West Virginia Week in Review - October 31, 2020

10/31/2020

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Gov. Justice announces 240 new jobs at North Central WV Airport
In yet another landmark day of growth for north central West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday that 240 new, high-paying jobs will be brought to North Central West Virginia Airport over the next five months and also awarded over $2.5 million in Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program grants for a dozen projects in cities and towns all across north central West Virginia. Gov. Justice began the ceremony by announcing that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Aviation Group, the owner of an aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul facility located at the North Central West Virginia airport in Bridgeport, is experiencing an increase in demand for their services. MHI Aviation Group has already increased their workforce by approximately 200 employees over the past few months alone, growing from 319 in June to 517 today. As a result, Gov. Justice announced that MHI Aviation Group will be hiring an additional 240 employees between now and March 2021, bringing the total workforce up to approximately 750 employees.
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Gov. Justice announces $20.4M revenue surplus for October; West Virginia records $298M cash balance through first four months of fiscal year
Gov. Justice announced Friday that West Virginia’s revenue collections are set to come in at $20.4 million above estimates when the books officially close on the month of October this weekend. West Virginia has now banked surpluses in each of the first four months of Fiscal Year 2021, over which time the state has also accumulated a cash balance of $298 million. Gov. Justice reported that year-to-date general revenue collections are $110.8 million above estimates and 9.7% above prior year receipts. Gov. Justice also highlighted that West Virginia has accumulated a $298 million cash surplus through the first four months of FY2021.
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Gov. Justice, Attorney General Morrisey secure $101.3 million settlement in paving antitrust case
Gov. Justice joined West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Friday to announce that the State and six local governments reached a $101.35 million settlement with 11 asphalt and paving companies – the largest single-state antitrust settlement in West Virginia’s history. The settlement resolves allegations that West Virginia Paving Inc., Kelly Paving Inc., American Asphalt & Aggregate Inc., and eight related companies conspired to monopolize the State-approved asphalt and paving market, thus reducing competition and maximizing profits at the taxpayers’ expense. The agreement includes $101.35 million in cash and credits, along with a mix of non-monetary terms to restore competition.
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Gov. Justice announces construction of brand-new $10 million Grant Street Bridge and return of college football in Bluefield
On a milestone day of growth for the City of Bluefield, Gov. Justice announced Thursday that a brand-new Grant Street Bridge will be built to enhance access and safety for local residents and that Bluefield State College will field an athletics program – including a football team – for the first time in over four decades. Gov. Justice began the ceremony at Bluefield State College by announcing that planning and design work on the all-new Grant Street Bridge, worth an estimated $10 million in improvements, is officially underway. The Grant Street Bridge is a 320-foot truss bridge with an open steel grid deck and was built in 1940.

Also during the ceremony, Gov. Justice announced that 12 intercollegiate sports programs, including a football program, will begin competing at Bluefield State College during the 2021-2022 season. The Governor announced that the football team will be coached by Super Bowl 50 champion Tony Coaxum. The Governor went on to announce that major upgrades and expansions are planned for BSC sports facilities, and that a bevy of additional talented coaches, administrators, and other staff members will be brought on to build up the new athletics program.
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Gov. Justice presents $2.3 million check in support of Thundercloud broadband expansion to make Huntington first “Gigabit City” in West Virginia
Gov. Justice joined officials from the City of Huntington, Marshall University, and other local leaders at Pullman Square Friday for a ceremony to present a $2,353,788 million check to Thundercloud Inc. – a nonprofit organization focused on the provision and improvement of broadband internet access in the Huntington region – in support of their major upcoming broadband expansion project to make Huntington the first “Gigabit City” in West Virginia.” The check, which was made possible thanks to Gov. Justice’s West Virginia CARES Act Broadband Fund, doubles the $2,353,788 provided to Thundercloud earlier this month through one of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER grants.
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Gov. Justice celebrates milestone successes of life-changing Jobs & Hope West Virginia program, including first expungement
Gov. Justice joined leaders with Jobs & Hope West Virginia Monday to celebrate the program’s many recent success stories, including the first-ever Jobs & Hope client to have a non-violent offense expunged through the program. The milestone expungement was made possible through a partnership with Legal Aid of West Virginia, which allows Jobs & Hope clients to be connected to assistance for the process of obtaining an expungement of criminal convictions and regaining their driver’s licenses. Also Monday, the Governor spoke with five new transition agents who are set to complete their orientation and will soon begin helping their fellow West Virginians. Since being officially unveiled last October, the program has had 3,400 referrals. Currently, there are more than 1,800 active participants.
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Gov. Justice pledges to further enhance testing efforts across West Virginia
During Monday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he will meet with leaders from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the West Virginia National Guard, and other state health experts and members of his administration to discuss options to further bolster free COVID-19 testing efforts across the state.

“Today, I’m going to give you my pledge that we are going to do more,” Gov. Justice continued. “I’m going to get with the powers that be and we’re going to work through it. I’m not yet sure exactly what it’s going to look like, all I know is that we’re going to do even more than we have been doing.”
On Friday, Gov. Justice offered a reminder that free testing events are now scheduled over the coming weeks in 44 counties across West Virginia. As part of the Governor’s Aggressive Testing initiative, each county reaching Red or Orange status in the DHHR's County Alert System map (Click "County Alert System" tab) is required to set up at least one free testing site within the same day. Each county reaching Gold status is required to set up at least one free testing site within 48 hours. As of Friday, the only Red county was Mingo County. Orange counties included Berkeley, Morgan, Upshur, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. Gold counties included Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Clay, Hampshire, Jackson, Jefferson, Logan, Marshall, Monroe, Putnam, and Tyler counties.

The Governor also specifically pointed out that new testing locations have been established in the Eastern Panhandle for testing events through the weekend. These events will take place in Berkeley County at Musselman High School, in Jefferson County at the Ranson Civic Center, and in Morgan County at Warm Springs Middle School.
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Gov. Justice travels the state to distribute over $8 million-worth of Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program grants
This week, Gov. Justice traveled across West Virginia to distribute a total of 46 Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program grants worth over $8 million. West Virginia TARTP grants help towns and cities build and improve sidewalks, lighting, trails, and more. The program is administered by the West Virginia Department of Transportation and funded by the Federal Highway Administration.
The TARTP grants are going to projects in 29 counties in several regions across the state, including: Earlier this year, Gov. Justice presented another round of 38 TARTP grants, worth over $7.4 million, for additional projects in 27 counties.
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Gov. Justice announces reopening of lane on Interstate 70 West in Wheeling
Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that, within a matter of days, one westbound lane of Interstate 70 in Wheeling would reopen to traffic for the first time in several months as roadwork continues into the next phases of the I-70 Bridges Project in Wheeling. The project – which includes the replacement of the Fulton Bridge just east of the Wheeling Tunnel and the rehabilitation of another 25 bridges along I-70 – is one of the most significant projects of Gov. Justice’s ​Roads To Prosperity program.
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Gov. Justice renews offer to assist counties with processing of COVID-19 case data
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice once again encouraged any local health departments in counties across West Virginia that may be in need of assistance when it comes to processing information and data about COVID-19 cases to reach out to the West Virginia National Guard for further support. The renewed offer for assistance comes after the number of active cases statewide dropped by 11.9% in one day.

“We were at about 5,000 active cases and then we went to 4,500 just like that,” Gov. Justice said. “What happened was that we had about 500 cases from one of our counties that were active until their paperwork was finally processed, and all of a sudden it all came in at once."
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Gov. Justice, WVDNR announce new public access site on New River
Gov. Justice and officials with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wednesday announced that a new fishing access site and boat ramp has opened on the New River, near Gauley Bridge. The new site, located downstream from the Hawks Nest-Gauley Mountain Hydroelectric facility, between Gauley Bridge and Cathedral Falls along state Route 60, will give anglers access to the scenic stretch of the New River with prime fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye, and other popular species.
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Gov. Justice announces airports across West Virginia to receive more than $649,000 in grant funding from Aeronautics Commission
Gov. Justice and leaders with the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission announced Friday that a combined total of $649,980 in grant funding has been secured for airports across the state. The grants were approved during the WVAC’s latest meeting. Also, each of the state's 24 airports will receive General Revenue grants of $12,500 apiece, for a combined total of $300,000. These grants go towards safety and infrastructure upgrades.
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Gov. Justice honors heroes on the front lines of the state’s pandemic response
During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice joined officials with the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security to honor six West Virginia county emergency managers, presenting them with the DHS’ Freedom Award for their commitment to answering the call to duty. DHS has inaugurated awards for fiscal year 2020 to recognize emergency officials in six categories: Lifesaving, Innovation, Teamwork, Perseverance, Leadership, and Lifetime Achievement.

DHS Secretary Jeff Sandy presented the 2020 DHS Freedom Awards to the following recipients:
  • Roger Bryant, Director, Logan County Office of Emergency Management
  • Lou Vargo, Director, Wheeling-Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency
  • Tom Hart, Director, Marshall County Office of Emergency Management
  • Laura Pysz, Director, Harrison County Office of Emergency Management
  • Dean Meadows, Director, Wyoming County 911 Center and Office of Emergency Services
  • Walter Smittle III, Director, Jackson County Office of Emergency Management
All 55 county managers throughout the state will also receive recognition for their teamwork during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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Gov. Justice, WVNG celebrate Cantrell retirement after 32-years of service in U.S. Army
On Friday, Gov. Justice joined Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, in honoring WVNG Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip R. Cantrell with the West Virginia Distinguished Service Medal. Cantrell is retiring following a 32-year career in the United States Army. Cantrell has served as the Senior Enlisted Leader of the WVNG since Nov. 1, 2018, where he has provided counsel to the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, on all issues pertaining to the enlisted force of Soldiers and Airmen in the West Virginia Guard. Prior to his current assignment, Cantrell served as the state command sergeant major for the West Virginia Army National Guard. 
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Gov. Justice recognizes work of Bureau of Senior Services
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time to recognize the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and its employees for their work serving 2.4 million meals to seniors all across West Virginia so far this year alone. This year the Bureau has also added over 3,000 new seniors they have not served before.
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Partnership expands education opportunities for West Virginia Surgical Technology students

The West Virginia Department of Education and Alderson Broaddus University signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) Tuesday to expand educational opportunities for students completing the Surgical Technology Program. The new offering is provided through WVDE’s Advanced Career Education (ACE) program and AB’s Extended Learning Department. The MOU provides an opportunity for ACE Surgical Technology graduates to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology from Alderson Broaddus University. This partnership emphasizes West Virginia’s commitment to growing a competitive and skilled workforce by creating opportunities for students to secure a successful career in the thriving healthcare industry.

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WVDNR’s online maps make planning hunting, fishing trips easy

Hunters who are looking for a place to hunt on wildlife management areas and other public hunting lands in the Mountain State are encouraged to use an interactive map provided by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The map can be accessed on smartphones, tablets and computers at mapwv.gov/huntfish. It includes information about WMAs and other hunting lands, including details about terrain and game species. A search function also allows users to find check stations, public shooting ranges, Class Q hunter access roads and hiking trails throughout the state. 

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West Virginia Tourism Office releases fifth fall foliage report
While most of West Virginia is nearing peak, there is still some color remaining in lower elevations of the state. The Eastern Panhandle and parts of southern West Virginia offer several options to catch the last bits of color this season. The forecast, prepared with assistance from the West Virginia Division of Forestry, is the fifth in a series of fall foliage updates from the Tourism Office. Reports include the percentage of color change across the state and suggested travel routes through peak areas.
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Gov. Justice encourages all West Virginians to get a flu shot
Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 this week to remind and encourage all West Virginians to get their flu vaccine. According to health officials, everyone 6 months and older should receive this vaccine.
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Also this week:

Tamarack temporarily closed out of an abundance of caution

State plan for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families available for public comment

157th Military Police company returns from nine-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay

Environment Matters: Details on how to enter this year’s virtual ReFashion Show
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Contact Information

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

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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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