MARTINSBURG, W.Va.—Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday announced the appointment of a leading member of the Eastern Panhandle business community to the West Virginia Board of Education.
Tina H. Combs, who is president and CEO of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, replaces Jenny N. Phillips who recently resigned, Tomblin’s office said in a news release.
The appointment to complete Phillips’ unexpired nine-year term is effective immediately, Tomblin’s office said.
"With education as one of my top priorities, I believe it’s vital to have the best State Board of Education possible, and today, I appointed a new member who I believe will serve our children well,” Gov. Tomblin said in a statement.
“Tina has a long-standing record of service to our state’s education system, and I believe her many years of leadership and community service will be a major asset to the State Board. I look forward to working with Tina and the rest of the State Board as we work together to ensure our children are prepared for successful careers in a 21st century economy.”
Combs is the first Berkeley County resident to serve on the 12-member board since the late N. Blaine Groves served in the 1990s, according to Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon.
“I’m very happy about Tina (being appointed),” Arvon said.
Arvon lauded Combs’ leadership with the school district’s business partnership program and partnership with school officials on several other initiatives, including new teacher orientation, levies and voter-supported school construction efforts.
”She has been a key community figure in the education system of Berkeley County,” Arvon said.
Phillips’ term is set to expire in 2016, according to a state Department of Education announcement, which was released when she was appointed in 2007.
Senate Majority Leader John Unger II, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, said Combs’ appointment is “great news” for the Eastern Panhandle, which now has two of the state’s 10 largest school districts. With more than 18,000 students, Berkeley County Schools is second only to Kanawha County.
“We need to make sure we have somebody at the table looking out for us, our interests in the Eastern Panhandle,” Unger said Friday.
Unger said he nominated Combs for a seat on the board after Tomblin contacted him about the board’s vacancies.
“I’m honored to be appointed by Gov. Tomblin,” Combs said Friday night. “Education truly is the foundation to our state’s success and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the board.”
Appointments to the state Board of Education are made by the governor through the advisement and consent of the state Senate, said Unger, who commended the governor for his decision to appoint Combs.
Two vacancies were created earlier this month when Phillips and Priscilla Haden followed through on vows to resign from the board last month following the firing of state school superintendent Jorea Marple in November.
Aside from her work with Berkeley County Schools, Combs also has served as chair of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College Board of Governors and president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Executives and was a chairwoman of Region VII Workforce Investment Board. Combs has led the chamber of commerce for nearly nine years.