By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
It is not uncommon for people to consider making changes as a new year begins; however, for Shinnston City Manager Amy Wilson, the changes that will be taking place in her life soon had not been part of her long-term plan. Mrs. Wilson will be leaving her position as Shinnston’s City Manager on January 22nd and opening new doors the following day. She has accepted an offer to become the Executive Director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation.
“In my new post, I will still be able to offer my help to Shinnston moving forward, but I will also be assisting other cities and municipalities in Harrison County as well,” she said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my job, and since my family and I chose to live here in Shinnston, I was passionate about seeing Shinnston progress. I truly was not looking for another job! But as my contract renewal had not yet been discussed at the time and I was approached about this opening at the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation, I made some inquiries and sent in a resume.”
Mrs. Wilson’s contract with the City was set to expire on December 31, 2017. It wasn’t until an early December meeting of Shinnston City Council that she was offered a four-year contract renewal with a 2% increase in pay, she noted.
“I can assure you it was not an easy decision to make,” she explained. “I have loved my job … loved the employees I have worked with … and love all the people here. When I was offered this new position, it was very stressful to make a choice. However, after giving it careful thought and consideration for a couple of weeks, I decided this was what I needed to do. My background is in planning and economic development and this will afford me the opportunity to make a difference for many Harrison County cities and municipalities.”
Following her decision, City Council did extend her contract for another month and hopes to find a replacement by the time of her departure.
Mayor Sam DeMarco commented, “Everyone was very happy with the work Amy has done here. She has worn a lot of hats during her time with us and I have been impressed with how she managed the City. Her leaving will be a loss for Shinnston because she was very invested in our community and has handled her duties well.”
DeMarco said the Economic Development Corporation was equally struck by her history in economic development as well as her performance with the City of Shinnston.
“She was offered a more lucrative contract that we couldn’t compete with,” Mayor DeMarco continued. “Amy has great vision and since economic development is what she is passionate about, I understand why she couldn’t pass this up. But because we didn’t want to leave the City at risk with no one filling the position as City Manager after the first of the year, we unanimously voted to extend her contract until January 22nd, and we are currently advertising for the position and hoping to find a suitable replacement with the same qualifications before she leaves us. If we cannot reach a decision by that time, we may have to name an interim City Manager until we can agree upon the best choice to follow her.”
Mrs. Wilson said that even prior to the one-month contract extension, she told Council that she would stay on – even without pay – because there are so many projects in progress.
“The first of the year is a very busy time. The water project is under construction; we are proceeding with new sidewalk projects. There is also a union contract to consider as well as upcoming budget preparations and moving forward with plans for the former Murphy Building. I couldn’t allow these things to be jeopardized, so I really wanted to stay to help work through these things. And even after that, I plan to remain in Shinnston as a resident and participate as a volunteer to do what I can to see the City move forward. Council and I have had good discussions and my departure will be a friendly one,” she said.
David Jones spoke on behalf of the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation, noting that they had interviewed several applicants. “Amy’s background in economic development was of great interest to our board, and we feel fortunate that she accepted our offer for this position. As our Executive Director, she will be the ‘go-to’ person working with businesses and governments to promote the economic development for all of Harrison County,” he said. “We are also sensitive about her leaving Shinnston and we recognize that she wants to work with Shinnston to make the transition a smooth one for her replacement. Likewise, our retiring director Jamie Metz will stay on through the transition period to assist Amy as well while she too becomes familiar with her new position.”
Jones explained that the Harrison County Commission designated the Harrison County Economic Development Corporation as the lead economic development organization in Harrison County. Because of this designation, state grants are available. It is a public-private partnership with members from private businesses that have invested into the organization, and it is also supported financially by most of the municipalities and cities in Harrison County.
“I think I have made a good decision,” Wilson concluded. “Helping promote the growth of Harrison County will have an effect on all of the county’s cities and municipalities. For that matter, we need to look at progress from a regional standpoint. Even the good that comes to Marion and Monongalia Counties can affect us here. I am looking forward to being a part of that growth.”