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West Virginia editorial roundup

October 18, 2017
Associated Press

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

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Oct. 17

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph on the Coalfields Expressway project in southwest Virginia:

With a Nov. 2 deadline approaching, it is imperative for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to act quickly in submitting an important federal funding grant application for the Coalfields Expressway project in Southwest Virginia.

A delegation of Southwest Virginia lawmakers are questioning why McAuliffe didn't apply for the grant funding when it became available in June.

In a joint statement issued last week by Senator Bill Carrico, Senator Ben Chafin, Delegate Terry Kilgore, Delegate Todd Pillion, and Delegate Israel O'Quinn, the five Southwest Virginia-based lawmakers, all Republicans, said they were disappointed to learn from the Virginia Department of Transportation that McAuliffe, a Democrat, has yet to submit a request or a funding proposal for the Coalfields Expressway through the U.S Department of Transportation's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants."

The Coalfields Expressway, also known as Route 121 in Southwest Virginia, would extend through Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties, including the Grundy, Slate, Haysi, Breaks, Clincho, Clintwood and Pound communities. The Coalfields Expressway also will extend through McDowell, Wyoming and Raleigh counties in neighboring West Virginia.

The federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program is designed to help fund regional transportation projects and includes a portion dedicated to rural infrastructure projects.

"The Coalfields Expressway represents a unique opportunity to connect Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky by opening the region to commerce and travel," the five lawmakers said in a joint statement. "The Coalfields Expressway has long been considered a bipartisan project that is vital to the economic and infrastructure needs of Southwest Virginia. Its designation as a Congressional High Priority reaffirms the importance of this project to the future of our region."

The new four-lane corridor is considered critical to future economic development and growth in the coalfield counties.

"Despite efforts made by members of the General Assembly and regional leaders to make the Coalfields Expressway a priority in Richmond, the administration continues to show a willful disregard for the needs of the coalfields," the five lawmakers added. "To not include such an important regional project in grant applications demonstrates neglect and a lack of consideration for the needs of our part of the Commonwealth."

In this day and age of shrinking grant and loan dollars, it is simply imperative for the state to seek any and all federal dollars that are available for critical infrastructure projects like the Coalfields Expressway.

The state should submit an INFRA grant application for the Coalfields Expressway project now. A failure to do so would be unacceptable.

Online: http://www.bdtonline.com/

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Oct. 16

The Charleston Daily Mail on pipeline approvals moving the state economy forward:

Less than two weeks ago, voters in West Virginia overwhelmingly approved new and better roads and bridges for the Mountain State with passage of the "Roads to Prosperity" bond amendment.

The message from state voters and taxpayers was, "We want better transportation infrastructure, more investment and more jobs in West Virginia."

Perhaps one can apply that message, as well, to how citizens feel about the region's energy infrastructure. West Virginians know the state is sitting on billions of dollars in revenue with Marcellus shale-based natural gas, tapped into and ready for delivery, but lacking adequate transportation systems to move it to markets across the East.

But with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval late Friday of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines and the $8.6 billion in regional investment those will bring, the state's revenue situation, job prospects and future are looking better.

What's more, the pipelines and the approximately 3.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day they will add to the nation's energy market will keep downward pressure on energy prices — helping ensure the price for natural gas used in homes, businesses and power-generating stations will stay competitive.

The approval of the pipelines is a big win for the economy, a big win for West Virginia and the region, and a big win for common-sense energy use.

Sure, there is a small but vocal population of opponents who don't believe we should use the nation's safest, cleanest and most abundant fossil fuel for energy. But with these pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects, economies will grow, new jobs in construction and manufacturing will be created, and payroll, royalty and tax revenue will rise.

And with a growing economy, the opportunities to develop and use more renewable fuels should grow, too.

Two of the three sitting FERC commissioners — both appointees of President Donald Trump — voted to approve the pipeline projects. The lone Obama-nominated commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, opposed.

"In her dissent, Commissioner LaFleur noted that more than 90 percent of the (Atlantic Coast Pipeline's) capacity is subscribed by public utility customers in (Virginia and North Carolina)," wrote Leslie Hartz of Dominion Energy, the primary sponsor of the Atlantic Coast project.

"The end use of this gas is well established on the public record ... Our public utility customers are depending on this infrastructure to generate cleaner electricity, heat homes and power local businesses."

Hartz added that the project received more thorough environmental review than ever done before. "This unprecedented scrutiny should give assurance to all communities that their voices have been heard and that the project will be built in a way that protects public safety and the environment."

Opponents warn of environmental destruction new pipelines could cause, but the existing 300,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines approved and built under far less scrutiny across North America operate without the massive degradation they claim.

Unlike the West Virginia road bond, which will be paid for by the state's taxpayers, the pipelines are being funded by private investment, yet they will keep energy prices competitive for all.

Congratulations to the project developers on their research, planning and work in getting the projects approved. Even bigger congratulations to the thousands of people who will get jobs, the states that will see increased tax revenue, and the energy consumers who will see better rates and more choice.

Online: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/

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Oct. 17

The Herald-Dispatch on children reading at an early age:

It's one of the most important things parents and grandparents can do.

Read aloud to your children.

"It's so important to start reading from Day One," reading expert Liza Baker told The Washington Post recently. "It's magical, even at 8 weeks old they focus momentarily, they're closer to your heart."

Yet, most of the time, that does not happen.

Researchers found that only about 40 percent of parents read aloud to their babies in the first three months, according to the Kids & Family Reading Report. Although more families read aloud as children get older, only about 60 percent read aloud regularly (5-7 days a week) with their preschoolers (3-5 years old).

That helps explain why educators say that about a third of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills to learn to read, and just as critically, that almost of two-thirds of fourth graders read below grade level, the Reading Is Fundamental non-profit reports.

Without those stronger reading skills, many students will struggle with math, science and other classes, especially as they move to middle school. Too often, when teens drop out of high school, educators can trace their difficulties back to those early reading problems. Even large numbers of high school graduates in West Virginia require remedial courses to do community college and college-level work.

Reading aloud to children from an early age helps motivate them to want to read and builds vocabulary and language skills, but it also helps to continue that shared experience after children begin to read on their own.

"As they become independent readers, we tend to let them go, but even kids in older demographics love nothing more than that time with their parents," Baker commented. "We're blown away that kids time and again said the most special time they recall spending with a parent is reading together."

Children also are encouraged by having their own books, and one of the projects of the West Virginia Read Aloud program is to raise funds to provide children with appropriate books they can read and keep.

And hopefully, a parent, grandparent, friend or volunteer will read it with the child.

Online: http://www.herald-dispatch.com/

 
 
 

 

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