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Preston Commission hires facilities manager

Preston County’s new facility manager is ready to hit the ground running later this month.

“I’m so happy for a, you know, Preston County-born-and-raised fella to get to come and serve the county and serve the commissioners and to try to do a great job, you know, maintaining their buildings to be safe, functional and comfortable,” Terry “Joe” LaRue told The Dominion Post.

LaRue was hired by the Preston County Commission at its regular meeting on Tuesday. The facilities coordinator position is one of two positions created to split the duties of County Administrator Kathy Mace, who is retiring at the end of June. He will start April 18 and earn $55,000 a year plus benefits.

“What a process and how blessed we were to have very, very, very qualified applicants for this position,” Commission President Samantha Stone said. “It was a breath of fresh air to see such qualifications coming before the commission.”

Especially when so many places are having trouble hiring, Commissioner Dave Price added.

Six candidates applied for the facilities manager position and two applied with the intent of filling both roles, as Mace does now. The other position, county coordinator, is being re-advertised.

What made LaRue stand out, Stone said, was the number of certifications he has combined with his work experience.

“We believe that with his qualifications and experience that it will eliminate, not completely, but helps offset the cost of some of the contracts that we’ve had to maintain, because he should have and be able to take a look at some of the issues at hand and fix them on-site versus calling in someone under contract,” Stone said.

LaRue was born in Preston County at the old Kingwood Hospital, lived near Terra Alta for about 30 years and has lived in Kingwood for the past 20.

When he saw the job posting, he thought it would be a great opportunity with his licenses and experience. Maintenance takes a wide variety of skills to deal with the different problems.

“It almost seems like I’ve been preparing for this job my whole life,” LaRue said. “And since I live right in Kingwood, it’d be very, very close to home. And being 50, that’s very important to me at this point.”

LaRue is a master plumber, master electrician and licensed HVAC technician. His career started in construction in Garrett County, Md., as a plumber. He then moved on to electrical and finally HVAC.

He spent 10 years at Camp Dawson, which has 47 buildings from different eras — from World War I to a modern 500-room hotel. 

“That was an amazing experience for me and my career, you know, to work, in such a place that you could, you could see the wide spectrum of buildings and issues and problems,” LaRue said.

That mirrors the county which also has historical buildings to maintain alongside newly built ones.

LaRue said he’s always had a great love for historic buildings and the county has plenty, such as the courthouse and McGrew House.

“I thought it was amazing that I would have the opportunity to work, like you said, you know, right, in my hometown, basically, because after 20 years, it’s basically your hometown, and get to help the county commissioners to maintain those historic structures and still make them functional and safe and presentable to the, to the public.”

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