This just in this morning:
President Kessler announced today he is forming a Senate task force as part of the SCORE initiative. SCORE, Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy, aims to give southern West Virginia much-needed opportunities to diversify the economy and strengthen our families and communities.
“Southern West Virginia has become a region stricken with a lack of opportunity and hope,” says Kessler. “It’s time to change our way of thinking so that it can once again become a region that offers our children and grandchildren opportunities for a better future. It is not impossible to envision a renewed Southern West Virginia.”
SCORE was inspired by Kentucky’s SOAR initiative which stands for Shaping our Appalachian Region. The goal of SOAR is to revitalize Eastern Kentucky, an area facing many of the same challenges as Southern West Virginia.
“Layoffs and mine closings have become almost routine events,” says Kessler. “This is a time when communities need and deserve serious attention and action from our government officials. It’s one thing to say that we care about these communities. It’s something else to push for a new way of thinking in order to address the issues facing them.”
Topics for consideration by the SCORE initiative include:
- Increase funding for tourism advertising and development
- Education and workforce development and retraining initiatives
- Dedicating monies for viable redevelopment projects
- Agribusiness and rural development opportunities
- Increase Broadband access
- Expanding and supporting intermodal transportation
- Explore development of coalbed methane reserves
- Support clean coal research and development
The goal of the Senate task force is to enable the region to assess its current challenges, and gather ideas already underway addressing those challenges. The region’s citizens, organizations, institutions, businesses, and leaders will have a forum for productive discussion, created through a series of “listening sessions.” The task force will then take this information and propose legislation supporting the SCORE initiative during the 2015 legislative session.
Southern West Virginia miners built America’s industrial strength, often sacrificing their health and even their lives in the process. Southern West Virginia itself paid a steep price for making America great, and President Kessler believes we cannot abandon the people and places they call home. Kessler says now is the time to return the southern counties of this great state to the glory it so greatly deserves.