Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Aug. 7

The Exponent Telegram on new funding for the North Central West Virginia Airport:


Or make that, WOW!!

In an effort that matched or exceeded pre-event hype, Gov. Jim Justice delivered in a big way on his promise of a "historic announcement" Tuesday afternoon at NCWV Airport.

The governor announced $20 million in funding for the airport's strategic growth initiative. The money will help to pay to relocate the terminal closer to W.Va. 279 and expand the aero tech park.

The money will come in the form of $10 million from the Infrastructure Jobs Development Council and $10 million from a loan he's requesting from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Justice was gushing about the airport and community's leadership and their continued efforts to turn the airport into the "gateway to West Virginia."

Hard to believe the current complex — and what will be amazingly better in the future — all started with a handful people and a grass airstrip in the 1930s.

As we wrote as the airport marked a passenger milestone in February 2019:

"The airport, which began as a simple airstrip back in the 1930s, was the brainchild of a number of area businessmen and aviation buffs who had a vision.

"We're sure they were probably laughed at back then. After all, airports were the things located in bigger cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

"That vision was aided tremendously in the 1950s as local businesses began to see value in local air service, and spurred by that interest the two counties who jointly owned the airport, Harrison and Marion, formed the Benedum Airport Authority.

"But from that simple airstrip took flight a concept that has developed into not just a hot spot for commercial air travel but for the aerospace business as well."

That editorial went on to congratulate the NCWV Airport governing board, known as the Benedum Airport Authority, as well as Director Rick Rock and Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Executive Director Tracy Miller.

Those were also the words of the governor, who said the future will be truly special.

"It is unbelievable the job opportunities that this will create. This will bring thousands and thousands and thousands more to an area that is already flourishing like crazy but you are just now opened up to go," Justice said.

The governor is absolutely right. To think that NCWV Airport already has a $1 billion impact on the region, has about 2,000 employees at its business park and has some of the nation's top aerospace companies is amazing.

To think what a modern state-of-the-art terminal, plus expanded commercial space, can do is enthralling.

NCWV Airport has clearly taken flight. And the influx of $20 million and the planned improvements will only carry it to new heights.

And all of North Central West Virginia will be along for the ride, reaping the benefits of visionaries from more than 80 years ago, as well as those who continue to lead our airport and region.

Well done to all involved. Tuesday was truly a historic day, and the future will be even better.

Well done, indeed.



Aug. 4

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register on a new lawsuit filed against drug distributors accused of contributing to the opioid crisis:

More than 10 years ago, a representative for a drug distributor wrote of the opioid products his company was receiving, "Keep 'em comin'! Flyin' out of here. It's like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are... ."

In reply, a sales representative for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals wrote, "Just like Doritos keep eating. We'll make more."

In fact, over a period of seven years, more than 853 million prescription pain pills were shipped into West Virginia, as reported recently. The total for Ohio from 2006-12, was nearly 3.4 billion pills, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Here in our area, more than 72 million pills went to the six Northern Panhandle counties, with another 62 million flooding the four East Ohio counties.

Many of those opioid painkillers went to drug addicts or, in some cases, created new ones. Some in the drug industry knew precisely what they were doing to earn big profits.

Statistics including those cited above were released through a lawsuit filed against more than 400 defendants — pharmacies, drug distributors, manufacturers and prescribers — in Ohio. Many other lawsuits have been filed in attempts to make those responsible for the pain pill epidemic pay. Some have been settled.

Defendants in such cases are accused of intentionally "turning a blind eye" to the plague they knew they were helping to unleash — failing to do anything to ensure opioid pills were not being misused in exchange for continuing profits from them.

More Americans die of drug overdoses each year than were killed during the entire Vietnam War. In 2017, the death toll was 70,237. West Virginia's overdose death rate is the highest in the nation. Ohio's is No. 2.

No amount of money will bring back the people killed by substance abuse. No cash settlement can repair all the damage done to families and communities. But should they be found liable for the beginnings of this epidemic, the companies at fault should be forced to pay the most the law will allow.

And where criminal culpability is found and proven, the guilty should be punished severely — as the greedy drug pushers they were.



Aug. 2

The Herald-Dispatch on recently approved funding for the Green Bank Observatory:

The Green Bank Observatory has a funding commitment to keep it operating for another decade. That's good news for science in West Virginia, as well as the state itself.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Tuesday that the Green Bank Observatory would remain open for the foreseeable future as a result of provisions included in the NSF's 2018 spending bill.

"For 60 years, the foundation, Pocahontas County and the state of West Virginia have supported the ability of innumerable national and international scientists to make discoveries about our universe using the capabilities located at the observatory within the National Quiet Zone," Manchin said. "Over this time, the local communities have made sacrifices to keep the surrounding area radio-silent to ensure that the activities at the observatory can continue without interference."

The Green Bank Observatory contains the world's largest steerable radio telescope. Along with the radio telescope that measures 100 meters (328 feet) across, the observatory includes astronomy and astrophysics instrumentation, office and laboratory buildings, a visitor and education facility and lodging facilities for visiting scientists.

The foundation had been evaluating options for the observatory. It provided 95 percent of its funding in 2012, but had reduced the amount in recent years. Associated Universities Inc. has operated the observatory since 2016.

In 2017, the NSF's draft environmental impact statement further outlined its plans to cut funding for activities at the Green Bank from $13 million to $2 million annually. In 2016, when the NSF invested about $8 million into the Green Bank facilities, it was estimated the observatory contributed roughly $30 million into the state's economy each year. In 2017, the Green Bank facilities employed about 100 full-time employees and attracted about 50,000 visitors annually.

Partnerships with collaborators outside the NSF have helped underwrite GBO's operating costs for several years. Project Breakthrough Listen has made a 10-year, $100 million commitment to the observatory for 20 percent of the Green Bank Telescope observation time for 10 years in its search of 100 galaxies for signs of alien technology. Other partners include the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves and West Virginia University.

"The scientific value of the Green Bank Observatory remains high, as demonstrated by the capabilities of and demand for its premier instrument, the Green Bank Telescope," Green Bank Observatory Director Karen O'Neil said after the funding announcement. "Hundreds of scientists use the Green Bank Telescope each year for research that spans virtually every field of modern astrophysics. ... Our focus looking forward is to ensure the Green Bank Telescope remains a competitive observatory well into the future, producing high-quality science while maximizing access by the U.S. astronomy community."

It's hard to put into words what a world-class facility such as the Green Bank Observatory means to a state such as West Virginia, which to this day remains weighed down by offensive stereotypes. This round of secured funding means bright scientific minds will continue to come to the state and use its resources to further our knowledge of the universe.

It's the kind of thing that helps break the negative stereotypes, and that's good for West Virginia and West Virginians.


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