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Harshbarger to leave Legislature, become policy director for natural gas company

Delegate Jason Harshbarger announced plans Wednesday to resign from the House of Delegates to take over as state policy director for a large natural gas producer.

Harshbarger, a Republican from Ritchie County, will officially resign at the end of the month. He will replace Bob Orndorff.

An employee of Dominion Energy for the past 14 years, Harshbarger said in a resignation letter he has decided to pursue a private-sector opportunity that “will unfortunately not allow me to continue my service in the House.”

According to a statement from Dominion, Orndorff will stay on as a lobbyist through the end of the 2020 legislative session before retiring, “mentoring Harshbarger for this new role.”

Harshbarger was among the sponsors of House Resolution 11, which praised the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a major natural gas project. The resolution also criticized citizen groups that have challenged the pipeline in court.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail, in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, reported in July that Orndorff actually wrote the resolution before passing it on to a delegate to introduce. As it was being drafted, Orndorff spent $575 taking five lawmakers — including Harshbarger — out to dine on Italian food.

Harshbarger said he attended the dinner “more as a social thing than anything.”

The constituent, Scott Windom, is a lawyer who has represented landowners and gas owners in legal fights against gas producers. In June, U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh rejected Harshbarger’s motion to dismiss the case, which is currently scheduled for a bench trial in October 2020.

When Harshbarger steps down, the Ritchie County GOP Executive Committee will submit three names to Gov. Jim Justice, who will choose one to replace Harshbarger.

Harshbarger was first elected to the House in 2016. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at

jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow

@jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.