Connections Wood County’s voice is being heard in Charleston

Local folks got quite a bit of good news out of Charleston Monday, and it appears as though part of the reason is the hard work being done to make connections and maintain good relationships by both elected officials and other leaders.

Wood County Commissioners knew from the start of the IEI Plastics warehouse fire Oct. 21 that resources available here at home would not be enough. There was fear of not being able to make payroll if the county drained its coffers in fighting the fire.

But with West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy; Sens. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, and Mike Azinger, R-Wood; and Delegates Bill Anderson, John Kelly and Vernon Criss, all R-Wood, as well as Ray Hollen, R-Wirt, backing them, Commissioners Blair Couch, Jimmy Colombo and Robert Tebay, and Wood County Administrator Marty Seufer received from Gov. Jim Justice a check for $1,466,299.15 to cover the expenses of fighting the fire.

(And, by the way, on the same day the state Department of Environmental Protection approved IEI’s corrective action plan for the site — cleanup can begin!)

Meanwhile, two local substance use disorder programs are getting a boost from the state Department of Health and Human Resources. St. Joseph Recovery Center LLC received a $3 million grant for drug treatment services, and Westbrook Health Services Inc. received $1 million. Kudos to the grant writers who put together such worthy requests. But, again, to Kelly, for his sponsorship of HB2428, which created the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund that mandates the DHHR identify need and allocate treatment beds in the state to be operated in the private sector.

Wood County’s connection to Charleston appears to be strong and healthy right now, and the leaders who made it so are to be commended.

That kind of leverage will come in handy during the legislative session in January when issues such as, for example, the shortfalls in state law that have allowed the public to be kept in the dark about what is being stored in the hearts of their communities, should be on the table.