Correction: Editorial Rdp story

June 29, 2019

In the WV--Editorial Rdp published June 26, The Associated Press reported erroneously that The Register-Herald was the source of the first editorial on a shortage of funding for state highway authority offices. The source was the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

A corrected version of the story is below:

West Virginia editorial roundup

Summary of recent West Virginia newspaper editorials

By The Associated Press

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

June 24

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph on a shortage of funding for state highway authority offices:

Another highway advocate position for the region has been lost. Richard Browning, the long-time organizer and director of the Coalfields Expressway Authority, has resigned from that position due to a lack of funding.

Lawmakers in West Virginia eliminated funding for the executive director posts of the Coalfields Expressway and King Coal Highway three years ago. That led to the closure of the King Coal Highway Authority’s office in Mingo County in 2017, and the retirement of former King Coal Highway Authority Executive Director Mike Mitchem.

Browning told the Daily Telegraph last week that he tried to keep the Coalfields Expressway Authority office in Wyoming County open, adding that he stretched money ”... as far as I could.” But the authority office eventually ran out of money. So he had to close the office and retire from the position earlier this year.

While the directors of both roadway projects have now retired from those positions, it should be noted that the respective King Coal Highway Authority and Coalfields Expressway authority boards continue to meet, and are still advocating for their respective projects. Of course, there is only so much the volunteers can do, particularly without an office, without state funding and without a full-time highway authority director.

We still think it is important for these positions to be refunded, and we urge lawmakers to reconsider these positions. The budget crisis in West Virginia is long over. The state does have more money to work with now than it did three years ago.

Once the $60 million King Coal Highway contract in Mercer County is completed come 2021, there needs to be a plan in place for continuing construction on the future Interstate 73/74/75 corridor in southern West Virginia. Is anyone working right now to plan out the next section of the King Coal Highway in Mercer and McDowell counties? A highway director can play a critical role in ensuring that such a plan is in place and assist with the search for local, state and federal dollars.

For his part, Browning is still hoping to see construction begin next year on a new segment of the Coalfields Expressway in McDowell County. He says the current plan is to create a section of the four-lane corridor from the federal prison at the Indian Ridge Industrial Park to the city limits of Welch. It’s about an eight-mile section of the expressway he is hoping to see constructed.

The money for this work, $110 million, came from the sale of turnpike bonds. Even though he is no longer the highway director, Browning said he hopes to see dirt moving on the project next year. Still, he fears that the remaining $110 million in funds will not be enough to finish that eight-mile stretch of the expressway in Welch.

Browning says work on the preliminary design and securing rights of way is now proceeding on the McDowell County project.

Once again, it would be good to have a full-time director on hand to ensure that this critical section of the Coalfields Expressway, which will be the first-ever four-lane corridor in the history of McDowell County, will proceed as planned.

In the meantime, the burden of ensuring that construction continues on both the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway will fall upon the shoulders of the volunteer authority boards, our elected lawmakers in Charleston, and the respective county commissions in Mercer and McDowell.

Online: https://www.bdtonline.com/


June 21

The Charleston Gazette-Mail on a proposed Chinese investment in West Virginia:

Two years ago, then-West Virginia Commerce secretary Woody Thrasher made a trip to China with officials from the Trump administration, including the president himself.

Out of that came the announcement that a Chinese energy company would be making an $84 billion investment in West Virginia. A memorandum of understanding had been signed. Some state officials promoted the deal as the salvation of the Mountain State’s economy. A new investment in projects over a period of 20 years would bring tens, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The Gazette-Mail and other news organizations had some questions, though. The main one being, what was in the memorandum? Obviously, a memorandum of understanding isn’t a contract, but any details would have been nice.

Two years later, the picture isn’t any clearer. The public hasn’t seen the memorandum. Thrasher and Gov. Jim Justice said the state would see projects underway within a year. That hasn’t happened. Thrasher is no longer commerce secretary, resigning from that post after a scandal over flood recovery efforts. He’s now trying to beat Justice in the Republican primary for governor in 2020.

CNBC released a news report Friday on the state of the supposed deal between China and West Virginia. Thrasher told CNBC reporters that the $83.7 billion figure that was released to the public was the work of hasty math on “the back of a napkin.”

“The temptation was too great not to sort of announce that deal,” Thrasher said.

Indeed, when has reality ever stood in the way of scoring political points with an almost unbelievable promise of unheard-of economic prosperity on the horizon?

So what happened? West Virginians might not know for a while. The presidential administration engaging in a trade war with the country that was on the other side of the table is probably a factor, and the deal was probably never as big or as certain as promised. There’s also likely some warranted concern over a country like China having intimate knowledge of energy infrastructure operations in the United States.

Justice’s current commerce secretary, Ed Gaunch, recently told West Virginia MetroNews that there are seven projects in the works with China, and that one of those is close to becoming a reality. As CNBC noted, Gaunch didn’t provide any specifics.

Gov. Justice’s administration should have been more forthright and cautious from the outset. Most West Virginians are tired of promises of prosperity just around the corner that are announced with a bang but never materialize. It’s unfair to West Virginians to get their hopes up in such a manner. They’ve all been burned too many times, and no one at this stage could blame them for viewing this entire project with a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s nearly the only thing they have left.

Online: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/


June 20

The Exponent Telegram on West Virginia’s 156th anniversary as a state:

Like many of our readers, we are proud West Virginians, deeply rooted personally and professionally to this great state we call home.

So we join with Mountaineers everywhere to celebrate our 156th birthday with a look to the past, as well as a vision for the future.

From the throes of the Civil War, in a time of great hate, with brother pitted against brother, West Virginia has grown from its past with Virginia into an independent, free state.

Over the past 156 years, the Mountain State has seen its share of ups and downs. It has been kicked to the curb by others across the country who fail to see its beauty and the strength of its people.

West Virginia has been a leader in the development of coal, natural gas and glass manufacturing, but has also struggled as those industries dip and swoon under market and regulatory pressures.

To help offset that — thanks to forward-thinking leaders like the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd — West Virginia became home to the world’s largest repository of biometric data (the FBI fingerprint/biometrics center in Harrison County) and continues to enlarge its footprint in the high-technology sector.

We’ve also become a hotbed of natural gas activity, with much of the Mountain State harboring great reserves of this important fuel. As the nation and world look to turn from coal and free themselves from the clutches of oil-producing countries, natural gas is seen as a pivotal economic driver for current and future generations.

Because of that, there remains the critical need for pipelines to transport the gas to markets, as well as a storage hub to maintain usable gas and its byproducts to launch what could be a multibillion-dollar petrochemical industry.

At the same time, the state’s remote nature makes it perfect for expanded tourism efforts in adventure sports such as rafting, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, ATV riding and hiking.

As we wrote back in 2013, when the state celebrated its 150th birthday, West Virginia is also the birthplace of many major contributors in a variety of fields — from science and education to sports and music.

Here are just a few:

— Pearl S. Buck, who grew up in Hillsboro, Pocahontas County, went on to become a Pulitzer Prize- and Nobel Prize-winning author.

— Homer H. Hickam Jr., who as a lad was inspired to build model rockets. He later worked for NASA and became the best-selling author of “The Rocket Boys: A Memoir.” The book inspired an award-winning movie, “October Sky.”

— Clarksburg’s own Cyrus R. Vance, who served as secretary of state from 1977 to 1980 during President Jimmy Carter’s administration.

— Booker T. Washington, who grew up in Malden, Kanawha County, and became one of the nation’s most respected black educational leaders and the first president of Tuskegee Institute.

— Jerry West, “Zeke from Cabin Creek,” from Kanawha County, who became a star basketball player at WVU and later for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. His silhouette became the NBA logo. After his playing days, he became a talented coach and team administrator, as well as a successful businessman.

— The Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, who was a preacher, social activist and educator who championed human rights. His Sullivan Principles of Equal Opportunity became a blueprint for ending apartheid and an international standard for human rights.

— Herschel “Woody” Williams, a native of Marion County, who went on to earn the Medal of Honor for heroic action during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

— Taylor County’s Anna Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day at a Methodist church in Grafton. The Webster native guided the observance to officially become a national holiday in 1914.

— Mary Lou Retton, who grew up in Fairmont and became one of the most recognized Olympic champions of all time. Her Olympic gold medal performance in the 1984 gymnastics competition is still an Olympic highlight reel mainstay.

— Monongah’s Nick Saban, who has led college football teams to six national championships (tied with legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant), and Clarksburg’s own Jimbo Fisher, who has one national title to his credit.

— College Basketball Hall of Fame-bound coach Bob Huggins, who has amassed more than 800 wins and is still going strong.

— John Forbes Nash Jr., who was born and raised in Bluefield. He is a 1994 Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who was the subject of the 1998 biography and 2002 film “A Beautiful Mind.”

— John C. Norman, M.D., who grew up in Charleston and became a distinguished surgeon and pioneer in organ transplant techniques.

— Carter G. Woodson, who was born in Huntington and became a noted educator and author. He is considered the father of Black History Month.

— Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, U.S. Air Force Retired, grew from his Lincoln County roots to become the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

— Glen Dale’s Brad Paisley began performing at a young age throughout the Ohio Valley. He’s now one of the most recognized country music stars in the world.

The bottom line, as we like to remind our youth: You can be anything you want, no matter where you are from.

And there are thousands of West Virginia-born, proud-to-be Mountaineers proving that on a daily basis.

Granted, like every other state, there are issues to overcome as we strive for a better quality of life, better government and a better educational system for our young people.

But first and foremost, it starts with people. And West Virginians are a special lot, with compassionate hearts, loyalty and a commitment to help others.

So as we reflect on the state’s first 156 years, we look forward to the future knowing that working together, it will continue to brighten with each passing day.

And we proudly recall the state’s motto: “Montani Semper Liberi” — Mountaineers Are Always Free!

Online: https://www.wvnews.com/theet/

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