The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

Latest News

February 25, 2013

Select committee may hear Fayette girl’s story about living in poverty

CHARLESTON — Picture yourself with no place to call home, save a tent.

You eat, sleep, relax, do homework, entertain friends and conduct family relationships as best as possible in close quarters.

For a girl in Fayette County, some time ago, this was her life.

One wouldn’t expect much out of someone assigned to such surroundings. But the girl overcame that humble start in life and eventually performed college work.

Her story could be told next month when the Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty hits the road for its first meeting beyond the state Capitol, in quest of testimony from those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder.

“We want to talk with people and receive witness from various children that live in poverty and get their perspective,” explained Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, who chairs the committee.

“And we want to look at what’s going on in the community, what resources are out there, what needs are there and see how we can work together in conjunction and cooperation with one another to try to meet those needs in order to focus in on the child.”

How could one spend a childhood inside a tent, especially in the often bitter-cold months of a West Virginia winter?

“We’re going to find out,” Unger said.

“It would be important to hear from her and others what was it like living in those conditions, what pulled you up and then you went on to college. If we can look through a child’s eyes on legislation, I think it will change our whole perspective of what we ought to be doing in regard to providing that support to children in order to have healthy children that grow into healthy adults.”

Eventually, Unger hopes to take the committee into all senatorial districts.

Hosting the first such meeting, set for March 13 at the Historic Oak Hill School, will be the two representatives of the 10th District, Sens. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, and Ron Miller, D-Greenbrier.

The second one hasn’t been scheduled, but already, Sens. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, and Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, who represent the 9th District, want one in Beckley.

As chairman, Unger says he is obligated to attend all hearings on the road.

“We’re hoping to videotape them and offer them eventually on the Web so people can access the meetings if they can’t attend,” the chairman said.

On the opening day of the session, Unger said he was inspired to create the committee after visiting his wife’s elementary school class and one boy, in a mock staging of a Senate session, said he wanted to pass a bill to provide him two lunches each day.

His explanation: By eating twice as much, he wouldn’t be hungry at supper and the food he normally consumes could be shared by his parents and brother.

“That touched my heart,” Unger said.

“And it puts a face to all the legislation and the charts and everything. That’s what I want to do with the legislators, bring that face to them, that child to them, they can remember, as they deliberate here and make decisions to help that child.”

Striving to help those mired in poverty is not only compassionate and morally correct but makes sound economic sense, as well, Unger reasons.

“Those children didn’t put themselves in that position and they can’t pull themselves out of that,” he said.

If a child is guaranteed a healthy environment, future societal ills could be minimized, or perhaps even eliminated, Unger said.

“If research shows that, then let’s go from the front end, be proactive, and then we have a cost savings later on overcrowded prisons, substance abuse, and lack of performance in schools,” he added.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014

  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Kroger restricts pseudoephedrine sales in state

    Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

    July 31, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014

  • legion American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers? Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo