Weirton Event Targets State Legislature to End Child Poverty in WV

FacebookTwitterShare This

familySo, if I told you there was this small group of grassroots activists and volunteers hatching a bold and ambitious campaign right now to shut down meth labs in West Virginia…

Or to provide better care for children with mental illnesses…

Or to improve childcare options for working Moms…

Or to help babies born without responsible parents find a loving foster home…

You’d want to help them, right?

Good news. You can.

Inspired by the belief that the West Virginia State Legislature should pass policies that protect and support West Virginia’s children and families, an event is being held in Weirton on Monday, Aug. 17 to build local teams in support of local policy ideas for the 2016 legislative session.

It’s the latest in a series of Our Children, Our Future campaign workshops around the state to gather support for locally-grown policies aimed at reducing child poverty, assisting families, improving education options and making West Virginia a safer and healthier place to live and raise a family.

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Weirton2015

In Weirton, community teams from the Northern Panhandle will be pitching their ideas for new policies to encourage and support foster families, boost access to healthy food at food banks, and use taxes on cigarettes to fund improved health care for West Virginians, among other issues.

Now, these grassroots campaign teams are looking for individuals and community groups with similar ambitions to offer their support and help develop their campaigns.

You have a chance to be a part of history.

We’ve been doing these grassroots policy events for three years now, and in that short time we’ve passed 18 policies that have changed the lives of thousands of West Virginians – working moms, low-income families, students, people who need healthcare… real people.

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Weirton2015

The list of policy victories born from Our Children, Our Future policy workshops includes:

  • Medicaid expansion – health insurance provided for 150,000 working West Virginians
  • Minimum wage raised to $8.75
  • Future Fund Act – created endowment for future state investments through natural gas tax
  • Stopped budget cuts to child care programs three years running
  • Feed to Achieve Act – expanded school breakfast and lunch programs
  • Juvenile Justice reform – reduce child incarceration by changing truancy laws
  • Pregnant workers fairness act passed – providing seating and breaks to pregnant workers
  • Move to Improve – to make sure kids get 30 minutes of physical activity every day at school
  • Reduced abandoned and dilapidated buildings through creation of land reuse agencies
  • Prison reform to reduce overcrowding in state prisons

I’ll be there. I’ll see you there too, right?

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Weirton2015

About Jake

Huntington Herald-Dispatch: Downtown Redevelopment Starting to Bear Fruit

new life.

Photo Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Huntington Herald-Dispatch Editorial

Huntington has not made the list of Best 50 College Towns – yet.

The groups that put these lists together look at a variety of factors from livability to cultural offerings to simple “presence” of the school in the community. But when you look at the communities on the top of the list, you understand that the physical interconnection between the college and the town is a big part of the magic.

University life is woven into the fabric of all those communities, and each has its well-known streets and neighborhoods, where town and gown come together. We think that is happening in Huntington, too.

The changes have attracted new businesses, re-energized older businesses and increased pedestrian traffic

Since 2008, the Old Main Corridor project has been gradually building a stronger link between the Marshall University campus and downtown Huntington. And as the project nears the end of the construction phase, we can see that the connectivity is just beginning.

Most of the work has been streetscape infrastructure – rebuilding sidewalks and curbs, plus adding street lighting, trees and bicycle lanes. But block by block, it is making a difference. The changes have attracted new businesses, re-energized older businesses and increased pedestrian traffic along the stretch of 4th Avenue from Hal Greer Boulevard into the heart of downtown.

“Every time I go down where the work has been completed, I see more activity and more people,” said Charles Holley, director of the city Department of Development and Planning. “That was the plan behind the project, and that is what’s happening.”

Read the full editorial at www.herald-dispatch.com

 

Want to End Child Poverty in WV? Come to Huntington, Aug. 11.

childSo, if I told you there was this small group of grassroots activists and volunteers hatching a bold and ambitious campaign right now to shut down meth labs in West Virginia…

Or to provide better care for children with mental illnesses…

Or to improve childcare options for working Moms…

Or to help babies born without responsible parents find a loving foster home…

You’d want to help them, right?

Good news. You can.

Inspired by the belief that the West Virginia State Legislature should pass policies that protect and support West Virginia’s children and families, an event is being held in Huntington on Tuesday, Aug. 11 to build local teams in support of local policy ideas for the 2016 legislative session.

It’s the latest in a series of Our Children, Our Future campaign workshops around the state to gather support for locally-grown policies aimed at reducing child poverty, assisting families, improving education options and making West Virginia a safer and healthier place to live and raise a family.

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Huntington2015

In Huntington, community teams from the region will be pitching their ideas for new policies to improve health care coverage for pregnant woman, involve the general public in budget decision-making, provide child care for working parents, and to ensure ex-offenders are not unfairly excluded from job opportunities, among other issues.

Now, these grassroots campaign teams are looking for individuals and community groups with similar ambitions to offer their support and help develop their campaigns.

You have a chance to be a part of history.

We’ve been doing these grassroots policy events for three years now, and in that short time we’ve passed 18 policies that have changed the lives of thousands of West Virginians – working moms, low-income families, students, people who need healthcare… real people.

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Huntington2015

The list of policy victories born from Our Children, Our Future policy workshops includes:

  • Medicaid expansion – health insurance provided for 150,000 working West Virginians
  • Minimum wage raised to $8.75
  • Future Fund Act – created endowment for future state investments through natural gas tax
  • Stopped budget cuts to child care programs three years running
  • Feed to Achieve Act – expanded school breakfast and lunch programs
  • Juvenile Justice reform – reduce child incarceration by changing truancy laws
  • Pregnant workers fairness act passed – providing seating and breaks to pregnant workers
  • Move to Improve – to make sure kids get 30 minutes of physical activity every day at school
  • Reduced abandoned and dilapidated buildings through creation of land reuse agencies
  • Prison reform to reduce overcrowding in state prisons

I’ll be there. I’ll see you there too, right?

To learn more, or to register, visit: bit.ly/Huntington2015

About Jake.

State Journal: Are West Virginia’s Farms Our Next Big Tourism Draw?

 

Photo by Sickler Farms

Photo by Sickler Farms

By Jim Workman at the State Journal

Corn mazes and pumpkin patches provide additional revenue and interest on farms across West Virginia when harvest time has long past.

But other agri-tourism opportunities exist, as a group of West Virginia producers found out during a four month class that culminated on a two-day bus tour to Virginia and North Carolina this spring…

Tour participants were interested in implementing agri-tourism on their own farms.

“Farms can provide an experience that travelers are looking for. It’s ripe for tourism.”

“Farms can provide an experience that travelers are looking for,” said Cindy Martel, marketing specialist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. “It’s ripe for tourism. People want to learn about where their food comes from.”

There was one stop in Virginia and stops in the Triangle area of northeast North Carolina — Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.

A research farm in Raleigh that doubles as festival grounds was one of the stops, along with a corn maze, a large produce wholesaler and a farmer’s market that hosts an onsite kitchen. Another stop included Celebrity Dairy, an agri-tourism operation in Silver City, North Carolina, that has an inn with bed and breakfast-style lodging, a goat farm and customized catering.

Participants learned to think in terms of “clustering” themselves together when possible, with several attractions in one area being more likely to draw tourists than a singular one.

Lisa Sickler, owner of Sickler Farm in Barbour County, was one of the participants in the classes who also took the trip south. Her farm regularly hosts hay rides and a pumpkin patch for families, scouts or school field trips each October.

But she is willing to look for even more opportunities year-round, and she said the class encouraged participants to continue opening their farms to the public.

“It was very neat to listen to other people’s ideas, and what their plans are for agri-tourism,” Sickler said. “We need to work together. We’re not competitors, we’re cooperating. We need to help each other out.

“I’m not going to take business away from a dairy farm, because we don’t offer that. But people may want to come here and pick pumpkins and mums and go visit their farm. It was great to connect to the others.”

The concept of clustering was definitely one that Sickler caught hold of, she said.

“The tour inspired me to look for other attractions in our area where we could draw people into Barbour County to see all that we have to offer.”

“The tour inspired me to look for other attractions in our area where we could draw people into Barbour County to see all that we have to offer,” Sickler said. “We have some bed and breakfasts in Arden, by the river. Down the road from us, we have a community center that has hostel-type lodging. There is a deer farm in Arden and we have a friend that has a 1,000-acre cattle farm close by.

“We want to host a farm-to-table dinner in our greenhouse so we can get people to experience what it’s like to have a dinner that is all locally sourced.”

That tourists would be interested in coming to a working farm still seems far-fetched, Sickler said, but it’s something she is growing to accept, she said with a laugh.

“It’s amazing that people want to come to your farm, spend money at your farm and work on it — it just blows your mind,” said Sickler. “They’re willing to spend a weekend on a farm vacation, working for a weekend or during harvest time.”

Food awareness is a growing trend, with consumers wanting to eat local and support local farmers…

Read the full story at www.statejournal.com

 

Williamson Daily News: Local Energy Patent Aims to Flip the Switch on Control of Power

Photo by Williamson Daily News

Photo by Williamson Daily News

By Cindy Moore/Williamson Daily News

Daniel Hicks of Red Jacket has invented an energy system that may bring hundreds of jobs to Southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky in the near future.

Green Line Energy was in planning stages until February 2015. It was then that Hicks built a small prototype that would give investors and interested parties a way to understand how it works and to prove that a small, high efficient, DC motor, rated at 3 HP, could produce enough hydraulic PSI to be able to run hydraulic motors at 3,600 rpm with a 3,000 PSI rating.

“Displaced coal miners will operate the electrical end and they will still be energy producers, but this time they are in charge.”

It is also able to produce enough force to run two generators and produce power from each one to power 80 percent of what the generators rated for.

Hicks began his adult life in his early 20’s when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1979. Following his time served in the Army he got a job with Ford Motor Company, who paid his way through college at Bowling Green University where he earned a degree in drafting design.

He later pursued a career in the coal mining industry where he worked as an electrician in numerous different coal mines in the area. His job as an electrician taught him, not only about electricity, but exactly how it works and gave him brilliant ideas on new ways to produce energy.

Because Hicks has lived and seen the decline in coal for energy and has watched thousands lose their jobs due to the decline, he decided that there was no better time than the present to put his ideas into motion and make his dream a reality.

Hicks was determined to invent something to produce energy in the way he had imagined. Something more efficient and clean and something that would allow laid off coal miners to stay here in W.Va. and Ky. and still be employed with a company that still produces energy.

“Displaced coal miners will operate the electrical end and they will still be energy producers, but this time they are in charge,” added Hicks.

Read the full story at www.williamsondailynews.com

Times West Virginian: More Children in WV Live in Poverty Today Than in 2008

Tamer Abdelfatah/FlickrCC

Tamer Abdelfatah/FlickrCC

Times West Virginian Editorial

Perhaps Margie Hale said it best: “I’ve become tired of being at the bottom.”

Hale, the executive director at West Virginia KIDS COUNT, was referring to data from the 2015 National KIDS COUNT Data Book, which monitors economic well-being, education, health and family and community and reveals that 13,000 more children in West Virginia are living in poverty than in 2008.

13,000 more children in West Virginia are living in poverty than in 2008.

That means one in every four children in West Virginia lives in poverty.

One in four.

Twenty-five percent of the state’s children are living in poverty.

That ranking puts West Virginia at 43rd in the country when it comes to child well-being, which is a drop from last year when West Virginia ranked 37th.

It also means West Virginia was one of six states that saw the biggest increase in children living in poverty from last year to this year.

Read the full story at timeswv.com

Are you interested in creating and fighting for new state policies to address child poverty?

So are we!

Find out how you can get involved in a statewide, grassroots movement to support WV children and families.

 

Huntington Herald-Dispatch: Mayor Says City Needs Culture Shift on Recycling

Timothy Takemoto/FlickrCC

Timothy Takemoto/FlickrCC

By Ben Fields/Huntington Herald-Dispatch

The Cabell County Solid Waste Authority is trying to pull everyone it can together in an effort to save its recycling program.

At the same time, one of the largest entities involved, the city of Huntington, may be striking out on its own.

Mark Buchanan, director of the solid waste authority, said the program provider, Rumpke, is asking for twice what it is paid now to continue the program, which provides eight sites throughout the county – four in the city of Huntington – where residents can take recyclable materials.

Mayor Steve Williams said Huntington may take this as an opportunity to develop its own citywide recycling plan.

Buchanan said when the time came in early spring to renegotiate the authority’s contract with Rumpke, the board of directors decided to put the program out to bid instead.

Buchanan is trying to organize a meeting with the mayors of the municipalities that were such strong supporters of the program in the first place.

He said Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum and Milton Mayor Tom Canterbury want to meet and see what they can do to extend the program.

But the key is Huntington, he said.

“They’re the biggest player in all of this, to be honest,” Buchanan said. “They have four sites and the biggest bulk of what we recycle comes from Huntington.”

“Any active city you visit, you see an active recycling program. We just don’t have that here.”

Mayor Steve Williams said Monday evening that Huntington may take this as an opportunity to develop its own citywide recycling plan.

Williams said there needs to be a culture change within city government and the city itself to embrace recycling as a normal part of daily life.

“Any active city you visit, you see an active recycling program,” he said. “We just don’t have that here, and I think it’s something we need to undertake.

Read the full story at www.herald-dispatch.com

Follow the reporter @BenFieldsHD.

Media and Messaging Resources for Policy Workshop Attendees

Right now The Hub is in Davis at the first Regional Policy Workshop for 2015.

Man, Tucker County is beautiful.

But I digress.

As we promised our attendees, here’s the resources that Jim McKay and myself are presenting in our Media and Messaging training.

 

Jim McKay’s presentation about staying on message when working with the media.

 

Jake Lynch’s presentation about building a digital home for your campaign.

 

We’ll be sure to add more resources as we dig them up…

And here’s another tip: Have Fun!

About Jake

 

 

Charleston Gazette-Mail: Pocahontas County at Center of $100 Million Galactic Exploration

anyone out there?

Photo by National Radio Astronomy Observatory

By Rick Steelhammer/Charleston Gazette-Mail

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank — the place where the world’s first scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence began in 1960 — will play a key role in the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive search ever undertaken for intelligent life in the universe starting in January.

The observatory’s 100-meter Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radiotelescope, will team with the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in Australia in a 10-year, $100 million, privately funded search that will scan the nearest million stars in our own galaxy as well as stars in 100 other galaxies for radio signatures that would indicate the presence of an advanced civilization.

The search by the GBT will scan the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane, and search for messages from the 100 closest galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

The project, called the Breakthrough Listen, is funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and will channel $2 million a year for the next 10 years to the Green Bank Telescope under the terms of a recently signed contract.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Project Breakthrough Listen are funded by Russian Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner.

Breakthrough Listen will be 50 times more sensitive and cover 10 times more sky than all previous searches. In association with the search by the Green Bank and Parkes telescopes, the project will involve the world’s deepest and broadest search for optical laser transmissions — another likely indicator of extraterrestrial life — through the Automated Planet Finder Telescope at the Lick Observatory in California.

According to a release from the NRAO, the search by the GBT and the Parkes Telescope will, in addition to surveying the 1 million stars closest to Earth, scan the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane, and search for messages from the 100 closest galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

The $2 million a year in observation time could help the Pocahontas County facility prove to the National Science Foundation, which previously announced plans to drop financial support for the observatory in 2017, that it is progressing toward self-sufficiency and deserves consideration from the NSF for at least partial funding.

“The income from this project will put us at about $6 million a year, which shows we’re making major strides to pay our own way,” said said Mike Holstine, Green Bank’s director of operations. “I think it’s fairly clear now that the NSF doesn’t want us to go away or to entirely stop funding us.”

Read the full story at wvgazette.com

Follow the author on Twitter: @rsteelhammer

 

5 Tips: How to Start a Regular Community Conversation That Works

eat. talk.

Photo by Allagash.

The remarkable citizen-driven revitalization of the city of Buckhannon in Upshur County is one of the great community development success stories in West Virginia.

And the engine behind much of that energy is a simple gathering of locals that occurs every Thursday in an upstairs room of a main street restaurant.

Since 2009, this regular Thursday meeting of Create Buckhannon has brought together a diverse crowd of Buckhannon-ites to break bread, talk, and share ideas about things they can do to make their city a better place to live. Projects are proposed, ideas change and take new shape, some fade away and others gain momentum. Support groups are formed, opportunities for collaboration arise, action is taken.

The great thing about a regular community conversation is that it doesn’t have to be the same people week in week out. If certain people can’t make it one week, that’s okay. The meeting will carry on and new ideas will come to the table.

Many of Buckhannon’s signature achievements of the past few years were born of these informal gatherings, including the creation of Jawbone Park and its weekly market, placement of LED lighting in the main street, a summer music series, and local biking and walking routes.

So successful has Create Buckhannon’s regular community conversation been that others are starting to adopt the model in their city or town.

And we think that’s a great idea. A regular community conversation is easy to organize, creates a mechanism for collaboration and reporting, and opens the door to all kinds of people to get involved in the development of their community.

So, to help your neck of the woods start its own regular community conversation, here’s 5 Tips from Create Buckhannon.

5 Tips on How to Start a Regular Community Conversation That Works

  1. Make it a Priority.
    Weekly meetings allow you to build momentum. If you find an excuse to skip a week here and there, energy can start to wane. The same happens if you have the meetings too infrequently. The great thing about a regular community conversation is that it doesn’t have to be the same people week in week out. If certain people can’t make it one week, that’s okay. The meeting will carry on and new ideas will come to the table.
  2. Everyone’s ideas are important, they all need to be listened to.
    It’s important to publicize that meetings open to anyone, and to encourage the ideas of others at the table. You never know where a new idea will take you, even if it seems strange at first.
  3. Have a good facilitator to guide the conversation.
    Like at every public meeting, there are always some people who will do most of the talking. While all input is good, it’s important to not let “bullies” dominate the discussion as this will discourage new people from attending. A respected person to act as facilitator is crucial to ensuring the meetings don’t just become a soapbox for a small group of the most vocal folks.
  4. People need to get up from the table and go do something.
    Identify concrete action steps, and report back on them at the next meeting. These only need to be small tasks (“ask the city manager whether she knows who owns that building…”), but by creating and ticking off action steps you keep momentum going, and you let everyone see that the weekly conversation does actually result in movement.
  5. Start with small, visible projects and keep on moving forward.
    It’s not how great the effort, it’s how long you keep at it. Particularly when your community conversation is still in its infancy, find concrete things you can achieve relatively easily. This does wonders for morale, and it’s amazing how many new people you’ll attract to the table once they see change happening in the community.

Extra Tip Number 6 is: Food! Nothing encourages socialization more than sharing a meal. Plus, by making it a lunchtime meeting, people who are at work can kill two birds with one stone. (And, your local restaurants will appreciate the business!)

A few other golden insights that drive the Create Buckhannon effort:

  • “A healthy community is one that can take risks when things are going well.”
  • “Everyone is important – it’s not just about whose idea it was.”
  • “Create opportunities for individuals to behave in a collaborative manner.”
  • “Be inclusive, not exclusive.”
  • “Keep it positive.”
  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Sounds like great advice to me. What are you waiting for?

About Jake