By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
Michele Fluharty has been a familiar face in Mannington for quite some time.
Having grown up in Mannington, Fluharty said the city has always had a lot to offer its community members.
“It is a community-based town,” Fluharty said. “If you need something, there is always somebody there ready to help you.”
For the past several years, Fluharty has been instrumental in bridging the gap between residents in the community and city officials. She has served as Mannington’s city clerk since 1979. In that time, Fluharty said she has come to know the ins and outs of the city’s people, officials, organizations, boards, commissions and volunteers.
“The city clerk is the first person they see when they come here to City Hall,” Fluharty said. “I get familiar with everybody in town.”
And as elected officials of the city change with the years, Fluharty’s familiar face provides a sense of comfort to residents.
“It creates some continuity,” Fluharty said. “They know there’s somebody that’s been here and knows what’s happened in the past. They feel like they can come in and ask me things or tell me things and I’ll try to help them get something accomplished if I can.”
Being the city clerk puts Fluharty in position to involve herself with several organizations in the community, many of which she interacts with on a regular basis.
“It’s a small town, so if you’re active in one thing you’re active in a lot of things,” Mannington City Council member Becky Williams said. “She works with all the different groups that work through the city. She is involved with it all.”
Fluharty said she attends all the city’s sanitary board meetings and is the secretary of the planning commission.
“The people on the board are mainly private citizens, so it helps that I can tell them what the laws are and about some of my experiences with the people,” Fluharty said.
Currently, Fluharty said the planning commission is updating the city’s comprehensive plan.
“It’s a blueprint for the future of the city,” Fluharty said.
Fluharty said the comprehensive plan is updated every 10 years to reflect new visions for the community.
“A lot of things in the original comprehensive plan have been accomplished, so now we’re coming up with new things we’d like to see happen,” she said.
Fluharty said she thinks most residents would like to see additional businesses come to Mannington to draw people to the downtown area.
In addition, Fluharty serves on Mannington’s Fourth of July Committee.
“That has been a fun involvement,” Fluharty said. “It’s really turned into a big event.”
Fluharty helps oversee the organization of the celebration, including fundraising, activities downtown and at the park, the parade and the fireworks display.
Fluharty is also involved in the coordination of the community’s Veterans’ Dinner, which is held every Veterans Day at the North Marion Senior Center, complete with a meal and guest speakers.
Another major project Fluharty was instrumental in was the completion of the Mannington Public Library’s outdoor classroom in 2007.
As a member of the Outdoor Classroom Committee, Fluharty, along with the City of Mannington, Mannington Main Street, Promise For Kids and the Mannington Public Library, was able to secure furnishings and education and recreational equipment for the classroom.
And any time another organization, such as Main Street Mannington, is in need of assistance, Fluharty is a willing and dependable volunteer.
“I’m not a member, but if they need anything I’m always helping out,” Fluharty said.
Fluharty said she thoroughly enjoys being at the heart of the community she grew up in and having her hand in a variety of its projects.
“It’s my hometown, so I like to do what I can to improve it and make it better for the future,” she said. “When you’re having fun doing it, it doesn’t seem like a job.”
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.