courthouse, and I feel like I’m leaving it in as good a place or maybe a better place than I found it.”
Scott said one of the major accomplishments the commission has made during his time in office is renovating the courthouse complex.
“We had a lot of things that needed to be fixed. We had boilers that needed to be replaced, we had maintenance contracts that needed to be revamped, we had voting machines that needed to be replaced,” he said. “The thing about being a county commissioner — one day you can be voting on replacing a broken toilet, and literally later that day be voting on a $29 million sewer project. It’s that diverse.
“That’s what I love about the job. Not one day is the same. I walk in this door and there’s new challenges every single day. That’s what I love and that’s why I think I’m going to be well-suited to this new position.
“Minor tweaks that we did here made all the difference. And I think it’ll be the same way in Charleston,” he said. “Sometimes a minor tweak makes all the difference in the world.”
Scott is also proud of the fiscal responsibility the commission has shown in recent years.
“When I came on the commission, we were taking in less money than we were spending,” he said. “The first year I was here it was about $700,000 more then we were spending. The second year it was a little over a million dollars. So I became County Commission President in the middle of the 2019 fiscal year, and we ended that year with a deficit of just $148,000. So we had a pretty quick turnaround.
“We cut more from courthouse and county commission, which are our departments, then from any other department in the county. We looked and we said, ‘There’s fat here that needs to be trimmed.’ We set the example. I can tell you, had we not, we wouldn’t have had that willingness. What we began to see was more synergy in the budget process.
“Now we’re seeing the back end result of it, where we’re able to do more funding to law enforcement,” he said. “In most counties you see they have a very difficult time funding those departments, because they’re so expensive. So being able to save money on this end allows us to invest on the other end.”
In 2017, Randolph County had a $695,329 deficit after expenditures, which rose in 2018 to $1,011,971.
In 2019, the deficit shrunk to $148,190, and in 2020, the county saw a surplus of $31,210.
When the 2021 fiscal year ended, the county had a surplus of $1,685,532, through Scott pointed out that some of that surplus is the result of COVID-related funding from the federal and state governments.
Among the county commission accomplishments Scott is most proud of, in 2017, the commission launched the new Harman Station 3, and approved the lease for a Rich Mountain 911 tower. In November of that year, he was honored as the local public official of the year by Main Street, a document signed by Justice.
In 2019, the commission passed the county Unsafe Buildings and Lands Ordinance in August, and opened the new 911/Office of Emergency Management Center in September.
In 2020, the commission passed the Randolph County Dog/Cat Ordinance in August, and acquired property for a county swimming pool/splash pad in September.
This year, the commission formed the county E911 Board and finalized the engineering design for the pool/splash pad project. The county has facilitated the cleanup of nearly 50 properties during the first year of enforcement of the Unsafe Buildings and Land Ordinance.
Scott said he is excited to begin his new job.
“The governor has done a tremendous job with the economy,” Scott said. “He’s done a tremendous job with this pandemic, under very trying circumstances. I’m impressed with the way he’s handled it.
“My job, as a secretary, is to make sure that his vision is carried out through my department. What I’m going to be very careful of is to make sure that I understand exactly what they want of us, and then do my very best to follow through with that vision.”
Scott stressed he is not saying goodbye to the local area for good.
“We’ll keep our house here. I love Randolph County,” he said. “This is where I raised my family, my two girls. I know everybody here, everybody knows me. This is home. So we’re not planning on going anywhere longterm.”