West Virginia Week in Review - March 29, 2019



 Each week, Gov. Jim Justice's Communications Office will release a recap of the prior week's events and press releases from across all state agencies within the executive branch.


Gov. Justice signs three bills in ceremony at Marion County coal mine
On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice signed three bills into law that aim to improve the health, safety, and job security of West Virginia coal miners. The bill signing took place during a ceremony at the Harrison County Coal Company’s Harrison County Mine outside Mannington, WV. [View Press Release]


Together, these bills also aim to incentivize job creation by coal companies and to protect men and women serving on mine rescue teams, among other benefits.

Gov. Justice signs medical cannabis program banking bill
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice signed into law House Bill 2538, ensuring West Virginia will remain in compliance with federal law while handling funds associated with the state’s medical cannabis program. [View Press Release]


Specifically, HB 2538 allows the State Treasurer to select, by competitive bid, one or more financial institutions to provide banking services for the fees, penalties, and taxes collected in association with West Virginia’s medical cannabis program. It also creates multiple funds that will allow the program to operate within the bounds of state and federal laws.

Gov. Justice acts upon hundreds of bills from 2019 Legislative Session 
Ahead of Wednesday's deadline to act upon bills from the 2019 Legislative Session, and after careful consideration, Gov. Justice acted upon nearly 300 bills in total this year. A final list of bills acted upon by Gov. Justice is available on the Governor's website. [View Full List Here]


Among the bills vetoed by Gov. Justice include fifteen that were vetoed purely for technical reasons, such as creating laws that would contradict or altogether eliminate other laws that are already in state code, containing language that could be interpreted too broadly, or containing a title that did not provide notice of all of the bill’s contents, among other things. On Friday, the Governor released a statement saying that he is working with the Legislature to fix these technical errors and get these bills added to the Special Session call. A full list of bills that were vetoed based only on these technicalities can also be found on the Governor's website. [View Full List Here]

Gov. Justice announces West Virginia Gold Rush to return in April
Gov. Justice announced today that the West Virginia Gold Rush, a special stocking of golden rainbow trout, is returning April 1-6 in more than 55 waters across the state. During the week of the event, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will stock only golden rainbow trout in designated lakes and streams. The first ever Gold Rush took place in 2018 and was so successful that the state is repeating and expanding it. [View Press Release]


Gov. Justice and DNR officials will hold a stocking event on Wednesday, April 3 at Babcock State Park. The event is open to the public, and more details will be released closer to the date. Those who are interested in participating in Gold Rush can find a list of stocking locations at www.wvgoldrush.com.

Gov. Justice appoints new Secretary of Transportation; new acting Commissioner of Highways
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice officially appointed Byrd E. White, III as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation. White brings a diverse career in both the public and private sectors to Gov. Justice’s Cabinet, including several years of leadership with one of the largest roadway construction companies in the United States. [View Press Release]


Also Tuesday, Gov. Justice appointed Jimmy Wriston, P.E. as acting Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Highways. Wriston steps into this leadership role with 24 years of experience at the West Virginia Department of Transportation under his belt. For the past 12 years, Wriston has served as the department’s Chief Transportation Engineer and Special Program Manager. [View Press Release]


In addition to this appointment, Wriston will also serve as Deputy Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Governor speaks at Students of Excellence scholarship ceremony
Gov. Justice took time Saturday to serve as the honorary speaker at the EQT Students of Excellence scholarship ceremony inside the House of Delegates chamber of the State Capitol. The Governor spoke to dozens of scholarship recipients in attendance, encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM-related fields in West Virginia. [View Full Video]


Gov. Justice greets students from Ronceverte Elementary
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice met and spoke with students from Ronceverte Elementary School, as they arrived at the Governor's Mansion in Charleston for a tour. [View More Photos]


Gov. Justice meets with Japanese ambassador
Last Friday, Gov. Justice hosted Japanese Ambassador Yamanouchi for a visit to the Governor's Mansion in Charleston. [View Twitter Post]



Preliminary list of secondary roads maintenance needs made available
Less than a week after Gov. Justice directed all Division of Highways district managers and county supervisors statewide to compile full lists of secondary roads most in need of maintenance in their areas, those lists were completed and made available to the public on the Department of Transportation’s website on Monday.
[View Full List Here]


These lists are for informational purposes only and do not represent a guarantee that roadwork, of any kind, will be completed in the areas mentioned.

Rehabilitation project on Interstate 77 from Bluefield to Princeton set to resume
Division of Highways workers are gearing up this week to resume paving along I-77 between Bluefield and Princeton. Beginning Wednesday evening, traffic directors resumed enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit in the work zone, with alternating lane closures set to begin on Friday and paving scheduled to begin next week. [View Press Release]



DHHR awarded $14.6 million to combat opioids
On Monday, the West Virginia DHHR announced it will receive $14.6 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the opioid crisis. The funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and effective social supports. [View Press Release]


The State Opioid Response grants are administered by HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and aim to address the opioid crisis by increasing medication-assisted treatment with Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder.


State Police make major arrest on Interstate 68 near Maryland border
On Wednesday, troopers with the West Virginia State Police observed a vehicle, with Missouri plates, driving 130 miles per hour on Interstate 68 near the Maryland border. After troopers stopped the driver, he made several concerning statements indicating an explosive device may have been in the vehicle. Troopers stopped traffic on I-68 for over three hours and called in bomb dogs, which indicated the presence of explosive materials inside the vehicle. Although none were found, the incident remains under investigation. The Secret Service, FBI, and ATF are all also looking into the situation.


Exhibit honoring WVSP's 100th anniversary to be unveiled
This Friday, a celebration of the West Virginia State Police's 100th anniversary kicks off with a ceremony at the Culture Center at the State Capitol. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a new exhibit, honoring the rich history of the WVSP. [View Press Release]


The artifacts in the exhibit feature 100 years of history of the State Police and the majority are on loan from the State Police Museum in Institute. The exhibit, located in the State Theater gallery, will be on display through October 2019. Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice will also be in attendance for the unveiling ceremony.

WVSP Forensic Laboratory donates equipment to Fairmont State University’s Forensic Science program
Recently, the West Virginia State Police Forensic Lab donated a forensic microscope system to the Fairmont State University Forensic Science program, for use in the training of students in glass refractive index analysis. [View Facebook Post]



WVNG adds dozens of jobs for cyber, homeland defense missions
Gov. Justice and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer of the WVNG, announced Monday that two of the National Guard’s homeland defense units have recently received federal funding to increase their full-time staff by up to 28 personnel to bolster cyber and homeland defense missions across the state and the country. The economic impact of these positions will total more than $1.6 million in federal investments. [View Press Release] 


Martinsburg Airlift Wing wins award for aviation fuel efficiency
On Tuesday, the WVNG announced that the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg had been honored as the 2018 Mobility Air Forces Aviation Energy and Innovation award winner in the C-17 mobility aircraft category. The wing was selected for this national award due to its significant contributions to effective and efficient aviation fuel usage.



Wheeling Heritage wins national 2019 Great American Main Street Award
Wheeling Heritage was selected as the winner of the 2019 Great American Main Street Award. The National Main Street Center announced the award Monday during its national conference in Seattle, Washington. Wheeling Heritage is being recognized for turning its downtown into a thriving destination with a strong business base. [View Press Release]


Main Street West Virginia, a program under the West Virginia Development Office, focuses on economic revitalization of historic downtown and neighborhood commercial districts.

DNR issues bear safety reminder with outdoors season set to begin
With spring now in full bloom, the Division of Natural Resources issued a reminder to the public this week that West Virginia’s black bears are coming out of their winter hibernation and looking for food. Residents are reminded that feeding black bears is a violation of state law as well as a misguided disservice to our state animal. Additional bear safety tips are available on the DNR's website.
 [View Press Release]


State Parks begin new soap recycling initiative
In collaboration with Wild Mountain Soap Company, located in Fayetteville, State Parks have begun a new soap recycling initiative for 2019. At the end of each stay, state park guests are encouraged to leave behind their Wild Mountain Soap bars to be recycled into new products that are then donated to Appalachian Outreach Inc., which then donates these soaps to those who need it most in surrounding communities.



Ahead of more pay raises, WV Corrections steps up recruiting
With several pay raises on the way, West Virginia officials announced this Wednesday that have organized a series of one-stop career events to recruit correctional officers and staff. The first of these recruiting events will take place Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Workforce WV office in Elkins.


Additional recruiting events will be held over the next two weeks, with stops scheduled in Clarksburg on April 6 and in Charleston on April 13.


Statewide education forum tour visits Blennerhassett Middle School 
On Monday, the fifth stop on a tour of eight education forums across the state was held at Parkersburg's Blennerhassett Middle School in Wood County. Like the previous events, this forum gave teachers, service personnel, students, parents and other community members a chance to give their input on ways to improve the state's education system. [View Social Post]


The forums are being held to provide lawmakers with insights ahead of a special session on education betterment.

Statewide career and tech skills competition held over weekend
This past weekend, more than 750 students from across West Virginia gathered to take part in the annual state SkillsUSA competition. The event brought together the best CTE students in the state, allowing each of them to showcase their skills in 52 sectors including automotive service technology, masonry, culinary arts, and many more. [View Social Post]


Winners at the state level will travel to the 2019 National SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville, Ky., June 24-28.

ECET2 conference celebrates educators and provides leadership development
Also this past weekend, the Department of Education hosted approximately 100 teachers at the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Convening. The event, developed and planned by West Virginia classroom educators, provides a forum for exceptional teachers to learn from one another while celebrating their profession. [View Press Release]



HHOMA hosts lecture for area middle school students
On Tueday, the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs hosted a lecture by Dr. Frederick Hightower at the Culture Center in Charleston. Hightower is renowned for his sculpture of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, located at West Virginia State University. [View Recap Video]


First Lady Cathy Justice welcomed HHOMA's guests from Madison Middle School and Hurricane Middle School. Students received a tour of the Culture Center, the State Capitol Complex and the Governor's Mansion.


WVDEP holds water workshops for teachers
This week, the Department of Environmental Protection held a workshop called Project Water Education for Teachers. This program is designed to deliver water education resources to children, parents and teachers around the world by holding workshops specifically for educators who work with children ages three to six, to learn new, fun, age-appropriate ways to teach about water. [View Press Release]


The next workshop is slated for Saturday, April 6 in Elkins. The event is free, but prior registration is required.



Contact Information

Butch Antolini, 304-890-2945, Butch.Antolini@wv.gov


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:

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