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January 24, 2017

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= i'kiil !i (Continuing the Hinton Daily News & The Weekend Leader) Home of "W. Va. Water Festival" Volume 114 No. 37 Hinton, West virginia Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017 50 Cents 9 lners Act The WIiners Protection Act' ensures the promise of lifetime h~alth care and pensions to retired miners and their families U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D- WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-PA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Joe Donnelly (D.IN) today introduced the Miners Protection Act. This legislation would ensure that the federal government and coal operators honor their obligation of lifetime pensions and health benefits to retired miners and their families who are facing uncertainty as a result of the financial crisis and corporate bankruptcies. In December, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that included a four-month proposal to fund retired miners healthcare for the duration of the continuing resolution, which ends in April. "Although I was disappointed when the Senate passed a short- term fix to this long-term problem, I was encouraged when Majority Leader McConnell committed to securing a permanent fix for retired miners and their families," Senator Manchin said. "I have also received assurances from President-Elect Trump and Vice President-Elect Pence that they would" work with me on securing a permanent healthcare solution for miners. That is why re-introducing the Miners Protection Act in the new Congress is so important. Our coal miners are some of the hardest working people in America, and they have dedicated their lives to powering this nation and keeping it them to that promise. These are hardworking Americans who spent their lives doing a difficult and dangerous job in order to power our country, and we o.we it to them and their families to come through on those commitments. The Miners Protection Act is a bipartisan, responsible solution to address the underfunded UMWA pension plan, and I look forward to working with my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to ensure that we step up and do right by these families," said Senator Warner. "Ohio coal miners sacrificed their backs and lungs for the promise they'd have a nest egg to retire and healthcare if they got sick. It's up to us to ensure that these workers and their families receive the full benefits they earned over a lifetime of backbreaking work," said Senator Brown. "Coal miners have helped build our country with their own sweat and labor, and they keep the lights on in homes for families in every one of our states," said Heitkamp. "This bipartisan bill offers a long- term solution that would make sure Congress values hard work and enables these coal miners to get the health care and pensions that worked so hard for. They deserve nothing less and should know that. when the government makes a promise to the hard working men and women of this country, it will honor that promise." '~'nese coal miners and their families have done their jobs for our nation, now it's time for Congress to families have waited far too long for action on the Miners Protection Act. Congress has a duty to uphold the basic promise we made to our coal miners and ensure that their The 2017 session of the West lifetime pensions and health care benefits will be funded. I am proud Virginia Legislature has begun. Short of that I don't see a path to a balanced budget without adjusting our tax structure in some way. As you are aware, our coal and natural gas severance taxes have to once again join a bipartisan We "gaveled" in at .noon on the always been our major sources of group of my colleagues to stand up llth, received Governor Tomblin's funds and the downturn there has for miners on this critical issue," final address, conducted some affected our ability to balance the Kaine said. administrative business then budget. "The bipartisan Miners Protection Act should be considered and passed as soon as possible," Senator Donnelly said. "For too .long, thousands of miners in Indiana and across the country have been waiting for action on a long-term solution. These retirees and their families earned these benefits and are counting on the federal government to keep its promise." Other cosponsors include Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Burr (R- NC) and Dan Sullivan (R-AIO. Retired miners are facing uncertainty because the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan is severely underfunded. Unlike other public and private pension plans, the 1974 Pension Plan was well- managed and "funded prior to the 2008 financial crisis, which hit at a time when this Plan had its highest payment obligations. This - coupled with the fact that 60% recessed until early February. The recess will give incoming Governor Justice time to complete his transition work and develop the budget he will present to us in February. The budget will again be a challenge this year. We are going to start out the session four hundred million dollars short in revenue . collections for this fiscal year. The cuts put in place have not made up for these shortfalls so there will be much work to do in order to match up what we spend on services with what we collect in various taxes and fees in the coming year. As you know out going Governor Tomblin recommended a 1% increase in the state sales tax in his final budget to us; however, Governor Justice has no appetite for increasing any taxes and it appears that the legislature has endorsed that train of thought. I am of the opinion that we have just about cut all we can and about the only path we can take at this point will be to do away with or combine some major agencies within our government. There will be much discussion in the coming weeks and hopefully we will be able to fund the activities of the state without any more expense to the taxpayers. The governor has the upper hand in budget negotiations through the use of his line item veto power and will really have the final say on the budget that is finally put in place. As you know, I have not been a fan of Smarter Balanced Assessment achievement testing. I have also been in favor of student accountability on testing in some way. During the numerous town hall meetings and surveys in our district I have discovered that the majority of educators agreed with me on the issue. Two years ago Delegate Ambler and I met with the State Superintendent of Schools to discuss those and other issues that meetings with educators had uncovered. He agreed in principal but made no promises. Last year I introduced legislation to quit giving the Smarter Balanced tests and the governor vetoed the bill. / I received word just this week that the WVDE and the State Superintendent of schools plan to phase out Smarter Balanced testing and implement an "end of grade" type of test that will be part of the students' grade. Delegate Ambler and I had both suggested that as a way of ensuring student accountability. Hopefully the WVDE will go forward with this plan which, in my opinion, will do much to improve the achievement level of our state going forward. I have received my committee assignments for the next cycle and will continue to serve on the Education Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee and the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. I have been chosen to serve as Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in this legislative cycle. These committees will be dealing with issues that concern our district directly and I will report to you weekly in this forum as time permits. Your advice and input is always important and necessary. I continue to be available at the following numbers: 304 340 3119 (capitol), 304 466 5523 (home), 304 646 1209 (cell): My e mail continues to be roy. Submitted by Roy Cooper the strongest in the world. We have a responsibility to protect their hard-earned pensions and health benefits. I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide certainty and peace of mind to our retired miners and their families by ' ensuring they receive the benefits they've ear(ned and deserve." "I was very disappointed that the continuing r4solution the Senate passed in December extended health care coverage to our miners for only four months. I am committed do its job and protect their pensions of the beneficiaries are "orphan', and health care," Senator Casey retirees whose employers are no said. "Pennsylvania families have longer in the coal business, and waited far too long for a solution the fact that there are only 10,000 to this issue, it's time pass this bill active workers for 120,000 retirees and get it on the President's desk." - has placed the Plan on the road "Harry Truman---whose Senate to insolvency. If the Plan becomes seat I hold today--made a promise insolvent, these beneficiaries face to these coal miners when he was benefit cuts and the Pension Benefit President, that their government Guaranty Corporation will assume would honor their pensions andbillions of dollars in liabilities. health benefits. I hope elected To address these issues, the Republicans in the U.S. House Miners Protection Act would: will finally recognize that keeping Amend the Surface Mining to Working with my colleagues in that promise is the right thing the Trump Administration and Congress to protect health benefits for West Virginia's miners, and the bill I am introducing today is the -first step to making that a reality. At the same time, we must also advance policies that will put our miners back to work and rebuild local economies that rely on energy production," said Senator Capito. "At the end of the last Congress, Senate leadership pledged to work with us to ensure that we honor our promises to the thousands Of miners - and their families - who are depending on their health and pension benefits to make ends meet in retirement. We intend to hold Control and Reclamation Act to to do for these miners and their transfer funds in excess of the families, whose blood, sweat and amounts needed to meet existing tears powered this country forobligations under the Abandoned generations," Senator McCaskill Mine Land (AML) fund to the said. 'Tee must protect the hard-earned pensions and health benefits of our nation's coal miners," said Senator Portman. 'NVhile we made some progress on this effort last year. I was very disappointed that the full Miner's Protection Act wasn't included in the year-end spending bill. I will keep fighting for our coal miners and working to enact this bipartisan legislation until it is signed into law." "-Virginia miners and their UMWA 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. Make certain retirees who lose health care benefits following the bankruptcy or insolvency of his or her employer eligible for the 1993 Benefit Plan. The assets of Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) created following the Patriot Coal bankruptcy would be transferred to the 1993 Benefit Plan to reduce transfers from the AML fund. Landowners to Face Increasing Pressure The companies planning three major pipelines to pump natural gas from Marcellus Shale fields to East Coast markets have already begun attempting to assemble and purchase the easements they'll need to secure the rights-of-way for the pipelines -- 50- to 75-foot swaths of land cutting through other people's property, national forests and the Appalachian Trail. These easements are contracts that restrict landowner.s' usage of their own land and give the pipeline companies permanent rights in exchange for a one-time payment. For landowners along the planned routes of these pipelines, that may mean some hard-sell tactics from the companies, making it more important than ever that landowners know their legal rights and have an experienced representative to help them through"~e process. Ea~emeflts can be extraordinarily complicated, with lasting consequences for both how \. landowners can use their land and how much it is worth. The easement language can determine what compensation, if any, a landowner receives if there is a pipeline accident or explosion. 'If you own land in the path of one of these pipelines, you have the right to legal representation and many other .legal rights," said John Barrett of Bailey & Glasser. "Accepting the pipeline's initial offer could cost you more than you would ever know, both financially and in terms of rights to use your own land." Hundreds of West Virginia property Owners could be faced with this situation in the coming months. We can put you in touch with landowners who have been in this place and attorneys who have helped guide them through to the best results. For more information, please contact John Barrett at jbarrett@ or 304.345.6555 or visit pipeline/. Foundedby Ben Barley and Brian Glasser in 1999 in Charleston, West Virginia, Bailey & Glasser LLP has grown to include 56 lawyers, with offices in nine states and the District of Columbia. The firm's complex litigation practice focuses on high-stakes commercial litigation; class actions for consumers, insureds, investors, and retirement plan participants; catastrophic injury and defective product cases; antitrust; and whistleblower lawsuits. The firm has extensive experience in energy law, and litigates energy cases in trial courts, bankruptcy courts, regulatory agencies, and appellate courts. It has a major corporate practice, and handles business matters ranging from assisting Chinese investors in acquiring US assets, to IPOs, to the negotiation and execution of billions of dollars in commercial transactions. SUMMERS COUNTY - West Virginia Heritage BARNS OF An extract from the book ..... for your enjoyment By Phyllis Campbell Whitley A MARK MEADOR BARN There are three interesting barns of diverse construction on the Mark Meador farm. The barn shown here was once a log school house, located a few yards from its present location. The school was built by Mark's great-great grandfather, Allen Henderson Meador. The siding was added but the exposed log wall can be seen in the shed at the back of the barn. The farm is on Mark Meador Road in the Jumping Branch District. Interestingly, the main route between Hinton and Beckley ran through the farm, and in front of the home, in the mid 1800's. According to Mark a local politician wanted the road to run past his business regardless of the crooked path it would have to take. LarkA. Meador's 1984 book, "Our Family Record - Meador, Meadows and Simmons", has details about these families. The Summers County Public Library retains a copy and is a wonderful reference source. The earliest know ancestor for the Mead0r family was Thomas Meador from England. The first record of him in America was 1636. He died i~ 1655. For the Meador family who lived at Madams Creek in Summers County it goes like this: Lewis & Charlotte Witten received property through a land grant; next Allen Henderson & Eliza (Witten) Meador had the property; Lewis Austin & Margaret (Meadows) Meador followed; then his son William Cleveland Meador; next to William & Mildred (Bennett) Meador; and today it is the home of Mark Meador and his mother. The two other barns are described on another page in the book, along with a bit of interesting history about one of the Meador men. These barns will be featured at another time. Mr. Meador was instrumental in locating several barns in his community for inclusion in the Barn Book He accompanied me, the "Barn Lady" and my cousin, Joyce Waltman of Forest Hill on many adventures to visit these sites. His knowledge of the history of these barns was invaluable and added greatly to the stories in the book. Mrs. Whitley is a lifetime member of the Summers County Historical Society. The book can be purchased at the Summers County Public Library or by order at Mrs. Whitley's latest book is entitled "Photographer on " Horseback - John C. Wikel'. It details life of a photographer who lived along Little Wolf Creek in the early 1900s. It can be purchased from members of the Summers County Historical Society or by order at Sale of the Barn book benefits the Library and sale of the Wikel book benefits the Summers County Historical Society. q ]