West Virginia Week in Review - August 1, 2020

8/1/2020

 

 

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Gov. Justice announces WV among nation’s leaders in CARES Act usage rate

 

 

 

During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced that a report, released this week by the U.S. Treasury Department, ranks West Virginia as the 4th-best state in the nation when it comes to the rate at which CARES Act funding is being used.

“West Virginia is 4th in the nation in this and that’s great, there’s no question. But, even at 4th, it’s not good enough for me,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m the person who’s telling you, ‘Let’s go from 50th to 1st.’

“1st is exactly what we want to be in West Virginia.”

According to the Treasury Department’s report, West Virginia ranks 1st in both total funding used and funding usage rate among all 21 states across the country that received the base CARES Act amount of $1.25 billion from Congress.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice commits $2.5M to test all college and university students

 

 

 

Also on Friday, Gov. Justice announced that he is pledging $2.5 million to ensure that all public and private college and university students and staff members are able to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return to campus.

“We are pledging, right now, $2.5 million to go toward our smaller schools because WVU and Marshall have their own plans and they’re working them great,” Gov. Justice said. “But, for our smaller schools, we will support them with the funds and then we will defer to them as far as determining exactly how they’re going to do the testing.

“But we’ll pass the torch right to our institutions and say, ‘Let’s go,’” Gov. Justice continued. “Let’s test everybody that’s going to be on one of our campuses.”

The funding will come out of West Virginia’s portion of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds, provided by the U.S. Department of Education to support educational needs in each state related to COVID-19. The GEER funds, approved by Congress through the CARES Act, are a separate allocation from the $1.25 billion in discretionary funds appropriated to the State. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will ensure that the institutions that need these funds to fully test their students and staff get what they need. The Governor has also asked the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to provide resources and support as needed.

 

 

 

Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System, Friday released the following statement thanking Governor Jim Justice for providing $2.5 million to support COVID-19 testing at West Virginia’s colleges and universities:  

“On behalf of our colleges, universities, students, and campus communities, I would like to thank Governor Justice for this incredible support as we all continue working to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in West Virginia. Our public institutions are working shoulder-to-shoulder with one another, the Governor’s office, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the National Guard, and their local health departments to protect those within and around our campuses. Thanks to this support from the Governor, we will be able to ramp up testing in line with institutions’ fall reopening plans. This accelerated testing, combined with the far-reaching health and safety protocols schools have already activated, will allow students to continue their education – which is critical to their futures and the future of our state – with greater peace of mind.”

 

 

 

DHHR Secretary details timeline on Princeton nursing home outbreak

 

 

 

On Friday, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch broke down a detailed timeline of events related to the recent outbreak identified within the Princeton Health Care Center – a long-term care facility in Mercer County. Sec. Crouch explained that contact tracing efforts have determined that the current outbreak being seen at the facility was independent of another outbreak that was properly contained weeks prior. 

“The timeline between the first two cases was 15 days,” Sec. Crouch said. “The source of these two individual outbreaks were separate, they were different, we found that through contact tracing.

Sec. Crouch explained how DHHR has coordinated four rounds of testing at the facility over the past month. 

 

 

 

During Wednesday’s briefing, announced there were a total of 42 active cases at the facility. As of Wednesday afternoon, three deaths had been recorded as a result of this outbreak.

Previously on Monday, Gov. Justice announced that the Princeton Health Care Center had a confirmed total of at least 30 COVID-19 cases. Gov. Justice directed the West Virginia National Guard to assist with testing and offer further support as needed. In recent months, West Virginia was the first state in the nation to order the full testing of all residents and employees at each of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice awards $1.3 million to fairs and festivals

 

 

 

On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that he will be awarding a total of more than $1.3 million, spread out among each of the state’s 392 fairs and festivals, in order to keep as many of these events afloat as possible moving forward. All fairs, festivals, and similar events were closed two weeks ago for safety purposes.

“Because of this terrible COVID situation, because of a lack of funds, we stand to lose 50 percent of our fairs and festivals across the state if we don’t do something,” Gov. Justice said. “We can’t have that happen. That's all there is to it.”

A total of $1,346,000 will be used to reimburse each of these fairs and festivals for the funding they would have received out of the state budget to hold their respective events.

“We’re doing this in an effort to ensure that we are going to continue to be able to have our fairs and festivals because, I think, in a lot of ways, these events are the backbone of our counties,” Gov. Justice said. “I hope to goodness that this will save a bunch, if not all of our fairs and festivals.” ​

 

 

 

Gov. Justice says active church outbreaks down to four counties

 

 

 

On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that previous church-related outbreaks in Boone and Kanawha counties are no longer considered active at this time. Additional church-related outbreaks remain active in four counties across West Virginia, including Grant, Logan, Mason, and Taylor counties. These outbreaks account for about 87 total cases combined – down from 131 such cases on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Raleigh and Wood counties were removed from the active church-related outbreaks list.

“I again want to strongly encourage all West Virginians, especially when in church settings, to follow the guidelines and use every other pew, maintain social distancing, and please wear face coverings,” Gov. Justice said.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice directs additional aid to City of Gary, dispatching officials to develop long-term water system solutions

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announced as of early Wednesday morning, the City of Gary’s water system had been fixed and water service had been restored.  However, the Governor added that the city is still under a boil water advisory for seven days. Residents can obtain drinking water at Gary City Hall and Rock Hill Baptist Church in Gary.

On Tuesday, at the direction of Gov. Justice, State officials replenished the water supply in Gary, delivering thousands more gallons of drinking water – including a 5,500-gallon water tanker from the West Virginia Division of Highways, 500 gallons stored in water trailers from the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and three pallets, stacked with additional cases of water – to ensure that all residents impacted by the ongoing issue have access to all the clean water they need.

The outage began when the main pump serving the City of Gary water system abruptly stopped working last week, leaving approximately 500 customers without water service. Engineers who evaluated the system determined that the pump was beyond repair and that a new, custom-made pump would need to be purchased and installed because the backup pumps were also not working.

Upon learning of the urgent situation last week, Gov. Justice immediately took action, ordering the West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia Emergency Management Division to provide all necessary resources to the City of Gary. Acting upon this order, WVEMD ordered an M149 water trailer from the WVNG. The WVNG delivered the trailer, containing 400 gallons of potable water, to Gary City Hall.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces additional free COVID-19 testing locations

 

 

 

Gov. Justice updated the schedule of upcoming free community COVID-19 testing events taking place at various dates and times in Gilmer, Marion, Hampshire, Jackson, McDowell, Taylor, Brooke, and Mingo counties. The effort is part of a plan to provide free optional testing to all residents in several counties that are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. It targets residents who have struggled to be seen by a physician or do not have insurance to pay for testing. However, other residents, including those who are asymptomatic are welcome to be tested.

Gilmer County
Saturday, August 1
7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
809 Medical Drive, Suite 3, Glenville, WV

Marion County
Saturday, August 1
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Windmill Park: 900 Ogden Avenue, Fairmont, WV

Hampshire County
Wednesday, August 5
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Hampshire High School: 157 Trojan Way, Romney, WV

Jackson County
Friday, August 7
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
River Front Park: 220 Riverfront Park, Ravenswood, WV
Saturday, August 8
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Cedar Lakes Conference Center: 82 FFA Drive, Ripley, WV

McDowell County
Friday, August 7
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Southside Middle School: 13509 Rocket Boys Drive, War, WV
Saturday, August 8
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tug Lot: 198 Tug Tower Addition Road, Welch, WV

Taylor County
Saturday, August 8
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Grafton High School: 400 Yates High School Avenue, Grafton, WV

Brooke County
Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Bethany College
Hummel Field House: 6268 Main Street, Bethany, WV

Mingo County
Friday, August 14 & Saturday, August 15
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tug Valley Wellness Center: 50 Lenore Business Center, Williamson, WV

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces all-new $8.9 million Stratton Elementary School approved for construction

 

 

 

Gov. Justice joined Raleigh County school leaders, State Board of Education members, and several other local officials for a ceremony to announce that an all-new, $8.9 million Stratton Elementary School is officially in-line for construction, after being approved and funded by the West Virginia School Building Authority on Thursday. The new school will be built at the site of the current Stratton Elementary’s athletic field at the same location on South Fayette Street in Beckley. Stratton Elementary was originally recommended for a funding award during the SBA’s 2019 funding cycle. The Governor announced that enough money was saved to immediately fund the project to build a new Stratton Elementary School.

Gov. Justice added that the SBA also approved Thursday a $3.1 million project to build a new roof at Keyser Middle School in Mineral County.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces Game Changer initiative 2020 virtual summits

 

 

 

Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the Game Changer initiative – one of the largest public-private coalitions of its kind in the nation; which is aimed at tackling opioid and substance misuse, along with other issues impacting West Virginia’s youth – will hold a series of four virtual summits across the state this fall. The goal of the summits will be to empower children to make healthy choices and become leaders in their communities. The virtual regional summits will kick-off in September. The state will be divided into four regions and the interactive summits, featuring some of the nation’s top trauma-informed speakers, will serve to raise awareness to the various issues Game Changer will be tackling while serving as a catalyst to detailed prevention programs which will be introduced in the months following the virtual summits.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice announces hunting and fishing license sales up 40 percent

 

 

 

Gov. Justice took time out of his briefing Monday to report that June 2020 hunting and fishing license sales were up by nearly 40 percent compared to the same month last year. In June 2020, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources sold 43,091 licenses, compared to 31,148 licenses for the same month in 2019.

In an effort to encourage outdoor activity among West Virginia residents at a safe distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Justice greatly expanded the state's annual Free Fishing Days promotion, holding dates for free fishing in March, extending the promotion through nearly all of April and May, and holding an additional free fishing weekend in June. As a result, this June, more than 10,000 total fishing licenses were sold, shortly after the series of free fishing promotions came to an end.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice appoints new Parkways Authority Executive Director

 

 

 

Thursday, Gov. Justice announced the appointment of Jeffrey Miller as Executive Director of the West Virginia Parkways Authority. Miller’s appointment is effective Monday, August 10, 2020. Miller, a lifelong resident of Beckley, has more than a decade of executive experience in the financial field as well as several years of experience in local government. He currently serves as County Administrator for the Raleigh County Commission and will be resigning his position, effective August 7, 2020, to take the role with the Parkways Authority.

 

 

 

Gov. Justice issues Executive Order extending benefits for those actively seeking work

 

 

 

Friday, Gov. Justice issued an executive order, including the actively seeking work requirement for Extended Benefits in the list of regulatory statute provisions to be suspended and interpreted flexibly or waived, as appropriate, for the duration of the ongoing State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the sole purpose of waiving the work search requirement under the Extended Benefits program.

 

 

 

Division of Highways spotlights use of gradalls

 

 

 

The West Virginia Division of Highways released a video Wednesday spotlighting their use of gradalls. The machine can be used for several purposes — concrete repair, demolition, barrier placement, ditching, sloping, and grading. Recently, the division purchased 30 new smaller gradalls to complete more work around the state.

 

 

 

DEP Environment Matters highlights plans for former school site in Smithers

 

 

 

This week on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Environment Matters, the agency says plans are moving forward with what to do with a riverfront property after the abandoned former school building there is demolished. The City of Smithers held a "visioning session" earlier this week to give residents a first look at some of the possibilities. The DEP's Brownfields Program is working with city leaders to develop a plan for the site.

 

 

 

West Virginia Guard, Peruvian Air Force share ideas on COVID-19 response

 

 

 

West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, alongside the Senior Enlisted Leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Cantrell, conducted a video teleconference with the Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP)) Commanding General, Rodolfo Garcia and staff on July 21 from the WVNG Joint Forces Headquarters in Charleston. The purpose of this senior officer meeting was to share information, best practices, and lessons learned on military response efforts to the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as discuss plans for potential future engagements.

 

 

 

WV Board of Education selects Cochran to lead the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

 

 

 

The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) selected Scott Cochran as the next superintendent of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB) Friday during a special meeting in Charleston. WVSDB, located in Romney, WV, provides pre-k – 12 instructional and residential programs for deaf, hard of hearing, blind and low-vision students. Cochran has served six years as Superintendent of Schools for Webster County. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from Glenville State College, a master’s degree in Science Health Education from West Virginia University and a certification in Special Education from Ohio Valley College. Previously, he has served as a teacher, coach, special education director, assistant principal, and principal.

 

 

 

Mt. Hope Christian Academy wins top honors in WVABCA statewide contest

 

 

 

After receiving 55 video entries from students across the state, the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) has selected Mt. Hope Christian Academy as the NO School Spirits Public Service Announcement Contest winner for the 2019-2020 school year. This is the seventh annual NO School Spirits PSA Contest held by the WVABCA. They received entries from more than 400 students representing 38 middle schools and high schools across the state. The contest invites students to submit video entries that address the dangers of underage drinking. Participation and prizes continue to grow each year, in large part due to the initial and continued funding from State Farm, the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

 

 

 

WVNG Future Leaders Program prepares for new academic year

 

 

 

Instructors and staff members of the West Virginia National Guard's Future Leaders Program (LFP) for high school students recently met in Winfield, West Virginia, to plan and prepare for the upcoming academic school year. As with the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted classes across the state. Currently, dates for starting the academic year have already been pushed back a few weeks, with more decisions forthcoming on in-person classes or virtual instruction. Considerations for remote learning, social distancing, and proper personal protective equipment and protocols are being addressed by FLP staff to best serve students in the program. Recently, members of the FLP met for a week of training to discuss, plan and prepare for the unique challenges of the 2020-2021 school year.

FLP is currently available in 14 high schools in six counties across the Mountain State, including Clay, Logan, Monongalia, Putnam, Upshur, and Wyoming counties. Estimated enrollment in the program at the beginning of the new school year is estimated between 850 to 900 students.

 

 

 

WVDE Superintendent Clayton Burch talks partnerships for safe schools

 

 

 

In this week's #KeepingConnectED video released by the West Virginia Department of Education, Superintendent Clayton Burch highlights our important partnerships with the WV DHHR, Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh, Gov. Justice, and education partners. These partnerships are helping WVDE enhance the sharing of information and the planning of a safe school year.

 

YouTube 

YouTube

 

 

DNR researching ways to grow bigger bluegill in West Virginia lakes

 

 

 

This week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources spotlighted bluegills in a video they released. Over the last few years, DNR biologists have been focusing on how bluegill management in small lakes in District 1 can improve habitat, promote better fish growth and increase the number of large bluegill available to anglers. 

“Our goal is to improve bluegill fishing in some of the lakes in northern West Virginia,” said David Wellman, a District 1 fisheries biologist. “We are trying to determine what lakes have the most potential for growing larger bluegill and if they need to special regulations and habitat enhancement.” 

 

 

 

West Virginians urged to participate in the 2020 Census

 

 

 

Once more, Gov. Justice asked all West Virginians to participate in the 2020 United States Census. Every West Virginian who does not respond to the Census represents a loss of $20,000 in federal funds over the next 10 years for the state and its local communities. The funds can go toward things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, school lunch programs, and more.

Be counted in minutes: 2020census.gov.

 

 

 

Also this week:

WVDEP releases Project WET survey results on virtual learning

WVDE hosts virtual guest readers for the WV Blue Ribbon Book Club

WVDACH hosting online discussions on the impact of COVID-19 on artists

DHHR Announces Low Income Energy Assistance Program for Low-Income Residents

West Virginia Youth Environmental Conference canceled

 

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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

Contact

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:
304.558.3588

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