As you will note in Brent Boggs’s column below, he was the guest speaker at our Rotary meeting last Wednesday. It’s always nice to see and talk with Brent and this was no exception. His general topic of discussion pertained to the changes central West Virginia and Braxton County in particular have experienced in recent years.
I believe our biggest single advantage is our location. We are in the center of the state and with I-79 and Route 19 converging here that are not too many places one may travel that doesn’t take them through our county. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to aid our slowed economy nor many of the other topics that Brent highlighted during his presentation.
Location hasn’t gotten broadband to many parts of our county. At last report, I think only 38% of the homes and businesses have access to high-speed internet service. Nor has it improved our workforce.
Don’t get me wrong, there are jobs available. We just don’t seem to have people qualified and willing to take them. Our educational system recognizes that our workforce needs to be trained to the type of jobs that are here and we want to attract. I think they are headed in the right direction.
We also talked about the fact that the Board of Education’s job is further stressed by our loss of population and there by the loss of revenue for public education. I fear that is only going to get worse, particular with the school voucher system the republican led legislature allowed. I’ll save that topic for another writing. Less revenue makes it far more difficult to keep eight separate school facilities in good operating and safe condition. If our population continues to dwindle, sooner or later, the dreaded “C” word (consolidation) will rear it’s ugly head.
Brent talked about getting everyone together to work for the common good… more jobs, educational improvements, the workforce etc. I believe he is right. However, that is a much bigger undertaking than one may think. History has shown me that the “na-sayers” often sidetrack good ideas and efforts.
If Brent’s ideas are going to be productive and we are going to change these negative trends, there will have to be cooperation on many levels. It has to begin somewhere, at some time… this may well be that place and we are rapidly approaching a time that if we are not headed in the right direction, we will lose Braxton County as we currently know it.