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New River WV

W.Va. grassroots groups assist during state's water crisis

Elk River at Charleson, WV
An article published Feb. 27th at WagingNonViolence.org notes that just hours after 10,000 gallons of MCHM spilled in the Elk River, just upstream of a municipal water system that serves nine counties, the grassroots organization WV Clean Water Hub began organizing water deliveries to those in need of water.

Soon, other West Virginia grassroots groups joined the relief effect, including Aurora Lights, Coal River Mountain Watch, Keeping of the Mountains Foundation, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and RAMPS.  

Now, about several weeks after the spill occurred, some residents are complaining that the water still has a strange odor, and some worry about chemical residues and long term effects of exposure to MCHM, according to a WaterOnline.com article.

In a Charleston Gazette article published in January, entitled What is "Crude MCHM"? Few know., the director of West Virginia Poison Center was quoted as saying "There's not much known about this chemical".  The article also notes that current Federal and state laws "set limits and mandate samples for only certain chemicals" and MCHM isn't one of them.


The Jobs Issue in West Virginia

For many decades, jobs has remained one of the key issues of concern to most West Virginians. While many of the state's residents seem to feel there is no "real solution" for the state's poor job market, few seem aware of the fact that the jobs issue has been undergoing analysis and study for some time.

Since 1965, when it was first established by Congress, the focus of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has been to foster the economic development of Appalachia. The mission of ARC is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia. The ARC is a planning, research, advocacy and funding organization; it does not have any governing powers within the region.
ARC undertakes projects that address the four goals identified by ARC in its strategic plan:
  • Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
  • Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the region economically competitive.
  • Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.

To meet these goals, ARC helps fund such projects as education and workforce training programs, highway construction, water and sewer system construction, small business start-ups and expansions, and development of health care resources.
Each year Congress appropriates funds, which ARC allocates among its member states. The Appalachian governors submit to ARC their state spending plans for the year, which include lists of projects they recommend for funding. The spending plans are reviewed and approved at a meeting of all the governors and the federal co-chair.
The next step is approval of individual projects by the ARC federal co-chair. After the states submit project applications to ARC, each project is reviewed by ARC program analysts. The process is completed when the federal co-chair reviews a project and formally approves it.

Appalachia Defined

Appalachia, as defined in the legislation from which the Appalachian Regional Commission derives its authority, is a 200,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

About 23 million people live in the 410 counties of the Appalachian Region; 42 percent of the Region's population is rural, compared with 20 percent of the national population. The Region's economic fortunes were based in the past mostly on extraction of natural resources and manufacturing. The modern economy of the Region is gradually diversifying, with a heavier emphasis on services and widespread development of tourism, especially in more remote areas where there is no other viable industry. Coal remains an important resource, but it is not a major provider of jobs. Manufacturing is still an economic mainstay but is no longer concentrated in a few major industries.

Challenges to Reducing Economic Distress in Appalachia

Several national and international factors have substantially affected the Region's economic status in the past 10 years.

  • The Region faces competition from imports in key industries, such as textiles and apparel manufacturing.
  • In counties where manufacturing remains a dominant industry, declining real wages have eroded the income base. Moreover, high-wage, high-tech jobs have not developed in these manufacturing-dependent counties. The result is a widening income gap between these counties and the faster growing metropolitan counties where information services are concentrated.
  • In many central Appalachian counties, the economic decline of the coal industry has contributed to their continued distress. Even with an anticipated rise in coal prices, the business and employment base of these counties is still expected to decline.
  • Seventy-one distressed counties still have a high dependence on tobacco production. This poses another threat to the economy of the most vulnerable parts of the region.

Hope for a Brighter Economic Future?

The ARC and other study groups have identified the economic factors that have contributed and continue to contribute to West Virginia's economic conditions. Over the years, many programs and solutions designed to solve its problems have been attempted. Although the state's economy has faired better in recent years, many of West Virginia's economic problems have continued.

In future articles at The West Virginia Blog we'll examine reasons why the state's "jobs" issue remains as a challenge yet to be conquered.

Sources: Appalachian Regional Commission and Wikipedia's ARC article


Gov. Manchin Named States Co-Chairman of ARC

November 16, 2006 - Charleston, WV - Gov. Joe Manchin has been selected by the governors of the Appalachian states to serve as Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) states co-chair for the year 2007. The governor will assume the leadership position, currently held by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, in January.

“I am honored to serve as states co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission,” Governor Manchin said. “Our states, our region and our country must chart a new course to supply more of our own energy resources to be more energy independent. The ARC has taken a leading role in these efforts with its focus on development of a regional energy blueprint for our resource-rich region. With the pending federal reauthorization of ARC, I look forward to working with our leaders on Capitol Hill to ensure that the Commission has a viable future to continue addressing the many critical infrastructure and economic needs of our region.“

Joseph Manchin III (D), 34th Governor of West Virginia
Joseph Manchin III (D), 34th Governor of West Virginia

Governor Manchin will take a very active role in assisting with the ARC’s continued development of an energy plan for the Appalachian region. He also currently serves a chairman of the Southern States Energy Board, a regional organization composed of 16 southern states and two U.S. territories that focuses on enhancing economic development in the south through innovations in energy and environmental policies, programs and technologies.

“I welcome the selection of Governor Joe Manchin III of West Virginia as the 2007 States' Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope. "He is a leader with vision who has devised an innovative energy plan for his state that will help the Commission in implementing its own recently announced regional energy blueprint. I look forward to working with him on all the economic challenges facing the Appalachian Region.”

Established by Congress in 1965, ARC is a unique federal-state partnership composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a presidential appointee representing the federal government. Grassroots participation is provided through local development districts -- multi-county organizations with boards made up of elected officials, business people and other local leaders.

The commission is dedicated to providing opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life in the Appalachian states.
The commission is dedicated to providing opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life in the Appalachian states. The Appalachian Region includes 406 counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The West Virginia Development Office administers the state’s ARC program.

Joseph Manchin III, born August 24, 1947 in Farmington, West Virginia, was elected Governor of West Virginia in the 2004 election and took office on January 17, 2005. He is a member of the Democratic Party and the scion of a large Democratic political family in West Virginia.

Baby boomers snapping up Monroe County ‘forested community’ lots

Mountain America LLC, a Maryland registered planned community land development company, is completing road work for and has sold 54 out of 99 individual home sites on the “Walnut Springs Mountain Reserve,” a planned forest community near Union, WV, in Monroe County. The property is situated on approximately 1,200 pristine mountaintop acres, overlooking the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests where the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains come together. The Walnut Springs development community was started in August, 2004, and is scheduled for completion in Fall of 2007.

With property elevations of 2,000 to 3,050 feet, Walnut Springs offers a nearly 60-mile view from many lots. W
ith an average estate size of approximately 10 acres, lots are lots are priced based on each lot's unique properties, but are expected to be priced from between $159,000 to $3-million. Walnut Springs Mountain Reserve is located within a few miles of historic Lewisburg, WV and near The Greenbrier Resort, The Homestead and Snowshoe Mountain Resort, one of the top snow skiing destinations on the East Coast.
Multiple common areas are planned for residents, comprised of well over 100 acres, including parks, hiking, walking and riding trails, two beautiful planned lodges, two gorgeous crystal clear bottom lakes, a large fishing pond, picnic spots and nature preserves. Over 100 species of birds and over 40 species of butterflies found at Walnut Springs, as well as whitetail deer, wild turkey, rabbits and foxes.

The company is marketing its Walnut Springs properties to baby boomers from Washington, Chicago, New York, Virginia, Maryland,
North Carolina and California. CEO Jonathan Halperin states the community’s spectacular views and privacy are complemented by the area’s charming towns, historical sites, golf and ski resorts, outdoor activities, cultural events, performance venues, fine cuisine and shopping. Land covenants and restrictions will ensure all residents have a natural viewshed and development will be environmentally friendly.

For more information about the Walnut Springs Mountain Reserve visit the developer's Web site.

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$87 million water park resort planned for Faimont, W.Va.

Three Morgantown businessmen, David Rees, Michael Vecchio and Mark Tampoya, have announced plans to build a resort complex filled with water slides and roller coasters, movie screens, retail stores, restaurants and a hotel and conference center at Fairmont, WV. The $87-million resort, developed by The Water Works LLC, will be located on 25 acres of a 107-acre site on the East Side of Fairmont formerly occupied by the Exxon Fairmont Coke Works and the Sharon Steel plant. The resort park is expected to create 350 permanent and 125 seasonal jobs and hopes to attract visitors from West Virginia and the greater Mid-Atlantic region, including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Harrisburg.

The developers plan to begin the first phase of Volcano Island Resort in April, with the park scheduled to open by November 2008. The resort complex will include a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park with a surfing machine and water roller coaster, a 5-acre outdoor park and a 300-room hotel and 30,000-square-foot conference center. At a later date, the developers hope to add as many as 20 movie screens, 80,000 square feet of retail space for stores and restaurants, a 60-slip marina, recreational lake and RV park. A hospitality management company located in Erie, PA, American Resort Management, LLC, will manage operations of the hotel, conference center and water park.

Read more... (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Read more... (The Times West Virginia)
Read more... (W.Va. Business Blog)

Blogging for WV...

Given the communications challenge resulting from the various accents spoken throughout the state -- is blogging a more effective way for West Virginians to communicate? ;)

"I remember the first time I ever drove through deep, southern West Virginia. I couldn't even understand the accent of the people there, you know. They couldn't understand me. West Virginia, actually, is a state that's made up of some different kinds of communities.
" (Robert Grimes)

For persons interested in dialect research: The International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) Web site has several examples of downloadable sound files (MP3) and documents (PDFs) online featuring West Virginia accent/dialect speakers.

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