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Wetzel BOE Honors Blair

June 27, 2018
BY ED PARSONS - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

The old saying "If it isn't broke, don't fix it" certainly holds true in the case of Michael D. Blair who attended his last meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education as a board member June 18. Blair has given 16 years of service to the school system and Wetzel County citizens.

Blair was first elected to the position in 2002, and thanks to his dedication and hard work was re-elected to three more terms for a total four terms - spanning a 16 year period. On Monday, June 18, 2018, Blair received special recognition from Wetzel County Schools for his excellence, accomplishments and willingness to work with six different superintendents and multiple board members as a board member, and 14 years as president of the board.

On Monday, he was presented with a plaque in his honor and given an honorary gavel, signifying his time as president . Several board members spoke highly of him during the presentation with current President Warren Grace reading the writing on the plaque which said "Michael D. Blair, with sincere appreciation of your dedication to the students and staff of Wetzel County Schools." Grace further stated it was impressive to know Blair and his father had each spent 16 years on the board, and 32 years of the Blair family tells it all.

Article Photos

Photo by Ed Parsons
From left are Wetzel County Board of Education Vice-President Bill Jones, Board Member Amy Cooley, Mike Blair, Board President Warren Grace, and Superintendent Ed Toman.

"It's been my pleasure to work with Mike Blair as a principal, as a superintendent, and now as a board member. And although there's been times where we disagreed, it's all been fun. And Mike, thank you so much for your input and what you've done for this county," said board vice-president William Jones.

Superintendent Ed Toman said, "I would like to take Mike personally for his help in getting me back to Wetzel County, and for getting me back home; I appreciate it."

Blair, who was overcome with emotion, had much to say in appreciation of the support and help he has received along his journey. He expressed his sincere appreciation of the citizens of Wetzel County who gave him the opportunity. "Without them it would not have been possible to achieve what we have. Wetzel County has great people and again I am very thankful to them for their support."

"I sincerely appreciate them and it's been and honor and a privilege, and I hope the kids of the county have benefited from it. One of my goals as a board member was always to be a supporter of all four schools. We ran into a little difficulty with that a few years back because of funding; however, we were able to work through it, and I believe I achieved the goal," said Blair. "My heart has always been with the kids. I believe in doing what's right by them. They have always been my priority; they are the future of our country, and we need to make every effort for them to get a quality education and to be treated fairly and with respect."

Blair said the greatest asset in Wetzel County Schools is the staff. "They have worked through adversity and through good times, but we've always been able to count on them. They are a hard working dedicated group of people."

He said there have been many changes in education and to the Wetzel County system since he first took office. Some of those changes include free lunches for the kids, greater technology systems such as smart boards and tablets for every child in K-12, upgrades to the bus fleet - making it one of the best in the state, plus upgrades and additions to all the schools in the county - including the athletic facilities. He noted the schools have also become a much safer place for the teachers and children with prevention resource officers and more secure buildings.

Blair said it is very rewarding, and one of his favorite parts of being on the board, to hand out diplomas and achievement awards at graduation ceremonies. "Attending commencement and watching kids, who have worked their way through school, receive that graduation diploma is just as rewarding for me as it is for the student. For me, it's always been about the kids and what we can do to help them."

He noted when he took office there were 50 percent more students; however, the school system's budget has increased by 50 percent as well. In the past, there were times when the board struggled to pay the bills; however, with some urging from the communities, the board managed to cut expenses and was still able to keep all four schools. "It was a tough decision, but we took a gamble and it paid off."

Blair was asked why, after an obvious successful 16 years of service, he would want to retire. "I just feel like there comes a point when you need to say it's time to go. You see the results of your work, and you're proud of what you've been a part of for the kids and the schools. You want to see someone else step in with some new ideas and energy and take it to the next level."

Blair said although he spent 14 of his 16 years on the board as president, he still kept the educators and students first in all his decisions. He mentioned his father who preceded him was never president on the board but did spend time as vice-president. Four years separated the terms of the two. David Blair finished his term in 1998 which inspired son Mike to seek the position successfully in 2002. "I saw the work of my father, and I wanted it to continue with some of the same agenda items already started."

"I believe in rewarding hard-working people, and we have done that. We've provided raises, medical benefits, bonus cards and many other perks. Those are just a few of the ways you keep quality people. We have done our best to reward our staff at Wetzel County Schools, and I am proud to say I have served with board members who put the heart and soul of the kids first."

His final words at his last meeting with the board of education? "I wish the new board the best of luck."



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