It often seems from what we read about West Virginia that little has been done to improve our state and much is being done to tear it down. However, the facts are different, and many good things are being done to improve our future.
One must pay attention to seemingly small independent citizen-driven initiatives. Together, the many independent initiatives represent a groundswell of new economic improvements that will have long-term positive impacts on the state.
As the co-founder and chairman of the Coal River Group, one of these citizen volunteer groups, I have been involved with many people who simply say, “let’s get ’er done.”
While politicians continue to defend old-fashioned out-of-date concepts, jobs keep disappearing. The daily news is loaded with negative poll results — yet every day hundreds of citizen volunteers wake up with one thing in mind: These devoted folks simply say “let’s go out and fix something that will benefit our community.”
The Coal River Group started over 11 years ago to try to fix a very troubled and abused river system. The 88 miles of rivers with 560 feeder streams had been all but written off by environmental officials, industry and government, simply because they looked like they were unfixable.
The small volunteer organization, The Coal River Watershed Group, took on the cleanup and during the past 11 years they exposed the truth that the rivers were not nearly as bad as reported. Volunteers cleaned up trash and old tires and successfully promoted funding of over $30 million in sewage system expansions.
While much of the state’s leadership, well-intentioned groups and well-spoken experts wrote off the Coal Rivers, citizens who had lived their lives on the river went about the arduous job of cleaning up other people’s trash — and recruited neighbors and others to join in on the fun…