Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Jan. 8 letters to the editor

Let’s create jobs cleaning up old mines

A lot of work remains to be done to reclaim abandoned mine lands in West Virginia. Before passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, thousands of coal mines had already been abandoned across the country, leaving a legacy of degraded land and polluted water.

According to the official federal database, it will cost another $11.3 billion to reclaim AMLs across the United States, including $1.76 billion here in West Virginia.

But these remaining costs significantly underestimate the scope of the problem, for several reasons. Many costs were estimated years ago and do not account for inflation since the estimates were made. Cost estimates for numerous AMLs are simply omitted from the database. Also, the cost of building and maintaining water treatment systems — many of which will need to treat water in perpetuity — is also not accounted for in these estimates.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law. The IIJA is the single largest investment in abandoned mine reclamation in our country’s history. It’s a historic investment in coal country. The law provides for over $2 billion in new funding for abandoned mine clean up in West Virginia alone. A recent economic impact study by Downstream Strategies found that the abandoned mine land funding included in the IIJA could support over 1,900 jobs for the next 15 years, providing nearly $1.6 billion in wages to West Virginians.

As we enter the 2023 legislative session, our elected officials need to do what they can to enable state agencies to manage these funds in a way that maximizes their economic benefits for West Virginians. This type of funding only comes around once in a lifetime. Let’s create some jobs with it.

Joey James

Community college students need empathy 

The young man with the long, sandy-brown hair stomped down the aisle and said, “Hey, I’m going on vacation.”

“OK,” I said, knowing I would never see him in class again — and didn’t.

And way, way back in the classroom sat a female student, and if I asked her a question, she would sometimes pantomime slicing her throat with her forefinger. I came to understand that meant she had a sore throat that day and couldn’t talk.

Another student came up to me after class and said she had a bad case of ADHD and forgot to take her pills, so today she couldn’t focus.

Thinking back, I wondered how I ended up teaching a beginning composition class last semester at a small community college in West Virginia. Basically, I was trying to finish a study I began several years ago. My goal was to teach writing by having the students begin with their culture and not with the rules of grammar.

And now, for the first time in my teaching life, I hated going to class because students were not responding. And then, it hit me while driving to class: Many of these students had gone through two or three years of the pandemic and did most of their schooling at home. During these years, some students told me that they felt isolated and alone. Many told me they became addicted to social media.

Teachers like me, who were trained in a different generation, need to learn that today’s students need more visual computer games and learning modules in classes. In the final analysis, I also think we need more mental health professionals to partner up with teachers in their classrooms in order to help both teachers and students understand who they are and what their purpose in life is.

Ron Iannone

Daring to question people in power

If only we dare, dare to question, dare to call out those who are in positions of some type of authority over government or the court of popular opinion in the world of ideas that battle each other. In history there were and are those currently who openly oppose popular ideas. Ideas that are spewed by the ruling mainstream media, ruling big businesses and ruling government. Imposed on the governed are those ideas. Not only ideas are imposed but regulations that reflect those ideas.

We would say that those who dare to question, dare to oppose. Opposition in spirit could change the hearts and minds of the imposers, without physical opposition ideally. What if no one dared to question the rule of communist Germany in 1989? The Berlin Wall may still be standing if not. What if no one dared question the oppressive laws against African-Americans in this country during the 1960s? There would have been no Civil Rights movement to abolish state sanctioned laws that represent systemic racism.

And so, in this present time, should not more of us dare to question the policies of battling COVID? We make no mistake about it. COVID is real, and dangerous and deadly. But having said that, are the counter measures imposed by power of central governance and public and private businesses effective and of moral responsibility? Was it right for former President Trump to “warp speed” a vaccine? Was it right for President Biden to fully support blanket vaccine mandates?  Was it right to impose vaccine mandates, period, since transmission is not prevented? Did lockdowns really help? Was individual risk/benefit really taken into consideration or was there just a one-solution-fits-all mentality?

If we would just dare oppose, to relentlessly question the blanket counter measures in the war on COVID, this opposing would bring forth answers and truth from the imposers. Truth and answers would see light, regardless of their willful cooperation. Future generations would benefit. A truly free people should never be fearful of questioning those in power.

If only we dare.

Mike Morgan

Thank you to 911 and our police officers

I learned on Dec. 30 how professional and competent our 911 center and police are.

I was running on the Mon River rail-trail between Uffington and the MUB station when I heard a gunshot, and a man on the trail flashed a handgun at me.

I just kept running, speeding up when he fired two more shots. Luckily, I was running with my cellphone and called 911 a half-mile up the trail.

The response was quick. Police cars came down the rail-trail within a few minutes to find the shooter. By the time I got to the MUB station, other police were blocking access to the trail to keep people away. Mon County 911 called back to be sure I was safe.

I am safe, and so are the other citizens of Morgantown and Mon County, due to the excellent work of our police. Thanks to them.

Bob Johnstone

Where’d the money go, if not to fixing the roads?

There was a letter in The Dominion Post recently about how the Division of Highways has not done any repairs to a local highway in years.

I keep reading in The DP that there is a large surplus of money in the state coffers. Then why is this work not getting done if the state has the money?

If our district is short on employees, then our district manager should get in touch with the head of the state DOH and tell him our district needs more people. If that means paying these people more money to take these jobs, then do it and get our roads fixed.

I have said it before and I will say it again — if our district had the money and now they say they don’t have the money, then what happened to the money? There sure wasn’t anything done to our roads. W.Va.19 north toward the state line has needed resurfaced for the last two or three years.

Maybe it is time the state takes a look at its bookkeeping to see where the money went, since it wasn’t spent on our roads.

Taxpayers have invested a lot of money in taxes over the years to have good roads. It is a shame to have to travel roads in such poor condition.

Gov. Jim Justice says he is going to have the roads fixed. I hope he keeps his word and that is not just a false promise.

Ralph Correll