Working with the Army Corps

This week was full of meetings and events with constituents, including a meeting on Wheeling Island to discuss local issues, such as silt buildup on the back channel of the Ohio River.

Attendees at the meeting included Colonel Bernard Lindstrom, Commander of the Pittsburgh District of the Army Corps of Engineers, Chief Shawn Schwertfeger of the Wheeling Police Department, and Chief Larry Helms of the Wheeling Fire Department, among others.

Listening to the concerns of local leaders is a key part of this job. We’ve been working on the problem with silt buildup in the Wheeling Island back channel for over two years. Bringing top officials with the Army Corps to the Island to see the problem firsthand was an important step.

This problem affects residents on both sides of the Ohio River and has impacts on flooding, the safety of boaters, and local first responders. After our meeting I am confident the Army Corps understands the importance of this issue.

We look forward to working together with the Army Corps and local officials on both sides of the river to help address this problem.


Listening to Constituents

This year I have traveled throughout the district holding meetings, roundtables and other events. So far this August I have been to 23 meetings in 7 counties, and I continued this week. First I traveled to Moundsville where we held roundtables on a variety of issues.  We met with local law enforcement to discuss recent issues they’ve been having, along with the changes that have happened in Marshall County since receiving funding as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area(HIDTA).

Next we visited Moundsville and met with officials dealing with domestic violence in West Virginia. Domestic violence is a highly sensitive, yet serious issue. Groups will often come to Washington to discuss the issue, this was the first time I was able to meet with people who work on the frontline in West Virginia.

In Belington, I met with elected officials to discuss infrastructure, local law enforcement, and other issues small towns face. One of the biggest issues is funding for infrastructure projects. That’s why I have worked to increase funding for critical grant programs like the Community Development Block Grant(CDBG)to help our small towns. The House also recently passed the Highway and Transportation Funding Act(H.R. 5021), which extended $9.8 billion to highway projects in the United States, with roughly $280 million for West Virginia.


Coach Named 2014 ‘Light of Valley’

West Liberty University Athletic Coach Jim Crutchfieldwas named the eighth recipient of the annual YMCA Light of the Valley last week. This designation is given to the Dr. Lee Jones “Patron of Youth” award winner, whose life reflects his or her contributions and dedication to the quality of life for the youth and families of the local community.  Coach Crutchfield is certainly a shining example of this.

This fall will mark the beginning of Coach Crutchfield’s 11th season leading the West Liberty men’s basketball team.  Crutchfield’s career mark of 272-49(.847)now stands as the highest winning percentage in college basketball history among coaches who have coached at least 10 seasons at NCAA schools.  Last season, he led the team to the NCAA Division II national championship game.  Prior to West Liberty, Crutchfield also spent a decade as head boys’ basketball coach at Cameron High School and became the winningest coach in school history.  The Clarksburg, W.Va. native currently resides in Wheeling with his family.

West Liberty University is West Virginia's oldest institution of higher education.


Meeting with Student Veterans

Over the past 3 years I have conducted dozens of meetings with veterans across the First District. This week we met with a younger demographic of veterans, students at West Virginia University. These veterans face a whole different set of issues, such as transitioning from active duty to college, paying for college tuition, and getting the support services they need.

Earlier this year, the House passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act(H.R. 3230). This bill improves education benefits for veterans and their dependents. Most notably it requires public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents. It was signed into law on August 7, 2014.

It’s important to hear directly from people affected by policies and how we can improve laws to help our veterans. Many veterans pursuing a college education struggle with the transition from active duty to civilian life. We need to try and better utilize resources on college campuses for veterans. Currently WVU has around 1,000 student veterans enrolled.


Supporting our Firefighters

Twenty West Virginia firefighters returned home this weekafter more than 2 weeks of fighting wildfires in California.  For some members of this crew, this marked the 12th year they had gone out West to lend a hand.  The crew, made up of 4 specially trained volunteer firefighters and 16 Division of Forestry members, went out to fight the Beaver Fire in the Klamath National Forest.  It is important to take a moment and recognize these brave West Virginians for their service.

Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to make sure that our communities are safe.  For my part, I will continue to do everything I can to support these brave men and women.  Recently, I signed on to a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel along with dozens of my colleagues expressing our support for programs that provide our local fire departments with any surplus equipment the Department of Defense may no longer need.  The federal government can be an important resource to supplement local authorities.


Constituent Meetings

Throughout August I will continue traveling around the First District, meeting with constituents and visiting local businesses. Keep an eye out, I may be visiting your town.

If you are ever in the Washington D.C. office please drop in and say hello. If you want an appointment just give my office a call at 202-225-4172, or submit a request on my website at www.mckinley.house.gov.

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