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Burl Sawyers


Burl Allan Sawyers (March 29, 1912-August 14, 2002) served eight and a half years as West Virginia road commissioner, and later served prison time for corruption in the execution of his duties. He was born at Smoot in Greenbrier County, and educated as an engineer. He lived most of his life in Charleston, where he once ran unsuccessfully for sheriff of Kanawha County.

Sawyers was first appointed state road commissioner on July 1, 1955, by Governor William Casey Marland, after serving as an administrative assistant to Marland. He lost the job February 1, 1957, when Governor Cecil Underwood, a Republican, named a member of his own party to the post. Sawyers was reappointed four years later by Democrat Wally Barron. Sawyers resigned as commissioner February 14, 1968, because of federal indictments against him, Governor Barron, Deputy State Road Commissioner Vincent J. Johnkoski, Finance and Administration Commissioner Truman Gore, longtime Barron friend Bonn Brown of Elkins, and Clarksburg auto dealer Fred Schroath. All were charged with conspiracy to take kickbacks and rigging state contracts. Barron was acquitted, but Sawyers and the others were convicted on August 30, 1968. Sawyers was sentenced to two years in federal prison and fined $5,000. Sawyers died in Putnam County.

Written by Tom D. Miller