WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Board of Education swore in a new member at its Monday meeting.
G. Robert Cunningham, 44, of Winfield, was appointed to serve out the remainder of the four-year term Deborah Phillips was elected to serve in 2010. Phillips resigned in September.
"I'm very humbled and honored to have this opportunity," Cunningham said after taking the oath of office.
Cunningham will serve until the end of next June. The board got 11 applications, plus two that came in late. Board members met in a special meeting last Monday to interview candidates in a closed-door executive session.
"There were some people there, two or three of them, that we felt like had an agenda," Board President Butch Legg said, "something they wanted to pound their fist about, and we don't need those kinds of people.
"We need somebody that's interested in the students of this county."
He said Cunningham was the unanimous choice.
Cunningham has three children in Putnam County Schools, Hollie, 12; Jaxson, 8; and Caden, 6. They attend Winfield Middle and Elementary schools. His wife, Bridgett, is a nurse practitioner at Cabell-Huntington Hospital.
This is his first experience in public office, but for the last year he has served as president of Winfield Midget League football and the Mountain State Elite midget league conference.
"Running this midget league, I explained to them the day I took the job that I'm going to make decisions based on what's best for the majority of the kids, even if my kids aren't in the majority," he said.
He said he plans to take the same approach to serving on the school board.
"I think I can help shepherd this school system onto the high goals that they've set," he said.
Cunningham is a former state trooper and now works as a special agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Charleston.
"In my job, I have to make a lot of quick decisions, a lot of sound decisions," he said. "I think I could bring that to this board."
Cunnhinham graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy, and he also holds a bachelor's degree from Marshall University in finance and business law as well as an associate's degree in police science.
While he was a student at Marshall, he lettered in football three years between 1988 and 1991. He also played football at Winfield High School, where his team won the state championship his junior year.
And Superintendent Chuck Hatfield was his fourth grade teacher.
In other news, the board honored employees with 30, 35, and 40 years of service to the county. Among them was Hatfield, with 40 years of service
A potential cross-county consolidation of Buffalo elementary and Leon Elementary in Mason County did not appear on the agenda. After the meeting, Hatfield said the project was a no-go.
Hatfield said Mason County's board voted not to pursue the project and the Putnam board hadn't had any further discussions with Mason's board since they met in a joint executive session two weeks ago.
The Putnam County Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at the central office in Winfield. Meetings are open to the public.