From: Steve Conlon
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 5:25 PM
To: Dave Pethel
Subject: Thoughts on various issues
Dave, Your report in the Chronicle motivates me to pass on these observations. Gas well activity continues to be the main pressing issue here in our corner of Wetzel. Road traffic continues to escalate and the roads are showing the impact of the heavy trucks. Chesapeake took over snow treatments and removal as the DOH couldn't perform these tasks continuously for the truck traffic. At a mtg today with CHK , their PR people said that , "we acknowledge that the situation has reached a tipping point." DOH reports that they now have an agreement with CHK for them to maintain and repair these access roads. CHK reports that they aren't quite sure if "we have an agreement or want the responsibility and liability of repair." DOH throws their hands in the air and says, "what can we do?"
From your end of it , the problem lies with the DEP in issuing too many permits for the infrastructure to support and the inability of state agencies to grapple with this new phenomenon. This situation takes management and if local individuals hadn't volunteered thousands of hours , it would be much worse. Talk is cheap and the state likes to say that they are "open for business" but we find that state agencies have difficulty behaving in a businesslike fashion. You could work on opening the correct "money valves " so that taxes and severance fees are dedicated first to either creating or repairing the infrastructure necessary to be "open for business". It's like playing cards , we have to ante up.
Education -- As both a student and an educator , I am frequently puzzled why people make learning so complicated. They turn it upside down and study this way and that and create new commissions and come up with new acronyms and I suppose it's good for the economy. (that was a good example of a run-on sentence) Focussing on student/teacher/computer ratio , building esteem in slower students by not glorifying the quicker students, attacking obesity by giving our athletic facilities back to all the students, and phasing out the Promise scholarship are good educational goals. The Promise scholarship I find to be particularly anti-learning. Learning is about expanding one's horizon and seeing and experiencing new and exciting things . It's not about home confinement in W.V. Promise also rewards the best students and our money might be better spent on the underacheivers.
Pensions and Retirement- I have been in business since I was a child and I find it fascinating what people expect from a job or employer. Employers and funds come and go. Customers pay all the costs. Benefits evolved after WWII as a way to avoid salary increases. They have not worked in the long run. If the legislature wants to study the subject ,the could study the WV Teacher's Retirement Fund.
Veteran's Benefits- I am always puzzled as to why the state deals with veterans issues. I realize that it is a compassionate response to those who have endangered themselves. However, veterans were federal employees and should have benefits equal to those of a president or legislator.
Agri- Business- I have been immersed in agri-business for 37 years with two
businesses. I used to provide beebeard shows for the Craft Fair at Ripley which
is run by the WVDA and other state agencies. On paper, they cut their costs by
having state employees perform the beebeard, but they replaced a husband wife
farm family with state employees. Even Gus Douglass tried to defend this anti-
business behavior. If you visit the fair this year, you will find 3 apiary
employees there for four days. I used to charge $500. I was disappointed mainly
because no state employee saw this as "we're not open for business" . This
is an FYI item, unfortunately it has left me with a very bad taste in my mouth
for Gus and his crew.
That's the report from Proctor Heights. Hope you are well, keep up the good work. Steve Conlon