Big events scheduled Monday in Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. Monday is set to be a big day in Huntington with the official announcement that Marshall is joining the Sun Belt Conference and the naming of a new city police chief.

Brad Smith

The conference affiliation decision was first announced back on Friday after a meeting that involved Marshall president-elect Brad Smith and current President Jerome Gilbert.

Marshall’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday to vote on the conference affiliation question and then at 10 o’clock there’ll be a news conference with the commissioner of the Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill to announce the affiliation which is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2023.

Gill said Marshall will further strengthen the Sun Belt.

“Marshall’s football tradition and passionate fans bring a strong presence to the Sun Belt. Their natural rivals are in our footprint and make our East Division even more competitive than it already was. I am grateful to Marshall President Dr. Jerome Gilbert, Chairman of the Marshall Board of Governors Patrick Farrell and Interim Athletics Director Jeff O’Malley for their leadership during this process and look forward to working closely with President-Elect Brad D. Smith,” Gill said.

New chief

A new Huntington police chief will also be announced Monday.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams

There’s a special meeting of Huntington City Council set for 7:00 p.m. when Mayor Steve Williams is expected to present his choice for the chief’s job for council’s approval.

Williams has interviewed two finalists in recent weeks.

Karl Colder of Ashburn, Va., and Huntington Police Lt. Phil Watkins.

Colder has 32 years of experience with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), holding numerous leadership and investigative roles. He headed up the DEA’s efforts in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2018. He currently has a consulting business.

Watkins has been with the HPD for 22 years. He’s currently the Assistant Commander of Criminal Investigations Bureau, managing the department’s detectives.

The finalists were chosen by a citizen-based search committee. There were 16 original candidates for the job.

The person chosen by Williams will place retired Chief Ray Cornwell. Police Capt. Eric Corder was then named interim police chief on June 22.

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