By WILSON R. HARVEY
The Exponent Telegram
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Though it may not seem quite so long ago, the newly elected state government has now been serving for over six months, as Gov. Jim Justice was inaugurated Jan. 16.
As Justice and legislators have dealt with the state budget, along with other issues such as the state’s rebounding economy and the coal industry, many residents have begun to formulate opinions on how the new government is doing, as well as the state as a whole.
“I think we’re doing pretty good. I can’t complain,” said James Barnett of Isaac Creek.
“It seems like they have too much confusion. When Jim Justice wants to pass something, then they’ve always got a reason to not do it,” Barnett said.
He said he’s pleased so far with Justice, particularly regarding his work for the state’s most known industry.
“He’s for coal,” Barnett said. “I was a coal miner, so what he’s trying to do for the coal miners, I like that. They got the health-care card back, so I don’t know how much he had to do with that, but I suppose he had something to do with it.”
Barnett’s wife, Janean, said she is concerned about whether legislators will handle taxpayer dollars ethically.
“Why should they get a pay raise, take it out of our pocket to give them a pay raise? They get all the good deals, and they give us the scraps,” she said. “I don’t think they should always get all the good health care and all the pay raises.”
Weston resident Shane Hawkins said he has been happy to see the state’s direction in recent years.
“Overall, it seems we’ve really improved over the past few years,” he said. “Definitely in the last 30, 40 years, we’ve really progressed as a state as a whole, socially, economically, far above what we were.”
In particular, Hawkins noted improvements such as the legalization of gay marriage at the federal level, as well as the state’s new medical marijuana law.
Hawkins said that in regard to the state budget, he would be in favor of new taxes if they are effective.
“I think if it would keep us out of a deficit, keep us on the right track, keep us moving forward, then that’s what we need to do,” he said. “A little bit of extra money here and there to help out the state as a whole would definitely be the way to go.”
“I think there are some areas in West Virginia that are growing, like Morgantown, where they put in the new ball field, and everything up around there is growing rapidly,” she said. “But then there’s small communities where I live, like in Barbour County, that I think are suffering.”
Even so, Weaver said she opened a café in Arden recently and plans to open a second location in Philippi as part of the Garden Market, ultimately intending to open a processing plant in the county.
“I think West Virginia is good for small businesses because the communities are very close and tight,” she said. “Where I am in Barbour County, I’ve had a lot of great support from my community garden, from my county and also from all the officials in the county. And I think the school systems are very good in West Virginia and very personal, because they’re smaller.”
In terms of the state’s government today, Weaver expressed tentative enthusiasm.
“I think there needs to be a lot more growth,” she said. “I’m good friends with Del. Danny Wagner, R-Barbour, and I think he’s worked hard for our community and our county. He’s actually helped me personally and tried to grow my business. I know that through the new agriculture director, he’s been very helpful with me.
“I can see that the new government in West Virginia is trying hard to help the local growers and farmers in the community.”
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