The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 29, 2013

EnAct paying outstanding bills

Commission signs UMWA petition, gives county flag to scouts

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

FAYETTEVILLE —  EnAct — formerly known as Capital Resource Agency — is in the process of paying local vendors $250,000 in outstanding bills that it has ignored since 2010.

At that time, a federally funded weatherization program was taken away from the agency by the government due to mismanagement and other significant problems with the program. But the organization never paid the money it owed vendors.

EnAct is a community action agency, one of more than 1,000 nonprofits created by the federal government in 1964 to fight poverty.

Its recently hired executive director, Danny Scalise, is trying to make good on the outstanding bills but says it will take some time to get everyone paid in full.

He says “at least half” of the $250,000 is owed to small mom-and-pop businesses, some of whom he recently contacted to let them know of his intentions to restart payment.

“They were very happy to get that phone call from us, because they had written it off,” he told the Fayette County Commission on Friday.

“There’s something grossly unfair about program dollars that are supposed to go to the people that are instead diverted to pay for the sins of the way the organization was run prior to your term,” said commission president Matt Wender. “It’s unfortunate you’re saddled with this debt.”

Scalise assured Wender that the agency is being better managed, and expects this year’s financial audit to be free and clear.

“We’re progressively becoming a better agency,” he said.

Federal sequestration cuts have forced EnAct to reduce its budget, but Scalise says the organization is maintaining the same level of support to communities through donor contributions.

Scalise said 300 families received emergency assistance from the organization last year, and 600 received nutrition assistance.

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Members of the Fayette County Commission signed a petition in support of the United Mine Workers of America’s efforts to maintain its members’ employee benefits in the midst of Patriot Coal Co.’s bankruptcy case.

Nancy Massie, who is a leader of the Fayette County Black Lung Association, addressed the commission on the issue.

She brought along three former Patriot employees with black lung disease from Fayette County, who she says represent just a few of the many afflicted retired miners who depend on the benefits to pay for health care.

“Right here you’ll find three examples. Here’s Larry Vance, a Patriot guy, and look at the condition he’s in,” said Massie. Vance is on oxygen to breathe and hauled his tank to commission chambers.

“They want to take his health card and his health benefits,” said Massie.

The UMWA argues that Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off their union operations into Patriot Coal to shed themselves of promised benefits.

A bankruptcy judge recently granted Patriot’s motion to reject its collective bargaining agreement and modify its agreements regarding retiree benefits. The UMWA is now hoping to renegotiate a new contract.

“I think it’s commendable you all get out there and create support,” said Wender.

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As the 2013 National Scout Jamboree turns a national spotlight to southern West Virginia, the Fayette County Commission says it looks forward to sharing the stage.

The commission presented Boy Scouts of America representatives with an official Fayette County flag Friday, welcoming the organization on the eve of their first Jamboree in their new West Virginia home.

The new county seal depicts a Boy Scout tent, among other icons like the Marquis de Lafayette and the grist mill at Babcock State Park.

“In a few short days, we look forward to the first of many Jamborees. ... We would like to take this opportunity to extend our welcome to the BSA as you begin the next 100 years of Scouting,” the commission wrote in a letter to several men who are the faces representing the Summit Bechtel Reserve to the public.

They include Dan McCarthy, Steve McGowan, Gary Hartley and Mike Patrick.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of the partnership and the support we’ve gotten from the commission and all of the county,” said Patrick, the Summit’s chief operating officer. “In the blink of an eye, the Scouts will be arriving. This is just going to be the first of many great events that the Scouts and the county will host.”

The county adopted a seal and produced a flag to celebrate West Virginia’s sesquicentennial on June 20. They presented each municipality with a flag at an event earlier this month.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve isn’t a town, but for 10 days this summer, it will swell to roughly six times the size of the county’s largest city.

Sharon Cruikshank, director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau, was present at the ceremony and said the county’s lodging is up 33.5 percent this year and the number of unique visitors to the CVB website is up by 18.5 percent. She attributes this “huge jump” in marketing to the BSA project.

“It is up to us to make the best of the exposure as we put our best foot forward as we show that Fayette County is a great place to live, work and play,” the commission’s letter continued.

Wender said the county would be “proud and honored” if their flag was among those displayed at the Summit.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com