CHARLESETON -– Gov. Joe Manchin has announced that his longtime friend and chief of staff, Larry Puccio, will return to operating his private business in January after five years of overseeing remarkable and historic progress in state government.

"This state has made incredible strides in the last several years with the help and direction of Larry Puccio in the Governor's Office," the governor said. "Over the years, Larry has given up a lot of family time, business time and personal time for this job and I owe him a great deal of gratitude for the success we've had in moving West Virginia ahead."

The governor said Puccio's knowledge, professionalism and commitment to the job has been a tremendous service to not only him, but the people of West Virginia. Manchin added that Puccio's length of service as a full-time chief of staff - nearly nine years, including time when Manchin was Secretary of State - is a rarity at the chief of staff level.

Manchin said it is characteristic of Puccio to see to it that his departure is carefully and thoughtfully planned by putting in place a strong senior staff and cabinet team, allowing for a very smooth transition. The governor said he will name Puccio's replacement in the coming weeks.

"Larry has worked diligently to ensure there are no surprises when he steps down and to make sure that we can continue our progress," the governor said. "He has worked with countless citizens, agencies, businesses and legislators to find ways to make positive change and he is making this transition after helping to put West Virginia in a strong, enviable position. While I regret that he will not be able to stay longer as chief of staff, I know he will oversee a smooth transition and will always be available to assist on a volunteer basis."

Puccio said being chief of staff for one of the nation's most progressive and active governors has been incredibly challenging and rewarding.
"I'm thankful I've had an opportunity to serve in this role and I'm very proud of how far West Virginia has come in the last several years," Puccio said. "A lot of people have worked very hard to move our state forward and I'm glad to have been a part of the positive change. I'm also very confident that we're on the right track and that our state is in good hands for the future."

Puccio said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and getting back to his private businesses. "I can't miss any more of my son's football games and I'm going to become a grandpa within the next few weeks," he said.

He also said he plans to keep in touch with the governor and his staff during the transition.

"While I will not be in a paid or full-time position as chief of staff, I will continue to be available for the governor and staff on an unpaid, vol! unteer basis as the governor finishes his term and in his future endeavors."

Puccio has served the governor since 2000, when Manchin became Secretary of State. During Puccio's tenure, the state has seen more than $9 billion in new business investment, privatized workers' compensation, paid down crippling debt, cut personal and business taxes, and is one of few states in strong financial condition, despite a global recession.

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