Huntington – For the second time in just over six months, the Cabell County Commission is apparently searching for a new County Administrator. That news was confirmed Thursday afternoon by two of the three Cabell County Commissioners. County Managers (or Administrators) are direct employees of the County Commission.
Commissioner Liza Caldwell did not return calls asking if County Administrator Ben Newhouse was still employed Thursday.
The state Open Meetings Act forbids a quorum of county commissioners from meeting to discuss official matters without public notice. According to state Ethics Manager Kim Weber, it is also a violation for commissioners to discuss issues by mail or in writing without public notice.
The most recent publicly-noticed Cabell Commission meeting was held last week.
But yesterday (Wednesday) a “work session” with all three commissioners present was advertised at the courthouse according to Commissioner John Mandt, Jr.
Although the issue that brought debate was not on the work agenda, a disagreement apparently arose.
According to various sources, the disagreement centered on payment of more than $2,000 for tents for an Employee Appreciation Picnic held at the courthouse.
Those who heard what they called “loud voices” said the tent rental had apparently not been approved in advance by the commission.
The sources said it was apparent that Newhouse felt the bill should be paid. Sobonya and Mandt evidently did not favor payment while Caldwell offered no opinion.
This discussion took place in various locations before Newhouse “loaded his belongings and left.”
Mandt said he “assumed” Newhouse had quit.
Ben Newhouse served as Hurricane City Manager from 2005 to 2019. He was with the Coalfield Development Corporation from 2019 to 2020. He was a Community Development for the City of Huntington from 2020 to January of this year when he became County Manager. He is the husband of Jennifer Wheeler – Newhouse, candidate for Huntington Mayor.