After 16 years, time to exit stage left

An "interim" appointment became a 16-year tenure representing Floyd County on a valuable program

In 2005, then-Indian Valley Supervisor Fred Gerald called me to ask if I would consider an appointment to the New River Valley Alcohol Safety Action Program board as the Floyd County administrator.

Gerald was aware of my long battle with alcoholism and he knew that I had accepted my 11-year “chip” of sobriety earlier in the year. I had also worked with the ASAP folks in Northern Virginia before moving to Floyd County after 23 years in Washington, DC.

He said the interim appointment should be a short one before the county found a more permanent member to represent the county. Courthouse Supervisor Jerry Boothe urged me to take it.

As a newspaperman, I requested the approval of Floyd Press editor Wanda Combs and the legal counsel of Media General, the owners of the paper. Both said serving on the board did not appear to present any conflicts of interest.

So I agreed to serve as an “interim” representative of the county as a member of the advisory board of the New River ASAP. When the initial interim term expired, I was asked to continue because no one else came forward. That became an act repeated over and over.

That was 16 years ago. At the end of June, I surrender my position with ASAP to Sarah Akers Campbell, a lady much younger than I but also one much more experienced, much more enthusiastic and, I’m sure, a much better representative of our county.

When assistant county administrator Cindy Ryan told me last week that Ms. Campbell had applied for the position, I gladly stepped aside. The youth and experience that she provides are both welcome and needed for such posts. Supervisors approved her appointment Tuesday night and thanked me for my time on the board.

Ms. Campbell is director of the Floyd/Radford Witness Protection program, which makes her a perfect fit for a board that includes lawyers, prosecutors, police chiefs, and others in the profession.

As a Floyd County resident, I congratulate her for stepping forward. As the person she replaces, I am relieved. I enjoyed the position and tried to help all that I could but I was there too long, am too old and the job needs her youth, experience, and enthusiasm.

Next month, I will attend a meeting of my AA group and accept a 27-year chip (actually a bronze coin) for continued sobriety, and I will probably talk about my experiences as an ASAP board member, without invading anyone’s privacy. I have written often about my alcoholism and recovery efforts.

Looking back, the 16 years on the ASAP board were often invigorating, educational, and provided a sense of accomplishment. I was honored to help interview and select the executive director who retired last year and the one that replaced her. The program helps a lot of people deal with addiction to alcohol and other substances.

Good luck, Sarah, and thank you.

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© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse