West Virginia Week in Review - October 16, 2021

10/16/2021

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Gov. Justice announces Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy
On Friday, Gov. Justice unveiled a billion-dollar strategy to bring broadband availability to 200,000 more West Virginia homes and businesses. The plan will combine funding from federal, state, and local governments, along with matching investments from private-sector partners, to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state. The plan represents by far the largest investment in broadband in the state’s history.
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Gov. Justice proposes bill requiring exemptions from vaccine mandates in the workplace
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that he amended his recent Special Session call to include a bill that would clarify that any government or private business that wishes to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine must also allow exemptions to that mandate for medical or religious reasons. The Governor went on to clarify that this bill would still allow businesses to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, so long as the appropriate exemptions are available.

House Bill 335 was passed by the West Virginia House Friday afternoon by a 68-30 vote. It now awaits a second reading Monday in the Senate.
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Do it for Babydog Round 2: Gov. Justice announces prize winners in vaccination sweepstakes
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice surprised some of the biggest winners from the sixth and final week of prize giveaways as part of his “Do it for Babydog: Round 2” vaccination sweepstakes.

The Governor and Babydog surprised Ashley Dingess at Scott High School in Boone County, Connor Reece at Hurricane High School in Putnam County, and Karlee Baisden at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Kanawha County, announcing that they had each won a full four-year scholarship to any public college or university in the state, including room and board, tuition, and books; a prize valued at over $100,000.
Gov. Justice and Babydog also surprised Steven Stover of Mabscott with the keys to a brand new top-of-the-line zero-turn lawn mower; a 61" Bad Boy Rebel 747cc with a Kohler engine.

A final tally of 150 prizes were awarded through Round 2 of the Babydog sweepstakes. On Wednesday, Gov. Justice shared a video montage, recapping the emotional reactions of several of the major prize winners whose lives were changed through the sweepstakes.
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Gov. Justice reports continued improvement in number of hospitalizations, severe cases
On Friday, Gov. Justice reported that there were 10,213 active cases of COVID-19 statewide; up by 510 cases since the Governor’s previous briefing on Wednesday. Despite the small increase over the past two days, the active case count is down overall by 19,531 cases since peaking less than a month ago, dropping by 65.7% in that timeframe. Meanwhile, the state continues to see a steady downward trend in the number of severe COVID cases.
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Gov. Justice implores more vaccinations: “It’s the only way in the world that we can actually slow this down.”
On Monday, Gov. Justice once again took time to urge more West Virginians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’ve got to find some way to stop this, and right now the only bullet in the gun is our vaccinations,” Gov. Justice said. “We will not infringe upon your freedoms. But, at the same time, you’ve got to realize that we’ve got to some way stop this because reading 110 great West Virginians that we’ve lost is just terrible. It’s really sad."
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WV receives $2 million from FEMA for COVID testing at colleges and universities
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has received an award in the amount of nearly $2 million from FEMA to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing on campuses through the end of the year.

“Our colleges and universities have really stepped up to the plate to make sure that we can continue to test, and this money will reimburse them for a lot of work they’ve already done,” Gov. Justice said.
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Gov. Justice appoints Mark Scott as Cabinet Secretary for Department of Administration
Gov. Justice announced Wednesday that he has appointed Mark Scott as Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Administration. Scott, who currently serves as the president of the Randolph County Commission, worked in the insurance business in north central West Virginia for 27 years before his retirement from the private sector. His appointment will be effective on Nov. 1, 2021.
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JVAC releases names of applicants seeking to fill seats on newly created Intermediate Court of Appeals
The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission (JVAC) has released the names of the applicants seeking to fill seats on the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals, created by the passage of SB 275 during the 2021 Legislative Session codified at WV Code §51-11. Interviews will be conducted by the JVAC in the coming weeks.​
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Gov. Justice congratulates WV VACS Team on national recognition
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice congratulated the West Virginia Vaccine Administration, Collaboration, and Support (WV VACS) Team for being recognized nationally for their work by the Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions. The Governor originally announced the creation of the WV VACS Team in April. The group is made up of more than 1,000 health professional students from colleges and universities across the state who have volunteered to help further bolster the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts in various communities across West Virginia.
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First Lady Cathy Justice debuts art display featuring CIS students at State Capitol
On Tuesday, First Lady Cathy Justice hosted a reception at the State Capitol Rotunda to launch a new artwork display featuring portraits of six Communities In Schools (CIS) students from across the state. First Lady Justice, along with the West Virginia Department of Education, chose six CIS students to participate in the “What We’re Made Of” art project, patterned after an initiative by the National CIS office.
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Gov. Justice: Students invited to participate in annual Almost Heaven Governor’s Art Exhibition
Gov. Justice, the West Virginia Department of Tourism, and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History invite all West Virginia students in grades K-12 to participate in the 2021 Almost Heaven Governor’s Art Exhibition. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 6, 2021. Only one entry may be submitted per student.
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First Lady Cathy Justice invites students to participate in Golden Horseshoe Sword Smithing Design Contest
First Lady Cathy Justice, in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education, is inviting West Virginia students to participate in a Golden Horseshoe Sword Smithing Design Contest. All high school students (grades 9-12) who are enrolled in a public, private, or home-school in West Virginia are urged to participate in this Student Artist Series.
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Roads to Prosperity project at Exit 99 of Interstate 79 nearly complete
Funding provided by Gov. Justice's $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity highway construction program will make a heavily-traveled intersection in Weston much safer when renovations at Exit 99 on Interstate 79 are completed in coming weeks. Work is nearly complete pouring concrete on the final section of bridge on southbound I-79 and should be complete by the end of November. Exit 99 connects Interstate 79 with US 33.
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Trout stockings return to West Virginia lakes and streams Oct. 18
Don’t pack up your fishing gear just yet. Fall trout stockings return to nearly 40 lakes and streams around the state starting Oct. 18. Fall trout stocking only lasts two weeks, so make sure you plan a trip while there’s still time.
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West Virginia Department of Tourism releases second fall foliage report and featured country road trip of 2021

Color is spreading throughout the New River Gorge and north-central West Virginia as the Department of Tourism releases its second fall foliage report to help travelers enjoy peak leaf season. This report marks the second in a series of weekly updates, prepared in partnership with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, to help travelers plan autumn road trips and adventures based on peak foliage across the state. 

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Also this week:

Gov. Justice orders flags at Capitol and in Ohio County to half-staff on Saturday, Oct. 16, in honor of former West Virginia Senator Orphy Klempa

Three WV WIC Local Agencies Receive National Award for Breastfeeding Programs

Office of Medical Cannabis to Host Patient Sign Up Events in Northern Panhandle

WV Board of Education adopts updated strategic plan


West Virginia Board of Education honors students earning national awards in career technical ed competitions

HHOMA takes listening tour to Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties
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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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