AND THEN AGAIN……. by Tamara Pettit

….I know everyone likes the week between Christmas and New Years because it allows “down time.”   That’s a time to take a few days off and relax in your Christmas jammies.  I’ve always struggled with this period because I don’t do “down time” well.  I don’t watch TV much, so if I sit on the couch too long the room starts talking to me.    “Take me down” says my Christmas tree.  “I was gorgeous when you jumped the gun and put me up before Thanksgiving, but I’ve overstayed my welcome now.”     “Really, do you have any idea the layer of dust underneath me,” screams the garland on the fireplace mantle.”   My Santas look bedraggled, my bows are wilted and my eyes dart about the room spying dust bunnies that are just taunting me with “come get me big girl.”   It’s time to make way for 2022!

….While this may be a down time for most, it’s a time for accelerated action for your State government. Governor Justice is allotting $48 million to nursing programs at three colleges in the State:   Bridgewater Community College, Glenville State and Concord University.   The money is to be used to expand the nursing program at Bridgewater and establish nursing programs at Glenville and Concord.  Will the accessibility of new nursing programs help entice more people to the profession?  I doubt it.  Increasing salaries might, but the healthcare profession has become one of the most difficult in our nation thanks to COVID.    The latest statistics indicate that about half of licensed nurses in the State are no longer working in the profession. 

……Look for the teachers’ and State employees’  pay raises to be the first out of the gate when the Legislature convenes.  It appears the Governor has consensus with both the House and Senate leadership in both the majority and minority parties on the pay raises so I look for the pay raise bill to be shepherded through the House and Senate with great speed and with very little grandstanding.

…..Do you remember when many State and County employees’ jobs were dependent  on who was elected.  Before County Sheriff’s Deputies were Civil Service,  a new Sheriff would appoint new deputies.  Did some research, but was unable to discover exactly when that ceased.  The same held true for State Road employees depending on who was Governor.  State Road workers attempted to organize a Union back when Arch Moore was Governor, but after a long and bitter strike,  were unsuccessful.   One fact I did run across when I was looking through a book called “Governors” was that Gov. Moore was successful in getting State workers health insurance in 1969.  Hard to believe that some workers didn’t have health insurance prior to that time,

……Speaking of grandstanding,  is there not an issue on the Federal level that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey doesn’t feel a need to hold forth on?  We get one or two press releases a day from his office about him taking action on a myriad of subjects.    Is Morrisey positioning himself for a Gubernatorial run or is he planning to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin in the future?  I think whether or not Manchin changes his registration to Republican or not, he will still have the support of most Republicans in the State so that would be a lose/lose for Morrisey.

…..Mountaineer horsemen made an effective plea for COVID CARE funds from the Hancock County Commission.  The organization that represents horse owners and trainers requested funding to be used to construct three horse exercising machines.  The machines would be used to keep horses fit enough to run in the event there were no workers to exercise them.  I believe the letter was sent just as the Commission allocated the last of the COVID Care funds so the letter was made a matter of record,   The request brings up an important issue to me, however.  The horsemen are seeking the machines in the event they don’t have workers,   Why don’t they have workers?  Backside workers are woefully underpaid and most without healthcare.  Now, those workers may be attracted to those jobs with a higher pay rate available in the area.  Conversely, can the horsemen afford to pay those workers more as they struggle to survive?  Would the exercise machines be the racetrack equivalent of self-checkout stations at Walmart.   There is, unfortunately, no easy answer.  Commissioner Eron Chek asked that the Commissioners meet with the HBPA.