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After 34 years of operation, OVEC—the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition—is shutting down operations because we are no longer able to diligently carry out our mission. On November 16, 2021, the board of directors voted 10 – 1 to dissolve OVEC.
Because we have held the public trust for more than three decades—since we incorporated in 1987—we want to be as transparent as possible about the decision to close. No decision regarding anyone’s employment or the dissolution was taken lightly. Unfortunately, due to confidential personnel matters and ongoing legal issues, we are not free to publicly disclose the reasons for OVEC’s dissolution.
OVEC had five employees at the beginning of 2020. We added one new employee just days before we went into pandemic shut-down. Over the next few months, we interviewed and onboarded four employees essentially over video calls—three for brand new positions and one to fill the position of our retiring administrative director—so that we ended 2020 with nine employees.
As 2021 draws to an end, two employees have been dismissed, four have quit (with only one replacement hired), and our co-directors both decided to announce early retirements rather than continue serving in the current work climate.
During this two-year period, we also saw three board members resign and had four more people join the board.
We believe the pandemic—which prevented us from meeting in person—contributed to the unraveling of trust within OVEC. The spread of misinformation through social media also played a role in OVEC’s current situation. Only one side of the story has been publicly aired, and OVEC unfortunately does not enjoy the same freedom to respond. We must exercise discretion and restraint, even in the face of online misinformation. We sincerely hope that our supporters, who have trusted our work for many years, realize that there is much more to the story than what has been posted online.
While OVEC’s closing is sad and painful news, OVEC recognizes that all things have a lifespan. We hope that as they mourn OVEC’s passing, our members, volunteers, and numerous supporters will reflect on our decades of community activism and take pride in how they helped OVEC, a small non-profit environmental organization, based in Huntington, W.Va., gain national and even international recognition for work well done.
To all our volunteers, members, donors, funders, and allied groups—thank you! We are grateful and privileged to have had your passionate support that has enabled a string of successes both small and large, some of which are detailed here: https://ohvec.org/about-ovec/ovecs-history-and-successes/.
OVEC’s assets will be distributed to 501-c-3 groups with similar missions, according to our bylaws and state and federal laws.
Our fervent hope is that existing and new local and regional environmental and social justice groups will continue to build even more power to help improve the outlook for our region.
Photo: OVEC’s special collection library of books, DVDs, and magazines that over the years have featured our work.