DRINKING WATER DANGERS!
See our pullout map of the potential contaminants that affect West Virginia’s waterways.
We’re all mad here The water crisis of 2014 angered, then energized, Charleston’s small business community.
TURN THIS TOWN AROUND! Matewan and Grafton begin the process.
BOOTH GOODWIN is he the state’s knight in shining armor?
volume 1 | issue 2
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Focus March/April 2014
don’t know about you, but I want a 2014 do-over. Between the unrelenting winter weather, the Freedom Industries chemical leak that poisoned nine counties’ water supply, a disappointing legislative session, and children being out of school for more than three weeks, I’d like to turn back the clock. So the idea of restarting 2014 got me thinking. Given the opportunity, what should we have done differently? Here are a few suggestions that topped my list:
1 Legislature: Water is our most precious commodity. Our regulatory agencies that are charged with protecting public health and safety should be staffed and funded appropriately and held accountable for inspections and enforcement. 2 Business leaders: I’m a small business owner and I’m not a fan of regulations, but public health and safety come first. If you operate a business that could potentially contaminate the water supply, ground or surface, then submit to regulation and pay the fees. Stop complaining. Man up. I’m tired of hearing that large corporations will not choose to locate their businesses in West Virginia if we have regulations that protect our citizens. Seriously? Would the leadership of these companies readily poison themselves? Be a responsible business. 3 Public Service Commission, West Virginia American Water, and its customers: Build an alternate intake that could be used in the event of a contamination. It was reported that when the water company requested a second location when it initially built its treatment plant in Charleston, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and the local health department denied the request. West Virginia American Water Company President Jeff McIntyre recently said it would now take at least $70 million to build a second intake. Hasn’t this crisis already cumulatively cost more than that? 4 West Virginia American Water: Issue more conservative guidelines on how to flush systems and, when a contaminant calls for it, instruct people to open windows for ventilation. 5 Congress: Pass legislation strengthening the Toxic Substances Control Act.
6 Governor: Come out swinging. We want to unite and rally behind you. When a catastrophe happens like the one that occurred on January 9, 2014, we need our leaders to immediately and clearly be our advocates. We want to know you’ve got our backs and that you will side with us despite big business’ demands. 7 Governor: When something of this magnitude happens and a meeting is called bringing together affected constituencies, include small businesses, environmental groups, and ticked-off moms. It’s not just an industry problem. 8 Legislators: Law enforcement’s expertise should trump the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying efforts. The pharmaceutical industry’s position that a pseudoephedrine prescription bill was not in the public’s best interest was effective for them—a massive marketing effort took place— but it was misleading. I’m a busy mother who would gladly agree to be inconvenienced a few times a year by having to secure a prescription (or better yet, I would simply choose an alternate allergy or cold medication) over having meth on the streets. Other states that have enacted prescriptions have seen drastic reduction in the number of meth labs. On a positive note, our Turn This Town Around initiative has broken a few records. We had more than 16,000 votes and more than 65,700 hits on our wvfocus.com website in the first month alone. As a result, Grafton and Matewan were chosen as our two winning towns. We’ve had great attendance at our community meetings, and our work in each of the towns has begun. Many thanks to the West Virginia Community Development Hub and our communities
for all of your hard work as we embark on some monumental changes. David Hatfield of Matewan (yes, he is a Hatfield) says, “I think Turn This Town Around is great. Sometimes small communities like ours need someone to come in and validate our ideas and inspire us to improve. It helps give us confidence.” Well, I, for one, have great confidence in Grafton and Matewan, and I look forward to sharing the process with our readers throughout the upcoming year. Given the difficulties we’ve faced as a state for the first three months of 2014, many people are mad. They’re mad the chemical leak happened in the first place. They are mad about the response to the crisis. They are mad about the repercussions. But anger can be a great motivator and a force for positive change. So, although our cover references the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, who in fact was being poisoned by his own industry (the term “mad as a hatter” comes from the 19th century when workers were exposed to mercury used in the creation of felt), we aren’t staying down in a hole. Citizens lobbied for a strong water protection bill, and small businesses are uniting. My hope is that one year from now we are clapping along with our own version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” because we feel like a room without a roof, instead of one without water. Let’s focus on change.
nikki bowman Publisher & Editor
Contributors Tara Martinez Executive director of West Virginia Women’s Commission. She has also worked with motor carrier enforcement at the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and the animal health and executive divisions at the State Department of Agriculture.
Who inspires you? I begin with my roots—a matriarchal Mexican-American family with strong and humble women. They are my inspiration to be better, from my grandmother (Jessie Martinez), my mother (Martha White), and my godmother (Mary Urias), to my cousins (Mary Jane, Cheryl, and Crystal). Teachers who molded my mind are Sister Donna Starcher, Judy Miller, and Margie Hamrick. Sue Julian inspired me to be a woman of peaceful action. Judge Phyllis Carter inspired me to lead with confidence and grace, and Grace Pritt—a 17-year-old missionary— inspires me to be the change I wish to see in my world. Finally, our elected female officers and business leaders inspire me to never settle. As a leader myself, I hope to offer a small inspiration for young women, especially my daughter, Tova.
Focus March/April 2014
Lisa DeFrank-Cole Director and assistant professor of leadership studies at West Virginia University. She earned a Fulbright Specialist grant in 2012 to teach and share curricular materials with the Royal University for Women in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Who inspires you? I could list 10 women from West Virginia University, or 10 women in West Virginia, or 10 women from the U.S., or 10 international women. It was difficult to narrow it down—I did 11—and this list is a combination in alphabetical order. I’m inspired by: Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Virginia Elizabeth “Geena” Davis, Elaine Hunchuck DeFrank, Alice Hendrickson Eagly, Helen Froelich Holt, Mary Ellen King Mazey, Michelle Robinson Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Jeannette Walls. Did you know?
Tom Hindman Tom Hindman returned to West Virginia 21 years ago to photograph his native state. He was born in Matewan and grew up in Mingo County. He is a full-time photojournalist for the Charleston Daily Mail, and his award-winning work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, to name a few. He taught summers in Maine at the prestigious Maine Island Photographic Workshops, covered the 1996 Summer Olympics, and photographed the Boston Patriots in the ’70s. tomhindman.blogspot.com
What is the most memorable photo you’ve taken? One that comes to mind is a portrait of Stephen King I took on Harlow St in Bangor, Maine. He was reading All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and smoking a Marlboro, waiting for his wife.
March is Women’s History Month!
Dialogue Feedback I’m in Love
I’m in love with your new Focus magazine. I found it by serendipity at a car dealership while I was getting my oil changed. Just reading one issue gave me so much more confidence to start my own ad agency in Martinsburg. Thank you for your encouragement! abigail benjamin, via email
What a Wonderful Read
Thank you for sending me your premier issue of West Virginia Focus magazine. I received it through my business of Holstine Engineering. What a fantastic idea and what a wonderful read. Of course I am trying to read it at work and have been working on it for the last two days, but it is a fantastic magazine and I appreciate your faith and desire to do this. Please accept my sincerest hopes for your success. michael j. holstine, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, via email
Very Well Done
I just read your January/February 2014 issue, and it is very well done. The articles are interesting and informative, and the look of the magazine is very attractive, creative, and polished. I like the infographics, too. You delivered lots of important data and information in an easy-to-understand manner. This magazine was fun to read, and I felt it was time well spent when I was through it. Your editor’s letter really speaks to me. You and I come from very similar backgrounds (I grew up in a trailer on a farm in Fayette County), and I, like you, believe West Virginia is a wonderful place with a great story to tell and wonderful possibilities. We often wonder why others don’t believe in us, but then we look in the mirror and see that we don’t believe in ourselves. I hope your magazine makes a difference in that regard. Shine your light on the good and the bad, then let’s laud the good and look for ways we can work together to fix the bad. chris slaughter, Steptoe & Johnson, via email
We received an incredible response to our Turn This Town Around campaign with more than 500 comments on the article on wvfocus.com and 16,000+ votes in the poll. Here are some of the comments we received: I grew up in Grafton and still enjoy the occasional visit. As the home of the National Cemetery in West Virginia, the Mother’s Day Shrine, and Tygart Lake State Park, there is potential to increase tourism and draw to northern West Virginia. Fishing and hunting in the area are incredible and so much of the surrounding country is unspoiled and spectacular—close to Interstate 79 and half an hour from Fairmont, Clarksburg, and Morgantown. It should be a focus of development, and there is so much potential, simply by virtue of its location. tom hayes, wvfocus.com
I have lived in Grafton for all of my 78 years. I have seen this town devastated with the loss of the railroad and all those jobs, but under proper and intelligent leadership, the town is slowly coming back to life. You cannot say more than that about a town and its people, who have accomplished so much in so few years. Yeah, Grafton! I proudly vote for you!
Thank you West Virginia Focus and West Virginia Hub for embracing everyone’s love for small town West Virginia! All of these well deserving communities can benefit tremendously from your spotlight and development assistance. Please, let me know if I can help out in anyway. Thanks again! (Good Luck, Matewan!) darrin mccormick, Williamson mayor, wvfocus.com
Heck, do we have to pick just two? They are all worthy! I am from the southern part of the state and now live in the northern area. Love it all! chris haddox, wvfocus.com This is a great campaign—thank you for helping to make West Virginia a better place to live. jeanne kuhn, via Facebook I hope it is successful. Many of our small “industrial” and “natural resource” towns died away in the ’80s. Most won’t even admit their situation. Keep us posted. joe reckard, via Facebook
sarah myers, wvfocus.com
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Contents FOCUS ON 10
Discover where West Virginia’s airports can take you.
Explore the history of the state’s most beautiful building in this new book, Cass Gilbert’s West Virginia State Capitol. 13
Dub V Safe Ride takes drunk drivers off the roads while protecting their cars.
Researchers at WVU look to drones for mapping natural resources. 24
Thomas|work transforms his hobby into a business.
Even the Queen of England loves recipes from the chef of Sargasso.
Compressed natural gas vehicles are back.
One WVU engineering professor is changing the way we think about energy. 15
The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department addresses oral health needs. 16
We map out what the water crisis means for the rest of the state. 18
States and the nation need to rethink the gas tax. 20
An old department store is transformed into a Marshall University arts center in Huntington.
Focus March/April 2014
Take a closer look at the state’s budget woes. 31
How much power does the mayor have in your town? 34
How We Did It
Pies & Pints takes the best of pizza and beer across the region. 36
Banking locally makes good sense.
Focus [ March/April 2014 ]
Lessons Learned The business of being a doctor. 68
Tips and tricks for Realtors and restaurant owners. 73
Business cards are more than little pieces of cardboard or plastic. 74
WVU’s Lisa DeFrankCole takes a look at what makes a good leader. 75
Economist Tom S. Witt looks at highway funding and local options. 38
Thirst for Action
Small businesses are enraged after a chemical leak in the water wreaked havoc and cost them tens of thousands of dollars.
Charles Ryan Associates knows how to find the right audience.
Turn This Town Around
Experts explore the challenges of running a family business.
The votes are in. Now it’s time to turn Grafton and Matewan around.
West Virginia eases its way into home rule, hoping it will be a boon for residents and businesses.
Dialogue 5 Power Points
A Knight’s Tale
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin fights crime in southern West Virginia. Focus wvfocus.com
How well do you know your state? Be in the know by subscribing to West Virginia Focus, a new small business and policy magazine by the publishers of WV Living. Our mission is quite simple: build a better state one issue at a time.
Subscribe online at wvfocus.com/subscribe or call 304.413.0104
“No man may poison the people for his private profit.”
american Wheat You’re against convention without being anti-establishment. You only fight the system because you want a better society— which is why at the end of the day, you like a slightly sweet, comforting beer garnished with fruit slices. try Chestnut Brew Works Class II Wheatwater, North End Tavern West Virginia Wheat
Ahh, happy hour. That first blissful sip after eight— or let’s be honest, 10—hours of the daily grind is something many of us look forward to all day. It’s a chance to unwind, relax, and open up. But did you realize your beer says something about you before you’re even loosened up enough to say it yourself? Whether you’re a Bud Light fanatic or a craft beer snob, your favorite draught is sending a message to your peers. What’s yours?
Amber Ale You’re bold, but not too bold. You want a life defined by intentional decisions, but you don’t have time to search for the obscure. This beer is dark enough to stand out in a sea of lagers, but toasty and balanced enough for easy drinkability. try Charleston Brewing Company’s Forever Amber, Mountain State Brewing Co’s Almost Heaven Amber
Strong Ale People who don’t know you see you as intimidating, but your friends know you’re a big softie under that gruff exterior. Either way, even they don’t want to cross you. Just in case. try Morgantown Brewing Company’s Brookside Farmhouse Ale, Bridge Brew Works Tripel
Queen for a Day
If Tara Martinez, executive director of the West Virginia Women’s Commission, ruled the state . . . pg. 12
American Lager You’re grounded and fiercely loyal. If you don’t support another country’s politics, you won’t drink its beer. That’s why you stick with the icy-cold, classic brew that tastes like freedom. try Morgantown Brewing Company’s Two Weeks Lager, Bridge Brew Works Long Point Lager
The National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health at WVU educates women on how to improve their health. pg.15
Morgantown is recognized as a top place to live. pg.19
India Pale Ale For you, life is meant to be conquered. You never turn down a challenge. You like a beer that makes you squirm a little with each drink, a beer that demands respect and gumption. It makes you feel powerful. try North End Tavern’s 5-Way IPA, Charleston Brewing Company’s Hurricane
A look at the state’s economy as compared to the U.S., plus West Virginia’s top employers. pg.26
The role of mayor takes many forms across West Virginia. pg.31
Milestone United Bank celebrates 175 years. pg.17
WV’s Best Airports The nation’s capital, the beach, Detroit, Houston—our airports can take you almost anywhere. written by Courtney DePottey
Raleigh County Memorial Airport 176 Airport Circle Beaver, WV 25813 304.255.0476
Monday–Friday: Two flights to and from the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Saturday/ Sunday: One flight to and from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
Flights to the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Huntington Tri-State Airport
1449 Airport Road Huntington, WV 25704 304.453.6165 alegiant air
Greenbrier Valley Airport Route 219 North Lewisburg, WV 24901 304.645.3961
Non-stop service to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Orlando, FL, and St. PetersburgClearwater International Airport in Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, FL. Seasonal service to Myrtle Beach International Airport (beginning in May). Us airways
Non-stop service to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.
Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport 543 Airport Road Parkersburg, WV 26187 304.464.5115 United airlines
Four roundtrip flights daily to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, OH.
North Central West Virginia Airport
2000 Aviation Way Bridgeport, WV 26330 304.842.3400 allegiant air
Non-stop flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, FL (on Thursdays and Sundays). United airlines
100 Hart Field Road Morgantown, WV 26505 304.291.7461 silver airways
Three roundtrip flights daily to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Silver Airways, operator for the United Express flights.
100 Airport Road, #175 Charleston, WV 25311 304.344.8033 american airlines
One daily non-stop flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport in Grapevine, TX. delta airlines, inc.
Four daily non-stop flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, GA. Two daily non-stop flights to Detroit Metropolitan Airport (April— January only). spirit airlines
Non-stop flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport in Myrtle Beach, SC. One-stop flight to Fort LauderdaleHollywood International Airport. United airlines
Four daily non-stop flights to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Two daily non-stop flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. One daily non-stop flight to Houston Intercontinental Airport. Us airways express
Five daily non-stop flights to Charlotte Douglas
International Airport in Charlotte, NC. Three daily non-stop flights to
Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. us airways express
One daily non-stop flight to Philadelphia International Airport. (Flight will eventually become American Airlines). istock
Daily flights to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
Morgantown Municipal Airport
Focus March/April 2014
The Capitol This new book on the state capitol is beautiful and telling.
Written by Bethany Dzielski
hen West Virginia’s Gothic Revival capitol burned down in 1921, the Building Commission was left with the task of creating a capitol that would reveal a young state’s pride, wealth, and sophistication to the entire nation. Surrounded by controversy, the Legislature approved $6.5 million for the construction and appointed internationally renowned architect Cass Gilbert—well-known today for structures like the Woolworth Building in New York City and the U.S. Supreme Court building.
Focus March/April 2014
Husband and wife historians Ann and David Wilkins were surprised at the unique narrative surrounding the capitol when they set out to tell its story in a new book from West Virginia University Press. “Our first time to the capitol we were struck by its beauty,” Ann Wilkins says. “We quickly became fascinated with the project.” Cass Gilbert’s West Virginia State Capitol tells the story behind the architectural feat that went on to be the model for the U.S. Supreme Court building. The Wilkins’ close examination of the design, construction, and execution of this commission reveals the social, political, and financial climate of West Virginia at the time. “One thing we discovered as we researched was the complexity of the people involved. The structure was completed during the Great Depression, and many people in the state were furious about the money being spent,” Ann Wilkins says. The authors say they hope the book will get more people to pay attention to the capitol, which they say has not received the attention it deserves. “This book appeals to West Virginians, Cass Gilbert fans, and people who are interested in all the states’ capitols,” Ann Wilkins says. Four years of research and writing resulted in a weighty masterpiece—both in content and volume, at 386 pages within the hardcover. With more than 100 stunning photographs—many historical and others commissioned for the book—readers get to experience the majesty of the golddomed capitol while they read about its history. “The designer did a fantastic job. The photographs are beautiful, and the typeface used is one that would have been used during that time period,” Ann says. Released in March 2014, the book also includes remarks from Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, State Senator Brooks F. McCabe, Jr., art historians Bernard Schultz and Mary L. Soldo Schultz, and Chad Proudfoot. wvupressonline.com
Queen for a DAY Tara Martinez, executive director of the WV Women’s Commission, has a few ideas for what she’d do if she ruled WV. I would create a strong network of organizations to promote and connect the amazing women-owned businesses and leaders in our state to a clearinghouse for women and a connection to business opportunities. Utilize our outstanding community and technical college systems to nurture our young people’s innovative ideas. Find monetary resources for organizations like WV Women Work. They help women enter and advance in jobs that will lead to economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. Finally, I leave my wishes on a lighter note but still in a positive way to contribute to our economy. I love football, mainly college, but if West Virginia had a professional team, I would definitely be a huge supporter.
the power lunch
Chef Simon Poulin’s famous cheesecake has a light, fluffy body without crust. When he served it to the Queen of England she liked it so much she sent the butler to get the recipe.
“I look through magazines and cookbooks or talk to chefs I know for inspiration,” says Chef Simon. “I look at a recipe, and I take it somewhere else. I’ll think about a grain or a legume instead of rice.”
here to stay Montreal native Chef Simon says, “It’s one of the biggest challenges for a chef, to bring an idea to a new place when you don’t understand the people. I didn’t expect to stay here so long, but the culture is nice and the people are very accepting of the food, which is huge.”
SARGASSO’S Popular lunch Dishes
Buffalo Chicken Panini, $12
Chef Simon’s Cheesecake $9 (suggested topping: rhubarb compote)
Salmon Salad $15
Wine aficionados will love Sargasso’s wine list, which has received awards from Wine Spectator. With more than 1,000 bottles in Sargasso’s collection, comprising 130 varieties from 15 countries, diners are certain to find a wine they enjoy.
sargasso’s perfectly plated cuisine is more than enticing—it’s delicious. Here businessmen discuss work in one corner while young couples whisper over lunch in another. Much like its namesake the Sargasso Sea, a sea without shores, Sargasso’s cuisine knows no boundaries. With a culinary team led by Executive Chef Simon Poulin, Sargasso features world fusion cuisine sampling from Asian, European, American, and Caribbean styles. “We take pride in being able to offer quality lunches in a professional atmosphere for every client,” says General Manager Bethany Richey. “Because of our diverse venue, we can host several events at one time and accommodate every guest to the highest degree of hospitality.” Everyone from vice presidents of Mylan Pharmaceuticals to academics from West Virginia University eats at Sargasso. “Sargasso takes pride in catering to the many elite clientele of the Morgantown area as well as our regular patrons,” Richey says. Sargasso began as the inspiration of local businessman Phil Weser and his wife, Dana, whose love of travel and interest in cooking developed into an appreciation for international cuisine. They partnered with local physician Frank Alderman and, after a nationwide, yearlong search for a world-class chef, the owners brought Simon to Morgantown in 2007. 215 Don Knotts Boulevard, Morgantown, WV 26501, 304.554.0100, dinesargasso.com
written by bethany dzielski | photographed by elizabeth roth
In Hot Water— and It’s Good A WVU professor has been honored with a presidential award for his sustainable energy research. Written by Katie Griffith
est Virginia is rich in resources. While the Mountain State is known widely for coal—and more recently, natural gas—a West Virginia University researcher has been nationally recognized for his work to develop alternative, sustainable energy systems. In 2010 scientists identified a resource unusual for this region cradled beneath West Virginia’s hills and valleys—a geothermal hotspot. Accessible in areas with
Focus March/April 2014
high temperatures at shallow depths and with hot subsurface water, geothermal energy is traditionally found in western states. But in the northeastern part of West Virginia, stretching from Morgantown to Upshur, Tucker, and Randolph counties, researchers have found the largest geothermal reserve in the eastern U.S. Brian Anderson, a Ripley native and associate professor of engineering at WVU, researches geothermal energy systems and ways to use the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning plants
to facilitate geothermal technologies, effectively creating carbon-neutral, green energy production. “We’re already seeing less demand for West Virginia coal, and much of that is due to the increased use of natural gas, which West Virginia also produces,” Anderson says. “Geothermal is really part of the mix—an opportunity to have a more diverse portfolio.” He estimates that geothermal energy has the potential to make up 15 percent of the country’s electricity. In December 2013 Anderson was recognized by President Barack Obama with the nation’s highest honor for young science and engineering professionals, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Anderson, 35, was nominated for the award by the U.S. Department of Energy, which has spent millions of dollars funding geothermal research. In 2011 he was also the recipient of the Department of Energy Secretary’s Honor Award for his work in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Anderson and a research team are looking into creating a geothermal system on WVU’s campus, which is currently heated by a coal-burning plant. “We think it would be economical to do a geothermal system on campus,” he says. “That’s our next step—to convert WVU to a geothermal system in about 10 years.” His research interests span the field of subsurface, alternative-energy research, including natural gas hydrates, thermodynamic modeling, and geothermal systems. Anderson’s love of science began at Reedy Elementary in Roane County as a fifth grader excited about the prospect of his first animal dissection. In supporting young students to pursue scientific research in a state where brain drain has become the norm, he says the encouragement needs to come early. “The start has to come in elementary, middle, and high schools to get students geared up for the science and tech fields,” he says. “I couldn’t have had a better set of science and math teachers; a lot of them are now retired. Encouraging students and trying to get these wonderful teachers into these disciplines and into our high schools and middle schools is the key.”
allison toffle, WVU Photographic Services
who's stepping up
All Smiles One dental hygienist gives people in the Mid-Ohio Valley a reason to smile.
written by courtney depottey
arkersburg has one of three centers in the state with an oral health program for low-income families, and that is due in no small part to the efforts of Mary Beth Shea. Shea started working for the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department as a dental hygienist in 2007. Her work inspired her to help establish oral health programs for lowincome families, including the Smiles for Life Program and the Early Smiles First Dental Visit Program. Both provide free health services and education to people in the area—services that were funded by grants for their first four years. Shea wanted to provide more stability for the programs when she started the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Fund in 2011 through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation. “There’s a tremendous need for people who don’t have much income to get help with their dental care. The programs I work with were totally grant-funded, and I wanted to set up a fund to ensure they could continue in the future,” she says. The money for the health fund was provided in part through a $500 award Shea won from Altrusa International in 2011. An anonymous donor matched the award, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Fund was created in 2011 with $1,000 in seed funds. Since then the Parkersburg program has continued to grow. Today 24 local dentists volunteer for the program—two-thirds of Parkersburg’s dentists—and 10 dental hygienists also contribute.
Improving Women’s Health The National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health at WVU is hosting a Community Advisory Network (CAN) meeting on March 26, 2014, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., to discuss the Affordable Care Act and its effect on women. The meeting will be held in WVU Health Sciences Center Room 3067. To dial in, call 877.306.9784 (conference code: 5656721977). RSVP by emailing Emilee Adams at emadams@ hsc.wvu.edu or calling 304.293.5690.
Inte rsta te 79
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A law was passed in 1898 in France to protect hatmakers from mercury poisoning, but it took the United States until 1941 to stop using mercury—and even then it was because of wartime need for heavy metal.
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Getting in the Zone top issues
written by Pam Kasey
he Freedom Industries chemical leak that was discovered on January 9, 2014, in Charleston created a tap water crisis for one-sixth of the state’s residents. Since that time, West Virginians have learned more about the regulatory underpinnings of chemical storage and drinking water treatment than anyone outside those industries ever
Focus March/April 2014
Four Interesting Facts Learned While Researching West Virginia’s Water Issues:
wanted to know. Still, some basic questions remain about how all of this applies to the rest of us. Here are a few answers.
Where does our tap water come from?
Some communities’ water utilities draw from groundwater, some from surface streams or reservoirs, and some from more than one source. As we learned during the crisis, a water treatment system that has
West Virginia American Water parent company American Water Works Co. stock traded at $41.70 on January 8, 2014, the day before 300,000 in southern West Virginia were left without water. Two months later, on March 7, it traded more than 6 percent higher, at $44.35. Number of times I was told by a legislator, lobbyists, or government official that tough topics and meaningful legislation will not be addressed during the 2014 legislative session because it is an election year? 27. The town most of us call Berkeley Springs still holds its original name of Bath. Berkeley Springs is the name of the post office.
either an alternative source or backup storage is safer than a system with just one source and no storage.
What could contaminate our tap water? Some source waters have many
potential threats and some have few. The good news is, there was an effort at one point to identify and map these. The state Bureau for Public Health (BPH) created inventories of these Potential Significant Contaminant Sources for water systems across the state about a decade ago. The BPH included maps in its reports that defined Zones of Critical Concern—streamside areas within five hours’ flow upstream of surface water treatment plant intakes—and analogous Source Water Protection Areas for underground sources. The potential contaminant sources within those zones include aboveground storage tanks like the one that leaked in January as well as car washes, cement plants, and other sites water utilities need to be vigilant about.
Who is watching to prevent drinking water contamination? State lawmakers
acted quickly after the leak. The Legislature wrote a law that, among other measures, requires utilities to build on the BPH reports to create Source Water Protection Plans—more specific living documents that update the identification of potential contaminant sources and lay out specific measures for preventing and addressing spills from each. It also requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to permit and inspect aboveground storage tanks more stringently than before.
Bottom line—what about my water?
Fair question. To download the BPH Source Water Assessment Report for your community, go to wvdhhr.org/oehs/eed/ swap. Source Water Protection Plans were previously prepared for some large utilities; ask your utility or BPH for a copy. And if you want to get more directly involved, stay tuned—your utility may seek public input as it prepares or updates its plan.
CHEERS & JEERS Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau and WV Division of Tourism’s hosting of Travel South Showcase in Charleston. #TourismDollars
WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey opposes pollution limits and cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by filing amicus brief against EPA rules. #CleanWaterIsn’tPartisan
For heroic dedication to the spill bill, House Speaker Tim Miley, Health Committee Chairman Don Perdue, Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Manchin, delegates Barbara Fleischauer, Mike Manypenny, Meshea Poore, and Stephen Skinner, and legislative staff attorneys. #DedicatedLeadership
Failure to pass WV State Policesupported SB6 that would have required a prescription for pseudoephedrine, a popular meth-making drug. Legislature bowed to powerful drug industry lobby. #MethIsCripplingWV #DidYouNotLookAtSuccess RateInOtherStates?
WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announces initiative to expand access to disposal locations for unwanted prescription drugs. #PrescriptionDrugProblem
Failure of Legislature to address Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways’ recommendations for improvement of state roads. #WeDontWorkElectionYears
Charleston Area Alliance and others who championed Project Launchpad. #EconomicOpportunity
The gutting of the Future Fund bill. #FundlessFund
175 Years of Banking Written by Bethany Dzielski
One West Virginia bank holding company—United Bankshares, Inc.—is celebrating 175 years of operation on March 17, 2014. Established in 1839 in Parkersburg as the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, United Bankshares has dual headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Charleston. You may know them simply as United Bank. “We have made it through wars and floods. The leadership throughout these many decades has continued to keep the bank strong,” says Cindy Bullock, vice president of marketing. “It’s very exciting to celebrate such a milestone. We now have $11.5 billion in assets and 130 offices. It’s great to see how banking has changed, but it’s still about being a part of the communities and serving the folks in those communities.” United Bankshares will celebrate with a Customer Appreciation Day with refreshments for customers. The bank is also celebrating another accomplishment—the 40th consecutive dividend increase for shareholders. United Bankshares continues to be active in West Virginia communities. “We have helped a lot of people realize their dreams,” Bullock says. Among those organizations the company has helped over the years are Habitat for Humanity and United Way.
➼ to purchase additional maps, visit wvfocus.com
Rethinking the Gas Tax The nation’s roads need a new sugar daddy.
Written by Shay Maunz
t’s no secret America’s roads are in trouble. Of the country’s 4 million miles of public roadways, 32 percent are in poor or mediocre condition. And the Highway Trust Fund, the federal government’s account used to help fund road and bridge projects, is slated to go broke by the end of this fiscal year. Things aren’t much better in West Virginia, where the state Division of Highways (DOH) is paving its 36,000 miles of road on a 30-year cycle—12 years would be ideal—and dealing with a stagnant budget despite growing costs. “We’ve had to learn to be very efficient because revenues aren’t increasing but certainly costs are,” says Brent Walker, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation. In the case of both the nation and the state, the budget problems are primarily due to one thing: the gas tax. As more
Focus March/April 2014
fuel-efficient cars become common, the tax on gasoline—the primary funding source for both the nation’s highway trust and the state road fund—is pulling in less money for the government to use to build and maintain roads and bridges. And projections show vehicles are only going to get more efficient, and alternative fuels more popular. “Two things are going to drive the future of alternative fuels and vehicles,” says Bill Davis, acting director of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at WVU. “One is technology and the other is accessibility of the fuels and the development of infrastructure for them, both of which are only growing.” The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993, and it’s set at a flat 18.4 cents per gallon rather than a percentage, so it’s not tied to inflation in the way that asphalt, machinery, and all the other things needed
to maintain roads are. Discussion about see pg 75. revamping the federal gas tax—which generates more than $30 billion for the country’s roads each year, around $700 million of which is funneled into West Virginia—is already going strong on the national stage. There are a handful of propositions on the table for consideration by Congress. The most straightforward was one proposed in December by a congressman from Oregon: raise the gas tax to 33.4 cents per gallon, nearly double its current rate, then tie it to inflation. That same congressman from Oregon, Earl Blumenauer, also proposed a plan based on miles driven instead of gas consumed—GPS devices would be placed in vehicles to monitor travel. Neither bill has gained much ground in Congress yet, but both are indicative of the kinds of reforms that are being discussed to offset the national highway trust’s impending deficit. Any change to the gas tax is bound to be politically volatile—a Gallup poll taken last April found that 66 percent of Americans oppose any increase in the gas tax, even if the money goes toward improving roads and bridges. Walker says that’s because people don’t see the connection between the gas tax and the quality and condition of the roads they drive on. “We have many more projects than we do funding, and we have shortfalls; we have deferred maintenance,” he says. “We have plenty of those areas of maintenance that we just have to put off when we don’t have the funding for them.” State highways benefit from the federal gas tax indirectly, in the form of reimbursements paid to the DOH out of the highway trust fund, but they do benefit from it. Around 30 percent of the road projects DOH takes on each year are eligible for federal money from the trust fund that is fed by the federal gas tax. On the state level, there have been no proposals to increase the state tax on gasoline, though West Virginia wouldn’t be the first state to do so. According to the National Conference of State West Legislatures, at least 17 states Virginia’s roads are have recently approved or are in need of some tender now considering hikes in their loving care. gas taxes.
For more on the state’s roads,
Morgantown Downtown beautification and small business vitality put Morgantown high in the rankings. Great Place to Live Morgantown was named #7 on Kiplinger’s 10 Great Places to Live in 2013.
Best Performing Small City In December 2013 Morgantown ranked #9 in Milken’s Top 10 Best-Performing Small Cities. The Best-Performing Cities index shows where jobs are being created and sustained in metros across the U.S. It includes measures of job, wage, and technology performance to rank the nation’s 200 large metropolitan areas and 179 smaller metros.
Small Business Success With 100 professional businesses in downtown Morgantown, there’s always something new and interesting to see. Most recently, new businesses like Jasmine City Grill and Jameson’s Pub & Eatery opened on High Street, and Panera held its grand opening in a beautiful new two-story building at the top of High Street in March.
Buried Power Lines
The High Street Streetscape Improvement Project has had many phases, and the efforts are paying off. Subterranean power lines, new banners and light poles, and red-stamped concrete crosswalks make downtown charming.
The Art of Renewal An old building gets another chance in downtown Huntington when it becomes Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center.
ometime last fall Donald Van Horn was standing on a sidewalk in downtown Huntington studying the seven-story building in front of him. Putting a label on the building was tricky—no longer the old department store that it was, it hadn’t yet become the shiny new academic building that it would be. He was watching it transform from one to the other in a flurry of construction projects and renovations. Van Horn had seen the building in its former state, at least in passing, dozens of times before—it sits prominently in the heart of downtown Huntington—but this day last fall was the first time he noticed the year carved into the building’s cornerstone: 1902. “I saw those dates etched on those stones and got to thinking about it,” he says. “And I thought, ‘That’s when the university records tell us the visual arts program started at Marshall.’ So it’s destiny.” It’s destiny because, more than 110 years later, that random bit of trivia has come to mean something. When, in summer 2014, renovations to the historic building are complete, the date etched into the cornerstone won’t signify just the year the building was constructed, but also the creation of the college program that will
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be housed there. Van Horn is the dean of that school, the College of Arts and Media at Marshall University, and will oversee the program’s transition into the newly renovated, $13 million building in the fall—a milestone for the university and its creative arts program. “I think the potential is just really extraordinary,” he says. “It’s creative solutions like this that are reinvigorating communities and making them destinations people want to go to.” The building that will become Marshall’s new Visual Arts Center has a lot of what architect Phoebe Patton Randolph calls “embodied energy.” That’s the energy and resources put into the building already, during construction and over the course of its lifetime—the energy used to make and pour the building’s concrete or its steel beams—that makes it environmentally and socially responsible to hang onto the
“Hopefully this is going building instead to start a little bit of a of tearing it down spark so other people try a similar thing,” to make way for something new. The says Phoebe Patton Randolph of Edward Visual Arts Center’s Tucker Architects about the renovation of the embodied energy old Stone & Thomas comes from its building in Huntington. construction in 1902 “There’s a lot of benefit to having our downtowns and improvements intact and reinvesting in over its lifetime downtown.” as a department store—first as Anderson-Newcomb Co. and then as Stone & Thomas, until it closed in 1996. The building sat vacant for nearly 15 years before Marshall bought it and brought in Randolph and her team at Edward Tucker Architects, a Huntington-based architecture firm, to renovate the building, transforming it into the university’s new arts center. “There’s already been so much energy
Written by Shay Maunz
courtesy of Marshall visual arts center
“Architecture is an art—it brings character and beauty to our environments. I think the historic building will contribute to the inspiration and the creativity of the students when they study and create art themselves,” says Susan Pierce of the State Historic Preservation Office.
put into creating these downtown cores we have,” Randolph says. “If you choose to go outside of that core and build a new building, then you’re not really taking advantage of all of the infrastructure that’s already there downtown, the fact that it’s walkable, and just the value we have in old buildings.” The idea is to harness that energy and use it to the advantage of the school and the community at large. When the new Visual Arts Center opens in fall 2014, more than 400 art students and faculty will take root in the center of town, along with their money and resources, their initiative and ideas. “This is a really vibrant and dynamic group of people,” Van Horn says. “You’ve got some of the most creative minds, the people who are best at thinking outside the box—they’re now going to be an integral part of the
downtown, and the contributions they can make to the broader community are really limitless.” Then there’s the value in the building itself—more than a century of history and culture. The design team that handled the project walked a careful line in renovating the building, between honoring its historical integrity and our modern sensibilities and practical concerns. “You have all this amazing character in the buildings,” Randolph says. “We really think it’s important to preserve these historic structures—it’s a sustainability issue and it’s a quality of life thing.” Working with Susan Pierce at the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, they tried to save as many remnants of the building’s history as they could, but they also had to surrender some things. They managed to save the original hardwood floors, for example, but eventually
decided to replace the original windows for the sake of energy efficiency— though they worked with a window company to find window frames that closely resemble the originals. “It’s a matter of preservation of an art form,” Pierce says. “Architecture is an art just like printmaking, oil paintings, sculpture—it’s an expression of who we are, not just today but who we were during the 19th and 20th century. It’s of value to reuse those elements when we can.” The project also means one less empty storefront in downtown Huntington. The building sits across from Pullman Square, a fashionable outdoor shopping center complete with urban green space that has become one of the city’s crown jewels in the 21st century. The development of Pullman Square jumpstarted what Van Horn calls “a sort of renaissance” downtown, with more and more storefronts being renovated and filling up with businesses. As renovations to the Visual Arts Center near completion, it’s getting closer and closer to joining them. “Up until 12 months ago it was an eyesore; it was a blight,” he says. “On either side of it all the buildings on the block have been renovated and they’re beautiful—and now the very core of the block is going to be the very most beautiful of them all.” Focus wvfocus.com
A Safe Ride One WVU student steps up to be the designated driver—for all of Morgantown.
hen Eric Watkins decided he’d like to open a business, he didn’t have to look far. The problem he built his business to address was all around him, and it was too big to ignore. “Everyone and their brother and their mother has a DUI around here,” Watkins says of his hometown, Morgantown—home to West Virginia University and legions of partying college students. A senior at WVU, Watkins saw the problems in the party ethos—DUIs, sexual assault, car accidents at the hands of drunk drivers—and began dissecting the issue in order to craft a solution. Watkins realized something that perhaps only someone tuned in to the college scene could: A student’s impulse to drive while intoxicated doesn’t just stem from an urge to get themselves home—it’s also about the vehicle. “Let’s say you take a cab home,” he says. “They take you home and leave your car downtown—it’s going to get booted, ticketed, or towed before you can come back to get it.” Plus, the thought of waking up after a night of drinking to catch a ride downtown for an early morning class is less than appealing. Watkins’ solution is unorthodox, but simple: Hire a crew of designated drivers and equip them with scooters that can fold up into the trunks of cars. A driver rides on the scooter to meet a customer when he or she calls, then drives the customer’s vehicle home. After the customer is safely home, the driver hops
Focus March/April 2014
on his scooter and rides on to meet the next customer. Watkins calls it Dub V Safe Ride. Watkins first took his idea to the 2011–2012 West Virginia Statewide Business Plan Competition, but lost—mainly, he says, because he hadn’t been able to secure the permits he needed to get his business up and running. Among the complications: the insurance implications of employees driving customers’ cars. But by 2012—after a year of working with government officials baffled by his business idea and unsure how to handle his permit requests—he had all the paperwork he needed to walk away from the competition with the grand prize: $10,000 in startup capital and affirmation that his idea was a good one. Dub V Safe Ride gave its first ride in April 2013. For a ride home in Morgantown, the service costs $10, plus $3 per mile traveled. Watkins tries to keep the price down so he doesn’t scare away the college crowd; his motto is “It’s cheaper than a DUI,” but he’s been surprised to find most
Eric Watkins of of his customers aren’t Dub V Safe Ride students. Instead, he gets offers people a more mature crowd. in Morgantown a reliable way “We get 20-somethings, home. professionals who don’t want to lose their jobs,” he says. “We don’t get the 18-year-old kids.” That’s a little disappointing to Watkins—he’d hoped his business would help students avoid bad decisions. But he thinks the business will catch on with students as it grows, and he’s consoled by the fact that Dub V Safe Ride is making strides. He has enough business to keep seven part-time employees busy every evening, and the business is already turning a modest profit. When he graduates in the spring, he plans to stick with the company and eventually start more student-centric businesses in Morgantown. “I feel like, being a young-minded person myself, I can see the gaps, the things Morgantown could use,” he says. “A lot of people complain about Morgantown’s problems—I see a lot of opportunities.”
Written by Shay Maunz
“Tgame hey’re going to be a changer in the
way we do our work, and they’re a good thing.” PAUL KINDER because he’s looking for more than just the average temperature of the river. He wants to know the exact temperature of the water at every point of the river, and when and how it changes. “We can put temperature probes in the stream but we just get a snapshot,” he says. “The drones can do this kind of mapping in very high detail.” Water temperature is important because water temperature is important to trout— high water temperatures kill them. Often, West Virginia’s rivers are stocked with trout that live through the spring months, providing fodder for fishermen and the river’s ecosystem, only to die in the summer heat. The restoration team wants to install structures that act as sanctuaries for struggling fish, but if they don’t know how water temperature varies across the river, they don’t know where to put them. “I was fishing one summer and came across one spot where you could see 50 fish all hovering where the groundwater comes up and creates a cool spot,” Kinder says. He wants to recreate that chance encounter across 15 miles of river—and he can’t do it without drones. “You could walk it all with an army of people with temperature probes and it would take weeks, or maybe use a really expensive manned vehicle—or you could fly a drone,” Kinder says. “I’m going to use the drone.” Generally that’s the idea behind drones, no matter their application. Marcello Napolitano, who started the drone program at WVU 20 years ago and uses drones as models in his aeronautics research, may say it best. “There’s either the easy and cheap thing or the very expensive and difficult thing,” he says. “My philosophy was, well, there’s something in between, which, for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the risk, can work.” Researchers want to use drones to monitor West Virginia rivers.
A Case for Drones Researchers at WVU want to use drones to map natural resources.
courtesy of paul kinder
Written by Shay Maunz
ost academics shy away from the word drone. It calls to mind terrorist attacks and privacy violations and is woven too deeply into a complicated structure of legal entanglements and political arguments playing out on a national stage. But the word itself doesn’t mean much—a drone is just an aircraft that doesn’t have a person aboard, a radiocontrolled vehicle piloted by someone on the ground. Drones can be used by the government to mount attacks on suspected terrorists—or by academics for, well, lots of less controversial things. That’s why Paul Kinder, a scientist at the Natural Resource Analysis Center at WVU, is sticking with the word. “I feel like our job is to demonstrate to the world, particularly the research world, that drones are very, very useful,” Kinder says. “They’re going
to be a game changer in the way we do our work, and they’re a good thing.” Kinder is part of a team of researchers at WVU who are working with drones to map natural resources across West Virginia. His drones, two small ones that weigh five pounds each and look like helicopters, haven’t gotten off the ground yet—they’re still waiting on government approval—but he has a whole slate of projects planned for them when they do. Most immediate is one to map the temperature of the Upper Shavers Fork, a stretch of river that runs from Snowshoe Mountain Resort to Elkins. Once a thriving fishery, it’s been devastated by the logging industry and pollution, and experts have been working for years to restore it. Kinder’s idea is to equip drones with thermal sensors, then fly them over the river to gather detailed information on water temperature. He has to use drones
in the Tamarack Artisan Foundation’s Urban Markets Program at the show. In three days Thomas had enough orders to fill his production schedule for a year. “I don’t want to say that I got lucky, because I put in a lot of effort before the show,” he says, but it was cer\Written by Elizabeth Roth | Photographed by Rick Lee tainly a fortuitous few days—especially considering Thomas’ unfamiliarity with the pening a business is, in market. “I was completely unaware of what part, a leap of faith. For Matt a wholesale buying trade show was like,” he Thomas, it was an unintensays. Through the Urban Markets Program, tional fall. In 2011 he was working as a contractor when Thomas was able to talk with experienced craftspeople and wholesale buyers about he fell from a roof and suffered a fractured what to expect. In the months leading up to vertebra. As he recovered, Sally Barton, the the event Thomas made improvements to executive director of the Tamarack Artisan his products and worked on setting reasonFoundation, visited with well wishes and a able, yet profitable price points, something promise to help Thomas take his craftsmanhe credits for his continued success. ship from hobby to career. He says that day “I like to shoot for the average customer is one of the most memorable of his life. looking for a nice gift,” Thomas says. But Over the next three years the Tamarack getting a retail price point that is within Artisan Foundation would provide more than financial support for Thomas’ business, the average customer’s reach isn’t easy. Thomas|work. It would provide him with the He’s figured out how many Matt Thomas, hours he can afford to mentoring, networking, and retail opportuThomas|work, work on each piece and he nities to make his business a success. is known for his sticks to a rigid production fine crafstwork. Perhaps his biggest break came at the Sushi sets are schedule in order to make 2012 Buyers Market of American Craft in some of his most a profit on products that Philadelphia. He was among eight artisans popular items. artepreneur
Elegant lines and smooth finishes belie the complexity of a woodworker’s craft and the business it sustains.
Focus March/April 2014
typically retail at $10 to $20 less than his competitors. This process of finetuning production has been invaluable for Thomas|work, and it couldn’t have happened without the input of another West Virginia woodworker, Phil Holcomb. When Thomas showed him a prototype for a cutting board he was working on, Holcomb suggested adding chopsticks and selling it as a sushi set. “I could see that the light bulb went on in his head,” he says. “So I took his advice to heart. I figured out a good, efficient way to make chopsticks and introduced them a few months later.” Now sushi sets are some of the best-selling Thomas|work products. Thomas cherishes his relationship with other artisans. He spent four years as an apprentice under blacksmith Jeff Fetty and is an integral part of the community surrounding the Tamarack Artisan Foundation. Now in his third year with the Urban Markets Program, he can provide other craftspeople with the same guidance and advice he received before his first wholesale market. “The coolest part of that system is that other artists are ready to help,” he says. Whether it’s financial support through the Tamarack Artisan Relief Program or mentoring budding artisans, the Tamarack artisan community provides crucial assistance in the often unpredictable world of art and craft. Case in point: “I’ve gone and sold absolutely nothing and I’ve gone to shows where I’ve sold out,” Thomas says. His first retail show was one of the former. He packed his car with his products, confident he’d return with an empty trunk. “I was really going to knock ’em dead,” he says. Unfortunately, he didn’t sell a single piece and the show was a money-losing venture. It did, however, provide a powerful lesson in eliminating the extraneous. Thomas talked with other West Virginia craftspeople about his disappointing debut and was advised to focus on the pieces that worked best. He perfected his methods and became more efficient in production. “There’s so much value in taking the time to fine-tune the product,” he says. This commitment to quality is recognized by more than just Thomas’ customers and peers. A Thomas|work sushi set
Tips for Building Success Making Art is the Easy Part “The easiest part to this whole deal is to make something that’s desirable,” Thomas says. “A whole lot of artists are really good at that. It’s fun to make things, but unless you can sell them, you’ll never be successful.” Being able to produce items at a reasonable price and then market those items is crucial. Wholesale vs. Retail Consider the difference between the retail and wholesale price if you’re thinking about selling wholesale. “You have to have your production methods figured out,” he says, adding that you and the retail outlet can both make a profit. Reorders Sustain Business “The way to really be successful is to open a lot of accounts then get reorders to keep a spot on the shelf,” Thomas says. He says his price points have accomplished that for Thomas|work. Seek Help “You need to have your work publicized,” he says. “That’s where the Tamarack Artisan Foundation stepped in for me.” Marketing your work requires a sizable investment of time and money, so reaching out to organizations like the Tamarack Artisan Foundation can be beneficial.
won a NICHE award in 2013 in the Kitchen, Dining, Gourmet category, and the Small Business Administration selected Thomas as the 2013 Home-Based Business Champion of the year in West Virginia. Thomas|work products are now sold in 129 stores, galleries, and museums in 38 states, including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the shop at Fallingwater, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and through the mail order catalog Shaker Workshops. He’s also sent work to Switzerland, France, Spain, South America, Mexico, Canada, and Japan. Still, Thomas insists on doing most things himself. “I may only be in my wood shop six to seven hours a day, but typically I spend another two to three hours putting orders together and answering emails.” With a workshop only a few feet from his house, he’s able to do all that and still spend time with his wife and four children. Simple things—like taking the kids to the bus stop—are just some of the reasons Thomas says life has improved since becoming a full-time craftsman. He says, “It’s difficult, but I’m more than willing to do it for the quality of life.” thomaswork.com Focus wvfocus.com
S na lly T E e a so
8 9 10
ploy m e n n ejm tR d ( p e r c e nt a g e t U s eo ’ Ad u
Our economic dashboard takes a closer look at the state’s performance relative to the U.S. economy. We also unveil the state’s top employers by rank, and present the latest income and benefits data for the U.S. versus West Virginia.
2 1 0
4 5 6
West Virginia’s Economic Dashboard
4 5 6
United States’ Unemployment Rate, Feb. 2013 Seasonally Adjusted (percentage out of 100)
prepared by witt economics, llc
Income and Benefits (2012 Inflation-adjusted dollars) Income and Benefits
U.S. (Percent of Households)
(Percent of Households)
Less than $10,000
$10,000 to $14,999
$15,000 to $24,999
$25,000 to $34,999
$35,000 to $49,999
$50,000 to $74,999
$75,000 to $99,999
$100,000 to $149,999
$150,000 to $199,999
$200,000 or more
Median household income
Mean household income
Source: 2008–2012 American Community Survey, U.S. Bureau of the Census
Focus March/April 2014
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e m ploy m U ndjusted (percenta ee nt s out Ra ’ yA of i a ona ll 1 t
n Se a s
8 9 10
2 1 0
Top Employers by Rank (March 2013)
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Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.
West Virginia United Health System
Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc.
Consolidation Coal Company
Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc
Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc.
St. Mary’s Medical Center, Inc.
Mentor Management, Inc. (Mentor Network, The)
Wheeling Hospital, Inc.
Cabell Huntington Hospital, Inc.
American Electric Power
Frontier West Virginia, Inc.
E I DuPont De Nemours & Company
Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, Inc.
PNGI Charles Town Gaming, LLC
Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation of West Virginia, Inc.
649.1r January 2013
West Virginia’s Choice, Inc.
650.4p January 2014
Rite Aid of West Virginia, Inc
West Virginia’s Unemployment Rate, Jan. 2013 Seasonally Adjusted (percentage out of 100)
U.S. Total Non-Farm Payroll Employment (millions)
WV Total Non-Farm Payroll Employment (thousands) Seasonally Adjusted, r= revised, p = preliminary
764.4r January 2013 763.1p January 2014
Seasonally Adjusted 0
137.7p February 2014
135.5 February 2013
Goods-Producing Payroll Employment (thousands) Seasonally Adjusted, r= revised, p = preliminary
115.3r January 2013 112.7p January 2014 0
Service-Producing Employment (thousands) Seasonally Adjusted, r= revised, p = preliminary
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and West Virginia Labor Market Information
Source: Workforce West Virginia, monthly release
Source: Workforce West Virginia, monthly release
West Virginia drivers and fleet operators are getting pumped about compressed natural gas. Written by Pam Kasey
est Virginians can now fill ’er up with compressed natural gas (CNG) at three locations along the Interstate 79 corridor—Bridgeport, Charleston, and Jane Lew. It’s a natural move in a state where natural gas production has risen every year for the past decade. And drivers are responding. “Customers are adapting easily to the fueling,” says T.J. Meadows, West Virginia business manager for IGS CNG Services of Dublin, Ohio, which operates the three stations. “Our volumes are even higher than we initially hoped.” This is not the state’s first time around for CNG. “When we did this in the ’80s and ’90s, there were maybe 12 stations in the state,” recalls Nicholas “Corky” DeMarco, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. “That time it was driven partly by environmental
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concerns, but interest waned when OPEC dropped the price of oil. Now the economics are there—it’s over a $1 difference a gallon and expected to stay that way, and that adds up if you drive 20,000 or 30,000 miles a year.” Mid-winter prices in West Virginia were about $3.40 for regular unleaded gasoline and $2.20 for a “gasoline gallon equivalent” of CNG, with federal projections of natural gas prices low for years to come. IGS was attracted to West Virginia in part by the state’s enthusiastic tax credit. It can cover up to $7,500 of the cost of converting a vehicle to CNG, or about a third of a CNG vehicle’s purchase price, up to $7,500 for cars and $25,000 for large trucks. The company started out in West Virginia
At the January 2014 grand opening of IGS’s Charleston CNG fueling station, Al Shoop, vice president of customer Antero Natural Resources, and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin try out the fueling process.
You can fill up with compressed natural gas at: Bridgeport 50 Genesis Boulevard, Bridgeport, WV
Charleston 10 Spring Street, Charleston, WV
Jane Lew 533 Industrial Park Road, Jane Lew, WV
courtesy of Igs cng services
It’s a Natural
last fall with three flagship gas-industry customers—Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, and EQT—and a commitment from the state Department of Highways. “But we’re already serving 11 additional corporate customers and some individuals as well,” Meadows says. Among them is Dawood Engineering, a Pennsylvania-based civil engineering firm that opened an office in Bridgeport last fall to expand its West Virginia natural gas operations. “We have about 50 vehicles in our fleet, and we typically lease rather than own,” says Jim Rodgers, marketing and business development director. CNG is an economical choice, Rodgers says. In just one week in December, a ¾-ton pickup truck the company leases burned $125 in CNG, compared with $219 it would have spent on gasoline—a savings of $94. Even with higher leasing costs for the CNG vehicle, the fuel savings more than make up the difference. “If we can scale that to a 50-vehicle fleet over time, it’ll be a substantial savings,” Rodgers says. “And some of our customers in the industry ask us if we’re maintaining a natural gas vehicle program, so having that station near our Bridgeport office is a benefit to us.” Several West Virginia companies are doing vehicle conversions, and some automobile dealers are converting new vehicles before putting them on the showroom floors, Meadows says. And DeMarco notes that, as manufacturers roll out more dual-fuel and dedicated natural gas vehicles straight from the factory, customers will have a wide range of choice. “I think this is the future,” he says.
A State Budget Primer What’s wrong and why—and what we’re doing to fix it. written by Shay Maunz
What’s the problem? The problem is there are too many problems. The state is bringing in less in taxes lately, mainly because of the decline in coal and increasing competition facing the gambling industry. Plus, there’s the problem with Medicaid—as West Virginia’s per capita income has improved relative to the rest of the country’s, the amount of money we get from the federal government to fund that program has decreased, per the formula that determines such things, leaving us to foot a bigger portion of the bill. Projections show the Medicaid problem should dissipate in a few years, but for now it’s costing the state a lot. OK, give me the numbers. Let’s begin at the beginning—the end of the 2013 fiscal year. That year the state took in $90 million less in revenue than it was expected to and than we’d planned on when we built that year’s budget. That’s bad, be-
cause we have to have a balanced budget at the end of the year—the state constitution says so. The Legislature and the governor made some cuts and did some shifting, though, and we came out with a balanced budget sheet at the end of 2013. Then came 2014. The governor’s office estimated the state would bring in around $4.13 billion that fiscal year and again those revenue estimates were off. At first it looked like we would end the year with $60 million less in our purse than we thought we would; now estimates are for a shortfall of as much as $120 million. We started to realize it was looking bad around the middle of the fiscal year—sometime in December 2013—and the governor issued a hiring freeze to do some damage control, along with an executive order that cut the budgets of all the agencies funded through our general revenue fund; that means things like higher education and the public safety department all had to deal with a 7 percent cut. But we’re still slated to end the fiscal year in the hole if we don’t do something to make up the gap. That brings us to 2015. The governor set his revenue estimate for the year at $3,271,251,000. That’s not much compared to previous years and to what state agencies and the public are used to—but it’s how much his office thinks the state will bring in this year. The governor and Legislature were tasked with making sure the state doesn’t spend more than that. That means coming up with some $53.5 million in savings. Add that to the $120 million we were still short for 2014, and it was quite a budget gap to fill.
So how did they do that? There are
really only two options when you’re balancing a budget: either you bring more money in, or you send less money out.
So . . . Yeah, it’s never quite that simple.
When Governor Earl Ray Tomblin pitched his version of the 2015 budget January 2014, he proposed five bills that could, together, come up with that $53 million to balance the budget. Three of them hit roadblocks in the Legislature. Two made it through. But those two bills on their own couldn’t do nearly enough; all five had to be passed to make up for the shortfall, so that still left us short. There Focus wvfocus.com
Really? No other options? OK, one more—the Rainy Day Fund. That’s the state’s savings account, where we stash half our extra money whenever we have a budget surplus. Before this it had around $915 million in it, available for emergencies like natural disasters or, some would argue, to fill a big budget gap like this
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one. The Rainy Day Fund was started to provide a cushion for the state in bad fiscal times—and these are bad fiscal times.
Whew, that’s lucky. So what’s wrong with that? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot.
Our bond rating depends on the amount of money we have in that account, and we don’t know exactly how much we can remove without jeopardizing our ability to borrow money down the road. Also, this is the first time the state has ever used the Rainy Day Fund for anything other than a natural disaster. Some people worry it’s a slippery slope—that this will tempt lawmakers to dip into the emergency account for pet projects later on. Like Roman Prezioso, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says, “Anyone can say it’s raining on their parade.”
OK, sure. But that fixed it, right?
For this year, yes. Now we keep our fingers crossed that the budget estimates aren’t wrong again, and that next year is
a little less rainy. The Rainy Day Fund can’t take many more hits like this one.
So how do we keep it from happening again? Prezioso has a whiteboard in his
office with a dozen pieces of paper taped to it. On them is an outline of the state’s budget issues—the things we know, things we don’t know, options we have and don’t have. “I stand here and just look at it all the time,” he says. “Just running different scenarios and options, and I can’t solve it.” The budget is complicated and affects practically everything the state does, and it’s hard to make meaningful changes to it, especially when things are tight. Prezioso freely admits a lot of what they’re doing this year will just patch the budget for the time being—but he predicts more drastic measures are to come. “Next year will be the heavy lifting year,” he says. “That will be the year we’re going to have to either raise some taxes or make some other decisions. It will be after an election year, so maybe it will be a lot easier.” Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, a Charlestonbased policy organization that advocates for budget reform, sees another way. He thinks the executive branch has too much power in the budget process in West Virginia—he wants the Legislature to have a hand in setting revenue estimates, for example. And he wants lawmakers and the public to have more of a crisis mentality about our budget situation. “Once you cut taxes like we’ve done in recent years you usually never get them back without a crisis,” he says. “Here we are, the Legislature and the governor are searching in a dozen ways to balance the budget this year, using all of these mechanisms to try to avoid our revenue Roman Prezioso problem. Well, looks at the budget every I don’t think we day. It’s all over have a tempoa whiteboard in his office—things rary problem— known, unknown, we need to do and options more to fix it.” that exist.
were other bills geared toward saving money this year, but none could raise enough to completely solve the problem. On the increasing revenue side of things— that’s politician speak for raising taxes— some lawmakers saw a glimmer of hope in two bills introduced this session: one to increase the sales tax on tobacco products from 55 cents to $1.55, another to impose a two-year, 1 percent increase on the sales tax. Both of these bills, on their own, would have raised enough money to fill the state’s budget gap completely, but neither could survive the legislative session. Nobody wants to raise taxes, especially in an election year. But that’s a topic for another issue.
Who Runs Our Cities? The role of mayor takes many forms across West Virginia.
written by pam kasey
unning a municipality of any size is a heroic job. Traffic, garbage pickup, zoning—it’s the on-theground stuff that makes our daily lives frustrating or enjoyable, and the people who run our cities hear every detail. Asked who runs a city, those of us who haven’t engaged in city politics might go straight to “the mayor,” but it’s a little more complicated than that. The state’s 232 municipalities are organized by their charters around one of four structures established in state code. Our very largest cities—Charleston, Huntington, and Parkersburg—and some smaller ones use a “strong mayor” form of government. The mayor is elected directly by the people and is not a member of council but is, rather, the city’s chief administrator; these mayors typically have veto power, prepare budgets, and can hire and fire independently. While the mayor in a strong mayor city may employ a city manager—Charleston, for example—this form is not to be confused with a second type of city organization: the “manager” or “councilmanager” form used in Morgantown, Wheeling, and about 20 medium-sized cities across the state. In a managertype city, council chooses a mayor from among themselves and hires a city manager to serve as chief administrator. The mayor serves a more ceremonial and inspirational role. In the “manager-
Excerpts from winning submissions to the West
Virginia Municipal League’s “If I Were Mayor” contest for seventh graders
“Weirton is a boring city for younger people. I would like to build a place only for the kids’ / teens’ entertainment. Not only would this benefit the kids, but also the parents or guardians would have free time from their children.” Dunbar “I think that the mayor is the one who makes all of the decisions in the town. I hate to make decisions because someone always gets mad. I do not want people to be mad at me for a little decision that I made . . . Even though I never thought of trying to be the mayor, I kind of think I would be very good at it.” Barrackville “If I were mayor I would try to develop our town’s resources, such as having a family fishing day on the town’s creek, or having a community picnic on the covered bridge for the Fourth of July. I would make numerous public appearances to let citizens know that I care.”
Charleston mayor” variant used, for uses a “strong example, in Weston and mayor” form of Fayetteville, the mayor government, meaning the is elected directly by the mayor is elected people and may have a directly by the people and is little more authority. the city’s chief Finally, in a “mayoradministrator. council” government, common among smaller municipalities, the mayor is a member of council and typically has no veto power and little independent administrative authority. So a mayor may truly be in charge. But depending on a municipality’s form of government, he or she may serve more as the face of council while sharing power with it, and may operate in tandem with a city manager. And for a given city over time, the balance of authority may shift within the bounds of charter based on individual personalities and skills. The only way to know how your city is organized is to do the research. We asked some of West Virginia’s mayors about their experience running our municipalities.
“Let’s stand with them and take nothing ourselves.” I’m not paid and I’m fine with that. This is a labor of love.
Mayor since 1996 Municipal organization Mayor-council. The mayor is elected directly by the people to a twoyear term and is one member of the fivemember common council. Other employment Been in small business all her life. Manages properties and owns a car dealership with her husband.
How did you come into the position of mayor? There were some issues in town in 1993 and I had some fairly strong opinions so I put my name on the ballot for council and got elected. I ran for recorder and vice mayor in 1995, and then the mayor resigned in ’96 so I became acting mayor. Council voted later that year to make me the actual mayor. We had a couple floods at the end of that year so I learned a lot quickly about how to handle emergencies. On pay A few years ago, when the economy dropped, our people in the community suffered. I told the employees we wouldn’t be able to give them raises and they may not all have liked it, but they understood. Later council said,
Proudest accomplishments A lot of things are coming to fruition. This town was established in 1776 and the streets are narrow so we’ve had difficulty doing waterworks repairs, but this year we’ll have completed most of the pipe replacement. And phase three of our streetscape program will replace sidewalks and curbs and add new trees and benches. We also have four other big projects going on. Most frustrating part of the job People with negative attitudes. On responsibility Small town mayors are standing in the holes where the water main breaks with the guys digging. We’re out there when a building is burning down or there’s a truck accident or the second flood in a year is wiping out businesses. When things go right, you have to be magnanimous—everyone gets credit. When things go poorly you have to say, “I’m sorry, I take responsibility for that.” Who she admires So many. Terry Williams of Spencer is a good friend and has mentored me. John Manchester of Lewisburg is so enthusiastic. For strong leadership, Danny Jones in Charleston.
WV’s Top 10 Cities and Their Governance According to the 2010 United States Census (estimates)
Form of Population Government
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Mayor since 2004 Municipal organization Manager-mayor. The mayor is elected directly by the people to a fouryear term. Past employment Retired from the U.S. Air Force and from Prudential Insurance Company.
What are your responsibilities as mayor in a manager-mayor municipality? My position is full-time. I am in charge of the police department, and the chief comes right under me, and I oversee all of the everyday operations of the town. I don’t have veto authority over council; I do have authority to hire and fire the police chief and city manager. Proudest accomplishments? We’ve brought progress to town, through the Walmart and other stores at our Fayette Town Center, and we did it while keeping the historical character of our downtown intact. That’s brought us new revenues— when I first took office, we had a budget of about $700,000, and now we’re close to $3 million a year. Also, our water and sewer were in the red when I came in, so we negotiated with West Virginia American Water, and they took those on and improved our water systems. Most frustrating part of the job? We don’t always have as much money coming in as we’d like, and it can be hard to get projects finished because of that. And some of the things I’d like to do, city council doesn’t approve of. They’re here to keep runaway mayors in line, and I appreciate that. On communications from constituents When you’re mayor, I don’t care if you’re at a social function or at church, people come up and complain about something. Or once in a while say something nice. Once, even, at a funeral, I was by the casket talking to the relatives and a woman tapped me on the shoulder and wanted to say something about the streets. It comes with the territory.
Who he admires John Witt, long-time mayor of Fayetteville. Emmett Pugh did good things for Beckley, and Danny Jones has done a good job for Charleston. Mike Martin in Mount Hope.
Jenny Selin Morgantown Mayor
Mayor since 2013 Municipal organization Council-manager. Mayor is chosen by council members from among themselves; city manager is the chief administrator. Other employment Maintains her credentials as a professional mediator and serves as part-time coordinator of West Virginia University’s Community Design Team.
How did you come to be mayor? I served on the Planning Commission and then ran for council and was elected in 2007. In the election of 2013, I and four others ran for council as a group, Morgantown Together, and we all won. I and one colleague were the most experienced on council and I stepped forward. What is it like being mayor in a councilmanager city, as opposed to being on council? The main difference is that I’m responsible for running meetings. I also attend many, many more meetings than I used to mornings and evenings and weekends to keep track of what’s going on regionally and in the city, to make sure there’s communication and responsiveness between all these organizations. It’s so easy for each person to move their own issues forward, but then as a group we might not have enough unified voice to get things done. Do you consider the function of mayor in a council-manager city to be ceremonial? Traditionally the mayors in Morgantown have not let the fact of our form of city government hinder them from getting things done. And I think this form of government works for Morgantown, as long as we’re all
working together. I appreciate the stability of having a city manager who is looking after day-to-day, administrative concerns—I enjoy the policymaking role, really thinking about what can put our city forward and how we can best get people working together. Who she admires among mayors I’ve really admired our particular line of mayors. Take Florence Merow, Charlene Marshall, certainly Frank Scafella, Ron Justice, and Bill Byrne, and Jim Manilla. We have had people who all had very different styles, but they all were effective. It’s been a real education watching each of them operate.
Mayor since 2013 Municipal organization Strong mayor. The mayor is elected directly by the people to a fouryear term. Former employment Was in Huntington city administration in the 1980s then a delegate from Cabell and Wayne counties, and had a career in investment banking.
On Huntington’s switch in 1985 from the manager to the strong mayor form of government I was city manager at the time. The city languished in the 1970s and ’80s and a lot of people felt it was because we didn’t have an elected mayor, a strong political voice. A charter review board built a charter around the strong mayor plan. It’s been a mixed bag. “Strong mayor” doesn’t necessarily define the person—we’ve had some who weren’t so strong or skilled. We need professionals running the city and we have that now. What is your role as mayor in a strongmayor city? I’m essentially the CEO of the city; our director of administration is the COO. My role is to articulate a vision and build consensus around it. It’s to
We asked eight mayors who they admire among West Virginia mayors. Nearly every one mentioned Danny Jones of Charleston. build an administration of professionals who can do the job in a different way than anybody else in the country and get people looking at us. What is your vision for the city? We’re not competing with Charleston. We’re competing with Louisville, Pittsburgh, Chicago—we’re competing on the world stage. But if we’re going to catch up, we’ve got to expect more out of ourselves, demand a higher level of performance. What has surprised you most about the job of mayor? My fear was that people wouldn’t accept the idea that Huntington can compete, but they’ve started to embrace that in town. People are drawn to success and confidence. We’re developing that here. What do people need to understand about the role of mayor? That mayors can only suggest—others in the community have to make it happen. On home rule: One thing I say to legislators: If you want to run my city, run for mayor. Otherwise, leave it up to us. Who he admires Danny Jones in Charleston is a dear confidant and friend. Andy McKenzie in Wheeling and I share careers and we have a lot in common. Former Huntington mayors Bobby Nelson and Jean Dean. And Greg Fischer of Louisville is who I seek to emulate. Focus wvfocus.com
How We Did It
Piece of the Pie
Pies & Pints shares its successful growth model. Written by Shay Maunz photographed by elizabeth roth
im Shingledecker had one goal: “I wanted to serve good food and really good beer in a cool environment and be able to play cool music,” she says. “It was really simple.” That’s the idea she took to her eventual business partner more than a decade ago, when they decided to open the first Pies & Pints restaurant in Fayetteville. They developed a business plan around the idea, built their business around it, and now return to it for a gut check any time they make a big decision. “As soon as I go into a store and say, ‘That it isn’t what we thought of when we opened Pies and Pints,’ that’s how I’ll know we grew too fast,” Shingledecker says. “I want to be proud of what we’ve done.” Pies & Pints may be growing slowly, but it’s growing. The craft beers and handstretched pizzas topped with everything from grapes and gorgonzola to black beans and salsa are sold in five hip, comfortable locations—three in West Virginia and two in Ohio—and counting. Shingledecker is at the helm of this empire—if sitting just off center. She’s joined there by Rob Lindeman and his partners at Blue Fire Capital, who bought the concept from Shingledecker and the restaurant’s other founder, Dave Bailey, in 2011. Shingledecker and Bailey had already expanded beyond their first restaurant by
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his business-speak—she has then—they’d changed locaa degree in business and ran tions in Fayetteville, tripling another restaurant before the size of the flagship restauFayetteville, WV Charleston, WV Pies & Pints—so she was rant, and opened a new store Morgantown, WV happy to join Lindeman at in Charleston. But Lindeman, Worthington, OH the negotiating table. with his capital, expertise, and Dayton, OH Lindeman came to that connections in the business table after spending some time and restaurant worlds, ofOpen seven days a week. at another one—in the Pies & fered a chance at growth that Pints restaurant in Charleston. they couldn’t accomplish on piesandpints.net He already saw potential for their own. “He has an MBA, growth in the restaurant from a business I don’t. He ran a corporation that ran perspective, but was wary of investing over 100 locations, I haven’t done that,” in a restaurant that he didn’t believe in Shingledecker says. “He knows what he’s as a consumer, too. So he took his family doing.” She wasn’t naive or scared off by
Pies & Pints
and friends to Pies & Pints. “No one knew what we were doing there,” Lindeman says. “And everyone was saying, ‘How did you find this place?” Even my wife was saying that she wished we had one at home in Columbus.” That was enough to convince Lindeman he should pursue the deal. “I just had to be able to check that box off first,” he says. Eventually he brought Pies & Pints to his wife in the Columbus area, too. Shingledecker, Bailey, and Lindeman sat through a series of meetings and eventually signed an agreement to open a new company together: Pies & Pints Franchising LLC. Shingledecker and Bailey own minority shares in that company and stay involved in its operations—which include the companyowned stores in Charleston and Ohio, as well as a franchise in Morgantown. The founding restaurant in Fayetteville wasn’t part of that deal—Shingledecker still owns and operates it as a separate entity. Now that company is continuing to grow—slowly. All of the business’s owners are committed to a deliberate pattern of growth; they don’t want to throw up 50 storefronts in five years just to see what sticks. “We always want to be unique and special and not this chain where there’s one on every corner,” Rob says. “It’s a mom and pop operation that has the benefits of a chain but does none of the things that the chain guys do.” That means approaching each location differently. They want the restaurants to feel similar, but not the same. “We want each restaurant to have a personality,” Shingledecker says. “When you walk in you recognize that it’s Pies & Pints—the music, the color scheme, the modern industrial feel—but we’re also not going to make it cookie cutter.” The beer menu changes depending on the location, mainly so they can take advantage of regional breweries and distribution hubs, but every location has an identical menu and the recipes are very specific and strict. “So we know the food tastes the same wherever you are,” Lindeman says. In another nod toward continuity, they try to promote from within and keep the turnover rate among staff low, the result
of a lesson Shingledecker and Bailey learned early on about trying to start fresh with each new venture. When they opened the Charleston restaurant their staff in Fayetteville wasn’t quite large enough to absorb the new restaurant, so they brought in a whole new management team from the outside. “And none of them made it,” Shingledecker says. “None of them works for us now.” Those people hadn’t grown up with Pies & Pints the
way the team in Fayetteville had, and they didn’t understand the brand in the same way. “The culture is huge and we really need people to buy into what we’re doing,” Shingledecker says. “We learned the hard way that hiring people from outside—they just don’t seem to get it.” The idea, she says, is to treat each location as its own, unique restaurant, but not to ignore the company’s proven successes—or failures. Focus wvfocus.com
The Importance of Banking Locally Get more bang for your buck with independent community banks. Written by Bethany Dzielski
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they get the benefit of working with people they know and a bank that understands their community. “Because we know the customer, we can often provide loans that big, out-of-town banks would reject. Our decisions aren’t made solely based on a number or the bottom-line impact,” McCabe says. The FDIC study confirms that community banks offer lower interest rates and are usually able to generate the capital they need without relying on external sources. These local institutions are invested in the communities they serve. “Community banks invest heavily in local projects. We provide financial support to community organizations, and our employees volunteer countless hours at community events and serve on boards for charitable organizations,” McCabe says. When an individual opens a savings or checking account with his or her hometown bank, the bank will use that money to invest in a community project, provide employment to a local person, or offer financing to a local individual or
business. As of 2011, community banks held 14 percent of banking industry assets but 46 percent of the industry’s small loans to farms and businesses. “The success of the local bank is tied to the success of the community in which it operates. That’s why local banks invest so much time, effort, and financial resources into community initiatives,” McCabe says.
Benefits of banking locally: Community banks are relationship lenders. They are inextricably connected to entrepreneurship. You can typically get lower interest rates. Community banks incur lower credit losses than non-community banks. 304.379.2265, clearmountainbank.com
here’s something special about walking into your local bank. A smiling bank teller greets you by name. He or she asks you about your kids and if you’re going to that night’s high school football game as you deposit a check. Banking locally has numerous advantages, not only for individuals and banks, but also for the entire community. “When a customer banks locally, that money stays in the community, working for everyone,” says Clinton McCabe, vice president of marketing at Clear Mountain Bank, an independent community bank that has been serving West Virginia and Maryland communities for more than 100 years. Community banks play an important role in the U.S. banking system and for the nation’s Main Street. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as of 2011, community banks made up 92 percent of FDIC-insured banks and 95 percent of U.S. banking organizations. Community banks hold the majority of banking deposits in U.S. rural and suburban counties. In fact, more than 600 counties have no physical banking offices other than those operated by community banks. West Virginia currently has 58 community banks serving its 55 counties. When individual customers bank locally
The Elk River was the site of the Freedom Industries chemical leak.
Focus March/April 2014
How a tap water crisis activated Charleston’s small business community. written by
Pam Kasey photographed by
Jennifer Pettigrew Burns was washing dinner dishes when she got the text from one of her sons’ teachers. “‘Have you seen the news? You have to turn off your water.’” “I turned the TV on and the president of West Virginia American Water was on the news,” Burns recalls. “I threw everything down—I have four kids, and they were all there—and said, ‘I’m going to go to Sam’s.’ I stuffed my buggy full of water and by the time I walked out the door there was no water left at Sam’s. It was unnerving.” The leak of the coal-processing chemical crude methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River and the Do Not Use order issued on January 9, 2014, to 300,000 water customers in southern West Virginia exposed layers of regulatory failure: The badly located tanks. The leak, unreported by chemical distributor Freedom Industries until too late. The water utility, underprepared and overconfident. The chemical itself, unstudied as to its human health effects. Federal health officials’ hastily calculated “screening” level. State government, quick to accept the feds’ screening level as “safe” in spite of ongoing reports of dizziness, headaches, rashes, and burns—and curiously incurious as to why flushings conducted to water company specifications didn’t always clear the pipes. As a Charleston resident, Burns was among those 300,000 in nine counties left without water when the utility realized its filters had failed. And as owner of Ms. Groovy’s Catering, she was among thousands of entrepreneurs whose business was disrupted by the days of water ban and the weeks of public mistrust that followed. Small business owners are busy, busy people. They work long evenings, most weekends and holidays, and “on vacation,” too. While they create livelihoods for 300,000—more than half of the jobs in this state—they have to take it on faith that government has their backs. But as the costs to them of this incident rose, and big industrial interests lobbied meanwhile to weaken the law that would prevent a repeat, the water crisis of 2014 made small business owners mad. Focus wvfocus.com
any one day that we’re set back, where people aren’t coming in or we’re not producing, that’s a serious problem for our cash flow.” It would be longer before other food service businesses were cleared by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. Jay Thomas, who runs Blues BBQ in South Charleston and Bruno’s bar-restaurant Wheelhouse, Fazio’s, Bridge Road Bistro, in Charleston, was shut down for four days in one and Sarah’s Bakery location and a week in the other. Burns says Ms. are a few of the Groovy’s was shut down for a week, too. Dentists and small businesses across Charleston doctors took big hits. “We had to cancel 65 patients that immediately that Friday,” says Dr. Bernard Luby’s Business switched to bottled water in early 2014. Manager Cynthia Barnes. Luby practices obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston. “And then five surgeries on Monday and Tuesday—this is after people have had their pre-admission testing. It was Wednesday before we were operating relatively normally again.” That could have been the worst of it. But the lifting of the Do Not Use order with water company instructions for how to flush the plumbing—after four days in downtown Charleston, then zone by zone through January 18—didn’t restore faith in the water. Because residents continued to smell the telltale licorice odor at their taps and to show up at emergency rooms, the end of the Do Not Use period turned out to be just the start of a long-running nightmare for small businesses. First, the pipe-flushing process was sometimes worse than no water at all. “It smelled up the shop so bad,” says Company Bicycle owner Adam Angelona. “I gave it about an hour and started to get sick—I had to close my shop and go home.” Then came the long dearth. “There was no one downtown to even walk in the door,” says Tammy Krepshaw, owner of The Consignment Company on Quarrier Street. “With so many of us still buying water, I think it threw everybody into a no-spending spree.” Nancy Ward of Cornucopia clothing and gift shop on cynthia barnes, business manager for Dr. Bernard Luby in South Charleston
Initially the Do Not Use order crippled restaurants and other water-dependent enterprises—doctors and dentists, hotels and hair salons, bars and barber shops. “The spill was on a Thursday. We were shut down on Friday and we re-opened on Saturday because we had a lot of food that had already been prepared without using the contaminated water,” says Jennifer Miller, owner of Mission Savvy organic juice bar and vegan cafe. “The health department came in and approved us for that and we got up and running very quickly with bottled water. Of course, being a small business, we rely on operating at full capacity every single day—
“I think the average consumer thinks there’s somebody out there monitoring this stuff. The reality is, no one is. It’s a wake-up call.” 40
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Bridge Road acknowledges January’s extreme cold also played a role. “But during the first few weeks after the chemical spill, our whole neighborhood was like a ghost town—no one was going to restaurants, people weren’t shopping. And the people who could afford to left town so there was just nobody out and about.” Restaurants had to keep using bottled water. “Our customers trust that we are not going to contaminate the food or the juices or anything, which means we can’t turn the faucet on—and we don’t want to because we don’t trust it either. It’s such a hassle,” said Mission Savvy’s Miller six weeks in. More businesses began to be affected. “I grow things,” says Kelly O’Neill Crane of Kanawha Valley CSA subscription farm. “There’s been a lot of concern amongst my customers about what the effects of irrigating crops with the contaminated water would be for human health and safety. And for my brand, the perception is equally as important as the reality.” Crane started seeds in mid-February and had to find alternative water for irrigation while she figured out her next steps. And other parts of the state got worried. “We were getting five or six calls a day from tourists, asking, ‘Is your water alright?’” says Jeanne Mozier of Travel Berkeley Springs. Kara Dense, executive director of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was wary. “People come here to enjoy our natural beauty and they want to know that the Greenbrier River is clean. I think this could definitely have an impact on the overall mindset when people are starting to plan their trips,” she said a few weeks after the leak. Mark Lewis, president of the Great Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, says, “The national headlines were not, ‘Water Crisis in Part of West Virginia’—they were, ‘Water Crisis in West Virginia.’ A lot of my counterparts across the state are concerned that we may see some fallout.”
Early on, Marshall University’s College of Business and Economic Research estimated the costs to water-dependent businesses at $61 million. That was for water-dependent businesses only, during just the first four days of the water ban—but as it turned out, the costs spread across the community and accumulated over many weeks. “People assumed if you weren’t shut down, you weren’t affected,” says Ward, at Cornucopia. “But it had a huge effect on all business.” She estimated her losses would run to the tens of thousands. Same for Krepshaw at The Consignment Company. Kanawha Valley CSA planned to expand from 25 to 50 subscribers this year, but “half of last year’s subscribers said they aren’t interested in continuing if we’re using the tap water,” Crane says. “That’s a $10,000 hit, without counting the costs of, say, a pump (for nearby creek water) and filter.” Mission Savvy got strong loyalty from its customers. “But we’ll have several thousand dollars just in water filters in both our locations,” Miller said in February. “And it’s costing money and time in finding water and extra staff time with having to boil water to wash dishes—there are a lot of extra operational activities now that are extremely time consuming.” Angelona figured Company Bicycle lost
“Some business owners are socially and environmentally responsible, and I know we can all do better,” says Jennifer Pettigrew Burns, owner of Ms. Groovy’s Catering.
Early estimates of some costs of the crisis Area businesses
$61 million in just the first four days of the water use ban
Charleston Area Medical Center
Close to $2 million
City of Charleston
$120,000 in tax revenue
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department
More than $100,000
Kanawha and Putnam county school systems
More than $5.5 million
West Virginia National Guard
$750,000 to sample and test water
State and county agencies
More than $6.5 million Focus wvfocus.com
“This freaked me out—that something like this could really harm my children, take away my livelihood and the livelihoods of so many people in our area. It just woke me up.” jennifer pettigrew burns, Ms. Groovy’s Catering
Freedom Industries, the company responsible for polluting the water of 300,000 people, declared bankruptcy days after the chemical leak.
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$5,000 to $10,000. Barnes’ quick estimate of the loss to Luby’s practice was $25,000. Things went downhill after a February 5 news conference at which Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, flanked by representatives of every state and federal agency involved in the crisis response, said, “Science says the water is safe.” Comforting as it could have been, the pronouncement came in stark contradiction to the experience of residents—some of whom could still smell the chemical in their homes, some of whom were still showing up in emergency rooms. Worse, Tomblin’s statement was contradicted by the
scientist from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “We’re not really talking about if the water is safe—we’re talking about, is the water appropriate for use?” The new charge on the word “safe,” combined with a wave of closures where schools had been flushed unsuccessfully, made people even madder. “Why wasn’t anything in place to begin with? And how long were we drinking this? I had lots of questions,” Krepshaw says. Ellen Bullock, a Charleston property manager, was incensed. “People want small government and talk about overreach, but this is why government exists—regulations protect us from greedy people and stupid people. Three hundred thousand people without water and you’re worried about overreaching?” Ward had already been angered by a January 19 meeting Tomblin held to draft legislation in response to the leak. “It was kind of a slap in the face that the governor’s stakeholder meeting didn’t include small businesses and people concerned about the environment.” Among the recommendations Tomblin’s bill incorporated from those stakeholders was a motley slough of tank types and locations it proposed to exempt from regulation. “Where were the people who should have been there? We are the stakeholders,” Ward says. “I have not been politically active, but I’m tired of not having a voice.”
Pleading One’s Own Cause
the conversation was it was all around minimizing Industrial explosions and collapses and contaminations the effect it would have on industry. Rarely did I hear any conversation around the effect this chemical leak are part of life in West Virginia. But this one, occurring had on the citizens in the nine counties or how bad as it did right in the state’s capital at the start of the water affects the citizens in all of our counties.” In a 60-day legislative session, put strong pressure on committee meeting the next day, the coal industry lawmakers to address the underlying regulatory obtained exemptions from certain fees. issues. It also created a perfect opportunity for citizen Burns also lamented what she felt was a lack of engagement in the lawmaking process. organizational representation for small businesses. As a “spill bill” progressed through the Legislature— “We’re operating in our own niches,” she says. “We Tomblin’s bill, amended and quickly passed by the don’t have the resources to organize like a large chemSenate, then routed through three committees in the ical company or a wealthy coal company. We don’t House of Delegates—Burns and Ward got together. have the resources to hire high-priced attorneys to They organized what they called a “sign-on letter”—a advocate for us. It’s disappointing when the organizapetition, really, an appeal to the Legislature to make tions that are supposed to advocate for us pass on it.” laws that would truly protect families and merchants. Which organizations are those? One that business In just over a week, they had more than 100 signatures. Miller, who signed it, had been too busy keeping Mission owners mentioned was the Charleston Area Alliance (CAA). Its policy arm is the Charleston Regional ChamSavvy afloat to take any political action. “I was really thankful this petition came my way because I wanted to ber of Commerce. CAA President and CEO Matthew Ballard points out that one-third of the Charleston speak out somehow,” she says. Krepshaw is not usually Chamber’s board of directors has to be businesses politically active. “But I’ve felt very violated. I signed the petition out of frustration and a feeling that something needs to be done.” Crane, who worked previously in the Legislature, says she tries to stay neutral politically but decided to sign the petition, too. “My customers are happy to see me speak out about this.” The petition was delivered to kristen boggs, Department of Environmental Protection Association General Counsel, during a the Legislature and governor on February 13 House Judiciary Committee meeting February 17. “As business leaders in West Virginia, we deeply understand the importance of preventing over-regulation that with fewer than 50 employees—that’s 10 of 30, not counting the chairman. In response to the crisis, the can inhibit growth and prevent new businesses and Charleston Chamber supported legislation to provide tourism from coming to the state,” reads the measured loans to small businesses that were affected, among document. “Some regulation, however, is necessary to several measures Ballard lists, and worked with lawprotect our business interests and promote confidence “We’re concerned not makers to close loopholes in existing regulation. in the state’s infrastructure . . . We write to ask you to only with the bottom Another organization mentioned by small business correct this regulatory shortfall to instill confidence in line, but with the effect a business has the tourists, businesses, and talent that we need to come owners was the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. on the community,” The state chamber did not take a position on the bill, into to the state.” says Cornucopia owner Nancy Ward. according to President Steve Roberts; rather, individual The petition asked lawmakers to require regulators to police aboveground chemical storage as stringently as they do underground tanks, and to require large suppliers of drinking water to maintain back-up sources. It asked them to make regulators identify potential pollution sources upstream of drinking water intakes and create response plans for spills of each. And it asked them to implement outstanding 2011 U.S. Chemical Safety Board oversight recommendations. Burns and Ward lobbied delegates through February and the early March end of the legislative session to ensure the legislation addressed those concerns. “So many of us are doing this. We call this our ‘night job,’” Ward said at the time. As the session progressed, Burns’ feeling that residents and small businesses were overlooked was reinforced. After a long March 2 House Judiciary Committee meeting, she said, “Listening to the delegates’ discussion, the thing I hated about
“We’re sort of in a Catch-22 position. Because when we try to be proactive, we’re being anti-business, and when we’re reactive, we’re not doing enough.”
“People say West Virginians are so great in an emergency, the way they pull together. As a small business guy, I’m paying more taxes than a lot of people and I have very little say. Maybe the small businesses are what need to pull together.” adam angelona, Company Bicycle in Charleston
industries took their own approaches, he says. He added that 80 percent or more of state chamber membership is small businesses and that no member called him about taking a position on the legislation. Ward acknowledges these organizations’ efforts, but also says she knows based on personal contact with people inside that conflicting member interests limit what they can do. “We would like to see organizations like that be more vocal about issues that concern business sustainability and the environment,” she says. “I don’t even know where they stand.” She wants an organization that will give voice to the small business owners who live in the communities where they work and want to put environmental and social matters in their communities alongside profit. She wants more balance in the dialogue. “Two meetings ago, on the bill, there were 17 people there from industry and there were five from citizen and environmental groups. We are outnumbered, out-dollared, and outgunned.” Due in large part to vigorous citizen lobbying, the final bill included all of the measures the petition sought, to some degree: stronger regulation of aboveground tanks; water utility planning in several areas; and formation of a commission to review and report by December 2014 on implementing the Chemical Safety Board recommendations. “It’s a good start,” Ward says.
Epilogue: West Virginia Sustainable Business Council
Out of crisis comes change. Before the legislative session was over, Burns and Ward made plans to tap the small business energy that was released by the event. “It’s time the politicians listen to small business. We bring in huge numbers as far as tax revenue and jobs,” Ward says. “We’re restaurants, retailers, doctors, dentists, therapists, manufacturers, heating and cooling—they say coal keeps the lights on, but we do everything else,”
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Advertising for Recovery Locals worry the water crisis will be bad news for tourism in what was already a difficult time. The biggest source of tourism advertising dollars is the state’s MAPP, or Matching Advertising Partnership Program, grants. MAPP was established in 1995 from 3 percent of video lottery revenues and reduced to 1.375 percent in fiscal year 2005. Grants to visitors’ bureaus, Main Street programs, and others have declined from more than $12 million in 2005 to around $8 million in 2011. “This would be the year to reinvigorate our advertising and marketing efforts,” Matt Ballard of the Charleston Area Alliance says. “Growth in tourism will not be realized without attention and investment,” acknowledges the state’s 2012 Ten-Year Tourism Plan—specifically including marketing. The plan noted that the West Virginia Division of Tourism’s budget is lower than tourism budgets in almost every adjoining state and well below those in states that compete on outdoor recreation. “Strengthening the Division of Tourism will require additional funding. There is simply no other way for West Virginia to be competitive,” the plan reads. It also recommended raising the MAPP grant funding to $10 million in a year, with annual increases for inflation. she says. “I’m not saying chase coal out, but everybody has to be a good neighbor and make the health and safety of people in this state their number one priority.” As this issue went to print, Ward and Burns had begun creating a West Virginia Sustainable Business Council (WVSBC) as well as a Charleston chapter of the organization. They didn’t know what issues they would tackle first but, as an organizational member of the American Sustainable Business Council, the WVBSC would support raising the minimum wage, financing the development of clean energy, and reforming the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. The latter, if made stronger, could have made toxicity information about crude MCHM readily available and prevented the weeks of confusion about the safety of the drinking water. “I want to keep our focus narrow around sustainable business practices,” Ward says. “I don’t think it has to be Democrat or Republican—these issues go across the board and apply to everybody.” Burns came out of the legislative the session hopeful. “One thing that’s come of this is there are a lot of people now who are politically active who never would have been and I think that’s what it’s going to take to have systemic change. My hope is this time next year not only is there a Sustainable Business Council chapter in Charleston, but there are chapters throughout the state.”
THESE TOWNS AROUND
More than 16,000 people voted in our unprecedented Turn This Town Around campaign. Meet the winners! Written by Nikki Bowman | Photographed by Nikki Bowman and Elizabeth Roth
n January, we announced a monumental campaign called Turn This Town Around. Why would we do such a thing? Because we believe our publications are more than just magazines—they are community builders. The future of our state depends on being able to create sustainable and economically vibrant communities. We also know nothing great is created in a vacuum. If our towns are to reinvent themselves, we must stop protecting our turf and partner with each other. We approached the West Virginia Community Development Hub to provide the expertise, training, coaching, technical assistance, and project management needed to oversee this large-scale experiment, while we at West Virginia Focus will be in the trenches to help rally the community and document the experience. We also know this endeavor is far-reaching and we want to share the experience with as many as possible, so we partnered with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to help tell the story. The response was incredible. More than 16,000 people voted for their favorite town. In one month we had more than 60,000 visits to our website, wvfocus.com. As soon as the voting ended, the work began, and we hit the road to visit the winning towns of Grafton and Matewan. Our first order of business was to meet with community leaders, so the West Virginia Community Development Hub’s Executive Director Kent Spellman, Director of Community Strategies Amanda Yager, and Director of Community Engagement and Policy Stephanie Tyree organized a meeting in each of our towns. Ground rules were established: No negativity. Bring a solution when you bring a concern. Leave your personal agendas at the door. Respect differences. Be inclusive and transparent. And look forward, not back. The purpose of our initial meetings was to hear what members of each community identified as their strengths, assets, and aspirations for improvement, as well as their community’s challenges. We asked them to imagine the town of their dreams—to think big. What would that story look like? The ideas each of these communities shared were thoughtful and visionary, but also surprisingly doable. From that discussion short-term goals and longer projects were identified. Spellman also explained what the expectations were for each community and that community members were going to be held accountable for getting things done. “It is our goal to help communities realize opportunities. This isn’t something we are doing for you. This is something you are going to do,” he said. “The focus is going to be on your town. You are going to have to commit, knowing that the world is watching. We are holding you accountable.” Spellman was quick to assure attendees that we will be doing what we can to make sure they don’t fail. We want them to be successful. After meeting with several community members in each of our communities, we have faith in Grafton and Matewan, and one year from now there will be noticeable improvements.
to follow our turn this town around story from the beginning, articles have been archived on wvfocus.com.
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Grafton is a town that has a story to tell. In a not too distant past, Grafton was a bustling hub for the B&O Railroad. But with the decline of coal and train transportation, it has been left to make its mark by honoring heroes. Since 1867, it has celebrated those who’ve died while serving our country by hosting one of the longest-running Memorial Day parades in the nation. It is also the location of the only two national cemeteries in the state. It is best known as the birthplace of Mother’s Day, and the International Mother’s Day Shrine is a top tourist attraction. The historic district may whisper of a grander past, but the town contains a magnificently rehabilitated railroad station, and the historic Willard Hotel is ripe for renovation. Tygart Lake State Park is also an asset. The spirit of Grafton is strong, and its citizens are enthusiastic about their town’s potential for rebirth.
Residents and public officials alike came out to Grafton’s first informational meeting of the Turn This Town Around campain in February. Grafton was selected as the city to tackle first in the northern part of the state, winning by thousands of votes.
What did the community identify as their aspirations for their town? Transform empty buildings into places that showcase local artisans Restore architecture of historic buildings See buildings on Main Street occupied with businesses Create more parking Develop the city park as a place to hold events Demolish unsalvageable structures Promote physical activity in the community Establish walking and biking trails Create a workout facility with a pool Build a skate park Attract more downtown restaurants Create a music park with a mobile stage
Renovate theater on Main Street Re-open the drive-in theater Utilize B&O Railroad Station to its full potential Continue work on community cleanup Improve entries into town Improve connection from downtown to Tygart Lake State Park Create a community garden Create an integrated plan for all historic monuments Create a Rails to Trails initiative Provide more lodging choices Create a new strategic plan Become a location for higher education like Pierpont Community & Technical College Host a bigger Memorial Day celebration and parade
“A lot of these ideas we’ve discussed, and we just continue to hit roadblock after roadblock.” kevin stead, city manager
Here are my thoughts and ideas on turning Grafton around. 1 Grafton needs a better entrance and signage.
2 Great architecture, but buildings are dirty. Needs a good scrubbing.
3 The website is not user-friendly and has not been updated for several years.
4 The B&O Railroad Station is incredible. Could be a premier wedding destination. Great start-up business potential.
5 Memorial Day celebration should be knock-your-socks-off best in the country, attracting national attention.
6 Use Mother’s Day connection to the extreme. How about a restaurant called Mother’s or Hot Mama’s?
7 Hold a Mother’s Day parade and invite groups of women from all over the country to compete for most outlandish costumes and march in celebration of the holiday. Use the Sweet Potato Queens (sweetpotatoqueens.com) as a model. (But I want to be the first grand marshal!)
8 Approach Hallmark about a unique gift shop or card museum.
9 Create a museum that celebrates women in West Virginia.
Bring back the Grafton Fair Build a small business incubator Build a safe and supervised shooting range Overhaul website
What are the challenges?
Money Lack of community support Attitude Apathy Declining/aging population Lack of workforce Poor population Some residents do not put education first Residents do not know whom to approach with problems or ideas Lack of an economic development authority Brain drain—hard to keep younger population in town
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This small southern town has some fighting power. That may not come as a huge surprise given that it became notorious for the Hatfield and McCoy feud and the infamous Matewan massacre. But this close-knit community of 500 has put its feuding days aside and is rallying behind its people’s heritage to turn the town around. Not only is Matewan blessed with a history that recently gained international attention with the release of the award-winning Hatfield and McCoy miniseries, but it was also the subject of John Sayles acclaimed movie entitled Matewan about the 1920 coal miners’ strike. The Matewan Depot is a treasure trove of information, and even the massive floodwalls that protect the town from the ravages of the Tug River tell the town’s story. The Hatfield-McCoy Trails, another tourism attraction, bring in tens of thousands of visitors each year. More than 40 people attended our first informational meeting, and they came ready to share ideas. From the opening of a museum dedicated to miners to the renovation of the historic jail into a gift shop to the construction of an amphitheater, the community’s vision is forward-thinking and tourism-driven.
Here are my thoughts and ideas on turning Matewan around. 1 The river is an important part of Matewan’s history and the riverfront could be developed more. 2 Website hasn’t been updated. Must be redesigned and updated regularly. 3 The Hatfield and McCoy tug of war over the Tug River is brilliant. Market the bejeebers out of that. 4 Signage needs to be better at entrance into town. 5 The Matewan Massacre play is also a great asset that could draw more people to town. 6 Trains are rolling through the town regularly. I’m concerned about noise level if an amphitheater is built near the tracks. 7 Do research on other towns in West Virginia, like Sutton, that have built amphitheaters to see if they’ve seen a good return on their investment. Money may be better spent elsewhere.
What did the community identify as their aspirations for their town?
Opening a West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in Fall 2014 Better leveraging of Hatfield-McCoy Trails Build an amphitheater Restoration of jail and transformation into a gift shop selling local art with a photo booth so people can dress like a Hatfield or McCoy Clean up Tug riverfront and develop river for tourism New branding, signage, website development Redirect traffic into a walkingonly historic district like Colonial Williamsburg with reenactors Development of after-school programs to engage youth Develop more local growers for a local farmers’ market Build a skating rink ( continued . . . )
“We need to go whole hog. This town has more history than Dollywood. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to market what we have.” david hatfield, local locomotive engineer
8 The vacant school is not being used to its potential. A theater is needed. Why not use the one in the high school? 9 Lodging is desperately needed. 10 The green space near the floodwalls could be beautified. 11 Every time I’ve wanted to photo graph the street by the train tracks where the shootout occurred, there have been several cars parked there. Close it off to parking. 12 Love the jail! 13 There are great opportunities for a distillery or a microbrewery in town. 14 Can the library move to one of the vacant buildings in the historic district? 15 Matewan is a marketer’s dream. Create a marketing plan to grow tourism.
river is accessible by a stairway. Francine Jones is a town council member. The old jail is ripe with possibilities. Kent Spellman leads the first community discussion about Turn This Town Around in Matewan. Trains are a frequent occurrence. Hatfield-McCoy Trails brings thousands to the area.
What’s Next? (continued . . . ) Need an indoor swimming pool and workout facility Create more things for tourists to do, like miniature golf, bars, etc. Provide free space to artists in vacant buildings Create more lodging in historic buildings Develop a community kitchen Create nightlife options Utilize vacant high school for arts venue or low-income housing
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Community-identified challenges facing Matewan:
Road layout doesn’t take visitors to the main street Businesses worry about locating in Matewan because they see it as a drive-by community Lack of local investment in developing businesses and the town Lack of local confidence and risk taking Lack of activities for youth Population dwindling: youth and working-age people are leaving Housing quality is poor Job options limited Few farmers in local area
Next we will hold town hall meetings in each of our towns, and the entire community will be invited. Each town will have a spring cleanup, community collaboration teams will be created, and we’ll begin on some of the projects that have been identified. Stay tuned. We’ll be updating the Turn This Town Around page on our website, wvfocus.com, regularly with photos and more information. Remember: we are possibilitarians. Together we can make the possibilities reality. There are no easy answers. There is no quick fix. We cannot bring back the past, but we can envision a brighter future and work toward that goal. There is no time to waste, so let’s turn our towns around!
THE ROAD SELF-RULE to
Experience has shown that home rule for cities can be a big boon for residents and businesses. West Virginia is easing its way into itâ€”slowly.
Pam Kasey photographed by
Focus March/April 2014
Wheeling is among four cities that made the most of the home rule pilot phase one.
There are not enough West Virginia-licensed masseurs in the town of Bath, or Berkeley Springs as it is commonly known, to satisfy the demand on holiday weekends.
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he town of Bath has a problem: more stressed-out visitors seeking spa relief on holiday weekends than it can handle. “We laugh and say we have more masseurs than lawyers,” says Susan Webster, mayor of the warm springs village of 600 that is more popularly known as Berkeley Springs. Still, there aren’t quite enough West Virginia-licensed massage therapists in the area to satisfy the town’s popularity as a relaxation destination. Webster has an easy fix in mind—but it’s prohibited by state law. Bath’s problem is what we like to call “a good problem to have.” It’s also just the kind of problem the state’s Municipal Home Rule Pilot Programs are aimed at rooting out: the kind where commonsense local solutions could be had, if the state would get out of the way. West Virginia’s home rule pilot programs are an experiment in loosening, just a little, the state’s tight grip on what municipalities are allowed to do, in the belief that autonomy breeds creativity. During the 2007–12 phase one home rule pilot, Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington, and Wheeling test-drove 20 innovations. Five turned out so good the state has authorized them for municipalities statewide: an expanded urban deer hunt season and bag limit, for example, and authority to file liens for unpaid fire, police, and street fees. “In the first pilot phase of home rule, our cities cut taxes, they protected citizens’ property values, and they spurred economic development,” says Lisa Dooley, executive director of the West Virginia Municipal League, which advocates for municipalities’ needs. “Home rule is empowering the citizens of cities to decide what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. And it has created a laboratory for testing new ideas.” In 2013 the Legislature authorized a second-phase pilot through 2019 for up to 20 municipalities— including, this time, Class IV municipalities, those with fewer than 2,000 residents. Among them is Bath. Right now and through June 1, 2014, Bath and municipalities across the state are applying to be one
of those for which the state will stand somewhat aside over the next five years and let local solutions emerge. “Home rule” is a phrase we’ve heard a lot in West Virginia over the past decade. The taste cities got of it during the first pilot phase was heady, and the extended pilot should be headier still. But let’s also be real: There can be a lot more to home rule than this.
Home Rule or Dillon’s Rule? These don’t sound like opposites. But the alternative to home rule has long been Dillon’s Rule, named for 19th-century Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice John Forrest Dillon. He was an expert on local government and his treatise on municipal corporations is still referenced today. Dillon was frustrated with corruption at the local government level, according to Jesse Richardson, a lawyer at West Virginia University’s College of Law—a man so intimately familiar with Dillon’s Rule that he jokingly refers to it as “Jesse’s Rule.” In reaction to the corruption, Richardson explains, Dillon wrote in his treatise that “if an authority is not expressly given to a local government, or implied, or absolutely necessary for a local government to exist, we’re going to say a local government doesn’t have that authority. So it’s a presumption that, unless a legislature clearly gives a power, local governments don’t have it.” That would seem counter to how we tend to think as Americans—that power is presumed to flow upward from the people unless explicitly reserved to a higher level of government. And around the same time as Dillon, a Justice Thomas Cooley in Michigan had that same thought, Richardson says. There was some debate nationally over the years, and life went on, and it was never really clear how states had come down on that debate. So Richardson spent a summer reading case law from every state to figure that out. His 2003 paper on his findings has been cited widely. What Richardson learned is that 39 states follow Dillon’s Rule, and that the rest are nearer the home rule end of the spectrum. And where does West Virginia fall? “It’s a little strange,” Richardson says, indicating that West Virginia is a home rule state on paper, but a Dillon’s Rule state in practice. In the Municipal Code of 1969, he explains, the Legislature essentially instructed the courts to interpret grants of authority to local governments liberally. WVU law professor Willard Lorensen, writing in the 1990s, said outright that that law abolished Dillon’s Rule in West Virginia. Richardson’s interpretation is that Focus wvfocus.com
it “softened” Dillon’s Rule. In any case, “the courts basically ignored that for 20 years,” Richardson says. “And then they mentioned it in a case and then they ignored it again, and the Legislature hasn’t wagged its finger. So I tell clients and students that, in West Virginia, I would assume that Dillon’s Rule applies.” Fast forward to 2007. Proceeding as though West Virginia had been a Dillon’s Rule state all along, the Legislature allowed that “municipalities are sometimes restricted by state statutes, policies, rules, and responsibilities that prevent them from carrying out their duties and responsibilities in a cost effective, efficient, and timely manner.” To begin to address that, it created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program, an experiment in which up to five cities would be allowed to pursue projects that didn’t violate the state or federal constitution or a
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few choice aspects of law—once those projects were approved, that is, by a Municipal Home Rule Board it also created.
Phase I The state has long required municipalities to license businesses in dozens of classifications, each with its own fee. It’s a hassle for cities and businesses, not to mention inequitable. Bridgeport decided under home rule to cut through that. It collapsed the number of classifications from 81 to 1, with a single $15 fee. “We don’t have to look up fees now, and we don’t have to explain to businesses why they pay so much more than the business next door,” says City Manager Kim Haws. “They like the simplicity.” It
was a hit. The state Legislature has since made authority for a multi-purpose business license available to all municipalities. Wheeling dealt with another problem common to cities across the state—vacant, dilapidated buildings. Cities did not have the authority to levy a fee on the owners of vacant buildings. Under home rule, Wheeling created a vacant property registration program that exacts a higher fee each year from the buildings’ owners. At the time of the 2012 home rule audit, the city had registered 155 properties and had seen 19 demolished. The Legislature recognized that success by creating statewide authority for vacant building registration programs with registration fees. These and 18 other proposals were approved and overseen by the seven-member Municipal Home Rule Board. The board consists of the governor or designee; the head of the state Development Office, or designee; the chairmen of the Senate and House Government Organization committees; and three gubernatorial appointees representing business and industry, labor, and city planners. The board operates as volunteers without pay or reimbursement. Bowles Rice Partner Floyd McKinley Sayre, who serves as the business and industry representative, says, “We’re pretty dedicated. To me, home rule is such an important issue that I have no problem doing that.” What is the overall assessment of phase one? Economists have found that home rule raises real estate values—that quality of life under local governance is so tangibly higher that it shows up in home prices. According to John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at WVU’s College of Business, it’s too soon to tease any such effect apart from other economic changes in West Virginia, such as rising employment in shale gas extraction, or construction and operation of the Boy Scout facility, or development of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. In evaluating the phase one pilot program in 2012, however, the office of the West Virginia Legislative Auditor concluded that the pilot had in fact been effective in improving local governance. It was so impressed by the pilot that it recommended opening home rule up to all but the smallest, Class IV municipalities statewide, and abolishing the Municipal Home Rule Board. The Legislature was not prepared to go that far. Lawmakers noted what they characterized at one point as “negative results” of the phase one pilot, referring to legal challenges to a couple of the home rule experiments. One set of challenges was against Like cities across West Virginia, Wheeling has had to deal with vacant, dilapidated buildings. Under home rule, Wheeling created a vacant property registration program that’s been considered a success.
Huntington and the Home Rule Board for a 1 percent occupation tax the city enacted. Voter dissatisfaction may have played a role at the polls in 2012 and, in 2013, under a new mayor, the city repealed the tax. The other was against Bridgeport and the Home Rule Board regarding a fire service fee; ultimately, Bridgeport did not use home rule authority to enact the fee. Rather than declaring home rule a success and the new law of the land, the Legislature crafted a phase two pilot. While it extended the opportunity to Class IV municipalities, raising the potential pool of participants from 60 to more than 230, it limited participation to a maximum of 20 cities, four of them the phase one cities if they want to stay on, and maintained the board for continued oversight. It also placed some new restrictions on the program. Among them, a phase two municipality will be able to create a sales tax of up to 1 percent only if it reduces or eliminates its business and occupation tax. In reaction to municipalities’ brief and quashed flirtation with banning hydraulic fracturing, a phase two municipality will not be able to pass ordinances related to extraction of natural resources. And it may not take official acts regarding marriage and divorce laws—that is, legalize gay marriage.
Economists have found that home rule raises real estate values—that quality of life under local governance is so tangibly higher that it shows up in home prices.
As a Class IV municipality, Bath is newly eligible to participate in home rule, and Mayor Webster is ready to propose a solution to her town’s problem of too few masseurs over holiday periods. “We want our spas to have all the business they can get, but not just everybody is a West Virginia-licensed masseur, as the state requires,” Webster says. “If the town could have a 72-hour permit, say, that we could issue to masseurs who are licensed in other places—we’re so close to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—it would let our spas get the extra help they need.” It’s a perfect example of the reason home rule makes sense. Not all municipalities face the same conditions, so statewide, Dillon’s Rule-style authorizations aren’t always best. “Even when cities experience the same problems, the fixes can be so different,” says Dooley. “Border cities may need solutions that take another state’s laws or economy into account, while a city in the central part of the state may not need to do that. ‘One size fits all’ is probably one of the biggest mistakes any government tries to hand down to its localities.” Roane County seat Spencer wants to propose an enhancement to the authority that came out of the first phase with regard to vacant buildings. “The new authority is good, and it could work here with Focus wvfocus.com
minor tweaks,” says Spencer Marketing Director Jacob Fetty. “But our thought is, if we get to the point where we want to go to the expense ourselves of removing a structure and the county has tax liens on it, rather than paying those Municipalities should work with taxes we want to turn to their department heads to figure the county and say, ‘We’re out what the problems are. Most doing something great for of the time, Dooley says, those who the community, you have administer and provide the services to waive these back taxes.’” have ideas for fixes. The idea demonstrates how the home rule program really Cities that are going to propose taxes is a laboratory, with cities should make sure their first phone replicating and adjusting call is to the state tax department. each other’s experiments to The department is a wealth of their own conditions. information, Dooley says, a good Bridgeport, a phase one partner with cities, and can help them city that intends to continue get the information they need to make in phase two, brings larger a good decision. perspective to the program. “I’ve been a city manager in Ohio and in Arizona. In Dooley also recommends that any city those states, municipalities that is going to work on a tax issue hire are not required to submit a good tax attorney. Cities can call their budgets to the state the Municipal League with questions. until June,” Haws says of just one of his ideas for Check and re-check the application, phase two. “Here we have she says, but don’t worry about making to submit by the middle of a big flowery appeal—she doesn’t think March. We have less idea that matters to the Home Rule Board what our revenues are going as much as a city proving its point that to be so we create tenuous there is a problem and it has a fix. budgets. We may want to use the home rule program to challenge that.” Spencer and many other municipalities— Fairmont, Martinsburg, Parkersburg, and others—are applying for phase two in part to at least reserve for themselves the possibility of trying a sales tax as an offset to B&O taxes. “It will take some research and we’ll need to figure out if it’s what the people want, but if we’re not part of the home rule program our next opportunity won’t be until 2019,” Spencer’s Fetty points out. The new restrictions on home rule dulled its sex appeal for some. Emmett Pugh, formerly both longtime mayor of Beckley and chairman of the Home Rule Board, fully expected his city to apply for phase two, but was so disappointed with the new limitations that he lost interest. “I don’t think we’ll be applying. The Legislature pretty much gutted the whole bill,” he said before he retired at the end of 2013, referring specifically to restrictions on taxation. His successor, William O’Brien, said in February that home rule hadn’t yet made it into his learning curve.
For municipalities thinking of applying to the home rule pilot’s second phase, West Virginia Municipal League Executive Director Lisa Dooley has a few tips.
Focus March/April 2014
Phase two applications are due June 1, 2014. The Home Rule Board’s Sayre said in February that he wouldn’t be surprised if applications didn’t start rolling in until April. “I think a lot of municipalities are waiting to see if the Legislature is going to make any tweaks.” Overall, he expects about 30 applications for the 16 spots that are open if all four phase one municipalities decide to continue. “We’re looking at having regional meetings with the applicants, inviting the public, and then we’ll choose—probably sometime after July 1. There’s no deadline.” During the oversight period to follow, although Sayre doesn’t think continued oversight is necessary—“I agree with the audit that the pilot project should have been eliminated”—he expects the board will meet quarterly, as it has in the past, even though it’s scaling up from four participants to 20. “We don’t want to be micromanagers of home rule,” he says. “We just want to make sure things are progressing.”
Could Home Rule Become THE Rule After 2019? “West Virginia is not being all that bold here,” says Ben Price of the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. “There are states where home rule has been established for generations—where municipalities have initiative and referendum authority, where people can propose local laws and put them on the ballot and they can propose charter amendments.” Price is very familiar with the tug of war between state and local authority in West Virginia. He was invited to speak on the subject of community autonomy at a Morgantown City Council meeting in 2011 when the city was considering banning hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells out of concern for residents’ health. Council did ban it, only to see the city sued by the company whose well set off the discussion—and told by a circuit court judge that oil and gas activity falls exclusively under the jurisdiction of the state. Price has a much broader vision of home rule than what is offered in West Virginia’s pilot. He encourages cities everywhere to enact bills of community rights—declaring their authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and the natural environment—in order to highlight the rights that are denied when states withhold authority. Richardson cautions that, as communities seek greater autonomy, they should be aware that there are advantages and disadvantages to home rule. “The way the economy is now, a lot of states are trying to find ways to give local governments more authority over things that cost money so that the state doesn’t have to pay for it anymore,” he says. “So home rule can be a double edged sword—if you want more authority over what you do, you’ll probably also have to find ways to pay for that.” He encourages leaders not to think in terms of municipality versus state or
“We need to think of West Virginia as one community and what’s going to be best for the community as a whole.” Jesse Richardson
municipality versus municipality. “I think we need to think of West Virginia as one community and what’s going to be best for the community as a whole.” Based on his experience elsewhere, Haws doesn’t think statewide home rule is a big risk. “If the community doesn’t like what city council is doing, they can vote them out. Things can also play out in the courts. And if a particular action doesn’t make sense at the state level, the Legislature can outlaw it. That’s the democratic process.” When Morgantown’s 2011 ordinance banning oil and gas well hydraulic fracking was challenged in court, the judge struck it down. Oil and gas activities are the state’s business.
No Drilling HERE!!!
No Drilling HERE!!!
No Drilling HERE!!!
No Drilling HERE!!!
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No Drilling HERE!!!
No Drilling HERE!!!
tom hindman; istock
Tale From corrupt politicians to drug trafficking, the legal adventures of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia are many.
• Written by •
Shay Maunz • photographed by •
B Booth Goodwin
and his staff work in an office tucked away in the federal courthouse in Charleston, behind massive stone walls and a security checkpoint. Visitors aren’t permitted to bring cell phones or computers inside. The morning I interviewed Goodwin, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, and Steve Ruby, who serves as counsel to the U.S. Attorney, I took notes longhand on a legal pad; it took me the rest of the afternoon to transcribe them on my computer. Goodwin says his wife, Amy Shuler Goodwin, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s communications director and a former broadcast news reporter, jokes the press can never get any interesting footage on the U.S. Attorney because they can’t bring cameras to his office. Suffice it to say the public doesn’t know much about what goes on there, or about what, precisely, Goodwin does, though there’s a vague sense it’s something good. The run-of-the-mill press releases coming out of his office are grim, but ultimately positive—the bad guys are behind bars: “Huntington men sent to federal prison for trafficking Detroit heroin,” or “Cross Lanes pedophile sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.” The less run-of-the-mill releases are even bigger news about federal investigations: “Goodwin announces former Massey executive sentenced to 42 months in prison for federal mine safety violations,” or “Former Mingo County commissioner sentenced to federal prison for extortion.” That last release is just one of a string of them coming out of Goodwin’s office lately on a massive corruption probe in Mingo County. So far he’s nailed at least four public officials on charges ranging from extortion to election fraud, and we’re still waiting to understand the extent of the corruption that has been clouding the political landscape in Mingo. “There’s that saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Goodwin says. “Where there is a place where there is absolute power you see it corrupt those government officials in an absolute way. That’s what we saw in Mingo County, back to the Boss Hog kind of era in politics.”
Peeling Back L ayers
The indictments started coming in August of last year. First it was Michael Thornsbury, a longstanding and well-known circuit court judge. The first indictment of Thornsbury reads like a parody of a small-town corruption scandal. It’s filled with headings that sound almost comical—“The Romantic Relationship,” “The Scheme to Plant Drugs on R.W.’s Pick-up Truck,” “The State Grand Jury Scheme”—and the narrative is absurd. Thornsbury was charged with a bizarre series of crimes, all in pursuit of revenge against the husband of his secretary and former mistress. His multi-pronged attack included attempts to plant drugs on the man and, when that didn’t work, to pressure a state police officer to report him
Focus March/April 2014
for stealing scrap metal—a false charge that resulted in his arrest for grand larceny. There were also fake subpoenas and trumped up charges of assault and battery. And there was a county commissioner who, in an unrelated incident, was charged with extortion—he tried to use his position to coerce his way to a discount on tires. Since that first indictment it’s become clear Mingo County’s politics are woven into a web of corruption. “We really started peeling back the layers,” Goodwin says. Even more serious charges have been filed in recent months, against Thornsbury and a cast of Mingo County politicos. The picture includes a once lauded sheriff who, last year, was shot dead in his police car in broad daylight—now he’s said to have been buying drugs from the same dealers he proclaimed to be cracking down on. In an effort to save Sheriff Eugene Crum from embarrassment and prosecution, Thornsbury and the county commissioner, David Baisden, conspired with the county’s prosecuting attorney, Michael Sparks, to press an FBI witness to fire his attorney and stop ratting Crum out to FBI agents. Plus there’s Dallas Toler who, while chief magistrate for the county, registered a convicted felon to vote.
The Path to Prosecution
“The investigation is more or less a living thing,” Goodwin says. “Something can shake something else loose. It builds on itself.” The U.S. Attorney’s office, along with the FBI and the state police, spent months digging through files and interviewing witnesses before they filed those first indictments about the lovers’ quarrel and the tire discount (it turns out a lot of what goes on inside the U.S. Attorney’s office involves digging through files—the path to prosecution is paved with paperwork), but once they went public with the case they were hit with a deluge of information. “Once you file charges it opens the floodgates,” Ruby says. “We were inundated with calls from people about alleged wrongdoing. Most of the people in Mingo County are honorable people who want good government. When they realize something is happening, that we’re serious about proving it, people who may have had information all along all of a sudden are interested in talking about it.” Then they have to dig through all of that information. Southern West Virginia is no stranger to government scandals or corruption—stories of votes bought for a jug of moonshine and crooked officials of all stripes have run rampant over the years—and that complicates things. In 2003 State Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry published the definitive book on political corruption in West Virginia, Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide. In it, he argues that corruption is a systemic problem in West Virginia politics, especially in the southern part of the state, and that such corruption has jaded
Corruption in generations of voters. Mingo County “West Virginia’s political is just one of history is the stuff of the massive cases on U.S. legend and mythology,” Attorney Booth he writes. “And Goodwin’s plate as of recently. unfortunately continues to create plenty of new fables on a seemingly daily basis.” Federal investigators saw echoes of that in Mingo County: The people there have been touched by corruption before. Everyone has an opinion on it, many believe they’ve witnessed it firsthand, and some definitely have. The challenge comes in figuring out who’s who. “It comes down to having the discipline to stick to the best leads you have,” Ruby says. “The federal government is very big, but no matter who you are it’s never not difficult to investigate these cases. There’s always going to be more crimes than we can investigate.” Mingo County pulses with rumors about corrupt and unsavory behavior, and the U.S. Attorney’s office heard many of the same rumors everybody else did. The trick is knowing when to take them seriously. “We get calls all the time from people about something a public official has done that certainly runs afoul of the golden rule,” Ruby says. “But it’s not always something that constitutes a federal crime.” Goodwin likens the process to a funnel. They take the flood of gossip and rumors and narrow it down to a more manageable flow that includes only accusations from credible sources. From there they eliminate anything that isn’t a crime, and a federal crime to boot. And then they set out to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. “There are a lot of things that seem unsavory, that are unsavory, but don’t amount to a federal crime,” he says. “We take all that is all true and that we can prove and try to prosecute using that. “Take for instance the extortion scheme involving the tires,” he says. “We had the evidence and the witness to show he had committed that extortion scheme. Even while it was for a relatively small amount of money, it was something we could prove. It takes a level of discipline to stick to that one small thing, but as is clear now, he was involved in more than that extortion scheme.” In the rush of information after the first round of investigations, they found that the county commissioner at the center of the tire scheme also played a role in
here are a lot of things that seem unsavory, that are unsavory, but don’t amount to a federal crime. We take all that is all true and that we can prove and try to prosecute using that.”
the plot to suppress an FBI witness to cover for the sheriff. Goodwin’s first investigation into government corruption was years ago, when he was still in his role as assistant U.S. attorney—he still speaks of it like a proud father. That case ended with the mayor of Logan posing as a candidate for the House of Delegates, buying votes, and implicating a slew of dirty politicos in the process. But it started with one small piece of information: A shoplifter mumbled something to a young sheriff about a friend who was about to buy his way out of prison. That’s how it is in just about every case, Goodwin says. It starts with one morsel of information that tips off investigators and grows from there. “Often it’s such a small nugget of information,” he says. “There’s that one feather on the scale that tips it.” He won’t say what the feather was in Mingo County because the case is still active. Ruby won’t either, even though the Mingo County case is to Ruby what Logan County’s was to Goodwin, and it kills him that he can’t tell everyone all about it all of the
here’s a reason the most successful television shows are about these kinds of things,” Goodwin says. “It’s interesting, compelling stuff. It’s at the very base of human nature.”
time. He likens the work they do to the cop work on The Wire, the hit television show about Baltimore’s drug scene, except Goodwin’s team has to deal with a lot more paperwork. “There’s a reason the most successful television shows are about these kinds of things,” Goodwin says. “It’s interesting, compelling stuff. It’s at the very base of human nature.”
Ask Goodwin why he likes his job, and he’ll talk a lot about the importance of public service and justice. “It’s the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives, day in and day out,” he says. “It’s being able to make that actual impact every day you go to work. You have the ability to concretely affect people’s lives.” Ruby is just as noble. “One of the bedrock principles of American society is that we are a society that has a commitment to justice,” he says. “I think over the long arc of history, we’ve never quite lost
Focus March/April 2014
sight of that. It is personally and professionally a really satisfying thing to be a part of.” Those sound like platitudes, but it’s hard not to believe they’re sincere—these are men who have committed their professional lives to a system that tries to right wrongs. Goodwin chose this in lieu of a career as a politician, what he figured he’d end up doing for most of his young life—no surprise, given the long affiliation with state politics that is the legacy of the Goodwin family. Goodwin’s father, Joe Bob Goodwin, is a federal district court judge and former chairman of the state democratic party. His mother, Kay, is the head of the state Department of Education and the Arts. His cousin, Carte, briefly served as a U.S. senator. His uncle, Tom, was a top official in Senator Jay Rockefeller’s administration when he was governor of West Virginia. This whole branch of the Goodwin family is descended from Robert B. Goodwin, who was elected to the House of Delegates in 1932 before opening the law firm Goodwin and Goodwin—still a successful firm in the state. And that’s just the beginning—the connections are too numerous to list in full.
Tilling the Garden
In Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide, Loughry writes about the effect embedded corruption has on a community. “As citizens hear continuous negative stories about their elected officials, those instances of corrupt activities, perceptively corrupt activities, and even inauspicious or questionable behaviors are intertwined whether actually corrupt or not,” he writes. “It becomes just another string in a big ball of yarn, and once trust in government is lost it can be enormously difficult to recover.” That’s what Goodwin and his staff is trying to do— recover trust. “It would be very easy for the people there to throw up their hands because they’ve seen this all before; it would be easy for them to give up on the government process entirely,” Goodwin says. “But in fact this is when they should be digging in.” When asked how important prosecution is to combating government corruption, he hedged a little—nobody thinks jail time alone will cure southern West Virginia of its problem with corruption—but ultimately he believes in it. “We can’t be there every day and they don’t want us to be there every day,” he says. “But I will often analogize it to a garden—we weed it, we till it, but we aren’t the ones and cannot be the ones who plant the seeds, water it, and make it grow.” There probably still is, and probably always will be, corruption in West Virginia, just as there is in many places. But things like outright vote buying are now practically extinct, and Goodwin sees that as a small victory. “There’s no silver bullet,” he says. “But I think what we do is helping.”
Don’t sit and stew in anger. Take action.
Incorporate these Mountain State musts into your own small business.
Wild & Wonderful World Wide Web
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office has made a number of changes to its web presence in the past couple of years—all in an effort to streamline small business access. Here are just a few of the ways the state is improving the way business is done within its borders. wvsos.com
Pay Online More online services for business owners were enabled in fall 2013. The new online Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings and searches are more user-friendly, allowing customers to make payments online securely with credit card or eCheck. People can find the information they need and file important documents without having to stand in line or run to the post office, too. Banks file UCC financing statements with the secretary of state when they give loans to consumers or small businesses who use goods of commercial or farm property as collateral.
Have a Chat Need help? The Business and Licensing online help chat on the secretary of state’s website is available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every business day. The online help chat was named one of four national finalists for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Innovation, Dedication, Excellence, and Achievement in Service (IDEAS) Award.
Online Business Filing
File it all online! New business filings and annual reports, trade names, address changes, cancellations for limited liability corporations, and more can all be filed through the online filings portal. In 2013, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced her office would save about $23,000 that year by notifying business owners by email that they could file their annual reports online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Identity Theft Alerts More than four times the amount When a change is made to an online business of online annual reports were record, an alert is sent to the email address on filed in 2013 than in 2009. record for that business. In the email, business owners are directed to access the secretary of state’s online database to check the information and ensure accuracy. The alert also includes information on how to be protected from identity theft, from frequently changing passwords to regularly monitoring information filed with the secretary of state’s office.
“We do think of it like that,” says Timothy Spears, the dentist at the helm of a thriving practice in the Kanawha Valley. “From my point of view we are the perfect example of the small business in America.” With 17 employees and offices in Charleston and Nitro, Spears hasn’t been able to ignore the business side of his dentistry practice, Oakwood Family Dentistry. He spends a lot of time working on his patients’ teeth, but he also has to work at making his practice successful on the business end. “Different physicians are involved on different levels,” says Stacie Spotloe, office manager at 31st Street Medical Clinic in Huntington. “Some are more business-y and have their hands in the business side, and some are more hands-off and pass that on to their staffs.” The physician Spotloe works with, an internal medicine physician in a solo private practice, falls more on the hands-off end of that spectrum, but the staff at 31st Street Medical picks up the slack. Every patient who comes into the office sees one doctor, but three more people handle billing, insurance, and scheduling. Even when those functions aren’t happening in a small private practice, they’re still happening, and as health care evolves in the 21st century, patients expect their physicians to know more about the back end of their business than ever. “Medicine is changing,” says Patrick Bonasso, a surgery resident at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. “I feel like when I got out of medical school I didn’t really understand the whole financial aspect.” Alongside his residency, Bonasso is in the middle of an online MBA program at WVU. He’s trying to learn more about business so he can be a better health care provider. “I think that moving on in my career it will help me,” he says. An entrepreneurial, business-minded approach, all agree, can help health care providers as they help their patients.
The Business of Being a Doctor Health care professionals share their tips for working in the industry.
ealth care isn’t only about helping people. That’s a huge part of it, sure, but it’s also laced with elements of business and industry, even entrepreneurship. For every mouth a dentist peers into there’s an insurance claim that needs to be filed, for every flu vaccine there’s a co-payment. Every doctor who has opened his or her own private practice endured the rigmarole of obtaining office space and the proper licensing, finding patients, and putting systems into place for billing and payroll. It’s not so different from opening any small business.
Focus March/April 2014
Think—a lot—about how you’re going to do business. Spears wanted to insulate himself from the
seasonal highs and lows associated with a single-person, centrally-located practice so he diversified by opening a second office and taking on associates to help him handle the workload. “Instead of having areas where you have highs and lows in terms of needs, it evens out and makes it more of a level business over the course of the year,” he says. “You don’t have the same highs and lows in each location.”
You have plenty of other things to think about, too. Taking care of people’s health needs isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of expertise—but expertise in medicine isn’t synonymous with good business sense. Bonasso advises that people get over the idea that training in medicine will prepare them for everything and learn a little about business and finance. “It’s providing another tool,” he says. “If I know the financial and business things, I’ll have another tool for myself in my own personal life and in my career. It will allow me to understand some of the other things that go on in medicine better than somebody who just went to medical school. You were so focused on med school for so long, when these other things come into play it gets uncomfortable.”
Do what makes sense for you. Spears could have let his dentistry practice muddle along for years, operating out of a single office. Instead he looked at his market. “From our point of view, people tend to secure their health care needs in their neighborhood, particularly their general health care needs,” he says. “A famous politician once said that all politics are local, meaning that people shop in their neighborhoods, they use resources in their neighborhoods—being in different parts of the Kanawha Valley, we can reach people where they are.” Build a staff you can rely on. “If you have a good support staff and you get people you trust, you can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want,” Spotloe says. And once you’ve assembled a team of good people, make sure they stay up-to-date on health care’s ever-changing landscape. For that, Spotloe recommends trade groups like the Office Managers Association, where she’s an officer. “When I first started in billing the office manager at our office didn’t belong to any kind of association and I don’t know how she functioned,” Spotloe says. “You’ve got to have the office manager educated because their education trickles down to all the employees.” It’s the best way to make sure the whole office is up to par in their understanding of health care privacy law or the newest insurance billing forms. Remember the three As of success. Spears says these things are just as important in health care as in business. “There’s accessibility—namely that you’re in a location where people can reach you—and availability— you’re open hours that provide for families and working folks,” he says. “And finally, ability—with your doctoral degree you have that already.” Focus wvfocus.com
Table 9 opened in Morgantownâ€™s Wharf District in 2013.
10 Things 8 Restaurant Owners
but when they do, you need a plan. Establish procedures and make sure employees know what to do in case of an emergency.
Need To Know Picky customers, high turnover, and a lot of competition—nobody says owning a restaurant is easy.
But in West Virginia alone, restaurants offer more than 73,000 jobs, or 9 percent of state employment, according to the National Restaurant Association. Here are 10 things the national association says you need to know in order to start, expand, or improve your restaurant.
Connect with customers
With media consumption at an all-time high, targeting customers has never been easier. Social media is a cheap and easy way to promote your business. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to instantly share your products, ask for advice, and interact with customers. Include staff in photos and online discussions to give customers an insider’s look at your business.
Serve smaller portions
Obesity is a big health concern in America; two out of three adults are obese or overweight. Restaurants can satisfy customers and save money by decreasing portion sizes and encouraging healthier options. You can cut cost by serving halfmeals or entrees containing less than 700 calories.
Turn it down
While music can bring character to your restaurant, loud music can frustrate guests and cause health concerns for employees. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employees should not be exposed to music over 90 decibels, or the equivalent to the sound of a hair dryer, over the course of a shift. Safe music levels for employees and guests should be no more than 60 decibels, or the equivalent of the sound of a dishwasher.
Positive employee-customer interaction is crucial. When hiring, look for candidates who have a good attitude, outgoing personality, and great interpersonal skills. You want to hire someone who understands the goals of your business and who can integrate well into your work culture. When hiring for seasonal and temporary help, look for someone with previous restaurant experience; this will greatly reduce the amount of training they need and will make for a smooth transition into your company.
Design menus carefully
Menus should be well organized. Draw attention to specific items by using different color schemes throughout the menu. You can easily promote a highly profitable meal by placing a photo beside the food item; also place the meal on the top of the page where it can be seen easily.
Seven out of 10 people say they take a restaurant’s family friendliness into consideration when deciding where to dine. Boost dinner sales by having a family night or enacting a special promotion for children.
Prepare for the worst Nobody expects things to go wrong,
Consider an Employee Assistance Program
EAP is a benefits program designed to help employees deal with problems that might affect their health, well-being, and work performance. Confidential counseling helps employees manage problems in both life and work to achieve a healthy balance. Benefits to the employer include reduced turnover, increased productivity, better customer service, and happy employees.
Welcome new employees
The first few weeks of a new hire are critical. To reduce turnover, provide new employees with the tools and support they need to succeed. Give them a training manual and policy handbook prior to their first day of work. Welcome them and begin their training during a slow weekday shift to ease them into your restaurant. Remember they want to succeed as much as you do; praise and positive reinforcement go a long way.
Learn from your mistakes
When the health inspector pays you a visit, tag along. Always be polite and ask whether the purpose of the visit is due to a complaint or if it is a regular inspection. Be sure to take notes on their findings and ask them to share the results with employees. restaurant.org
Fear not, future restaurant owners! According to Bloomberg Businessweek only
60% of restaurants fail in the first year of business. That’s a vast improvement on the previously believed 90% figure! Focus wvfocus.com
10 Ways to Incorporate
Nothing instills more pride in West Virginia than seeing and experiencing its homegrown talent up close. Here are 10 products you can incorporate into your business to help spread the word about successful in-state entrepreneurship. Does your establishment pride itself on fine dining? Take attention to detail one step further with local flavor, using Smooth Ambler Spirits (Maxwelton) or (4) Bloomery SweetShine (Charles Town) in your cocktails.Use the delicious West Virginia Fruit and Berry (Bridgeport)
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preserves and fruit butters in breakfasts, appetizers, and desserts. Known for your appetizers? Add some West Virginia kick to your restaurant’s menu by using (1) Blue Smoke Salsa (Ansted) as a side to those nachos.
Wow guests with your food presentation using the colorful and wildly popular (5) Fiestaware (Newell) and homegrown wooden utensils from (4) Allegheny Treenware (Thornton). If you’re looking for a creative way to brighten up your company’s space, incorporate glassworks by (2) Ron Hinkle Glass (Buckhannon) or whimsical woodblock prints by Eddie Spaghetti (Morgantown) into your décor and introduce clients to some of the state’s finest artists. (6) Gat Creek Furniture (Berkeley Springs) provides beautiful eco-friendly pieces for office and dining areas, all made of Appalachian Cherry. Set the mood in your office and support local music by playing tunes from the Bob Thompson Unit (Charleston).
Develop a niche. In order to expand your client base and grow your sales, sometimes you need to focus on the small, well-defined segment that’s responsible for the majority of your sales. Real estate professionals have developed niches in markets with seniors, first-time buyers, baby boomers, or foreclosures and short sales. Focusing will make you an expert in that particular area, making you invaluable to your clients.
10 Things Realtors Can Do To
Increase Sales There’s only so much you can do, right? The weather, the economy, the
geographic location or size of the plot—folks can find all sorts of reasons to be tight with their bank accounts when beginning to look for a home. You can’t control everything, but hey, things are looking up. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) sales for 2013 were the highest they have been in seven years, and with the promise of another high sales year, the association says these steps can help you increase your sales even more.
Join the National Association of Realtors. Not all real estate agents are Realtors; only members of NAR can call themselves real estate professionals. Realtors subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics as a condition of membership. They have access to educational opportunities, specialized training, and business resources.
Build an online presence. According to NAR’s 2013 Home Buyer and Seller Profile, nearly nine out of 10 buyers use the Internet as a source of information when searching for a home. A website is a cost-effective way to promote yourself, your company, and your listings. Social media and blogs are also effective ways to reach potential clients.
Learn your neighborhood. As a Realtor, clients expect you know about local market conditions and be an expert on specific neighborhoods. Make notes about popular house styles and the proximity of stores, schools, and parks. Talk to residents to gain more information.
Get involved. “Realtors have a long history of volunteering their time and energy to those in need,” says Steve Brown, NAR president. “Realtors not only help people buy and sell homes, they build communities.”
Earn certifications and designations. NAR members can get more training and become designated or certified in special areas. NAR and its affiliated institutes, societies, and councils offer credentials focused on commercial properties, appraisals, diversity, foreclosures, short sales, and other areas. Keep in touch with past clients. Most consumers find their real estate professionals through friends. Referrals are crucial to building your client base, so it’s important to keep in touch with past clients. Find ways to reach out after closing. Send cards on the anniversary of their home purchase or email periodically with information on home sales in their area or current rates on mortgages. Host an open house. Open houses are a chance to expand your buyer pool. Many consumers attending open houses are just beginning their search process and looking for a Realtor. Open houses are also a great training ground for anyone new to the profession. Think globally. Foreign buyers and investors want to own U.S. property and believe real estate in this country is a profitable investment. “Research shows many foreigners are investing in their futures by owning homes in the U.S. Now is the time to develop an expertise in serving international clients,” Brown says. Write an online real estate column. Contribute your real estate knowledge for a weekly or monthly online real estate column. Increased visibility can help generate business without costing you anything, and it will get you noticed. Focus wvfocus.com
Lessons Learned while being poisoned. One West Virginia writer tackles anger after the water crisis.
Emily Bennington is author of Who Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination, and the founder of AWAKE EXEC mindful leadership coaching for women. She has led training programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies and has been featured everywhere from CNN and ABC, to the Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan. She is a featured blogger for Huffington Post and ForbesWoman and was recently included in the Forbes list of 100 Best Websites for Women. emilybennington.com
Focus March/April 2014
s you may have heard, a hazardous chemical was leaked into a river in Charleston recently—poisoning the water supply for 300,000 residents. What you may not know is that I am one of them. And I am angry. I’m angry that something this dangerous to public health was stored next to a major water treatment plant in tanks that hadn’t been inspected in 24 years. I’m angry that, rather than report the spill to authorities, the company responsible chose to “contain” it with a 50-pound bag of sand and a cement block. I’m angry that, even after lax oversight caused an explosion at Bayer CropScience in 2008 near the very same chemical that killed thousands in India, there have been no new chemical safety regulations. None. I’m also angry this water was given to children—including my own—and I could go on. I write about anger a lot in my work as a career author, but I want to address it here because experiences like this go well beyond how to handle a colleague who dropped the ball. This is about outrage. This is about what to do when you’re so shaken you’ll never return to “the way it was before” again. I see this outrage all around me now. I see it in the town hall meetings, on Facebook, at the grocery store, and in myself. When you’re caught in an intense and challenging situation—whether it’s a community crisis, the sudden loss of a loved one, or a frightening diagnosis— it’s easy to get lost in the accompanying flood of emotions. This is a natural first reaction, of course, but there’s a certain
helplessness in it, and helplessness is deeply unsatisfying. So the trick becomes moving through the outrage while at the same time harnessing what is inherently motivating about it. Easier said than done, I know. And yet, there is a certain mental resilience you can cultivate with some practice, allowing you to handle any of life’s trials with grace. It looks like this: awareness, acceptance, and action.
Awareness is the realization
that, regardless of how terrifying a situation is, it’s far worse to go through it in permanent panic mode. It’s recognizing that the first step to emerging from a negative thought spiral is to notice when you’re in it at all.
Questions to find awareness: How am I reacting in the presence of this anger? What am I not facing that is causing me to think this way?
Acceptance doesn’t mean rolling
over. It means acknowledging the truth of what happened versus getting stuck in “Why me?”
Questions to find acceptance: Can I make room for what I’m feeling without reacting to it? What is the lesson here?
Action is the empowered
choice to overcome a problem by participating in the solution. Frankly, this is the only way to heal.
Questions to find action: What’s the next right action? What are my options in this moment? There’s obviously no single way to handle a crisis or perfect a response to outrage. These are deep and nuanced feelings that can take a long time to unwind and resolve. The idea is simply to provide a tool that can easily frame up difficult emotions while lighting the way to a productive next step. I hope it serves you as it’s served me.
*adapted from emilybennington.com
courtesy of emily bennington
Here’s My Card
Your business card says more about your company than simply where you work.
tarting a new business begins with image, and one of the first ways potential clients can begin to understand your image is with your business card. Nearly 90 percent of Americans still exchange business cards when they first meet someone. But on such a small platform— something like three by two inches—it can be difficult to show everything your company represents, and it’s tempting to try to fit as much information on that little card as you can. Blake Stewart, of Stewart Design in Morgantown, helps business owners craft their images into clean cards with character. “You want to make the card unique, interesting, and professional,”
he says. “When people are thinking of someone they want to do business with, they will right off the bat eliminate people who don’t have a good business card. A good, quality card will make people think about you and make them more likely to do business with you in general.” Stewart champions the less-is-more approach. While you can have a clever design that shows your company’s flair on the back, Stewart says, in most cases, three elements should be on the front:
Logo. The logo is the first thing on the card because that’s what your clients should recognize first. Logos should be uncomplicated. “People try to make logos too detailed sometimes,” Stewart says. “They lose the ability to become quickly
and easily recognized, which is what makes for an effective logo.” He says choosing the right colors and fonts to represent your business is also important in branding.
Name. A business card is a personal item you’ll be handing out, so you should only have one name on the card, Stewart says. “When you meet someone new and give them your card, they should be able to clearly see your name. Having multiple names on the card can be confusing to others and will not look professional.” Contact information, including social media icons—and make sure you list the physical address even if you don’t think it’s essential. “Sometimes businesses don’t list the address because they think people won’t stop by, but that’s not the case,” Blake says. “List all the important contact information, but keep it neat and clean.” stewartdesignllc.com Focus wvfocus.com
Women and Leadership
Lisa DeFrank-Cole is the director of WVU’s Leadership Studies Program. 304.293.8781 firstname.lastname@example.org leadershipstudies.wvu.edu
Do good work. Period. There is no
substitute for substance. If you want to move up, you must do well in your current position.
Err on the side of being more professional or formal
rather than being informal—generational differences may put you at a disadvantage if you seem too casual too soon.
Listen to other people. Listen to leaders,
to followers, and to those you trust and admire. You should even listen to those who disagree with you. We have two ears and one mouth and should use them in the same proportion.
You are your own brand. Wear it well. How you look, what you say, and
how your office is (dis)organized all give clues as to who you are as a person. People will make judgments about you within the first 10 seconds of meeting you. If you don’t seem “leader-like,” people won’t want to follow you.
Demonstrate self-confidence, even if you don’t have it yet. “Fake it ’til
Focus March/April 2014
you make it” is good advice. This does not mean you should be arrogant, but don’t apologize for breathing.
Find a sponsor—someone who will actively advocate for you
and tell others about your good work. In this transactional relationship, a sponsor expects you to do well if s/he is vouching for you. Different from a mentor, a sponsor is a person who has already achieved a high level of success and is willing and able to help you climb the ladder.
Participate in professional development or educational
opportunities to continue learning about leadership.
Smile. People enjoy being around those who are pleasant. We all have bad days, but putting your best foot forward will demonstrate you have control over your life, rather than being worn down.
Take time to be alone with your thoughts. Really alone. No iPhone, no
email, no Twitter. Just you, alone, with your thoughts. It will allow you to process events that have occurred in your life and, in the end, make better decisions.
Move. Stay fit and active. It not only improves your health and your appearance, but also demonstrates your self-discipline.
ithin the past year, Mary Barra became the CEO of General Motors, Marillyn Hewson became the CEO of Lockhead Martin, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In about women and leadership. With these women securing high-level jobs and raising the profile of female leaders, some may wonder—why are we even talking about this subject? While these are individual examples, the data tell a different story. Women serve as chief executive officer of only 4 percent of Fortune 500 Companies. They currently occupy 18.5 percent of the seats in the U.S. Congress and serve as governor in five of our 50 states. Though women comprise half of our population and earn nearly 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, they are not proportionately represented in the highest-level leadership jobs. This led me to think about what advice I would give if asked about leadership. I study women leaders in my profession and I have observed women leaders in a variety of settings for nearly 20 years. Distilling what I have learned and observed, here is my advice for becoming a strong leader:
courtesy of tom witt
Highway Funding and Local Control A
fuel excise tax, vehicle sales taxes, and registration fees. While the motor fuel excise tax rate has increased over time, the number of miles driven by the average driver has fallen almost 10 percent from its peak. And while vehicle sales tax revenues have increased over time due to inflation, more and more owners are deferring their purchases of new vehicles. The registration fees were a significant source of revenues in the 1980s but a failure to increase fees for inflation and administrative costs has resulted in a smaller contribution to the overall fund. A relatively It’s time for new flexibility in road stable and aging population, coupled with the pervasive funding. effects of construction and maintenance cost inflation, have placed the state road fund in a re you tired of snow, precarious position. ice, and freezing temps? This sets the stage for finalization I know many West and adoption of the Blue Ribbon Virginians agree with me Commission report after the end of this that this has been one year’s legislative session. While some of the harshest winters in recent years. recommendations have been made But are you ready for what comes next? public through draft reports and public I imagine you’ve already encountered meetings around the state, the final some but, if not, get ready for potholes by report will present options for tax and the millions. The constant freezing and fee increases at the state level. In this thawing of our state’s roads will mean regard, West Virginia may follow Virginia significant expenditures on repairs in the and Pennsylvania in enacting significant months ahead. long-term changes in highway financing, While the Legislature’s attention permitting adequate construction and has been on the Kanawha Valley water maintenance of state roads. crisis, one ticking time bomb is the I also hope the report will provide future funding of our state’s highway options for counties to raise additional system. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin established the West Virginia Blue Ribbon taxes to fund transportation infrastructure improvements deemed essential to county Commission on Highways, which has residents. While some county needs are been working for more than a year to address the highway funding crisis facing addressed in current Division of High-ways plans, not all can be accomplished given our state. Our state is one of four states current funding levels. Counties should with jurisdiction over both state and be given the option to enact county-wide county roads. West Virginia leads the sales or income taxes to bond future U.S. in the percentage of highway miles transportation improvements deemed that are maintained by the state and has essential to their citizens. These funds the sixth-largest highway network in the should be matched by state funds, thereby country. creating incentives for counties to solve The major sources of state revenues their own transportation problems. for the state road fund include the motor
TOM S. Witt
“West Virginia leads the U.S. in the percentage of highway miles that are maintained by the state.” Tom S. Witt
Without these incentives, county citizens and governments will be reluctant to approve increased taxes at the expense of losing state funds. After all, 46 other states allow localities more incentives and options for raising local transportation funds. Shouldn’t we learn from other state experiences and practices?
Tom S. Witt is an emeritus professor of economics at WVU and chief economist at Witt Economics LLC. Focus wvfocus.com
Reaching Out Charles Ryan Associates takes a closer look at how small businesses can reach the right audiences.
PR Tips Know yourself. Before a small business owner can take the business to the next level, they need to understand what they want for their business and themselves. “Take time to really think about who you are and who you want to be,” Lavenski says. Be efficient. “If you do implement a communications strategy but you are talking to the wrong audience, you have wasted your money,” Lavenski says. “Always remember, your brand is an investment, not an expense.” Plan ahead. Your communications strategy should be able to change with time, alongside your business. “Be true to your brand,” Lavenski says. “And develop a communications plan to grow with you.”
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At its core, the business isn’t so different now than it was when it opened in 1974— it’s still about honing in on the message a client wants to broadcast and the audience it wants to broadcast it to, and then figuring out the best way to do that. To that end, Charles Ryan offers a slew of services— advertising, branding, public relations, and reputation management, to name a few— but Lavenski says they all share a common theme. “They are all brand communication tools,” she says. “When businesses need to present a message to an audience, no matter the situation, the appropriate communications tools need to be used to reach their target audience.” It’s the simplicity at the core of the communications business that leads Susan to say that it can—and should—be tried by businesses of all sizes, even the small ones that aren’t thinking about hiring a communications firm like Charles Ryan Associates. “It doesn’t mean you have to spend a huge amount of money,” she says. “It just means you need to think about your target audience and how they receive information.” That brings us to the things that have, in fact, changed since the days when
Reach out to the right people. Don’t waste your time and money on a communications plan that won’t reach the people who will use your services or your product. It’s counterproductive. “If you do implement a communications strategy, but you are talking to the wrong audience, you have wasted your money,” she says. Don’t overdo it. “Use your marketing dollars very strategically,” Lavenski says. “You don’t need to be everything to everyone if they are not going to help grow your business.” Charlie Ryan was making calls in his little office, pounding out proposals on his typewriter—the way people are communicating. These days, the agency’s employees aren’t using typewriters to communicate, and neither are their clients. Lavenski says that makes a communications strategy even more important to a business. “Think about how technology has changed in the last five years,” she says. “People are overloaded with messages. So understanding budgets and having the experience to develop and implement a very targeted
usan Lavenski’s job is simple: She tells stories. They’re not her own stories—they belong to her clients—but she treats them like they are hers. And even though Lavenski and her team at Charles Ryan Associates deal with big clients—customers include the American Petroleum Institute, Columbia Gas, and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia—the basic premise of all the work they do is the same small idea; it’s about a message. Charles Ryan is West Virginia’s largest and oldest communications firm. It opened 40 years ago with Charles Ryan— Lavenski calls him Charlie—working alone in a tiny office with a typewriter and a telephone. Now the agency has 26 employees, offices in Charleston and Richmond, Virginia, and a management structure that includes Lavenski and Caryn Foster Durham, co-managing partners and principals in the firm, the chief financial officer, and three outside investors. Both Lavenski and Durham have been at the company for more than 15 years. “We often say that we have grown up at Charles Ryan Associates,” Lavenski says.
“When you think about it, how can your business grow if your audience doesn’t know what you do?” Susan Lavenski
communications plan has always been important, but it’s even more critical today.” It’s tempting for small business owners to largely ignore their communications strategy as they look to grow their business—other things just seem more pressing. Lavenski cautions against that. “When you think about it, how can your business grow if your audience doesn’t know what you do?” she says. For a business owner who is hard-pressed for resources, she recommends taking a smart approach to communicating with the public. That means taking a shrewd look at your business, your message, and your audience, and calculating the most efficient way to communicate between the three. “It can be complicated at times—truly understanding your audience, budgeting appropriately to target the right mediums, knowing how much and when to spend your dollars, developing and implementing an earned media and community relations strategy,” she says. “You have heard the old adage, you have to spend money to make money. That is very true.” But it doesn’t have to be a lot of money if it’s done right—by carefully choosing the tools you use to communicate. Don’t spend money advertising on television if potential customers aren’t likely to be watching TV, for example. Don’t allocate resources to maintain social media accounts if your customers aren’t online. Do some research, know your clients, and realize you aren’t always your own target audience—the tools you use to communicate might not be the same as the ones your clients use. Susan says she’s often had clients question the media plan she recommends for them—taking issue with some of the media outlets she believes they should take advantage of. “We ask them a very simple question—are you in the target audience that will utilize your product?” she says. “Many times the answer is no and then the proverbial lightbulb goes off.” The key, she says, is to understand your audience as well as yourself. Charles Ryan Associates, 601 Morris Street, Suite 301 Charleston, WV 25301, 877.342.0161 Focus wvfocus.com
Running a family business takes more than dollars and cents. It also takes good sense.
itting down at the table means something a little different for the Moses family than it does for most families. For one thing, it’s a conference table, and for another, they’re talking business. Moses Auto Group has been under the same family ownership since Jack Moses founded it in the 1940s, and it now has six locations across Huntington, Charleston, and St. Albans. Every three years the family gets together to talk shop. “One of the biggest things I’ve seen in the last couple years is how important a succession plan is,” says Suzanne Moses Persinger, general sales manager at Moses Cadillac Buick GMC of Charleston. “People don’t like to think about what’s going to happen when they aren’t
Focus March/April 2014
around. There have been a lot of situations at car dealerships and other places where there’s not a clear succession plan, and that leaves the remaining family to work it out themselves. That’s a recipe for disaster.” Planning ahead and having open and honest communication early on is key, according to Kristina Oliver, state director for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “A lot of times businesses get up and running and people think everything is going to stay the same forever, but in fact times change, and before you know it time has passed and they’re wondering what they’re going to do with the business. Are they going to pass it on to the kids? Do the kids really want it?” Oliver says those discussions should happen in the beginning when businesses
are putting together their strategic plans. “Begin with the end in mind,” she says. “The main thing you want to do is build a business that is really a sellable asset. Whether that be to pass along to your family or not, you still want something of value.” In West Virginia in particular, she says, many business owners are reaching retirement age and have grown their companies over the years, but their sons and daughters don’t necessarily want to do that particular business. “The parents kind of assumed, but you know what that means.” Persinger says the Moses family has nearly the opposite challenge, as there are a lot of brothers and sisters and cousins who want to be involved, meaning brothers Steve and Bob Moses—the sons of Jack Moses who started the legacy so many years ago—have to decide how to split responsibilities and compensation fairly. Like her many cousins and siblings, Persinger grew up around the business. She worked summers at the dealership through junior high, high school, and some in college, rotating through the departments to understand how it all worked. “My grandfather started the business and then my dad started working for him. He and my mom moved to Charleston
courtesy of moses auto group
“The main thing you want to do is build a business that is really a sellable asset. Whether that be to pass along to your family or not, you still want something of value.” Kristina Oliver, WV SBDC
in the late ’70s and have been here since then. I was born in ’82 My dad’s been in the business my whole life,” she says. As it often is in family businesses, the children didn’t always start out as integral parts of the company. Persinger left town to go to college at Ohio State University and then law school at the University of Virginia. She worked for a judge and practiced law at a local law firm, but deep down she knew she wanted to go home and be part of Moses Auto Group. In June 2014 she’ll have been in the family business for five years. “Everyone has their own wants and needs, and my dad has always said that’s one of the most important things he can do—establishing a clear succession plan. Everybody knows where they stand at the end of the day and how to move forward, even if everyone doesn’t agree with it.” But the plan isn’t set in stone. The company agreement expires every three years, when the brothers reevaluate. “It evolves depending on who wants to be involved. Ten years ago my dad and Steve didn’t really have anybody that could step in and take over, so the succession plan was different.” Since then, she and cousin Meghan Moses—Steve’s daughter—have become important parts of the company. Currently, neither Persinger nor Moses knows whether their other siblings will one day become part of the business. “I don’t really know—will my sisters come
West Virginia Small Business Development Center Tips In business, business comes first. First things first, this is business and the success of that business is paramount, regardless of your family politics or ties. »» Establish a clear plan and mission. »» Have a clear chain of command. »» Communicate clearly and often. “I worked with a family business that had family meetings two to four times a year and business (management) meetings monthly to keep things separate,” says Robert Godbey, customer network manager for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.
Consider hiring a non-family member to oversee operations. If you manage a family business not only do you need to be a strong manager you need to be thick-skinned and tough enough to make decisions and stick to them. »» Again, have clear roles. »» Make it clear how far each employee can go.
into the business? What will happen if they do?” Persinger says. “The oldest people are a lot of times the first ones back, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the one making all the calls. Something I have tried to do over the years is have conversations with my dad and with Steve. ‘If this one person comes back what does that mean for me? What does that mean for me long-term?’ You have to have open communication about where you see yourself and where you’d like to go to make sure everyone is on the same page.” She says people considering joining
Laura wilcox rote
»» Are all executive spots reserved for family?
Deal with family discord. Whether it’s a difference of opinion or a performance issue, dealing with conflict among family members in a business environment is tough, but a must.
Deal with the family “hangeron.” You know the one—the relative who needs a job badly, but really doesn’t exhibit any true aptitude or useable talent.
Prepare the next generation. The best time to plan for succession is well in advance. »» The further in advance the better, as many options depend on time. »» Doing this allows for an answer to the question of non-family members moving up. »» Address who is in charge if the boss dies. “I worked with a relatively big company that ran into problems when the boss died suddenly from a heart attack and the company turned to his wife to run things while she was still dealing with his death,” Godbey says. “Another client was able to sell his business to his employees, because he started planning early enough.”
their family’s business should also ask themselves whether they can get along with their relatives on a day-to-day basis in the workplace. Fortunately, that has never been a problem for the Moses clan. “Family businesses definitely have pros and cons. Everybody has to weigh the pros and cons for themselves—just like with any job,” Persinger says. “For me the pros have outweighed the cons. You just have to be realistic—can you see yourself working with these people for the rest of your life? Do they have the same philosophy?” Focus wvfocus.com
E. Gordon Gee
The new president of West Virginia University came into his most recent role with more than 30 years of experience leading prestigious institutions like Vanderbilt, Ohio State University, and Brown. He previously served as WVU’s president from 1981 to 1985—starting when he was just 36 years old. Years later, what would he tell his younger self or another young university president? Get comfortable with who you are and what you represent. West Virginia University gave me my first chance to serve as a president when I was only 36. Early in my tenure, a couple of oldtime professors came by and said, “You’re not doing very well.” When I asked why, they said, “You don’t look and act like a university president.” So I tried to change and become a little bit more stoic, and what I discovered was that I was miserable and I was also failing. So I just went back to wearing my argyle socks and my bow ties, and I have remained a university president for a long time.
Be serious, but do not take yourself too seriously. You cannot allow yourself to believe all the rhetoric your alumni magazine prints about you. You possess all the frailties of humankind.
Have thick skin, nerves like sewer pipes, and a good sense of humor.
Respect traditions, but do not let them imprison you. Leaders must look to liberate energies imprisoned by longheld habits and habits of mind. “But we’ve always done things this way!” is not an acceptable rationale for anything. At the same time, you must guard against embracing too fervently the catechisms of moment. It is easy to become too fearful of speaking out in ways contrary to fashionable thinking. Do not hesitate to talk about moral values and respect for the human spirit, for honor, for law, and so on.
Remember that work is not the highest value in a successful life. Do not push yourself and your work so hard that you have insufficient time to think, to read, to create, and to share the joy of other human beings. Any achievement without personal growth and the joy of relationships is empty.
Criticism is part and parcel of the university presidency. It can be difficult to remain calm, especially when you are new to the job. I still remember the first time a student newspaper reporter criticized me. A certain amount of criticism has continued from institution to institution. Try to learn from the constructive criticism and disregard the rest. As the great Yankee manager Casey Stengel once said, “The secret of managing a ball club is keeping five guys who hate you away from five guys who are undecided.” And do not let the letters and emails that
stream into your office stampede you into unwise decisions. You have more information than the letter writers, and if they had the same information, they would probably make the same decisions you are. Finally, humor can often be a calming influence during tense times.
Focus March/April 2014