West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a great love of gardening.
In last week’s State of the State Address in Charleston, Tomblin compared governing to gardening in looking toward the future, noting that both require “planning, patience and foresight.”
“We continue to experience positive change across the Mountain State and have set in motion many initiatives that will not fully bloom until long after my term has ended — but the hope of a fruitful harvest keeps us working hard each and every day,” Tomblin said.
The governor is confident West Virginia is on solid footing.
“Make no mistake, the state of our state is strong,” he said. “We pay our bills on time, and we’ve invested in our future by continuing to work together as we face future challenges.”
He is confident, though, that the future can be brighter and that the slight population loss West Virginia has been experiencing can be reversed.
“For those who have left the Mountain State — come home. Come home to take advantage of the growing opportunities that we are creating for you,” Tomblin said. “West Virginia’s garden is thriving, and we will yield a great harvest for years to come.”
Education — critical for the state’s economic future — was a key part in the speech.
Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, supports Tomblin’s emphasis on training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.
“Hopefully this will promote more student interest to get into these technical fields,” Longstreth said. She stated STEM will also be a focus for the House of Delegates this year.
State Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said that, as a former technical education director and administrator and a teacher, he was pleased that the governor was emphasizing STEM and technical education.
“He’s looking out to build a good work force and educate students to be employable,” Prezioso said.
Within Marion County, Prezioso believes that by changing where technical education is taught, and allowing students to take all of their classes at a technical center rather than traveling back and forth between schools, technical education would become more attractive.
House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, commended Tomblin’s proposed mix of vocational and higher education.
“By taking the step of putting the STEM services at vo-tech centers, I think that would go a long way for people who aren’t necessarily college bound,” Miley said.
Tomblin made a number of other proposals. He advocated for slight teacher and state worker pay raises, even as West Virginia faces a $60 million budget deficit. Teachers would receive a 2 percent raise in his budget, while state employees would get a $504 pay boost. The governor also said he hopes to improve the business climate, as well as fight drug abuse and better prepare the state for emergencies.
Plenty will unfold during the ongoing legislative session, and there will be some political battles, for sure.
“It was sort of more of a pep talk and looking back than it was a road map for the future, and that’s what concerns me,” said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, of Kanawha County. “It’s incredibly important that we take the next 60 days and make some bold changes, particularly in terms of education, in terms of economic growth, in terms of our tax structure.”
Republicans also questioned the proposed raises.
“I’m a little nervous about talking about pay raises in a very bad fiscal year. I understand people need the money, but we’re struggling with a big hole in the budget, so it will be interesting to see how he proposes we pay for that,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall of Winfield.
Raising taxes is not on the governor’s agenda, so there will no dispute there. His budget taps into $84 million of a $918 million Rainy Day Fund that is one of the nation’s best.
“Unlike other states that have had to drain their reserve funds during the recent recession, West Virginia did not have to borrow one dime,” Tomblin said. “In fact, our reserve fund is one of the healthiest in the nation.”
Opposing political sides in Charleston have avoided the paralysis so common in Washington, D.C., so we’re confident the “gardening” this legislative session will help West Virginia be in position to be the best it can be in the present and the years ahead.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a great love of gardening.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
County honors men who gave all in helping their community
The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.
State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less
The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
Let’s not do that again.
Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past
Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.
COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?
I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
“Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.
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