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Wild Ramp’s Farm-to-Table dinner raises funds to help local food economy

HUNTINGTON — The Wild Ramp held its annual Farm-to-Table Dinner on Saturday.

The evening’s menu was prepared by The Wild Ramp’s Kitchen Manager, Jedediah Thornburgh, using locally sourced ingredients from market producers. Musical entertainment was provided by Huntington Old Time Dance & Music and Chatteroi, a traditional Appalachian duo.

“The event, the market’s largest fundraiser of the year, was a resounding success,” said Shelly Kenney, the market’s director.

Keeney said after selling all 100 tickets and securing several sponsorships, The Wild Ramp raised more than $11,000.

“Proceeds from the event will be used for community programs and educational classes to further promote the relationship between The Wild Ramp’s producers and the general public,” she said. “This ties back to our organization’s mission to grow and support a vibrant, local food economy.”

Farm-to-table dinners are part of West Virginia’s emerging agritourism movement. The dinners bring together rural farmers and urban dwellers.

Keeney said the event celebrates the connection between farms, food and the greater Huntington community.

“The Farm-to-Table Dinner is one of The Wild Ramp’s two signature events, and our largest annual fundraiser,” she said. “As an organization, it is our mission to grow and support a vibrant economy and community for local food, food products, and artisan goods. We believe in the importance of purchasing and consuming local food, and we use the Farm-to-Table Dinner as another way to showcase our producers and their products to members of the community.”

After pivoting to a to-go event for 2020 due to the pandemic, the fifth annual Farm-to-Table Dinner took place in person outside of the market at 555 14th St. West in Huntington.

“Having an in-person event was not a decision our organization took lightly,” Kenney said. “However, we ultimately felt that it was important to hold this event to the keep the market and our producers relevant and at the top of the public’s mind even more so now that the summer harvest season has drawn to a close because we are a year-round market and still have producers making and selling product.”

Since 2014, The Wild Ramp has been bringing folks inside to its year-round market located in the heart of Old Central City.

Ethics clear in potential hiring of Smith at MU

HUNTINGTON — The five final candidates to be the 38th president of Marshall University are all accomplished leaders, but one on the list stands out for his lack of higher education experience: Brad Smith.

The Kenova native is the only candidate who attended Marshall and he is the only business CEO among a field of higher education officials serving as provosts, vice presidents and chancellors. He’s also the only one to make significant donations to Marshall, including to the College of Business, as well as to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice with he and his wife donating $10,000 to the governor’s inaugural committee.

There are no ethical complications, however, when it comes to Marshall potentially hiring Smith, according to the West Virginia Ethics Commission.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Kim Weber said in an email, based on two previous advisories, a donor may be hired to a state university. Favoritism cannot be a factor in the hiring, however.

A university employee may also donate to the university, most likely possible as long as the university is the primary beneficiary.

According to the Presidential Profile created by Marshall’s Presidential Search Committee, the ideal presidential candidate has 11 qualities:

  • A readiness to act as a primary spokesperson for Marshall, who can effectively represent the university and make the case for resources with outside interests and allies, including prospective donors, state policymakers, corporate partners, alumni, foundations, and other stakeholders.
  • The ability to appreciate and maintain key elements of Marshall’s history, traditions, and culture at a time of immense change in higher education, while embracing the region it serves, and moving the university forward to new levels of success and collaboration with institutional stakeholders.

A demonstrated ability to manage the fiscal resources of a complex organization with a commitment to maintain and enhance the fiscal soundness of the university.

  • An authentic, engaging, high-integrity individual with the ability to work effectively with all members of the university community to foster growth and development, while building positive relationships with a wide range of local and regional partners to advance Marshall.
  • The ability to work effectively with a governing board to determine policy and direction and to provide a voice for that direction to the university community, the region, and beyond.
  • A readiness to operate transparently in a shared governance environment and an understanding of the roles and privileges of faculty and staff in furthering the accomplishments and reach of the university.
  • A demonstrated commitment to equity and diversity and to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment.
  • A commitment to the relationship among high-quality teaching, scholarship, and service in strengthening academic excellence.
  • A commitment to and high capacity for fundraising and development.
  • A clear track record of innovation and entrepreneurial accomplishments, as well an understanding of how to leverage data and technology to achieve goals.
  • An understanding of and commitment to the role of athletics within the university community.

“How we adapt going forward, it’s going to be critical,” said board chair Patrick Farrell during a July meeting with the Herald-Dispatch editorial board, at the start of the presidential search. “I don’t know how we will. But that next leader needs to figure out (the changing higher education landscape) pretty darn quick. Right? And it’s a challenge. But I think as goes Marshall, as goes Huntington. Something that I’ve said repeatedly, because I believe it’s true. And if we don’t have a good leader, or a strong leader that understands, you know, where the levers are to pull, we’re in a lot of trouble.”

The next month will consist of interviews with the five candidates ending with a decision during the Oct. 28 board meeting.

“When I took over, I told the board that we do three things: we we hire a president, we set policy, we pass a budget,” Farrell said. “That’s what we do. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do. And so when you get into those three things, you have to have some basis of how you make those decisions, and you hire (a) president, what policies do you set? What what are the priorities of the budget? And our fiduciary duties, right? And beyond that go to the creed. Right? And so those ethics have to mean something, to say that we’re judicious community, a safe community or an ethical community.

“You have to not just see the words, you actually have to believe them and act that out every day.”

Who picks the president? A look at those tasked with choosing Marshall's next leader

HUNTINGTON — A board chosen entirely by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, including members who have donated to him, now have the important task of choosing the 38th president of Marshall University.

The search was triggered by current president Jerome Gilbert’s decision not to seek a contract extension, citing professional and personal reasons.

The current Board of Governors, led by chair Patrick Farrell, will make the final decision on who will lead the university into the future. As Farrell told the Herald-Dispatch editorial board at the start of the search, the university’s budget, affected by dwindling state funding and enrollment, as well as changes to collegiate athletics are issues the new president will need to be ready to immediately address. Also, as Farrell says, as goes Marshall, goes Huntington.

The 16-person board is composed of local community members and business people, alumni and campus representatives.

Board members are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. State code dictates the governor should consider four sets of criteria: the need for individual skills, knowledge and experience relevant to governing the institution; the need for awareness and understanding of institutional problems and priorities, including those related to research, teaching and outreach; the value of gender, racial and ethnic diversity; and the value of achieving balance in gender and diversity in the racial and ethnic characteristics of the lay membership of each board.

By nature of term limits, the entire board has been appointed by Gov. Jim Justice, with exception of the faculty, staff and student body representatives. Several of the board members have donated to Justice’s campaign, both when he was a Democrat and a Republican. Farrell insists there’s no influence from Justice, though.

“I can tell you that the governor has never called me about any of this on any issue related to the Marshall Board of Governors,” Farrell said in July. “Not once. I would say the same for — I can’t speak for all the members. But I don’t know of any instance where there’s been any influence.”

Here is a look at who is shaping the future of Marshall:

Board chair Patrick Farrell

Cabell County native and son of Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell, Patrick Farrell is in his second term as board member. He was reappointed in July and the board re-elected him as chair.

Farrell is the founder and president of Savage Grant, a company that invests in Appalachia through the energy, infrastructure and technology industries. As part of this strategy, he co-founded Mountain Point, a cloud technology consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and CentralApp, an onshoring software development company with workers located throughout central Appalachia. Farrell also owns and serves as the president of Service Pump and Supply, an industrial products and services company.

Farrell served in the U.S. Air Force and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and earned his MBA from Duke University.

He is registered as other. According to Gov. Jim Justice’s campaign filing reports, Farrell individually donated to Justice’s campaign once in 2019.

Vice chair Toney Stroud

Stroud was appointed to the board in 2018. He serves as in-house counsel for Encova Insurance. He graduated from Marshall in 1987 and received his law degree from West Virginia University. He resides in Cabell County and is a registered Republican.

Secretary Bill Smith

Smith is the former superintendent of Cabell County Schools and has worked in education in the county since the 1970s. He was appointed to the board in 2018 and previously served as academic committee chair. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall and resides in Huntington. He is a registered Democrat.

James “Shawn” Ball

Ball was originally appointed to the board in 2018 and was reappointed along with Farrell this year. A resident of Raleigh County, he is the owner of car dealerships in Barboursville, Charleston and Beckley. He has a business degree from Marshall. A registered Republican, campaign finance reports show he made one donation to Justice’s campaign in 2020.

Kathy D’Antoni

Appointed in 2020, D’Antoni is the new chair of the academic affairs committee. She retired in July 2020 from the West Virginia Department of Education where she was assistant state superintendent of schools since 2012. Former roles included secretary of Division of Technical and Adult Education and Vice Chancellor of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. She served on the Governors Workforce Council and the Office of Drug Control Policy council, and as of last year was serving as a contractor for the state BOE.

She received her teaching degree from Marshall and lives in Barboursville. Her brothers are Mike and Dan D’Antoni. She is a registered Democrat.

William “Bill” Noe

Appointed in 2019, Noe has been integral in establishing the Marshall School of Aviation. Starting out as a flight instructor, Noe worked his way up to become chief operating officer of NetJets, a Columbus, Ohio-based company geared to meeting private air travel needs. He is advising the flight school as it develops.

Noe is a Huntington native who currently lives in Ohio. He is a Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame swimmer.

He is registered as other.

Bishop Samuel Moore

Moore was appointed in 2020. He has been the bishop of Full Gospel Assembly in Huntington for more than 20 years. Other leadership roles include two terms as president of the Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP. He is currently president of the Board of Directors for Ebenezer Community Early Childhood Learning Center, co-chairman of the Huntington Juneteenth Celebration Steering Committee, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Cabell Huntington Hospital and BASF Community Advisory Panel. He is a member of the Huntington Black Pastor Association.

He has a master’s degree from Marshall and also worked in the Cabell County school system until 2010. He’s registered as other.

Chris Miller

Miller was appointed to the board in 2019 and currently serves as chair of the athletic committee. Likely best known for his zany commercials, Miller is the co-owner of Dutch Miller car dealerships. He is a graduate of Dennison University in Ohio. He is a Huntington native and is the son of U.S. Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va.

A registered Republican, he and his wife donated a total $7,500 to Justice’s campaign in 2020.

Angel Moore

The Charleston lawyer and lobbyist was appointed to the board in 2019. The Moore Firm of Charleston handles civil litigation concerning business/corporate matters and government relations, as well as state and federal lobbying/government relations in a variety of sectors. Some of the entities she was registered to represent in 2021 include Google, Draft Kings, Fan Duel, Fairmont State University and Alpha Metallurgical Resources.

She was the general counsel for the Department of Commerce from December 2010 to February 2013. Moore has a MBA from Marshall and her law degree from West Virginia University.

A registered Republican, she has donated more than $10,000 to Justice’s campaign since 2016, including $5,000 for his inauguration.

Sandra Thomas

Thomas was appointed to the board in 2019. She is a partner emeritus in the Western Mid-Atlantic market of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, and is widely credited as the first woman to attain partner status at a major accounting firm in West Virginia, according to the Greater-Kanawha Valley Foundation.

A Marshall graduate, she also serves on many other boards and committees, including the Maier Foundation and the Charleston Building Commission. She is a registered Democrat.

Geoffrey Sheils

Appointed in 2018, Sheils is the current chair of the finance and operations committee. He is regional president of Summit Community Bank.

He is a graduate of Marshall and native of Huntington.

A registered Republican, Sheils has supported Justice since he was a Democrat, though his donations total less than $2,000 since 2016.

Donald Holcomb

Appointed in 2020, is a certified public accountant (CPA) and a chartered global management accountant. His career includes serving as trustee of various Cline Family Trusts, established by coal baron and Marshall graduate Chris Cline, a major Marshall benefactor who died in a helicopter crash in 2019. From Raleigh County, Holcomb is a graduate of Concord University.

A registered Republican, he and his wife have donated $13,000 to Justice’s campaign since 2016, including $5,000 for his inauguration.

Chad Pennington

The beloved Marshall quarterback joined the board in July. The Tennessee native lead the Thundering Herd on an undefeated in 1999 that included a MAC championship and bowl win. He played in the NFL until 2010, and he and his wife Robin, also a Marshall grad, run their charitable 1st and 10 Foundation, which supports children in West Virginia, Tennessee and New York. His son Cole has committed to play football for the Thundering Herd for the Class of 2022.

Pennington is a registered Republican.