richwood

This is an actual problem in American school systems. They like to complain about the children’s issues, and yet they cause all of these issues entirely. We worry about our grades and attendance, but what do we get for trying to raise the attendance? Uncomfortable situations, because they refuse to get more busses for their students. This is basically proof of how bad it can be, and Ive been physically on worse. But yet the bus driver can still have the audacity to yell at the students for being in the aisle???? Sorry???? This is the Instagram of another student in my school who is one of many who have shown proof of this ongoing issue, but at least the Football team got some new jerseys.

My wife, Julianna, and myself reflected in a vacant storefront on Main Street in Richwood, WV. Vacancy is a growing problem in my area of Appalachia. Though my small hometown is full of life when it comes to its (2,000) citizens, its business life has dwindled over the last decade.

Instagram: @nicpersinger

#lookingatappalachia #westvirginia #wv #richwood #nicholascounty #mainstreet

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Thanks, Obama

Having spent part of my life growing up in West Virginia, I understand something that a vast majority of this country doesn’t. The reliance of a community, and even a large part of a state on one major resource that isn’t in really high demand anymore. In the middle of the 1980’s I would have thought that the people of the state would have seen the folly of relying so heavily upon that one resource and started planning ahead. Towns like the one I lived in were becoming virtual ghost towns. They were once vibrant communities where commerce thrived and people gathered for festivals and parades, but by the time Reagan took office those days were long gone and the celebrations were for days of the past. When my parents and I moved away and Iran/Contra was crushing the hearts of the South, the town was still not seeing the prosperity promised by Reagan.

            I would occasionally hear things about the town from the people I kept in contact with, or from my parents when they left Alaska three years later and I stayed behind. I have always had a deep fondness for that town, and the few times I’ve had the chance to see it again, I’ve always done so. It doesn’t look the same now. Nothing ever stays the same, but somehow the place seems even a little more depressing now than it may have then. Maybe it’s because I can really see it now as an adult. Or maybe I remember it through a rose-colored filter. Whatever the reason may be, the town and the state has one serious problem for itself and its people - jobs.

            For far too long, West Virginia’s and a few neighboring states have focused on just a few industries to support themselves. I know they have branched out some over the years, they have been forced to, otherwise their states would be bankrupt now. Even so, in the rural areas where the only jobs were the timber industry or the mining jobs, today they are seeing those jobs quickly disappear, and nothing is there to replace them. What is left then for the people to do?       

            Thank Obama? That’s the refrain people always seem to say. But, is it really his fault? There are plenty of people in the Tea Party movement, in business, in the Libertarian Party, and in the Republican Party that would love you to believe that. They want you to blame President Obama, and in turn blame the Democrats. They point to supposedly failed policies, which they don’t name. They say the EPA has drawn up new rules, which haven’t gone into effect yet, but they are to blame for your lost job. Yes, thank Obama for your lost job and join our side. We’ll fix the problem an get you your job back.

            What they fail to tell you, and something you really already know, is that coal has been dying for a long time. All you have to do is look back. All the really good coal in West Virginia has already been mined out, and all that’s really left is the dirtier type that power companies don’t want to use if they don’t have too because of the cost of the scrubbers. You also have to consider that since we are the number one producer of natural gas, it has virtually killed coal production. It is cheaper and cleaner. Now we also produce a lot of shale oil as well. That has nearly driven the nail in the coffin. Why use coal when shale is far cleaner and cheaper to get? The last thing going against West Virginia and Kentucky and the other states in that region is that we have to compete with the western states which have cleaner burning coal than ours.

            You’d think with all that stacked against us we’d have almost no chance to stand up at all, and yet, we still plowed on. West Virginian’s are a hardy and sometimes hardheaded people. They don’t like to give in or give up. But it’s about time that they give up on coal and start building toward a better future and produce something better for their children. Why would I say something so harsh? I have to. Even with those disadvantages above, they are just the start.

            Just today an article from Lindsay Abrams at Salon.com said this when talking about renewable energy sources, “All of these factors …have been accompanied by a broader shift toward renewable energy. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, for example, found that as of 2013, the world is adding more energy capacity from renewables than natural gas, oil and coal — combined.” She also stated that coal country has yet to see the benefits of this which includes a four times rise in jobs. The reason coal country doesn’t see the benefit is that none of these plants are being built in coal country because of stern opposition from coal producers. It’s time that states took their people’s best interests to heart and stopped relying so heavily on that corporate wealth, but that is just my opinion, and as I am not a billionaire I sorely doubt my opinion will be heard by any politician in this country.

            However, maybe I don’t need to be heard by the politicians. Maybe I just need to be heard by the people I used to know, or by the people who live in the state I used to call home. Maybe the people of West Virginia can ask their representatives in the State houses of Government to start diversifying their sources of power around the state so that they and their children will have jobs. You can still rely on tourism like you always have, and this way you won’t have the old strip mines anymore if you still do, or the toxic pools that can occasionally flood into the waterways. New ways to generate and store power are being developed every day, and wouldn’t it be nice to be known to be on the cutting edge of energy production instead of being, well … a little behind the times? West Virginia is a beautiful state, why wouldn’t you want to keep it that way. I remember we always wanted to go out hunting and fishing when we were kids. By having the modern energy production, you might have more pristine areas to hunt and fish in. That’s a plus in my book. Oh, and ramps. Man, I miss those smelly little onions. If you don’t know what those are, you’ll need to visit Richwood, West Virginia in the springtime for their ramp festival. Try it, you’ll like it. A bit of warning though. If you’re married, you two might want to sleep in separate rooms for a day or two. Well, until the air clears.