Newspaper Archive of
The Pocahontas Times
Marlinton, West Virginia
February 18, 2021     The Pocahontas Times
PAGE 5     (5 of 14 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 5     (5 of 14 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
February 18, 2021

Newspaper Archive of The Pocahontas Times produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2022. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

Priority, from page 1 The reality is likely worse than the FCC reports. Their statistics are based on self- reported data submitted by Frontier, and almost no one outside the company trusts it. Speed tests conducted by the state’s Broadband Enhance— ment Council found that Frontier delivered internet across the state at less than half the 25 megabits per sec- ond required by the Federal Communications Commis- sion to qualify as “high- speed.” So lawmakers want to try a new approach. Promoting competition The lawmakers’ vision is simple: replace Frontier’s monopoly over the state’s rural intemet service with a patchwork of competitors, including West Virginia companies and local govem- ments like cities and coun— ties. A combination of competition and local own- ership, politicians reason, will ensure that the state’s communications network is upgraded and maintained long into the future: a task that Frontier has shown itself either incapable or unwilling to do. And now, the roadmap that lawmakers will take to try to make this happen is becom- ing clearer. First: provide a leg up for Frontier’s com- petitors, who, unlike the telecommunications giant, don’t have access to billions of dollars in capital from Wall Street. Two bills have already been introduced during this year’s legislative session to help achieve this. One, SB 2, would codify into law Gov. Jim Justice’s executive order increasing the amount of loan guarantees the state will offer telecommunication companies. These loan guar— antees are crucial because they allow smaller compa- nies to compete for subsidies from the Federal Communi— cations Commission, which looks at a company’s balance sheet in order to determine if it’s capable of delivering on its commitments. The second, HB 2002, would make it faster and cheaper for telecommunica- tions companies — and local governments — to install fiber by allowing them to piggyback on the poles and trenches of other utilities. This bill has bipartisan sup- port, and has already sailed through committee and will soon be debated on the House floor. The bill’s sponsor, Dele- gate Daniel Linville, R-Ca— bell, summed up its potential imes .com 0 Print and Online $49 ham@pocahontast - In-County ~ $30 ' In-State ~ $38 Call 304-799-4973 or email 0 Out-of State $39 ' Online only $29 jsgra m 9 fl 6‘ M = c .5 Our '5: o m .9 5 (I: l U) cu .§ El 5 E O u: as 8 9-: era .5 E Service at 3:301). (wit/7 safety protocolr) or ONLINE: Facebook ' YouTube’ '1 via teleconference “6375 lie I 1pc. luthenan Chunch "Carl 3‘ Ivor/e, om‘ [nun/5. " llllliiit‘hAhA SPRINGS prmemmemeanm fis’mm 323519». 353?? 8‘. cs‘ 28‘ sit/es“ w as“ («at V)“ Wm" impact: “It’s going to speed deployment. . . it makes more projects feasible.” But that’s not all the bill would do. It also lays the groundwork for more state and local control of West Virginia’s broadband net— work, and defines the role of the state’s new Office of Broadband, which will be tasked with mapping the areas of the state that are cur- rently unserved — and un- derserved — by Frontier and other telecommunications companies. Historically, this is a role played by the FCC — but their data is flawed. The fed— eral agency also continues to send hundreds of millions of dollars to Frontier — so state officials want to take over the responsibility of identify— ing underserved areas of the state, a crucial part of any ef- fective grant-making pro- gram. Finally, the bill enshrines in law the ability of cities and counties to compete with telecommunications compa- nies and build their own fiber networks; this is a strategy already being attempted in Putnam County and South Charleston. A majority of states ban the practice, but West Virginia is now actively promoting it. But where is the money? Efforts by state lawmakers to fight Frontier are not new. Lawmakers have long chafed at Frontier’s treat- ment of the state. But this time may be different. This time, lawmakers have prom- ised to back up their rhetoric with money. In October, the governor stood on the steps of the Capitol, flanked by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R- Clay, and other Republican lawmakers, and promised to bring a billion dollars to West Virginia to build better broadband. But Justice has a history of making grand promises that never materialize, and there have been warning signs that that could happen again. The governor included $50 mil- lion in CARES Act pan— demic relief funds in the billion-dollar commitment — but used much of it on un- related projects. The bulk of the remaining funds was sup- posed to come from the Fed- eral Communications Com- mission, but the agency has o<®®f§3§3§§é® so far committed only $350 million, a result of aggres— sively low bidding by Fron— tier as the company promised to build more fiber for fewer subsidies. And then there’s the $150 million over three years from the state that Justice prom- ised in October. Since mak- ing the announcement, the governor has offered no ad- ditional details about where the money will come from or how it will be distributed. It wasn’t mentioned in the gov- ernor’s annual address, where the governor alluded to “bold steps” he’d already made on broadband while warning “we got to do more.” Nor was it included in a draft budget given to legislators earlier this month. “I’m looking through [the budget] thinking — OK, doesn’t appear to be a prior— ity — because you’re not talking about it, you’re not giving us a plan, and there’s no money to fund it,” said Delegate Joey Garcia, D— Marion. But Republican lawmak- ers said not to worry. The money is coming, House Communications Director Ann Ali said after conferring with Hanshaw in a Capitol hallway. Linville was also confi- dent that the legislature will find the money. Lawmakers could directly appropriate the money out of the state’s surplus, he explained, which could circumvent some of the laborious budgeting process. But broadband isn’t law— makers’ only priority, and whatever plan they come up with will eventually land on the govemor’s desk. Justice has made clear that his top priority is reducing taxes, and that he wants to use the surplus to create a rainy day fund “for any shortfalls [re- sulting from the] elimination of our income tax.” His office did not respond to a request for comment. Regardless, a compromise will happen, Linville said. He expects to see a bill, or multiple bills, soon that would establish both the fund and “guardrails” for spending it. “Those conversations are ongoing,” he added. Reach reporter Lucas Manfield at lucasmanfield@ mountainstatespotlight.org to“ VISIOII, from page 2 lowest paid in the country, went on strike statewide over the rising costs of their health coverage and for bet- ter wages. They ended up with 5% raises, and the gov- ernor convened a health care task force. In 2019, they went on strike again, over legislation that would have put public money toward private schools and charter schools. Similar legislation is under consideration this legislative session, which began Wednesday. And on the first day of the session Wednesday, Sen. Pa- tricia Rucker, R-Jefferson and a leading proponent of school choice measures, in- troduced a bill to make work stoppages illegal. She has also said she wants to focus on the teacher shortage this year. West Virginia lawmakers have said school choice leg— islation will be a priority this year, meaning they want to encourage parents to send their kids to private and char- ter schools. They also want to make way for education savings accounts in West Virginia, which would allow parents to use public money for ex— penses like private school tu— ition, charter school tuition, and home-schooling. , Teachers unions have ar— gued that this legislation, by taking money from public schools, would hurt schools already struggling to meet the needs of students from lower—income families. Na- tional data suggests school choice measures in other states leave children from low-income families in the least-funded schools. Growing the tax base with broadband Besides raising the sales tax, Justice also proposed raising severance taxes on coal, natural gas and oil; in- creasing the tax on cigarettes and soda; taxing professional services; taxing the wealthy and cutting state spending. Combined, he said these changes could make up the first billion dollars in lost in— come tax revenue. But he predicted West Vir- ginia’s tax base will grow as BACKUP Super Crossword FUNCTION ACROSS 48 With B-Down. 96 Funny feline DOWN 42 River duck 83 Actress 1 “When — 1859 George photo meme 1 Gandhi of 43 Many heirs Edie yOur age Eliot novel 99 Musical India 45 Sprang 85 Cotoraoo 5 Having two 51 Cal. neighbor group playing 2 Ferret‘s kin 48 24-hr. NHLers, to systems 52 Crank industrial 3 Lcnnm and ‘bankcrc" fans 12 One of turned drums Polls 49 Tow 86 Eminent the “Little instrument 104 Egg cell 4 Uttered 50 Business of 87 Coil. seniors“ Women“ 55 Prioritizes, as 106 Genesis len 5 "Nonsense!" Delta tests 16 Angry patients 10? Diana of Kin of “equi-" 52 Chemistry lab 89 Challenging crowd 58 Hosp. area “Dance Hall" > 7 Otd space tube 93 “Never on 19 “99 Red 60 TV antennas 108 Ball or bass station 53 Ominous test Sunday“ Balloons” 61 Bond litm tender 8 Hip about words rule band actress d’Abo 109 ‘ Mafia boss 9 Related to 54 Cup edge 84 Person who 20 Really foolish 62 Place for a 113 Newsman food intake 55 Female bud is prosperth 21 First digits welcome Koppel 10 Aln’cnn land 57 Fihoa‘s kin 95 Opposite dialed. often mat 115 2017 biopic 11 Meadowland 59 Fizzy drink of east. in 23 ‘ President of 66 CPR giver about an 12 Island east of 62 Fraction: Madrid Nicaragua 67 Mil. officer Olympic Java Abbr. 97 Key next to a 25 Added yeast 68 ‘ An oft figure skater 13 Build 63 gin fiz period to, as bread Broadway 117 Per—night 14 Stovetop 64 Vicious 98 Diaimlined 26 San —. theater is cost to stay whistler vortex 100 Dino away Buenos Aires named for at a 105- 15 Can‘t say no 65 lifesaving from home 27 Oklahoma her Down 15 Part of MSG loos. 101 Throat part tribe 71 Linden 01 l V 118 “Mr. Mom" 17 Polish n‘ver 69 "lady for a 102 “Casino --"’ 28 Rock 74 too To music plot promise 18 Sec Day" director (Bond film) yielding 76 Plane fliers (and what the 46~Across Frank 103 Not digital element #28 77 Viewpoint answers to 22 Big name 70 it flows in la 105 Roadside 29 Riddtevme~ — 79 Apple tablet the starred 24 “Fanny” Seine lodging 30 use yard download clues have) author Jung 72 Rent- —— 109 “Darn it!" 33 Jet —- 82 A fifth at fifty 121 Like not- 28 San Fran (security 110 Rice-A- 35 Head. to Fifi Nuclear yet-sampled NFLer guard) 111 Greek vowel 36 ‘ f’listorical reactor part food 31 Tribal groups 73 Classic Ford 112 Crimson and French area 84 ’ Popular 12 Two-function 32 Gordie of models cherry 40 Way of citrus fruit 123 Fodder tower hockey 75 Ending for 114 Boxer Oscar being tom. 88 “I solved it!” 124 Day. in Spain 34 Verdi’s title lime ~— Hoya thrilled or 90 Nile vipers 125 Squirmy fish slave 78 Blueprints 116 Rougth loved 91 China's 126 Lee who 37 Makeup 79 Part ul tHOP; 118 Std. fur a 44 Put aside for Lao — advised brand Aobr. nutritionist future use 92 Fully enjoy Reagan and 38 Pasta dish 80 Part of 119 Deep 45 Handed out 93 1966-2013 Bush 39 Head of corn UTEP groove 47 Prefix with bookstore 127 Couturier 41 Collects, as a 81 Claim the 120 Suffix with soul chain Casslnl harvest truth of Siam ’ 7 9 10 11 16 17 18 1 5 6 IIIIIIIIIIII II ” IIIIII III IIII 12 13114 15 27 III. 21 IIIIIIII IIII IIIII III IIIIWWII IIIIIIII I”’ IIIII IIII WIII illfll“ a II a i 44 45 in 50 EIIIIIIIIII WIIIIII III meg Eu >1 139.39 WWI I 88 89 u III I III-W“. * é " 101 102 103 g a IIIg mm III MIMI-Is S? 117 118 119 120 {3 g 121 122 T 123 124 126 127 .i'do,‘ rstK’W/és‘ ’5 6% 2‘ '5; x 2.. tithe iBurabuntas attuned :\ «a: or our» 3 remote workers come to West Virginia through the expansion of broadband In— ternet, which both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have said is a priority this legislative session. Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, is the chairman of the House Technology and Infrastructure committee. He said that after years of state leaders promising high- speed Internet access to West Virginians, he understands skepticism. He said there’s reason to believe, however, that his and others’ more re- cent work on the problem should give state residents reason for hope. He noted that the West Virginia Broadband En— hancement Council released a statewide broadband avail- ability map, which is based on speed tests taken by West Virginia residents, instead of provided by companies. He’s proposing they make a law that the speeds be reported by consumers instead of companies as part of House Bill 2002, which passed the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The map would be up- dated every year, Linville said. And it will give law- makers the information they need to tailor funding and policy-making toward areas of need, he said. The new Office of Broadband will be able to tailor its efforts as well, he said. He also said that in budget shortfall years, there was no money to put toward broadband. “We’ve actually got the means to measure success or failure,” he said. Linville said he plans ad- ditional broadband legisla- tion and agreed with Justice that remote workers may move to the state. “We’ve got a low cost of living,” he said. “We’ve got incredible people.” “West Virginia was the butt of a lot of bad jokes, right? Look, name your state. You’re gonna have some missteps, right? “But you have to admit that we have definitely ——February 18, 202l—Page 5 arms as vases @rIQ/Zéé («‘h'l’e‘k’mfm‘ changed that narrative around the state of West Vir- ginia in a positive direction overall.” West Virginia’s image West Virginia’s successes — including those related to COVID — were also a com— mon theme during Justice’s address. The state has a high vaccination rate, and has re- ceived national praise for that and early efforts to vac- cinate all nursing home resi- dents. “They thought we were backward or we were poor. I don’t subscribe to that, and I know you don’t either,” Jus- tice said. But the state is not out of the woods. The pandemic has killed more than 2,180 people in West Virginia. Ac- cording to a survey from the US. Census Bureau con- ducted from January 6 to January 18, 35.7% of sur— veyed adults in West Virginia found it somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses during the pandemic. Justice didn’t outline any plans to put additional money toward public health emergency response infra— structure or assist the West Virginians still struggling to put food on the table and pay for their homes and utilities due to COVID—related finan- cial loss. The state still has more than $600 million in unspent federal CARES Act money; Justice has said that money will go toward the unemployment trust fund. Democrats have noted that West Virginians are strug— gling with poverty due to COVID-l9, but their plans are unclear. They have said, in events preceding the ses— sion, that they support help for small businesses and summer learning and feeding programs. This story was originally published by Mountain State Spotlight. For more stories from Mountain State Spot- light, visit www.mountain statespotlightorg Reach reporter Erin Beck at erinbeck@m0untainstate spotlightorg I, , 2N CoHegesch. available for 2021 interested in being a journalist or working in the media industry? The West Virginia Press Association Foundation is accepting student applications for 2021 West Virginia Press Association Scholarships. if awarded, the WVPAF provides scholarships to West Virginia residents to a West Virginia college or university for up to $1,000. Programs are open tojournalism majors and students in related fields such as business management, human resources, advertising, social media and marketing, with preference given to students in at least their sophomore year of college. Application deadline is Feb. 28, 2021. Applications may be downloaded from varess.org For information orto have the applications mailed, contact Executive Director Don Smith at donsmith®varess.org, at 304342-1011 or write to: WV Press Association Foundation, 3422 Pennsylvania Ave, Charleston, WV, 25302. staffing and successful operation Student Media is responsible for experience. I Budgeting and supervising a effectiveness. IValid driver's license I Resume I Letter of Interest WANTED: DIRECTOR OF STUDENT MEDIA AT WVU The Division of Student Life atWestVirginia University is seeking applications for a Director of Student Media. This position reports to the executive director of Student Enrichment and is responsible for the management, budgeting, of the Daily Athenaeum, U92 The Moose and Prospect and Price Creative.The Director of all aspects of Student Media and for implementing innovative practices that result in respected and appreciated news organizations and profitable business operations; ensuring a welcoming community; and providing students valuable experiences and opportunities that prepare them for success upon graduation. QUALIFICATIONS I Master’s degree in journalism and/or Communications or related field, or equivalent combination of education and related IA minimum of six (6) years of experience involving: I Print or broadcast journalism I Design and development of a communications plan staff I Experience working in the higher education setting preferred I Editing, budgeting, excellent interpersonal and social skills. IAbility to perform assessments to determine program I Experience leading a news organization through change, creating innovative and experimental coverage. REQUIREMENTS Apply at careers.wvu.edu (l 6 l 39) WVU is proud to be an Equal Opportunity employer and is the recipient of an NSF ADVANCE award for gender equityWVU values diversity among its faculty. staff. and students. and invites applications from all qualified applicants regardless of race, ethnicity. color. religion. gender identity. sexual orientation. age. nationality, generics. disability. orVeteran status.