CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Reports that National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman is a Spencer native are incorrect, said Kelly Nantel, the safety board's director of public affairs.
The Daily Mail first reported that Hersman is a Spencer native in April 2011, when she was in Charleston to discuss highway safety issues. When she was in Charleston for a hearing on pipeline safety last month, the paper reported she is a Roane County native. And in a Feb. 5 story that reported she is a leading candidate to be nominated secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Daily Mail repeated that she is a Spencer native.
But Nantel said in an email, "Both of Chairman Hersman's parents grew up in Spencer and went to Spencer High School (graduating in 1957 and 1958). Her father was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in 1961 but maintained residency in West Virginia during his time in the Air Force (until he retired in 1991). Her maternal and paternal grandparents and extended family are from Spencer and Roane County and throughout the years, she visited frequently.
"But Chairman Hersman was born at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 1970, and subsequently lived in Montgomery, Ala.; Edwards AFB, Calif.; Monterey, Calif.; Amman, Jordan; Montgomery, Ala.; Springfield, Va.; Hahn AFB, Germany; RAF Bentwaters-Woodbridge, England; Sembach Air Base, Germany; Torrejon Air Base, Spain; and Chantilly, Va., where she graduated from high school in 1988.
"From 1988-1992, she went to college at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., graduating in 1992," Nantel said.
"During the summers of 1990 and 1991, she worked as an intern for Congressman Bob Wise, D-W.Va. Spencer is in the congressional district.
"After college she moved to the Washington, D.C., area and worked for Congressman Wise full-time from 1992-1999.
"From 1999-2004, she worked for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Sen. (Fritz) Hollings, D-S.C., hired her and was the chairman/ranking member, however Sen. (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was a senior member of the committee during the time she worked there."
Hersman still lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Her parents are now retired in North Carolina, Nantel said.
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.