West Virginia Week in Review - March 5, 2022

3/5/2022

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Gov. Justice: February brings more record revenue surpluses
Gov. Justice announced Tuesday that West Virginia’s General Revenue collections for February 2022 came in at $385.2 million – $59.2 million above estimate and 19.7% ahead of prior year receipts. Eight months through Fiscal Year 2022, year-to-date collections of $3.478 billion are $589.9 million above the YTD estimate; breaking the all-time record for total surplus through the month of February. The $59.2 million surplus for the month of February is also believed by state revenue officials to be the highest February surplus ever recorded in state history.
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Gov. Justice: West Virginia AGAIN breaks record for lowest unemployment rate in state history
Gov. Justice announced Tuesday that West Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.1% for January 2022; breaking the all-time record for the lowest unemployment rate recorded in state history for the 4th consecutive month.
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Gov. Justice observes two-year anniversary of first COVID briefing, State of Preparedness declaration
Gov. Justice announced that Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his very first statewide briefing to discuss COVID-19. It also marked the two-year anniversary of the day he issued a State of Preparedness for COVID-19 and gathered with members of his administration to discuss the state’s next moves as the disease approached.

“I want to take just a second today to thank all those out there that really did incredible work. You ran to the fire. All of our first responders, all those in the health care community across the board, the people that worked at the grocery stores; all West Virginians kept pulling the rope together. I could never thank you enough," said Gov. Justice.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s number of active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU patients, and patients on ventilators all continue to decline across the board. Since nearing peak capacity in early February, West Virginia’s hospitals have seen the number of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 cut in half.
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WV National Guard to complete mission providing staffing support for hospitals by March 11
The Governor announced Wednesday that, as a result of the decreased strain on the state’s healthcare systems, the West Virginia National Guard will be completing its mission of providing additional staffing support at hospitals throughout the state on March 11.
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Governor awarded West Virginia Music Educators Association's Presidential Award
On Friday, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith joined the briefing to announce that Gov. Justice was named as the winner of the West Virginia Music Educators Association’s annual Presidential Award.

“This is the first time in two years they’ve been able to get together to meet for their conference, and they wanted to say thank you for all you have done to keep the arts going in the state, especially through arts education,” Curator Reid-Smith said.
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Gov. Justice signs Executive Order banning sale of Russian produced liquor in West Virginia
Gov. Justice announced Monday that he signed an Executive Order which directs the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (ABCA) to cease the purchase and sale of all Russian produced liquor until further notice. The WVABCA estimates that there are approximately 73 cases of Russian liquor in the State’s warehouse. The Governor also requested that the West Virginia Retailers Association remove Russian liquor from their shelves and not sell the products until further notice.
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Governor on State of Union address: “I wish President Biden would have come out and said our nation needs to be energy independent.”
Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 Wednesday to review President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address.

“President Biden, I thought, did a pretty decent job in his delivery, but the substance was not very good,” Gov. Justice said. “I wish President Biden would have come out and said our nation needs to be energy independent.

“We were on our way to being energy independent under President Trump. Our nation has the spotlight of the world on us. We’ve got to be energy independent."
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Gov. Justice announces winners of 2022 Lifetime Hunting & Fishing License Giveaway
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced the winners of the state’s third annual Lifetime Hunting & Fishing License Giveaway. The giveaway was open to residents and non-residents who purchased an annual 2022 hunting, trapping, or fishing license in the month of December.
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Gov. Justice, WVDEP Sec. Ward announce over $24.7 million in AML Economic Revitalization Program grants
Gov. Justice and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Sec. Harold Ward held a virtual ceremony Wednesday to announce the recommendation of nine AML Economic Revitalization Program projects that will utilize over $24.7 million in federal grant funding for economic development at abandoned mine land sites across the state.
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Gov. Justice, First Lady release book readings for Read Across America Day
On Tuesday, Gov. Justice released a video book reading to all West Virginia schools in celebration of Read Across America Day. The Governor chose “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – a children’s book adapted from the John Denver song of the same name and illustrated by Christopher Canyon.

National Read Across America Day is held each year on March 2 – the birthday of beloved children’s book author, Dr. Seuss.
Later in the day, First Lady Cathy Justice released a video book-reading as well. The First Lady chose “Love is all around West Virginia” – a children’s book written by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Joanna Czernichowska.
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Gov. Justice appoints Brett McMillion as Director of the WVDNR
Gov. Justice announced Friday that he has appointed Brett W. McMillion as Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Over the past 25 years, McMillion has served in administrative roles with Panther State Forest, Bluestone State Park, and Pipestem Resort State Park, before taking on the role of Deputy Chief of West Virginia State Parks.

“I am very, very confident that I’m selecting the right man for the job,” Gov. Justice continued. “Brett has done an incredible job as the Deputy Chief of our State Parks system. I know he’ll do a wonderful job as our DNR Director.”
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WVDOH announces massive cleaning and painting project on downtown Charleston interstate bridges and ramps
A massive project to clean and paint nine interstate bridges and six interstate ramps through downtown Charleston was among four contracts awarded by the West Virginia Division of Highways on Tuesday. Blastech Enterprises Inc. was awarded a contract for $27,420,996.50 to clean and paint the series of bridges and ramps on Interstate 77 and Interstate 64. Funding is a combination of federal and state monies.
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WVDOH explains two-fold pothole strategy
Winter is hard on West Virginia’s roads, with constant freezing and thawing leading to a plethora of potholes. But during pothole season, the West Virginia Division of Highways is ready to pull the trigger on potholes; with a two-fold strategy for before and after asphalt plants open in each region of the state. 
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West Virginia overdose deaths trending downward
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) has reported an improvement in the number of monthly overdose deaths from April 2021 through September 2021. This downward trend aligns with provisional data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates West Virginia’s decline in monthly overdose deaths is better than the national average and neighboring states. 
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Students will return to WV Schools for Deaf and Blind next week
Faculty and staff at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind are preparing for students to return to campus next week after the restoration of key services and utilities is completed. A fire destroyed the schools’ landmark Administration Building and the servers housed at the site. The cause is undetermined according to a statement released by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which led the investigation, worked closely with the State Fire Marshal over the past week.
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Eleven Governor’s Arts Awards presented to individuals and organizations along with ten Legislative Leadership Awards
On Tuesday, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts sponsored the Governor’s Arts Awards at the Culture Center. During the awards ceremony, 11 Governor’s Arts Awards and 10 Legislative Leadership Awards in the Arts were presented. The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented biennially to celebrate the state’s creative spirit and the amazing talents of the people and groups that produce art. They also recognize those whose willingness to support arts organizations and artists help to ensure the arts maintain an important place in our communities and schools.
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Also this week:

Governor and First Lady Justice issue statement on death of coal miner in McDowell County


HHOMA announces “Black History and Sports” virtual lecture

WVDEP announces results for first round of Ethylene Oxide air sampling in Kanawha County

WIC Introduces Additional Flexibilities Amid Powdered Infant Formula Recall
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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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