West Virginia Week in Review - April 8, 2023


West Virginia Week in Review
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Gov. Justice recognizes the anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster
Gov. Jim Justice paid tribute to the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, which occurred 13 years ago. The explosion was a tragic event that shook the state of West Virginia and the entire nation.

Today, a permanent memorial has been established in Whitesville, which features the names of the 29 courageous miners who lost their lives in service to their community and state.

Gov. Justice asked everyone to keep the families and loved ones the miners left behind in their prayers, ensuring these heroes are never forgotten.
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Gov. Justice announces $20 million expansion of nursing education programs
Gov. Justice announced the continuation of his successful Nursing Workforce Expansion Program through $20 million that was approved in this year’s state budget.

Joined at WVU Parkersburg (WVUP) by House Finance Chair Vernon Criss, Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker, and Interim WVUP President Torie Jackson, Gov. Justice celebrated this investment that will fund the second year of expanded nursing education programs across the state.
With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating West Virginia’s nursing shortage, Gov. Justice launched a $48 million Nursing Workforce Expansion Program in December 2021 through a multi-pronged approach to support, recruit, and train nurses.

This included $26 million to further develop nursing education programs, through which West Virginia welcomed 810 new nursing students during the first year of the program.
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Gov. Justice celebrates groundbreaking of new cabins, campground, other improvements at Coopers Rock State Forest
Gov. Justice announced several new construction projects at one of the state’s most visited forests, Coopers Rock State Forest. The construction projects begin as system-wide state park visitation continues to soar with first-quarter revenues outpacing pre-pandemic levels by more than 200%.
The over $10 million project includes the construction of five new ‘stargazing cabins,’ doubled capacity at the popular McCollum Campground, and infrastructure improvements, including a new wastewater treatment plant and construction of a new pedestrian bridge to the main overlook.

Once completed, the project will build capacity at the nearly 13,000-acre park, which includes one of the most visited campgrounds in the state, the McCollum Campground. The project will more than double capacity at the campground, adding 25 new electric sites and a new bathhouse.
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Gov. Justice announces completion of Kanawha State Forest Stream Restoration Project
Gov. Justice announced the completion of the Kanawha State Forest stream restoration project, which will improve the fishery and recreational opportunities in the area. 

The project, which started in 2020, was a major undertaking and included the removal of the Davis Creek Dam, which was built in the 1930s. By removing the fishing pond, the stream has been restored to its natural state.
The restoration efforts were funded by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's In-Lieu Fee Program at an estimated cost of $1 million.

As part of the project, structures were added to stabilize stream banks and provide additional aquatic habitat and fishing opportunities. By removing the pond, the length of fishable water has been increased from about 1,000 feet to more than one mile. These changes create pool habitat and will allow the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to begin stocking trout.
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Gov. Justice announces $159 million March revenue surplus
Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia’s General Revenue collections for March 2023 are $159 million above estimates and 6.1% ahead of prior year receipts. Year-to-date collections are $1.266 billion above estimate and 16% ahead of last year. 

“This March we certainly have a lot to be thankful for,” Gov. Justice said. “Our revenue collections are strong, our state is in an excellent financial position, and we’ve now got the largest tax cut in state history on the books. So as Spring begins across the Mountain State, I’m extremely proud of our state’s financial health, but most of all I’m proud that all hardworking West Virginians have more money in their pockets.”
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Gov. Justice, First Lady remind everyone to attend annual Bunny Brunch on Saturday, April 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Governor and First Lady want to remind everyone the annual 2023 Bunny Brunch and Easter Celebration starts later today, Saturday, April 8, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be food, a petting zoo, bicycle giveaways, an Easter egg hunt, and more. This event is free and open to the public.
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Gov. Justice appoints Leigh M. Lefler as judge for Thirteenth Family Court Circuit serving Raleigh, Summers, and Wyoming
Gov. Justice announced that he has appointed Leigh M. Lefler, of Beckley, WV, to the Thirteenth Family Court Circuit, which serves Raleigh, Summers, and Wyoming counties. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of The Honorable Judge Louise Goldston. 

Lefler currently serves as an Assistant Prosecutor for Raleigh County, focusing on abuse and neglect cases. 

She has been a West Virginia State Bar member since May 2003 after receiving her law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Shepherd University. 
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Gov. Justice orders flags at half-staff on Saturday in honor of Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Douglas Miller
Gov. Justice has issued a proclamation, ordering all United States and West Virginia flags at the Capitol Complex and all state-owned facilities in Lewis, Upshur, and Webster counties be displayed at half-staff, from dawn to dusk tomorrow, Saturday, April 8, 2023, in commemoration of the distinguished life and service of Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Douglas "Skipper" Miller. 

During his Administration Update Briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Justice made remarks about Sheriff Miller.
View the Governor's Proclamation here
Sheriff Miller served in the United States Army as part of the military police and was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. Upon returning from service, Sheriff Miller began his public service with the Webster County Sheriff's Office in 1977, serving in Webster County, Upshur County, and Lewis County over the years.
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Also this week:

Breeze Airways will add two routes from West Virginia

Breeze Airways has a new 'Charleston to Charleston' Route — Here's What to Know

Summer P-EBT to be issued to qualifying West Virginia students

Patriot Guardens helping veterans, current military expand farm operations

Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov; CJ Harvey, cj.harvey@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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