Most drivers would probably agree that West Virginia’s roads need work.
Think about the last time you were in your car and traveling across the state. Whether you were driving a long distance or just a few miles, it’s likely that you drove through — or swerved to miss — at least a pothole or two.
You probably griped about it to a family member or friend later that day, but we doubt it went much further than that. At least not until the next time you were driving along that same route and hit that same pothole.
But now you have the chance to take those gripes to the people who can do something about them.
The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways is coming to Fairmont to ask people what they think should be done to raise money to maintain West Virginia’s ailing highways and bridges. The commission will meet at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center from 4-7 p.m. today.
Jason Pizatella, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and designee for the commission, said the commission was created to study the conditions and needs of the state’s transportation system in its entirety as well as develop a long-term plan of action.
There’s a lot to study.
Consider that driving on roads in need of repair costs the average West Virginia motorist nearly $230 a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Consider that the average driver also spends about $1 a day to support the state’s transportation system, including the roads, bridges and highways in addition to maintenance such as snow removal and paving.
And consider that the state spends more than $700 million on roads annually, and it needs to find another $700 million in funding just to keep up with disrepair and not be caught flat-footed by an emergency. To fully fund projects West Virginia has already committed to, the commission needs to find about $1.2 billion in additional revenues.
But that’s where the commission comes in.
The group, which has representatives from the state Legislature and government, business organizations and labor unions, is working on a three-pronged plan to solve the issue. The steps? Raising revenue, improving efficiency within the West Virginia Division of Highways and discovering new funding sources.
And here’s where you come in.
Despite all the voices represented by legislators, businesses and labor unions, Tomblin wants to make sure the people’s voice isn’t left out of the equation. That’s why the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways has been traveling around the state conducting these meetings — members want as much input from the public as possible.
If you’re asking why you should be involved, consider that well-maintained roads and bridges are crucial in providing people with safe, convenient transportation to and from schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores. Surely you travel along West Virginia’s highways to reach one of those destinations, if not several of them.
People attending today’s meeting will be given a survey of 18-20 questions designed to get feedback on how they feel about certain possible solutions for the state’s highway system, ranging from raising taxes and fees to cutting money from the DOH. The floor will then be opened for public comment.
There’s work to be done, and there are people making the effort to see that progress is made.
Be part of the process by attending today’s meeting and making your voice be heard.
Most drivers would probably agree that West Virginia’s roads need work.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
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.
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