Lawmakers are also continuing to discuss proposed changes and reforms to state education laws to better prepare and equip teachers so our school system can provide the highest quality education to our children.
Toward that end, a working group made up of 10 lawmakers from the House and Senate along with state Department of Education personnel and representatives from the various teacher unions have been diligently meeting to hammer out compromises regarding bills proposed but not passed in a late May Special Session.
That session ended after agreement could not be reached in a very short time frame and it was decided, prudently I believe, to return at a later date after stakeholders had more time to discuss the issues. The start of the next special session for this topic has now been delayed until July 19th in order to let the group complete their work and reach a compromise prior to the Legislature reconvening and that date was chosen because it coincides with the already planned July Interim meetings when lawmakers will be in town.
I also am proud to say my colleagues in the House and I were able to steer some grant money for a variety of good causes from the Governor's Office to Mingo County recently.
During a grant presentation regarding Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Grant awards it was announced the Mingo County Commission would receive $19,000. These funds will provide a Saturday program for at-risk youth that include prevention programming, physical fitness, nutrition and community service.
Grant money to fund programs to prevent underage drinking was also provided to the Mingo County Commission in the amount of $18,500. These funds will provide continued funding for the implementation of the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol program. The program focuses on decreasing teen alcohol consumption through enforcement, education, and diversion.
Another grant program, the Justice Assistance Grant Program, distributed funds to 79 agencies across the state, including $33,170 in Mingo County for the program Strong Through Our Plan (STOP). These funds will be used to help the local agencies, government and private non-profit agencies carry out specific programs aiming to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system. Emphasis is placed on multi-jurisdictional projects and statewide projects that create and/or retain jobs in the criminal justice system in West Virginia.
Finally, more than $1.5 million in Transportation Enhancement Grants were given out recently across the state including $148,000 to the National Coal Heritage Area Authority (NCHA) for the National Coal Heritage Area Driving Tour which takes visitors throughout Southern West Virginia.
The NCHA encompasses 13 counties in southern West Virginia: Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Logan, Lincoln, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Wyoming and Paint Creek and Cabin Creek located in southern Kanawha County. These grants will help fund projects that allow local communities strengthen their economies, improve the quality of life, enhance the travel experience for people traveling by all modes, and protect the environment.
I will always work hard with my colleagues in the House and Senate to bring funds back to Mingo County and Southern West Virginia when they are available to strengthen our economy and build better communities. I also will continually work to provide information regarding our monthly interim meetings as well as the education reform measures being discussed in Charleston.
In one final note, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to the recent victims of flash flooding in the Southern coalfields. We will work with federal, state and local agencies to ensure a return to normalcy for those affected by this recent disaster.
If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues or on any other pieces of legislation when they come before the Legislature, feel free to contact me here at my Charleston office. To write me, my address is Delegate Harry Keith White, Building 1, Room 460M, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. To call me please call (304) 340-3230 or call Toll free at 1-877-565-3447 and ask to be transferred. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process.