Mike Woelfel Devotes Himself to Helping Kids
By KELLY DONAHUE, The Herald Dispatch
HUNTINGTON — If he isn't in a courtroom, on the basketball court, teaching or in his law office, changes are Mike Woelfel took five for a breather.
Not only is he a full-time lawyer, part-time juvenile court referee, assistant coach, part-time professor and mediator for the circuit court, he also is a husband and the father of two boys.
Although Woelfel is a man of many trades, he has a passion for kids.
For the past 20 years, he has served Cabell County juveniles who found themselves in trouble with the law. "I am their first contact with the court system," Woelfel said.
Woelfel decides which cases need to be sent to circuit court and which he can preside over. "I handle all minor offenses. Everything else goes up to circuit court," Woelfel said.
Woelfel took the job in 1980 thinking he would try it out for a year or two. "It's been 20 years, and I still love it," he said.
He estimates he has presided over 25,000 juvenile cases. "Occasionally, I may run into a parent or kid and I may not even remember them. But they will say 'thanks, you made a real difference.' That is gratification," Woelfel said.
But Woelfel's love of kids doesn't stop at the courtroom. He also teaches one law class at Marshall University and coaches high school basketball at St. Joe Central Catholic High. "I'm a volunteer coach at St. Joe, which is where I went to school," he said. Basketball is a passion he shares with his sons.
Smiling, Woelfel grabs a picture and identifies his sons among a group photo of the St. Joe basketball team. Woelfel is also pictured, standing beside the coach with a smile from ear to ear. "This was one of my greatest moments. The St. Joe Invitational Tournament. We had not won that in 29 years, and we won. I got to be right there in the middle of it. It was awesome," Woelfel said.
Woelfel's support of the school has been outstanding, said St. Joe Principal Tod Faller. "Mike is always supportive. He is one of the people I depend on the most."
Faller said Woelfel not only volunteers his time at the school, but also has supported students' tuition. "He is so caring. He will support a student and won't tell anyone about it," Faller said. Woelfel is one person the school couldn't do without, Faller said.
Faces of the Tri-State is a weekly feature in The Herald-Dispatch that profiles interesting people in the Tri-State area.