After serving as a Kanawha County commissioner for 42 years, Hoppy Shores has decided not to seek reelection to his post.
Shores, a Republican, will serve out the remainder of his seventh term in office, which expires at the end of this year.
Shores and his wife, Bronson, thanked their friends, family and the citizens of Kanawha County for their support over the years, the commissioner said in an emailed statement.
“For the last 42 years, I have been honored and humbled to serve the Kanawha County citizens as your County Commissioner,” Shores wrote.
In his final year with the Commission, Shores said he intends to finish his work on projects at Yeager Airport and continue repairs to storm damage at Big Bend Golf Course. He said he hopes to see the Shawnee Sports Complex continue to thrive. He said he’s proud of the work he and the other commissioners have accomplished.
Among some of those accomplishments was pushing the expansion of water service to more county residents and keeping interest rates low for first-time homebuyers in 1979, when rates skyrocketed for those looking to settle and establish roots.
Shores also was heavily involved in promoting the county’s parks and recreational areas like Coonskin Park, where the clubhouse, tennis courts and picnic areas all were expanded or established during his tenure.
In 2006, when the small train that once carried children around Coonskin Park to see the lights over the Christmas holidays was deemed unsuitable, Shores set to work to find a replacement that would hold children and their parents. With the help of many, Hoppy’s Little Express was born and Shores himself served as its conductor on many occasions.
“At the end of the day, when I look in a child’s eyes, and see a smile, it warms my heart to know that I was able to give them a new playground, park, baseball field or a train ride at Christmas on Hoppy’s Little Express. It’s all about the children,” Shores wrote. “Bronson and I look forward to being with our children, grandchildren and our newest addition, great-granddaughter, Shores.”
Hoppy Shores was born in Dunbar during the Great Depression. His parents died when he was young and he moved to Charleston’s West Side to live with his sister.
Shores was a standout athlete at Stonewall Jackson High School, where he played on the 1947 state championship football team and ran track. Stonewall was where he got his first real taste of politics, when he served as senior class president. He would also serve as class president at West Virginia University.
After graduating from WVU with a degree in business, Shores spent his career in insurance. He also served in the U.S. Army.
He ran for his first term in 1966 after a late-night phone call from prominent Charleston attorney Cleo Jones, according to newspaper archives. Jones urged Shores to run. Despite Shores’ objections and after two hours of prodding, Shores agreed — and won.
Shores served his initial term, from 1966 until 1972, and then another from 1978 to 1984. He also served in the House of Delegates from 1986 to 1990. He was elected again to the Kanawha County Commission in 1991 and has held the seat since.
“I have decided to allow others to have the opportunity to serve as Kanawha County Commissioner and that is the primary reason I have decided not to run, despite the numerous phone calls from supporters and overwhelming show of support to me to seek a new term,” Shores wrote. “I intend to work every day to the last day, last hour, and last minute of my term. Thank you for allowing me to serve you!”
As of Friday, those who have filed to seek a term on the County Commission are Republicans Lance Wheeler and Dewayne Duncan, and Democrats Mark Hunt and Greg Childress. The deadline to file candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s Office was Saturday.