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Federal PRO Act Would Negate States’ Right-to-Work Laws

West Virginia is among the 27 states that have right-to-work laws.  The state legislature passed the Workplace Freedom Act in 2016 that prevents an employee from being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Labor challenged the law in court and lost. The state Supreme Court in 2020 joined every other state and federal appeals court in the country in upholding the constitutionality of right-to-work laws.

However, every right-to-work law in the country would be nullified if the U.S. Congress passes the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year, with five Republicans joining the majority Democrats, and is now under consideration in the Senate.

A key provision of the bill wipes out right-to-work laws. It states that “all employees in a bargaining unit shall contribute fees to a labor organization for the cost of representation, collective bargaining, contract enforcement and related expenditures as a condition of employment [emphasis added].”

Unions have long argued that if they are going to represent all workers, then each must help defray the cost of those services.  That avoids the “free rider,” where an employee gets union-negotiated wages and benefits but does not have to pay the dues.

However, that also translates into compulsory union membership (or at the least dues paying) if the union is the exclusive bargaining agent with the employer.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that the free speech and free association rights of non-union members take precedence over a union’s efforts to collect dues.  Additionally, a union enjoys significant benefits by virtue of being the exclusive representative of all employees.

The PRO Act would ignore those constitutional protections.  It would force workers to pay union dues if they wanted to keep their jobs.

West Virginia’s Senators are split on the bill.

Senator Joe Manchin agreed to co-sponsor the legislation “after discussions with West Virginia labor organizations, who represent thousands of West Virginia workers.”  Manchin said the PRO Act “will level the playing field and protect workers’ rights.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito is on the opposite site.   “I oppose the PRO Act,” Capito told me on Talkline recently.  “I am not anti-union and my union friends in West Virginia know this, but I don’t know why we would be overriding the will of our legislatures.”

Twenty-seven states have passed right-to-work laws because the public policy makers in those states have made those decisions.  The laws have passed constitutional muster. The PRO Act is a federal overreach that infringes on the ability of individual states to conduct business and craft their work economies as they see fit.


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National champs! Roberts’ golden goal delivers national championship for Marshall with 1-0 win over Indiana

— By David Walsh

CARY, N.C. — Move over Indiana. There’s a new kid on the college soccer block — Marshall University.

For the third straight match, Jamil Roberts scored a golden goal for the Thundering Herd, this one on a rebound in overtime, to lift Marshall to a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Indiana and its first national championship at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park .

Like much of the Thundering Herd’s offense Monday night, the play started with yet another long run by Milo Yosef. The winger cut upfield and inside before a drop off pass to Vitor Dias, who had his initial shot blocked and nearly fired in the rebound himself. Hoosiers goalkeeper Roman Celentano made his season-best seventh save of the night on Dias, but the ball was loose and Roberts was on the doorstep ready to pounce.

For Roberts, it was goal No. 5 on the season.

The golden goal by Roberts came at 97:08. He also scored the goal for the Herd in earlier 1-0 NCAA Tournament wins over defending national champion Georgetown (quarterfinals) and North Carolina (semifinals). Roberts was drafted by Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer earlier this year, but opted to stick around and the decision more than paid off.

The Marshall faithful in the crowd of 5,000 went wild, rushed the field and celebrated the momentous occasion with Herd coach Chris Grassie, his players and support staff.

Marshall forward Vitor Dias (31) and Indiana defender A.J. Palazzolo (4) battle for possession. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Herd goalkeeper Oliver Semmle had to make just one save to notch his 11th shutout of the season as Marshall controlled much of the match and generated several quality scoring chances.

The College Cup title match didn’t start until well after 9 p.m., as the women’s final played first went to penalty kicks and Santa Clara defeated Florida State.

This was the fifth time in the last seven College Cup finals that the match went to overtime.

Marshall (13-2-3) becomes the first unseeded team to capture the trophy since Santa Clara in 2006.

Indiana, the Big Ten champion, was seeking its ninth NCAA title. This was the 16th trip to the final in program history for the Hoosiers, who finished 12-2-2. Indiana had not suffered a loss in 12 straight matches, its longest streak without a loss since 2018.

Jim Justice, Governor of West Virginia and a Marshall graduate, attended the match.

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Man’s Austin Ball captains Class A all-state team

— By Tyler Jackson, The Register-Herald

Austin Ball wasn’t a name known in many corners of the state a year ago.

That’s not the case anymore.

A matchup nightmare, the 6-foot-7 forward lit the state on fire, guiding Man to a 13-2 record heading into the state tournament and, eventually, the Class A title game.

“He’s the one that I stay on every single day of practice,” Man head coach T.J. Blevins said. “I’m probably the hardest coach on kids. I’ve been at the college levels so I see what it takes for him to get there. So I point out everything that I can. We call him Groot and we go as he goes. At halftime of that championship game, we told him it was go time and his time to shine. We needed him to lead us and he responded.”

Indeed he did.

The senior scored 20 points in the title game — right at his season average of 19.5 points per game — to help Man capture its first championship in program history.

Ball’s success hasn’t stopped there. He’s been named captain of the Class A first-team all-staters by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Though the Hillbillies struggled to get to Charleston since Ball arrived on campus, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Playing in Class AA, Man was continuously paired against the likes of Chapmanville and Logan and finished last year with an 18-6 record. That never deterred the junior from working on his game with the four other juniors in the Hillbillies’ starting lineup.

In fact, he was prepared when Man dropped to Class A this past year and took advantage.

“I’ve had these guys since they were very, very little,” Blevins said. “I don’t know what it is, but you can see a special group coming up, but with the buddy league system here, they’re all spread out. I took the kids that are playing now and just rolled with them year in and year out. Austin kind of stood out, though.

“We call him Groot because he’s always been so tall and skinny, but even over the last two years you could see him progress through the middle and high school ranks. We’ve played against some tough teams and it’s made him better. He’s the kind of kid that stays playing somewhere. If there’s a gym, he’s usually in it and that’s why he’s as good as he is. I’m thrilled for him to get this honor.”

Joining Ball on the first-team is the James Monroe duo of Eli Allen and Shad Sauvage, Greenbrier West’s Kaiden Pack, Tyler Consolidated’s Caleb Strode, Webster County’s Rye Gadd, Tug Valley’s Caleb May and Cameron’s Trevor Beresford.

Sauvage, a junior, was a sharpshooting nightmare for the Mavericks, who, much like Man, played in a tough region in Class AA before dropping to Class A this season. Sauvage averaged 21.8 points per game, nailing more than 70 three-pointers for the two-loss Mavericks.

His teammate Allen completed the dynamic 1-2 punch. Growing six inches this past offseason, the 6-foot-3 sophomore averaged 16.7 points to go along with 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 8.6 assists per game. As the team’s point guard he feasted on smaller opponents, using his size to drive to finish at rim and dish out when defenses collapsed.

Pack capped a standout career at Greenbrier West by leading the Cavs to their second state tournament berth in as many tries after a 27-year hiatus beforehand. The senior was a 1,000 point scorer and nailed a three-pointer against James Monroe at the buzzer in the regional co-final that forced overtime.

West finished the job in the extra period to earn a state tournament berth. Pack averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

Gadd followed a similar path, helping Webster to a sectional championship and an overtime regional win against Greater Beckley Christian. He didn’t stop there, leading the Highlanders to the state semifinals, where they eventually fell to Man. Gadd averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

Strode was an efficient player for Tyler Consolidated. He averaged 18.4 points to go along with 10.6 rebounds per game. He shot 51 percent from the field, blistering the nets from downtown as a 44 percent shooter from behind the arc.

Tug’s Caleb May consistently made his case to be a first-teamer all season. He out-dueled Pack on the road to open the season, beat Greater Beckley at home, helped upset Man in the sectional championship and carried Tug to a victory over Cameron in the quarterfinals. He finished averaging 24 points per game.

Beresford, a 6-foot-7 forward, guided Cameron to the state tournament as a force in the paint. The junior averaged 15.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 2.1 assists per game. He was also an efficient scorer, connecting on 59 percent of his shots.

Captaining the second-team is Bailey Thompson of state runner-up Pendleton County. He’s joined by teammate Josh Alt, Man’s Caleb Blevins, Greater Beckley’s Kaden Smallwood, Tolsia’s Jesse Muncy, Clay-Battelle’s Mojo Chisler, Paden City’s Ty Cain and Madonna’s Lucky Pulice.


First team

Player                                  School                          Ht.          Cl.

Eli Allen                              James Monroe           6-3         Soph.

Austin Ball (captain).        Man                             6-7         Jr.

Trevor Beresford               Cameron                     6-7          Jr.

Rye Gadd                           Webster County         6-1         Jr.

Caleb May                         Tug Valley                   5-11        Jr.

Kaiden Pack                      Greenbrier West          6-2         Sr.

Shad Sauvage                  James Monroe             5-10       Jr.

Caleb Strode                    Tyler Consolidated       6-3        Jr.

Second team

Josh Alt                            Pendleton County           6-4        Sr.

Caleb Blevins                   Man                                  6-4         Jr.

Ty Cain                             Paden City                        6-0         Sr.

Mojo Chisler                     Clay-Battelle                    6-5         Sr.

Jesse Muncy                    Tolsia                              5-8        Jr.

Lucky Pulice                     Madonna                         6-1         Sr.

Kaden Smallwood            Greater Beckley              6-0         Jr.

Bailey Thompson (captain) Pendleton County       6-3         Sr.

Honorable Mention

Kenneth Adams, Union; Peyton Adams, Man; Matt Amaismeier, Madonna; Tony Bailey, Mount View; Chase Boggs, Greenbrier West; Evan Bone, Madonna; Shaun Booth, Van; Justin Bowman, Tyler Consolidated; Josh Bright, Tygarts Valley; Cole Burkett, Cameron;  Josh Burks, James Monroe;  Zack Colebank, Tucker County; Ethan Colegrove, Tug Valley; Ryan Cozart, Man; Connor Cunningham, Doddridge County; Kaden Cutlip, Webster County; Daniel Dobbs, River View; Cooper Donahue, Richwood; Christian Dove, East Hardy; Isaiah Gardiner, Pendleton County; Garrett Gibson, Tygarts Valley; Ethan Gray, Wahama;  Logan Hatfield, Meadow Bridge; Bobby Hustutler, Hundred; Tyler Johnson, Tolsia; Clayson Knotts, Harman; Judd Lankford, James Monroe; Josh Lipscomb, Gilmer County; Jordan McInnis, Greater Beckley Christian; Gavin Moore, Clay Battelle; Joel Moore, Paden City; Brandon Oscar, Greenbrier West; Dalton Rollo, Sherman; Tommy Shannon, Valley Wetzel;; Jackson Tackett, Man; Noah White, Montcalm; Carter Williams, Webster County

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Baldwin pitches and hits Moorefield past Petersburg, 4-0

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — Moorefield senior Hadyen Baldwin pitched a two-hitter and drove in three runs as the Yellow Jackets blanked Petersburg, 4-0 Monday night at George Hott Field.

Baldwin averaged just over ten pitches per inning in a complete game victory. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. Baldwin faced just two batters over the minimum.

“His changeup was working great,” said Moorefield head coach Wade Armentrout. “He had them off balance all night. A lot of the popups were because of his changeup. He didn’t have many strikeouts so he let us field the ball. He was very efficient. I think he only threw 80 pitches.”

Petersburg starting pitcher Johnathan Mallow took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. But with two outs, five consecutive batters reached base for MHS. With the bases loaded, Baldwin doubled off the fence in left center, sending three Jackets home. Five pitches later, Matthew Jenkins beat out an infield single, scoring a fourth run in the inning.

“We knew we were going to have some good at bats if we would just hang in long enough. These guys are good hitters.”

Mallow went the distance for the Vikings. He allowed four hits and struck out six batters.

No. 1 Moorefield improved to 8-4 with the victory. Armentrout says his two-time defending Class A state champions will be tested by a challenging schedule this week.

“We certainly haven’t peaked yet. We have had some really good flashes of playing very, very well. And we have had some times when we didn’t look very good. I think this week is a really big week for us. We go to Pendleton County and then play Musselman. And then we have two games with Tygarts Valley. I think the more we play this week, we are going to see a big difference.”

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DHHR: West Virginia falls below 6,300 active COVID-19 cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has fewer than 6,300 active coronavirus cases.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported Monday that West Virginia has 6,296 active cases. The state had a 5.44% daily positivity rate compared to a 5.12% cumulative rate.

Officials also confirmed the death of a 64-year-old Putnam County male, increasing the number of deaths related to the pandemic to 2,762.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 702,043 eligible West Virginians are fully vaccinated compared to 843,598 people who have received at least one vaccine dose. People who are 12 years old and older may be vaccinated.

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Manchin, Murkowski urge US Congress to reauthorize Voting Rights Act

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Monday in asking Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act following state election changes and amid debate on federal voting legislation.

Manchin and Murkowski — both moderates within their respective parties — sent a letter to legislative leaders asking lawmakers to “reaffirm our longstanding bipartisan commitment to free, accessible, and secure elections for all” by reauthorizing the law for the first time since 2006.

“Protecting Americans’ access to democracy has not been a partisan issue for the past 56 years, and we must not allow it to become one now,” the senators said.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to state efforts restricting minority voters, primarily in the American South. The measure required certain areas to receive federal approval before enacting any election-related changes. U.S. Supreme Court justices in 2013 ruled the formula determining which local and state governments need federal approval was outdated and unconstitutional.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska (Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski)

“This decision effectively gutted one of the federal government’s most effective tools to preserve confidence in our nation’s elections, and we are seeing the results manifest themselves in state legislatures across the country,” the senators said.

Republican lawmakers in multiple states have pushed bills that would make it more difficult for some Americans to vote; the Brennan Center for Justice notes legislators in 47 states have introduced more than 360 bills this year with actions impacting voting, such as limits on absentee voting and identification requirements.

The West Virginia Legislature discussed legislation requiring voters to present identification and a bill affecting early voting and voter roll purges, but state lawmakers did not pass any measure during the 60-day regular session.

Congressional Democrats support the For the People Act, an extensive proposal that includes same-day voter registration and requirements that states automatically register voters, offer 15 days of early voting, and provide no-excuse absentee voting. The proposal would also restructure the Federal Elections Commission and place stricter rules on super PACs.

The House passed the related bill in March. Manchin is the only Democratic senator not sponsoring the Senate’s version.

“As a former Secretary of State, I know, firsthand, the importance of local decision-making around voter accessibility and election security,” Manchin said in March. “With that in mind, there are bipartisan proposals embedded in this bill that can strike the right balance and make great strides on each of these issues. Instead of arguing about the election reforms on which we disagree, Congress should be working together to enact those on which we can agree.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has criticized the For the People Act as federal overreach. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner — who participated in a rally last December challenging the presidential election resultshas raised concerns about how the proposal would affect voter confidence and voting by overseas military members.

Manchin and Murkowski backed a bill revising the Voting Rights Act formula during the previous Congress, in which Murkowski was the sole Republican cosponsor. The House passed an identical proposal in December 2019, in which Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller joined their Republican colleagues in opposing the measure.

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Brood X cicadas emerge in Eastern Panhandle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — After a 17-year absence, the Brood X cicada has returned.

Jim Siegel (Marsha Chwalik/

The cicadas have begun emerging in 15 states, including West Virginia. The insects are primarily emerging from the Eastern Panhandle.

“Over one million of them per acre is possible, so it’s billions of insects emerging all at once,” said Jim Siegel, an ecology curriculum manager at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown.

The cicadas will emerge through June and mate with other insects before dying. The insects shed their exoskeletons, leaving hollow shells behind as the insects move to find mates through chorusing.

Siegel said cicadas may look intimidating with their red eyes and long black bodies, but they are harmless insects.

“They don’t bite. They don’t eat,” he added.

Siegel was a recent guest on MetroNews affiliate Panhandle News Network’s “Panhandle Live.”

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Carter closes strong to repeat as West Virginia Senior Open champion

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Pat Carter went on one of his trademark runs on the back nine Monday at Guyan Golf & Country Club to repeat as champion in the West Virginia Senior Open.

Carter and Harold Payne, two former Marshall standouts, were tied at even par heading to the back nine during Monday’s final round on the par-71 course.

Carter made birdie at the par-4 10th to bogey for Payne and a two-shot lead. Payne got one back when Carter had a three-putt bogey at the par-3 12th. Carter then made birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15, matching the birdies Payne made on the 13th and 15th holes, before sealing the deal with birdie on No. 17 moments after Payne made bogey at No. 16.

“It’s been a while since I had a nine like that under the gun,” said Carter, an insurance executive from Hurricane. “I can’t say enough about Harold. He’s such a competitor. I knew it’d be tough.”

Carter closed with a 4-under 67 and 36-hole total of 4-under 138. Payne shot a second straight 71 for second with an even par 142.

Jim Grimmett and Craig Heinaman tied for third at 5-over par. Grimmett shot 73 and Heinaman, tied for the lead at the start of the round, posted 76 for 147.

Ty Roush, pro at Riverside Golf Course in Mason, was low pro at 146 courtesy of a closing 70.

Glenn Yost won the Senior Division by a shot over David Corbin thinks to a final-day 72 for 154.

Perhaps the turning point came at No. 13, a par-4 with water at the green. Payne’s second shot finished tight to the hole while Carter managed to find the green from a trying lie and then rolled in the putt to match Payne.

“It’s disheartening as a competitor,” Carter said. “I’ve been on both sides.”

Carter breezed to an 8-shot win last year at Parkersburg Country Club. This one was more tense.

“One bogey in thirty-six holes. It was one of those two days you can have,” Carter said. “I responded here when I had to. I putted well all week. I made the important ones.”

Payne paid Carter the ultimate tribute.

“The second G.O.A.T behind Bill Campbell,” Payne said, referring to what Campbell did in amateur golf in West Virginia and nationally and the achievements Carter is now compiling. “That’s what I call him.”

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Bennett retires as Robert C. Byrd basketball coach

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — On the day he retired after 33 years of coaching basketball, the last 19 as head coach at Robert C. Byrd’s boys program, Bill Bennett thought back to his days before coaching.

“For about twelve years, I bounced around from factory to factory, then I got married and had a couple kids,” Bennett said. “I’d save my three personal days to go with my buddies to the state tournament, never dreaming that I would ever get to walk out on to that floor.”

The final game of Bennett’s storied coaching career came at the state tournament, as did numerous others during his successful tenure with the Eagles.

But Bennett, who announced his intention to retire from teaching before basketball season, says it’s time to move on.

“I came close to going last year,” he said. “The way last year ended just wasn’t the best. My wife kind of even encouraged me to go out with this senior class. I decided to go ahead and teach another year and I went ahead and sent that letter in back in January, but I didn’t want to do the coaching part before we played our season. I didn’t want that to be a distraction for the kids.”

Bennett compiled a 322-128 record at RCB. He guided a 2014 team that entered the Class AA final unbeaten before falling to Bluefield. He also recently helped the Eagles to a state semifinal appearance in 2019 as well as in 2013. His team this year finished 15-2 before losing in a state quarterfinal.

Prior to his days at Robert C. Byrd, Bennett worked at Lincoln and was an assistant on Bridgeport’s 1993 state champion team.

“You get enjoyment out of watching guys grow up and do special things,” Bennett said. “Ultimately that’s what it’s been about to me. People say ‘evaluate this team or that team’, and I’ll say I have to wait ten or twelve years to see what kinds of husbands or fathers they are or careers they have, because that’s what we talk about. We want to get better at basketball obviously, but basketball is just a tool to help them become better people.”

Still, Bennett, who will soon turn 66, is a basketball lifer.

Regardless of personnel, man-to-man defense was a staple of Bennett’s teams. Under his watch, Byrd was often known for its defensive prowess, athleticism and ability to thrive in transition.

“I’m obviously going to miss certain parts of it, but ultimately it was time to let somebody else have a chance,” Bennett said. “I think about chasing the grandkids around and chasing golf balls. I won’t really have an excuse if my golf game doesn’t get any better now, because basketball is gone.”

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As $677 million in federal relief hits, Justice promises strategic plan and legislative buy-in

More than $677 million in federal relief funds flowed to West Virginia’s state government today, and Gov. Jim Justice says planning has begun for how to spend it.

“We just got the money in this morning. We’ve done a lot of research into how the money can be used,” Justice said during a briefing today.

The governor didn’t yet have many specifics on that, though, except to say that members of the state Legislature will be involved in allocating the money.

State government received $677,774,994 today from the American Rescue Plan Act. Overall, West Virginia is receiving $1.355 billion with the second allotment coming in about a year.

Guidance from the U.S. Treasury says the money may be used to support public health expenditures, address negative economic effects of the covid-19 pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

“Within these overall categories, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities,” Treasury wrote in its guidance.

Justice agreed that the flexibility will be helpful for states.

“The regulations on how you can dispense and use the money have been relaxed a little more,” Justice said. “These are stimulus dollars and they’re there to do that, to stimulate our economy and bring our economy back to life.”

Justice said his staff has been reviewing needs for the money to form a strategic plan.

“Next week, we’ll begin reaching out to all of our Legislature leadership and working together to get this money out to West Virginians who need it,” the governor said.

“We’ll be working hand-in-hand with the Legislature. I’m happy to do that and everything. Tickled to death to be completely transparent and get their approval, whatever it may be.”

Legislators passed a bill this past session to clarify their responsibility to allocate unanticipated revenue in excess of $150 million.

Justice alluded to that bill, which he signed into law.

“It will be formal on how the money will be appropriated. We’re continuing to work with the leadership of the House and the Senate,” he said.

West Virginia still has $602,544,125 remaining in federal CARES Act funds, according to the state Auditor’s transparency site. 

Justice and other state officials have said they plan to use that money to pay for unemployment insurance. Right now, the state has been using a zero-interest federal loan to pay for that. When the loan comes due next September, the plan is for the state to use then pay off the loan on the strength of the remaining CARES Act money.

A lack of legislative appropriation of that money drew criticism for months from delegates and prompted passage of the new law requiring legislative participation.

On the American Rescue Plan money, local governments around the state also began receiving millions of dollars.

Kent Carper

Kanawha County, the state’s largest, received a deposit today of $17,299,249.50.

“From day one, we have been absolutely committed to complete and total transparency,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper stated.

“All American Rescue Plan funding will be discussed and voted on in a public meeting; we will be scheduling ARP specific public meetings and workshops in the very near future.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and state Auditor J.B. McCuskey had information sessions late last week about the funding last week in Fairmont and Martinsburg.

J.B. McCuskey

“As our state and country reopen after a year-long pandemic, the state Auditor’s Office is excited to use the experience and tools we have built over the last four years to ensure every taxpayer dollar that is sent to our local governments is spent effectively, legally, and transparently.” McCuskey stated.

“We are proud of the relationships we have built with our amazing city and county leaders and look forward to being a channel for them as they rebuild the infrastructure that has been neglected for decades. We believe the best way to hold government officials accountable is to provide taxpayers with real-time transparent data about their spending.”

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