Hopeful meeting will result in help for plant closure
Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said he’s hopeful recent meetings regarding the impending closure of the Chestnut Ridge Road Viatris plant will result in help from the federal level.
During Wednesday’s regular commission meeting, Bloom said the issue was raised during a Dec. 18 meeting that included Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and then again Sunday, with representatives of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
“I will say that Capito and Manchin both basically said, ‘We want you to know right now we’re working together.’ That’s what they wanted to get across to us. I think that was really key,” Bloom said, adding that he was contacted by Manchin following the Dec. 18 session.
“I received a phone call several hours later from Sen. Manchin, who said he was clearly reaching out to President-elect Biden to see from a member of his transition team if they could come down here and go through the plant and talk with us to see if there were any possibilities, or what we could do,” Bloom said.
Viatris, which completed its merger with Mylan Pharmaceuticals in mid-November, said earlier this month it was closing its Morgantown plant in July, a move that will result in the loss of 1,500 jobs.
In other county news, the commission extended the deadline by which county employees can use paid annual and personal leave from Dec. 31 to June 30, 2021.
Commissioner Sean Sikora said employees shouldn’t be penalized over restrictions brought on by COVID-19.
“We’ve been telling them for a year, ‘Don’t travel,’ so it would be shortsighted for us to say ‘Don’t travel,’ but at the end of the year, you’ll lose your leave,” Sikora said. “So this gives them more time.”
Lastly, Commission President Ed Hawkins said administration of COVID-19 vaccines continues to move forward in Monongalia County and across the state.
Hawkins said recent updates provided to the commission indicate most of the county’s EMS providers as well as the majority of the Morgantown Fire Department, have now been vaccinated.
“So 911 staff began today and then onto the remaining law and fire personnel next week,” Hawkins said. “That’s where we stand right now.”