Former legislator receives state award

WELLSBURG – Former state Delegate Roy Givens got a call this week from Brooke County Commissioner Tim Ennis.

Would he come down to the county courthouse at 4 p.m. Friday to help the commissioners complete a grant application, Ennis asked.

It was not the first time for a local official to approach Givens for help and as in the past, he was ready and willing to assist.

But when Givens entered the courtroom of the county courthouse, he was surprised to find it filled with former fellow legislators, state, county and municipal leaders, past and present, and many other community members whom he has aided in his more than 30 years of public service.

The many attending included Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who presented to Givens the Distinguished West Virginian Award, the highest honor bestowed by the governor to a West Virginian.

Tomblin and Ennis, a former state Delegate who began his career in public service with Givens, noted Givens served in the state House of Delegates for 26 years, setting a record for service there.

In that time, he served under seven governors, from Jay Rockefeller to Tomblin, and five House speakers and secured $60 million for local roads, including the four-lane expansion of state Route 2 north of the Market Street Bridge as well as funds for many other projects, programs and organizations.

They included the Brooke County Public Library, for which he helped secure $400,000 for its 2003 expansion; the Brooke County Pioneer Trail, Brooke County 4-H Camp, Brooke County Senior Center and local police and fire departments.

An Army medic in the Korean War, Givens headed the House committee on veterans affairs that secured funds for the construction of the state’s first veterans nursing home in Clarksburg, and with state Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, worked for the establishment of the West Virginia Woman Veterans Memorial at the State Capitol Complex.

Givens also co-sponsored legislation providing for free license plates for West Virginia veterans who were prisoners of war as well as the West Virginia Lemon Law, which offers protections for buyers of used vehicles.

Ennis said Givens encouraged legislators representing the state’s uppermost counties to meet regularly as the Northern Panhandle Caucus, an informal group that worked together to secure funds for the region.

“Roy always felt if something positive happened in the Northern Panhandle, it benefited the entire Northern Panhandle,” Ennis said.

“Whenever we had a check or this or that, we all tried to get together to present it,” added Givens.

While between terms in the House, Givens volunteered as a project coordinator for the Brooke County Commission for four years. In that time, he helped with the transfer of buildings and property donated by the Windsor Coal Co. to the county for use by the county’s new animal shelter, emergency management agency and solid waste authority recycling program.

He also secured grants to replace the courthouse’s roof and boilers and served as local coordinator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Buyout program, through which eligible victims of the 2004 flood received money to relocate from flood-prone areas.

Ennis noted Givens’ first stint in government office was on the Brooke County Board of Education, where the first several months of his 10-year tenure was spent finalizing the completion of Brooke High School.

In addition to many legislative committees, he has served on the Committee for Employer Support of the West Virginia Guard and Reserve, which promotes fair treatment of employees who serve the military part-time; Brooke County Committee on Aging, which oversees the senior center; and boards for the Brooke County West Virginia University Extension Service, Greater Weirton Junior Achievement and other organizations.

After he was presented a plaque and pin designating him a Distinguished West Virginian, Givens said he must share credit for the recognition.

“I couldn’t have served in the legislature or any of the offices I had without the support of my wife, Delores, and family. They were always behind me in everything I wanted to do,” he said.

Givens added, “I’ve enjoyed working with all of these people – all of the public officials and legislators here.”

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