Re Energize Southwest Virginia
These comments are restricted to Wise County. My name is Kathy Selvage and I have lived in Wise County almost my entire life. Approximately 35% or more of the county’s land mass has been permitted for surface mining. EVERY TIME ANOTHER PERMIT WAS APPROVED by DMLR/DMME, IT DESTROYED YET ANOTHER FUTURE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY by isolating permits with total disregard for the cumulative effects of our severely marred environment in both surface and water. Please visit this link and maneuver around this location for a look at just one site that I speak of. There are many. https://earth.google.com/web/search/37.01580000000,-82.77200000000
YOU CANNOT HAVE AN ECONOMY WITHOUT PLACE.
Any assistance should NOT be focused on programs or procedures that are anti-worker, riddled with corporate tax breaks, or enterprise zones.
There is a dire need for basic foundational facts that should be shared broadly with all citizens to greatly inform public participation in the future. The first several in the list is retrievable in agency offices, I believe, if the Commonwealth could assist in assimilating and delivering this information to the public through multiple mediums.
- DMME color coded mapping of all mined lands (pre ’77 and post ’77) within the county’s boundaries and determine extent of reclamation that is still undone (layered in mapping) – to promote following the progression of that reclamation and how it is financed.
- Determine the largest landowners and accumulate tax data (acreage, tax rate, etc.) on property – for perhaps the last five years (County Commissioner).
- Determine if any public monies are being spent on private lands and how much.
- Determine an estimated increased percentage for construction costs on strip-mined lands. Land conditions could be cost prohibitive for utilization, depending on proposed use.
- Determine where water and sewer lines are within the County (WCPSA). Sewer lines would be minimal outside of corporate limits, I believe.
- Review of empty houses and buildings to determine structural soundness and possible repurposing. Stop the succession line of purchasing through the gain of insider information that drives up housing or office costs when some learn prematurely of future development.
- Home ownership rates proportional to the total and home / trailer data to determine appropriate housing needs. Without a doubt, some should be modest, appropriate to household income level, which are for the most part small.
- Medical doctors are short term. Consider identifying locals who are competent and interested, and NEED help with medical education costs, in turn for a long-term contracted stint here. Try to plant them in communities for diversity and crossing of socio-economic lines, of which there is little.
- Determine and map broadband coverage, determine the level of necessity for quality-of-life issues, and seek mentors for young entrepreneurs. Encourage local business owners who are retiring to mentor their employees and give them a portion of the business as they retire. Businesses have vanished partly because the owners retire, die, and the building and business falls down and melts into the ground.
- Encourage at least one conversation between the youth of the area only and the Sec. of Commerce. They are the future and their views should be sought and incorporated as much as possible, as we are an aging and declining population, and have experienced yet another exodus.
Current employment that could be encouraged and or engaged
- Embrace green energy in all avenues – homes, schools, institutions.
- Restorative work on previously mined/and or abandoned lands with caveat of deep concern for public works and money continuously expensed on privately held lands, especially for large land owners who pay extremely low real estate taxes in the County, thus defunding the County.
- Installation of broadband and plan for maintenance.
- Utilize teams of local contractors (electricians, plumbers, structural, and building) to review empty houses and buildings, and make determination If these homes/buildings are unsalvageable, develop a plan for destruction to reduce blighted landscapes, at owner’s expense, not taxpayers’ expense.
- Determine mined lands where debris, rusted machinery, old tires, abandoned tipples and tracks have been left and offer employment to miners to clear and scrap the metal, at the owner’s expense.
- Look at transportation needs realistically—consider whether rails could be used for transportation of goods—perhaps even people. List of places that could be used for small manufacturing related to outward transportation of product.
I would never encourage public private partnerships. There could be increased public costs to cover the cost of their risk (they say) and there cannot be sufficient accountability as they like to say it’s proprietary. Just one reason. In our case, public funds will go to the same businesses who did the damage to now repair the land, and the masses of land lie in the hands of the few. It’s an economic loop of corporate welfare.
A new green economy will go much further in developing a future for SW VA than the usual public-private partnerships. LET’S GO GREEN and LEAN and build a much-needed broad foundation on which a future of economic diversity can emerge and materialize. Invest funds into projects with measurable, long term results. Stop us from spinning our economic wheels.