Ed Klein returned to Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning with an update regarding his battle against long-wall mining.
Klein had appeared before the commission on both June 11 and June 18, expressing his concerns about Consolidated Coal's future plans to mine in the Smithfield and Folsom areas. Klein had brought forth several concerns at these previous meetings, including possible loss of well-water and subsidence of his land. At last week's meeting, Klein stated he had spoken to a gas and oil attorney.
At Tuesday's meeting, Klein asked the commissioners if they had contacted other counties, specifically Marion and Harrison, where long-wall mining had taken place.
Commission President Don Mason stated he had spoken to Marshall, Marion, and Harrison counties and that these counties had "experienced very little problems" with the long-wall mining activity. Mason added that Harrison county commission had stated that Consol Energy was actually one of the best companies to work with. "All three commissions indicate very few cases," Mason stated.
Mason further commented he had learned that the county commission has no authority to intervene in long-wall mining activity. Mason added that the Wetzel County Commission had been told the same by the county's attorney.
Klein stated he had spoken with an attorney who had been counseling him and was told that if he wanted to force Consol to mine a different way, it would take him "15 million dollars, the rest of my life, and I would lose."
Mason stated that one of the commissioners they had spoken with told them that one issue a landowner had was with a water well. Because of this issue, Consol Energy helped the landowner by pulling the city water line out to their residence.
Klein then stated that the map that had been in the Wetzel Chronicle had to be re-advertised because he had complained that it was too small.
"Our hands are kind of tied," Mason reiterated.
Klein stated that a representative from Consol had agreed to visit him this coming Thursday.
He added: "Let's say if we got them to mine another way. It'd bring jobs."
Mason stated that one issue in today's world, is that with new technology, less people are hired.
"It's in everyone's interest if they mine a different way," Klein stated.
"It could be possible, but you don't know until you meet with them," Mason stated. "If you talk to Consol, you might be pleasantly surprised," he added. "We do sympathize with you."
Klein stated he was going to hope for the best and that he had done all he could do. Though he added, "I'm glad I can say something when I have something to say," he added.
In another matter, Rosemary Guida from Workforce West Virginia brought the unfortunate news to the commission that because of a $378.622 decrease in the 2013-2014 funding awards, several programs would suffer cuts, including the total cut of Workforce's summer youth programs.
Guida stated that throughout the last four years , West Virginia had actually had increases or no cuts. However this year, W.Va. was actually one of the states that took the highest cuts. Guida stated that this was not an effect of the sequestration. "That was five percent," she stated. "This is one of the cuts the state took."
Guida added that in addition to the lack of summer youth programs being cut, wait lists to enter a program are now back.
"The summer youth programs benefitted us greatly," Mason stated, adding that the courthouse's maintenance workers had always said the kids were great.
Additionally, Guida added that when funding had been cut in previously years, the state had been able to contribute money.
As for updates regarding the programs, Guida's update showed that as of May 31, 22 residents were waiting to enroll in a training program. A rapid response report from July 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013 shows that 200 employees were affected by Workforce's rapid response information and services.
Finally, from July 1, 2012 to May 30, 2013, 140 youth participated in Youth Service Systems' program, whereas 15 participated in the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board's program.
Also, the commission, along with the county's Chief Probation Officer John D. Lantz, took part in a conference call with Tyco Integrated Security, regarding agreements for maintenance services.
Finally, the commission approved of $6,000 for a new transformer for 4-H camp electricity.