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Compensation for agency head too much

To persuade a total stranger that the head of an agency on aging in Wyoming County deserves a $300,000-plus compensation would seem more difficult than racing NASCAR blind-folded.

So where does Council on Aging Director Bob Graham get off defending the $301,728 he believes that he has earned running the agency's senior center?

"I'm taking all the risk of the CEO of a private company," said Graham.

Could it be that he is a bit dramatically grandiose in his view of the position?

It makes one wonder whether he's checked the salary of the president of the United States. He may have topped even that a bit.

Graham claimed Monday that his salary was only $185,000, although he did acknowledge the $300,000-plus level of income. It included a bonus of just under $35,000, plus vacation time, sick leave and funds from other unidentified sources.

Even Gov. Bob Wise is among several officials who have called for an investigation into Graham's salary and also the system by which county agency directors' salaries are established.

There's little doubt that Graham may work as hard as many CEOs, but it's highly unlikely that others in similar positions in West Virginia, who work just as hard, take in compensation anywhere near his income. Then what would set him apart from the rest?

Graham insists that his pay should not be compared with that of directors of smaller agencies. He argues that Wyoming County's system is West Virginia's largest in-home service provider and believes it to be the fifth-largest case management agency in the state.

Furthermore, "in some circumstances, working on weekends-holidays over 40 hours" contributed to his pay, he said. In addition, his contract allows him, when he leaves the agency, to collect $241,000 in sick leave pay he claims that he has accumulated over 20 years.

At Graham's request, the Council on Aging's board apparently earmarked the sick leave money in 2001 from a $600,000 agency surplus generated by Medicaid reimbursements and other federal and state sources, tax records showed.

The director on aging termed "not viable" Gov. Wise's order for Bureau of Senior Services Commissioner Ann Stottlemyer to compare the Wyoming council's services with those provided by other centers.

Graham said the Council on Aging and the All Care Home Council aren't controlled by state or county government, but that decisions regarding service, pay and related matters are all determined on the local level. Is he denying that at least part of his compensation is from the taxpayers?

He blames the media for the controversy surrounding his salary. So what else is new?

Again, maybe Graham is a busy man with many responsibilities. But there are those who work equally hard. But $300,000-plus compensation? Get real.

Robert F. Stealey