By Phil Kabler
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In making preparations for the coming winter and the need to secure snow and ice removal, the biggest issue facing the state Division of Highways is staffing, deputy state highways engineer Ron Smith told legislators Monday.
“We’re having a very difficult time recruiting, hiring and retaining employees,” Smith told the legislative Select Committee on Infrastructure.
He said the swing in natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale field is making it difficult for DOH to recruit or retain truck drivers and heavy equipment operators in that part of the state.
Those comments follow last month’s report to the Legislature by the Workforce West Virginia Investment Council, which said oil and gas industry employment has surged by 20 percent in one year, with average annual wages in excess of $75,000.
“With the oil and gas industry right now, that’s causing us a fit,” Smith said.