Recently, the legislature conducted legislative interim sessions to discuss funding for West Virginia DOH and DHHR projects in the state. Much of that focus was on our roads.  DOH’s District Number Two is responsible for the roads in our area. Although the legislature voted to appropriate $150 million to road projects, it was the local DOH Districts who unilaterally submitted the projects which will be worked on. I am glad to see our area will receive nearly $2.5 million in road funding. The roads slated to be fixed in Mingo County are:

East Kermit - Parsley Branch

Begin: CR 52/36

End: CR 52/7

Ben Creek

Begin: 1.53 miles N CR 10/2

End: CR 10/2

Cub Branch

Begin: CR 3/5

End: CR 1

Justice Hollow

Begin: US 52

End: DE

Right Fork of Beech Creek

Begin: CR 8

End: DE

Horsepen - War Eagle

Begin: US 52

End: DE

Red Jacket - Hinch

Begin: WV 65

End: CR 8

CR 252/57 Old US 52

Begin: 0.70 miles W US 52

End: 0.53 miles W CR 52/68

Bill Croaff

1.65 miles south of CR 49

Pete Dillion Bridge

0.08 miles East of US 52

Kermit - US 119

Begin: 0.05 mi W CR 52/34

End: 0.18 mi W US 119

Also during the interim session, Speaker Hanshaw created the Coal Communities Comeback workgroup. This workgroup is a direct result of a bill we attempted to pass on the last day of session which would have looked at ways to help our coal communities.  Unfortunately, the bill failed to move in the Senate.

According to the speaker, members of the workgroup will have the authority and the flexibility to go into communities, communicate with officials at all levels, and really determine what our coal communities need to succeed so they can come back to us with solid recommendations and then drive those solutions home to the full Legislature when we come back next session.

Members of the work group are myself and Mark Dean of Mingo County, Jordan Bridges, R-Logan; Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio; Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia; Austin Haynes, R-Fayette; Josh Holstein, R-Boone; Margitta Mazzocchi, R-Logan; Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming; Charlie Reynolds, R-Marshall; Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha; Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha; Christopher Toney, R-Raleigh; and Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall. I hope to work hard in the bipartisan group to help struggling coal miners and coal areas.

Also discussed in our interim meeting was the concept of a state equivalent for paid family leave. Currently, West Virginia does not have a state parenting or family leave law, but the federal FMLA gives employees who work for larger companies the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster.

This is part of the total 12-week leave entitlement that FMLA provides. Under current state law, public employees are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, after exhausting all other forms of paid leave, in situations following the birth or adoption of a child, or when a family member is seriously ill. The legislature hopes to take another look at implementing paid leave when certain factors are met for specific life events.

Lastly, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Gavin Smith, the deceased Mingo County Commissioner. As you are aware, Gavin passed away earlier this week from natural causes. In the short time I knew Gavin, I found him to be an honest, hard-working individual who deeply cared for Mingo County.  He will be missed, and I ask everyone to keep his family in your prayers during this difficult time.

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