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March 5, 2019     The Hinton News
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$ ,$ ~q (Continuing the Hinton Daily News & The Weekend Leader) Home of "W. Va. Water Festival" Volume 116 No. 43 Hinton, West Virginia Tuesday, March 5,2019 50 Cents lver ,un in The New River Train is shown here making a three-hour stopover in Hinton last October so passengers can explore the historic district and enjoy events during Hinton's Railroad Days celebration. Officials announced last week that the train would not be making a run this year. After 52 years of operating mainline passenger excursions between Huntington and Hinton, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society is cancelling its New River Train excursions in 2019, society officials said last week. The non-profit said Amtrak's rising costs as a leading factor in its decision to cancel the annual excursions. Amtrak, after making a quote in Jan, revised the quote m an email to the organization just two weeks ago with a 9.6 percent cost increase. Amtrak cited rising labor costs for the unexpected hike. Chris Lockwood, the organization's general manager, says these figures and Amtrak's ability to implement new prices and policies with 60-days notice makes it financially impractical to plan and market excursion trains for the third and four weekends of October. Cancelling 2019's excursions dates builds upon an already troublesome2018 excursion season when the New River Train suffered a financial loss of more than $100,000 due to Amtrak mid- season tariff hikes. Lockwood says the organization built its operating budget based on Amtrak's Oct. 1, 2017 tariff increase, but new private car policies and a mid-season tariff operating costs, securing private cars from across the country, and coordinating those logistics and fees. He says there are two types of costs the society calculates. First, the organization budgets for mileage costs in transporting all of the privately owned railcars to a central point, like Chicago or Washington, D.C to be placed on a dedicated deadhead train to Huntington. Rosenthal says those cars travel from all across the nation. When the organization was budgeting for its trips last year, the mileage rate was $2.90 per mile, as outlined in the passenger railroad's Oct 1, 2017 addendum to the private car tariff. In May 2018, Amtrak increased the rate to $3.26 per mile. On Jan. 1, 2019, the rate became $3.67 per mile, an increase of more than 26 percent since October 2017. Secondly, the organization requests a rate from Amtrak to move the equipment to Huntington and operate the four-day excursion using Amtrak locomotives and personnel. Amtrak's charter and special movements office is responsible for calculating and issuing these rates. Rosenthal says both mileage accept Amtrak's deadhead costs from Chicago, which were figured in the overall operating rate. "We began adjusting ourexpenses by reducing food costs, supplies, and administrative expenses. These had minimal impact on our operation because of the significance of the operating cost increase," Lockwood says. The organization also had to spend more money advertising the excursions because its marketing schedule was delayed due to uncertainty with Amtrak's new policies in early 2018. '"the lessons we've learned in 2018 and Amtrak's ability to once again increase these costs -just like the 9.6 percent hike we've already seen once in 2019 - is bad business to move forward and try to continue this tradition despite its economic validity and value to southern West Virginia," Lockwood says. "We appreciate many people stepping forward to assist in this difficult time. We thank the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for calling on Amtrak to explain its rate increases and try to reverse this trend. We gave it our best effort, but this is the only viable option now," the organization said in a statement issued to its membership Tuesday night. The New River Train was the country's last-surviving and longest mainline p~saenger excursion train, hauling around 4~800 passengers annually during its four days of operation on CSX Transportation- owned tracks in southern West Virginia. The 30-car train was an economic boost for ~Hinton - a town that hosts a rail festival in recognition of the train's annual runs. The organization says the New River Train's overall impact to the West Virginia economy is roughly $8 million. Since its inception 53 years ago, the New River Train has hosted several distinguished steam locomotives, including Nickel Plate Road No. 765, Milwaukee Road No. 261, Chesapeake & Ohio No. 614, and Pere Marquette No. 1225, among others. It is estimated the New River and the operating cost of the New Train has hauled more than 300,000 River Train saw multiple layers passengers through the New River hike in 2018 skewed the group's of unexpected price increases in Gorge and southern West Virginia budget. The group still has unpaid 2018. In addition, Amtrak cut since the society's inception. bills from last year. Huntington as an intermediate "We don't think this is the end Joe Rosenthal, the organization's stop where passenger cars could be of the New River Train- but it's assistant general manager, added or dropped by the Cardinal. ' goodbye for now," Lockwood says. is responsible for calculating This forced the organization to Haven's Law Increases Penalties for Passing a Senator Stephen Baldwin (D- Greenbrier) introduced Senate Bill 238 this year, a bill that doubles fines for motorists passing stopped school buses. "After an incident in Indiana this fall involving the death of three children exiting a school bus, local drivers approached me," said Baldwin. "They said people pass their stopped buses every day, endangering kids. They said we're lucky more children aren't injured or killed, and we must do something about it. Today, we are doing something about it." Tuesday, February 26, the Senate passed S.B. 238 unanimously. "If drivers don't take children's safety seriously, they will face Stopped School Bus among the stiffest penalties in the nation not only in terms of fines but also license forfeiture," said Baldwin. The bill raises first-time offense penalties to a fine of $500- $1,000 (from $250) and license suspension for 60 days; second offense penalties to a $1,000-1,500 fine and license suspension for 180 days; and three or more violations would now carry a penalty of a $2,000 fine, at least 48 hours' jail time, and loss of license for one year. These penalties may seem tough, said Baldwin, but they need to be tough--children are dying because of negligent and impatient drivers. "We call this 'Haven's Law,' in honor of Haven McCarthy, who serious consequences. These are died getting off a school bus in Lincoln County in 2007. We owe it to children and their families to keep our little ones safe." "Bus drivers have a tough job," said Baldwin. "From dealing with mountainous terrain to weather to maintaining order on the bus, they do it all. f But they can't take care of kids and catch offenders who pass their stopped buses at the same time." To aid drivers in reporting violations to law enforcement, the bill provides that all new buses will be equipped with front and rear facing cameras. The cameras will be paid for by the WV Department of Education using federal funding. The bill has been received by the House of Delegates and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. West Virginia Women's History Month Celebration Held at State Capitol The West Virginia Women's Commission, in partnership with the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, celebrated Women's History Month on Friday, March 1, 2019, at the State Capitol. The event began at 10:30 a.m. in the Governor's Reception Room with welcoming remarks by First Lady Cathy Justice, a reading of the proclamation issued by Governor Jim Justice declaring March as Women's History Month in West Virginia, and poetry written and performed by Crystal Good. '~rhe impact of great West Virginia women is undeniable and can be seen and felt in every aspect of modern life," said Jill Upson, Executive Director of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. "I call on all West Virginians to pause and reflect on the numerous contributions of women as we celebrate and remember the integral role of women in our history during Women's History Month." "Greater equality in pay, career and educational opportunities, safety, access to health care for women, child well-being and greaterrepresentation in the number of women in elected government positions and on state boards and commissions are just" a few important issues for women that the West Virginia Women's Commission board members have identified," said Julie Palas, Interim Executive Director for the West Virginia Women's Commission. "We are working systematically and collaboratively to raise awareness of these issues during Women's History Month and year-round." The West Virginia Women's Commission works to empower women to engage with government, to participate in the political process and to tackle the most important social issues facing women in West Virginia. Folks all around the world know the story of John Henry, the steel drivin' man who raced the steam engine and won. But did you know that for 24 years, the John Henry Days Festival has been happening every July in Talcott, West Virginia? The festival committee is already hard at work planning the 2019 festival, to be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 12-14, 2019. Entertainment lineups at the John Henry Park include the Back Porch Orchestra on Friday night and Glen Shelton on Saturday night. Saturday morning events kick off with the 4-mile run/1 mile walk, with the Grand Parade that travels through Talcott beginning at llam. Other Saturday events include the "Kid's Carnival" at the John Henry Historical Park, following the parade. This year, there will be a dunking booth and the committee is working on plans for the National Guard to set up with their traveling gaming unit, a climbing wall and archery events. The celebration on Saturday ends with the grand fireworks display, immediatelyfollowing Glen Shelton's performance. Sunday events begin with a church service held at the Big Bend Tunnel followed by the John Henry Days Car Show at the John Henry Historical Park. Rubber Duck tickets are soid throughout the festival with the Rubber Duck race being held on Sunday, July 21, 2019 at the river access in Talcott. The John Henry Museum and Gift Shop is also open during the festival weekend, selling t-shirts and other John Henry memorabilia, as well as handmade West Virginia themed crafts and d&or. The John Henry Days Festival Committee is seeking vendors to set up during the festival weekend. Whether you sell food, handmade crafts, flea market items or other general merchandise, you are welcome to attend the festival from July 12 through the 14. The festival committee is also seeking other groups and organizations to set up during the "Kid's Carnival". Vendor spaces are available along the parade route beside the railroad tracks in Talcott and also at the John Henry Historical Park at the tunnel. Contacting Diana Hedrick at 304-860-5490 may obtain vendor applications. You may also visit the John Henry Days Facebook page for more information about the festival. Schedules for the festival will be posted online and will also be available at the John Henry Museum and Gift Shop and other local businesses. The John Henry Days Festival committee works almost year round to ensure that the festival is a success and can be enjoyed by thousands of people from all over the country. From picking up trash along the railroad tracks and other areas twice a year, hanging the American flag throughout Talcott for Memorial Day and during the festival, mowing grass and weed-eating along the parade route and at the park, securing sponsors for the festival and the Rubber Duck race prizes, selling Rubber Duck and 50/50 tickets, securing the entertainment and parade participants, securing the fireworks, to operating the museum and gift shop. If you are interested in joining the John Henry Days Festival committee, meetings are held every third Thursday monthly leading up to July. Could Fast-Moving Tax-Cut Proposal Blow WV Budget? By Dan Heyman CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Critics of a proposal rushing through the House of Delegates say it could blow a hole in West Virginia's state budget by using one-time money to pay for permanent tax cuts that mostly help those who are well off. House Bill 3137 would create a fund where new money, including opt-of-state online sales taxes, would go. Then, each time that fund reached a certain level, it would trigger compounding cuts in state income taxes. Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said some lawmakers may not realize they could end up using one-time money to o~set tax cuts that continue for years and build on top of each other. 'This bill was pushed out of the Finance Committse without a fiscal note, without any understanding of what its impact would be on tax revenues or the state budget," he said. "It's a poorly designed tax cut that will not only lead to large revenue losses but also further exacerbate income inequality in West Virginia." Supporters have said now that the state can collect the online sales taxes, it can afford to cut income taxes. However, Boettner said progressive income taxes hit the rich harder, while sales taxes take a larger portion of lower-income families. Since the cuts as outlined in the bill build over time, Boettner said, they eventually could dent the state budget by from $200 million to as much as $1 billion a year. He said the new revenue might offset one year's tax cut, "out since the tax holes continue year to year, the proposal would eventually lead to large compounding revenue losses and budget holes that would likely require more cuts to schools, colleges and other budget priorities, or tax increases likely to fall on working families." HB 3137 originated in the House Finance Committee a week ago. It did not go through a second committee, but could reach final passage in the House today. More information from the center is online at wvpolicy.org, and the text of HB 3137 is at wvlegislature. gov. BARNS OF SUMMERS COUNTY-westvirginiaHeritage An extract from the book for your enjoyment By Phyllis Campbell Whitley WILLS BARN ON STINKING LICK ROAD IN THE FOREST HILL DISTRICT Wendell Wayne Wills says you can learn more about the barn from the inside and he is right. While the additions were added in 1946, inside there is evidence that the " main part of the barn is over 100 years old. The stone foundation, shown in the front of the barn, has provided good support for the main section of the barn. The barn was built with a mixture of pine, oak and poplar woods. Addison Canterbury built the additions when he and his wife Connie (Beckett) lived at the farm on Stinking Lick Road near Indian Mills in the Forest Hill District. When Mr. Canterbury died the farm belonged to his wife and she deeded it to their son, Carl. Shortly after he inherited the farm, Carl sold it to Mr. Wills. 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 barnsofsummerscounty. com. Mrs. Whitley's latest book is entitled "Photographer on Horseback - John C. Wiker'. 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 photographeronhorseback. com. Sale of the Barn book benefits the Library and sale of the Wikel book benefits the Summers County Historical Society. t