WAYNESBURG – A couple of longtime voices on the Greene County Board of Commissioners will be silenced Monday and replaced by two candidates – a retired Marine colonel and school nurse – who ran on a message of overhauling county government.
Archie Trader and David Coder served a combined 27 years on the board and worked as Greene County experienced an upheaval in the coal mining industry and a deadly heroin epidemic.
Their departures will hand the majority of the board to Republicans Mike Belding and Betsy Rohanna McClure, who ran together in the November election promising a big shakeup. Belding, a retired Marine, and Rohanna McClure, who works as a school nurse in the Trinity Area School District, will be sworn in during a courthouse ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday.
Both Trader and Coder said they are proud of their work to improve recreation options, increase staffing for social services, help to boost the natural gas industry and attempt to provide economic development in the rural county.
Coder, a Democrat, first won election in 1995 and served until 2010, when he took a position as deputy district director for former Congressman Mark Critz. He later worked as state Rep. Pam Snyder’s chief of staff before returning to the board of commissioners in 2016.
He is especially proud of the formation of the Greene River Trail, a five-mile biking and walking path along the Monongahela River near Rices Landing that is being extended. He also pointed to the courthouse and county jail expansions, along with construction of a water park, food bank and humane society.
“Boy, the county has changed since 1996 when I first walked in,” Coder said. “I could go on and on about stuff that I look at and am extremely proud of. Just the way we do business in the county. We’ve really brought it up, and we’re a model throughout the state.”
Trader, a Republican, has served three consecutive terms since first winning election in 2007, along with eight years on the Central Greene School Board before that.
He is most proud of adding security to the county courthouse while also increasing the county’s Human Services department by 10 workers to battle the fallout from the opioid crisis, all while holding property taxes steady during his tenure. Trader also touted the natural gas industry and what it’s meant for the county.
“It’s been a big boost for us, really,” Trader said. “I know people are saying, ‘Maybe you just maintain (county government).’ Well, we did more than maintain.”
Commissioner Blair Zimmerman, a Democrat who has led the board for the past four years, won re-election but will now become the minority member. Zimmerman fondly recalled the past four years that he said was an amicable working relationship.
“I think the world of them. They tried to do what was best for the county,” Zimmerman said. “I think we did good stuff for the county. At the end of the day, I’m proud of it.”
Trader said he plans to retire, although he’ll continue to work on his chicken farm in Washington Township. Coder said he’s self-employed and still trying to figure out what he’ll do after leaving office, although he plans to remain in Greene County.
Both said they enjoyed working together and feel that the county is heading in the right direction.
“There are some promising things happening,” Coder said. “I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to move forward in a positive light. We’ve worked hard to do that and are really pleased.”
“I love Greene County, and I love the people here,” Trader added. “They’ve been very, very supportive over the years. I just thank them for the support they’ve given us.”