CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — West Virginia Governor Jim Justice requested and received the resignation of Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher Thursday, a news release confirms.
“I consider Woody a friend, and he’s done a solid job in the area of economic development,” Justice said in the release. “Thrasher expressed to me that recent media attention had distracted from what he believed was his core mission, economic development and business opportunities for West Virginia.”
Justice added that he hopes the resignation allows the state to turn its attention to the full recovery of all of the 2016 flood victims. The governor had announced earlier in the month that a restructuring of the Commerce Department, including terminations, would happen. He also turned RISE WV flood recovery efforts over to the state's top military officer, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer.
Justice called it inexcusable that the people hit by the flood of June 2016 are still waiting for assistance.
Justice said he identified a problem with a change order to Horne LLP, the contractor hired to help with the RISE West Virginia program. Justice said he canceled a $17 million change order which would have benefited Horne. Instead, Justice said the contractor will now be paid between $9 million and $10 million, with $7 million to $8 million funneling back into flood relief.
In the release Thursday, Thrasher released a statement, saying he accepted the appointment of Commerce Secretary "because of my love for the state, and because of Governor Justice’s vision that West Virginia and its citizens should not settle for 50th."
"I want the governor and this state to be successful, and I welcome the opportunity to help any way I can in the future,” Thrasher said.