Perhaps it’s a byproduct of their need for self-reliance.
That is, people living in rural areas or small towns learn early on that if you want something done, you’ll have to do it yourself.
Recently, that kind of spirit has been on display in Preston County in a quarter of society we increasingly don’t often look to for solutions — government.
However, lately Preston County’s administration, its County Commission and Kingwood City Council have put the “self” back into self-government.
This week, that county’s administrator announced she and the Office of Emergency Services director will be visiting Charleston soon for what’s owed Preston.
What’s owed Preston is about $22,600 in federal funds that the state Department of Homeland Security is apparently sitting on. That money is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s reimbursement to Preston County for paying private contractors to clear blocked roads following Hurricane Sandy, in October 2012.
The state has acknowledged that that money is due the county but has yet to send the check, despite forcing Preston to jump through additional hoops. So, enough with paperwork, phone calls and emails. It’s time to sit down — eye to eye — and ask politely, but firmly, “Where’s our money?”
In late February, the Preston County Commission decided that rather than continue complaining to the Division of Highways (DOH) about its roads in isolation, it would seek allies. It contacted the county commissions in the five other counties comprising the DOH’s District 4 to meet and talk about road maintenance and repairs, or more appropriately, the lack of.
Since then, four of those five counties and Preston formed the North Central Caucus on Roads and got District 4’s and the state DOH central office’s attention.
This caucus is more than just an exercise in strength in numbers. Like the Preston County administrator’s direct action above, this caucus gets to the point.
In recent months, we have also noticed initiatives emerging from Kingwood City Council that bespeak more action, and less talk.
One effort proposes to piggyback Kingwood’s municipal election onto the county’s elections, and another would tack on an additional 1 percent sales tax there.
Both initiatives are still pending, but just the fact that this town’s leaders are exploring and seriously considering such moves is worth noting in itself.
The stereotype about rural West Virginia is that people are content to accept things; you know, that’s just the way it is. Surprisingly, we get the impression that Preston County’s and Kingwood’s local government are not content with any such notion.
After all, its their constituents that have the greatest stake in governing themselves.