- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


July 27

Charleston Daily Mail on HealthNet Aeromedical Services’ 30th anniversary:

HealthNet Aeromedical Services is 30 years old.

“There are people that are alive today because 30 years ago these hospital administrators had the foresight to have this service available,” Clinton Burley, president and CEO of HealthNet, said at an anniversary celebration Monday on the landing pad of CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital in Charleston. “It makes a huge difference in Appalachia.”

And making a difference is what HealthNet has done for thousands of patients who might have died in land ambulances on the long, winding roads of rural Appalachia en route to a first class trauma center in Charleston or Morgantown.

“The helicopter doesn’t save lives per se,” HealthNet’s then-director Rick Davis told reporter Sara Crickenberger in a 1986 Daily Mail story when the service was three months old. “It’s the EMS crew at the scene and the flight crew combined with rapid transport that saves lives.”

HealthNet is a not-for-profit critical care transport system that is a partnership with Charleston Area Medical Center, Cabell-Huntington Hospital and West Virginia University Medicine.

Also celebrating with HealthNet was Thomas Reed, a flight paramedic, who was recognized for his 30 years of service.

According to MetroNews, Reed, 60, began working out of Charleston’s base where HealthNet operated two aircrafts. Now, the organization operates nine helicopters in Ripley, Beckley and Lewisburg, and in Kentucky and Ohio.

“I could say that my office window is constantly changing. I’m always outside in the environment, so those are all things that appeal to me, but the real thing that feeds my soul is being able to touch somebody in their hour of moment of need and to make a difference in their lives,” Reed said.

Rapid air transport to a major hospital doesn’t just happen. It takes a dedicated crew of helicopter pilots, medical specialists and administrators to make sure the organization is ready and able.

Crew members maintain about 10 different lifesaving certifications, ranging from such specialties as Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP).

Hats off to HealthNet for its work saving thousands of lives over three decades.




July 27

The Inter-Mountain (of Elkins) on water plant project:

Clean, potable water is easy to take for granted. After all, we simply turn on the faucet and there it is.

After the horror stories from Flint, Michigan, and closer to home in Charleston, people should be looking at water infrastructure in a new light. Water infrastructure is one of the most vital components in any community.

Elkins is fortunate to be in a situation to receive a new water plant and upgrades to the water distribution system as part of a sweeping $37-million project.

The Elkins Water Plant doesn’t just serve the citizens who live within city limits; there are many wholesale customers, including public service districts, who buy the water it purifies.

If something were to happen to the current plant, a lot of people would be in real trouble. It gives one pause when the city’s operation’s manager is quoted as saying “we came close” during Superstorm Sandy, as Bob Pingley did at a recent meeting to discuss the ongoing project. Built in 1921 and last renovated in the 1980s, the current plant (not to mention the distribution system) is antiquated, to put it mildly.

There’s no way the city could undertake this project without shaking loose some sediment in the pipes and causing water disruptions with ongoing work. These are minor inconveniences compared to the end result, a new water plant that has modern filtration technology and backup power.

It’s also no surprise there is concern about the disruption work on the new plant will have in nearby neighborhoods. No doubt there may be so noise and dust during construction. People are naturally curious about things like light and noise pollution that could be caused from a nearby water plant.

But judging from the recent meetings the city has hosted to talk about the project, engineers have these concerns in mind and want to be as transparent as possible through the process. We feel that’s noteworthy.

The bottom line is the city needs this plant and the upgrades along with it. Any minor inconveniences pale in comparison to the alternative.




July 27

The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch on West Virginia lawmakers and the state’s economy:

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has raised the possibility of a special session this fall to explore what more state government might do to help the areas of the Mountain State still reeling from the devastating floods in late June.

That would a good reason to have a special session.

What the Mountain State does not need is a special session to take up the transgender bathroom issue or revisit the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as a few legislators are suggesting.

Lawmakers spent quite a bit of time last session on the RFRA proposal, which would provide some defendants protection from discrimination lawsuits, if the discriminatory actions were based on religious beliefs. The bill was proposed in reaction to national gay marriage issues, but it had the potential to sanction many types of discrimination. Fortunately, it finally died in the Senate.

As the legislature slogged through a $600,000 special session in June, it was clear that time would have been much better spent on trying to address the state’s long-term budget problems.

Polls show about 60 percent of Americans oppose laws on the transgender bathroom issue, and even many Republican leaders - such as presidential candidate Donald Trump - view it as a non-issue.

What we do know about this type of legislation is the potential negative economic impact. Since passing legislation on what bathrooms transgender people can use, North Carolina has received a deluge of bad publicity. The state’s once progressive image has been tarnished by boycotts and cancellations, including the National Basketball Association’s recent decision to pull the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte.

West Virginia had one of the nation’s shakiest economies - high unemployment, low workforce participation, low household income - before enduring a flood that did an estimated $100 million in damage to public property alone. Why would the state create problems for its tourism industry, one of the few business sectors that is growing?

The state Chamber of Commerce, a generally conservative group, already has said it would “vigorously oppose” these bills. It is time for West Virginia lawmakers to get focused on the state’s economy. We need strategies to create new jobs, not threaten the ones we have.



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