West Virginia

West Virginia News

GSC to host WVCFF Forester

On Wednesday, October 18, Glenville State College will host Russ Richardson, a West Virginia forester with 30 years of experience, for a conversation about his background and an inside look at the industry. The event will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Land Resources area of GSC’s Waco Center. It is free and open to the public.

The seminar will include a traditional discussion followed by an outdoor session (weather permitting) where Richardson will lead attendees into the woods to talk about his ideas about consulting forestry and to answer questions.

The Free Press WV
Richardson (center) in the woods near Widen, West Virginia

Dr. Brian Perkins, GSC Associate Professor of Forestry, facilitated the presentation. “GSC’s Department of Land Resources is happy to host Mr. Richardson as part of the West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum series. This is an excellent opportunity for our students to learn more about forestry consulting and for others in the community to ask questions,” Perkins said.

The West Virginia Consulting Forestry Forum aims to compile information about the art and technology of private consulting forestry in order to serve the needs of future generations of woodland owners and forestry professionals.

For more information about the consulting forestry seminar, call 304.462.6373.

U.S. Poverty Rate Down, Unchanged in WV

Economic growth is finally reducing poverty in most of the country - but not in West Virginia, according to a new report.

The research, released jointly by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the Coalition on Human Needs, found the U.S. poverty rate has fallen by about 2 percent in the last five years. But Sean O’Leary, senior policy analyst with the Center, said the poverty rate here is all but unchanged over the last decade.

“West Virginia is not making progress. Our poverty rate, just like everyone else’s in the country, went up during the recession, but ours has been flat,” O’Leary said. “Nationally we’ve seen a decline, but in West Virginia, our poverty rate has remained the same.“

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The economic growth that is reducing poverty nationally is largely bypassing West Virginia.

O’Leary said much of the job creation in the state has been in low-paying positions. He said the state needs to protect programs that support low-income households while also investing more in education and job training.

O’Leary called education the best cure for poverty.

According to Deborah Weinstein, executive director at the Coalition on Human Needs, the reductions in poverty have been spotty - bypassing Maine and West Virginia, and leaving minority communities behind as well. She called that troubling.

“It’s also of concern that, even though we’ve made this progress, we still have more than 40 million people poor in this country,” Weinstein said. “We still have children disproportionately poor.“

She added budget and tax plans now being discussed in Congress risk stalling whatever progress has been made.

“President Trump and his allies want to slash the very programs that are helping,” she said. “And amazingly, they would put trillions of dollars into tax cuts for the very richest among us, and corporations.“

The President has argued that the high-end tax cuts would spark more economic growth, although Democrats say increasing tax credits for the working poor would do more good.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, more than half of the proposed Trump tax cuts would go to the top 5 percent of households in the state.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

WVDEP Announces Clean County and Community Award Recipients, Environmental Teachers of the Year

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has announced the recipients of the “Clean County and Clean Community Awards” and has also recognized three educators as “Environmental Teachers of the Year.” 

The seven municipalities recognized as “Clean Communities” are:

    - Buckhannon, Upshur County ($500 Grand Prize)

    - Beech Bottom, Brooke County

    - New Cumberland, Hancock County

    - Wardensville, Hardy County

    - Clendenin, Kanawha County

    - Pleasant Valley, Marion County

    - Elkins, Randolph County

Communities that did not receive a cash prize will receive a glass award signifying their achievement and if necessary, two road signs designating their community as a Make It Shine Clean Community.

Four counties were recognized as “Clean Counties”:

    - Upshur County Solid Waste Authority ($2,000 first place award)

    - Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority ($1,000 second place award)

    - Boone County Solid Waste Authority and Putnam County Solid Waste Authority (Tied for third place, and will each receive $500) 

The “Environmental Teachers of the Year” are:

    - Elementary: Susan Vandall, Shady Spring Elementary in Raleigh County

    - Intermediate: Thanh Ashman, Patch Science After School Program in Roane County

    - High School: Ruth Ellen Windom, Ritchie County High School

Each Teacher of the Year will receive a $500 personal award and a $1,000 award to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in the classroom.

Each award will be presented at the Association of West Virginia Solid Waste Authorities annual meeting on Oct. 23 at Pipestem Resort. 

“This year’s recipients come from all across West Virginia and prove that no matter where you live in our state or how many people live in your community, protecting our environment is something we can all agree on,” said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton. “Congratulations to all of the recipients, and I encourage all of them to continue their good work in promoting clean communities and providing a quality education for our young people.”


The Free Press WV
September 04, 2017
7:00 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick with Council members Wiant, Huffman, and Fisher present. Councilmembers Taylor and Dean were absent.

Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Kaydee and Lacie Martin.

I. Call to Order

II. Public

Certificates of Appreciation (Kaydee and Lacie Martin) - Kaydee and Lacie Martin were awarded a certificate of appreciation for recognition of 70 hours of volunteer service to the City of Glenville for planting and watering the flowers downtown.

A. Approval of Minutes – August 07, 2017

Minutes for the August 07, 2017, meeting were reviewed and placed on file for audit.

III. Reports

B. Financial

The book keeper was absent. Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the financial summary to council. He noted that the book keeper had initially paid the street paving costs from the proposal, however, the final cost for paving was approximately $38000, less than the amount reported at the August meeting, and has been paid. The budget is currently at 18.08% of fiscal year with revenue at 14.49% and expenditures at 16.42%. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the financial summary as presented. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

C. Street report

The street report was provided to council for review. Mayor Fitzpatrick noted that there was a large tree in an alleyway in Camden Flats. Cooks Tree Service has provided an estimate of $1100 for complete tree removal. Councilman Wiant made a motion to approve this tree removal at a total cost of $1100. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

D. Police

Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. He stated the new officer had 24 days remaining in the academy and is doing very well. He will be placed with a current officer for one week when he returns to duty and will then be released to work his shift. Chief requested council consider paying the $100 membership fee for the Chief of Police fees which provides discounts for training and the annual conference. Mayor Fitzpatrick agreed to pay this membership for Chief Huffman.

E. Glenville Utility

Mayor Fitzpatrick attended the August 23 meeting of the Utility Board. There were minor water leaks with a few minor sewer problems. He noted the annual audit began last week and will continue this week for both the Utility Board and City.

F. Recorder

Nothing to report.

G. Mayors Comments

- Recommendations to Library Board Daniel Smith and June Nonnenberg

Request to appoint Daniel Smith to the Library Board and reappoint June Nonnenberg for another term. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the appointment of Daniel Smith and reappointment of June Nonnenberg to the Library Board. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- Update August Meetings (Mayor)

Attended the Board of Directors meeting for the WV Municipal League in August.

- City Cruiser

Applied for a grant for a new cruiser. Current cruiser has high mileage. The grant application was submitted last week.

- 2017 Municipal Fees have been invoiced

Municipal fees have been invoiced and have received several to date.

- $1100.00 to cut tree on Camden Flats (alley)

Covered under Financial Report

- Recap Congressman McKinley’s visit

Congressman McKinley recently visited Glenville. He worked with Mayor Fitzpatrick providing assistance with grant application for a new police cruiser by writing a letter of recommendation which was included in grant packet. They also talked about dredging of the river. Congressman McKinley noted the Army Corp of Engineers plan to dredge around the state this year.

- Explanation on paving amount

Covered under Financial Report

- 5K Glow Stick Run 22nd of September

A request for approval to hold a 5K Glow Stick Run on Friday, September 22 with the route beginning at the City Park, up Sycamore to Recreation Center, and return. The Fire Depart will provide assistance. The Glenville Pony League is also requesting to hold a 5K Run/Walk on November 4 with the same route. Councilman Fisher made a motion to approve both 5K runs. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.

- GCHS Homecoming Parade October 6th (5:00 p.m.)

- GSC Homecoming Parade October 21st (10:00 a.m.)

Request received to have Homecoming Parade for Gilmer County High School on October 06 with the street blocked at 4:00 p.m. and Glenville State College on October 21 with the street blocked at 8:00 a.m. Councilwoman Huffman made a motion to approve the GCHS and GSC Homecoming parades. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

IV. Unfinished Business


V. New Business


VI. Other Business to come before Council

Councilwoman Huffman noted a culvert on Norris Road with trees coming into the road. Mayor Fitzpatrick will check and trim back the trees if possible.

VII. Next council meeting – October 02, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

VIII. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:15 PM

New 4-H Office in Glenville

The Free Press WV

The Gilmer County Parks and Recreation are busy with upgrades and improvements to our facilities ever growing further use for our customers.

This will be the new home of the WVU 4-H office .

We were able to purchase one of the double wide from Gilmer County Board of Education this past September.

Thank you Gilmer County Board of Education for the purchase .

Help to make this project possible are the fine young men and women from Gilmer County’s High School Ag-Mechanics class under the direction of Mr. Nick Cox.

They started digging the footers last week and we hope to pour concrete on Tuesday .

Again thank you to both entity’s for your support for our community recreation center for without groups as yours we would have to dig a little harder to make this happen in the time frame given.

Thank you
Darrel Ramsey/Director

The Free Press WV

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  American Institutes for Research chosen to handle testing for WV’s 3rd-8th graders

The state Department of Education announced the selection of American Institutes for Research as the company chosen to provide the material for the new statewide standardized testing for students in the third through eighth grades.

AIR will replace the Smarter Balanced test the legislature voted out in April. The state Department of Education previously announced SAT would provide the statewide test for 11th graders.

“The new West Virginia General Summative Assessment will be closely aligned to West Virginia’s standards and our educators will be able to provide input on test items,” Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Lou Maynus said in a news release. “AIR provides a complete assessment solution, including interim benchmark assessments with item analysis available to teachers to provide ongoing feedback and practice throughout the year.”

For the first year of testing that take place next spring, AIR will make available items from the company’s existing item bank to be reviewed by state education officials. Some teachers will also have a chance to review some of the test items and provide feedback.

Beginning in the second year of the test, teachers will have the opportunity to include new test items.

According to the state department, the testing won’t take as long as previous testing and the results will be back sooner.

“The assessment should take no more than four hours for students not taking the science assessment and no more than five-and-a-half hours for students taking the science assessment. Educators will have access to student reports within 12 business days of test administration,” news release said.

►  Economic expansion in store for Lewis County

Elected officials in Lewis County are expecting some significant economic growth with various entities and industries making a move into the county.

Fountain Quail Energy Services recently announced more than 160 new jobs coming to Lewis County as part of a new field office to open in the Jane Lew Industrial Park.

Lewis County Commissioner Agnes Queen said she is looking forward to seeing the jobs that will be created by the new facility.

“It’s going to spur growth. The pay that it’s going to bring in for the individuals is going to be higher than your normal hourly wages that you normally get for minimum wage, so we’re very excited about that,” Queen said. “It will come with good benefits, which people really, really need around here, so we’re very excited about it.”

While Fountain Quail Energy Services certainly won’t be the first entity to move into the Jane Lew Industrial Park, the new field office will be a great step in helping the complex recover from the business it has lost.

“We have several different entities at the industrial park, one being (West Virginia Pool Construction),” Queen said. “Several of our buildings have become empty because of the downturn in oil and gas industry, so we’re looking to fill those with the rebirth of the oil and gas industry.”

Queen said several other oil and gas companies have been filtering back into Lewis County as the industry picks back up.

“We’re noticing that some of our empty buildings that lie within the county are starting to see new businesses come in, new companies and different names of businesses,” she said. “We also are seeing more contacts from companies wanting help finding employees to go to work, especially with needing CDL drivers, field hands and those kinds of things. We’re seeing a lot more of that.”

Not only does the hiring itself benefit Lewis County economically, the indirect jobs, such as restaurants and local businesses, see tremendous impact from those moving into the area.

Queen said that type of indirect impact will grow exponentially once the Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction begins.

“That’s also going to spur even more with the local grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants,” she said. “A lot of individuals are very excited to see the industry pick up and the possibilities of new growth in our community with all the development starting to happen.”

Oil and gas isn’t the only industry that is set to bring jobs and revenue into Lewis County. The recently passed Roads to Prosperity Bond Referendum will allow for $28 million in road construction and repair projects.

“That’ll bring more people to the area, get the roads fixed and new projects, especially at the Corridor H/I-79 interchange,” Queen said. “We’re very excited about that because that will also open up some land and some development in that area.”

Additonally, with Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital’s recent partnership with MonHealth, Queen expects that to bring economic growth to Lewis County as well.

“They’re going to build a new hospital in our county,” Queen said. “We’re very excited about that and the jobs and development that will bring.”    ~~  Brittany Murray ~~

►  PSC Promotes Budget Plans for Manageable Utility Bills

This winter is predicted to be colder than last year, so the Public Service Commission of West Virginia urges consumers to consider the benefits of budget billing and average monthly payment plans offered by utility companies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that it expects higher winter heating expenditures as a result of relatively colder weather and higher fuel prices. Budget billing plans average total annual usage into more manageable monthly bills, eliminating sharp increases during winter heating or summer cooling seasons.

When a customer asks to join a budget billing plan, the utility company will review their usage history, and then set a monthly billing amount, based on usage information and expected energy prices.  Most plans are reevaluated and adjusted annually.

Individual utility companies have slightly different budget periods and plans available.  Customers who are wish to participate in a budget plan or an average monthly payment plan should contact their utility company for more specific information.

Contact Information for Electric and Gas Utility Companies:

Appalachian Power Company: 1.800.982.4237

Wheeling Power Company: 1.800.852.6942

Monongahela Power: 1.800.686.0022

Potomac Edison Power: 1.800.686.0011

Black Diamond Power: 304.683.5281

Craig.Botetourt Rural Electric: 1.800.760.2232

Harrison Rural Electrification Association: 304.624.6365

Mountaineer Gas: 1.800.834.2070

Dominion Energy WV Gas: 1.800.934.3187

Blacksville Oil & Gas Company: 304.584.4545

Bluefield Gas Company: 304.325.9164

Consumers Gas Utility Company: 304.523.9223 or 1.844.267.6872

Lumberport.Shinnston Gas Company: 304.584.4545

Peoples Gas: 1.800.764.0111

Union Oil & Gas: 304.586.2151

►  Governor Justice appoints Stephen Baldwin to State Senate seat in District 10

Governor Jim Justice has appointed Delegate Stephen Baldwin of Ronceverte to the State Senate seat in District 10, representing Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers and Monroe counties. The vacancy was created earlier this month when former Senator Ron Miller resigned to accept the position of Agriculture Liaison for the Justice Administration.

Baldwin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2016 representing District 42 (Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties). A minister at Ronceverte Presbyterian Church, he and his wife, Kerry, have one son, Harrison.

“Service is my life’s calling,” Baldwin said. “While this wasn’t something I saw coming, I agreed to serve because I can help. I’m honored and humbled to be asked. I want to get to know folks, listen to their stories, and make a positive impact. Thanks to Governor Justice for appointing me and trusting me to serve the people faithfully.”

►  Audit: wvOasis consultants are failing to pass on knowledge to state workers

State auditors are questioning whether the consultants responsible for implementing a multimillion-dollar, all-encompassing computer system are living up to their contractual responsibility to teach state workers how to use it.

If not, the state Legislative Auditor’s office concludes, the failure has resulted in state employees not being able to run the system and the need to spend millions of additional dollars on other high priced consultants.

The Legislative Auditor recommends the state board that oversees the installation of the computer system known as wvOasis should begin documenting instances of possible non-compliance with state contract provisions and consult the Attorney General about any possible legal action.

State Auditor J.B. McCuskey, whose office is separate from the Legislative Auditor, told legislators on Sunday afternoon that progress has already been made on these issues.

“I’m happy to tell you that the recommendations and the problems outlined in here are things we’ve been working on since Day 1. The knowledge transfer is happening. We are actually pretty far down the line,” McCuskey said.

“We had people who wanted to make it a priority, and it happened.”

The project, wvOasis, started its planning phases in 2010 and its initial steps in 2011.

Its initial cost estimate was $98 million, but the state Auditor’s office — which is separate from the Legislative Auditor — has said complications and delays have meant blowing past that amount and about $50 million more.

The project has been meant to update and inter-connect the state’s various, aging computer systems into something called an “Enterprise Resource Planning System.” It’s supposed to help the state’s computer systems talk to each other, to help state employees better track data and to manage those with whom the state does business, such as vendors and retirees.

But because state government is big, so is wvOasis.

It’s so big and crosses so many different areas of government that a three-headed monster — the governor, the Auditor and the state Treasurer — share responsibility on a board that oversees the project. A 16-member steering committee was set up to report to them.

The state contracted with a company called CGI to be the vendor deploying the work but also contracted with another consultant called ISG to help the state understand the process.

Those companies are supposed to pass on their knowledge to state workers. There’s even a name for that — a “knowledge transfer.”

That’s what the Legislative Auditor’s office says the consultants haven’t effectively done.

Here’s the summary of what auditors presented to lawmakers Sunday during interim meetings:

“In 2014 and 2015, the Enterprise Resource Planning Board paid CGI for knowledge transfer services that, to this day, are not fully rendered. These services would have allowed the state to independently operate the wvOasis system. As a result, the board has had to pay high-priced consultants to operate the system and to provide the knowledge transfer not provided by CGI.”

This has been an ongoing problem, as auditors told lawmakers in June. The legislative auditors say the effect has been consultants embedding themselves into the state to operate the system when the use of state employees would cost much less.

The auditors reviewed official, Formal Knowledge Transfer Sign-off documents and found that they were sometimes signed without evidence that actual teaching took place.

In some instances, signatures accompanied documents that had blank “completed on” sections with no corresponding completion dates.

“Further, the chief information officer and the project manager of wvOasis stated it was understood that these documents would be signed before the knowledge transfer was completed and that the knowledge transfer would be completed at some undefined later date,” the auditors wrote.

Auditors wrote that the signing of the Formal Knowledge Transfer Sign-Off documents served as authorization for CGI to invoice the state. The division questioned the invoices, which totaled $270,000.

“Many of these knowledge transfer areas are still not completed today,” the auditors wrote.

“Further, in addition to paying for services not yet rendered, it appears the lack of knowledge transfer to the state resulted in substantial indirect costs when the state had to contract with high-priced consultants to operate the ERP system.”

What’s more, the result was bringing yet a third high-priced consultant into the mix.

In that case it was Dataview, a company comprised of former CGI employees who were brought in to perform the teaching that CGI was supposed to have done.

The Legislative Auditor concluded that CGI may have violated its contract with the state to provide training and education so that the state could operate the system on its own. The Legislative Auditor noted the contract included provisions that prohibited prepayment for services not yet completed.

“A question remains as to whether the state has paid substantial money to additional contractors (ISG/ICAC and Dataview) on the wvOasis project for tasks CGI was contractually obligated, but failed, to perform.”

Similarly, the Legislative Auditor questioned whether ISG may be subject to contract violations, saying the consultant was responsible for subject matter expertise, project oversight and quality assurance.

“The Post Audit Division wonders how ISG could assure the quality of a deliverable that was not completed. It is unclear at this time whether ISG charged the state to review these documents and, if so, for exactly what service.”

In another issue involving wvOasis, legislative auditors focused on several areas relating to human resources where the system has lost functionality compared to the previous systems state government used.

“These areas identified by the Division of Personnel increases the state’s risk in adhering to relevant laws, rules and regulations; and may also have detrimental effects on state employees and the state budget,” legislative auditors wrote.

For example, the Division of Personnel reported the need to hire three additional staff at a cost of $97,000 to process transactions for all of the classified service because of inefficiencies with the system.

The problems included:

If a transaction is rejected in the system, the supporting documents, attachments and comments are discarded and cannot then be retrieved.  Subsequent transactions submitted to correct the rejection don’t allow access to the discarded information to figure out why the transaction was initially rejected.

When an employee transfers to another agency and the transfer has been processed in wvOASIS, the prior agency can no longer access the employee’s work history documentation, and it also can’t enter any outstanding payroll transactions.

wvOASIS does not prohibit an employee from exceeding the 80-hour Family Sick Leave allotment in a given year, and it doesn’t track the use of Family Sick Leave in the timekeeping system.

The wvOASIS system lacks “hard stops” or edits to limit users from selecting criteria that are not applicable to the transaction they are processing. That means users may enter information that is not applicable or appropriate, which causes rejections of those transactions, making it unnecessarily time consuming to have to reprocess those transactions.

wvOASIS allows for the payment of sick and annual leave in the same work period where an employee works additional hours resulting in an overtime pay, which would be a violation of state personnel rules.

The wvOASIS system also allows the additional non-work hours from annual and sick leave to be paid at a premium overtime compensation rate of one and one-half times the employee’s hourly rate.

The timekeeping system in wvOasis creates issues for employees who are allowed an hour lunch, with half of the hour being paid and half of the hour being unpaid. The issue is that this requires weekly monitoring to ensure
that time is properly credited for any leave taken before or after the lunch hour.

“Inefficiencies such as these create additional unforeseen costs associated with the transition to wvOASIS that are at times difficult to identify and quantify,” legislative auditors wrote.

Legislators expressed frustration over the continued troubles with Oasis.

“I’m so sick and tired of hearing about this Oasis thing,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Sunday.

“These issues should never get to this point. It should never arise to this level that there are this many issues. Just the threat of it coming before this committee should cause people to get on the ball and get it done.”

McCuskey said much of the findings in the legislative audit were new to him, and he disagreed with the sweep of the findings.

“These are things we’ve never seen. And to say Oasis hasn’t trained the department of personnel is imply inaccurate. the training has been available,” McCuskey told legislators Sunday afternoon.

He said the findings of the audit should have come first to his office or to the oversight board consisting of the Auditor, the Treasurer and the governor and their representatives.

“I unfortunately disagree with the findings in this report as it relates to Kronos (a timekeeping system for state workers) and Oasis.”

Carmichael told him: “Whatever you have to do to make sure these issues are resolved.”

McCuskey responded: “Anyone who has a problem with Oasis, call me.”

House Speaker Tim Armstead also asked why there are ongoing problems being reported about how Oasis is integrating throughout state government. “Are we just having a lot of agencies that just don’t want to change their current system?”

“What we’re talking about is massive change,” McCuskey said. “Change is hard. Everyone hates change.”    ~~  Brad McElhinny ~~

►  Legislature to consider West Virginian hiring preference

The Legislature is returning to the Capitol to consider legislation aimed at ensuring West Virginians are hired by contractors repairing and building roads and bridges across the state.

Governor Jim Justice has called lawmakers back to the statehouse for a special session starting Monday to address that proposal as well as bills to exempt military retirees from paying personal income tax and increase the credit allowed against personal and corporation net income taxes for spending on rehabilitating historic structures.

After voters recently approved $1.6 billion in state bonding for road and bridge projects, the Justice administration also drafted bills authorizing the Division of Highways to streamline hiring policies to fill vacancies and to access tax records to disqualify tax-delinquent contractors.

Pat’s Chat

The Free Press WV

Patsy Reckart has her first book published.  She sent me a message, but I didn’t find it right away.  It is a children’s book named “Little Kokamoe Joe.”  It is about a red and yellow dump truck.  All the other trucks made fun of the little red and yellow dump truck.  Patsy’s church has started a writers’ group which will meet on November 4th at the library in Weston at 10 o clock a.m.  You are invited.  Contact Patsy through Facebook for more information.

I want to include just a short but VERY precious quote from my devotional this morning.  It is God’s goal that everyone be saved and then be with Him eternally, but there are many who don’t know Him.  They may know ABOUT Him, but don’t know Him personally and don’t have faith in His wonderful promises.  He will never force a person to believe.  He created us with power of choice.  We can get to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3) by hearing [reading] the Word of God. (Romans 10:17).

“Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died.  The distress of every one touches His heart.  The cry for aid reaches His ear.  He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care.  He says, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’ He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.”—- The Desire of Ages, pp. 476—480.

The Bible is God’s love letter to each of us.  I suggest that you begin by reading the book of John first, with one Psalm from the Old Testament every day for a few weeks, and I am sure you will want to dig in more deeply by the end of a month.’

I attended the wake for Dee Milburn:

Age 77, of Buckhannon, WV, passed away Monday, October 09, 2017, after a lengthy illness. Born July 30, 1940, Dee Anna was the daughter of the late Dr. Robert DePue, Esquire, and Mary Davies DePue of Spencer, WV. Daughter-in-law of the late Ellsworth R. Milburn and Estella Kratovil Milburn of Jeannette, PA, Dee Anna was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, Dr. David Milburn, Professor Emeritus of West Virginia Wesleyan College, her parents and parents-in-law, her brother-in-law, Debbie Ellsworth Milburn, Professor Emeritus of Rice University in Houston, TX.


Public Viewing of Gilmer County Schools Auction

The Free Press WV

public viewing of Gilmer County Schools auction

Both Sand Fork and Troy Elementary will be open to the public for viewing of auction items from 10:00 am until 1:00 p.m. today. 

Sand Fork will be open again this evening from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm and Troy from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.


Gallery Exhibit Featuring Early Appalachian Photography to Open at GSC

Selections from the Glenville State College Archive will be on display for a gallery exhibit during Homecoming week. The theme of the exhibit will focus on early Appalachian photography and will include several prints from glass negatives, equipment used during the process, and even some of the original glass negatives themselves. The show will feature four different collections: the Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection, the Early Gilmer County Collection, the Gainer Family Glass Negative Collection, and the Pickle Street Glass Negative Collection.

The Free Press WV
One of the photos included in the Early Appalachian Photography Exhibit
reproduced from a glass negative from the Gainer family collection

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Tuesday, October 17 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the GSC Fine Arts Center Gallery. The show will be open the remainder of Homecoming Week from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily and prior to the Bluegrass concert on Saturday, October 21 between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Beyond Homecoming Week, the gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The gallery is also open one hour prior to most musical performances in the Fine Arts Center.

The Byron Turner Glass Negative Collection was preserved by Glenville State College’s former chemistry instructor, Byron Turner. Turner used the glass negatives as a project in his classes to demonstrate what chemicals were used to make the glass negatives and preserve the picture. The Early Gilmer County Collection was found in the Archives of Glenville State College. It dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Gainer family collection contains donated prints from glass negatives provided by the Gainer family. The pictures were taken by Lloyd Gainer and are from around 1902. The pictures were preserved by West Virginia State Folk Festival founder and 1924 Glenville Normal School graduate Patrick Gainer. The Pickle Street glass negative collection was brought in from the auction house on Pickle Street in Lewis County, West Virginia. The negatives were found in an old barn and later donated to GSC.

“This gallery exhibit will show you what was important to past generations in Appalachia through photography. I hope that the cultural perspective provided gives attendees a better understanding of central West Virginia. It also provides you with more of an appreciation as to what people had to go through and how challenging it was just to take a picture,” said GSC Librarian and Archivist Jason Gum.

During the opening reception, there will also be a book signing for GSC’s recent history book, Preserving and Responding. Gum and the college’s Public Relations Specialist, Dustin Crutchfield, authored this work.

The exhibit will be on display in the Fine Arts Center Gallery through Friday, November 03.

For more information about the gallery exhibit or the book signing, call 304.462.6163.

$8.3 Million in Economic Development Grants

The Free Press WV

A total of $8,335,145 in funding from the Economic Development Administration to assist in economic development projects in Marion, Monongalia, Randolph, Mingo, Braxton, Kanawha, Hancock and Mercer counties has been announced by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

The grants are estimated to impact 1,289 jobs and leverage $75,750,000 in private investments, according to Manchin, D-WV.

“The West Virginia economy is dependent on the availability and access to jobs at all skill levels, and it’s important to make sure all West Virginians have access to quality job opportunities,” Manchin said. “This federal investment will support job creation, technology and educational opportunities in our state, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact in our economy, businesses and workforce.”

Awards are:

  • $2,500,000 — Randolph County Development Authority: To fund the expansion of an existing manufacturing plant in Randolph County, West Virginia. The plant is one of the county’s largest employers and requires additional space to accommodate its growing manufacturing needs. Completion of the project will support the development and growth of the innovation cluster, create and retain jobs and promote initiatives that expand the competitiveness of the region.

  • $1,478,100 — Flatwoods Canoe Run Public Service District: To support the replacement and extension of a water line and related infrastructure in Braxton County devastated by the downturn in the coal industry. The completion of this project will provide adequate water supply to local businesses in the area especially during an emergency, help retain jobs, attract new businesses to the area and promote initiatives that expand the competitiveness of the region.

  • $1,392,480 — Mingo County Redevelopment Authority and Mingo County Public Service District: To fund construction of a waterline to provide water services to the new Twisted Gun Gap development and the Hatfield-McCoy trail system in Mingo County. Once completed, the project will serve as a catalyst for enhancing the region’s tourism cluster and for attracting new commercial and industrial development and job creation to the area. This investment will provide economic stability, diversification and strengthen the local economy.

  • $767,442 — Pierpont Community and Technical College: To fund the purchase of training equipment and provide staffing to support the expansion of the Aviation Program, at the Robert C. Byrd Aerospace Center, operated by the Pierpont Community and Technical College in Marion County. Completion of the project will increase staff and upgrade the equipment to current industry standards to double the graduating classes from the college and provide highly-skilled workers to the recently announced Bombardier expansion project. This investment will provide economic diversification, create jobs and strengthen the local economy.

  • $750,000 — Center for Applied Research and Technology: To fund technical assistance to the new Bluefield Commercialization Station in Mercer County. This investment will provide high-tech industrial technical services and an incubator that will foster new business creation in the region. In addition, the funds will help to expand the production line of existing businesses, diversify the local economy, and create and retain jobs.

  • $747,123 — West Virginia University: To fund the development of the West Virginia University LaunchLab Network to facilitate small business development and foster economic growth in Morgantown. The LaunchLab will provide students, local residents and small business owners with the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills and products that are not available in the traditional curriculum.

  • $400,000 — WV Coalition for Technology Based Economic Development: To support new programs to assist with the development of high-tech positions in the West Virginia region. The Tech Assist program will provide next-stage development guidance to a network of entrepreneurs and new businesses in the area. This investment will provide needed economic stability, development of high-tech positions and companies through a coordinated approach of services by the existing incubator/accelerator system and the development of a larger regional private investment consortium that will ensure business and job sustainability into the future.

  • $300,000 — Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle: To fund the creation of a Weirton Area Reuse Plan for repurposing, redeveloping, upgrading infrastructure and attracting new investment to a former steel facility and underutilized industrial land in Hancock County. This reuse plan will provide strategic recommendations for pursuing manufacturing, infrastructure improvements and community revitalization initiatives to support the transformation of Weirton and the Northern Panhandle region.

GCEDA Broadband Public Meeting Notice

The Free Press WV

As the lead economic development arm of the the Gilmer County Commission the GCEDA’s President Jeff Campbell provided the following information at last weeks County Commission meeting:

The Gilmer County Economic Development Association will be making an application, on behalf of the County, for a West Virginia Development Office Community Development Block Grant for Broadband Planning.

The WVDO has set aside $700,000 of funds for this year with grants due by October 31, 2017. 

A broadband planning grant for a county may be between the amounts of $50,000 to $75,000. 

The GCEDA has budgeted for the 2017 Fiscal Year - $10,000 to pursue a broadband grant/project a portion of which will be used for a consultant to handle the grant application and the remainder as a match on the grant to ensure we receive one. 

The majority of the county has negligible broadband, with the exception of those areas around the College or where Shentel has service. 

The planning grant would be used to create a engineering design for a wireless broadband project for Gilmer County, like Upshur/Randolphf/Barbour consortium.

The Upshur/Randolph/Barbour consortium was awarded a grant from the USDA for $3.0M for a fixed wireless solution which will serve 9,000 residents and businesses with between 10 and 100 megabyte downstream service from tower based wireless internet.

The application is currently underway with an initial public meeting on Wednesday, October 11th at 6:00 pm at the Glenville Inn. 

This is one of two mandatory meetings required by the CDBG process and will inform the public of the grant opportunity and take public comments. 

We would request all the Commissioners make the meeting if possible, but at least one attend. 

A second mandatory public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 25th at 6:00 pm at the Glenville Inn where the application will be presented and further comments taken. 

Additionally the County Commission will need to adopt a Resolution at its second October meeting on October 20th in support of the grant application.

Jeff Campbell
President GCEDA

West Virginia State Agencies Teaming Up To Raise Money for United Way

The Free Press WV

Nearly two dozen state agencies are teaming up with the United Way to encourage more state employees to donate to charities across West Virginia through a simple payroll deduction.

In West Virginia, only about 300 state employees have signed up to make a charitable donation through a payroll deduction. Using the payroll deduction, a state employee can make a donation of any amount they wish to any charity listed on the United Way’s website HERE . The goal this year is to get more people to donate using the payroll deduction.

“We help our neighbors in West Virginia, and that’s what the combined campaign is all about,” said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton, this year’s State Employee Combined Campaign Chairman. “We know times are hard for a lot of people, but even a dollar or two per paycheck helps. We hope to get the word out this year about how easy it is to just fill out a form and donate through a payroll deduction. If every state employee donated just a couple dollars per paycheck, we could raise millions of dollars for these charities across the state every year.”

“The impact that state employees could have on the work the United Way is doing is second to none,” said Margaret Ann O’Neal, the President of the United Way of Central West Virginia. “If we could get each state employee to donate just a dollar per paycheck, we could tell the world that West Virginia has it figured out, that we can provide services to people all over our state who really need our help.” 

Each of the represented state agencies will have coordinators who can help employees get the correct paperwork to fill out in order to contribute through payroll deduction. State employees have until the middle of December to submit their payroll deduction to the state auditor’s office.

Nonprofit Leadership Workshop

The Free Press WV

It is more important than ever that nonprofit organizations are able to translate their worthy missions into lasting positive impacts for the people and communities they serve, and arguably it has never been more difficult to do so.  To help nonprofits address these challenges, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) is bringing national consultant David Grant to the area to provide training for nonprofit staff and board members on Wednesday, November 15, from 9:00 a.m. – noon at the Parkersburg Country Club. The program is co-sponsored by the West Virginia Nonprofit Association (WVNPA) and Nonprofits Lead, a nonprofit capacity building program based at Marietta College.

This interactive workshop, Leadership for Nonprofit Success, will explore how effective nonprofit leaders think about organizational development; measuring success in areas that resist quantification; forming strategic partnerships, building effective boards; overcoming resistance to change; and creating cultures of reflection and learning.

“I heard David Grant speak at the West Virginia Nonprofit Association conference last year and, ever since then, I have been wanting to bring him here to share his expertise,” said Marian Clowes, PACF’s Senior Program Officer. “David’s perspective on the sector, which he re-frames as the “social profit sector,” and his methods for assessing success are impactful. I encourage nonprofit organizations from through the region to attend and to bring a team of staff and board members to get the most out of the workshop.”

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David Grant served as President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey from 1998 to 2010.  Now based in Vermont, he consults with people and organizations around the world that have a social or educational mission. He is a member of the Leap Ambassadors Community, a group of over 150 people nation-wide who support nonprofit leaders in creating high-performance organizations.  His book The Social Profit Handbook: The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes, and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations was published in March 2015.

Cost to attend is $20 per person ($15 for WVNPA Members), or $50 for teams of three or more. To register, go to Online registrations must be made by credit card. For those unable to pay by credit card, contact Marian Clowes at the PACF to register, 304.428.4438 or . The first fifty to register for the workshop will receive a free copy of The Social Profit Handbook.

About the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) works with individuals, families, businesses, and civic or non-profit organizations to make a positive and permanent commitment for the future of our community.  PACF is a single 501(c)(3) public charity that manages more than 340 charitable funds with nearly $34 million in assets.  PACF works in partnership with its local affiliates to provide leadership and develop philanthropic resources to meet the needs of an 11-county service area.  Since 1963, PACF has helped local citizens support charitable needs and touch every aspect of life in the community in a variety of lasting ways.  For more information about PACF, visit or call 304.428.4438.

West Virginia News

The Free Press WV

►  WV DOH Rceives State Auditor’s Report

The state Division of Highways does not have a complete, centralized inventory of all the real property it owns, according to the state Legislative Auditor.

That’s a violation of the DOH’s internal policies, auditors told state legislators during interim meetings Sunday at the Capitol.

“Without a complete, centralized inventory record of land owned by the DOH, the DOH cannot determine if it owns excess properties that are unneeded. The lack of such an inventory record impedes the agency’s ability to actively market and sell excess property, which could provide valuable revenue to the State,” auditors wrote in their report.

Continued ownership of unused property adds to the DOH’s maintenance and management responsibilities and consumes valuable resources, auditors wrote. Additionally, such unneeded property prevents possible property development opportunities to enhance local economies and deprives communities of real property tax revenue.

And because DOH doesn’t have a good system for keeping track of its property, it relies on sales of opportunity rather than marketing unnecessary property, the auditors concluded.

“Considering the significance of the revenue generated by these sales and the added benefit the counties receive in property tax revenue, it would seem to be in the best interest of all parties for the DOH to identify excess properties and proactively market these properties for sale to the public,” auditors wrote.

The lack of records also means DOH can’t comply with other state requirements such as an annual inspection of property or a vacant land survey from the Board of Risk and Insurance Management.

Eric Hudnall, director of the right of way division for DOH, said steps have been taken to compile a record back to 2007.

Hudnall said the agency’s stance for many years was to not sell its property.

“DOH policy for years was not to sell anything to keep everything that was purchased,” he said.

He added that the philosophy was, “We wouldn’t have bought it unless we needed, it so we never sold it.”

Legislative auditors did point out, though, that the Division of Highways in 2001 paid $511,000 for 9.3 acres intended to be a District 1 maintenance site just north of Poca.

In 2004, DOH paid $182,500 to install a railroad crossing that originally consisted of signal lights and inserts at the property in the unincorporated community of Black Betsy.

But after that the agency decided not to place the maintenance site there after all.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, the $511,000 paid in 2001 for the property has the same buying power as approximately $707,000 would today, and the $182,500 additional costs spent by the DOH for the installation of a railroad crossing in 2004 would equate to approximately $235,000 in today’s dollars. Therefore, after this adjustment for inflation, the DOH has an investment of approximately $942,000 on property that has provided no benefit to the State,” the auditors wrote.

“While we have made no attempt to establish a current market value of this property, it is likely that 9.3 acres of riverfront property located five miles from the I-64 Nitro exit could have considerable worth.”

State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith told legislators on Sunday afternoon that he will look into the Black Betsy site and make a determination about what to do with it.

“I’m not an excuse guy. I think we need to take things head on. The Black Betsy site sitting like this for years is a problem,” Smith said.  ~~  Brad McElhinny ~~

►  U.S. regulators OK Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley pipelines

A divided panel of federal regulators granted approvals Friday evening for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines, both major East Coast projects.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authorization had been widely expected by both supporters and opponents of the pipelines. The certificates granted by the commission came with dozens of conditions, and other necessary permits for both projects are still pending.

Both pipelines would start in West Virginia, carrying gas from the Appalachian basin to U.S. markets. Business and political leaders in all three affected states back the projects, saying they will lower energy costs and boost economic development. But opponents, including environmental groups and landowners, say the projects will infringe on property rights, damage pristine areas and commit the region to fossil fuels for decades.

One of the three commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur, dissented. She wrote that she couldn’t conclude either project was in the public interest, a determination she said was influenced by similarities in their routes, impact and timing.

“Given the environmental impacts and possible superior alternatives, approving these two pipeline projects on this record is not a decision I can support,” wrote LaFleur, an appointee of President Obama.

The $3.5 billion, 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline would run south from northern West Virginia through the center of the state, cross into Virginia west of Roanoke and then cut southeast to a point north of Danville.

EQT Midstream Partners will operate the pipeline and own a significant interest in the joint venture with other energy companies.

The 600-mile, approximately $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline would start in north-central West Virginia, cross Virginia and bend through eastern North Carolina. Its lead developer is Dominion Energy, along with partners Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas.

The approvals mean the pipeline developers will have the authority to use eminent domain to acquire land if they can’t reach an agreement with a landowner.

The pipeline developers and other supporters heralded FERC’s decision.

Leslie Hartz, vice president of engineering and construction for Dominion, said in a statement that the company was pleased to receive approval for the “vitally important” project. The company will be reviewing the certificate and finalizing plans for complying with its conditions in the coming days, she said.

“The approval of this project will breathe new life into West Virginia’s natural gas industry and help revitalize manufacturing and other new industries across Virginia and eastern North Carolina,” Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and Matt Yonka, president of the Virginia Building & Construction Trades Council, said in a joint statement on behalf of the Energy Sure coalition, which supports the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Opponents, meanwhile, responded to the news Friday with vows to keep fighting the pipelines.

“We are living in a climate emergency. In just the past several weeks we’ve seen the tragic consequences of a warmer world, from devastating hurricanes to raging wildfires. Now is the time to move to renewable energy, not build new pipelines that would lock us into climate-warming infrastructure for generations to come,” Anne Havemann, general counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a statement.

Both the Southern Environmental Law Center and Sierra Club emphasized LaFleur’s dissent.

“While FERC’s anticipated rubber-stamp of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline follows a long trend of this agency’s failure to carry out its responsibilities and properly assess projects, Commissioner LaFleur’s unexpected dissent shows that even within FERC, this pipeline is seen as harmful and unnecessary,” the Southern Environmental Law Center said.

Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, said in a statement that the company respectfully disagrees with the dissent.

An environmental review conduct by commission staff found that combining the two projects “is not technically feasible or practical,” she wrote. And the team has provided “strong demonstrations” of the project need, she said.

►  Three Students Accepted into Enactus Student Fellows Program

Three students from West Virginia Wesleyan College have been accepted into the 2017-2018 BNY Mellon Enactus Student Fellows Program.  This program is designed to help students develop higher-quality projects for their Enactus teams with sustainable impacts.  Accepted into the program were junior Karli Hamrick of Buckhannon, WV;  junior Quinten Squires of Weston, WV; and MBA student Gregory Strader ’16 of Moon Township, PA.

The Free Press WV
(l-r) Squires, Hamrick, and Strader

In 2016, BNY Mellon partnered with Enactus United States to create the BNY Mellon Enactus Student Fellows Program, a workforce competency certification plan that provides participants with additional training in the areas of project management, entrepreneurial thinking, and financial skills in a Free Market Economy. The initial grant from BNY Mellon helped to establish a pilot cohort last year in New York and New Jersey, and 43 Enactus students became the first class of Enactus Student Fellows.

Throughout this academic year, Enactus Student Fellows will cover material in three workforce competency areas: Project Management, Entrepreneurial Thinking, and Financial Skills in a Free Market Economy. The program incorporates content from three Enactus USA partners: Gallup, Last Mile Learning, and Common Sense Economics and consists of three phase.

Students who successfully complete the program will earn the designation of a Certified Enactus Student Fellow and receive recognition and celebration at the 2018 USA National Exposition in Kanas City; an invitation to a private reception with top executives from Enactus partner companies; an exclusive partner preview of student resumes prior to Expo 2018; and an Enactus Student Fellows certificate, lapel pin, name badge, ribbon, and t-shirt.

Phase 1 is now underway, and students are working through the project management curriculum in the Enactus Training Center. Phase 1 will culminate in a third-party certification exam.

For more information, please contact Enactus Advisor Tracie Dodson at .

►  Leaders discuss New River Gorge region’s economic outlook

Leaders from across southern West Virginia gathered at the Tamarack Conference Center Thursday morning to share ideas on helping the region’s economic future.

The 2017 New River Gorge Regional Development Summit was organized by the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. It brought a mix of business owners, government officials and community leaders. One of several guest speakers was Dr. John Deskins, WVU Director of the Bureau of Business & Economic Research.

Deskins believes a key component of West Virginia’s future is what he calls “high-income” tourism. He acknowledged outdoor recreation as an important component of the state’s economy. Participants, though, on average don’t spend a lot of money or stay for extended periods of time.

Deskins was inspired by a recent trip to Washington, D.C. to push for West Virginia to become the destination for “second homers”.

“Imagine coming on the weekend to beautiful Greenbrier County or Raleigh County or Pocahontas, Randolph or Hardy County, West Virginia and having a second home. There’s so much potential.”

Deskins is also an advocate for growing the entrepreneurship, manufacturing and technology sectors in the state. At one point during the presentation he was asked if the growing natural gas industry could become large enough to offset the loss of coal jobs in recent years.

“The answer is no,” Deskins responded. “It requires some workers to drill a well. But once the well has been drilled it requires very, very few workers.”

Chief Communications Officer for New River Gorge Regional Development Authority Lillian Graning was very pleased to hear ideas being shared among attendees. She believes networking between community leaders is crucial for economic growth.

“We want it to be an accessible process so that anybody who has interest in recruiting new businesses or starting new organizations knows how to get in touch with us and provide feedback. We’re constantly taking that into consideration.”

Graning also indicated that attendance was strong with around 100 people signed up for the annual event. She, like Deskins, says the economy is looking stronger for West Virginia than it has in previous years.

“He (Deskins) had a little bit more positive outlook this time which is nice to hear,” Graning said. “We’re looking at national trends, state trends, regional trends and to put all of that in context with our programming and the services that we’re offering is great for our constituents and our community partners.”

The most recent set of data from the Bureau of Business & Economics Research at WVU shows the New River Gorge area has emerged from its deepest recession of 2016. This area includes Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers Counties.

The largest sector for the region is service-providing sectors such as trade and transportation. It is closely followed by the travel and tourism industry. The numbers are continuously changing.

“Our economy looks completely different than it did in 2014 when we first made this strategic plan,” explained Graning. “So we want to make sure that’s an updated response and that we’re adjusting to the economic environment.”

For additional information on the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority visit their website,

View the entire New River Gorge Area economic outlook report  HERE .

►  Citizens and community groups reject federal commission rubber-stamp on Mountain Valley Pipeline

Hundreds of landowners, businesses, faith leaders and community organizations who have spent three years fighting the proposed fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) are vowing to continue pressing federal, state, and local officials to reject the project, notwithstanding a certificate issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late Friday.

The agency has utterly failed to account for the harmful impacts to water resources, private property, local economies and the climate from the proposed pipeline, the groups say. In fact, FERC has yet to competently assess whether the pipeline is even needed.

“This project is far from a done deal. With the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and other agency permitting still necessary, we’ve now begun a new phase of our challenge in protecting our waters, farms and businesses, and our future,” said Roanoke County resident Roberta Bondurant of POWHR, a bi-state coalition of community groups along the path of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The pipeline, proposed by a consortium of natural gas companies led by Equitrans, would run 300 miles from Wetzel County, West Virginia, through Southwest Virginia and connect with the existing Transco line in Pittsylvania County. It would cross streams, wetlands and other water bodies more than 1,000 times in the two states, many of those in extremely steep mountain terrain susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.

The project still requires numerous local, state and federal sign-offs. Importantly, both Virginia DEQ and West Virginia DEP must still certify that the project would not harm or degrade water resources. West Virginia issued its certification earlier this year, but recently asked the court to remand the permit back to the state for further consideration after a challenge brought by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of several community groups. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is now reviewing tens of thousands of public comments on its draft water quality certificate. 

The U.S. Forest Service, the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and state and local health and zoning departments are among the other government entities that still must also weigh in.

In addition, landowners along the proposed pipeline route have filed two lawsuits against FERC challenging the constitutionality of the use of eminent domain — the taking of private land — by a private company for private gain. Attorneys have requested that all activity on the project be suspended until those pivotal questions are resolved.

“We cannot trust FERC to act in our best interests, so we continue to urge state leaders to exercise their right to thoroughly scrutinize this project,” said Lara Mack, Virginia field organizer with Appalachian Voices.  “Scientists have repeatedly warned that impacts to our waters and other natural resources will be permanent. If the MVP is built, communities in its path will suffer the consequences for generations,” said Mack.

“We are living in a climate emergency. In just the past several weeks we’ve seen the tragic consequences of a warmer world, from devastating hurricanes to raging wildfires. Now is the time to move to renewable energy, not build new pipelines that would lock us into climate-warming infrastructure for generations to come,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“Here along the proposed path of Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County, we’ve had yet another earthquake,” said Russell Chisholm, an Army veteran of Desert Storm. “Mountain Valley Pipeline, a newly formed LLC with no experience building a line this massive, expects us to believe they can safely blast, trench and build though an active seismic zone in Giles. Communities are right to be angry that FERC will allow them to do it on the backs of law abiding, tax-paying residents, many of whom are elderly, served in our armed forces, or worked as public servants in our schools, police and fire departments. It would be a bitter injustice to have these citizens displaced—either literally or effectively—by eminent domain for private gain.”

“Localities face the prospect of whole communities in water crises, disasters that no amount of bonding could compensate,” said Bondurant. “Permitting MVP would be antithetical to our region that boasts clean air, pristine waters, outdoor adventure, scenic byways, fertile farming, and economies of health care, education and burgeoning breweries and distilleries dependent on clean water. That would be a shameful legacy for Governor McAuliffe.”

“This project poses unprecedented economic and environmental threats,” Chisholm said. “We encourage all Virginians to stand with us and call on Governor McAuliffe and his Department of Environmental Quality to reject this ill-conceived and unneeded project.”

►  William J. Powell sworn in as United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia

William J. Powell has taken the oath of office to become the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. Powell was nominated by Donald Trump on August 3, 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 3, 2017. Chief U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh administered the oath of office to U.S. attorney Powell today.

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“I am honored and humbled to be named as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. I’m excited to start working with the very fine staff and attorneys in the district on the very important work that needs to get done,” said Powell.

As U.S. Attorney, Powell is the top-ranking federal law enforcement official in the Northern District of West Virginia, which includes offices in Wheeling, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, and Elkins. He oversees a staff of 45 employees, including 21 attorneys and 24 non-attorney support personnel. The office is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the district, including crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, firearms, and narcotics. The office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts owed to the United States.

Powell, a Martinsburg native, was born in Manhasset, New York in 1960. He most recently served as the Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Jefferson County, West Virginia. He has also held positions as a member attorney at Jackson Kelly, PLLC, and an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.

He received his J.D. in 1985 from the West Virginia University College of Law and his B.A. in 1982 from Salem College. He is a past president of the West Virginia Bar Association, past Member of the Board of Governors for the West Virginia State Bar, and has been active in numerous community and professional organizations.

He has been married to his wife, Sharon, for 31 years, and they have raised three boys.

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