by Ron Gregory
According to Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, Huntington did its part. So too did several towns, cities, private citizens and businesses across the state. For its part, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams donated holiday trees to Baber’s town, which was devastated by last summer’s flooding. To say nearly nothing is the same in Richwood these days is an understatement. The town, as we knew it, was destroyed.
One ray of hope for reclamation of the town, its heritage and its lifeblood came when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would provide funding to rebuild two destroyed schools, Richwood Middle and Richwood High School.
The intervening weeks, however, have seen local political machinations essentially “take” the funds from the devastation in Richwood and “give” it to the pristine, non-flooded area of Summersville. For years, Nicholas County operated with a high school enigma. The one located in Summersville was inappropriately known as Nicholas County High while Richwood High remained open serving its 200 or 300 students. Generally, a “county high” designation means there is just one such entity serving an entire county’s school population.
Now, after many rancorous public hearings and meetings, Summersville will get what it always wanted. As Baber says, “the people are stealing our schools under the guise of a devastating flood. It’s ridiculous.”
Powers-that-be at the statehouse, particularly at the state Board of Education, have never seen a consolidation they didn’t like. The die is cast and Richwood loses again.
Baber has one potential move he’d still like to try, hoping to alter the outcome. He wants to take the Richwood Lumberjack band to play music in front of the White House. He hopes that would attract enough attention to make consolidation proponents pause. “I’m no Trump supporter,” said Baber, “but maybe he’ll see or hear us and come out to see what’s going on. I DO think he’d understand how outrageous this is.”
* * * * * *
As state Republicans rub their hands with glee, two strategies they insist on using just don’t hit the mark. One is there dogged determination that somehow, some way, repeating over and over that Democrat Governor Jim Justice owes some bills and taxes will ruin him politically. Justice defeated two well-known Democrats in the 2016 primary with those allegations well known by voters. Then he defeated Republican favorite Bill Cole who constantly brought up the tax issue. Try to understand this GOP: the voters have spoken on Jim Justice and taxes. They elected him Governor.
Second, GOP leaders are absolutely certain that the political life of United States Senator Joe Manchin will end in 2018. I doubt it. While progressive Democrats criticize Manchin for being too supportive of President Donald Trump; the Republicans think the senior senator’s connections to Hillary Clnton and anti-coal will kill him. Neither gets it done.
Manchin is a Democrat in a state that voted 70 percent for Trump three months ago. He would be politically insane to try to obstruct a President who is that popular with his constituents. West Virginia voters are also wise enough to know that Manchin never agreed with Clinton’s view on coal.
The GOP should create a meaningful state budget and stick to subjects the people care about.
* * * * * *
Was President Trump, as a candidate, wiretapped? Very likely indeed. Who did it? I don’t know.
But I do know that compassionate Democrats cannot give the President a break, after they moaned for eight years about how Republicans and Tea Partiers treated former President Obama. Two wrongs don’t make a right. President Trump has the best interests of the country at heart. Kindness, love and compassion? Perhaps liberals and progressives should practice a bit of it.
* * * * * *