CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Wednesday’s Harrison County Commission meeting devolved into raised voices and a series of accusations, before being abruptly adjourned.
Commissioner David Hinkle joined the meeting virtually, while Commissioners Patsy Trecost and Susan Thomas were present in the commission chambers.
Things got contentious when Hinkle explained why he wasn’t in the room, referencing threats he said he received last week. At that point, commission attorney Trey Simmerman asked that the commissioners “extend each other courtesy and respect” during the meeting.
“Why don’t you fire him (Simmerman)? He doesn’t need to be there either after the threat that he made me,” Hinkle responded.
That exchange can be heard in the video below:
Commissioners were discussing the idea of forming a committee to explore plans for the county to fund several projects, including an ice rink, a pickleball court, an animal control facility and a youth barn complex, when Hinkle objected to who may be taking the credit for these projects, describing Thomas as “come Johnny lately.”
Trecost responded that the ideas for the projects came from citizens.
That portion of the back and forth can be heard here:
“Patsy, you are the politician of all politicians. That was the biggest bunch of horse crap I think I’ve ever heard you spit,” Hinkle shot back.
“I’ve had it with you two! Your attorney (Simmerman) threatened me in executive session,” Hinkle said to Trecost and Thomas.
“I’m strongly going to encourage you not to do this Commissioner Hinkle,” Simmerman implored.
“I really don’t care. You had better just suck it up buddy, because I’m tired of you guys treating me like some second class commissioner,” Hinkle retorted to Simmerman.
Hinkle claimed that Simmerman told him that he would face a harassment charge if he did not stop pursuing accusations that a Harrison County employee had “defrauded” the county. “Those two commissioners (Trecost and Thomas) sitting at that desk know damn well that they should’ve asked for an investigation,” Hinkle went on.
Simmerman then told Hinkle he was “strongly going to encourage you again not to do this.”
“If you think that I’m going to stand for this s— from you all, it’s not going to happen. Maybe the public needs to know that this is one crooked bunch of commissioners and attorney up there, when they can sit there and threaten another commissioner, in him doing his job, trying to find out why somebody was picked up on commission time with a commission truck and brought to work; why we have been working on private property with no paperwork, nothing to prove that we have permission, and you guys just sit there and let it go,” Hinkle continued.
Simmerman again tried to stop Hinkle, to which the commissioner replied: “shut your mouth, I don’t want to hear it!”
Trecost then called for the meeting to be adjourned, which it was. After the adjournment, Hinkle said: “Patsy Trecost is a liar!” before his audio was shut off.
You can hear much of the above exchange in the video below:
During the meeting, Hinkle also said that the commission had spread gravel on private property next to where Trecost lives and that Trecost “or someone” owes the commission for the labor of spreading the gravel. Hinkle also said that county dollars were spent on an extension pipe project in Salem, that was on state property.
Prior to the meeting’s fireworks, former Harrison County Administrator Willie Parker addressed the commission during the public comment period. In his comments, Parker said that he had been asking for a meeting with the commission to address “a possibility of misappropriation of funds” and an investigation into that possibility, but that he had not received a response.
In April 2021, Trecost and Thomas voted to fired Parker, while Hinkle voted against the move.
After the adjournment Wednesday, Trecost quickly left the meeting and Thomas and Simmerman declined to comment further.
Wednesday’s meeting was not the first time tensions ran high between the current group of county commissioners.