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West Virginia

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by carpenter, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's really sad to think about the hollowing out of rural America....and the devastation of drug addiction that was like throwing accelerant on a smoldering fire. I really hope that serious plans are developed, by working with these communities, to help these communities dig out of the hole they find themselves in. If someone put a series of workshops together in some of these areas and worked with communities to come up with viable solutions, I wonder what they would be?

    For example, I don't think every community and holler can be saved. It might make sense to depopulate some areas and have folks re-establish themselves in more centralized communities so good social services can be provided-- good hospitals, amenities, stores, etc. Depopulation is happening, but very slowly and very painfully without any support or plan behind it. Maybe it makes sense to speed it up- cut the limb off cleanly rather than saw it off slowly. Provide assistance that folks can sign up for that pays for moving expenses and helps them find subsidized, decent housing....in the new "core areas" (and all that housing construction would create a mini-economic boom right there....with good jobs).

    Clearly, college towns tend to do much better than non-college towns so maybe the college towns can be the hubs or core areas that everything else gets built upon. If you don't live within 30 miles of a college town, good luck to ya, basically. This is not unique to W.Va. Huge chunks of the USA where people are just too spread out and too old. How do you build a viable, sustainable economy in that situation? I think you need to move people closer together. It can still be a semi-rural lifestyle, of course.

    Once large rural tracts become mostly depopulated, perhaps they could be turned into big state and county parks? Bring in more mountain biking, locavore farming? I don't know--- just thinking out loud and I really don't mean to offend anyone. If someone's family has had their roots in a particular spot for over 200 years there's no question it would be very hard for them to imagine picking up and moving on....but maybe they would see the writing on the wall and cut their losses- especially if the gov't wrote them a fat check for their land and helped them use it to find a good housing situation in a healthy, nearby community with a growing economy and plenty of jobs.

    I think the idea of working with communities to figure out the way forward is the way to go, but people need to be clear-eyed and base their planning on things that would actually work. Laissez-faire and letting things just fall apart and restructure themselves naturally will create several generations of unnecessary suffering. This is the kind of thing where active social services and federal $$ can really make a difference-- just as the New Deal did many years ago. A new New Deal, basically. But not totally top down-- where the locals are engaged in the conversation regarding their future and how to get there.

    With the current pandemic people are realizing that if they are knowledge workers that many of them can work from almost anywhere if they have good Internet. This provides some real opportunities for some repopulating and regrowth of certain areas. Again, I can imagine a lot of folks with money moving to rural college towns-- places like Boone, N.Carolina., and Morgantown, W. Va., for example, teleworking from there and putting lots of $$ into the local economy. But they're going to want certain amenities-- good schools, good medical services, good police/sheriff/security, nice restaurants, nice parks, clean water/air, decent airport, etc. Oh yeah, and a good music store.
     
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  2. hnryclay

    hnryclay Tele-Meister

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    Boone, Blacksburg, and Morgantown are already seeing lots of growth from retired people and people that can telework. There is very little consumers cannot get in those towns that they could in suburbia. The great thing about people moving down to college towns who do not attend the university is they tend to need service style work, painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, lawn care etc... this is great for the local ecconomy. Most mountain people, even if they are fairly well off will do this type of work themselves.

    Also when you look at the small communities in rural america what they need the most is capital investment in jobs and infrastructure. If you do not have an interstate exit in your town, you just cannot attract industry. It does not matter how nice of an area it might be, you are not going to have the means to support industry, and that results in no high paying jobs. West Virginia in particular is hard hit because the land is not very usefull for agriculture except for some of the most northern and eastern counties. Without large farms for employment, and no prospects for industry there is simply not a bright future for development of these areas. I kind of wish they would try something similar to what New York state did around the Adriondaks, where they basically made the majority of the area protected, and only allowed certain structures for new construction. It would cost a lot of money, but might preserve some of the natural areas, and generate tourisim.
     
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  3. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    @chris m. There are and have been countless plans, investments, schemes, you name it, to re-develop and/or improve rural WV regions. Many are federal funded, and ongoing. The universities in particular are big on this. Marshall's med school specializes in rural health, for example. The problem is not so much what to do to improve. The problems are barriers to getting it done. These are both geographical and population-based. However, two in particular stick out more than others.

    1. Higher Education - I'm not gonna tackle that here. Too political. Suffice to say there is not nearly enough of it here. There is a significant problem of brain drain. Educated people move away for greener pastures. Critical thinking and novel problem solving in the populace is sorely lacking
    2. Infrastructure - Rural areas desperately NEED broadband. Can't telework or do telemedicine, post on TDPRI, or do virtual college classes without it. The very THING that would make living in rural areas more palpable for a large chunk the nation's population is NOT readily available in rural areas. WV is the prime example of this - for MANY reasons. Utility lines are decades outdated, above ground, and cross rugged areas so remote and difficult to navigate. And the roads. Well, mountains are "small" in WV. But the are also right next to each other. There is no such thing as a big straight roads with shoulders. But above all, the telecom monopolies have been siphoning off millions federal and local money with promises of upgrading, and then not doing it. Lots of "last mile" BS that never gets decided nor completed. That's documented. Google it for proof.

    I know plenty of people without any cel phone coverage at their house. Many of them have no internet.

    There is no new industry here, and nothing coming. There is actually quite a bit of security tech near WVU and NASA. But that's about it. The careers are highly specialized, and do not translate to the rest of the population and economy outside of the immediate region.

    After that, much of the barrier is cultural. Appalachians don't like outsiders. And they don't like "progress". They might value "work", but they don't value education or critical thinking and problem solving. They would rather incessantly complain about losing historically good paying blue collar jobs like mining that required no higher education, than getting off their butts and going to college. If I had a dime for every time I heard "Well, my great, great..... grandparents were miners...." by people living off the dole and heroin, I'd have a lot of pennies. And don't get me started on the "trades" argument. The few folks here who successfully follow a trades career path end up spending an inordinate time trying to find workers who aren't junkies, only to retire early from injuries with no retirement. Oh yeah, and they're all raising their grandchildren and great grandchildren. I wish I weren't making this up.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, WV has tons of cool things, but you have to seek them out, with a mindset that is somewhat outside the box. The problem is that the region is so insular physically and culturally, that breaking out of "how we do things" is rare. So nothing changes.
     
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  4. mugen74

    mugen74 Tele-Holic

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    This. This entire post sums up the entire thing. I’m about an hour or so from Morgantown. College town. I’m friends with some of the people there. The “indie” kids (even though they are 30’s and older). Even these people and people younger that are what you would call progressive fight so hard to keep WV “the way it’s always been” because “that’s what WV is all about.” It’s a losing situation.
     
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  5. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Here's a prime example. Both Huntington and Charleston have tiny regional airports. Both have big name carriers that come to them, despite only having 1 or 2 terminals each. However, flight routes and times are very limited. They are roughly an hour and a half from each other. The closest major airports are Cincinnati and Columbus, both 2.5-3 hours away. Neither Huntington nor Charleston airports are big and convenient enough to support commute or business travel. OTOH, Huntington and Charleston are the two largest cities in WV. Charleston is the capitol.

    You'd think the counties would just decide to close them, and open up one big one between the cities that could support business travel.

    Nope. Couldn't do that. Why? Because Hatfield and McCoy, or whatever. Seriously. Land feud. Territorial pissings, or whatever. Neither willing to move. :confused:
     
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  6. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Broadband, roads, energy grid, hospitals, schools, and airports are all things that gov't in theory would be good at doing. China certainly does it, and not just in China. And that's why they're going to kick our butts if we don't change our act. This is the famous "infrastructure investment" discussion that periodically crops up but doesn't gain sufficient traction even though everyone knows it would be hugely beneficial. Why doesn't it gain more traction? I really don't get it. Seems like there would be plenty of pork to go around, and with decent oversight it would be an investment that absolutely would pay off. Sure there would be a few useless Bridges to Nowhere here and there but the vast majority would be a beneficial investment in our collective future.
     
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  7. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes this seems accurate to me. I mentioned the towns of Davis and Thomas --they clearly have attracted interesting people--artsy types, people that want to get away from urban life, eccentrics. But we were staying in a nice B+B in Davis and talking to the owner about the bank of the once toxic river, now restored and healthy, and the kinds of things that could be done with it to make it part of an appealing town center, and she said "you can't get people around her to think of anything other than mow and blow." I mean there's no reason they should have to live like me, or should want to, but at the same time the state is a basket case in many many respects. Heavy industry ain't coming back; but natural beauty they've got in abundance, despite the tradition of scraping mountains down for coal.

    Every time we go up there my wife and I talk about getting a vacation place, and every time we think "people would be constantly robbing it."
     
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  8. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    A powerful thread that reflects a lot of sincerity from this forum. I'm sure @carpenter has learned quite a bit. Perhaps one of the best type of things that come out from the Bad Dog Cafe. Carry on.
     
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  9. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    I agree 100%. Here we are almost a century away from WPA and CCC, and we are still benefitting from it. But 2020 had to come along and remind us it ain't gonna happen again any time soon. Maybe ever.
     
  10. Danb541

    Danb541 Friend of Leo's

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    Charleston girl. A little banjo in this one.
    "All I know is that when I am good and sober I am leaving West Virginia for a while"
     
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  11. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Tele-Holic

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    Me too, except I've always lived here. If I hadn't gotten lucky with the job I've got, I would have and to leave before now. I live in the city because I need internet access to do my job.

    The ranch got a write up on the local NBC affiliate's website the other day.

    I grew up here near Marshall U, but went to college across the river in Athens. Less football, more education.
     
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  12. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Tele-Holic

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    For years Marshall U was not allowed to have a medical school because there is one in Morgantown already. Dumb but the political power came from the north and really it still does. If Huntington/Charleston gave up the airport, learned experience says they'd put one in Morgantown and call it good. Morgantown is farther from Huntington than Columbus, Cincy, or Lexington.
     
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  13. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Tele-Holic

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    One last one -

    He's from KY, but from here and points south it might as well be the same state anyway.
     
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  14. carpenter

    carpenter Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Really really appreciate all the info .
     
  15. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think 2020 actually increases the prospects for a major infrastructure bill. Everyone realizes we need to kickstart the economy. Everyone realizes that we need to start including and caring about communities that have basically been forgotten for decades. Everyone realizes there are tons of things that could be done that really would help. Nobody seems to care too much about deficits right now, and besides, interest rates are near zero so there's actually no better time to borrow money-- as long as it is invested wisely so it pays off in the long run--. I.e., investing in infrastructure is worth borrowing for, while paying for endless wars....not so much....

    The only real barrier I see is partisanship. Can gov'ts at the local, state, and federal levels collaborate on decisions that will benefit all of us, without regard to who does or doesn't "get credit" for these investments? Can credit be shared among all elected officials if they do their jobs on our behalf? Almost all people in the USA are crying out for principled leadership that gets away from naked partisanship. If we don't figure it out we're doomed. It might take a lot more non-partisan activism from all levels of society to foment change....they won't do it unless we make them do it, I fear.

    Trying to be apolitical here. I really think there's a way to look at these issues without having to view it through a political lens. One recent problem is everything gets politicized when it often doesn't need to be. Adjusting your string action to a height you like isn't political. Fixing a road shouldn't be political, either.
     
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  16. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    And closer to Pittsburgh than it is to any of them. :rolleyes:

    Like I said. Hatfield and McCoy.

    Shelter me from the powder and the finger....
     
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  17. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_politics_is_local

    Nowhere is this more true than in WV.
     
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  18. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    "All politics are local". That's true, but infrastructure bills like the federal highway bill and the Corps of Engineers rivers/harbors/flood control bills used to be one of the areas where pols could horse trade like crazy and partisanship didn't really figure into it-- the whole package has to include goodies for every locality or the votes aren't there.

    There are big arguments about how to divide up the pie equitably but there's a big old pie and everybody gets a taste, for sure. Ditto for other infrastructure-- broadband, airports, etc.-- tons of horse-trading and lobbying but in the end everybody gets a good piece of the action or the bill never passes.

    But yes, in some cases it will take some convincing that maybe a bigger share of the $$ should go to certain communities that really do need it more. I do think altruism is possible, especially if people see how it will ultimately benefit them, too. Enlightened self interest, as they say. Maybe a place like W.Va. needs a governor with real charisma and leadership that could help bring people together with a shared vision of a better future that is less Hatfield and McCoy and more "let's work together". Or maybe not-- leadership will come along.....but only when the people are ready to support it. As they say, people don't always get what they need, but they often get what they deserve....
     
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  19. Alamo

    Alamo Doctor of Teleocity

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    mountainmama.jpg :)
     
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  20. scook

    scook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thought I’d stick an actual song about a place in WV written by someone from WV.

     
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