Jim Workman Published

Workgroup Seeks Solutions For Coal Communities


Delegates Mark Dean, R-Mingo, and Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, are members of the House of Delegates Coal Community Workgroup. They joined a dozen other legislators touring coal communities and asking people what they need to grow and prosper. The main issue residents across the state identified was help with infrastructure.

“I think a large part of this is addressing dilapidated buildings and that is legislation we will see coming out of the committee as well,” Dean said.

Zukoff agreed. “We also have mountaintop removal areas that are flat and ready to develop, but there is no access to the water and electricity they need,” she said.

There’s legislation moving through the House of Delegates to supply communities with the required matching funds needed to receive the federal dollars now available.

This help is available for all small communities in the state for economic development planning and grant writing along with tourism.

“A lot of these coal towns had big things happening when coal was booming, we want to bring people to visit these areas,” Dean said.

Workgroup members also learned there are other uses for coal besides producing energy. Some companies in Wheeling are “using coal for spacecraft work and other manufacturing. It’s very strong and relatively inexpensive,” Zukoff said.

Both agreed it’s rare when committee findings quickly develop into bipartisan legislation that can pass and immediately help people. “I think folks want us to take action, and this committee is allowing us to do that,” Zukoff said.

Read the Coal Committee Workgroup’s report.