Editorial Roundup: West Virginia

Bluefield Daily Telegraph. May 15, 2022.

Editorial: Pipestem renovations: Regional asset grows again

If you haven’t been to Pipestem Resort State Park in a while, now would be a great time to visit this close-to-home destination. More than $8 million in renovations have been completed at the park in recent months, adding further appeal to this regional asset.

Recent upgrades at Pipestem have included nearly $4.4 million in renovations to the park’s two lodges, cabin upgrades, and more than $3.6 million in infrastructure improvements to the park’s tram, wastewater treatment plant, and campground waterline.

Other new additions recently completed at the park include the addition of a zipline, splash park and adventure lake, as well as the new adventure zone facility.

Gov. Jim Justice was on hand last week

to help celebrate all of the new additions with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. He was joined by state Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby and state Division of Natural Resources Director Brett McMillon for the ceremony.

“The renovations at Pipestem are incredible,” Justice said. “I congratulate everyone who played a part in making all of these improvements possible. Just look at this place right here. I don’t care where you go in this country, it doesn’t get any better than right here where we’re at right now. We’ve always known how good we are. But the outside world didn’t buy it. Someway, somehow, we had to change our image in West Virginia. Through projects like this, it’s working.”

Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge at the border of Mercer and Summers counties, Pipestem Resort is a popular regional destination for both tourists and local residents. It’s also an important economic driver for the Mercer and Summers county region.

All of the new additions to the state park will help in bringing additional visitors to our region. Attractions like the tram, zipline, splash park, adventure lake, adventure zone and the newly renovated lodges and cabins are the type of things that out-of-town visitors are looking for — particularly those who are planning a vacation or get-away around the great outdoors.

Local residents who haven’t been to Pipestem in a while also are strongly encouraged to plan a daylong outing soon. As there is much new to see and do at Pipestem Resort State Park.

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The Intelligencer. May 18, 2022.

Editorial: VA Reforms Are Wrong for W.Va.

We already knew proposals by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would do more harm than good for West Virginia veterans, but state Veterans Assistance Secretary Ted Diaz hammered the point home. He warned members of the state legislature’s Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about the proposed reduction in accessible facilities and services.

Though federal officials describe the changes as improvements that would modernize services, it is clear those same folks are more worried about change for change’s sake than serving veterans.

“My best recommendation I give to you — and I’ve already given to the congressional delegation in D.C. — is this plan needs to be eliminated now,” Diaz told state lawmakers, according to MetroNews.

Shifting the balance of care to rural hospitals already stretched to their breaking points is unconscionable, and surely VA officials in Washington, D.C., know that.

“Our concerns are with the ability of the non-VA facilities to address the unique veteran situation. Veterans have a unique need of care, whether it be traumatic injuries in battle (or) mental health issues from the mental injures that have been inflicted through the years of war,” Diaz reportedly told state lawmakers.

As a nation, we promised those who were willing to give their lives for the rest of us we would give them the care they deserved. Tossing aside that promise would not be on the table, if bureaucrats understood what our veterans face, and the challenges in the rural communities so many of them call home.

It begs the question, then, do they care?

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Parkersburg News and Sentinel. May 18, 2022.

Editorial: Rescue Plan: Federal funding should be put to use

Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday the state has received the second half of its $1.35 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the federal government. In doing so, he made an important point. West Virginia is simply not used to dealing with this much money.

“The second tranche of that has come in now,” he said. “We need to be prudent and smart in what we’re doing … We’ve been so upside-down in the decades of the past when we didn’t have any money to turn around. We didn’t know what to do. Now we have it going. With this we’re just going to try to do more and more and more goodness for West Virginia.”

Much of that goodness will come in the form of matching grants to municipalities for water and sewer infrastructure projects.

“Now, they’ve got to qualify and they’ve got to qualify within the terms and conditions of the ARPA bill in its entirety,” Justice said. “So, we’ll have projects that we’ll offer up and we’ll walk them through all the different steps and everything, and then see if we can get them qualified and everything …”

Good. Local officials will likely be grateful for the assistance.

But let’s bear in mind our state’s less-than-stellar reputation for spending federal tax dollars. May 1, we were again labeled a “slow spender” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, because we are still clinging to $60 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery money that was awarded to the state in 2018, to be used in recovery efforts after the 2016 flooding. (Yes, we’re still talking about getting folks the help they need from a disaster that occurred six years ago). The RISE West Virginia program that was supposed to be spending that money to help people is now under federal investigation.

We just don’t seem to be able to help ourselves when money comes our way, and another massive inflow has hit state coffers. Justice and the rest of the usual bureaucrats in Charleston will have to double down on efforts to ensure OUR money is spent quickly and as intended.

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