Highland County Hires Building Official

Highland County officials have tapped local resident Josh Simmons to fill the building official position for the county. Simmons, a Highland native who was raised in Blue Grass, has been operating his own contracting business since 2008, having learned the trade early on by working with his family.

“Worked with my Dad doing electrical and plumbing for many years – working with my uncle and my Dad. My uncle was a carpenter and he taught me a lot on that end of it and my Dad did the plumbing and electrical – I learned a lot from him, then learned a lot more later on, on my own – worked in North Carolina for a little while, learned a lot,of my framing down there.”

Simmons will replace retiring Building and Zoning official Jim Whitelaw, however, he will not have to deal with zoning issues. He will serve as building inspector, erosion and sediment control administrator and E911 addressing coordinator, and county attorney Melissa Dowd will take on the duties of Zoning Administrator. Simmons likes the separation of responsibilities.

“Highland County has a unique thing, where in other areas, you have a different inspector for electrical, plumbing, and we have one, and on top of that, he also is the 911 address and he is the zoning administrator too, and the soil and erosion, which, that’s a lot under one cap.”

Simmons will begin the job in January.

“Jim’s going to show me the computer system and the proper procedures to do everything to start out with, hopefully the beginning of the year, and I think it will start out part time. There’s gonna be classes to get certified as an inspector, that’s going to take a lot longer than just a couple of weeks. Jim’s going to show me the office aspect of it and the forms and that kind of thing, but to be a certified inspector, that’s going to take classes, like you said, going to Richmond and getting certified – I have one year to do that.”

Having worked as a contractor, Simmons knows his visits to job sites aren’t always going to be welcomed.

“I know from working in the trade that when the building inspector comes, it’s not always a pleasant thing when he comes, but he has a job to do, and it’s for the benefit of the owners of the building and who the building’s going to be sold to, to make sure things are done correctly, and most people do that correctly. I’ve learned this in the business, call the inspector, call the office, they’re happy, I will be definitely happy to give advice and information to people that don’t know. If you have a question, it’s better to ask beforehand rather than have me come out there and there’s something wrong, and then you’re going to have to take the time to change it – ask ahead of time, those questions can be answered and you can do it right the first time. That’s the best advice I can give.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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