……Good news! The new Federal Stimulus Act contains significant funds for local communities. Senator Joe Manchin announced the amounts that will be received in a news release that detailed each community and each county. The legislation states that the funding can be used for infrastructure. Both Chester and New Cumberland are updating their water/sewage systems. New Cumberland’s budget (page 10) has had the additional revenue garnered from the 1 % sales tax the city implemented through Home Rule. Chester has gained Home Rule status and now will be able to implement that change in July.
….I also spotted money for communities that have suffered economic hardship due to a downturn in travel and tourism in that legislation. Is that us? I’m wondering if the heavy toll the pandemic took on Mountaineer, its employees, local vendors and businesses as well as Hancock County through decreases slot revenue would qualify us.
…House Bill 2174 has passed the House after much debate. The prohibits relocating, renaming or defacing any historic statue or monument or memorial of any person involved in a war. While you can’t legislate with specificity, those familiar with the bill say that Statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was the genesis of the bill. The bill places responsibility under the WV Department of Historic Preservation. Delegate Pat McGeehan is one of the sponsors.
…..Gov. Justice may be getting some great marks for his handling of the COVID vaccine distribution, but he has totally mishandled his centerpiece legislation for the session: the reduction and eventual elimination of the West Virginia income tax. He got off to a shaky start when he kicked it off by saying he would use leftover CARES funds to fill the budget hole (yes, he did say that despite his protestations that he didn’t) only for the Federal rules and regs to say “no, you can’t.” Secondly, he did battle with those people who were his biggest backers ….the Business and Industry Council and the Chamber of Commerce…both of whom had supported the Governor when he was a Democrat and when he was a Republican. My mind always returns to advice given to me by my Dad: “Dance with the ones that brung ya.” In other words, don’t turn your back on the people who were responsible for your success.
….. The Governor had harsh words for the business lobbyists. The Governor is a low hitter (my word) when it comes to political differences. Rather than focusing on the issue, he resorts to name calling. Not good to make a temporary opponent with whom you’ll be a friend again after the session is over ….into a forever enemy.
…..The Chair of the House Government Organization Committee has tested positive for COVID. We are nearing 50 days in the legislative session and legislative leaders are hopeful that they will be able to conclude their business. All legislators were offered the option of vaccination and 70 percent opted to get vaccination.
…..I wrote in a previous column about Bluefield State and Pres. Robin Capehart making a move to establish an Engineering Technology Program in the former Ohio Valley Medical Center. Wondered why West Virginia Northern Community College and West Liberty weren’t taking exception. I wonder no more. WVNCC President Dan Mosser went on the offense against the move at a Wheeling City Council meeting with the support of both West Liberty and Wheeling University.
….. Why do I care about what happens in Wheeling? Why should you care what happens in Wheeling? Well, those are our tax dollars which fund higher education. I served on the Higher Education sub-committee of Finance During my years in the Legislature and I know that in addition to your tax dollars, tuition dollars fund our State Schools. The ability of our two local State colleges, West Liberty and West Virginia Northern Community College to retain and attract students is vital to our area..
……Should the City of Wheeling have approached the local colleges first before doing an memorandum of understand (MOU) with Bluefield? Absolutely! As Councilmembers they are required to do their due diligence prior to acting.
……Bluefield has now hired another former elected official whose ethical instincts have been the subject of controversy: Brent Benjamin, a former Supreme Court Justice, was defeated in the 2017 election and is now serving as Executive Vice President & General Counsel at Bluefield State. Benjamin won a 12-year-term in 2009 with the backing to the tune of $3 million from “For the Kids” a political action committee funded by Massey Coal CEO Don Blankenship. Justice Benjamin would then refuse to recuse himself from the Caperton vs Massey Coal case when it came before the Supreme Court. Blankenship if you remember made a futile run for Senate. He served a year in Federal Prison for what was deemed a conspiracy to willfully violate federal mine safety laws that resulted in the Upper Big Branch mining disaster when he was Massey CEO.
….If people judge you by the company you keep, Wheeling Council needs to take a close look at the track records of both Caperton and Benjamin.
……This may be much ado about nothing because I feel the Higher Education Policy Committee will see Bluefield and President Robin Capehart’s move as exactly what it is, a move to poach students from the other colleges. Since Bluefield wants to offer a two-year program approval needs to be obtained from the Communuity and Technical College Commission. Collateral damage, however, may be the trust issue between very respected academic institutions and the City of Wheeling.
……I hate when the time changes. It will be a few weeks before I really figure out what time it is. One-thousand copies of HOMETOWN NEWS get delivered to my front door at 6:30 a.m on Wednesdays which now is really 5:30 a.m. But, I’m going to bed at 10 p.m. which is really 9 p.m. It should all work out because I should be getting the same amount of sleep, but it never does. I feel robbed of one hour even though I can’t figure out if that hour is in the morning or the afternoon. The only one around here who really hasn’t been affected by the time change is Max. He eats at the same time regardless of what human time it is. Dogs know best.
……I’ve watched way too much HGTV this winter and now I look at the outside of my house and think “what can I do to spruce it up.” We are getting a new front door, but I’m thinking of changing the shutter color to a new deeper green. What do you think dear reader? I live at 2267 Veteran’s Blvd. My house is a tri-level and I’m trying to think of something to do above the windows on the lower level. And, does anyone have suggestions on window boxes? If you have ideas e-mail them to [email protected]. Can you tell I’m excited about spring?
……And, really not enough kudos exist for the work done by Leslie Fields and Diane Wells in the Graham building windows. We all look forward to the season change in the windows and we all need to express our appreciation to these two ladies.
…..Did you miss your Hometown News last week? Our sincere apologies because that technology nightmare you always fear happened to us. An hour before Shannon has to send the newspaper to the printer I send her my column. It’s the last piece in the puzzle that she puts together each week. When she imported my column into the near complete paper, it deleted the entire newspaper. Yep, it was gone and there wasn’t time to rebuild and send to the printer.
…..We contemplated trying to print the next day, but that didn’t allow us time to have my laptop scrubbed and check the rest of our equipment. So we decided to take the one of two weeks we take off each year and have our laptops and programs checked so it doesn’t happen again. You will still get 50 newspapers per year as we will produce a paper at Christmas time.
.. Glad to be back this week!