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Agriculture Commissioner Walter Dolph (“Walt”) Helmick, born April 25, 1944, in Webster Springs, received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Institute of Technology (now WVU Institute of Technology). In 1988, Helmick, a Democrat, was elected to the House of Delegates, and served one year before his appointment to a vacant seat in the state Senate where he served 24 years. He was chairman of the Senate finance committee for eight years.

Helmick owns a number of businesses, including a natural spring water company that operates on a 200-acre farm in Minnehaha Springs, Pocahontas County. The company is called Allegheny Enterprises, after Allegheny Lodge, which once operated there, and its house brand is called “Minnehaha Mist.” Helmick hopes to use the profits from the water company to rebuild the lodge, which burned in 1983.

Several candidates entered the race for agriculture commissioner following Gus Douglass’s announcement in 2011 that he would retire and not seek reelection. West Virginia law dictates that the state agriculture commissioner be a “practical farmer,” and Helmick’s opponents said he did not meet the requirement. A Kanawha Circuit judge ruled that Helmick could stay in the race, saying the Legislature overstepped its bounds by imposing restrictions on who could run for the office. Helmick won the race and was inaugurated on January 14, 2013. In November 2016, he lost his bid for reelection.

He and his wife, Rita, live in Charleston and Minnehaha Springs.

Last Revised on November 21, 2016

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Walt Helmick." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2016. Web. 22 June 2018.

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