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Winds of Change
November 2002

Contents

Life Near a Massey Mine is No Picnic

Not Throwing Caution to the Winds

Legacy of MTR - ANOTHER Round of Flooding

And The Winner Is ... NOTA?

Winds of Change - OVEC Switches to Wind Power, So Can You

The Smell of $$$$$ = Business as Usual in WV

The People Win Round 1 in Coal Truck Weight Battle

WV May Tell Coalfields: If You Don't Like It, Move!

OVEC in Action!

Homer III Wants to Blacken Peytona

Invoking Some 'Higher Authority' in the Fight Against MTR

What Can We Say But THANKS for Everything!

Norton Trys to Use Enviros as Poster Children at Sham Celebration

Regulator's Motto: If You Don't Do It Right, It Doesn't Take As Long

GlassWorks of Weston to Produce OVECs 2002 Christmas Ornaments

Norcross Wildlife Foundation Awards OVEC Grant for New Computers

Action Alert Miscellany

Other Miscellany


For viewing the PDF version

 

WV May Tell Coalfields:
If You Don't Like It, Move!

by Dave Cooper

Hey coalfield residents, if you dont like living in fear of the next wall of water thundering off denuded and scalped mountains, heres a solution the state may have in store for you and your town: Move!

A state-hired consultant studying the severe 2001 flooding in communities of southern West Virginia is considering a recommendation to relocate 11 towns in Wyoming and McDowell counties onto a reclaimed strip mine site near the intersection of two proposed new highways.

After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the communities, such as infrastructure, demographics, general financial condition and "critical mass," the consultant, Parsons-Brinckerhoff of Lexington, Ky., rated Kimball, Iaeger, Anawalt, and Keystone in McDowell County as "least sustainable," and Oceana, War, Pineville, Bradshaw, Gary, Northfork and Davy as "less sustainable." Welch and Mullens were rated "most sustainable."


David Hafley of Parsons-Brinckerhoff consultants calmly points to the 11 communities in southern West Virginia's coalfields that, according to the company, are "less sustainable" or even "least sustainable" because they are in the floodplain. photo by Dave Cooper

At a Sept. 10 meeting in the truly beautiful and thriving town of Oceana, in Wyoming County, attended mostly by developers, town officials and coal industry types, Parsons-Brinckerhoffs David Hafley, called his presentation a "tough message" with the "inevitable conclusion" that a community of 300-400 people was just not sustainable in light of the continued severe flooding.

Hafley, hired by the West Virginia State Disaster Recovery Board, stressed that his recommendations  would guide a  "long-term community plan" that would be implemented over the next 30 to 40 years. He pointed out that these communities had suffered through two 500-year floods in the past two years. The "health of the patient" was not good, he said, and urged that people be moved "out of the valley floors to safe and sanitary housing."

Hafley proposed that this new "cross roads service area" if indeed the Coalfields Expressway and King Coal Highway are ever built would naturally draw residents through the lure of new transportation facilities, new infrastructure and the consolidation of services.

The Tax and Revenue office's Matt Ballard represented the state at this meeting, which apparently just wanted the consultants to look at the effects - not the causes - of flooding on the future of McDowell and Wyoming communities.

Isnt that just nifty? Following the same logic, if you get stabbed in the arm by a bad guy with a knife, the state would recommend that you just amputate the arm so that we dont make the criminal upset problem solved!

I cant wait to see the joyous look on the faces of community residents when informed that their town is being cut off from any more assistance and infrastructure improvements, which will be the not-so-subtle strategy for encouraging folks to move to the new development up on the hill on the other side of the county.

And cant you just imagine how the bankers will fall all over themselves laughing when a developer walks in for a loan to build a new mountaintop community in southern West Virginia - and by the way well need money for a new access road, city streets, electric lines, sewer lines, sewage treatment plant, a new water supply, schools, churches, stores, fire department, police, a couple hundred thousand tons of topsoil about $500 million ought to do it.

What West Virginia resident would want to live on a reclaimed, treeless, sun-blasted strip mine where even cactus wont grow instead of in our beautiful woods with mountains and rivers? Thats why so many people stay in West Virginia, despite the economic challenges.

This plan, dreamed up by an out-of-state planner, is more than just a waste of money. Its designed to facilitate the coal industrys greatest wish: the evacuation of southern West Virginia. Once all those pesky humans are out of the way, goodbye mountains, goodbye streams, goodbye wildlife and hello to more profits for the coal industry.

Thats what we all really want, isnt it?

 

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