Former coal towns also may benefit from future fund - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Former coal towns also may benefit from future fund

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Arrest made in Summers County robberies

    Arrest made in Summers County robberies

    Monday, September 1 2014 1:38 AM EDT2014-09-01 05:38:18 GMT
    Two homes and two businesses in Summers county were taken by surprise early Sunday morning.
    Two homes and two businesses in Summers county were taken by surprise early Sunday morning.
  • Crews are searching for three missing juveniles

    Crews are searching for three missing juveniles

    Sunday, August 31 2014 11:39 PM EDT2014-09-01 03:39:47 GMT
    Three juveniles are missing in Fayette CountyThree juveniles are missing in Fayette County
    Crews in Fayette County are searching for three missing juveniles.Dispatchers say a call came in around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.Police are looking in the area of Cunard Road, which is between Fayetteville and Oak Hill.The Fayette County Sheriffs Department, West Virginia State Police, Jan Care Ambulance, Parks Services, and the Fayetteville Fire Department are all on hand searching the area.The kids were last seen around 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.If you have any information about these kids whereabout...
    Crews in Fayette County are searching for three missing juveniles.Dispatchers say a call came in around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.Police are looking in the area of Cunard Road, which is between Fayetteville and Oak Hill.The Fayette County Sheriffs Department, West Virginia State Police, Jan Care Ambulance, Parks Services, and the Fayetteville Fire Department are all on hand searching the area.The kids were last seen around 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.If you have any information about these kids whereabout...
  • Man Arrested in Raleigh County for 1st Degree Murder

    Man Arrested in Raleigh County for 1st Degree Murder

    Sunday, August 31 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-08-31 22:48:55 GMT
    Joe Collins is arrested on murder chargesJoe Collins is arrested on murder charges
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.

The future of West Virginia prosperity may lie in gas extraction, but Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, says that the resource — and the towns — that helped fuel the Mountain State shouldn't be forgotten.

In fact, he proposes that a portion of Future Funds that come from severance taxes should be earmarked to help aid the former coal boom towns and communities.

"We do need to give a portion of the additional money back to the counties of origin that produce the gas, like we have done with the coal severance tax," Kessler said recently. "We could give them a little extra bump to help counties that produce it.

"But I'd like to give an additional percentage back to the counties of historical energy production. Just because we may have missed the boat in coal-producing counties in the past, we could give them an opportunity to lift themselves up by the bootstraps with this new energy resource to help diversify their economies."

Counties that stand to benefit the most from gas extraction in West Virginia are northern, which differs from the mostly southern coal counties. 

"It isn't like we are going to suck it up all to those counties that are making it up in the north and North Central West Virginia," Kessler said. "I want to see a portion of it go back to those who helped us do so much for the state.

"It's going to help all of West Virginia, every single county and every single person."

A bill to create a future fund is expected to be introduced again in the 2014 legislative session, but its adoption would need a constitutional amendment.

"We can set it up statutorily, the framework of it," Kessler said. "We will need some constitutional controls on how we spend it, so the legislatures, when they start seeing the monies come in, can't just grab it and spend it. 

"You have to dedicate it, as mandated by the voters," he added. "It can only be used for infrastructure, economic development, educational enhancement. … It is to improve the state's lot in the long term, rather than pet projects here or here. We must set up limited areas in which it can be spent. 

"It will help the entire economy to create wealth for the entire state."