103rd American Legion Post 8 Birthday Celebration This Saturday

WELCH, W.Va. – The American Legion Post 8 in Welch, WV under the leadership of Commander Bobby McKinney announces their Annual 103 Birthday Dinner.

The celebration will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Post 8 Home on lower McDowell Street, Welch, WV beginning at 6 p.m.

The Birthday Dinner will be a celebration of the American Legion as well as time for recognizing an outstanding Fireman, Policeman, Educator, and Citizen for 2022.

The American Legion Post 8 is much honored to announce that Bob McKinney became the 103rd Commander of McDowell American Legion Post 8 in July 2021.

Commander McKinney will serve as Post 8 Commander for the 2021-2022 year.

Policeman of the Year 2022

The American Legion Post 8, Welch has chosen Timothy Vineyard as Policeman of the Year 2022.
Timothy E. Vineyard started his law enforcement career with the Town of Keystone. He graduated from the State Police Academy and has worked for several police departments in McDowell County including, Keystone, Northfork, Gary and Iaeger.

He worked for the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy and retired after twenty years of service. Mr. Vineyard was hired by the City of Welch as an Assistant Chief of Police and was promoted and currently serves as Chief of Police.

Vineyard is married to Jennifer Vineyard and he is the father of three children, Channing, Sydney and Kendra. He has one granddaughter, Carmon Vineyard.

Mr. Vineyard serves the Welch Police Department with pride and proudly demonstrates the police motto Protect and Serve. He has truly made an impact in the City of Welch by his leadership and dedication.

Fireman of the Year 2022

The American Legion Post 8, Welch has chosen Rusty Wyatt as Fireman of the Year 2022.
Rusty Wyatt, a lifelong resident Welch, has been chosen as Fireman of the Year.

Rusty and his wife Laura has a son Tanner that is also a member of Welch Fire Department, and a daughter Lexi Wyatt.

Rusty’s parents are Randy and Kathy Wyatt of Welch. Rusty started in the fire service at the age of 16 as a junior fireman for Welch Volunteer Fire Department. He has been there for over 20 years and has taken numerous classes for the fire service.

He is enrolled for the Fire Officer 1 and 2 classes coming up in May.

Rusty is currently employed at Welch Community Hospital as Director of Plant Operations.

Professional Citizen of the Year 2022

The American Legion Post 8, Welch has chosen Robin Pruitt as their Professional Citizen of the Year 2022.

Robin Pruitt, residing in Welch since 1972, attended public schools in McDowell County, graduating from Mount View High School in 1980. She then went on to complete higher education at Concord University, Marshall University and West Virginia University.

After graduation, Robin returned to Welch to begin her 38 years of practice as a social worker. Having worked and retired from Welch Community Hospital in July 2020, she then began a career with Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center as Director of Clinic Services, overseeing therapists and case managers to which she currently maintains. Robin continues her work as an adjunct faculty member at Concord University having taught Junior and Senior social work for the WV Bureau for Children and Families sharing her expertise in Family Foster Care.

During her years as a professional social worker, Robin has offered her expertise to many professional organizations throughout McDowell County including past Board President for the McDowell County Ambulance Authority, current Board member for the McDowell County Commission on Aging, past founding Board member for Stop the Hurt, Inc., past founding Board member for Stop Abusive Family Environments, Inc., past Board member for McDowell County 911, past member of McDowell County FACES, and past Board member for Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center. Robin also coordinated and co-coordinated McDowell County’s Relay for Life under the auspices of the American Cancer Society. Throughout her years as a social worker and citizen of McDowell County, Robin has led, and sponsored, drives for the McDowell County Humane Society, SAFE, Inc., and flood victims.
In addition, Robin has been involved in Trinity Temple’s Youth Leadership program for approximately 10 years whereas youth members participated throughout McDowell County in Youth Rallies, presentations, community events, and won several 1st and 2nd place awards for floats in Welch’s Veteran’s Day Parade.

In 2021, Robin was chosen by her social work peers throughout the State of WV to receive the 2020 Direct Practice Catalyst Award by the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. In accepting this award, Robin offered these words as quoted by the Welch News, “It has been a pleasure and a blessing to have practiced social work in McDowell County, where its people are resilient and have such strength for overcoming.” As we carry on in the face of difficult (COVID) times, I challenge you to continue to build bridges as you cross them, continuing helping to sharpen the natural strengths of people you serve, continue working to remove barriers and always strive to produce environments which enhance the well-being of McDowell County’s people.

As a result of her work and dedication to the well-being of McDowell County’s citizens through her professional and personal work, and continues to work to advocate for the people of McDowell County, the Forty & Eight has selected, and awarded Robin Pruitt as our Professional Citizen of the Year.

Educator of the Year 2022

The American Legion has chosen Stephen Patrick Ford as Educator of the Year 2022.

Stephen Patrick Ford was born in Bluefield, WV on August 15, 1990. He is the son of Steve and Sherry Ford of Welch. Stephen graduated from Mount View High School in 2008 and attended Concord University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry. Stephen began his teaching career at Mount View High School in 2014.

Stephen married Elizabeth Coole Ford in July of 2016. They currently reside in Welch and have two children, Greyson (3) and Emberleigh (1).

In 2016, Stephen moved to Mount View Middle School and began teaching 8th grade math, where his students flourished under his instruction. Stephen often had very high test scores and his students made great educational gains under his instruction. Stephen recently began teaching Physical Education and Health and is currently working towards his Master’s Degree in education through the University of Phoenix.

During his teaching career, Stephen has been involved in numerous extracurricular activities. He was the Mount View High School Volleyball coach for six years from 2014-2019. Stephen is currently involved in the HSTA program and the After-School program at the middle school. He also tutors for the Upward Bound Program at Concord University.

Stephen is an exemplary teacher. He helps his students succeed by drawing on their strengths and interests. He explains things carefully and builds on teachable moments. Mr. Ford remains one of the most popular teachers at Mount View Middle School.