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New Gov. Jim Justice welcomes guests at inaugural ball

By ANDREA LANNOM

The Register-Herald

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va.  — At his inaugural ball at the Greenbrier on Monday night, newly minted as the state’s chief executive, Gov. Jim Justice interrupted the music and festivities for a moment to encourage those in attendance to have some fun.

Gov. Jim Justice, right, and first lady Cathy Justice, center, greet guests at The Greenbrier Resort during the Inauguration Ball.
(Photo by Rick Barbero)

And then Justice reminded all that beginning Tuesday there was a lot of work on behalf of the state to do – to say nothing about Coach Justice leading his Greenbrier East girls basketball squad in a 7:30 p.m. game at Princeton.

But on this night, women clad in gowns and men in tuxes danced and talked at the black tie optional event, listening to several different musical guests, including Lionel Richie and Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Justice took the stage with his wife Cathy and addressed people in one of the ballrooms in The Greenbrier, calling it an “unbelievably special day” for him and his family.

“It’s been a great day. It’s been a good day. It’s been a little bit of a long day,” Justice said.

Justice reiterated themes of his inaugural address, saying he didn’t want anything for him or his family by being in office.

“We have a hole to dig out of,” Justice said, referencing the budget.

“We’ll have fun tonight but then we will go to work tomorrow.”

Guests dance in the Colonial Room at The Greenbrier Resort during the Inauguration Ball.
(Photo by Rick Barbero)

Collections for the general revenue fund in December were $6.7 million below estimates. The year-to-date deficit is nearly $100 million.

Incoming Department of Revenue Cabinet Secretary Dave Hardy said that Justice will meet with agency heads Tuesday afternoon, and then will meet to discuss the budget later that day.

“Like the governor said, tonight we will have a good time, but tomorrow, we’ll go to work,” Hardy said.

Hardy said he has met with his predecessor, Robert Kiss, to preview the budget.

 “Tomorrow, we will be locking ourselves in a room until we produce a budget to present to the governor and then the Legislature,” Hardy said. “I look forward to working with the governor and with the Department of Revenue staff who have been in office for many years.”

The event marks a break in tradition from previous years of hosting the event in Charleston. Many of West Virginia previous governors held inaugural balls at the Civic Center.

John Manchester, mayor of Lewisburg, was in attendance, said he was glad to see the event come to Greenbrier County.

“It’s wonderful to have significant events like this in our county,” Manchester said. “It shows his commitment to this state and it brings a lot of business to our economy.”

Other officials were in attendance including incoming Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Senator Joe Manchin.

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