NEW INFO: W.Va. High Court Upholds Archives Firing

By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 6/18/12
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's Supreme Court has upheld the 2007 firing of longtime Archives and History Director Fred Armstrong.

Tuesday's unanimous decision agreed with earlier rulings that found Armstrong failed to show that his firing violated a substantial public policy.

Armstrong had overseen Archives and History since 1985. But he was also an at-will employee and not protected by the state's civil service system when Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith fired him in November 2007. Reid-Smith did not tell Armstrong why he was fired.

Tuesday's opinion notes that the commissioner later testified that he felt Armstrong was not a team player and difficult to get along with. Reid-Smith also considered Armstrong insubordinate for objecting to such decisions as a plan to put a restaurant in the state Culture Center.

UPDATE 12/26/08
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The "interim" tag is being removed from Joe Geiger's title.

The Huntington native will become director of the state Division of Culture and History's Archives and History Section effective Jan. 1.

He will be responsible for administering the state archives, archives library, historical collections and the database for the Veterans Memorial.

He has been interim director since November 2007, when longtime director Fred Armstrong was fired without explanation.

Geiger had been assistant director since 1998, and served as the office's historian and Web master.

UPDATE 12/2/07
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It seems like giving an award to someone that was just fired doesn't make much sense. But that's exactly what happened Sunday in Putnam County.

Members of the West Virginia Historical Society honored Fred Armstrong with the Virgil A. Lewis award.
Armstrong was the WV archivist director before losing his job last month.

Armstrong says receiving this award is bitter sweet. "I'm humbled as I said...I'm also a little bit embarrassed because I never expected to be as I said the red nose on the reindeer pointing this out."

The historical society is the same group that protested outside the Capitol over Armstrong's dissmisal.

UPDATE 11/10/07
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- They meet to talk about history but Saturday the topic turned to Fred Armstrong. Armstrong was the director of State Archives for more than two decades.

Members of the group "Mining Your History" say Fred Armstrong was fired because he was trying to protect history.

The Manchin administration wants to move the archives in with the state library. Things in the library can be taken home. Archive items cannot.

One supporter said, " You don't mix lending library information and archive library information together because somebody could walk out with a very valuable book."

Others are opposed to having food in the same building where the archives are located.

"You don't put food into archival places because the food is going to draw very vermin and rodents which are going to attack the archival records."

Supporters say Armstrong was standing up for the preservation of the states history and now it's under attack.

UPDATE 11/9/07
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- His job was to preserve the memories of the state, but now he is a memory.

Fred Armstrong was fired last week. For decades Armstrong was West Virginia's State Director of Archives.

After serving the state for years Armstrong was given a termination letter last week and told to leave the building immediately.

Armstrong was a familiar and friendly face in the capitol. He thinks he was let go because he did not want to move the states archives to make room for a new cafeteria.

Friday, we asked Governor Joe Manchin about Armstrong's abrupt departure. Manchin said current laws prevent dismissals from happening any other way.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Fred Armstrong spent his career building the state's historical records. He doesn't understand why he was abruptly fired from his job as Archives and History director.

Armstrong says he received a letter of termination Thursday morning at a meeting with Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith. Armstrong says no reason was given but the letter directed him to immediately leave the state Cultural Center at the Capitol Complex.

Armstrong had served Archives and History director since 1985.

He says he doesn't know why he was fired, and he's bitter about the way his dismissal was handled. He says a security guard came to escort him out of the building.

Reid-Smith was out of town yesterday afternoon. Culture and History spokeswoman Jacqueline Proctor couldn't be reached for comment and Manchin spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said she couldn't comment because it was a personnel matter.

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